Human all too human: 36. Objection.

Reading Friedrich Nietzsche’s Human all too human

Read the introduction here You can read the aphorism I discuss here in English and German below the main article.

My take on it.

  1. People don’t like intellectuals to look to close.

DSCF8614Is there a downside to psychological observations? Are we aware of the downside so we can divert future intellectuals away from it? It is better for the general well being to believe in the goodness of men and have shame for the nakedness of the soul, these qualities are only useful when psychological sharp-sightedness is needed, this believe in the goodness of men might as well been for the best. When one imitates Plutarch’s1 heroes with enthusiasm and don’t want to see their motives you will benefit society with that, but not the truth, the psychological mistake and weakness when you do this is beneficial for humanity. Truth is better served with the words used by La Rochefoucauld in his forward to “Sentences et maximes morales.”3: “That which the world calls virtue is usually nothing, but a phantom formed by our passions to which we give an honest name so as to do what we wish with impunity.” He, and others like Paul Rée4 resemble good marksmen who again and again hit the bull’s-eye of human nature. What they do is amazing but the small minded people that are not driven by science but by love for mankind will condemn them.


Text from the translation by Helen Zimmern and my take on it

Or should there be a counter-reckoning to that theory that places psychological observation amongst the means of charming, curing, and relieving existence ? Is there a downside to psychological observations? Should one have sufficiently convinced one’s self of the unpleasant consequences of this art to divert from it designedly the attention of him who is educating himself in it? Are we aware of the downside so we can divert future interlectuals? As a matter of fact, a certain blind belief in the goodness of human nature, an innate aversion to the analysis of human actions, a kind of shamefacedness with respect to the nakedness of the soul may really be more desirable for the general well- being of a man than that quality, useful in isolated cases, of psychological sharp-sightedness ; It is better for the general health to believe in the goodness of men and have shame for the nakedness of the soul, these qualities are only useful when psychological sharp-sightedness is needed.   and perhaps the belief in goodness, in virtuous men and deeds, in an abundance of impersonal good-will in the world, has made men better inasmuch as it has made them less distrustful. This believe in the goodness of men might as well been for the best. When one imitates Plutarch’s heroes with enthusiasm, and turns with disgust from a suspicious examination of the motives for their actions, it is not truth which benefits thereby, but the welfare of human society ; When one imitates Plutarch’s1 heroes with enthusiasm and don’t want to see their motives you will benefit society with that and not the truth.  the psychological mistake and, generally speaking, the insensibility on this matter helps humanity forwards, The psychological mistake and weakness in this case is beneficial for humanity.  while the recognition of truth gains more through the stimulating power of hypothesis than La Rochefoucauld2 has said in his preface to the first edition of his “Sentences et maximes morales.”. . . Truth is better served with the words of La Rochefoucauld in his forward to “Sentences et maximes morales.”3:  “Ce que le monde nomme vertu n’est d’ordinaire qu’un fantôme formé par nos passions, à qui on donne un nom honnête pour faire impunément ce qu’on veut.” That which the world calls virtue is usually nothing, but a phantom formed by our passions to which we give an honest name so as to do what we wish with impunity.” La Rochefoucauld and those other French masters of soul-examination (who have lately been joined by a German, the author of Psychological Observations [4]) resemble good marksmen who again and again hit the bull’s-eye but it is the bull’s-eye of human nature. He, and others like Paul Rée4 resemble good marksmen who again and again hit the bull’s-eye of human nature.; Their art arouses astonishment ; but in the end a spectator who is not led by the spirit of science, but by humane intentions, will probably execrate an art which appears to implant in the soul the sense of the disparagement and suspicion of mankind. What they do is amazing but the people that are not driven by science but by love for mankind will condemn it.

1 Plutarch’s Lives of the Noble Greeks and Romans, commonly called Parallel Lives or Plutarch’s Lives, is a series of biographies of famous men, arranged in tandem to illuminate their common moral virtues or failings, probably written at the beginning of the second century AD. (read more)

2 François VI, Duc de La Rochefoucauld, Prince de Marcillac; 15 September 1613 – 17 March 1680) was a noted French author of maxims and memoirs. It is said that his world-view was clear-eyed and urbane, and that he neither condemned human conduct nor sentimentally celebrated it. (read more)

3 There are many version of this book so this specific forward is hard to find but here you can read the book as it is presented now.

