Vous êtes sur la page 1sur 406

1+1 National Library

of Canada
Bibliothèque nationale
du Canada
Acquisitions and Direction des acquisitions et
Bibliographie SelVices Branch des selVices bibliographiques
395 Wclhnglon Slreel 395. rue Wetlinglon
Ottawa.Onl3no Ottawa (Ontario)
K1A QN4 K1A ON4

0",. /.Ir N.l~'" , ..

NOTICE AVIS

The quality of this microform is La qualité de cette microforme


heavily dependent upon the dépend grandement de la qualité
quality of the original thesis de la thèse soumise au
submitted for microfilming. microfilmage. Nous avons tout
Every effort has been made to fait pour assurer une qualité
ensure the highest quality of supérieure de reproduc~ion.
reproduction possible.

If pages are missing, contact the S'il manque des pages, veuillez
university which granted the communiquer avec l'université
degree. qui a conféré le grade.

Sorne pages may have indistinct La qualité d'impression de


print especially if the original certaines pages peut laisser à
pages were typed with a poor désirer, surtout si les pages
typewriter ribbon or if the originales ont été
university sent us an inferior dactylographiées à l'aide d'un
photocopy. ruban usé ou si l'université nous
a fait parvenir une photocopie de
qualité inférieure.

Reproduction in full or in part of La reproduction, même partielle,


this microform is governed by de cette microforme est soumise
the Canadian Copyright Act, à la Loi canadienne sur le droit
R.S.C. 1970, c. C-30, and d'auteur, SRC 1970, c. C-30, et
subsequent amendments. ses amendements subséquents.

Canada

Nietzsche's Etbical Vision:

An Examination of the Moral and Political Philosophy

of Friedrich Nietzsche

Fredrick Appel
Department ofPolitical Science
McGill University, Montreal
June, 1995

A thesis submitted 10 the Faculty of Graduate Studies and Research in partial


fulfilment of the requirements of the degree ofPh.D.
~ FredrickAppel, 1995


National Ubrary Bibliothèque nationale
1+1 of Canada du Canada
Acquisitions and Direction des acquisitions et
Bibliographie Services Branch des services bibliographiques
395 Wellington Streel 395. rue Welhnglon
Ottawa. Onlano QIlawa (Onlano)
K1A0N4 K1AQN4

The author has granted an L'auteur a accordé une licence


irrevocable non-exclusive licence irrévocable et non exclusive
allowing the National Ubrary of permettant à la Bibliothèque
Canada to reproduce, loan, nationale du Canada de
distribute or sell copies of reproduire, prêter, distribuer ou
hisjher thesis by any means and vendre des copies de sa thèse
in any form or format, making de quelque manière et sous
this thesis available to interested quelque forme que ce soit pour
persons. mettre des exemplaires de cette
thèse à la disposition des
personnes intéressées.

The author retains ownership of L'auteur conserve la propriété du


the copyright in hisjher thesis. droit d'auteur qui protège sa
Neither the thesis nor substantial thèse. Ni la thèse ni des extraits
extracts from it may be printed or substantiels de celle-ci ne
otherwise reproduced without doivent être imprimés ou
hisjher permission. autrement reproduits sans son
autorisation.

ISBN 0-612-08076-5

Canada
• Abstract
This dissertation argues that a pervasive ethical vision underlies the work of
Friedrich NietzsChe (1844-1900): a concem for the possibility of human flourishing
in the modern world. Notwithstanding NietzsChe's celebrated daim to he "beyond
good and evil", and against the standard interpretation of bis "pelSpCCtivism", it is
argued that Nietzsche makes qualitative, normative distinctions between higher,
admirable modes ofhuman existence and lower, contemptible ones, and that he
wishes through bis writings to foster the former and discourage the latter.
Furthermore, it is argued that Nietzsche believes human excellence to he the
property of a small minority of "higher" human heings, and that he identifies the
project ofencouraging human excellence with a political imperative ofcultivating
this gifted élite. The dissertation also argues that Nietzsche's piCtu1'e of the fully
flourishing human life suffers from a number ofinconsistencies that may he traeed
back to bis vaciUation between two incompatible moral discourses: an Aristotelian
discourse emphasising the importance of certain "external goods" (e.g. friendship,
recognition, community) in a fully flourishing life, and a rival, Stoic-influenced
discourse stressing the virtuous individual's total sclf-sufficiency. An examination
is made ofNietzsehe's stance towards the following key concepts and questions:
truth, morality, virtue, instinct and "bodily" knowledge, nature, creativity,
rationality, discipline and self-masteIy, freedom, solitude and sociability,
friendship, community, pity, breeding and heredity, women and gender relations,
and domination.

