Friedrich Nietzsche

On the Genealogy of Morals
A Polemical Tract

[This translation by Ian Johnston of Vancouver Island University, Nanaimo, BC, has certain copyright restrictions.  For information please use the following link: Copyright. Editorial comments, translations in square brackets and italics, and endnotes are by the translator; comments in normal brackets are from Nietzsche’s text. This text (2014) is a revised version of an earlier translation (2009). If you would like a Word file for this translation, please contact Ian Johnston (there is no charge for these files).



First Essay
Good and Evil, Good and Bad


—These English psychologists, whom we have to thank for the only attempts up to this point to produce a history of the origins of morality—in themselves they serve up to us no small riddle. By way of a living riddle, they even offer, I confess, something substantially more than their books—they are interesting in themselves! These English psychologists—what do they really want? We find them, willingly or unwillingly, always at the same work, that is, shoving the partie honteuse [shameful part] of our inner world into the foreground and looking for the truly effective and operative factor which has determined our development in the very place where man’s intellectual pride would least wish to find it (for example, in the vis inertiae [force of inertia] of habit or in forgetfulness or in a blind, contingent, mechanical joining of ideas or in something purely passive, automatic, reflex, molecular, and fundamentally stupid)—what is it that really drives these psychologists always in this particular direction? Is it a secret, malicious, and common instinct, perhaps one which cannot be acknowledged even to itself, for belittling humanity? Or something like a pessimistic suspicion, the mistrust of idealists who’ve become disappointed, gloomy, venomous, and green? Or a small underground hostility and rancune [rancour] towards Christianity (and Plato), which perhaps has never once managed to cross the threshold of consciousness? Or even a lecherous taste for what is odd or painfully paradoxical, for what in existence is questionable and ridiculous? Or finally—a bit of all of these: a little vulgarity, a little gloominess, a little hostility to Christianity, a little thrill, and a need for pepper? . . . But I’m told that these men are simply old, cold, boring frogs, who creep and hop around and into people, as if they were in their own proper element, that is, in a swamp. I resist that idea when I hear it. What’s more, I don’t believe it. And if one is permitted to hope where one cannot know, then I hope from my heart that the situation with these men might be reversed, that these investigators and the ones peering at the soul through their microscopes may be thoroughly brave, generous, and proud animals, who know how to control their hearts and their pain and who at the same time have educated themselves to sacrifice all desirability for the sake of the truth, for the sake of every truth, even the simple, bitter, hateful, repellent, unchristian, immoral truth. . . . For there are such truths.


So all respect to the good spirits that may govern in these historians of morality! But it’s certainly a pity that they lack the historical spirit, that they’ve been left in the lurch especially by all the good spirits of history itself! As a group they all think essentially unhistorically, in what is now the traditional manner of philosophers. Of that there is no doubt. The incompetence of their genealogies of morals reveals itself at the very beginning, where the issue is to determine the origin of the idea and of the judgment “good.” “People,” so they proclaim, “originally praised unegoistic actions and called them good from the perspective of those for whom they were done, that is, those for whom such actions were useful. Later people forgot how this praise began, and simply because unegoistic actions had, according to custom, always been praised as good, people also felt them as good—as if they were something inherently good.” We perceive right away that this initial derivation already contains all the typical characteristics idiosyncrasies of English psychologists—we have “usefulness,” “forgetting,” “habit,” and finally “error,” all as the foundation for an evaluation in which the higher man up to this time has taken pride, as if it were a sort of privilege of men generally. This pride is to be humbled, this evaluation of worth emptied of value. Has that been achieved? . . .  Now, first of all, it’s obvious to me that from this theory the essential source for the origin of the idea “good” has been sought for and established in the wrong place: the judgment “good” does not originate from those to whom “goodness” was shown! On the contrary, it was the “good people” themselves, that is, the noble, powerful, higher-ranking, and higher-thinking people who felt and set themselves and their actions up as good, that is to say, of the first rank, in opposition to everything low, low-minded, common, and vulgar. From this pathos of distance they first arrogated to themselves the right to create values, to stamp out the names for values. What did they care about usefulness! Particularly in relation to such a hot pouring out of the highest rank-ordering, rank-setting judgments of value, the point of view which considers utility is as foreign and inappropriate as possible. Here the feeling has reached the very opposite of the low level of warmth which is a condition for that calculating shrewdness, that reckoning  by utility—and not just for a moment, not for one exceptional hour, but permanently. The pathos of nobility and distance, as I mentioned, the lasting and dominating feeling, something total and fundamental, of a higher ruling nature in relation to a lower type, to a “beneath”—that is the origin of the opposition between “good” and “bad.” (The right of the master to give names extends so far that we could permit ourselves to grasp the origin of language itself as an expression of the power of the rulers: they say “That is such and such”; they seal every object and event with a sound, and in the process, as it were, take possession of it.) Given this origin, the word “good” is from the start in no way necessarily tied up with “unegoistic” actions, as it is in the superstition of those genealogists of morality. Instead that occurs for the first time with the decline of aristocratic value judgments, when this entire contrast between “egoistic” and “unegoistic” presses itself ever more strongly into the human conscience—it is, to use my own words, the instinct of the herd which, through this contrast, finally gets its word (and its words). And even then, it takes a long time until this instinct in the masses becomes master, so that moral evaluation remains thoroughly hung up on and bogged down in that opposition (as is the case, for example, in modern Europe: today the prejudice that takes “moralistic,” “unegoistic,” and “désintéressé [distinterested] as equally valuable ideas already governs with the force of a “fixed idea” and a disease of the brain).


Secondly, however, and quite apart from the fact that this hypothesis about the origin of the value judgment “good” is historically untenable, it suffers from an inherent psychological contradiction. The utility of the unegoistic action is supposed to be the origin of the praise it receives, and this origin has allegedly been forgotten:—but how is this forgetting even possible? Could the usefulness of such actions at some time or other perhaps just have stopped? The opposite is the case: this utility has rather been an everyday experience throughout the ages, and thus something that has always been constantly re-emphasized. Hence, instead of disappearing from consciousness, instead of becoming something forgettable, it must have pressed itself into the consciousness with ever-increasing clarity. How much more sensible is that contrasting theory (which is not therefore closer to the truth—) advocated, for example, by Herbert Spencer: he proposes that the idea “good” is essentially the same as the idea “useful” or “functional,” so that in judgments “good” and “bad” human beings sum up and endorse the experiences they have not forgotten and are unable to forget concerning the useful-functional and the harmful-useless.1 According to this theory, good is something which has always proved useful, so that it may assert its validity as “valuable in the highest degree,” as “valuable in itself.” This path to an explanation is, as I said, also false, but at least the account itself is inherently sensible and psychologically tenable.


