Beyond Good and Evil
... Squashed down to read in about 65 minutes
"When you stare into an abyss for a long time, the abyss also stares into you."
Wikipedia - Full Text - Print Edition: ISBN 0199537070
Nietzsche was born in Roecken, Saxony in 1844 and became professor of Greek at Basel in Switzerland. At first he was deeply influenced by the writings of Arthur Schopenhauer and the music of Richard Wagner, to whom he was both friend and advocate. But both these attractions passed, and ill health led him to leave the academic life to devote himself to producing a whole series of, in his time, unsold and unread books expounding his ideas with a boldness which is as much poetry as philosophy. In The Dawn, The Gay Science, Thus Spake Zarathustra, Towards a Genealogy of Morals, Ecce Homo, and here in Beyond Good and Evil he argues that 'God is dead', that new thinkers are needed, free to create their own values. His ideal übermensch, or 'Overman', would impose his will on the weak and worthless. He saw that knowledge is never objective but always serves some interest or some unconscious purpose, and that the 'slave morality' of Christianity has helped build a foolish system of values which comfort failure.
So, was Nietzsche the philosopher of Nazism? His literary executor, his sister Elisabeth, was clearly that way inclined. But, while he looks towards the construction of a bold, iron-hearted leader for a new and unified Europe, he expects this to come through philosophy. True, he thinks German-ness very important, but he ridicules racism and abhors anti-jewism. It is very much the case that Nietzsche hopes that the elite of the future will be less unwilling to make use of evil, but his is a spiritual revision of evil, not a jackboot. But, then, all wide ideas, Christianity included (as he is very willing to point out), can have the harmful as well as the helpful teased out of them. Was Nietzsche mad? Or just the sort of genius which looks mad when viewed from below? Well, he only officially went insane in 1889, but, then, who knows?
Free spirit: Someone who is able to rise above given ways of thinking.
Good Europeans: The ideal citizens of Europe, like Goethe and Napoleon, able to rise above national differences.
Master morality: The morality of the aristocratic, that which makes values for others and sees itself as noble.
Nihilism: Belief in nothing.
übermensch / Overman: (In the days before DC Comics, usually translated as 'superman') Only aluded to in BG&E- the man who, according to Nietzsche, forgoes transient pleasure, exercises creative power, lives at a level of experience beyond standards of good and evil, and is the goal of human evolution.
Perspectivism: The concept that the truth differs depending where it is viewed from.
Self-overcoming: The punishing process of self-examination and inner struggle.
Slave morality: The morality of the suffering and opressed, who identify their masters as "evil" and so see themselves as 'good'.
Will to power: The fundamental drive of humans for independence from, and dominance over, other wills.
Chinaman of Königsberg: Kant
contradictio in adjecto: Contradiction between the adjective and the noun it qualifies
Différence engendre haine: Difference engenders hate
gangasrotogati: As the Ganges flows, ie. fast
Imperium Romanum: Roman Empire
kurmagati: As the tortoise moves, ie. slowly
laisser aller: Letting go
Madame de Guyon: French mystic
Quidquid luce fuit, tenebris agit: That which happens in the light persists in the dark
unio mystica et physica: Union of the mystical and the physical
This abridgement is largely based on the translation by Helen Zimmern published in 1913, with a few revisions from RJ Hollingdale's version of 1973. Nietzsche is a truly romantic writer and in reducing the original 63,000 words to about 9,000 I've tried to keep much of the thread, such as it is, of his argument, and throw in a fair bit of the romance too.
Squashed version edited by Glyn Hughes © 2011
Part One: On the Prejudices of Philosophers
1 The will to truth tempts us to many a venture. We want truth: why not rather untruth? It seems as if the problem had never even been put, as if we were the first to fix it with our eyes, and risk it.
2 "How could anything originate out of its opposite? Truth out of error or the pure and sunlike gaze of the sage out of lust? Such origins are impossible; whoever dreams of them is a fool. The things of highest value cannot be derived from this transitory, seductive, paltry world of turmoil, delusion and lust." This way of judging constitutes the typical prejudgment and prejudice, which gives away the metaphysicians of all ages.
3 After having looked long enough between the philosopher's lines and fingers, I say that the greater part of conscious thinking must be included among instinctive activities. We have to relearn here, that "being conscious" is not the opposite of being instinctive, and that even behind logic, there stands physiological demands for the preservation of life.
6 Gradually it has become clear to me that every great philosophy so far has been just the personal confession of its author. To be sure, among scientific men, you may find something like a drive for knowledge, a clockwork that, once wound, works without any participation from the other drives of the scholar. But the real "interests" of the scholar lie usually somewhere else, say, in his family, in making money, or in politics.
8 There is a point in every philosophy when the philosopher's "conviction" appears on the stage.
9 Live "according to nature" said the ancient Stoics! What words these are! What is that beyond "live according to life"; how could you not do that? But this is an ancient story: what happened with the Stoics still happens today, as soon as any philosophy begins to believe in itself, it creates the world in its own image; it cannot do otherwise.
11 Kant was proud of having discovered in man the faculty for synthetic judgements a priori. But "How are synthetic judgements a priori possible?" How did Kant answer? By saying "By virtue of a faculty" (though unfortunately not in five words). But is that an answer? Or rather merely a repetition of the question? How does opium induce sleep? "by virtue of a faculty, namely the virtus dormitiva", replies the doctor in Molière. Such replies belong in comedy. It is high time to replace the Kantian question by another question, "Why is belief in such judgements necessary?" Finally, to call to mind the enormous influence that "German philosophy" (note the quotation marks) has exercised throughout the whole of Europe, there is no doubt that a certain virtus dormitiva had a share in it.
12 One must first, give the finishing stroke to that calamitous atomism which Christianity has taught best and longest, soul atomism- the belief that the soul is something indestructible. Though, between ourselves, it is not at all necessary to get rid of "soul", but the way is open for new versions of the hypothesis.
13 Physiologists should think before taking the instinct of self-preservation as the cardinal instinct of organic beings. A living thing seeks above all to discharge its strength- life itself is will to power; self-preservation is only one of the results.
14 It is perhaps just dawning on five or six minds that physics, too, is only an interpretation of the world (to suit us, if I may say so!) and not a world-description. But insofar as it is based on belief in the senses, it is a sort of explanation. Eyes and fingers speak in its favour, which strikes an age with plebeian tastes as persuasive. Conversely, the charm of the old Platonic way of thinking consisted precisely in resistance to obvious sense-evidence.