Résumé
Cette thèse veut démontrer que l'oeuvre de Friedrich Nietzsehe (1844-1900) est
soutenue par une vision éthique, c'est-à-dire par un souci de l'q,anouisseme1J.t de
l'homme dans la modernité. La thèse, allant à rencontre de l'interprétation
orthodoxe du <<perspectivisme» nietzsehœn, suggère que Nietzsche, malgré sa
c61~ prétension à vouloir se situer <<par-delà du bien et du ma1», a tout de
même fait des distinctions qualitatives et normatives. n a établi des diff6rences
entre. d'une part, les modes de vie humaine sup&ieurs et admirables et. d'autre
part, les modes inf6rieurs et m6prisables. La thèse suggère par ailleurs qu'à travers
ses écrits Nietzsche a cherché à encourager les premiers et condalT!Ql:l' les seconds.
na cru que l'excellence humaine ~t le propre d'une petite minorité d'hommes
sup6rieurs et son but, qui fut essentiellement d'encourager cette excellenc:e de
l'homme, alla de paire avec un projet politique. Cette thèse suggère aussi que la
conception nietzselW:nne de la vie bumaine la plus noble ne va pas sans quelques
contradictions et que ces contradictions trouvent leurs origines dans la lutte, etiez
N"1etzsehe, entre deux discoUIS moraux incompatibles. D'une part, il est influencé
par un discours aristotélicien mettant l'accent sur 1'impo1tance de certains <<biens
extœes» (par exemple, l'amiti6, la l'CCOIIDllissance, la communauté) dans la vie la
plus riche. D'autre part, il est aussi maIqUé par un discours inspir6 du stoïcisme
promouvant l'~ de l'autosuffisance totale de l'homme vertueux. La position de
Nietzsche sur les questions et les concepts suivants sera 6tudïœ: la v6ité, la
moralité, la vertu, l'instinct et le savoir <<corporel»,la nature, la c:r6Iti.vité, la
raison, la discipline et la 1DlI1~lahDerlé, la solitude et la sociabilité,


l'amiti6, la comm1mauté,la piti6, l'6:lueation, la proc:r&tion et l ~ les
femmes et les lapports homme-femme et la domination.
• Acknowledgements

1wish to thank my supervisor, Charles Taylor, for bis support and assistance in the
preparation of this dissertation and throughout the years of my graduate studies.
Innumerable thanks must also go to my wife, Marilyn Besner, without whose
unflagging support and patience this worlc would not have been possible. The birth
of our daughter Lottie coincided with the start of my disse$tion research, and it
gives me great pleasure to think that 1shal1 always associate this work with ber
infant yea.-s.
Many thanks are owed to the following individuals who took the time to read and
comment on earlier versions of this manuscript, in whole or part Peter Berkowitz,
Randy Coonolly, Martha Nussbaum, James Tully, Brian WaIker, and Robert
Welshon. Ruth Abbey bas been especially generous with her time and attention.
My exchanges with Brian Leiter have also proved invaluable. 1 also wish to
acknowledge Caroline Guindon for her kind offer ofhelp during the preparation of
this manuscript.

1am indebted too to James Booth, Mark Brawley, Alain-G. Gagnon, Elisabeth
Gidengil, and Hudson MeadweIl of the Department of Politica1 Science at McGill
for their encouragement and support during my years ofassociation with the
Department. A similar debt ofgratitude is owed to FIederick Krantz of the LJ.0eral
Arts College, ConCOIdia University. For funding during my doctoral studies 1am
grateful to the Doctoral Fellowship programme of the Social Sciences and
Humanities ReseaICh Council ofcaDlma
Material from chapter three will appear in a slightly different form as an essay
entitled "Nietzsche's Natural Hierarchy· in the Falll996 issue ofIntemtltûmaI
Stwfies in Phüosophy. 1 amgrateful to the editors ofthis journal for giving me
permission to use this material hem.


