Quotes about Friedrich Nietzsche
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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.
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.
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.
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.
Nietzsche … explicates his preferred distinction between good and bad individuals as non-condemnatory of the latter. A 'bad person' is merely devoid of what Nietzsche personally considers to be noble or virtuous qualities; he is not morally evil. Nietzsche's aim is … to defuse morality of reactive emotion. … It would be futile, tactless, and cruel, he suggests, to try to change a bad person, one with whom one does not empathize; his formula advises: 'Where you cannot love, pass by'. No on should be blamed for what he is; there is no point in lamenting fate.
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?
Society is not the criminal but the force which keeps crime in check. When social controls weaken, man's innate cruelty bursts forth. The rapist is created not by bad social conditioning influences but by a failure of social conditioning. Feminists, seeking to drive power relations out of sex, have set themselves against nature. In western culture, there are no nonexploitative relationships. Everyone has killed in order to live. Nature's universal law of creation from destruction operates in mind as in matter. As Freud, Nietzsche's heir, asserts, identity is conflict. Each generation drives its plow over the bones of the dead.
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?
Islam is the first school of social thought that recognizes the masses as the basis, the fundamental and conscious factor in determining history and society not the elect as Nietzsche thought, not the aristocracy and nobility as Plato claimed, nor great personalities as Carlyle and Emerson believed, not those of pure blood as Alexis Carrel imagined, not the priests or the intellectuals, but the masses.
He thought he was a good poet but he was not. He thought books could tell him how to live but they couldn't. He was a serious but dazed reader. He read Dante and Shakespeare and Nietzsche and Freud. He read modern poetry and books on psychiatry. He had taken a degree in English, couldn't, decided to farm, bought a goat farm, managed a Confederate museum in a cave on his property, wrote poetry, went broke, became a golf pro.
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.
The classical legacies of political thought, from Plato to Nietzsche, and the immediate tasks of running the world, at home and abroad, have been of most concern to the Right. Normative philosophical constructions have become a specialty of the Centre. Economic, social and cultural investigations – of past and present – dominate the output of the Left. Any attempt to come to grips with all three outlooks is thus obliged to traverse quite variegated ground.
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'.
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.
The upshot is that the values and goals which provided a unifying center for previous centuries in the modern period no longer are cogent. We have not yet found the new center which will enable us to choose our goals constructively, and thus to overcome the painful bewilderment and anxiety of not knowing which way to move. Another root of our malady is our loss of the sense of the worth and dignity of the human being. Nietzsche predicted this when he pointed out that the individual was being swallowed up in the herd, and that we were living by a "slave-morality." Marx also predicted it when he proclaimed that modern man was being "de-humanized," and Kafka showed in his amazing stories how people literally can lose their identify as persons.
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 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...