Beyond Good and Evil, decoded

CHAPTER I. PREJUDICES OF PHILOSOPHERS

The will to truth creates many problems. We have revered truth: but why not revere untruth?

Oh yes. Truth is good, positive, unselfish. But couldn’t it be that falsehood is better? That delusion, selfishness, greed and pretense are better? Maybe lies benefit life. We need new and dangerous philosophers to answer that question. I see them beginning to appear.

I’ve been watching philosophers for a long time now. I think that the greater part of conscious thinking is merely instinctive. Philosophers pretend to be objective, but their thoughts are forced into channels by their instincts, their needs, their physiological demands. Why do philosophers think that the certain is better than the doubtful or that illusion is worse than truth? Because they must.

I do not see any reason to object to false opinions. No, the real question is not whether an opinion is true or false; it is whether it is life-affirming or life-preserving. I think that lies are indispensable. Lies, imagination, fictions—these are the stuff of life. Untruth is a condition of life. The philosopher who sees this transcends good and evil.

Philosophers are ridiculed because they are sanctimonious fools, not because they have their heads in the clouds. They get all in a tizzy whenever someone even suggests that truthfulness is not important. Philosophers pretend that they are cold analysts and logicians, like they are better than mystics and soothsayers. Nonsense. Philosophers are charlatans, and Kant was the worst of them. They invent reasons thinking that this will make us believe what they already do. Spinoza dressed up his prejudices in logic—and revealed himself thus as a sickly recluse.

Every great philosophy is the confession of its originator, and an unconscious autobiography. Morality is the seed out of which every philosophy grows. To understand an abstruse metaphysics, ask yourself, “What is this philosopher’s hidden morality?”

So, you call yourself a stoic! You want to live according to nature! Imagine what that would really be like! Nature is completely indifferent. Nature has no pity or purpose or justice. Is that what you want? How could you even live as if you were indifferent? Life is valuing, preferring, being unjust, being limited, and trying to be different! So, you say that you want to live according to life? Well, how could you not?

Kant asks, “How are synthetic judgments a priori possible?” His answer? “By means of a means”—but unfortunately not in five words. But… is that an answer? Isn’t he just repeating the question? How does opium induce sleep? “By means of a means”, the power to cause sleep.

It is high time to replace the Kantian question, “How are synthetic judgments a priori possible?” with another question, “Why do we need to believe synthetic a priori judgments are possible?” We do not have any right to them. When we coin them, we are lying. Only, of course, we need to believe in these lies, just like we need to trust our eyes.

Life is will to power. Let’s just stop with the other explanations that only take us halfway! The urge for self preservation? Self preservation is simply necessary for me to impose my will.

Some harmless introverts still think there are “immediate certainties” like “I think”, as though cognition got hold of this idea without distortion or falsification. Nonsense! “Immediate certainty,” as well as “absolute knowledge” and the “thing in itself,” are all contradictions in terms! A philosopher should say to herself, “When I analyze ‘I think’, I see daring assertions I cannot prove; for example, that it is me who thinks, that thinking is an activity, that ‘I’ caused this ‘thinking’, and, most doubtfully, that I know what thinking is. I approach the sentence ‘I think’ with all of these things presupposed.”

Will is the same as thought in this respect. Philosophers speak of will as if it is simple. It is not. Willing is complicated. “Freedom of the will” is supremacy over the person who must obey. “I am free. He must obey”, focused and strained attention, and the thought “this is necessary now”—these are the characteristics of willing. All this (and more) we label with one name.

All of us both will and obey, however, and this leads to much confusion. We know what it means to be ordered around: constraint, impulsion, pressure, resistance, and motion. But we all have also willed and felt power, and we tend to ignore the other half of the equation. This leads us to error. We start to think that willing suffices for action. When we command something, it seems like the will and the action are somehow one—that we usually get what we want. We start to think that we earned our successes by willing them, and that feels good. “Freedom of the Will” is the feeling of delight of the commander, the person who feels like he triumphs over obstacles with his own will and power. The upper class starts to think that the successes of the commonwealth or country are due to them and their commands.