• AC
BGE
The Antichrist

Beyond Good and Evil


AbbreyjatjODS

BT Birth ofTragedy
"Attempt" "Attempt at a Self-Criticism"

EH &ceHolTW
"BGE" "Beyond Good and Evil"
"BT" "The Birth ofTragedy"
"Books" "Why 1Write such Good Books"
"Oever" "Why 1am 50 Oever"
"Destiny" "Why 1am a Destiny"
"GM" "On the Genealogy of MoraIs"
"UM" "Untimely Meditations"
"zn "Thus Spoke Zarathustra"

GM On the Genealogy ofMorals

GS The Gay Science

HAH Human, AU-Tao Human

KGA Werke: Kritische Gesamtausgabe

TI TwiIight ofthe Idols


"FGE" "The Four Great Errors"
"EUM" "Expeditions ofan Untimely Man"
"MA" "Maxims and Arrows"
"MAN" "Morality as Anti-Natme"
"RIP" "'Reason' in Philo5Ophy"
"TIM" "The 'Improvers' ofMankind"
"WGL" "What the Germans Lack."
"WOA" "What 1Owe to the Ancients"

WP The Will 10 Power

Z Thus Spoke Zarathustra

3M "Of the Thœe Metamorphoses"


"BS" "BeCore Sumise"
"" "C" "The Convalescent"
"Conversation with the Kïngs"
"CK"
"CM" "The CbiId with the Mirror"

• "FS"
"G"
"HC"
"The Funeral Song"
"The Greeting"
"The Home-Coming"
• "HO"
"LS"
"DA"
"OAW"
"OBI"
"OBV"
"The Boney Offering"
"The Last Supper"
"Of the Apostates"
"Of the Afterworldsmen"
"On Blissful Islands"
"Of the Bestowing VirDle"
"OC" "Of the Compassionate"
"OCV" "Of the Chairs ofVlItUe"
"OOB" "Of the Despisers of the Body"
"OFM" "Of the Flies of the Market-PIace"
"OFP" "Of the Famous Philosophers"
"QGL" "Of the GIeat Longing"
"OHM:" "Of the Higber Man"
"OIB" "Of Involuntary Bliss"
"OIP" "Of Immanilate Perception"
"OJP" "Of Joys and Passions"
"OLe" "Of the Land of Culture"
"OMC' "OfMarriage and Children"
"OW" "OfManly Prudence"
"ON!" "Of the New Idol"
"ONL" "Of Old and New Law-Tables"
"OP" "Of the Priests"
"OPC" "Of the Pale Qjmin al "
"OPO" "Of the Preacbers ofDeath"
"OR" "Of Redemption"
"ORW" "Of Reading and WIiting"
"OS" "Of Science"
"OSG" "Of the Spirit of Gravity"
"OSM" "Of the Sublime Man"
"OSa" "OfSe1f-Qven:oming"
"CT' "Of the Tarantulas"
"QTG" "Of the Thousand and One Goals"
"OI'M" "Of the TIee on the Mountainside"
"OV" "Of the V1ItUOus"
"OYR" "Of the VlSion and the Riddle"
"OWC" "Of the Way of the Creator"
"OWW" "OfWar and Warrior.;"
"SOS" "The Second Oance Song"
"SB" "The StiIlest Bour"
oSSo "The Seven SeaIs"
"TET" "Of the 1bIec ET,i1c'!biDgs"
"YB" "The Voluntary Beggar"
"TM" "Of the 1bIec Metamorphoses"
"VMS" "Of the VIItUe that Makes SmaII"
"W" "The Wandere.r"


• Introduction
Table of Contents

ChapterI
NietzsebP..an Truth and Objectivity 23

ChaPterii
Ni~hean Morality and Moral Philosophy 58

ChaPterm
Nietzsehean Vutue: 84
Instinct, Nature, and Artifice

CbpterIV
The CoIIUption and Rescue of the Nietzsehean Master-Type 112

ChaPterV
Reconstituting the Master (1): 141
Se1f-Discovery and Self-Mastery
ChapterVI
Reconstituting the Master (2): 176
The Flight into and Beyond Solitude

ChaPterVII
Reconstituting the Master (3): 210
Jasagen and the Hope for Friendship and Community
Chaptervm
Nietzsehe's Will to Politics 250

