21. Conjectural victory of scepticism

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.

Synopsis, quote from the translation by Helen Zimmern and my take on it.

Let’s use the skeptical mindset and accept that there is no metaphysical world, and that metaphysical explanations of our world are useless, how would we look at man and world. You can imagine this even if you dismiss the question if Kant and Schopenhauer have any scientific proof. For it is quite possible, according to historical probability, that some time or other man, as a general rule, may grow skeptical; the question will then be this: What form will human society take under the influence of such a mode of thought? Maybe mankind distrust scientific proof of a metaphysical world, and when there is this distrust it will have the same result as if it was outright refuted and could no longer be believed in. The historical question with regard to an unmetaphysical frame of mind in mankind remains the same in both cases.

In one sentence:

It is historically possible that metaphysics will be refuted no matter what.

.


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

  1. CONJECTURAL VICTORY OF SCEPTICISM.—For once let the sceptical starting-point be accepted, —granted that there were no other metaphysical world, and all explanations drawn from meta- physics about the only world we know were useless to us, in what light should we then look upon men and things? We can think this out for ourselves, it is useful, even though the question whether anything metaphysical has been scientifically proved by Kant and Schopenhauer were altogether set aside. For it is quite possible, according to historical probability, that some time or other man, as a general rule, may grow sceptical ; the question will then be this : What form will human society take under the influence of such a mode of thought ? Perhaps the scientific proof of some metaphysical world or other is already so difficult that mankind will never get rid of a certain distrust of it. And when there is distrust of metaphysics, there are on the whole the same results as if it had been directly refuted and could no longer be believed in. The historical question with regard to an unmetaphysical frame of mind in mankind remains the same in both cases.

Menschliches allzu menschlich 1878/80

  1. Muthmaasslicher Sieg der Skepsis. – Man lasse einmal den skeptischen Ausgangspunct gelten: gesetzt, es gäbe keine andere, metaphysische Welt und alle aus der Metaphysik genommenen Erklärungen der uns einzig bekannten Welt wären unbrauchbar für uns, mit welchem Blick würden wir dann auf Menschen und Dinge sehen? Diess kann man sich ausdenken, es ist nützlich, selbst wenn die Frage, ob etwas Metaphysisches wissenschaftlich durch Kant und Schopenhauer bewiesen sei, einmal abgelehnt würde. Denn es ist, nach historischer Wahrscheinlichkeit, sehr gut möglich, dass die Menschen einmal in dieser Beziehung im Ganzen und Allgemeinen skeptisch werden; da lautet also die Frage: wie wird sich dann die menschliche Gesellschaft, unter dem Einfluss einer solchen Gesinnung, gestalten? Vielleicht ist der wissenschaftliche Beweis irgend einer metaphysischen Welt schon so schwierig, dass die Menschheit ein Misstrauen gegen ihn nicht mehr los wird. Und wenn man gegen die Metaphysik Misstrauen hat, so giebt es im Ganzen und Grossen die selben Folgen, wie wenn sie direct widerlegt wäre und man nicht mehr an sie glauben dürfte. Die historische Frage in Betreff einer unmetaphysischen Gesinnung der Menschheit bleibt in beiden Fällen die selbe.

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

 

20. A few steps back

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.

Synopsis, quote from the translation by Helen Zimmern and my take on it.

A few steps back1 back A high culture is attained when man rises above superstitious and religious notions and fears. If he has attained to this degree of freedom, he has still also to overcome metaphysics with the greatest exertion of his intelligence. Man has to overcome explanations that they got with the help of metaphysics, the unseen or not material world, after he rises above superstitious believes After this he has to look back and understand the historical and psychological basis of these mindsets. He must recognize how the greatest advancement of humanity has come therefrom, and how man would rob itself from the greatest achievements if it doesn’t look back. After this, man has to look back and realize that the greatest advancements of man came from this period,  With regard to philosophical metaphysics, I see more people that attained the negative goal of thinking that even positive metaphysics is an error, but more people think that positive2 metaphysics is bad. but few that take a few steps back on the ladder. one ought to look out, perhaps, over the last steps of the ladder, but not try to stand upon them. It is advised to remind yourself of the positive achievement of metaphysics, The most enlightened only succeed so far as to free themselves from metaphysics and look back upon it with superiority, while it is necessary here, too, as in the hippodrome, to turn around the end of the course. even the most enlightened, must turn around and acknowledge this fact.

In one sentence:

Don’t dismiss positive metaphysics to fast.