16 There are still harmless self-observers who believe that there are "immediate certainties", such as "I think," or as the superstition of Schopenhauer put it, "I will". But I shall repeat a hundred times that "immediate certainty," "absolute knowledge" and the "thing-in-itself," involve a contradictio in adjecto. We really must free ourselves from the seduction of words! But from where do I get the concept of thing? Why do I believe in cause and effect? What gives me the right to speak of an ego? Whoever ventures to answer these metaphysical questions by appealing to intuitive perception will encounter a smile and two question marks from a philosopher nowadays. "Sir," the philosopher will say, "it is improbable that you are not mistaken; but why insist on the truth?"-
17 Concerning the superstitions of logicians, I shall never tire of emphasising a small terse fact, namely, that a thought comes when "it" wishes, and not when "I" wish.
21 The desire for "freedom of the will", which still holds sway in the minds of the half-educated; the desire to bear the entire and ultimate responsibility for one's actions, to absolve God, the world, ancestors, chance, and society, involves nothing less than, with more than Münchausen's audacity, to pull oneself up into existence by the hair, out of the swamps of nothingness. Suppose someone were to see through this boorish simplicity, l beg of him to carry his "enlightenment" a step further, and abandon, too, its opposite "unfree will," which amounts to a misuse of cause and effect.
23 All psychology so far has got stuck in moral prejudices and fears. Nobody has yet come close to understanding it as the development of the will to power. If, however, a person should regard even the affects of hatred, envy, covetousness and the lust to rule as conditions of life, as factors essential to the general economy of life (and must be further enhanced if life is to be further enhanced), he will begin to get seasick. On the other hand, if one's ship has drifted into such waters, well! All right! Let us clench our teeth! Let us open our eyes and keep our hand firm on the helm! We sail right over morality! Psychology is become again the path to fundamental problems.
Part Two: The Free Spirit
25 Take care, philosophers and friends of knowledge, beware of martyrdom! Of suffering "for the truth's sake"! Even of defending yourselves! As though "truth" was such an incompetent creature as to require protectors! You of all people, you knights of the sorrowful countenances, idlers and cobweb-spinners of the spirit, you know well enough that it cannot be of any consequence if you are proved right. You know that no philosopher so far has been proved right. Better to step aside. Flee into concealment. Have your masks and subtlety, and do not forget the garden around you, the garden with the golden trelliswork. And have around you people who are like the garden, like music on the evening waters when the day is turning into memories. Choose a good solitude, the free, playful, easy solitude that gives you, too, the right, to remain in some sense good!
26 Every superior human yearns for a secret citadel where he is set free from the crowd. Where he may forget "men who are the rule," and be their exception. Anyone who, in intercourse with men, does not occasionally glisten green and grey with disgust and sympathy, is certainly no man of elevated tastes.
27 It is hard to be understood, especially when one thinks and lives gangasrotogati among men who think and live kurmagati, or at best "the way frogs walk," mandeikagati - I do try to make myself hard to understand!
29 Independence is for the very few, it is a privilege of the strong. Whoever attempts it enters a labyrinth, and multiplies a thousandfold the dangers of life. Not least of which is that no one can see how and where he loses his way, becomes lonely, and is torn piecemeal by some minotaur of conscience. If he fails, this happens so far from the comprehension of men that they cannot sympathise nor pity.
30 Our highest insights must, and should, sound like follies or even crimes when they are heard without permission by those they are not intended for.The virtues of the common man might perhaps signify vices and weaknesses in a philosopher. It might even be that only by degenerating into the lower spheres would the man of high type be there venerated as a saint. There are books that have opposite values for soul and health, depending on whether the sluggish lower soul, or the higher and more vigorous ones turn to them: in the former case, these books are dangerous and lead to crumbling and disintegration; in the latter, they are herald's cries calling the bravest to courage. Books for everybody are always foul-smelling books: the smell of small people clings to them. Where the people eat and drink and worship, there is usually a stink. One should not go to church if one wants to breathe pure air.
32 In the "pre-moral" period of mankind the imperative "know thyself!" was unknown; the value of an action was derived from its consequences. The last ten thousand years, however, has brought the attempt at self-knowledge and with it that hard-won reversal, a calamitous new superstition: that the value of an action lies in the value of the intention. But today, shouldn't we have reached the necessity of once more resolving on a fundamental reverse in values? Don't we stand at the threshold of a period that should be designated, negatively, as extra-moral?
33 Those feelings of devotion, self-sacrifice for one's neighbour, and the whole morality of self-denial must be questioned mercilessly and taken to court. There is too much charm and sugar in these feelings of "for others," "not for myself," we must ask: "are these not perhaps seductions?"
34 Whatever philosophy we adopt today, the surest thing we see, is the erroneousness of the world in which we believe. But if he who considers our 'mind', our conclusions about the world of space and time, the cause of that error must, thereby, take all thinking to be a hoax That faith in "immediate certainties" is a moral naiveté' that reflects honour on us philosophers. But, apart from its morality, it is a stupid faith. Shouldn't philosophers be permitted to rise above faith in grammar? All due respect for governesses but hasn't the time come for philosophy to renounce the faith of governesses?
39 Nobody is likely to consider a doctrine true just because it makes people happy or virtuous. But unhappiness and evil are no counterarguments, something might be true while being harmful and dangerous in the extreme. When it comes to discovering certain parts of truth, there is no doubt that the wicked and the unhappy fare better. To say nothing of the wicked who are happy- a species the moralists like to ignore. Perhaps hardness and cunning furnish more favourable conditions for the strong, independent spirit and philosopher than that light-hearted good-naturedness which people prize in a scholar.
40 Whatever is profound loves masks, and hates image and parable. Shouldn't its own opposite be the disguise in which a god best hides for travel abroad? A questionable question: it would be odd if some mystic had not risked thinking it. A man whose sense of shame has some profundity encounters delicate decisions, of whose mere existence his closest intimates must not know.
41 One has to test oneself to see that one is destined for independence and command- a dangerous game, with only ourselves as judge. Not to cleave to a person- not even the most loved- every person is a prison and a nook. Not to cleave to a fatherland- not even if it suffers and needs help. Not to cleave to pity- not even when we see the torture of noble men. Not to cleave to a science- even if it lures us with precious discoveries. Not to cleave to one's own detachment, nor to our own virtues. Not to become the victim of some detail in us, such as our hospitality, and so exaggerate the virtue into a vice. One must know how to conserve oneself; the hardest test of independence.
