The Quotable Friedrich Nietzsche


On Madness

Madness is something rare in individuals -- but in groups, parties, peoples, ages it is the rule.  Beyond Good and Evil.

I fear animals regard man as a creature of their own kind which has in a highly dangerous fashion lost its healthy animal reason -- as the mad animal, as the laughing animal, as the weeping animal, as the unhappy animal.  The Gay Science.

On Religion

After coming into contact with a religious man I always feel I must wash my hands.  Ecce Homo.

Two great European narcotics, alcohol and Christianity.  Twilight of the Idols.

Even today many educated people think that the victory of Christianity over Greek philosophy is a proof of the superior truth of the former -- although in this case it was only the coarser and more violent that conquered the more spiritual and delicate. So far as superior truth is concerned, it is enough to observe that the awakening sciences have allied themselves point by point with the philosophy of Epicurus, but point by point rejected Christianity.  Human, all too Human.

The spiritualization of sensuality is called love: it is a great triumph over Christianity.  Twilight of the Idols.

On the Self

Active, successful natures act, not according to the dictum "know thyself," but as if there hovered before them the commandment: will a self and thou shalt become a self. Assorted Opinions and Maxims.

He who cannot obey himself will be commanded.  That is the nature of living creatures. Thus Spoke Zarathustra.

I assess the power of a will by how much resistance, pain, torture it endures and knows how to turn to its advantage. The Will to Power.

To exercise power costs effort and demands courage.  That is why so many fail to assert rights to which they are perfectly entitled-because a right is a kind of power but they are too lazy or too cowardly to exercise it.  The virtues which cloak these faults are called patience and forbearance. The Wanderer and His Shadow.

On Death

To die proudly when it is no longer possible to live proudly.  Death of one's own free choice, death at the proper time, with a clear head and with joyfulness, consummated in the midst of children and witnesses: so that an actual leave-taking is possible while he who is leaving is still there.  Twilight of the Idols.

On Punishment

Distrust everyone in whom the impulse to punish is powerful!  Thus Spoke Zarathustra.

A strange thing, our kind of punishment! It does not cleanse the offender, it is no expiation: on the contrary, it defiles more than the offense itself.   Daybreak.

The Will to Power

What is good? -- All that heightens the feeling of power, the will to power, power itself in man.  The Anti-Christ.

Not necessity, not desire -- no, the love of power is the demon of men. Let them have everything -- health, food, a place to live, entertainment -- they are and remain unhappy and low-spirited: for the demon waits and waits and will be satisfied.  Daybreak.

My idea is that every specific body strives to become master over all space and to extend its force (its will to power) and to thrust back all that resists its extension.  But it continually encounters similar efforts on the part of other bodies and ends by coming to an arrangement ("union") with those of them that are sufficiently related to it:  thus they then conspire together for power. And the process goes on.  The Will to Power.

[Anything which] is a living and not a dying body... will have to be an incarnate will to power, it will strive to grow, spread, seize, become predominant -- not from any morality or immorality but because it is living and because life simply is will to power...  'Exploitation'...  belongs to the essence of what lives, as a basic organic function; it is a consequence of the will to power, which is after all the will to life.  Beyond Good and Evil.

On Truth

There are no facts, only interpretations.  Daybreak.

It is not things, but opinions about things that have absolutely no existence, which have so deranged mankind! Daybreak.

Convictions are more dangerous enemies of truth than lies.  Human, all too Human.

Extreme positions are not succeeded by moderate ones, but by contrary extreme positions.  The Will to Power.

Why does man not see things? He is himself standing in the way: he conceals things.  Daybreak.

Mystical explanations are considered deep. The truth is that they are not even superficial.  The Gay Science.

What are man's truths ultimately? Merely his irrefutable errors.  The Gay Science.

Over immense periods of time the intellect produced nothing but errors. A few of these proved to be useful and helped to preserve the species: those who hit upon or inherited these had better luck in their struggle for themselves and their progeny. Such erroneous articles of faith...  include the following: that there are things, substances, bodies; that a thing is what it appears to be; that our will is free; that what is good for me is also good in itself.  The Gay Science.

Eternal recurrence

Never yield to remorse, but at once tell yourself: remorse would simply mean adding to the first act of stupidity a second.  The Wanderer and his Shadow.

What, if some day or night a demon were to steal after you into your loneliest loneliness and say to you: "This life as you now live it and have lived it, you will have to live once more and innumerable times more; and there will be nothing new in it, but every pain and every joy and every thought and sigh and everything unutterably small or great in your life will have to return to you, all in the same succession and sequence - even this spider and this moonlight between the trees, and even this moment and I myself. The eternal hourglass of existence is turned upside down again and again, and you with it, speck of dust!" Would you not throw yourself down and gnash your teeth and curse the demon who spoke thus?...  Or how well disposed would you have to become to yourself and to life to crave nothing more fervently than this ultimate eternal confirmation and seal?  The Gay Science.

The Bad Man

Whoever has overthrown an existing law of custom has always first been accounted a bad man: but when, as did happen, the law could not afterwards be reinstated and this fact was accepted, the predicate gradually changed;  history treats almost exclusively of these bad men who subsequently became good men!  Daybreak.

I know my fate. One day there will be associated with my name the recollection of something frightful -- of a crisis like no other before on earth, of the profoundest collision of conscience, of a decision evoked against everything that until then had been believed in, demanded, sanctified. I am not a man. I am dynamite.  Ecce Homo.