1The German word “Einige sprossen zurück” is normally translated in English as “some/a few rungs back. Zimmern, Harvey and Hollindale translated it as “A few steps back, Handwerk and Graftdijk as “A few rungs back/Een paar sporten terug”. It is probably not wrong, but I associate “steps back” more with a step backwards and not downwards on a ladder, and that is what Nietzsche uses in this aphorism, he probably meant seeing more or les depending on where you are on the ladder, “but as yet few who climb a few rungs backwards; one ought to look out, perhaps, over the last steps of the ladder”.

2Don’t know what Nietzsche meant with “positive metaphysics” other than metaphysics that has a positive effect. Don’t know what he counted as such.

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

  1. A FEW STEPS BACK.—A degree of culture, and assuredly a very high one, is attained when man rises above superstitious and religious notions and fears, and, for instance, no longer believes in guardian angels or in original sin, and has also ceased to talk of the salvation of his soul,—if he has attained to this degree of freedom, he has still also to overcome metaphysics with the greatest exertion of his intelligence. Then, however, a retrogressive movement is necessary ; he must understand the historical justification as well as the psychological in such representations, he must recognise how the greatest advancement of humanity has come therefrom, and how, without such a retrocursive movement, we should have been robbed of the best products of hitherto existing mankind. With regard to philosophical metaphysics, I always see increasing numbers who have attained to the negative goal (that all positive metaphysics is error), but as yet few who climb a few rungs backwards ; one ought to look out, perhaps, over the last steps of the ladder, but not try to stand upon them. The most enlightened only succeed so far as to free themselves from metaphysics and look back upon it with superiority, while it is necessary here, too, as in the hippodrome, to turn round the end of the course.

Menschliches allzu menschlich 1878/80

  1. Einige Sprossen zurück. – Die eine, gewiss sehr hohe Stufe der Bildung ist erreicht, wenn der Mensch über abergläubische und religiöse Begriffe und Aengste hinauskommt und zum Beispiel nicht mehr an die lieben Englein oder die Erbsünde glaubt, auch vom Heil der Seelen zu reden verlernt hat: ist er auf dieser Stufe der Befreiung, so hat er auch noch mit höchster Anspannung seiner Besonnenheit die Metaphysik zu überwinden. Dann aber ist eine rückläufige Bewegung nöthig: er muss die historische Berechtigung, ebenso die psychologische in solchen Vorstellungen begreifen, er muss erkennen, wie die grösste Förderung der Menschheit von dorther gekommen sei und wie man sich, ohne eine solche rückläufige Bewegung, der besten Ergebnisse der bisherigen Menschheit berauben würde. – In Betreff der philosophischen Metaphysik sehe ich jetzt immer Mehrere, welche an das negative Ziel (dass jede positive Metaphysik Irrthum ist) gelangt sind, aber noch Wenige, welche einige Sprossen rückwärts steigen; man soll nämlich über die letzte Sprosse der Leiter wohl hinausschauen, aber nicht auf ihr stehen wollen. Die Aufgeklärtesten bringen es nur so weit, sich von der Metaphysik zu befreien und mit Ueberlegenheit auf sie zurückzusehen: während es doch auch hier, wie im Hippodrom, noth thut, um das Ende der Bahn herumzubiegen.

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

 

19. Number

Reading Friedrich Nietzsche’s Human all too human

Read the introduction here

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

Synopsis, quote from the translation by Helen Zimmern and my take on it.

The discovery of the laws of numbers is made upon the ground of the original, already prevailing error, that there are many similar things (but in reality there is nothing similar), at least, that there are things (but there is no “thing”). The law of numbers is based on the (mistaken) belief in similarity and that there are things When you assume there is variety, you assume there are more things of one, but here we are mistaken and invent things that are not there. We see lots of different things and assume there are more of each Our sensations of space and time are false, for they lead consistently1 to logical contradictions. In science we know there are false quantities but as these quantities are at least constant, as, for instance, our sensation of time and space, the conclusions of science have still perfect accuracy and certainty in their connection with one another; Science works with false premises, but they work for specific questions like Newtonian and quantum physics one may continue to build upon them. Up to the point where our assumptions, the constant errors, no longer work with our conclusions like in the theory of atoms. You can work with these theories up to the point that they don’t work anymore There still we always feel ourselves compelled to the acceptance of a ” thing ” or material ” substratum”2 that is moved, Like with a theory of atoms, were our believe in numbers no longer works, we still belief in things whilst the whole scientific procedure has pursued the very task of resolving everything substantial (material) into motion ; here, too, we still separate with our sensation the mover and the moved and cannot get out of this circle, because the belief in things has from immemorial times been bound up with our being. We still separate the mover from the moved, there is no specific movement without our observation When Kant3 says, ” The understanding does not derive its laws from Nature, but dictates them to her, Nature has no order besides the order we give it to her” it is perfectly true with regard to the idea of Nature which we are compelled to associate with her (Nature = World as representation, that is to say as error), but which is the summing up of a number of errors of the understanding. The laws of numbers are entirely inapplicable to a world which is not our representation—these laws obtain only in the human world. Number work only for a world seen thru our eyes, a world created by our way of looking to the world, made of things, similarity, numbers.