42 A new species of philosophers is coming up: I venture to baptise them with a name that is not free of danger, and rightly or wrongly, call them attempters. This name itself is in the end a mere attempt, and, a temptation.
43 Are these coming philosophers new friends of "truth"? Perhaps, but they will not be dogmatists who suppose that their truth is truth for everyone. Great things for the great, abysses for the profound, all that is rare for the rare.
44 These philosophers of the future will certainly be free spirits. In Europe and America, there are those 'levellers', so-called "free spirits", the eloquent scribbling slaves of democratic taste and "modern ideas", who have some courage, but are unfree and ridiculously superficial. They strive for the universal green pasture, happiness of the herd, security without danger, and an easier life for everyone. We opposite men, see how the plant "man" has grown most vigorously under the opposite conditions. We think that hardness, slavery, danger, experimentation, devilry, everything evil, tyrannical in man, everything akin to beasts of prey and serpents, serves to enhance the species as much as its opposite does. And perhaps you understand this, you that are coming? You new philosophers?
Part Three: The Religious Nature
46 The faith of primitive Christianity, surrounded by the sceptical southerly free-spirited world with its centuries-long struggle between philosophical schools, plus the education in tolerance of the Imperium Romanum, is not that gruff, true-hearted liegeman's faith with which a Luther, or a Cromwell, or some other northern barbarian, cleaved to his God. It is rather that faith of Pascal - a protracted suicide of reason. Christianity is a faith of sacrifice; sacrifice of all freedom, pride, self-confidence, and enslavement, self-mockery and self-mutilation. It has never been faith but always freedom from faith, that half-stoical and smiling unconcern with the seriousness of faith, that has enraged slaves in their masters and against their masters, leaving them enraged at the aristocratic morality which seems to deny suffering, and which itself was a cause of the last great slave revolt which began with the French Revolution.
47 Wherever the religious neurosis has appeared on earth we find it tied to three dangerous dietary prescriptions: solitude, fasting and sexual abstinence, though we cannot tell where is cause and where effect. One of the most frequent symptoms of the condition, is a sudden and extravagant voluptuousness which, just as suddenly, reverses into penitence and a denial of world and will: both perhaps interpretable as masked epilepsy? The time has come to cool down a little on this matter, to learn caution: better, to look away. Still in the background of recent philosophy, that of Schopenhauer, there stands this gruesome question-mark of the religious crisis and awakening. How is denial of the will possible? How is the saint possible?
48 It seems that Catholicism is much more an intrinsic part of the Latin races than Christianity in general is of us northerners, so that unbelief in Catholic countries signifies a kind of revolt against the race, while with us it is rather a return to the spirit (or lack of spirit) of the race. We northerners are undoubtedly descended from barbarians in respect of our talent for religion; we have little talent for it. We may except the Celts, who have supplied the best soil for the reception of the Christian infection.
50 The passion for God: there is the true-hearted peasant kind, like Luther's. There is an oriental ecstatic kind, like that of a slave who has been undeservedly pardoned, like Augustine, offensively lacking all nobility. There is the womanly tender and longing kind which bashfully seeks unio mystica et physica, like Madame de Guyon.
51 Hitherto the mightiest men have bowed down reverently before the saint as the enigma of self-constraint and voluntary renunciation: why? They sensed some superior force behind his fragile and miserable appearance, a force that sought to prove itself through constraint, a strength of will in which they recognised their own strength and joy in ruling. Moreover, the saint aroused a suspicion: such an enormity of denial, of anti-nature, could not have been desired for nothing. The mighty of the world sensed a new power, a strange enemy, it was the 'will to power' which constrained them to halt before the saint and question him.
52 In the Jewish 'Old Testament', the book of divine justice, there are men, things and speeches of so grand a style that Greek and Indian literature have nothing to set beside it. One stands in reverence and trembling before these remnants of what man once was. To have glued the New Testament, the book of mercy, on to the Old Testament to form a single 'bible', is perhaps the greatest 'sin against the spirit' that literary Europe has on its conscience
55 There is a great ladder of religious cruelty with many rungs; but three are most important. At one time one sacrificed human beings to one's god, perhaps precisely those most loved. There was sacrifice of the first-born in prehistoric religions, or the sacrifice of the Emperor Tiberius in Mithras' grotto at Capri. Then, in the moral epoch of mankind, one sacrificed to one's god the strongest instincts one possessed; one's 'nature'. Finally, what was left to be sacrificed? Did one not have to sacrifice God himself, and worship nothingness?.
58 Has it been observed that genuine religious life requires leisure, I mean a leisure not unlike the aristocratic idea that work degrades? And that, consequently, modern, noisy, time-consuming, industriousness educates and prepares exactly for 'unbelief'?
59 He who has seen deeply into the world knows what wisdom there is in the superficiality of men. It is their instinct for preservation which teaches them to be false. Perhaps there has up till now been no finer way of making man himself more beautiful than piety: through piety, man can come to such art, such goodness, that one no longer suffers at the sight of him.
61 The philosophers, we free spirits, who take responsibility for the evolution of mankind, will make use of the religions, and the politics, for the work of education and breeding, so as to be able to rule. Thus did the Brahmins use religion to give themselves the power of nominating kings. To ordinary men, the great majority, who exist only for service and general utility, religion gives an invaluable contentment with their station, peace of heart, an ennobling of obedience, a piece of joy and sorrow more to share with their fellows. Christianity and Buddhism, especially, have shed sunshine over these perpetual drudges, as an Epicurean philosophy does on sufferers of a higher rank.
62 In the end, it costs dear and terribly when religions hold sway in their own right and an end in themselves. Among men, as among every other species, there is a surplus of failures, of the sick, the degenerate, the fragile, of those who are bound to suffer. The successful cases are, too, always the exception, and, in man as the animal whose nature has not yet been fixed, the rare exception. Now what is the attitude of the above-named two religions towards this surplus of failure? They side with it as a matter of principle, as religions for sufferers, they have preserved much which ought to perish. Men not high or hard enough for the refashioning of mankind, have allowed the law of thousandfold failure to prevail. Men, with their 'equal before God' have hitherto ruled the destiny of Europe, until at last a shrunken, almost ludicrous species, a herd-animal, something full of good will, sickly and mediocre has been bred, the European of today.