I was given a hint of the right direction by the following question: What, from an etymological perspective, do the meanings of “good,” as manifested in different languages, really signify? There I found that all of them lead back to the same transformation of ideas—that everywhere “noble” and “aristocratic” in a social sense is the fundamental idea out of which “good” in the sense of “spiritually noble,” “aristocratic,” “spiritually high-minded,” “spiritually privileged” necessarily develops, a process which always runs in parallel with that other one that finally transforms “common,” “vulgar,” and “low” into the concept “bad.” The most eloquent example of the latter is the German word “schlect [bad] itself, which is identical with the word “schlicht [plain]” —compare “schlectweg [simply] and “schlechterdings [simply]and which originally designated the plain, common man, still without any suspicious side glance, simply in contrast to the noble man. Around the time of the Thirty Years War approximately, hence late enough, this sense changed into the one used now.2 As far as the genealogy of morals is concerned, this point strikes me as a fundamental insight; that it was first discovered so late we can ascribe to the repressive influence which democratic prejudice in the modern world exercises concerning all questions of origin. And this occurs in what appears to be the most objective realm of natural science and physiology, a point I can only hint at here. But the sort of mischief this prejudice can cause, once it has become unleashed and turned into hatred, particularly where morality and history are concerned, is revealed in the well-known case of Buckle: the plebeian nature of the modern spirit, which originated in England, broke out once again on its home turf, as violently as a muddy volcano and with that salty, over-loud, and common eloquence with which all previous volcanoes have spoken up to now.3


With respect to our problem—which for good reasons we can call a quiet problem and which addresses in a refined manner only a few ears—there is no little interest in establishing the point that often in those words and roots which designate “good” there still shines through the main nuance of what made the nobility feel they were men of higher rank. It’s true that in most cases they perhaps name themselves simply after their superiority in strength (as “the powerful,” “the masters,” “those in command”) or after the most visible sign of this superiority, for example, as “the rich” or “the owners” (that is the meaning of arya [noble], and the corresponding words in Iranian and Slavic). But they also name themselves after a typical characteristic, and this is the case which is our concern here.  For instance, they call themselves “the truthful,” above all the Greek nobility, whose mouthpiece is the Megarian poet Theogonis.4 The word developed for this characteristic, σθλος [esthlos: fine, noble], indicates, according to its root meaning, a man who is, who possesses reality, who really exists, who is true. Then, with a subjective transformation, it indicates the true man as the truthful man. In this phase of conceptual transformation it becomes the slogan and catch phrase for the nobility, and its sense shifts entirely over to mean “aristocratic,” to mark a distinction from the lying common man, as Theogonis takes and presents him—until finally, after the decline of the nobility, the word remains as a designation of spiritual noblesse [nobility] and becomes, as it were, ripe and sweet. In the word κακός [kakos: weak, worthless], as in the word δειλός [deilos: cowardly] (the plebeian in contrast to the αγαθός [agathos: good man]), the cowardice is emphasized. This perhaps provides a hint about the direction in which we have to seek the etymological origin for the multiple meanings of αγαθός [agathos: good]. In the Latin word malus [bad] (which I place alongside μέλας [melas: black, dark]) the common man could be designated as the dark-coloured, above all as the dark-haired (“hic niger est” [“this man is dark”]), as the pre-Aryan inhabitant of Italian soil, who through this colour stood out most clearly from those who became dominant, the blonds, that is, the conquering races of Aryans. At any rate, Gaelic offers me an exactly corresponding example—the word fin (for example, in the name Fin-Gal), the term designating nobility and finally the good, noble, and pure, originally referred to the blond-headed man in contrast to the dusky, dark-haired original inhabitants. Incidentally, the Celts were a thoroughly blond race. People are wrong when they link those traces of a basically dark-haired population, which are noticeable on the carefully prepared ethnographic maps of Germany, with any Celtic origin and mixing of blood, as Virchow still does.5 It is much rather the case that in these places the pre-Aryan population of Germany predominates. (The same is true for almost all of Europe: essentially the conquered races have finally attained the upper hand for themselves once again in colour, shortness of skull, perhaps even in the intellectual and social instincts. Who can confirm for us that modern democracy, the even more modern anarchism, and indeed that preference for the “Commune,” for the most primitive form of society, which all European socialists now share, does not indicate for the most part a monstrous throwback [Nachschlag]—and that the conquering master race, the race of Aryans, is not being physiologically defeated, too?). The Latin word bonus [good] I believe I can explicate as “the warrior,” provided that I am correct in tracing bonus back to an older word duonus (compare bellum [war] = duellum [war] = duen-lum, which seems to me to contain that word duonus). Hence, bonus as a man of war, of division (duo [two]), as a warrior. We see what constituted a man’s “goodness” in ancient Rome. What about our German word “Gut [good] itself? Doesn’t it indicate “den Göttlichen [the god-like man], the man of “göttlichen Geschlechts [“the family of gods]”? And isn’t that identical to the people’s (originally the nobles’) name for the Goths? The reasons for this hypothesis do not belong here.—


To this rule that the concept of political superiority always resolves itself into the concept of spiritual superiority, it is at first not an exception (although it may provide room for exceptions), when the highest caste is also the priestly caste and consequently for its overall description prefers an attribute which recalls its priestly function. Here, for example, the words “pure” and “impure” first appear as contrasting marks of one’s social position, and here, too, a “good” and a “bad” also develop later with a meaning which no longer refers to social position. Incidentally, people should be warned not to begin by taking these ideas of “pure” and “impure” too seriously, too broadly, or even symbolically. Instead they should understand that all the ideas of ancient humanity, to a degree we can hardly imagine, are originally much more coarse, crude, superficial, narrow, blunt, and, in particular, unsymbolic. The “pure man” is initially simply a man who washes himself, who forbids himself certain foods that produce diseases of the skin, who doesn’t sleep with the dirty women of the lower people, who has a horror of blood—no more, not much more! On the other hand, of course, from the very nature of an essentially priestly aristocracy it is clear enough how precisely here the opposition between different evaluations could early on become dangerously internalized and sharpened. And, in fact, they finally ripped open fissures between man and man, over which even an Achilles of the free spirit could not cross without a shudder.6 From the beginning there has been something unhealthy about such priestly aristocracies and about the customary attitudes which govern in them, which turn away from action, sometimes brooding, sometimes exploding with emotion, as a result of which in the priests of almost all ages there have appeared almost unavoidably those debilitating intestinal illnesses and neurasthenia. But what they themselves came up with as a remedy for this pathological disease—surely we must assert that it has finally shown itself, through its effects, even a hundred times more dangerous than the illness for which it was to provide relief. Human beings themselves are still sick from the after-effects of this priestly naïveté in healing! Let’s think, for example, of certain forms of diet (avoiding meat), of fasting, of celibacy, of the flight “into the desert” (Weir-Mitchell’s isolation, but naturally without the fattening-up cure and overeating which follow it and which constitute the most effective treatment for all hysteria induced by the ascetic ideal): consider also the whole metaphysic of the priests, so hostile to the senses, making men lazy and sophisticated, the way they hypnotize themselves in the manner of fakirs and Brahmins—Brahmanism employed as a crystal ball and fixe Idee [fixed idea]—and finally the only too understandable and common dissatisfaction with its radical cure, with nothingness (or God—the desire for a unio mystica [mystical union] with God is the longing of the Buddhist for nothingness, nirvana—and nothing more!).7 Among the priests, everything simply becomes more dangerous—not only the remedies and arts of healing, but also pride, vengeance, mental acuity, dissipation, love, thirst for power, virtue, and illness—although it’s fair enough also to add that on the foundation of this fundamentally dangerous form of human existence, the priestly, for the first time the human being became, in general, an interesting animal, that here the human soul first attained depth in a higher sense and became evil—and, indeed, these are the two basic reasons for humanity’s superiority, up to now, over other animals!