In one sentence:

We exist but live in a man made world

1Zimmern translate the German “consequent” (konsequent) as “examined in sequence” is better translated as consequent or consistently.

2substratum” A foundation or basis of something.

3 In the Dutch translation is a note pointing to this quote of Kant from his book: Prolegomena zu einer jeden künftigen Metaphysik die als Wissenschaft wird auftreten können. Page 320 (82) 36 here you can read it.


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

  1. NUMBER.—The discovery of the laws of numbers is made upon the ground of the original, already prevailing error, that there are many similar things (but in reality there is nothing similar), at least, that there are things (but there is no “thing”). The supposition of plurality always presumes that there is something which appears frequently,—but here already error reigns, already we imagine beings, unities, which do not exist. Our sensations of space and time are false, for they lead—examined in sequence—to logical contradictions. In all scientific determinations we always reckon inevitably with certain false quantities, but as these quantities are at least constant, as, for instance, our sensation of time and space, the conclusions of science have still perfect accuracy and certainty in their connection with one another; one may continue to build upon them—until that final limit where the erroneous original suppositions, those constant faults, come into conflict with the conclusions, for instance in the doctrine of atoms. There still we always feel ourselves compelled to the acceptance of a ” thing ” or material ” substratum ” that is moved, whilst the whole scientific procedure has pursued the very task of resolving everything substantial (material) into motion ; here, too, we still separate with our sensation the mover and the moved and cannot get out of this circle, because the belief in things has from immemorial times been bound up with our being. When Kant says, ” The understanding does not derive its laws from Nature, but dictates them to her,” it is perfectly true with regard to the idea of Nature which we are compelled to associate with her (Nature = World as representation, that is to say as error), but which is the summing up of a number of errors of the understanding. The laws of numbers are entirely inapplicable to a world which is not our representation—these laws obtain only in the human world.

Menschliches allzu menschlich 1878/80

  1. Die Zahl. – Die Erfindung der Gesetze der Zahlen ist auf Grund des ursprünglich schon herrschenden Irrthums gemacht, dass es mehrere gleiche Dinge gebe (aber thatsächlich giebt es nichts Gleiches), mindestens dass es Dinge gebe (aber es giebt kein “Ding”). Die Annahme der Vielheit setzt immer voraus, dass es Etwas gebe, das vielfach vorkommt: aber gerade hier schon waltet der Irrthum, schon da fingiren wir Wesen, Einheiten, die es nicht giebt. – Unsere Empfindungen von Raum und Zeit sind falsch, denn sie führen, consequent geprüft, auf logische Widersprüche. Bei allen wissenschaftlichen Feststellungen rechnen wir unvermeidlich immer mit einigen falschen Grössen: aber weil diese Grössen wenigstens constant sind, wie zum Beispiel unsere Zeit- und Raumempfindung, so bekommen die Resultate der Wissenschaft doch eine vollkommene Strenge und Sicherheit in ihrem Zusammenhange mit einander; man kann auf ihnen fortbauen – bis an jenes letzte Ende, wo die irrthümliche Grundannahme, jene constanten Fehler, in Widerspruch mit den Resultaten treten, zum Beispiel in der Atomenlehre. Da fühlen wir uns immer noch zur Annahme eines “Dinges” oder stofflichen “Substrats”, das bewegt wird, gezwungen, während die ganze wissenschaftliche Procedur eben die Aufgabe verfolgt hat, alles Dingartige (Stoffliche) in Bewegungen aufzulösen: wir scheiden auch hier noch mit unserer Empfindung Bewegendes und Bewegtes und kommen aus diesem Zirkel nicht heraus, weil der Glaube an Dinge mit unserem Wesen von Alters her verknotet ist. – Wenn Kant sagt “der Verstand schöpft seine Gesetze nicht aus der Natur, sondern schreibt sie dieser vor”, so ist diess in Hinsicht auf den Begriff der Natur völlig wahr, welchen wir genöthigt sind, mit ihr zu verbinden (Natur = Welt als Vorstellung, das heisst als Irrthum), welcher aber die Aufsummirung einer Menge von Irrthümern des Verstandes ist. – Auf eine Welt, welche nicht unsere Vorstellung ist, sind die Gesetze der Zahlen gänzlich unanwendbar: diese gelten allein in der Menschen-Welt.