Part Four: Maxims and Interludes
64 'Knowledge for its own sake' is the last snare set by morality.
86 Behind all their personal vanity women themselves always have their impersonal contempt for 'woman'.
94 Mature manhood means to have rediscovered the seriousness one had as a child at play.
108 There are no moral phenomena at all, only moral interpretations of phenomena.
120 Sensuality often makes love grow too quickly, so that the root remains weak and is easy to pull out.
123 Even concubinage has been corrupted: by marriage.
134 All evidence of truth comes only from the senses.
137 Behind a remarkable scholar one often finds a mediocre man, and behind a mediocre artist, often, a very remarkable man.
138 In our dreams as when we are awake, we invent the person with whom we associate, and immediately forget we have done so.
146 He who fights with monsters should look to it that he himself does not become a monster. And when you gaze long into an abyss the abyss also gazes into you.
152 'Where the tree of knowledge stands is always Paradise': thus speak the oldest and youngest serpents.
153 That which is done out of love always takes place beyond good and evil.
156 Madness is something rare in individuals- but in groups, parties, peoples, ages it is the rule.
157 The thought of suicide is a powerful solace: a means to get through many a bad night.
162 'Our neighbour is not our neighbour but our neighbour's neighbour'- thus thinks every people.
164 Jesus said to his Jews: 'The law was made for servants- love God as I love him, as his son! What have we sons of God to do with morality!'
168 Christianity gave Eros poison to drink- he did not die, but degenerated into vice.
169 To talk about oneself a great deal can be a means of concealing oneself.
175 Ultimately one loves one's desires and not that which is desired.
176 The vanity of others offends our taste only when it offends our vanity.
185 "I do not like it." - Why? - "I am not up to it.'" - Has anyone ever answered like that?
Part Five: On the Natural History of Morals
186 Moral sensibility is as subtle, sensitive and refined in Europe today as the 'science of morals' is still young, clumsy and coarse-fingered. Schopenhauer says (Fundamental Problems of Ethics),"'Harm no one, rather help everyone as much as you are able'- is... the actual foundation of ethics." But Schopenhauer found no rational ground for the proposition. He who has realised how insipidly false and sentimental it is in a world whose essence is will to power may like to recall that Schopenhauer, a pessimist, actually played the flute.
188 Every morality is against 'nature' and 'reason': which is no objection unless another morality decrees tyranny and unreason impermissible. Morality is constraint. But the strange fact is that all our freedom, boldness and certainty has evolved only by virtue of 'laws'; it could be that this is 'nature' and 'natural'- and not that laisser aller! Thinkers have imposed on themselves a protracted un-freedom in order to think within the rules of the ecclesiastical, or the courtly, or the Aristotelian, or to interpret every chance event as a re-discovery of the Christian God. For thousands of years European thinkers thought only to prove something- but, now, we suspect that anyone who 'wants to prove something' always knew the result in advance.
192 A reader does not read all the individual words of a page, but takes about five words in twenty and 'conjectures' their probable meaning. We put together an approximation of a tree from a few leaves and branches. We are from the very heart and from the very first accustomed to lying. Or, to express it more virtuously and hypocritically; one is more of an artist than one realizes.
193 Quidquid luce fuit, tenebris agit; but also the other way round. Our dreams are just as much a part of the total economy of our soul as is anything we 'really' experience: we are by virtue of it richer or poorer. Suppose someone dreams of possessing a power of flying: he knows a certain divine frivolity, 'going up' without constraint, 'going down' abasement- without gravity!
195 The Jews- a people 'born for slavery' as Tacitus and the whole ancient world says, 'the chosen people' as they themselves say- achieved that miracle of inversion of values which gave two millennia a new and dangerous fascination. Their prophets fused 'rich', 'godless', 'evil', 'violent', 'sensual' into one, and coined the word 'world' as a term of infamy. It is with them there begins the slave revolt in morals.
197 One altogether misunderstands the beast of prey and man of prey (Caesar Borgia for example), one misunderstands 'nature', when one looks for something 'sick' at the bottom of these healthiest of all monsters, as virtually all moralists have done.
199 As long as there have been human beings there have been human herds (families, tribes, nations, states, churches), and always very many who obey and very few who command. Nothing has been cultivated among men better than obedience; 'thou shalt unconditionally do this, unconditionally not do that'. Those commanding have to deceive themselves that they too are only obeying; I call it the moral hypocrisy of commanders. They defend themselves by posing as executors of more ancient or higher commands (of ancestors, the constitution, justice, the law or even of God), or borrow the herd's way of thinking and appear as 'servants of the people', or 'instruments of the common good'. The herd-man in Europe today glorifies his qualities of timidity, modesty, industriousness, and peace which make him useful to the herd. And when leaders seem to be indispensable, the clever herd-men gather together; this is the origin of all parliamentary constitutions. What a release from burden, was the appearance of an unconditional commander for this herd-European; Napoleon!
201 Those strong and dangerous drives, such as enterprisingness, revengefulness, ambition, hitherto honoured for their social utility and mightily cultivated, are now branded as immoral. Lofty spiritual independence, the will to stand alone, even great intelligence, are felt to be dangerous; everything that raises the individual above the herd and makes his neighbour quail is called evil. Eventually, under very peaceful conditions, every kind of severity, even severity in justice, begins to trouble the conscience; 'the lamb', even more 'the sheep', is held in higher and higher respect. There comes a point of morbid over-tenderness in the history of society at which it takes the side even of him who harms it, the criminal. Punishment seems somehow unfair. 'We wish that there will one day no longer be anything to fear!' One day everywhere in Europe the will to that day is now called 'progress'.
202 We know how offensive it sounds to say that man is an animal; and almost criminal to talk of 'herd' and 'herd instinct'. But we must insist: that which calls itself good, is the instinct of the herd-animal man. Placidly industrious democrats, revolutionary ideologists, and even the stupid fanatics who call themselves socialists, are in fact at one in their total hostility towards every form of society other than that of the herd. Europe seems threatened with a new Buddhism; a faith of mutual pity, with faith in the community, the herd, as the saviour.