You will have already guessed how easily the priestly way of evaluating can split from the knightly-aristocratic and then continue to develop into its opposite. Such a development receives a special stimulus every time the priestly caste and the warrior caste confront each other jealously and are not willing to agree amongst themselves about the reward. The knightly-aristocratic judgments of value have as their basic assumption a powerful physicality, a blooming, rich, even overflowing health, together with those things required to maintain these qualities—war, adventure, hunting, dancing, war games, and, in general, everything which involves strong, free, and happy action. The priestly-noble method of evaluating has, as we saw, other preconditions: these make it difficult enough for them when it comes to war! As is well known, priests are the most evil of enemies—but why? Because they are the most powerless. From their powerlessness, their hate grows among them into something huge and terrifying, to the most spiritual and most poisonous manifestations. The really great haters in world history and also the cleverest haters have always been priests—in comparison with the spirit of priestly revenge all the remaining spirits are hardly worth considering at all. Human history would be a really stupid affair without the spirit that entered it from the powerless. Let us quickly consider the greatest example. Nothing on earth which has been done against “the nobility,” “the powerful,” “the masters,” and “the possessors of power” is worth mentioning in comparison with what the Jews have done against them: the Jews, that priestly people, who knew how to get final satisfaction from their enemies and conquerors merely through a radical transformation of their values, that is, through an act of the most spiritual revenge. This was appropriate only to a priestly people with the most deeply suppressed priestly desire for revenge. In opposition to the aristocratic value equation (good = noble = powerful = beautiful = fortunate = loved by god), the Jews, with a consistency inspiring fear, dared to reverse things and to hang on to that with the teeth of the most profound hatred (the hate of powerlessness), that is, to “only those who suffer are good; the poor, the powerless, the low are the only good people; the suffering, those in need, the sick, the ugly are also the only pious people; only they are blessed by God; for them alone there is salvation.—By contrast, you privileged and powerful people, you are for all eternity the evil, the cruel, the lecherous, the insatiable, the godless; you will also be the unblessed, the cursed, and the damned for all eternity!” . . . We know who inherited this Judaic transformation of values . . . In connection with that huge and immeasurably disastrous initiative which the Jews launched with this most fundamental of all declarations of war, I recall the sentence I wrote at another time (in Beyond Good and Evil, page 118 [Section 195])—namely, that with the Jews the slave rebellion in morality begins: that rebellion which has a two-thousand-year-old history behind it and which we nowadays no longer even notice because it—has triumphed.8


But you fail to understand that? You have no eye for something that needed two millennia to emerge victorious? . . . That’s nothing to wonder at: all lengthy things are hard to see, to assess. However, that is what took place: out of the trunk of that tree of vengeance and hatred, of Jewish hatred—the deepest and most sublime hatred, that is, a hatred which creates ideals and transforms values, something whose like has never existed on earth—from that grew something just as incomparable, a new love, the most profound and most sublime of all the forms of love:—from what other trunk could it have even grown? . . . However, one should not assume that this love arose essentially as the denial of that thirst for revenge, as the opposite of Jewish hatred! No. The reverse is the truth! This love grew out of that hatred, as its crown, as the victorious crown unfolding itself wider and wider in the purest brightness and radiant sunshine, the crown which, so to speak, was seeking in the kingdom of light and height the goal of that hate, aiming for victory, trophies, and seduction, with the same urgency with which the roots of that hatred were sinking down ever deeper and more greedily into everything profound and evil. This Jesus of Nazareth, the personified evangelist of love, this “Saviour” bringing holiness and victory to the poor, to the sick, to the sinners—was he not that very seduction in its most sinister and most irresistible form, the seduction and detour to exactly those Judaic values and innovations in ideals? Didn’t Israel attain, precisely with the detour of this “Saviour,” of this apparent enemy against and dissolver of Israel, the final goal of its sublime thirst for vengeance? Isn’t it part of the secret black art of a truly great politics of revenge, a farsighted, underground, slowly expropriating, and premeditated revenge, that Israel itself had to disown and nail to the cross, like some mortal enemy, the tool essential to its revenge before all the world, so that “all the world,” that is, all Israel’s enemies, could then take this particular bait without a second thought? On the other hand, could anyone, using the full subtlety of his mind, even imagine a more dangerous bait, something to match the enticing, intoxicating, narcotizing, corrupting power of that symbol of the “holy cross,” that ghastly paradox of a “god on the cross,” that mystery of an unimaginable and ultimate final cruelty and self-crucifixion of God for the salvation of mankind? . . . At least it is certain that sub hoc signo [under this sign] Israel, with its vengeance and revaluation of the worth of all other previous values, has triumphed again and again over all other ideals, over all nobler ideals.   


—”But what are you doing still talking about nobler ideals! Let’s follow the facts: the people have triumphed—or ‘the slaves,’ or ‘the rabble,’ or ‘the herd,’ or whatever you want to call them—if this has taken place because of the Jews, then good for them! No people ever had a more world-historical mission. ‘The masters’ have been disposed of. The morality of the common man has prevailed. We may also take this victory as a blood poisoning (it did mix the races up together)—I don’t deny that. But this intoxication has undoubtedly been successful. The ‘salvation’ of the human race (namely, from ‘the masters’) is well under way. Everything is visibly turning Jewish or Christian or plebeian (what do the words matter!). The progress of this poison through the entire body of humanity seems irresistible, although its tempo and pace may seem from now on constantly slower, more delicate, less audible, and more circumspect—well, we have time enough. . . From this point of view, does the church today still have necessary work to do, does it still have a right to exist at all? Or could we dispense with it? Quaeritur [That’s a question to be asked]. It seems that it rather obstructs and hinders the progress of that poison, instead of speeding it up? Well, that just might be what makes the church useful . . . Certainly the church is for all intents and purposes something gross and vulgar, which a more delicate intelligence, a truly modern taste, resists. Shouldn’t the church at least be something more sophisticated? . . . Today it alienates more than it seduces. . . . Who among us would really be a free spirit if the church were not there? The church repels us, not its poison. . . . Apart from the church, we even love the poison. . . .”—This is the epilogue of a “freethinker” to my speech, an honest animal, as he has richly revealed, and in addition a democratic one. He listened to me up to that point and could not bear to hear my silence—since for me at this juncture there is much to be silent about.