19. Het getal. – De uitvinding van de getallenwetten is gedaan op grond van de oorspronkelijk al heersende dwaling dat er verschillende identieke dingen zijn (maar in feite is er niets identieks), of althans dat er dingen zijn (maar er is geen ‘ding’). De veronderstelling van de veelheid gaat er altijd al van uit dat eriets is wat veelvuldig voorkomt: maar juist hier regeert de dwaling al, reeds hier fingeren wij wezenheden, eenheden die niet bestaan. – Onze gewaarwordingen van ruimte en tijd zijn vals, want bij consequent onderzoek blijken zij tot logische tegenstrijdigheden te leiden. Bij al onze wetenschappelijke bevindingen rekenen we onvermijdelijk altijd met enkele valse grootheden: maar omdat deze grootheden ten minste constant zijn, zoals bijvoorbeeld onze gewaarwording van tijd en ruimte, krijgen de resultaten van de wetenschap toch een volmaakte strengheid en zekerheid in hun onderlinge samenhang: men kan erop voortbouwen – tot aan dat uiterste punt, waarop de verkeerde basisveronderstellingen, de genoemde constante fouten, in conflict komen met de resultaten, bijvoorbeeld in de atomenleer. We voelen ons hier nog steeds gedwongen uit te gaan van een ‘ding’ of stoffelijk ‘substraat’ dat bewogen wordt, terwijl de hele wetenschappelijke procedure juist heeft gepoogd al het dingachtige (stoffelijke) tot bewegingen te ontleden: ook hier blijven we ten slotte zitten met onze gewaarwording van iets wat beweegt en iets wat bewogen wordt en we komen deze tovercirkel niet uit omdat het geloof aan dingen van oudsher met onze natuur verweven is. – Als Kant zegt ‘het verstand put zijn wetten niet uit de natuur, maar schrijft ze haar voor’ dan is dit volledig waar ten aanzien van het begrip van de natuur dat wij genoodzaakt zijn met haar te verbinden (natuur = wereld als voorstelling, dat wil zeggen als dwaling), maar dat de optelsom is van een grote hoeveelheid dwalingen van het verstand. – Op een wereld die niet onze voorstelling is zijn de getallenwetten in het geheel niet toepasbaar: zij gelden alleen in de mensenwereld.

 

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

 

18.Fundamental questions of metaphysics

Reading Friedrich Nietzsche’s Human all too human

Read the introduction here

You can read the aphorism I discuss here in English an German below the main article.

Synopsis, quote from the translation by Helen Zimmern and my take on it.

The history of thoughts will contain a statement by a famous logician1 and it will be seen in new light: “The primordial general law of the cognizant knowing subject consists in the inner necessity of recognizing every object in itself in its own nature, as a thing identical with itself, consequently self-existing and at bottom remaining ever the same and unchangeable: in short, in recognizing everything as a substance.” Everything that thinks needs to see the others whole, not changing, its identity from itself.  Even this law came from somewhere and one day it will be shown how in lower organisms this came to be. These organisms see first one thing and then they see more but only with one quality at a time or one relation to it. Our ancestors see only one, stand alone, quality at a time The first step in logic is the judgment, the nature of which, according to the decision of the best logicians, consists in belief. At the bottom of all belief lies the sensation of the pleasant or the painful in relation to the sentient subject. In logic you first have judgment which comes from belief which comes from pleasant or painful sensations. We organic beings have originally no interest in anything but its relation to us in connection with pleasure and pain. We are interested in the feelings our interactions with others bring, we are not interested in the other.  Between moments we have a feeling and notice this, lie moments of rest, of non-feeling; the world and everything is then without interest for us, we notice no change in it (as even now a deeply interested person does not notice when any one passes him). When we have a feeling, and are aware of it, all other inputs are blocked. From the period of the lower organism’s man has inherited the belief that similar things exist (this theory is only contradicted by the matured experience of the most advanced science). Humans inherited from lower beings the belief that similar things exist2. The primordial belief of everything organic from the beginning is perhaps even this, that all the rest of the world is one and immovable. From the believe in similar thing stems the believe that the world is one and never changing. The point furthest removed from those early beginnings of logic is the idea of Causality, In those early days of logical thinking there was no notion of causality3. indeed we still really think that all sensations and activities are acts of the free will4 Our idea of a free will comes from those early “logical” days. when the sentient individual contemplates himself, he regards every sensation, every alteration as something isolated, that is to say, unconditioned and disconnected,—it rises up in us without connection with anything foregoing or following. If we think about ourselves, we look at everything that happens to us as something that stands on its own. Therefore, belief in the freedom of the will is an original error of everything organic, as old as the existence of the awakenings of logic in it Without a notion of causality, the sensations we have stands on their own, and feel to originate from themselves. Our thoughts and actions can be seen as originating from ourselves instead of being caused by something else. But inasmuch as all metaphysics has concerned itself chiefly with substance and the freedom of will, it may be designated as the science which treats of the fundamental errors of mankind, but treats of them as if they were fundamental truths.