203 We, who have a different faith- we, to whom the democratic movement is not merely politics in decay but also man in decay- whither is our hope? Towards new philosophers; towards spirits strong and original enough to revalue and reverse 'eternal values'. Towards men of the future who will compel the will of millennia on to new paths. It is the image of such leaders which hovers before our eyes- may I say that aloud, you free spirits? The circumstances one would have to use to bring them into existence; the paths by which a soul could grow to such height and power it would feel compelled to these tasks; what novel pressure might transform a heart to brass that it might endure the weight of such responsibility; the terrible danger they might not appear, or might fail, or might degenerate- these are our proper cares and concerns- do you know that, you free spirits? The collective degeneration of man to the pygmy animal of equal rights and equal pretensions is certainly possible! He who has seen this, knows a new kind of disgust, and perhaps has a new task!...
Part Six: We Scholars
204 At the risk of moralizing, I should like to venture to combat a harmful displacement of the order of rank between science and philosophy. The Declaration of Independence of science, its emancipation from philosophy, is one of the more subtle after-effects of the democratic formlessness of life. Now that science has successfully resisted theology, whose 'handmaiden' it was for too long, it is gleefully taking it upon itself to lay down laws for philosophy, to play itself the 'master'. It is the colour blindness of the utility man who sees in philosophy nothing but refuted systems and wasteful expenditure which 'benefits' nobody. In general, it may have been the human, all too human, element, of recent philosophy itself, which has opened the gates to the plebeian instinct. How our world is lacking royal and splendid hermits in the mould of Heraclitus, Plato or Empedocles! And how could things be otherwise! Science is flourishing, while philosophy has sunk to a remnant, arousing distrust and displeasure when it does not arouse mockery and pity. Philosophy reduced to 'theory of knowledge' is philosophy at its last gasp. How could such a philosophy rule!
206 Unlike genius, which always begets or bears, the scholar, the average man of science, has, like the old maid, some respectability, but no acquaintanceship with the two most valuable functions of mankind. So, what is the man of science? A species with ignoble virtues; subservient, unauthoritative and un-self-sufficient. Industrious, patiently acknowledging his proper place, uniform and moderate, with an instinct for the sunshine of a good name.
207 One may welcome the objective spirit, the ideal scientific scholar; he is certainly a precious instrument: but he belongs in the hand of one who is mightier. The objective man is an instrument, an easily damaged and tarnished measuring instrument and reflecting apparatus which ought to be respected and protected; but he is not an end, only a delicate, flexible mould which has first to wait for some content so as 'to form' itself.
208 When a philosopher today gives us to understand that he is not a sceptic, all the world is offended. Be quiet, you pessimistic moles! For the sceptic, that delicate creature, winces at the Yes! and No!; he likes his virtue to enjoy a noble continence, perhaps by saying after Socrates: 'I know that I know nothing.' To make no hypothesis at all could well be a part of good taste. Do you absolutely have to straighten out what is crooked? Oh you rogues, can you not wait?
210 Will the philosophers of the future have to be sceptics? They might equally be called critics, experimenters. But, to them; 'Philosophy is critical science- and nothing more!' seems some insult. Our new philosophers will say: critics are philosophers' instruments and not philosophers themselves! Even the Chinaman of Königsberg was only a great critic.
211 I insist that philosophical labourers and men of science should cease to be confused with philosophers. The philosopher must traverse the whole range of human value-feelings and be able to gaze from the heights into every distance, from the depths into every height. More- he must create values. Actual philosophers are commanders and law givers: they say 'thus it shall be!', it is they who determine the Wherefore and Whither of mankind. Must there not be such philosophers?...
213 What a philosopher is, is hard to learn, because it cannot be taught: one has to 'know' it from experience. But that nowadays all the world talks of things of which it cannot have experience is most evident in respect of philosophers and the philosophical; very few know them, and all popular conceptions of them are false. Many generations must have worked to prepare for the philosopher; each of his virtues must have been individually acquired, tended, inherited, incorporated. Not only the bold, easy, course and cadence of his thoughts- but above all the readiness for great responsibilities, the lofty glance that rules and looks down, the genial protection and defence of that which is misunderstood and calumniated, be it god or devil, the pleasure in and exercise of grand justice, the art of commanding, the breadth of will, the slow eye which seldom admires, seldom looks upward, seldom loves ...
Part Seven: Our Virtues
214 Our virtues? We Europeans of the day after tomorrow, we first-born of the twentieth century with all our dangerous curiosity, our multiplicity and art of disguise, our mellow and sugared cruelty in spirit and senses- if we are to have virtues we shall presumably have only such virtues as have learned to get along with our most secret and heartfelt inclinations. Alas! if only you knew how soon, how very soon, things will be- different! ...
220 Now that the 'disinterested' are praised so widely one has to become cautiously conscious of what is profound and deep to the common man, the educated, the scholars and perhaps the philosophers as well. The fact emerges that the great majority of things which interest and stimulate every higher nature and refined taste appear altogether 'uninteresting' to the average man. There have been philosophers who have failed to state obvious truth that the 'disinterested' act is a very interesting and interested act, provided that ... But here truth prefers to stifle her yawns. She is, after all, a woman: one ought not to violate her.
224 The historical sense, that Europeans specialty, has come to us through the mad and fascinating semi-barbarism into which Europe has been plunged through the democratic mingling of classes and races. We have secret access everywhere, such as a noble age never had, to the labyrinth of unfinished cultures; we have 'historical sense' for everything, the taste and tongue for everything. Perhaps it is our happiest advance that we again know how to appreciate Homer, which even noble French of the seventeenth century, (Saint Evremond, Voltaire) could not. Their wariness of everything foreign their culture, disposed them unfavourably towards even the best things in the resto of the world. We even enjoy Shakespeare, that astonishing Spanish-Moorish-Saxon synthesis, we accept his medley of the delicate and the coarse, we take him as art, and even forgive his proximity to the English rabble and the stench of the plebeian sewers.
227 Honesty is our only virtue, we free spirits- let us labour at it with love and malice to 'perfect' ourselves in our virtue: may its brightness one day overspread this ageing culture like a gilded azure mocking evening glow! Every virtue tends towards stupidity, every stupidity towards virtue; 'stupid to the point of saintliness' they say in Russia - let us see to it that through honesty we do not finally become saints and bores! Is life not a hundred times too short to be - bored in it?
228 May I be forgiven the discovery that all moral philosophy hitherto has been boring. It is important that as few people as possible should think about morality, consequently it is very important that morality should not become interesting! Fear not! I see no one in Europe who sees any danger in thinking about morality! Consider the indefatigable English utilitarians worthily and clumsily stalking in the footsteps of Bentham. In 'the common good', ultimately, they want English morality to prevail. They would like to prove to themselves that striving after English happiness, I mean after comfort and fashion (and, the supreme goal, a seat in Parliament), is the true path of virtue.
