Early Greek Philosophy & Other Essays Collected Works, Volume Two

By Friedrich Nietzsche

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that plurality, diversity and variety of the empirically
known world, the change of its qualities, the order in its ups and
downs, is thrown aside mercilessly as mere appearance and delusion;
from there nothing is to be learnt, therefore all labour is wasted
which one bestows upon this false, through-and-through futile world,
the conception of which has been obtained by being hum-bugged by the
senses. He who judges in such generalisations as Parmenides did, ceases
therewith to be an investigator of natural philosophy in detail; his
interest in phenomena withers away; there develops even a hatred of
being unable to get rid of this eternal fraud of the senses. Truth is
now to dwell only in the most faded, most abstract generalities, in the
empty husks of the most indefinite words, as in a maze of cobwebs; and
by such a "truth" now the philosopher sits, bloodless as an abstraction
and surrounded by a web of formulæ. The spider undoubtedly wants the
blood of its victims; but the Parmenidean philosopher hates the very
blood of his victims, the blood of Empiricism sacrificed by him.


And that was a Greek who "flourished" about the time of the outbreak
of the Ionic Revolution. At that time it was possible for a Greek
to flee out of the superabundant reality, as out of a mere delusive
schematism of the imaginative faculties--not perhaps like Plato into
the land of the eternal ideas, into the workshop of the world-creator,
in order to feast the eyes on unblemished, unbreakable primal-forms of
things--but into the rigid death-like rest of the coldest and emptiest
conception, that of the "Being." We will indeed beware of interpreting
such a remarkable fact by false analogies. That flight was not a
world-flight in the sense of Indian philosophers; no deep religious
conviction as to the depravity, transitoriness and accursedness of
Existence demanded that flight--that ultimate goal, the rest in the
"Being," was not striven after as the mystic absorption in _one_
all-sufficing enrapturing conception which is a puzzle and a scandal
to common men. The thought of Parmenides bears in itself not the
slightest trace of the intoxicating mystical Indian fragrance, which
is perhaps not wholly imperceptible in Pythagoras and Empedocles; the
strange thing in that fact, at this period, is rather the very absence
of fragrance, colour, soul, form, the total lack of blood, religiosity
and ethical warmth, the abstract-schematic--in a Greek!--above all
however our philosopher's awful energy of striving after _Certainty,_
in a mythically thinking and highly emotional--fantastic age is quite
remarkable. "Grant me but a certainty, ye gods!"is the prayer of
Parmenides, "and be it, in the ocean

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Text Comparison with The Genealogy of Morals The Complete Works, Volume Thirteen, edited by Dr. Oscar Levy.

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remain strangers to ourselves, we understand ourselves not, in ourselves we are bound to be mistaken, for of us holds good to all eternity the motto, "Each one is the farthest away from himself"--as far as ourselves are concerned we are not "knowers.
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My first impulse to publish some of my hypotheses concerning the origin of morality I owe to a clear, well-written, and even precocious little book, in which a perverse and vicious kind of moral philosophy (your real English kind) was definitely presented to me for the first time; and this attracted me--with that magnetic attraction, inherent in that which is diametrically opposed and antithetical to one's own ideas.
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This is very remarkable: Rome is undoubtedly defeated.
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His conscience?--One apprehends at once that the idea "conscience," which is here seen in its supreme manifestation, supreme in fact to almost the point of strangeness, should already have behind it a long history and evolution.
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these things originate from that instinct which found in pain its most potent mnemonic.
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But how is it that that other melancholy object, the consciousness of sin, the whole "bad conscience," came into the world? And it is here that we turn back to our genealogists of morals.
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I consider it as already a progress, as a proof of a freer, less petty, and more Roman conception of law, when the Roman Code of the Twelve Tables decreed that it was immaterial how much or how little the creditors in such a contingency cut off, "si plus minusve secuerunt, ne fraude esto.
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There has not yet been found a grade of civilisation so low, as not to manifest some trace of this relationship.
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At any rate, so as to give some idea of the uncertain, supplementary, and accidental nature of the meaning of punishment and of the manner in which one identical procedure can be employed and adapted for the most diametrically opposed objects, I will at this point give a scheme that has suggested itself to me, a scheme itself based on comparatively.
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There similarly exists a real philosophic bias and affection for the whole ascetic ideal; there should be no illusions on this score.
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Just listen now to the tone a spirit has when it speaks; every spirit has its own tone and loves its own tone.
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An important fact is brought out in the extent to which, as history teaches, this ideal could rule and exercise power over man, especially in all those places where the civilisation and taming of man was completed: that fact is, the diseased state of man up to the present, at any rate, of the man who has been tamed, the physiological struggle of man with death (more precisely, with the disgust with life, with exhaustion, with the wish for the "end").
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but admire the counterfeiter dexterity with which the stamp of virtue, even the ring, the golden ring of virtue, is here imitated.
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Such a feeling of depression can have the most diverse origins; it may be the result of the crossing of too heterogeneous races (or of classes--genealogical and racial differences are also brought out in the classes: the European "Weltschmerz," the "Pessimism" of the nineteenth century, is really the result of an absurd and sudden class-mixture); it may be brought about by a mistaken emigration--a race falling into a climate for which its power of adaptation is insufficient (the case of the Indians in India); it may be the effect of old age and fatigue (the Parisian pessimism from 1850 onwards); it may be a wrong diet (the alcoholism of the Middle Ages, the nonsense of vegetarianism--which, however, have in their favour the authority of Sir Christopher in Shakespeare); it may be blood-deterioration, malaria, syphilis, and the like (German depression after the Thirty Years' War, which infected half Germany with evil diseases, and thereby paved the way for German.
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"--An absolutely Indian conception, as much Brahmanist as Buddhist.
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The herd organisation is a genuine advance and triumph in the fight with depression.
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A valuation of the ascetic ideal inevitably entails a valuation of science as well; lose no time in seeing this clearly, and be sharp to catch it! (_Art_, I am speaking provisionally, for I will treat it on some other occasion in greater detail,––art, I repeat, in which lying is sanctified and the _will for deception_ has good conscience on its side, is much more fundamentally opposed to the ascetic ideal than is science: Plato's instinct felt this––Plato, the greatest enemy of art which Europe has produced up to the present.
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