The slave revolt in morality begins when the ressentiment itself becomes creative and gives birth to values: the ressentiment of those beings who are prevented from a genuine reaction, that is, something active, and who compensate for that with a merely imaginary vengeance.9 Whereas all noble morality grows out of a triumphant affirmation of one’s own self, slave morality from the start says “No” to what is “outside,” “other,” “not itself.” And this No” is its creative act. This transformation of the glance which confers value—this necessary projection towards what is outer instead of back onto itself—that is inherent in ressentiment. In order to arise, slave morality always requires first an opposing world, a world outside itself. Psychologically speaking, it needs external stimuli in order to act at all—its action is basically reaction. The reverse is the case with the noble method of valuing: it acts and grows spontaneously. It seeks its opposite only to affirm its own self even more thankfully, with even more rejoicing—its negative concept of “low,” “common,” “bad” is merely a pale contrasting image after the fact in relation to its positive basic concept, thoroughly saturated with life and passion, “We are noble, good, beautiful, and happy!” When the noble way of evaluating makes a mistake and abuses reality, this happens with reference to the sphere which it does not know well enough, indeed, the sphere it has strongly resisted learning the truth about: under certain circumstances it misjudges the sphere it despises, the sphere of the common man, of the low people. On the other hand, even if we assume that the feeling of contempt, of looking down, or of looking superior falsifies the image of the person despised, we should note that such distortion will fall short by a long way of the distortion with which the suppressed hatred and vengeance of the powerless man assaults his opponent—naturally, in effigy. In fact, contempt contains too much negligence, too much lack of concern, too much looking away and impatience mixed in with it, even too much of a personal feeling of joy, for it to be capable of converting its object into a truly distorted image and monster. We should not fail to hear the almost benevolent nuances which, for example, the Greek nobility places in all the words with which it separates itself from the lower people—how a constant form of pity, consideration, and forbearance is mixed in there, sweetening the words, to the point where almost all words referring to the common man finally remain as expressions for “unhappy” and “worthy of pity” (compare δειλός [deilos: cowardly], δείλαιος [delaios: mean, low], πονηρός [poneros: oppressed by toil, wretched], μοχθηρός [mochtheros: suffering, wretched]—the last two basically designating the common man as a slave worker and beast of burden)—and how, on the other hand, for the Greek ear the words “bad,” “low,” and “unhappy” have never stopped echoing a single note, one tone colour, in which “unhappy” predominates. This is the inheritance of the old, nobler, and aristocratic way of evaluating, which does not betray its principles even in contempt. (—Philologists should recall the sense in which οϊζυρος [oizuros: miserable], άνολβος [anolbos: unblessed], τλήμων [tlemon: wretched], δυστυχεν [dystychein: unfortunate] and ξυμφορά [xymfora: misfortune] were used). The “well born” simply felt they were “the happy ones”; they did not have to construct their happiness artificially first by looking at their enemies, or in some circumstances to talk themselves into it, to lie to themselves into it (the way all men of ressentiment habitually do). Similarly they knew, as complete men overloaded with power and thus necessarily active, that they must not separate action from happiness—they considered being active necessarily associated with happiness (that’s where the phrase ε πράττειν [eu prattein: do well, succeed] derives its origin)—all this is very much the opposite of “happiness” at the level of the powerless and oppressed, those festering with poisonous and hostile feelings, among whom happiness comes out essentially as a narcotic, an anaesthetic, quiet, peace, “Sabbath,” relaxing the soul, and stretching one’s limbs, in short, as something passive. While the noble man lives for himself with trust and candour (γενναος [gennaios], meaning “of noble birth,” stresses the nuance “upright” and also probably “naive”), the man of ressentiment is neither upright nor naive, nor honest and direct with himself. His soul squints. His spirit loves hiding places, secret paths, and back doors. Everything furtive attracts him as his world, his security, his refreshment. He understands about remaining silent, not forgetting, waiting, temporarily diminishing himself, humiliating himself. A race of such men of ressentiment will inevitably end up cleverer than any noble race. It will also value cleverness to a completely different extent, that is, as a condition of existence of the utmost importance; whereas, cleverness among noble men easily acquires a delicate aftertaste of luxury and sophistication about it:—here it is simply far less important than the complete functional certainty of the ruling unconscious instincts or even a certain lack of cleverness, something like brave recklessness, whether in the face of danger or of an enemy, or those wildly enthusiastic, sudden fits of anger, love, reverence, thankfulness, and vengeance, by which in all ages noble souls have recognized each other. The ressentiment of the noble man himself, if it comes over him, consumes and exhausts itself in an immediate reaction and therefore does not poison. On the other hand, in countless cases it just does not appear at all; whereas, in the case of all weak and powerless people it is unavoidable. Being unable to take one’s enemies, one’s misfortunes, even one’s bad deeds seriously for any length of time—that is the mark of strong, complete natures, in whom there is a surplus of plastic, creative, healing power, as well as the power to make one forget (a good example for that from the modern world is Mirabeau, who had no memory of the insults and the maliciousness people directed at him and who therefore could not forgive, merely because he—forgot). Such a man with a single shrug simply throws off himself the many worms which eat into other men.10 Only here is the real “love for one’s enemy” even possible—provided that it is at all possible on earth.—How much respect a noble man already has for his enemies!—and such a respect is already a bridge to love. . . . In fact, he demands his enemy for himself, as his mark of honour. Indeed, he has no enemy other than one in whom there is nothing to despise and a great deal to respect! By contrast, imagine for yourself “the enemy” as a man of ressentiment conceives him—and right here we have his action, his creation: he has conceptualized “the evil enemy,” “the evil one,” as, in fact, a fundamental idea from which he now also thinks his way to a complementary image and counterpart, a “good man”—himself! . . .