229 Almost everything we call 'higher culture' is based on the spiritualization and intensification of cruelty- this is my proposition; the 'wild beast' has not been laid to rest at all, it lives, it flourishes, it has merely become- deified. What the Roman in the arena, the Christian in the ecstasies of the Cross, the Spaniard's bullfights, the Japanese of today enjoying tragedy- what all of these enjoy is the spicy potion of the great Circe 'cruelty'.
230 Perhaps what I have to say of a 'fundamental will of the spirit' may not be immediately comprehensible: allow me to explain. That commanding something which people call 'spirit' wants to be master within itself and around itself and to bind together and tame, it is imperious and domineering. Its needs and capacities are the same as those which physiologists posit for everything that lives, grows and multiplies. There is also an apparently antithetical drive of the spirit, a desire for ignorance, for a closing of the windows, a kind of defensive posture. It is here that the spirit lets itself be deceived, and innocently deceives other spirits, and so enjoys the multiplicity and cunning of its masks, it enjoys the sense of being safe.
231 Learning transforms us, but at the bottom of us, 'right down deep', there is, something unteachable, a granite stratum of spiritual fate, of predetermined decision. In the case of every cardinal problem there speaks an unchangeable 'this is I'; about man and woman, for example, a thinker can only rediscover what is 'firm and settled' within him on the subject. I may perhaps be permitted to utter a few truths about 'woman as such': assuming it is now understood that these are only- my truths.
232 Woman wants to be independent, and so she is beginning to enlighten men about 'woman as such'- this is one of the worst developments in the general uglification of Europe. She begins to forget her skills of charm, play, carelessness, the assuaging of grief and taking lightly! Already female voices are raised which, by holy Aristophanes! make one tremble. Is it not in the worst of taste when woman tries to adorn herself with science? But what is truth to a woman! Her great art is the lie, her supreme concern is appearance and beauty. Let us confess it, we men: it is precisely this art and this instinct in woman which we love and honour: which makes our seriousness appear to us almost as folly. And is it not true that on the whole 'woman' has hitherto been slighted most by woman herself- and not at all by us?
234 Woman does not understand what food means. It is the complete absence of reason in the kitchen, that the evolution of man has been most harmed. A lecture for high-school girls.
237 Proverbs for Women
How the slowest tedium flees when a man comes on his knees!
Sober garb and total muteness dress a woman with astuteness.
Who has brought me luck today? God! and my couturier.
Noble name, a leg that's fine, man as well: oh were he mine!
Men have hitherto treated women like beautiful, delicate, birds strayed down from the heights: but which must be caged to stop them escaping.
239 The weak sex has in no age been treated by men with such respect as it is in ours: is it any wonder if this respect is immediately abused? She wants more, she unlearns fear of man: and sacrifices her most womanly instincts. This is what is happening today: let us not deceive ourselves! Wherever the spirit of industry has triumphed over the military and aristocratic, woman now aspires to economic and legal independence. As she looks to the 'progress' of women, the reverse is happening: woman is retrogressing. There is stupidity in this 'emancipation of women', an almost masculine stupidity, of which real woman- clever woman- will be ashamed from the very heart. Is woman now being deprived of her enchantment? Is woman slowly being made boring? O Europe! Europe!
Part Eight: Peoples and Fatherlands
240 I have heard, once again for the first time, Richard Wagner's overture to the Meistersinger: Magnificent: it is as arbitrary as it is pompous, traditional- not infrequently puckish, often rough and uncouth- it has fire and spirit and at the same time the loose yellow skin of fruits which ripen too late. A genuine token of the German soul, at once young and aged, over-mellow and still too rich in future.
241 We 'good Europeans' have moments when we permit ourselves a warm-hearted patriotism, a lapse into old loves and narrownesses- I have just given an example of it. We may keep to it for an hour or so, while dull, sluggish races would need half a century to overcome such attacks before being restored to reason, to 'good Europeanism'.
242 Whether that which now distinguishes the European be called 'civilization' or 'progress' or simply the democratic movement; behind all the moral and political foregrounds a great physiological process is taking place- the process of the assimilation of all Europeans, into the essentially supra-national type of man. This process of becoming European, will probably lead to results which its naive propagators would be least inclined to anticipate. The same novel conditions which can create a levelling and mediocritizing of man- a useful, industrious, and able herd-animal- can also give rise to exceptional men both dangerous and enticing. What I mean to say is that the democratization of Europe is an involuntary arrangement for the breeding of tyrants- including the most spiritual.
245 The 'good old days' are gone, in Mozart they sang themselves out in rococo chinoiserie and ornament. Alas, some day all will be gone, who can doubt that a taste for Beethoven will be gone first! How strange to our ears sounds the language of Rousseau, Schiller, Shelley, Byron. What are Freischütz and Oberon to us today! Wagner's music for Manfred is a mistake to the point of injustice, his quiet lyricism merely a German event in music, not a European event. In him German music was losing the voice for the soul of Europe and sinking into mere nationality.
248 There are two kinds of genius: the kind which begets and the kind which likes to give birth. Likewise there are among peoples of genius those upon whom has fallen the woman's problem of pregnancy and the secret task of forming, maturing- the Greeks were a people of this kind, and so were the French, the Jews, the Romans and, I ask, the Germans? These two kinds of genius seek one another, as man and woman do; but they also misunderstand one another, as man and woman do.
251 If a people is suffering from nationalistic nervous fever, it must be expected that little attacks of stupidity will pass over its spirit. Among present-day Germans, for example, there is the anti-French stupidity, now the anti-Jewish, the anti-Polish, the Wagnerian, the Teutonic, the Prussian. May it be forgiven me that I too, during a daring brief sojourn in a highly infected area, did not remain wholly free of the disease. About the Jews, for example: listen.- I have never met a German who was favourably inclined towards the Jews. They tell me that Germany has a sufficiency of Jews, 'Let in no more Jews!' command a people still weak and ready to be undermined. The Jews, however, are beyond all doubt the toughest, purest race now living in Europe; they know how to prevail under the worst conditions (better even than under favourable ones), thanks above all to a resolute faith which does not need to be ashamed before 'modem ideas'. The Jews are wishing to be assimilated into Europe, they are longing to put an end to the nomadic life of the 'Wandering Jew'. But here I should break off my cheerful Germanomaniac address: for already I am touching on what is to me serious, on the 'European problem'- on the breeding of a new ruling caste for Europe.
