Human all too human: 38. How far useful.

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. Keep it cool if you can handle the truth.

DSC_2245We will never know if psychological observations are good or bad for society, but science needs it. Science however, is not interested in final aims, just like nature. But like a good copier of nature, science will also come up with useful ideas that benefit mankind, it does this also without intention. But whoever feels too chilled by the breath of such a reflection has perhaps too little fire in himself. But look around and you see them, people that are made of fire and who are not afraid of these ideas. Additionally, like serious people need some joy and enthusiastic people need something heavy to aide their health, should not we, intellectuals, who grow more inflamed, not be cooled down as to maintain a certain harmlessness and maybe be useful in this age as a mirror for self-reflection?


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

It must remain for ever undecided whether psychological observation is advantageous or disadvantageous to man; but it is certain that it is necessary, because science cannot do without it. We will never know if psychological observations are good or bad for society, but science needs it. Science, however, has no consideration for ultimate purposes, any more than Nature has, Science however, is not interested in final aims, just like nature. but just as the latter occasionally achieves things of the greatest suitableness without intending to do so, so also true science, as the imitator of nature in ideas, will occasionally and in many ways further the usefulness and welfare of man,—but also without intending to do so. But like a good copier of nature, science will also come up with useful ideas that benefit mankind, it does this also without intention. But whoever feels too chilled by the breath of such a reflection has perhaps too little fire in himself; But whoever feels too chilled by the breath of such a reflection has perhaps too little fire in himself let him look around him meanwhile and he will become aware of illnesses which have need of ice-poultices, and of men who are so ” kneaded together ” of heat and spirit that they can hardly find an atmosphere that is cold and biting enough. But look around and you see diseases that need ice bandages and people that are made of fire.   Moreover, as individuals and nations that are too serious have need of frivolities, as others too mobile and excitable have need occasionally of heavily oppressing burdens for the sake of their health, Moreover, like serious people need some joy and enthusiastic people need something heavy to aide their health, should not we, the more intellectual people of this age, that grows visibly more and more inflamed, seize all quenching and cooling means that exist, in order that we may at least remain as constant, harmless, and moderate as we still are, Should not we, intellectuals, who grow more inflamed not be cooled down as to maintain a certain harmlessness  and thus, perhaps, serve some time or other as mirror and self-contemplation for this age ? and maybe be useful in this age as a mirror for self-reflection.


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

  1. HOW FAR USEFUL.—It must remain for ever undecided whether psychological observation is advantageous or disadvantageous to man ; but it is certain that it is necessary, because science cannot do without it. Science, however, has no consideration for ultimate purposes, any more than Nature has, but just as the latter occasionally achieves things of the greatest suitableness without intending to do so, so also true science, as the imitator of nature in ideas, will occasionally and in many ways further the usefulness and welfare of man,—but also without intending to do so.But whoever feels too chilled by the breath of such a reflection has perhaps too little fire in himself; let him look around him meanwhile and he will become aware of illnesses which have need of ice-poultices, and of men who are so ” kneaded together ” of heat and spirit that they can hardly find an atmosphere that is cold and biting enough. Moreover, as individuals and nations that are too serious have need of frivolities, as others too mobile and excitable have need occasionally of heavily oppressing burdens for the sake of their health, should not we, the more intellectual people of this age, that grows visibly more and more inflamed, seize all quenching and cooling means that exist, in order that we may at least remain as constant, harmless, and moderate as we still are, and thus, perhaps, serve some time or other as mirror and self-contemplation for this age ?

Menschliches allzu menschlich 1878/80

  1. Inwiefern nützlich. – Also: ob die psychologische Beobachtung mehr Nutzen oder Nachtheil über die Menschen bringe, das bleibe immerhin unentschieden; aber fest steht, dass sie nothwendig ist, weil die Wissenschaft ihrer nicht entrathen kann. Die Wissenschaft aber kennt keine Rücksichten auf letzte Zwecke, ebenso wenig als die Natur sie kennt: sondern wie diese gelegentlich Dinge von der höchsten Zweckmässigkeit zu Stande bringt, ohne sie gewollt zu haben, so wird auch die ächte Wissenschaft, als die Nachahmung der Natur in Begriffen, den Nutzen und die Wohlfahrt der Menschen gelegentlich, ja vielfach, fördern und das Zweckmässige erreichen, – aber ebenfalls ohne es gewollt zu haben. Wem es aber bei dem Anhauche einer solchen Betrachtungsart gar zu winterlich zu Muthe wird, der hat vielleicht nur zu wenig Feuer in sich: er möge sich indessen umsehen und er wird Krankheiten wahrnehmen, in denen Eisumschläge noth thun, und Menschen, welche so aus Gluth und Geist “zusammengeknetet” sind, dass sie kaum irgendwo die Luft kalt und schneidend genug für sich finden. Ueberdiess: wie allzu ernste Einzelne und Völker ein Bedürfniss nach Leichtfertigkeiten haben, wie andere allzu Erregbare und Bewegliche zeitweilig schwere niederdrückende Lasten zu ihrer Gesundheit nöthig haben: sollten wir, die geistigeren Menschen eines Zeitalters, welches ersichtlich immer mehr in Brand geräth, nicht nach allen löschenden und kühlenden Mitteln, die es giebt, greifen müssen, damit wir wenigstens so stetig, harmlos und mässig bleiben, als wir es noch sind, und so vielleicht einmal dazu brauchbar werden, diesem Zeitalter als Spiegel und Selbstbesinnung über sich zu dienen? –

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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