We see exactly the opposite with the noble man, who conceives the fundamental idea “good” in advance and spontaneously, that is, from himself, and from there he first creates a picture of “bad” for himself! This “bad” originating from the noble man and that “evil” arising out of the stew pot of insatiable hatred—of these the first is a later creation, an afterthought, a complementary colour; by contrast, the second is the original, the beginning, the essential act in the conception of a slave morality—although the two words “bad” and “evil” both seem opposite to the same idea of “good,” how different they are! But it is not the same idea of “good.” Instead we should ask who the “evil person” really is in the sense of the morality of ressentiment. The strict answer to that is as follows: simply the “good person” of the other morality, the noble man, the powerful, the ruling man, only coloured over, only re-interpreted, only looked at again through the poisonous eyes of ressentiment. Here there is one thing we will be the last to deny: whoever has come to know those “good men” only as enemies, has known them also as nothing but evil enemies, and the same people who are kept within such strict limits by custom, honour, habit, gratitude, and even more by mutual surveillance and jealousy inter pares [among equals] and who, by contrast, demonstrate in relation to each other such resourceful consideration, self-control, refinement, loyalty, pride, and friendship—to the outside, where the strange world, the world of what is foreign to them, begins, these men are not much better than beasts of prey turned loose. Here they enjoy freedom from all social constraints. In the wilderness they make up for the tension which a long fenced-in confinement within the peace of the community brings about. They go back to the innocent conscience of a beast of prey, as joyful monsters, who perhaps walk away from a dreadful sequence of murder, arson, rape, and torture with an exhilaration and spiritual equilibrium, as if they had merely pulled off a student prank, convinced that now the poets once again have something to sing about and praise for a long time to come. At the bottom of all these noble races we cannot fail to recognize the beast of prey, the blond beast splendidly roaming around in its lust for loot and victory. This hidden basis from time to time needs to be discharged: the beast must come out again, must go back into the wilderness once more,—Roman, Arab, German, Japanese nobility, Homeric heroes, Scandinavian Vikings—in this need they are all alike.  It is the noble races that left behind the concept of the “barbarian” in all their tracks, wherever they went. A consciousness of and even a pride in this fact still reveals itself in their highest culture (for example, when Pericles says to his Athenians, in that famous funeral speech, “our audacity has broken a way through to every land and sea, putting up permanent memorials to itself for good and ill”). This “audacity” of the noble races, mad, absurd, and sudden in the way it expresses itself, its unpredictability, even the improbability of its undertakings—Pericles emphatically praises the αθuμία [rathumia: freedom of anxiety] of the Athenians—their indifference to and contempt for safety, body, life, comfort, their fearsome cheerfulness and the depth of their joy in all destruction, in all the physical pleasures of victory and cruelty—all this was summed up for those who suffered from such audacity in the image of the “barbarian,” of the “evil enemy,” of something like the “Goth” or “Vandal.”11 The deep, icy mistrust which the German evokes, as soon as he comes to power, once more again today—is still an after-effect of that unforgettable terror with which for centuries Europe confronted the rage of the blond Germanic beast (although there is hardly any idea linking the old Germanic tribes and we Germans, let alone any blood relationship). Once before I have remarked on Hesiod’s dilemma when he thought up his sequence of cultural periods and sought to express them as Gold, Silver, and Iron.12 He didn’t know what to do with the contradiction presented to him by the marvellous but, at the same time, so horrifying and violent world of Homer, other than to make two cultural ages out of one and then place one after the other—first the Age of Heroes and Demigods from Troy and Thebes, just as that world remained in the memories of the noble families who had their own ancestors in it, and then the Age of Iron as that same world appeared to the descendants of the downtrodden, exploited, ill treated, and those carried off and sold—an age of iron, as mentioned: hard, cold, cruel, empty of feeling and scruples, with everything crushed and covered with blood.13 Assuming as true what in any event is taken as “the truth” nowadays, that it is the point of all culture simply to breed a tame and civilized animal, a domestic pet, out of the beast of prey “man,” then we would undoubtedly have to consider all those instincts of reaction and of ressentiment with whose help the noble races and all their ideals were finally disgraced and overpowered as the essential instruments of culture—though to do that would not yet be to claim that the bearers of these instincts also in themselves represented culture. Instead, the opposite would not only be probable—no! nowadays it is visibly apparent! These people carrying instincts of oppression and of a lust for revenge, the descendants of all European and non-European slavery, of all pre-Aryan populations in particular—they represent the regression of mankind! These “instruments of culture” are a disgrace to humanity and more a reason to be suspicious of or a counterargument against “culture” in general! We may well be right when we hang onto our fear of the blond beast at the bottom of all noble races and keep up our guard. But who would not find it a hundred times better to fear, if he could at the same time admire, rather than not fear but in the process no longer be able to rid himself of the disgusting sight of the failures, the stunted, the emaciated, and the poisoned? And is not that our fate? Today what is it that constitutes our aversion to “man”?—For we suffer from man. There’s no doubt of that. It is not a matter of fear. Rather it’s the fact that we have nothing more to fear from man, that the maggot “man” is in the foreground swarming around, that the “tame man,” the hopelessly mediocre and unedifying man, has already learned to feel that he is the goal, the pinnacle, the meaning of history, “the higher man,”—yes indeed, that he has a certain right to feel that about himself, insofar as he feels separate from the excessive number of failed, sick, tired, and spent people, who are nowadays beginning to make Europe stink, so that he senses that he is at least relatively successful, at least still capable of life, of at least saying “Yes” to life.


—At this point I won’t suppress a sigh and a final confidence. What is it exactly that I find so totally unbearable? Something which I cannot deal with on my own, which makes me choke and feel faint? Bad air! Bad air! That something which has failed is coming close to me, that I have to smell the entrails of a failed soul! . . . Apart from that what can we not endure by way of need, deprivation, bad weather, infirmity, hardship, and loneliness? Basically we can deal with all the other things, born as we are to an underground and struggling existence. We come back again and again into the light, we live over and over our golden hour of victory—and then we stand there, just as we were born, unbreakable, tense, ready for something new, for something even more difficult, more distant, like a bow which all troubles only serve to pull even tighter. But if there are heavenly goddesses who are our patrons, beyond good and evil, then from time to time grant me a glimpse, just grant me a single glimpse at something perfect, something completely developed, happy, powerful, triumphant, from which there is still something to fear! A glimpse of a man who justifies the human being, of a complementary and redeeming stroke-of-luck [Glücksfall] of a man, for whose sake we can hang onto a faith in humanity! . . .  For matters stand like this: the diminution and levelling of European man conceal our greatest danger, since we grow tired at the sight of him . . . We see nothing today which wants to be greater. We suspect that things are still going down, down into something thinner, more good-natured, more prudent, more comfortable, more mediocre, more indifferent, more Chinese, more Christian—humanity, there is no doubt, is becoming constantly “better.” . . .  Europe’s fate lies right here—with the fear of man we also have lost the love for him, the reverence for him, the hope for him, indeed, our will to him. A glimpse at man nowadays makes us tired—what is contemporary nihilism, if it is not that? . . . We are weary of man. . . .


—But let’s come back: the problem with the other origin of the “good,” of the good man, as the person of ressentiment has imagined it for himself, demands its own conclusion.—That the lambs are upset about the great predatory birds is not strange, but the fact that these large birds of prey snatch away small lambs provides no reason for holding anything against them. And if the lambs say among themselves, “These predatory birds are evil, and whoever is least like a predatory bird and instead is like its opposite, a lamb—shouldn’t that animal be good?” there is nothing to find fault with in this setting up of an ideal, except for the fact that the birds of prey will look down on them with a little mockery and perhaps say to themselves, “We are not at all annoyed with these good lambs. We even love them. Nothing is tastier than a tender lamb.” To demand from strength that it does not express itself as strength, that it does not consist of a will to overpower, a will to throw down, a will to rule, a thirst for enemies and opposition and triumphs, is just as unreasonable as to demand from weakness that it express itself as strength. A quantum of force is simply such a quantum of drive, will, and action—rather, it is nothing but this very driving, willing, and acting itself—and it cannot appear as anything else except through the seduction of language (and the fundamental errors of reason petrified in it), which understands and misunderstands all action as conditioned by something which causes actions, by a “subject.” For, in just the same way as people separate lightning from its flash and take the latter as an action, as the effect of a subject called lightning, so popular morality separates strength from manifestations of strength, as if behind the strong person there were an indifferent substrate that is free to express strength or not. But there is no such substrate; there is no “being” behind the doing, acting, or becoming. “The doer” is merely fabricated and added into the action—the act is everything. People basically duplicate the action: when they see a lightning flash, that is an action-action [ein Thun-Thun]: they set up the same event first as the cause and then yet again as its effect. Natural scientists are no better when they say “Force moves, force causes,” and so on—our entire scientific knowledge, for all its coolness and freedom from feelings, still remains exposed to the seduction of language and has not gotten rid of the changelings foisted on it, the “subjects” (the atom, for example, is such a changeling, like the Kantian “thing-in-itself”): it’s no wonder, then, that the repressed, secretly smouldering feelings of revenge and hate use this belief for their own purposes and even, in fact, maintain a faith in nothing more fervently than in the idea that the strong person is free to be weak and that the predatory bird is free to be a lamb:—in so doing, of course, they arrogate to themselves the right to blame the bird of prey for being a bird of prey. . . .  When the oppressed, the downtrodden, and the violated say to each other, with the vengeful cunning of the powerless, “Let us be different from evil people, namely, good! And every person is good who does not oppress, who hurts no one, who does not attack, who does not retaliate, who hands revenge over to God, who keeps himself hidden, as we do, the person who avoids all evil and demands little from life in general, like us, the patient, humble, and upright”—what that amounts to, coolly expressed and without bias, is essentially nothing more than “We weak people are merely weak. It’s good if we do not do anything for which we are not strong enough”—but this bitter state, this shrewdness of the lowest ranks, which even insects possess (when in great danger they act as if they were dead in order not to do “too much”), has, thanks to that counterfeiting and self-deception of powerlessness, dressed itself in the splendour of a self-denying, still, patient virtue, as if the weakness of the weak man himself—that means his essence, his actions, his entire single, inevitable, and irredeemable reality—is a voluntary achievement, something willed, chosen, an action, something of merit. This kind of man has to believe in the disinterested, freely choosing “subject” out of an instinct for self-preservation and self-affirmation, in which every falsehood is habitually sanctified. Hence, the subject (or, to use a more popular style, the soul) has up to now perhaps been the best principle for belief on earth, because for the majority of the dying, the weak, and the downtrodden of all sorts it makes possible that sublime self-deception that establishes weakness itself as freedom and their being like this or that as a commendable act.