252 They are no philosophical race, these English: Francis Bacon, Hobbes, David Hume and Locke. They lack spirituality, and (in both senses) they lack music. 253 But now, the the spirit of respectable but mediocre Englishmen - Darwin, John Stuart Mill and Herbert Spencer- is starting to gain ascendancy in the midregion of European taste. Exalted spirits have more to do than merely know something new- namely to be something new, to represent new values! On the other hand, for scientific discoveries such as Darwin's, a certain very English narrowness and industrious conscientiousness may be useful. European noblesse of feeling, taste, of custom, is the work and invention of France; European vulgarity, the plebeianism of modern ideas, that of - England.
254 France is still the seat of Europe's most spiritual and refined culture- and there are three things which the French can still exhibit with pride. Firstly, the capacity for artistic passions. Second, their ancient, manifold, moralistic culture, by virtue of which even boulevardiers de Paris have a psychological sensitivity and curiosity of which Germans have no conception. There is yet a third claim to superiority: in the French nature there exists some synthesis of north and south which makes them understand many things which are beyond an Englishman. The south preserves them from dreary northern grey-on-grey and makes in France a kind of patriotism, which knows how to love the south in the north and the north in the south- the born Midlanders, the 'good Europeans'.
256 Thanks to the morbid estrangement which the lunacy of nationality has produced between the peoples of Europe, and thanks to the shortsighted politicians who have used it- the obvious sign is being overlooked- Europe wants to become one. The more profound and comprehensive men of this century have prepared for this new synthesis, anticipated the European of the future: only in their foreground hours of weakness were they 'patriots'. I think of men such as Napoleon, Goethe, Beethoven, Schopenhauer; and I include Richard Wagner. In all the heights and depths of their needs: it is the one Europe whose soul forces its way longingly up and out through their manifold and impetuous art- whither?- into a new light?- towards a new sun?
Part Nine: What Is Noble?
257 Every elevation of the type "man," has hitherto been the work of an aristocratic society- a society believing in differences of worth among human beings, and requiring slavery in some form or other. Let us acknowledge unprejudicedly how every higher civilisation has originated! The truth is hard. Men with a still natural, a barbarian nature, still in possession of unbroken strength of will and desire for power, threw themselves upon weaker, more moral, more peaceful races.
259 To refrain mutually from injury, from exploitation, and put one's will on a par with others, may lead to a certain degree of good conduct among individuals. But to make it a fundamental principle of society is a will to the denial of life, a principle of dissolution and decay. Grant that this is a novel theory, but, be honest, it is a fundamental fact of history!
260 In a tour through the moralities of the earth, two primary types revealed themselves to me. There is master-morality and slave-morality; though in higher civilisations, there are some attempts to reconcilie the two. When moral values have originated with the ruling caste, when the rulers have determind the conception 'good,' then 'good' and 'bad' means practically the same as 'noble' and 'despicable'. Supposing that the abused, the oppressed, should moralise; what will their morality be? Probably a pessimistic suspicion of the entire situation of man, an unfavourable eye for the virtues of the powerful. On the other hand light is shone on sympathy, the kind, helping hand, the warm heart, patience, humility, and friendliness; all the most useful qualities in surviving a harsh existence. Here is the seat of the origin of the famous antithesis 'good' and 'evil': According to slave-morality, the 'evil' man arouses fear; according to master-morality, it is the 'good' man who arouses fear. According to the servile mode of thought, the good man must be the safe man: good-natured, perhaps a little stupid, And everywhere that slave-morality gains the ascendency, language shows a tendency to connect the words 'good' and 'stupid.' And one fundamental difference: the desire for liberty necessarily belongs to slave-morals, just as reverence and devotion are symptoms of aristocratic thinking. Hence we can understand why love as passion- our European specialty- must necessarily be of noble origin.
261 Vanity, trying to arouse a good opinion of oneself, and even to try to beleive in it, seems, to the noble man, such bad taste, so self-disrespectful, so grotesquely unreasonable, that he would like to consider vanity a rarity. He will say, "I may be mistaken about my value, but nevertheless demand that I be valued as I value myself", but this is not vanity. The man of noble character must learn that in all social strata in any way dependent, the ordinary man has only ever valued himself as his master dictates (it is the peculiar right of masters to create values). It may be looked upon as an extraordinary atavism that the ordinary man is always waiting for an opinion about himself and then instinctively submitting to it; not only to a "good" opinion, but also to a bad and unjust one (think of all the self-depreciations which the believing Christian learns from his Church). It is "the slave" in the vain man's blood- and how much of the "slave" is still left in woman- which seeks to seduce to good opinions of itself; it is the slave, too, who immediately afterwards falls prostrate himself before these opinions, as though he had not called them forth. Vanity is an atavism.
262 A species originates, and becomes strong, in the long struggle with unfavourable conditions. On the other hand, breeders know that a species that receives super-abundant nourishment and protection becomes prone prodigies and monstrosities. Consider an aristocratic commonwealth, say an ancient Greek polis, or Venice, as a contrivance for breeding human beings; it consists of those who must make their species prevail against neighbours or rebellious vassals, or risk being exterminated. Finally, a happy state of things results; there are perhaps no more enemies, and the means of life are abundant. This turning-point of history throws up a magnificent, virgin-forest-like and up-striving; and in the rivalry of growth, an extraordinary decay and self-destruction. The old morality is out of date. The individual is obliged to have recourse to his own law-giving. Danger is again present, the mother of morality, great danger. What will the moral philosophers of this time have to preach? They discover, these sharp onlookers and loafers, that the end is approaching. The mediocre alone have a prospect of continuing and propagating themselves- they will be the men of the future, the sole survivors.
263. There is an instinct for rank, which is itself a sign of a high rank. He who investigates souls will test each one by its instinct for reverence. Différence engendre haine: the vulgarity of many a nature spurts up like dirty water when any any great book, any jewel from closed shrines, is brought before it; while there is silence and hesitation when a soul feels the nearness of things worthiest of respect. Much has been achieved when the shallow masses know that there are holy things before which they must take off their shoes. There may be more nobility of taste, more tact for reverence, among the lower classes, than among the newspaper-reading demimonde of intellect.