In one sentence:

From the beginning we thought “in boxes” and our free will saw no causes.

1Note from the Dutch translation point’s to the Russian philosopher Afrikan Spir, Denken und wirklichkeit, p177 “So sehr hat sich dem menschlichen Bewusstsein der Gedanke unbedingter, von dem Subjecte unabhängig existirender Gegenstände eingeprägt, dass der Begriff des Objects überhaupt mit dem des Unbedingten geradezu als identificirt oder verschmolzen erscheint. Nicht allein gewöhnlichen Leuten, sondern selbst philosophischen Männern ist dieser Begriff des Objects .am geläufigsten. Das lehrt uns die Geschichte der Philosophie. Das Bewusstsein, dass die Objecte des Erkennens von diesem letzteren selbst abhängig sind“ (Read more)

2 “gleiche Dinge“ or same things. The belief that there are same things, my take on that is that for example a spider with a red cross wil bring a similar reaction as the next spider with a red cross even if there are small differences. Our ancestors believed in similar thing, otherwise it would be to dangerous if they examine every spider with a red cross they encounter.

3“Causality (also referred to as causation,[1] or cause and effect) is the natural or worldly agency or efficacy that connects one process (the cause) with another process or state (the effect), where the first is partly responsible for the second, and the second is partly dependent on the first. In general, a process has many causes, which are said to be causal factors for it, and all lie in its past. An effect can in turn be a cause of, or causal factor for, many other effects, which all lie in its future. Causality is metaphysically prior to notions of time and space.” (Read more)

4 Free will is the ability to choose between different possible courses of action unimpeded. (Read more)


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

  1. FUNDAMENTAL QUESTIONS OF METAPHYSICS.—When the history of the rise of thought comes to be written, a new light will be thrown on the following statement of a distinguished logician :— “The primordial general law of the cognisant subject consists in the inner necessity of recognising every object in itself in its own nature, as a thing identical with itself, consequently self-existing and at bottom remaining ever the same and unchangeable : in short, in recognising everything as a substance.” Even this law, which is here called ” primordial,” has evolved: it will some day be shown how gradually this tendency arises in the lower organisms, how the feeble mole-eyes of their organisations at first see only the same thing,—how then, when the various awakenings of pleasure and displeasure become noticeable, various substances are gradually distinguished, but each with one attribute, i.e. one single relation to such an organism. The first step in logic is the judgment,—the nature of which, according to the decision of the best logicians, consists in belief. At the bottom of all belief lies the sensation of the pleasant or the painful in relation to the sentient subject. A new third sensation as the result of two previous single sensations is the judgment in its simplest form. We organic beings have originally no interest in anything but its relation to us in connection with pleasure and pain. Between the moments (the states of feeling) when we become conscious of this connection, lie moments of rest, of non-feeling ; the world and everything is then without interest for us, we notice no change in it (as even now a deeply interested person does not notice when any one passes him). To the plant, things are as a rule tranquil and eternal, everything like itself. From the period of the lower organisms man has inherited the belief that similar things exist (this theory is only contradicted by the matured experience of the most advanced science). The primordial belief of everything organic from the beginning is perhaps even this, that all the rest of the world is one and immovable. The point furthest removed from those early beginnings of logic is the idea of Causality,—indeed we still really think that all sensations and activities are acts of the free will ; when the sentient individual contemplates himself, he regards every sensation, every alteration as something isolated, that is to say, unconditioned and disconnected,—it rises up in us without connection with anything foregoing or following. We are hungry, but do not originally think that the organism must be nourished ; the feeling seems to make itself felt without cause and purpose, it isolates itself and regards itself as arbitrary. Therefore, belief in the freedom of the will is an original error of everything organic, as old as the existence of the awakenings of logic in it ; the belief in unconditioned substances and similar things is equally a primordial as well as an old error of everything organic. But inasmuch as all metaphysics has concerned itself chiefly with substance and the freedom of will, it may be designated as the science which treats of the fundamental errors of mankind, but treats of them as if they were fundamental truths.