ChaPterIX
Caste and Gender Relations in the Nietzsehean Utopia 294

CbapterX
Noblesse Oblige and Domination 335

Review and Conclusion 372

Bibliography 392


• Niet7sche's Ethical Vision
Introduction

To those familiar with the large and ever-growing body of scholarly


eommentary on Friedrich Nietzsche, a study like this one, !bat purports to Ullearth a
~ly moral thrust to the work of this iconoclastie thinker. may seem

eounterintuitive at best and quixotie at worst. A "new orthodoxy", as Peter


Berkowitz descn1les it (Berkowitz 1995), bas coalesced in Anglo-American
Nietzsche scholarship over the last two decades around a number ofideas that seem
to negate such a project. One sueh idea is Nietzsche's purported originality vis-à-
vis the Western philosophical tradition, whieh is said to entai! a negation of moral

philosophy.1 Against the views of the still-influential Walter Kanfmann


(Kanfman n 1974), who was inelined to identify certain continuities in Nietzsche's
thought with long-standing philosophica1 traditions, proponents of the new
orthodoxy see Nietzsche's work as an overtuming or "debunking" of the
conceptua1 frameworks of aIl previous moral (and politica1) thought.2

1 Evidence of the French origins ofthis new orthodoxy is found in many recent
North American works. See, for example Tracy B. Strong: "Not surprisingly it bas
been the French who have developed the best understllDding ofNietzsche, e.g.,
Deleuze, Klossowski, Granier. Nietzsche would have been pleased." (Strong
1988: 350) Similarly, in the pteface ofa work Iefe:aed to recently as "perbaps the
best of the many recent studies ofNietzsche's ideas" (JoU 1993: 20), Alexander
Nebamas cxpresseshis indebtedness to French literary theoly (Nehamas 1985:
viii). Michel Foucault's WIitings are often seen as an invaluable key for unIocking
Nietzsche's secrets. See, for example, Mark Waaen: "Of aIl Nietzsche's
intclp1eters, Foucault bas come the closest to capturing the movement and spirit of
genealogy•••" (Waaen 1988: 272) Although WJ1liam CoonoUy, in bis recent book,
carefully distinguishes between Foucault and Nietzsche early on ('1'owe my most
salient debts to Nietzsche and Foucault. Not to Nietzsche alone or Foucault alone,
but to each as a complement and col1'eCtive to the other." Connony 1991: 10), once
he embarks upon bis argument the two tbinkets are often seen as engaged in a
common project, and are refen'ed to tandem (e.g.1bid., 10, 12).
2 To emphasise any sort ofcontinUÏty between N'~ and an identifiable

• Western inteIlectua1 tradition, suggests David B. Allison, is to unjustly categorise


bis "entüdy new foan ofthought" (Allison 1985: xxiv) with "traditional
metaphysïcs" (Ibid., Xl) through "sorne ruse or device oflanguage" (Ibid., xiv).

1
• My task must appear in an even more dubious light upon an initial perusal of the
relevant texts, in whicll Nietzsche makes unmistakable and repeated reference to the
novelity of bis project and to his position "above" or "beyond" such concepts as
truth, morality, politics, etc. The fodder for the new orthodox line of interpretation,
which portrays Nietzsche as a radical sceptic and debunker of aIl "truth", is c1early
present. 1 intend to argue, however, that Nietzsehe's iconoclastic rhetoric of
mpture bas often blinded interpreters to an important fact: that the often negative,
debunking thrust of bis wide-ranging commentaries is rooted in an essentiaIly
positive project of moral and political import tbat bears some family resemblance to
moral and political projects of Nietzsehe's philosophical forebearers.3 This project,
moreover, relies on certain authoritative interpretations of reallty in general and of
the human condition in particular, which in mm presuppose an adherence to a

notion of truth that is quile consistent with the normative, truth-seeking orientation
of much of the Western philosophical tradition.
To be more precise: the point de départ for Nietzsche's intellectual enterprise,
in Jrrj view, is an eminently ethical concem for the conditions ofhuman
flourishing. Nietzsche believes not ooly that wc can (and must) make qualitative
distinctions between higber, admirable modes ofhnman existence and lower,
contemptible ones, but also that these distinctions compel us to ensure that higher
forms ofhuman life are fostered (and loweriorms discouraged) as much as
possible. When Nietzsche speaks of "us" (as in "we free-spirits". "we seekers of