CHAPTER III. THE RELIGIOUS MOOD

Faith is a continuous suicide of reason—a tough, long-lived, worm-like reason that cannot be killed with a single blow. The Christian faith has always been about the sacrifice of freedom, pride, and self-confidence. It is also subjection, self-derision, and self-mutilation. Christian faith is cruel, and it is adapted to a tender, many-sided, and very fastidious conscience. It it takes for granted that the subjection of the spirit is indescribably painful.

Wherever religious nut jobs have appeared, they have demanded three dangerous regimens: solitude, fasting, and sexual abstinence. They never try to discover which is cause and which is effect, though, or even if there is a relation. Savages and civilized people sometimes give themselves over to sensuality—and then they suddenly feel that they must repent. How is this possible? How is the negation of will possible? How is the saint possible? This is a fascinating question for philosophers. Bad men are turned into saints in a miracle—in an impossible turn of psychology. Goodness is generated from its opposite.

The Latin races are more attached to Catholicism than northern Europeans are attached to Christianity. Atheism to them is a revolt against their race. For us, it is a return to the spirit (or non-spirit) of our race. We have no talent for religion—except for the Irish.

Even the most powerful men bow before the saint, because they see in him self-subjugation and privation. This interests them because they see his will being tested through his own deprivation. They see his will is like their own, and by honouring him, they honour themselves. And they feel threatened by him. They believe that there must be some reason he would deprive himself of the fruit of his will, why he would covet nothing instead. He seems dangerous.

In the Old Testament, men, deeds and words are immense. The men in it make us look like pussycats. Everything in it is so big and different that we barely understand it. We are house cats, and we have so lost the taste for wild life. The New Testament is better suited for us; it is genuine, tender, delicate, and frilly. To put those two books together and call them The Bible is a sin.

Why Atheism? “The father” in God is thoroughly refuted; so is “the judge,” and “the rewarder.” So is his “free will”: he does not hear—and even if he did, he would not know how to help. The worst is that he seems incapable of communicating himself clearly; is he uncertain? These are the reasons people doubt God’s existence. People have the instinct for religion; they just no longer believe in God.

There are three steps on the ladder of religious cruelty. First, we sacrificed each other. We used to sacrifice our children to primitive gods. Then we sacrifice our strongest instincts, our nature. We become ascetics. What remained after our children and our souls? Only God himself. We sacrificed comfort, hope, holiness and faith in future justice. Now we worship cold science. Now we worship rocks and gravity. We sacrificed God for nothingness. That is the ultimate cruelty, and it is yet to be understood.

Some of us have looked deeply into pessimism, asceticism, Buddhism and morality. We have come out the other side of ‘good’ and ‘evil’ and seen the opposite ideal: the world-approving, vivacious, exuberant man who loves everything the way it is and who would have it done all over again for all of eternity, right from the top, with himself in the middle of it.

Perhaps one day, the ideas of “God” and “sin” will seem ridiculous to us, no more important than a child’s pain is to an old man.

To try to love humankind the way that God loves is the nuttiest thing I could imagine. Anyone who tries, like Jesus, to love us all should be looked up to—for they’ve floated away.

The new kind of philosopher (who is the man of the greatest responsibility, who has the conscience for general human development) will use religion to discipline and educate. Religion can be used to overcome resistance to authority. It might be used by the intellectual class as an excuse to have a retired and quiet life. Religion can also be used to provide social structure and a social ladder for citizens to climb. Asceticism and puritanism are important ways to bring a race above its hereditary baseness and upwards to supremacy. And finally, for the majority of the people, who are entitled to exist only so far as they serve and please others, religion gives contentedness with their position in life. It makes suffering seem good, a virtue.