264 It cannot be effaced from a man's soul what his ancestors did: whether they were diligent economisers attached to desk and a cash-box; or whether they were accustomed to commanding from morning to night; or whether they sacrificed all for their "God". This is the problem of race. The plebianism of offensive incontinence, sordid envy, or clumsy self-vaunting, must pass over to the child. And in our democratic, plebeian age, "education" and "culture" must be essentially the art of deceiving with regard to inherited plebeianism.
265 At the risk of displeasing innocent ears, I submit that egoism belongs to the essence of a noble soul. He might call it "justice", and, once he has settled questions of rank he moves among his equals with respect.
267 Chinese mothers still teach their children "Siao-sin" ("make thy heart small"). Such self-dwarfing of latter civilisations would, no doubt, make an ancient Greek shudder at today's Europe.
268 What, after all, is ignobleness? Words are vocal symbols for ideas; ideas, however, are more or less definite mental symbols for frequently returning and concurring sensations. To understand one another needs more than the same words- we must have experiences in common. When people have lived long together under similar conditions there grows an entity that "understands itself"- a nation. The greater their common danger, the greater the need of agreeing words about necessities. We discover how love and friendship falters when we realise that we understand words in ways unalike. One must appeal to immense opposing forces to thwart the natural, all-too-natural, evolution toward the similar, the ordinary, the average- to the ignoble!
271 That which separates two men most profoundly is a different sense of purity. What does all their honesty and reciprocal usefulness matter, if they 'cannot bear the smell of each other!'
277 Irritating! Whenever a man finishes building his house, he discovers what he needeed to know to begin. The malancholia of finished things! ...
278 Wanderer, rest here: there is hospitality for everyone. What refreshes? Speak out! 'Another mask! A second mask!'...
287 What is noble? What does the word 'noble' still mean for us nowadays? How does the noble man betray himself, how is he recognised in the gloom of the new plebeianism? It is not his actions, always ambiguous, which establish his claim. It is not his works, but the belief in some fundamental certainty that a noble soul has about itself. The noble soul has reverence for itself.
294 The Olympian Vice- Despite the, very English, philosopher who said; "Laughing is a bad infirmity of human nature, which every thinking mind will strive to overcome" (Hobbes),- I might rank philosophers according to the quality of their laughter. And supposing that Gods also philosophise, which I am inclined to believe, I have no doubt that they also know how to laugh at all things in a superhuman way!
295 The genius of the heart of the hidden tempter god, the pied-piper of consciences, whose voice can descend into the underworld of every soul. The genius of the heart, from contact with which every one goes away less certain, more delicate, more bruised, but full of a new will and current, full of a new ill-will and counter-current ... Oh friends! Have I forgotten to name who I talk about? Or have you already divined the name? I mean the God Dionysus, the great equivocator and tempter. I, his last disciple; might I give you, a little taste of his philosophy? The very fact that Dionysus, a god, is a philosopher, might arouse suspicion among you philosophers- loth nowadays to believe in God and gods. He once said, "Under some circumstances, I love mankind- an agreeable animal, without equal on earth. I often ponder how I might make him stronger, more evil and more profound. Yes, you heard me right, stronger, more evil, more profound, and more beautiful." Here, you see, is a divinity lacking not only shame, but among gods who might learn from we humans. We humans are more- humane...
296 Alas! what are you, my written and my painted thoughts! Not long ago you were young and malicious and full of thorns and secret spices- you made me sneeze and laugh- and now? You have doffed your novelty, and some of you, I fear, are ready to become truths, so immortal do they look, so tediously honest! And was it ever otherwise? What then do we write and paint, we mandarins with Chinese brush? Alas, only that which is about to fade and lose its scent! Alas, only birds exhausted by flight, which let themselves be caught with our hand! We immortalise things exhausted and mellow! And it is only for your afternoon, my written and painted thoughts, for which alone I have many colours; but nobody will divine how you looked in your morning, you sudden sparks and marvels of my solitude, you, my old, beloved- wicked thoughts!
From High Mountains: Epode
Nietzsche's grave in Röcken Churchyard, Germany
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THE COMPLETE TEXTS ● THE ABRIDGED TEXTS ● Aristotle - Ethics ● Aristotle - Politics ● Augustine - Confessions ● Ayer - Language, Truth and Logic ● Bacon - Advancement of Learning ● Bentham - Morals and Legislation ● Berkeley - Principles of Human Knowledge ● Boethius - Consolations of Philosophy ● Burke - Revolution in France ● Cicero - Friendship and Old Age ● Clausewitz - On War ● Comte - Positive Philosophy ● Confucius - The Analects ● Copernicus - The Revolutions ● Darwin - The Origin of Species ● Descartes - Discourse on Method ● Descartes - Meditations ● Einstein's Relativity ● Emerson - Nature ● Epicurus - Sovran Maxims ● Erasmus - Praise of Folly ● Euclid - Elements ● Freud - Psychoanalysis ● Galileo - Two World Systems ● Hayek - The Road to Serfdom ● Hegel - Philosophy of History ● Hegel - Philosophy of Religion ● Hobbes - Leviathan ● Hume - Human Understanding ● James - Varieties of Religious Experience ● Kant - Critiques of Reason ● Kant - Metaphysics of Morals ● Kierkegaard - Either Or ● Leibniz - Monadology ● Locke - Human Understanding ● Machiavelli - The Prince ● Marcus Aurelius - Meditations ● Marx - The Communist Manifesto ● Marx and Engels - German Ideology ● Mill - On Liberty ● Mill - System of Logic ● More - Utopia ● Newton - Principia ● Nietzsche - Beyond Good and Evil ● Nietzsche - Genealogy of Morals ● Paine - Rights of Man ● Pascal - Thoughts ● Plato - The Apology ● Plato - The Republic ● Plato - The Symposium ● Popper - Scientific Discovery ● Rand - Selfishness ● Rousseau - Confessions ● Rousseau - Social Contract ● Sade - Philosophy in the Boudoir ● Sartre - Existentialism is a Humanism ● Schopenhauer - World as Will and Idea ● Smith - Wealth of Nations ● Spinoza - Ethics ● The Ancient Greeks ● The Aphorisms of the Philosophers ● Thoreau - Walden ● Tocqueville - America ● Turing - Computing Machinery ● Wittgenstein - Tractatus ● Wollstonecraft - Rights of Woman ●
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