The Twilight of the Idols - The Antichrist Complete Works, Volume Sixteen

By Friedrich Nietzsche

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peculiar case, was no
exception even in his time. The same kind of degeneracy was silently
preparing itself everywhere: ancient Athens was dying out. And Socrates
understood that the whole world needed him,--his means, his remedy, his
special artifice for self-preservation. Everywhere the instincts were
in a state of anarchy; everywhere people were within an ace of excess:
the _monstrum in animo_ was the general danger. "The instincts would
play the tyrant; we must discover a counter-tyrant who is stronger than
they." On the occasion when that physiognomist had unmasked Socrates,
and had told him what he was, a crater full of evil desires, the great
Master of Irony let fall one or two words more, which provide the key
to his nature. "This is true," he said, "but I overcame them all." How
did Socrates succeed in mastering himself? His case was at bottom only
the extreme and most apparent example of a state of distress which
was beginning to be general: that state in which no one was able to
master himself and in which the instincts turned one against the other.
As the extreme example of this state, he fascinated--his terrifying
ugliness made him conspicuous to every eye: it is quite obvious that he
fascinated still more as a reply, as a solution, as an apparent cure of
this case.


When a man finds it necessary, as Socrates did, to create a tyrant out
of reason, there is no small danger that something else wishes to play
the tyrant. Reason was then discovered as a saviour; neither Socrates
nor his "patients" were at liberty to be rational or not, as they
pleased; at that time it was _de rigueur,_ it had become a last shift.
The fanaticism with which the whole of Greek thought plunges into
reason, betrays a critical condition of things: men were in danger;
there were only two alternatives: either perish or else be absurdly
rational. The moral bias of Greek philosophy from Plato onward, is the
outcome of a pathological condition, as is also its appreciation of
dialectics. Reason = Virtue = Happiness, simply means: we must imitate
Socrates, and confront the dark passions permanently with the light
of day--the light of reason. We must at all costs be clever, precise,
clear: all yielding to the instincts, to the unconscious, leads


I have now explained how Socrates fascinated: he seemed to be a
doctor, a Saviour. Is it necessary to expose the errors which lay in
his faith in "reason at any price"?--It is a piece of self-deception
on the part of philosophers and moralists to suppose that they can

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Text Comparison with Thoughts out of Season, Part I David Strauss, the Confessor and the Writer - Richard Wagner in Bayreuth.

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Such a combination--a biblical mind, yet one open to new thoughts--was not easily found.
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His love for them was unusual; perhaps it can only be fully understood emotionally by us: like all men who are capable of very great love, Nietzsche lent the objects of his affection anything they might happen to lack in the way of greatness, and when at last his eyes were opened, genuine pain, not malice, was the motive of even the most bitter of his diatribes.
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This error is in the highest degree pernicious: not because it is.
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with the public mind have blindfolded their eyes and closed their ears.
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From the play of airy jests--that is to say, Straussian jests--to the heights of solemn earnestness--that is to say, Straussian earnestness--they remain stolidly at his elbow.
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Now, as an idea--even that of Strauss's concerning the universe--has no face, if there be any face in the question at all it must be that of the idealist, and the procedure may be subdivided into the following separate actions:--Strauss, in any case, throws Schopenhauer open, whereupon the latter slaps Strauss in the face.
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If in the latter we can trace the old man's anxiety to secure even a limited possession of knowledge--so it be but on a firm basis--in the former we encounter the mature man, full of the daring of the discoverer and conqueror in the realm of thought.
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There is one passage in the confession-book where the incurable optimism referred to above bursts forth with the full joyousness of holiday spirits (pp.
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For does it not contain the best possible answer to the rude speech of Schopenhauer, respecting the ill-advised God who had nothing better to do than to transform Himself into this miserable world? if, for example, the Creator Himself had shared Lessing's conviction of the superiority of struggle to tranquil possession?" What!--a God who would choose _perpetual error_, together with a striving after truth, and who would, perhaps, fall humbly at Strauss's feet and cry to him, "Take thou all Truth, it is thine!"? If ever a God and a man were ill-advised, they are this Straussian God, whose hobby is to err and to fail, and this Straussian man, who must atone for this erring and failing.
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As a matter of fact, this union of impudence and weakness, of daring words and cowardly concessions, this cautious deliberation as to which sentences will or will not impress the Philistine or smooth him down the right way, this lack of character and power masquerading as character and power, this meagre wisdom in the guise of omniscience,--these are the features in this book which I detest.
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In this way, the extraordinary success of his book is partly explained: "Thus we live and hold on our way in joy," the scholar cries in his book, and delights to see others rejoicing over the announcement.
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In striving after this state of bliss, he often seems to waver between two alternatives--either to mimic the brave and dialectical petulance of Lessing, or to affect the manner of the faun-like and free-spirited man of antiquity that Voltaire was.
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In this book, that repulsive monster of style Gutzkow appears as a classic, and, according to its injunctions, we seem to be called upon to accustom ourselves to quite a new and wondrous crowd of classical authors, among which the first, or one of the first, is David Strauss: he whom we cannot describe more aptly than we have already--that is to say, as a worthless stylist.
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A few have already spoken out on the subject.
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Moreover, he who knows how the ancients exerted themselves in order to learn to write and speak correctly, and how the moderns omit to do so, must feel, as Schopenhauer says, a positive relief when he can turn from a German book like the one under our notice, to dive into those other works, those ancient works which seem to him still.
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was nothing to induce him to continue this indulgence: all he desired now was to come to terms with himself, to think of the nature of the world in dramatic actions, and to philosophise in music; _what desires_ he still possessed turned in the direction of the _latest philosophical views_.
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It almost seemed, therefore, as if Beethoven had set himself the contradictory task of expressing pathos in the terms of the ethos.
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He deeply feels the need of establishing a _traditional style_ for his art, by means of which his work may continue to live from one age to another in a pure form, until it reaches that _future_ which its creator ordained for it.
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And now ask yourselves, ye generation of to-day, Was all this composed _for you_? Have ye the courage to point up to the stars of the whole of this.