The Will to Power, Book I and II An Attempted Transvaluation of all Values

By Friedrich Nietzsche

Page 128

and then to declare, with anger and contempt of one's fellows,
that they do not exist!--It is obvious, for instance, that a _marriage_
is worth only as much as those are worth whom it joins--that is to say,
that on the whole it is something wretched and indecent: no priest or
registrar can make anything else of it.

_Virtue_[6] has all the instincts of the average man against it: it is
not profitable, it is not prudent, and it isolates. It is related to
passion, and not very accessible to reason; it spoils the character,
the head, and the senses--always, of course, subject to the medium
standard of men; it provokes hostility towards order, and towards the
_lies_ which are concealed beneath all order, all institutions, and
all reality--when seen in the light of its pernicious influence upon
_others,_ it is _the worst of vices_.

I recognise virtue in that: (1) it does not insist upon being
recognised; (2) it does not presuppose the existence of virtue
everywhere, but precisely something else; (3) it does _not suffer_
from the absence of virtue, but regards it rather as a relation of
perspective which throws virtue into relief: it does not proclaim
itself; (4) it makes no propaganda; (5) it allows no one to pose as
judge because it is always a _personal_ virtue; (6) it does precisely
what is generally _forbidden_: virtue as I understand it is the actual
_vetitum_ within all gregarious legislation; (7) in short, I recognise
virtue in that it is in the Renaissance style--_virtù_--free from all
moralic acid....

[Footnote 6: TRANSLATOR'S NOTE.--Virtue is used here, of course, in the
sense of "the excellence of man," not in the sense of the Christian
negative virtue.]


In the first place[7] Messrs. Virtue-mongers, you have no superiority
over us; we should like to make you take _modesty_ a little more to
heart: it is wretched personal interests and prudence which suggest
your virtue to you. And if you had more strength and courage in your
bodies you would not lower yourselves thus to the level of virtuous
nonentities. You make what you can of yourselves: partly what you are
obliged to make,--that is to say, what your circumstances force you
to _make,_--partly what suits your pleasure and seems useful to you.
But if you do only what is in keeping with your inclinations, or
what necessity exacts from you, or what is useful to you, you ought
_neither to praise yourselves nor let others praise you_!... One is
a _thoroughly puny kind of man_ when one is _only_ virtuous: nothing
should mislead you in this regard! Men who have

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from the _dies nefastus_ when this fatality befell--from the _first_ day of Christianity!--_Why not rather from its last?_--_From today?_--The transvaluation of all values!.