Is there anyone who would like to take a little look down on and under that secret how man fabricates ideals on earth? Who has the courage for that? . . . Come on, now! Here’s an open glimpse into this dark workshop. Just wait a moment, my dear Mr. Curious Daredevil: your eye must first get used to this artificial flickering light. . . . So, enough! Now speak! What’s going on down there? Speak up. Say what you see, man of the most dangerous curiosity—now I’m the one who’s listening.—

—“I see nothing, but I hear all the more. It is a careful, crafty, light rumour-mongering and whispering from every nook and cranny. It seems to me that people are lying; a sugary mildness clings to every sound. Weakness is going to be falsified into something of merit. There’s no doubt about it—things are just as you said.”

—Keep talking!

—“And powerlessness that does not retaliate is being falsified into ‘goodness,’ anxious baseness into ‘humility,’ submission before those one hates to ‘obedience’ (of course, obedience to the one who, they say, commands this submission—they call him God). The inoffensiveness of the weak man—cowardice itself, in which he is rich, his standing at the door, his inevitable need to wait around—here acquires good names, like ‘patience,’ and is even called the virtue. That incapacity for revenge is called the lack of desire for revenge, perhaps even forgiveness (‘for they know not what they do—only we know what they do!’). People are even talking about ‘love for one’s enemies’—and sweating as they say it.”

—Keep talking!

—“They are miserable—there’s no doubt about that—all these rumour-mongers and counterfeiters in the corners, although crouched down beside each other in the warmth—but they are telling me that their misery is God’s choice, His sign, that one beats the dog one loves the most, that this misery may perhaps be a preparation, a test, an education, perhaps it is even more—something that will one day be requited and paid out with huge interest in gold, no, in happiness. They call that ‘blessedness’.”

—Go on!

—“Now they are letting me know that they are not only better than the powerful, the masters of the earth, whose spit they have to lick (not out of fear, certainly not out of fear, but because God commands that they honour all those in authority)—that they are not only better than these, but also ‘better off,’ or at any rate will one day have it better. But enough! Enough! I can’t take it anymore. Bad air! Bad air! This workshop where man fabricates ideals—it seems to me it stinks of nothing but lies.”

—No! Just one minute more! So far you haven’t said anything about the masterpiece of these black magicians who make whiteness, milk, and innocence out of every blackness:—have you not noticed the perfection of their raffinement [sophistication], their most daring, most refined, most imaginative, and most fallacious artistic attempt? Pay attention! These cellar animals full of vengeance and hatred—what exactly are they making out of that vengeance and hatred? Have you ever heard these words? If you heard only their words, would you suspect that you were completely among men of ressentiment? . . .

—“I understand. Once again I’ll open my ears (oh! oh! oh! and hold my nose). Now I’m hearing for the first time what they’ve been saying so often: ‘We good men—we are the righteous’—what they demand they don’t call repayment but ‘the triumph of righteousness.’ What they hate is not their enemy. No! They hate ‘injustice,’ ‘godlessness.’ What they believe and hope for is not a hope for revenge, the intoxication of sweet vengeance (something Homer has already called ‘sweeter than honey’), but the victory of God, the righteous God, over the godless. What remains for them to love on earth is not their brothers in hatred but their ‘brothers in love,’ as they say, all the good and righteous people on the earth.”

—And what do they call what serves them as a consolation for all the suffering of life—the phantasmagoria of future blessedness which they are waiting for?

—“What’s that? Am I hearing correctly? They call that ‘the last judgment,’ the coming of their kingdom, the coming of ‘God’s kingdom’—but in the meanwhile they live ‘in faith,’ ‘in love,’ ‘in hope.’”

—Enough! Enough!


In belief in what? In love with what? In hope for what?—There’s no doubt that these weak people—at some time or another they also want to be the strong people, some day their ”kingdom” is to arrive—they call it simply “the kingdom of God,” as I mentioned. People are indeed so humble about everything! Only to experience that, one has to live a long time, beyond death—in fact, people must have an eternal life, so they can also win eternal recompense in the “kingdom of God” for that earthly life “in faith, in love, in hope.” Recompense for what? Recompense through what? . . . In my view, Dante was grossly in error when, with an ingenuousness inspiring terror, he set that inscription over the gateway into his hell: “Eternal love also created me.”14 Over the gateway into the Christian paradise and its “eternal blessedness” it would, in  any event, be more fitting to let the inscription stand “Eternal hate also created me”—provided it’s all right to set a truth over the gateway to a lie! For what is the bliss of that paradise? . . . Perhaps we might have guessed that already, but it is better for it to be expressly described for us by an authority we cannot underestimate in such matters, Thomas Aquinas, the great teacher and saint: In the kingdom of heaven” he says as gently as a lamb, “the blessed will see the punishment of the damned, so that they will derive all the more pleasure from their heavenly bliss.”15 Or do you want to hear that message in a stronger tone, for example, from the mouth of a triumphant father of the church, who warns his Christians against the cruel sensuality of the public spectacles.16 But why? “Faith, in fact, offers much more to us,” he says (in de Spectaculis [On Spectacles] c. 29 ff), “something much stronger. Thanks to the redemption, very different joys are ours to command; in place of the athletes, we have our martyrs. If we want blood, well, we have the blood of Christ . . . But what awaits us on the day of His coming again, of His triumph!”—and now he takes off, the rapturous visionary: ”However, there are other spectacles—that last eternal day of judgment, ignored and derided by nations, when after so many years the old age of the world and all the many things they produced will be burned in a single fire. What a broad spectacle then appears! How I will be lost in admiration! How I will laugh! How I will rejoice! How I will exult, as I see so many great kings who by public report were accepted into heaven groaning in the deepest darkness alongside those very men who testified on their behalf, along with Jove himself! They will include governors of provinces who persecuted the name of our Lord melting in flames fiercer than those with which they proudly raged against the Christians! And then those wise philosophers who convinced their disciples that nothing was of any concern to God and who claimed either that there is no such thing as a soul or that our souls would not return to their original bodies are shamed before those very disciples as they burn in the conflagration with them! And the poets, too, shaking with fear, not in front of the tribunal of Rhadamanthus or Minos, but of the Christ they did not anticipate!17 Then it will be easier to hear the tragic actors, because their voices will be more resonant in their own calamity” (better voices since they will be screaming in even greater terror). “The comic actors will then be easy to recognize, for the fire will make them much more agile. Then the charioteer will be on show, all red in a wheel of fire, and the athletes will be visible, thrown, not in the gymnasium, but into the flames, unless I have no wish to look at them then, so that I can more readily cast an insatiable gaze on those who raged against our Lord.18 ‘This is the man,’ I will say, ‘the son of a workman or a prostitute’” (in everything that follows and especially in the well-known description of the mother of Jesus from the Talamud, Tertullian from this point on is referring to the Jews) “the destroyer of the Sabbath, the Samaritan possessed by the devil. He is the man whom you bought from Judas, the man who was beaten with a reed and with fists, reviled with spit, who was given gall and vinegar to drink. He is the man whom his disciples took away in secret, so that it could be said that he was resurrected, or whom the gardener took away, so that the crowd of visitors would not harm his lettuce.’ What praetor or consul or quaestor or priest will from his own generosity grant you this so that you may see such sights, so that you can exult in such things?19 And yet we already have these things to a certain extent through faith, represented to us by the imagining spirit. Besides, what sorts of things has the eye not seen or the ear not heard and what sorts of things have not arisen in the human heart? (1. Cor. 2, 9). I believe these are more pleasing than the race track and the circus and both enclosures” (the first and fourth tier of seats or, according to others, the comic and tragic stages).20 Through faith: that’s how it’s written.