Of course, when religions want to rule, and to be the ends, not just the means, of life, it is a disaster. Most humans are diseased, defective, and degenerating. They are infirm, weak, and suffering. Successful men are the exception, not the rule. Religion tries to keep the weak alive, to preserve the ill, and to succor the suffering. Religions should have allowed these weak animals to perish. Preserving the sick and suffering has lead to the deterioration of the European race. Religions treat winners as losers, and invert our moral values. Religion breaks down everything manly, conquering, and imperious—the instincts that are natural and best for the most successful type of man—and turns them into uncertainty, worry, and self-destruction. Religion has made love of supremacy and power into something detestable. The ideal ‘man’ according to the church is otherworldly, unsensuous, and ‘higher’. The church has made a sublime abortion of man. The church has made us a dwarfed, ludicrous species, sickly and mediocre.

PART FIVE: ON THE NATURAL HISTORY OF MORALS

We are all very sensitive to subtle moral distinctions and insults, but the ‘science of morals’ is coarse and clumsy. It is not a science at all. Philosophers one and all have demanded a serious and solemn science of ethics—and they have looked like idiots. Every philosopher thinks that he has provided the rational ground for ethics. Every philosopher has ended up with a dusty, mildewed mess. Philosophers know only the morality of their class, caste, or religion. They never ask about the morality of other people or times.

Kant says “there exists in us a categorical imperative”. What does that say about Kant? Some moralities are meant to justify their author; others are meant to calm him and make him content with himself. Others he wants to use to crucify himself. Some are meant for vengeance. Kant? He meant to say, “I am a good servant. I obey. Respect me for that, and I will respect you if you do the same.” Ethics are a sign-language of the emotions.

Every morality is a little tyranny against ‘nature’, likewise against ‘reason’: but that can be no objection to it unless one is in believes in another morality which says that tyranny and unreason are impermissible. The essential element in every morality is how it constrains: Every language gains strength and freedom by chafing under the tyranny of metre, rhyme and rhythm. Poets torture themselves! Every artist knows how hard it is to be free! Yet art is one thing that makes life on earth worthwhile. Art transfigures a person and makes him mad and divine. Because the European Christian had to think with Aristotelian presuppositions and in a Christian scheme—because she had arbitrary, severe and antirational thoughts to contend with—the European spirit became flexible and disciplined and ruthless. The tyranny of always proving, proving, proving has forced us to think with a narrow perspective and a kind of stupidity. It has focused us. Slavery is required for spiritual discipline and breeding. Nature says, “be a slave to someone and you will not die.” That is nature’s categorical imperative!

The industrious races find leisure very hard to endure. The English were geniuses. They made Sundays so holy and boring that people were desperate to get back to work. Future rulers will have to ensure that there are fasts. Fasting puts desire in chains and forces it to stoop and submit—and also to become stronger.

Socrates was too good for Plato. Socrates said, ‘nobody wants to hurt herself, therefore badness is involuntary. A bad woman injures herself; she would not do this if she new badness is bad. She errs.” Socrates is a utilitarian. The ‘good’ is useful and pleasant. The ‘bad’ is painful. There’s nothing noble in Socrates; there are no Platonic Forms. Goodness for him was simple—it was the goodness of the mob.

Socrates followed his gut, too. He interrogated Athenians asking them to explain why they did the things they did; they, like him, were men of instinct, and never could. Ultimately, Socrates laughed at himself the way he laughed at them. But why, he asked himself, should one therefore abandon the instincts! Socrates said, incorrectly, that reason could provide arguments to justify instinct. Plato—the innocent—thought that reason and instinct could move together toward one goal, to God, the good, and the beautiful. That’s where everything went wrong. All theologians and philosophers followed that same path. ‘Faith’, or as I call it, ‘the herd’, has triumphed.

