Quotes about Friedrich Nietzsche
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If we can recover the naturalistic ambitions of Marx, Nietzsche, and Freud, … philosophy becomes relevant because the world—riven as it is with hypocrisy and concealment—desperately needs a hermeneutics of suspicion to unmask it. And by taking these three seminal figures of the Continental traditions as philosophical naturalists we show their work to be continuous with the naturalistic turn that has swept Anglophone philosophy over the past several decades. … The antipathy to naturalism often thought to be constitutive of the Continental tradition is simply an artifact of cutting the joints of that tradition in certain places.
What we really long for after death is to go on living this life, this same mortal life, but without its ills without its tedium, and without death. Seneca, the Spaniard, gave expression to this in his Consolatio ad Marciam... And what but that is the meaning of that comic conception of the eternal recurrence which issued from the tragic soul of poor Nietzsche, hungering for concrete and temporal immortality?
My teacher, Ales Adamovich, whose name I mention today with gratitude, felt that writing prose about the nightmares of the 20th century was sacrilege. Nothing may be invented. You must give the truth as it is. A "super-literature" is required. The witness must speak. Nietzsche's words come to mind – no artist can live up to reality. He can't lift it. It always troubled me that the truth doesn't fit into one heart, into one mind, that truth is somehow splintered. There's a lot of it, it is varied, and it is strewn about the world.
One day, when Nietzsche was telling his friend Deussen that it was not abrogation of the will nor extinction of the passions he aimed at, but their ennobling, his friend, a learned man, fast in the trammels of Christian doctrine, answered—not without some justice—that the only means of ennoblement was abrogation and extinction. Nietzsche had a difficult position to maintain; for what he wished to ennoble was no longer there.
The very idea of philosopher as art curator deeply interests me. One swiftly dreams of what Gilles Deleuze might have done with the opportunity to curate an art exhibition at MoMA: Art and Alloverness perhaps? Or Michel Foucault: the New Panopticons at the Centre Georges Pompidou? What would Susan Sontag or Roland Barthes have done at the International Center of Photography or at the Tate? What could Friedrich Nietzsche have done at the Louvre Museum? What indeed could Georges Bataille have haughtily done at the Metropolitan Museum of Art?
By the spirit of revenge, Nietzsche means a very great variety of phenomena. And to some of them he alludes in this speech. In his other writings, he [uses] a French word, ressentiment— which in Nietzsche does not merely mean resentment, but rather the reaction of those who are disadvantaged by nature and/or law against the privileged. And that leads in a deeper stratum to a denial of the superiority of the goodness of the advantages in question, [to a] denigration of those qualities and the longing for the humiliation of these people in this life and in the next.
In the helter-skelter of this book, I didn't develop my views as theory. In fact, I even believe that efforts of that kind are tainted with ponderousness. Nietzsche wrote with his blood, and criticizing, or, better, experiencing him means pouring out one's lifeblood. … It was only with my life that I wrote the Nietzsche book that I had planned.
When I was a student in the 1950s, I read Husserl, Sartre, Merleau-Ponty. When you feel an overwhelming influence, you try to open a window. Paradoxically enough, Heidegger is not very difficult for a Frenchman to understand. When every word is an enigma, you are in a not-too-bad position to understand Heidegger. Being and Time is difficult, but the more recent works are clearer. Nietzsche was a revelation to me. I felt that there was someone quite different from what I had been taught. I read him with a great passion and broke with my life, left my job in the asylum, left France: I had the feeling I had been trapped. Through Nietzsche, I had become a stranger to all that.
The rather more dubious side of Nietzsche's 'evolutionism' is his glorification of the warrior — particularly when, as an exemplification of the warrior-hero, he chooses an archetypal 'spoilt brat' like Cesare Borgia. Nietzsche's own physical weakness and consequent inability to escape the atmosphere of the study leads him to take a rather unrealistic view of the man of action.
Stirner and Nietzsche [adopt] a mode of thinking which is personal, introspective, and which while often operating on alternative systems of belief and action does so only as a means of better grasping one dominant goal—the patterns of individual redemption. Stirner and Nietzsche are not primarily interested in critique as such. … Their work is too egoistically compelled for them ever to employ the external world as more than the repository for a series of projections of their own.
I approach the presentation of Kierkegaard with some trepidation. Next to Nietzsche, or rather, prior to Nietzsche, I consider him to be the most important thinker of our post-Kantian age. With Goethe and Hegel, an epoch had reached its conclusion, and our prevalent way of thinking — that is, the positivistic, natural-scientific one — cannot really be considered as philosophy.
To avert the danger [posed by theory] to life, Nietzsche could choose one of two ways: he could insist on the strictly esoteric character of the theoretical analysis of life—that is, restore the Platonic notion of the noble delusion—or else he could deny the possibility of theory proper and so conceive of thought as essentially subservient to, or dependent on, life or fate... If not Nietzsche himself, at any rate his successors [Heidegger] adopted the second alternative.
The absolute scholar is in fact a rather uncanny being. He is instinct with Nietzsche's finding that to be interested in something, to be totally interested in it, is a libidinal thrust more powerful than love or hatred, more tenacious than faith or friendship — not infrequently, indeed, more compelling than personal life itself. Archimedes does not flee from his killers, he does not even turn his head to acknowledge their rush into his garden when he is immersed in the algebra of conic sections.
The final test of truth is ridicule. Very few dogmas have ever faced it and survived. Huxley laughed the devils out of the Gadarene swine. Not the laws of the United States but the mother-in-law joke brought the Mormons to surrender. Not the horror of it but the absurdity of it killed the doctrine of infant damnation. But the razor edge of ridicule is turned by the tough hide of truth. How loudly the barber-surgeons laughed at Huxley—and how vainly! What clown ever brought down the house like Galileo? Or Columbus? Or Darwin?... They are laughing at Nietzsche yet...
The possibility of a genuine metatheory of morality is not available. Even psychology has its ethical presuppositions. … A metatheory of morality would be legitimate only if the existence of a hierarchy of absolute, and hence unconditioned, truths were established. They would then provide a framework of supra-ethical categories. The primary ambition of Nietzsche's critique of knowledge is to expose just such an exercise … as sleight of hand, an efficacious deception. This critique sets out to demonstrate that 'truths' are fictions masking moral commitments
The graves all are silent. The caskets are vacant. Stalin has no more wisdom for us. Nietzsche is preserved in books, having forgotten to lift his casket lid and tell us he was right. Muhammad gives us the slip. So does Buddha. It is Christ alone who defeats the grave. Nothing is left in the tomb but echoes and cobwebs. And so we do well to listen to Him with the ears of dying men.
Anyone who can understand that the Buddhist idea of Nirvana is not merely negative, and that the Buddha himself who (like the Superman) 'looks down on suffering humanity like a hillsman on the planes' is not an atheistic monster, will instantly see how this misses the point. Nietzsche was not an atheist, any more than the Buddha was. Anyone who reads the Night Song and the Dance Song in Zarathustra will recognize that they spring out of the same emotion as the Vedic or Gathic hymns or the Psalms of David. The idea of the Superman is a response to the need for salvation in precisely the same way that Buddhism was a response to the 'three signs'.