Menschliches allzu menschlich 1878/80

  1. Grundfragen der Metaphysik. – Wenn einmal die Entstehungsgeschichte des denkens geschrieben ist, so wird auch der folgende Satz eines ausgezeichneten Logikers von einem neuen Lichte erhellt dastehen: “Das ursprüngliche allgemeine Gesetz des erkennenden Subjects besteht in der inneren Nothwendigkeit, jeden Gegenstand an sich, in seinem eigenen Wesen als einen mit sich selbst identischen, also selbstexistirenden und im Grunde stets gleichbleibenden und unwandelbaren, kurz als eine Substanz zu erkennen.” Auch dieses Gesetz, welches hier “ursprünglich” genannt wird, ist geworden: es wird einmal gezeigt werden, wie allmählich, in den niederen Organismen, dieser Hang entsteht, wie die blöden Maulwurfsaugen dieser Organisationen zuerst Nichts als immer das Gleiche sehen, wie dann, wenn die verschiedenen Erregungen von Lust und Unlust bemerkbarer werden, allmählich verschiedene Substanzen unterschieden werden, aber jede mit Einem Attribut, das heisst einer einzigen Beziehung zu einem solchen Organismus. – Die erste Stufe des Logischen ist das Urtheil; dessen Wesen besteht, nach der Feststellung der besten Logiker, im Glauben. Allem Glauben zu Grunde liegt die Empfindung des Angenehmen oder Schmerzhaften in Bezug auf das empfindende Subject. Eine neue dritte Empfindung als Resultat zweier vorangegangenen einzelnen Empfindungen ist das Urtheil in seiner niedrigsten Form. – Uns organische Wesen interessirt ursprünglich Nichts an jedem Dinge, als sein Verhältniss zu uns in Bezug auf Lust und Schmerz. Zwischen den Momenten, in welchen wir uns dieser Beziehung bewusst werden, den Zuständen des Empfindens, liegen solche der Ruhe, des Nichtempfindens: da ist die Welt und jedes Ding für uns interesselos, wir bemerken keine Veränderung an ihm (wie jetzt noch ein heftig Interessirter nicht merkt, dass jemand an ihm vorbeigeht). Für die Pflanze sind gewöhnlich alle Dinge ruhig, ewig, jedes Ding sich selbst gleich. Aus der Periode der niederen Organismen her ist dem Menschen der Glaube vererbt, dass es gleiche Dinge giebt (erst die durch höchste Wissenschaft ausgebildete Erfahrung widerspricht diesem Satze). Der Urglaube alles Organischen von Anfang an ist vielleicht sogar, dass die ganze übrige Welt Eins und unbewegt ist. – Am fernsten liegt für jene Urstufe des Logischen der Gedanke an Causalität: ja jetzt noch meinen wir im Grunde, alle Empfindungen und Handlungen seien Acte des freien Willens; wenn das fühlende Individuum sich selbst betrachtet, so hält es jede Empfindung, jede Veränderung für etwas Isolirtes, das heisst Unbedingtes, Zusammenhangloses: es taucht aus uns auf, ohne Verbindung mit Früherem oder Späterem. Wir haben Hunger, aber meinen ursprünglich nicht, dass der Organismus erhalten werden will, sondern jenes Gefühl scheint sich ohne Grund und Zweck geltend zu machen, es isolirt sich und hält sich für willkürlich. Also: der Glaube an die Freiheit des Willens ist ein ursprünglicher Irrthum alles Organischen, so alt, als die Regungen des Logischen in ihm existiren; der Glaube an unbedingte Substanzen und an gleiche Dinge ist ebenfalls ein ursprünglicher, ebenso alter Irrthum alles Organischen. Insofern aber alle Metaphysik sich vornehmlich mit Substanz und Freiheit des Willens abgegeben hat, so darf man sie als die Wissenschaft bezeichnen, welche von den Grundirrthümern des Menschen handelt, doch so, als wären es Grundwahrheiten.

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