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Friederich Nietzsche
1844 - 1900

German social and religious critic and philospher who challenged traditional concepts of morality and religion and helped lay the foundations of existentialism. Author of Human, All Too Human (1878), Thus Spoke Zarathustra (1885), Beyond Good and Evil (1886) and other works


Against war it may be said that it makes the victor stupid and the vanquished revengeful.

1878 - from Human, All Too Human
People who comprehend a thing to its very depths rarely stay faithful to it forever. For they have brought its depths into the light of day: and in the depths there is always much that is unpleasant to see.

1878 - from Human, All Too Human
Democratic institutions are quarantine arrangements to combat that ancient pestilence: lust for tyranny. As such they are very useful and very boring.

1880 - from The Wanderer and His Shadow
The greatest danger that always hovered over humanity and still hovers over it is the eruption of madness - which means the eruption of arbitrariness in feeling, seeing and hearing, the enjoyment of the mind's lack of discipline, the joy in human unreason. Not truth and certainty are the opposite of the world of the madman, but the universality and the universal binding force of a faith; in sum, the non-arbitrary character of judgements... Thus the virtuous intellects are needed - oh, let me use the most unambiguous word - what is needed is virtuous stupidity, stolid metronomes for the slow spirit, to make sure that the faithful of the great shared faith stay together and continue their dance... We others are the exception and the danger - and we need eternally to be opposed. - Well, there actually are things to be said in favor of the exception, provided that it never wants to become the rule.

1882 - from The Gay Science
... when morals decay those men emerge whom one calls tyrants: they are the precursors and as it were the precocious harbingers of individuals... In these ages bribery and treason reach their peak, for the love of the newly discovered ego is much more powerful now than the love of the old, used-up "fatherland"... Individuals - being truly in and for themselves - care ... more for the moment than do their opposites, the herd men... The times of corruption are those when the apples fall from the tree: I mean the individuals, for they carry the seeds of the future and are the authors of the spiritual colonization and origin of new states and communities. Corruption is merely a nasty word for the autumn of a people.

1882 - from The Gay Science
... it is usually said... that ... times of corruption are gentler and that cruelty declines drastically compared with the old, stronger age which was more given to faith. All I concede is that cruelty now becomes more refined and that its older forms henceforth offend the new taste; but the art of wounding and torturing others with words and looks reaches its supreme development. ... The men of corruption are witty and slanderous; they know of types of murder that require neither daggers nor assault; they know that whatever is said well is believed.

1882 - from The Gay Science
As soon as corruption sets in anywhere superstition becomes rank. and the previous common faith of a people becomes pale and powerless against it.

1882 - from The Gay Science
It is not enough to prove something, one also has to seduce or elevate people to it. That is why the man of knowledge should learn how to speak his wisdom: and often in such a way that it sounds like folly!

1881 - from Daybreak: Reflections on Moral Prejudices
Error has transformed animals into men; is truth perhaps capable of changing man back into an animal?

1878 - from Human, All Too Human
... every specific body strives to become master over all space and to extend its force and to thrust back all that resists its extension. But it continually encounters similar efforts on the part of other bodies and ends by coming to an arrangement with those of them that are sufficiently related to it: thus they then conspire together for power.

1900 - from The Will to Power
No one now dies of fatal truths: there are too many antidotes to them.

1878 - from Human, All Too Human
The good men are in all ages those who dig the old thoughts, digging deep and getting them to bear fruit - the farmers of the spirit. But eventually all land is depleted, and the ploughshare of evil must come again and again.

1882 - from The Gay Science
Man is more ape than many of the apes.

One has to pay dearly for immortality: one has to die several times while still alive.

1885 - from Thus Spoke Zarathustra
Every attainment, every step forward in knowledge, follows from courage, from hardness against oneself, from cleanliness in relation to oneself.

1888 - from Ecce Homo
Occasionally we discover someone whose views are in advance of their time, but only to the extent that he anticipates the commonplace views of the next decade. He adheres to public opinion before it is public, that is to say he has fallen into the arms of a view that deserves to become trivial a quarter-of-an-hour earlier than others have. His fame, however, usually tends to be much noisier than the fame of the truly great and superior.

1878 - from Human, All Too Human
It is easy also to understand why protest becomes a distinctive moral feature of the modern age and why indignation is a predominant modern emotion. ... Protest is now almost entirely that negative phenomenon which characteristically occurs as a reaction to the alleged invasion of someone's rights in the name of someone else's utility. The self-assertive shrillness of protest arises because ... protestors can never win an argument: the indignant self-righteousness of protest arises because ... the protestors can never lose an argument either. Hence the utterance of protest is characteristically addressed to those who already share the protestors' premises. ... Protestors rarely have anyone else to talk to but themselves. This is not to say that protest cannot be effective; it is to say that it cannot be rationally effective.

If there is nothing to morality but expressions of will, my morality can only be what my will creates.

Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he doesn't become a monster.

Madness is rare in individuals--but in groups, parties, nations, and ages it is the rule.

1886 - from Beyond Good and Evil
The surest way to corrupt a youth is to instruct him to hold in higher esteem those who think alike than those who think differently.

What does not destroy me, makes me strong.

1888 - from "Maxims and Missiles" in Twilight of the Idols
We must not allow ourselves to be burnt for our opinions: we are not that sure of them. But perhaps for this: that we may have and change our opinions.

There are no facts, only interpretations.

1900 - from Nachlass, Nietzsche's posthumously-published notebooks
Convictions are more dangerous enemies of truth than lies.

1886 - from Human, All Too Human
Democracy represents the disbelief in all great men and elite societies.

... the love of truth has its reward in heaven and even on earth.

1886 - from Beyond Good and Evil