4 Paul Ludwig Carl Heinrich Rée (21 November 1849 – 28 October 1901) was a German author and philosopher, and friend of Friedrich Nietzsche. (read more)


Human, all too human a book for free spirits Part I translated by Helen Zimmern 1909

  1. OBJECTION.—Or should there be a counter-reckoning to that theory that places psychological observation amongst the means of charming, curing, and relieving existence ? Should one have sufficiently convinced one’s self of the unpleasant consequences of this art to divert from it designedly the attention of him who is educating himself in it? As a matter of fact, a certain blind belief in the goodness of human nature, an innate aversion to the analysis of human actions, a kind of shamefacedness with respect to the nakedness of the soul may really be more desirable for the general well- being of a man than that quality, useful in isolated cases, of psychological sharp-sightedness ; and perhaps the belief in goodness, in virtuous men and deeds, in an abundance of impersonal good-will in the world, has made men better inasmuch as it has made them less distrustful. When one imitates Plutarch’s heroes with enthusiasm, and turns with disgust from a suspicious examination of the motives for their actions, it is not truth which benefits thereby, but the welfare of human society ; the psychological mistake and, generally speaking, the insensibility on this matter helps humanity forwards, while the recognition of truth gains more through the stimulating power of hypothesis than La Rochefoucauld has said in his preface to the first edition of his “Sentences et maximes morales.”. . . “Ce que le monde nomme vertu n’est d’ordinaire qu’un fantôme formé par nos passions, à qui on donne un nom honnête pour faire impunément ce qu’on veut.” La Rochefoucauld and those other French masters of soul-examination (who have lately been joined by a German, the author of Psychological Observations [4]) resemble good marksmen who again and again hit the bull’s-eye ; but it is the bull’s-eye of human nature. Their art arouses astonishment ; but in the end a spectator who is not led by the spirit of science, but by humane intentions, will probably execrate an art which appears to implant in the soul the sense of the disparagement and suspicion of mankind.

Menschliches allzu menschlich 1878/80

Zweites Hauptstück, zur Geschichte der moralischen Empfindungen.

 

  1. Einwand.- Oder sollte es gegen jenen Satz, dass die psychologische Beobachtung zu den Reiz-, Heil- und Erleichterungsmitteln des Daseins gehöre, eine Gegenrechnung geben? Sollte man sich genug von den unangenehmen Folgen dieser Kunst überzeugt haben, um jetzt mit Absichtlichkeit den Blick der sich Bildenden von ihr abzulenken? In der That, ein gewisser blinder Glaube an die Güte der menschlichen Natur, ein eingepflanzter Widerwille vor der Zerlegung menschlicher Handlungen, eine Art Schamhaftigkeit in Hinsicht auf die Nacktheit der Seele mögen wirklich für das gesammte Glück eines Menschen wünschenswerthere Dinge sein, als jene, in einzelnen Fällen hilfreiche Eigenschaft der psychologischen Scharfsichtigkeit; und vielleicht hat der Glaube an das Gute, an tugendhafte Menschen und Handlungen, an eine Fülle des unpersönlichen Wohlwollens in der Welt die Menschen besser gemacht, insofern er dieselben weniger misstrauisch machte. Wenn man die Helden Plutarch’s mit Begeisterung nachahmt, und einen Abscheu davor empfindet, den Motiven ihres Handelns anzweifelnd nachzuspüren, so hat zwar nicht die Wahrheit, aber die Wohlfahrt der menschlichen Gesellschaft ihren Nutzen dabei: der psychologische Irrthum und überhaupt die Dumpfheit auf diesem Gebiete hilft der Menschlichkeit vorwärts, während die Erkenntniss der Wahrheit vielleicht durch die anregende Kraft einer Hypothese mehr gewinnt, wie sie La Rochefoucauld der ersten Ausgabe seiner “Sentences et maximes morales” vorangestellt hat: “Ce que le monde nomme vertu n’est d’ordinaire qu’un fantôame formé par nos passions, ŕ qui on donne un nom honnęte pour faire impunément ce qu’on veut.” La Rochefoucauld und jene anderen französischen Meister der Seelenprüfung (denen sich neuerdings auch ein Deutscher, der Verfasser der “Psychologischen Beobachtungen” zugesellt hat) gleichen scharf zielenden Schützen, welche immer und immer wieder in’s Schwarze treffen, – aber in’s Schwarze der menschlichen Natur. Ihr Geschick erregt Staunen, aber endlich verwünscht ein Zuschauer, der nicht vom Geiste der Wissenschaft, sondern der Menschenfreundlichkeit geleitet wird, eine Kunst, welche den Sinn der Verkleinerung und Verdächtigung in die Seelen der Menschen zu pflanzen scheint.

Sources:

I will read a Dutch translation that is based on the work of researchers Colli and Montinari. I also use a translation from R.J.Hollingdale and the Gary Handwerk translation from the Colli-Montinari edition. Both are more modern than the copyright free translation I use here. This is a translation from 1909 by Helen Zimmern, who knew Nietzsche personally, but there was no critical study of Nietzsche’s work done back then and this translation suffers from that. The same goes for the translation from Alexander Harvey. My German is not good enough to pretend that I can translate it better than the professionals do but I will use the original as a referee.

  1. Menselijk al te menselijk een boek voor vrije geesten, translated by Thomas Graftdijk, 2000. Buy it here
  2. Human, all too human a book for free spirits, translated by R.J.Hollingdale, 1986
  3. Human, all too human a book for free spirits I V3, translated by Gary handwerk 1997
  4. Human, all too human a book for free spirits Part I, translated by Helen Zimmern 1909. Read it  here
  5. Human, all too human a book for free spirits, translated by Alexander Harvey, 1908. Read it here
  6. Menschliches allzu menschlich 1878/80. Read it here

 

 

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