Let’s bring this to a conclusion. The two opposing values “good and bad” and “good and evil” have fought a fearful battle on earth for thousands of years. And if it’s true that the second value has for a long time had the upper hand, even now there is still no lack of places where the battle goes on without a final decision. We could even say that in the intervening time the battle has been constantly drawn to greater heights and, in the process, to constantly greater depths and has become constantly more spiritual, so that nowadays there is perhaps no more decisive mark of a “higher nature,” a more spiritual nature, than that it is split in that sense and is truly still a battleground for those opposites. The symbol of this battle, written in a script which has remained legible through all human history up to the present, is called “Rome against Judea, Judea against Rome.” To this point there has been no greater event than this war, this posing of a question, this contradiction between deadly enemies. Rome felt that the Jew was like something contrary to nature itself, its monstrous polar opposite, as it were. In Rome the Jew was considered “convicted of hatred against the entire human race.” And that view was correct, to the extent that we are right to link the health and the future of the human race to the unconditional rule of aristocratic values, to Roman values. By contrast, how did the Jews feel about Rome? We can guess that from a thousand signs, but it is sufficient to treat ourselves again to the Apocalypse of John, that wildest of all written outbursts which vengeance has on its conscience. (Incidentally, we must not underestimate the deep consistency of the Christian instinct when it ascribed this particular book of hate to the name of the disciple of love, the same man to whom it attributed that enthusiastic amorous gospel—: there is some truth to this, no matter how much literary counterfeiting may have been necessary for this purpose). The Romans were indeed strong and noble men, stronger and nobler than any people who had lived on earth up until then or even than any people who had ever been dreamed up. Everything they left as remains, every inscription, is delightful, provided that we can guess what is doing the writing there. By contrast, the Jews were par excellence that priestly people of ressentiment, who possessed an unparalleled genius for popular morality. Just compare people with related talents—say, the Chinese or the Germans—with the Jews, in order to understand which is ranked first and which is ranked fifth. Which of them has proved victorious for the time being, Rome or Judea? Surely there’s not the slightest doubt. Just think of who it is people bow down to today in Rome itself as the personification of all the highest values—and not only in Rome, but in almost half the earth, all the places where people have become merely tame or want to become tame—in front of three Jews, as we know, and one Jewess (in front of Jesus of Nazareth, the fisherman Peter, the carpet maker Paul, and the mother of the first-mentioned Jesus, named Mary). This is very remarkable: without doubt Rome has been conquered. It is true that in the Renaissance there was an incredibly brilliant reawakening of the classical ideal, of the noble way of evaluating everything. Rome itself behaved like someone who had woken up from a coma induced by the pressure of the new Jewish Rome built over it, which looked like an ecumenical synagogue and was called “Church.” But Judea immediately triumphed again, thanks to that thoroughly vulgar (German and English) movement of ressentiment we call the Reformation, together with what had to follow as a result, the re-establishment of the church—as well as the re-establishment of the old grave-like tranquillity of classical Rome. In what is an even more decisive and deeper sense than that, Judea once again was victorious over the classical ideal with the French Revolution. The last political nobility which there was in Europe, in seventeenth and eighteenth century France, broke apart under the instincts of popular ressentiment—never on earth has there been heard a greater rejoicing, a noisier enthusiasm! It’s true that in the midst of all this the most dreadful and most unexpected events took place: the old ideal itself stepped physically and with unheard of splendour before the eyes and the conscience of humanity—and once again stronger, simpler, and more urgently than ever rang out, in opposition to the old lying slogan of ressentiment about the privileged rights of the majority, in opposition to that will for a low condition, for abasement, for equality, for the decline and twilight of mankind—in opposition to all that there rang out the fearsome and delightful counter-slogan about the privilege of the very few! As a last signpost to a different road, Napoleon appeared, that most singular and late-born man there ever was, and in him the problem of the noble ideal itself was made flesh—we should consider well what a problem that is: Napoleon, this synthesis of monster [Unmensch] and superman [Übermensch] . . .


—Did that end it? Was that greatest of all oppositions of ideals thus set ad acta [aside] for all time? Or was it merely postponed, postponed indefinitely? . . .  Someday would there not have to be an even more fearful blaze from the old fire, one which would take much longer to prepare?  More than that: would this not be exactly what we should hope for with all our strength? Even will it? Even demand it? Anyone who, like my readers, begins to reflect on these points, to think further, will have difficulty coming to a quick conclusion—reason enough for me to come to a conclusion myself, provided that it has been sufficiently clear for a long time what I want, precisely what I want with that dangerous slogan which is written on the body of my last book: “Beyond Good and Evil” . . . At least this does not mean “Beyond Good and Bad.”—



I am taking the opportunity provided to me by this essay publicly and formally to state a desire which I have expressed up to now only in occasional conversations with scholars, namely, that some faculty of philosophy might set up a series of award-winning academic essays in order to serve the advancement of studies into the history of morality. Perhaps this book could serve to provide a forceful push in precisely such a direction. Bearing in mind a possibility of this sort, let me propose the following question—it merits the attention of philologists and historians as much as of truly professional philosophical scholars:

What suggestions does the scientific study of language, especially etymological research, provide for the history of the development of moral concepts?

