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The Philosophy of Nietzsche by Will Durant
送交者: jingchen 2021年01月07日06:37:39 于 [史地人物] 发送悄悄话

The Philosophy of Nietzsche by Will Durant


Senile forests gain renaissance from violent disruptions by forest fires. Senile societies gain renaissance from violent disruptions by invading savages or invading germs.


Nietzsche describes the phenomenon of natural selection very poetically. Sometimes, his descriptions are not very accurate. However, mainstream media deny the phenomenon of natural selection in human societies and suppress those who speak out. That is why Nietzsche is so precious.


The following are some quotes from The Story of Philosophy.


At the age of twenty-three he was conscripted into military service. He would have been glad to get exemption as nearsighted and the only son of a widow, but the army claimed him nevertheless; even philosophers were welcomed as cannon fodder in the great days of Sadowa and Sedan. However, a fall from a horse so wrenched his breast-muscles that the recruiting-sergeant was forced to yield up his prey. Nietzsche never quite recovered from that hurt. His military experience was so brief that he left the army with almost as many delusions about soldiers as he had had on entering it ; the hard Spartan life of commanding and obeying, of endurance and discipline, appealed to his imagination, now that he was free from the necessity of realizing this ideal himself; he came to worship the soldier because his health would not permit him to become one. (P 440)


he turned his fire upon the chauvinistic universities. "Experience teaches us that nothing stands so much in the way of developing great philosophers as the custom of supporting bad ones in state universities. . . • No state would ever dare to patronize such men as Plato and Schopenhauer. . . . The state is always afraid of them." (P 445)


He who must be a creator in good and evil—verily, he must first be a destroyer, and break values into pieces.

Thus the highest evil is part of the highest goodness. But that is creative goodness.

Let us speak thereon, ye wisest men, however bad it be. To be silent is worse; all unuttered truths become poisonous.

And whatever will break on our truths; let it break! Many a house hath yet to be built.

Thus spake Zarathustra. (P 452, Z P 162)


For a moment he became the philologist again, and sought to enforce his new ethic with etymologies that are not quite beyond reproach. He observes that the German language contains two words for bad: schlecht and bose* Schlecht was applied by the upper to the lower classes, and meant ordinary, common; later it came to mean vulgar, worthless, bad. Bose was applied by the lower to the upper classes, and meant unfamiliar, irregular, incalculable, dangerous, harmful, cruel; Napoleon was bose. Many simple peoples feared the exceptional individual as a disintegrating force; there is a Chinese proverb that "the great man is a public misfortune. Likewise, gut had two meanings, as opposite to schlecht and hose: as used by the aristocracy it meant strong, brave, powerful, warlike, godlike {gut from Gott) ; as used by the people it meant familiar, peaceful, harmless, kind. (P 456)


Here then were two contradictory valuations of human behavior, two ethical standpoints and criteria: a Herren-morcH and a Heerden-moral—a morality of masters and a morality of the herd. The former was the accepted standard in classical antiquity, especially among the Romans; even for the ordinary Roman, virtue was virtus—manhood, courage, enterprise, bravery. But from Asia, and especially from the Jews in the days of their political subjection, came the other standard; subjection breeds humility, helplessness breeds altruism-—which is an appeal for help. Under this herd morality love of danger and power gave way to love of security and peace ; strength was replaced by cunning, open by secret revenge, sternness by pity, initiative by imitation, the pride of honor by the whip of conscience. Honor is pagan* Roman*- feudal, aristocratic; conscience is Jewish, Christian, bourgeois, democratic.


It was the eloquence of the prophets, from Amos to Jesus, that made the view of a subject class an almost universal ethic; the "world" and the "flesh" became synonyms of evil, and poverty a proof of virtue. This valuation was brought to a peak by Jesus : with him every man was of equal worth, and had equal rights; out of his doctrine came democracy, utilitarianism, socialism; progress was now defined in terms of these plebeian philosophies, in terms of progressive equalization and vulgarization, in terms of decadence and descending life.  The final stage in this decay is the exaltation of pity and self-sacrifice, the sentimental comforting of criminals, "the inability of a society to excrete." Sympathy is legitimate if it is active ; but pity is a paralyzing mental luxury, a waste of feeling for the irremediably botched, the incompetent, the defective, the vicious, the culpably diseased and the irrevocably criminal. There is a certain indelicacy and intrusiveness in pity; "visiting the sick" is an orgasm of superiority in the contemplation of our neighbor's helplessness.


Behind all this "morality" is a secret will to power. Love itself is only a desire for possession; courtship is combat and mating is mastery : Don Jose kills Carmen to prevent her from becoming the property of another. "People imagine that they are unselfish in love because they seek the advantage of another being, often in opposition to their own. But for so doing they want to possess the other being. . . .  Even in the love of truth is the desire to possess it, perhaps to be its first possessor, to find it virginal. Humility is the protective coloration of the will to power.


Against this passion for power, reason and morality are helpless ; they are but weapons in its hands, dupes of its game. "Philosophical systems are shining mirages"; what we see is not the long-sought truth, but the reflection of our own desires. "The philosophers all pose as though their real opinions had been discovered through the self-evolving of a cold, pure, divinely indifferent dialectic ; . . . whereas in fact a prejudicial proposition, idea or 'suggestion,' which is generally their heart's desire abstracted and refined, is defended by them with arguments sought out after the event. (P 458)


It is these underground desires, these pulsations of the will to power, that determine our thoughts. "The greater part of our intellectual activity goes on unconsciously, and unfelt by us; . . . conscious thinking ... is the weakest." Because instinct is the direct operation of the will to power, undisturbed by consciousness, "instinct is the most intelligent of all kinds of intelligence which have hitherto been discovered." Indeed, the role of consciousness has been senselessly over-estimated; "consciousness may be regarded as secondary, almost as indifferent and superfluous, probably destined to disappear and to be superseded by perfect automatism." (P 458)

"Zarathustra was fond of all such as makes distant voyages, and like not to live without danger." 2 Hence all war is good, despite the vulgar pettiness of its causes in modern times; "a good war halloweth any cause." Even revolution is good: not in itself, for nothing could be more unfortunate than the supremacy of the masses; but because times of strife bring out the latent greatness of individuals who before had insufficient stimulus or opportunity; out of such chaos comes the dancing star ; out of the turmoil and nonsense of the French Revolution, Napoleon ; out of the violence and disorder of the Renaissance such powerful individualities, and in such abundance, as Europe has hardly known since, and could no longer bear. (P 464)


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