Eric Blondel echoes these sentiments, deeming il "almost a truism to say that wc
must preserve ~ irreducible originality ofbis revolt.••" (Blondel 1991: 4) Sec also
Tracy B. Strong(I988: 144 .
3 Ruth Abbey notes that Nietzsehe's willingness to acknowledge bis indebtedness
to philosophical forebears dl'c1ines marJœi!ly in bis 1ate works, wheze he is much
more likely to assert bis absolute intellectual independtnce (Abbey 1994: 26-7).
Carl Pletsch traces Nietzsehe's strident insistenœ on bis own uniquenes5 to bis

• embrace ofa nineteenth-centmy conception of "genius" that stresses wholly


spontaneous creation and the heroic OVCl'COming ofaIl traditional notions and
extemal influénces (pletsch 1991: 5. 213).

2
• knowledge", ete.), however, he bas a very select group in mind - himself and a few
like-minded kindrcd spirits - and wishes to concem bimself with and address this
group alone. Only the few, he believes, cao and will understand bis central point:
!bat a concem for human flourishing and for the dignity of the human species

properly translates inti) a concem for the wcl1-being of a small minoIÏty of human
beings. Nietzsche, in other words, propounds a thesis !bat he believes to be a fact
of human existence, something !bat would be self-evident to any "healthy" human
being: !bat no more !han a small minority of the human species bas the potential to
strive for the pinnacle ofexcellence ofwhich the species as a whole is capable.
Only the few have the innate capacities ta be exemplars of the species and lead fully
flourishing, vinuous lives.
Kecping this view of an inescapable Rtmgordnung ofhigher and lower types of
human being in mind is essential ifwe are ta place Nietzsehe's often ironie and
derisive treatment oftenns like "morality", "vinue", "truth", and "the good" in its
proper context. Nietzsche believes!bat these and other nonnatÎ.ve tenns have been
effectively hijaclced and polluted by a lowly, contempt1llle fonn ofvaluation - a
"slave morality" -!bat bas been in cultural and political ascendance in Europe since
the cultural "slave revoit" of antiquity. TIagically, he believes, slave morality bas

captured the hearts and minds even of those few individuals with nobler
dispositions (himself excepted), thase capable.of striving for something much
higher!han the "pitiable comfort" pmsued by the majorlty. For centmi'=S, this
persecuted minorlty bas been tangh( from aadle ta grave ta bemoan and repudiaIe
its own impulses and ta em1mlce a base set ofvalues al variance with its deepest

inclinations. It is Nletzsche's goal ta wean these superior human beings away from
the false consciousness eogendered by a plebeian society andmake the;n sec what


!bey already know in their bancs: the contcmptl1l1e, servile lIlItUI:e of lIIlIinstR:am,

3
• modem society and its moral valuations, and the splendour and dignity of the
highest human being who follows bis deepest inclinations.
In embarking upon this mission of moral-spiritual awakening, Nietzsche is
undeIstandably reluctant to use the language of the enemy. His frequent,
provocative seif-descriptions as an "immoralist" and 50 on represent, in my view,
an attempt to demaxcate bis position from that of slave morality and not, as is oftcn
believed, an attempt to transcend ethical valuation altogelher. (As wc sha1l sec later,
for every derisive tteatment of "morality" in Nietzsehe's writings there is a
straightforward, unapologetic invocation of a "higher" or a "master" morality that
Nietzsche develops as bis own.)4
The same is true, 1believe, for bis tteatment of many other valuative terms.
One of the reasons why Nietzsche is 50 difficuit to intelpret is bis often maddening
tendency to tIeat a given term both pejoratively and positively, depending on the
context. We shall soon sec how Nietzsche persistently distinguishes between
superlor and inferior manifestations of the same concept or phenomena; between,
for examp\e, authentic and bogus conceptions oftrutb. higher and lower forms of
friendship, great and petty forms ofpolitics, admirable and contemptible types of
shame, hea1thy and unhealthy women. ete. It is my view. in sum. that in derisively
placing terms like "truth". "justice". and the like in inverted commas, Nietzsche
calls attention to the fact that tbese terms have all-too-often been conscripted into the

service ofa whole package ofbeliefs and values that are both morally poisonous
and just plain wrong. He does this, moreover. in the name ofa higher. more
authentic notion of truth and justice.