—On the other hand, it is, of course, just as necessary to attract the participation of physiologists and doctors to these problems (of the value of all methods of evaluating up to now). Also for this task it might be left to the professional philosophers in this particular case to become advocates and mediators, after they have completely succeeded in converting the relationships between philosophy, physiology, and medicine, originally so aloof and so mistrusting, into the most friendly and most fruitful exchange. In fact, all the tables of value, all examples of “thou shalt” that history or ethnological research knows about, need, first and foremost, illumination and interpretation from physiology—at any rate before one from psychology. All of them similarly await a critique from the point of view of medical science. The question “What is this or that table of values and ‘morality’ worth?” needs to be viewed from the most varied perspectives. For we cannot analyze the question “Value for what?” too finely. Something, for example, that would have an apparent value with respect to the longest possible capacity for the survival of a race (or to an increase in its power to adapt to a certain climate or to the preservation of the greatest number) would have nothing like the same value, if the issue were one of developing a stronger type. The well-being of the greatest number and the well-being of the smallest number are opposing viewpoints where values are concerned. We wish to leave it to the naïveté of English biologists to take the first as already the one of inherently higher value. . . . All the sciences from now on have to do the preparatory work for the future job of the philosopher, understanding that the philosopher’s task is to solve the problem of value, that he has to determine the rank order of values.



1Herbert Spencer (1820-1903), English philosopher and liberal political theorist, who extended Darwin’s evolutionary theories into sociology. [Back to Text]

2Thirty Years War: a prolonged, devastating, and inconclusive European war over religion (1618-1648). [Back to Text]

3Buckle: Henry Thomas Buckle (1821-1862), English historian, author of The History of Civilization in England. Buckle’s attempt to explain historical events as the results of certain mathematically precise laws generated a great deal of controversy. [Back to Text]

4Theogonis: a Greek poet from Megara in the sixth century BC. [Back to Text]

5Virchow: Rudolf Virchow (1821-1902), German doctor and anthropologist. [Back to Text]

6Achilles: the warrior hero of Homer’s Iliad, one of the greatest Greek heroes. [Back to Text]

7Weir-Mitchell: Silas Weir-Mitchell (1829-1914), American doctor and writer, well known for his rest cure for nervous diseases. [Back to Text]

8Beyond Good and Evil: Nietzsche published this work in 1886. [Back to Text]

9. . . ressentiment: Nietzsche uses this French word, which since his writing, and largely because of it, has entered the English language as an important term in psychology: a short definition is as follows: “deep-seated resentment, frustration, and hostility, accompanied by a sense of being powerless to express these feelings directly” (Merriam-Webster). Ressentiment is thus significantly different in meaning from resentment. [Back to Text]

10Mirabeau: Honore Gabriel Riqueti, Comte de Mirabeau (1749-1791), French politician and writer at the time of the French Revolution. [Back to Text]

11Pericles (495-429 BC), political leader and general in Athens at the outbreak of the Peloponnesian War. He delivered his famous funeral oration at the end of the first year of the war. The Goths: tribes from Eastern Germany who attacked the Roman Empire in the third and fourth centuries. Later (as the Visigoths and Ostrogoths) they gained political dominance in parts of Europe, once the Roman Empire collapsed; Vandals: Eastern Germanic tribes, allied to the Goths, who invaded the Roman Empire. [Back to Text]

12Hesiod (c. 700 BC), Greek poet. [Back to Text]

13Nietzsche’s point here is that Hesiod broke the last of his ages into two: a Heroic Age, symbolized by the legendary heroes of Troy and Thebes, and an Iron Age. The latter was, in effect, the same as the Heroic Age except it was that era as seen by the suffering and oppressed (i.e., not a heroic and glorious period, but one full of wretchedness). Hesiod (in Works and Days) describes five ages: Gold, Silver, Bronze, Heroic, and Iron. Nietzsche’s German word Erz can mean ore, bronze, or iron. [Back to Text]

14Dante: Dante Alighieri (1265-1321), a Florentine poet who wrote The Divine Comedy. The phrase Nietzsche quotes comes from the first book, The Inferno, and stands over the gateway to hell. [Back to Text]

15Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274), Catholic saint, one of the great Catholic theologians. Nietzsche quotes the Latin, as follows: “Beati in regno coelesti videbunt poenas damnatorum, ut beatitudo illis magis complaceat.” [Back to Text]

16The “triumphant father of the church” is Tertullian (c. 155-230), an important figure in the early church and a fierce Christian apologist. [Back to Text]

17Rhadamanthus or Minos: These were the names of the judges in the pagan underworld. [Back to Text]

18Nietzsche Latin quotation of Tertullian contains in this sentence a slight misquote: “vivos[living] rather than visos [seen]. The English text above uses visos (Tertullian’s word). [Back to Text]

19praetor or consul or quaestor: important Roman political officials. [Back to Text]

20Nietzsche quotes the Latin and inserts some of his own comments, as follows: “At enim supersunt alia spectacula, ille ultimus et perpetuus judicii dies,ille nationibus insperatus, ille derisus, cum tanta saeculi vetustas et tot eius nativitates uno igne haurientur. Quae tunc spectaculi latitudo! Quid admirer! Quid rideam! Ubi gaudeam! Ubi exultem, spectans tot et tantos reges, qui in coelum recepti nuntiabantur, cum ipso Jove et ipsis suis testibusin imis tenebris congemescentes! Item praesides” (die Provinzialstatthalter) “persecutores dominici nominis saevioribus quam ipsi flammis saevierunt insultantibus contra Christianos liquescentes! Quos praeterea sapientes illos philosophos coram discipulis suis una conflagrantibus erubescentes, quibusnihil ad deum pertinere suadebant, quibus animas aut nullas aut non in pristina corpora redituras affirmabant! Etiam poetas non ad Rhadamanti nec ad Minois, sed ad inopinati Christi tribunal palpitantes! Tunc magis tragoedi audiendi, magis scilicet vocales” (besser bei Stimme, noch ärgere Schreier) “in sua propria calamitate; tunc histriones cognoscendi, solutiores multo per ignem; tunc spectandus auriga in flammea rota totus rubens, tunc xysticicontemplandi non in gymnasiis, sed in igne jaculati, nisi quod ne tunc quidem illos velim vivos, ut qui malim ad eos potius conspectum insatiabilem conferre, qui in dominum desaevierunt. Hic est ille,’ dicam, ‘fabri aut quaestuariae filius’” (wie alles Folgende und insbesondere auch diese aus demTalmud bekannte Bezeichnung der Mutter Jesu zeigt, meint Tertullian von hier ab die Juden), “‘sabbati destructor, Samarites et daemonium habens. Hic est, quem a Juda redemistis, hic est ille arundine et colaphis diverberatus, sputamentis dedecoratus, felle et aceto potatus. Hic est, quem clam discentes subripuerunt, ut resurrexisse dicatur vel hortulanus detraxit, ne lactucae suae frequentia commeantium laederentur.’ Ut talia spectes, uttalibus exultes, quis tibi praetor aut consul aut quaestor aut sacerdos de sua liberalitate praestabit? Et tamen haec jam habemus quodammodo per fidem spiritu imaginante repraesentata. Ceterum qualia illa sunt, quae nec oculus vidit nec auris audivit nec in cor hominis ascenderunt?” (1. Cor. 2, 9.) “Credo circo et utraque cavea” (erster und vierter Rang oder, nach anderen, komische und tragische Bühne) “et omni stadio gratiora.” [Back to Text]


[Table of Contents for Genealogy of Morals]



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