The Jews—a people ‘born for slavery’ as Tacitus says, ‘the chosen people’ as they themselves say—the Jews miraculously inverted values. Their prophets fused ‘rich’, ‘godless’, ‘evil’, ‘violent’, ‘sensual’ into one. When they inverted values (and made the word for ‘poor’ a synonym of ‘holy’ and ‘friend’) they started the slave revolt in morals.

Nobody understands the psychopath, the predator—Cesare Borgia, for example. We always look for some ‘damage’ or ‘torment’ in these ‘monsters’. They are the healthiest, most virile tropical predators. Moralists hate the ‘tropical man’, the savage, and try to discredit him as ‘sick’ or ‘tormented’. Nonsense. We do this to make the temperate man seem sound—when he is merely mediocre. We should call this ‘Morality as Timidity’.

What are all of these old moralities if not medicines for a man to weaken his passions? They neuter him, weaken him, reduce his will to power, his desire to be a tyrant. These moralities are the wisdom of old women, purporting to be applicable to all, yet they generalize where generalization is impermissible. Wisdom? Never. This is nothing but prudence, prudence, prudence, mingled with stupidity, stupidity, stupidity. This too for the chapter ‘Morality as Timidity’.

There have been human herds for as long as there have been human beings. Many obey, and few command. It is safe to say that obedience is an instinct or conscience, which says, “I shall obey”. The herd member makes herself out to be the only permissible kind of person, and she extols the public virtues: public spirit, benevolence, consideration, industriousness, moderation, modesty, patience and pity. When leaders are needed, the herd tries to make do with an assembly of clever sheep, and they call that a parliament. A tyrant is a blessing, a release from this burden. Napoleon made us deliriously happy.

The mixed-race person, who contains within himself contrary drives (and worse), this modern kind of person will generally be rather weak. Usually, this person wants nothing more than for the war of his contrary passions to end. Happiness, for him, is peaceful repose. However, if the contrary passions within a person like this lead to internal mastery and discipline, then what a man! These are the incomprehensible men predestined for victory, like Alcibiades, Cesar, and Leonardo da Vinci. These men all appeared at the same time as the weakest type, and they came from the same causes.

When an individual rises above the herd because of his drives, the self-confidence of the community goes to pieces. Its faith in itself, its spine, is broken. That is why the herd detests these drives most of all. Spiritual independence, the will to stand alone, even great intelligence, are seen as dangerous. What makes the sheep quiver is called ‘evil’, and the mediocre, modest, and obedient is called ‘good’ and is honoured. As the sheep’s civilization softens, every kind of severity, even severity in justice, begins to seem horrid. Tender society even worries about the person who harms it, the criminal—even the unrepentant and whole-hearted criminal. Punishment starts to seem unpleasant. ‘Is it not enough to render the criminal harmless? Why punish him as well? To administer punishment is itself dreadful!’ with these questions, the herd morality comes to its conclusion. If all fear could be abolished, the herd morality could be abolished too. Getting closer to that ideal is now called ‘progress’.

In Europe, we now know what Socrates did not: we know what is good and evil. Morality in Europe today is the herd morality. The herd instinct is ‘good’. The herd says that no other morality is possible—it defends itself against other moralities with all its might. Religion helps, and expresses that morality, as do our democratic institutions. Our society cries out like a woman in pity for those who suffer; our morality has become one of mutual commiseration, gloom, and sensitivity. Our own community, the herd, is seen as the saviour.

We, who have a different faith—we who see democracy as the expression of a humankind in decay—what shall we hope for? We hope for new philosophers. We hope for men strong enough to turn ‘eternal values’ on their heads. We hope for men of the future, who will undertake great enterprises in discipline and breeding to put an end to the chance and nonsense that has been ‘history’. We need a new kind of philosopher to put an end to the degeneration of man. The image of him hovers before our eyes.

He who has thought through the collective degeneration of man to what the socialist dolts see as their ideal—the perfect herd animal, the pygmy animal of equal rights and pretensions—he who thinks this through knows a new kind of disgust… and a new task!