N'aetzsche's Ambivalent PoIitics & the BaUle agai nstFo1tulla

• 4 The subtitle ofBedtowitz's IeCCDt book on Nietzsche - "the ethics ofan


immoralïst" - captmes my point succinc:tly. (Berlcowitz 1995)

4
• Is this ethical vision tied to a socio-political imperative? As we sha1l examiD': in

due course. many commentators consider Nietzsche to be the quintesselltial anti-


political thinker. a lone wolf who trumpets the virtue of solitude and castigates the
idea ofcommunity as a refuge for the mediocre. 1intend to argue !bat this reading
is exccssively one-sided. While one cao scan:ely deny !bat Nietzsche urges bis
imagined kindred spirits to flec into solitude, it seems to me !bat bis praise of the
solitary state is sharply mitigated by an insistence !bat it should be temporaxy.
Solitude, while required to purge the superior human being of the residual effects of

the "herd". must not be maintained indefinitely ifbis moral-spiritual progress is to


continue. Nietzsche believes !bat a ncw. more satisfying form ofconnection with
other. superÏor human beings is required for future self-overcoming. We sha1l
examine bis discussion of the importance offriendship in this context, along with
bis disconcerting call for a radical1y ncw socio-political order!bat would ensw:e a

more favourable "breeding" environment for the superior human beings of the
future.

Nietzsche's position is complieated, bowever. by bis ambivalence towards


questions ofsociability. friendship. and politics. In essence. 1 sec him as tom
between two rival moral discoutses on these matters !bat have clashed since
antiquity. On the one band, Ile is attracted by an identifiab\y Aristotelian tradition
stressing friendship and COJDDl\lJ1ity as pœconditions for virtue.s In this tradition

SIam using the t=m "Arlstote!ian" as shotthand for an identifiable inteIlectual


tradition in moral and political philosophy that found in Aristotle ilS most artïcn1are
spokiesrnan In c1aiming that Nielzscbe bas ".Arlstotelian" lean ings 1 do not wish ta
argue tbat Nietzsche was c1irect1y and coDSciously indebted ta Aristotle's moral and
political pbilosophy. This would be tendc:ntiOllS, in 1ight of the dearth of
Nietzsche's Iefelœces ta the Macedonian in his publisbM works and notebooks.
RattIer. 1 am suggesting that the author of Beyond Good and Evil was engaged in a
dialogue with this tradition even if Ile clid DOt acknow1edge Aristotle as one ofhis


major intr:r!ocutors. As a geDmI1 me!h<ldological prlnciple, 1agree with Abbey's
contention tbat Oit is possible ta sIot a WJitcr into a tradition on the basis of sbaœd
concems.identified from the ootside and [that] this l"CCJUÏœS no a~ on their
part tbat Ile or she is sbaring!hem and continuing adebate " (Abbey 1994: 29)

=- S
• the agent is depicted as higbly vulnerable and in need of resources that are not
wholly in his control or ofhis making. On the other band, however. Nietzsche is
also powerfully drawn towards a Stoic ideal of individual self-sufficiency. the

notion that a fully flourishing life of virtue need not contain those "extemal goods"
(like friendship. community. rame and honour. wealth, ete.) that depend on forces

outside of the agent's control.


'Ibese two. rival discoUIses over the questions of sociability and polities are
clearly im:concilable: Nietzsehe's whole "rescue operation" directe.i al a superior
(albeit deluded and confused) minority presupposes what his ideal of self-
sufficiency denies: tha1 the individual's moral-spiritual progress requiIes tlle active
intervention and continuÏDg presence of significant others, and tha1 this in tom
requiIes a suitable political framewOl'k. As we sha1l see, the tension tha1 this creates
in Niettsebe's thought becomes particu1ady acute in two areas: (a) in his account of
friendship. where he bas great difficulty acknowledging the fact tha1 friendship is
based, al some leveL. on a need for reciprocity and recognition ofsome sort (sucb a

need suggests vulnerability and would work against the self-sufficiency ideal). and
(b) in bis depiction of social Ie1ations in his imagined, idea1 political arder. in which

bis repeated insistence tha1 every superior human being is self-sufficient, i.e. a law
unto himself. pIOdl!(:es to a highly unstable. scarcely workable framework for a .
social and political arder. To anticipate one of my conclusions: while an important
part ofNietzsehe's moral philosophy calls for a social and political dimension,

anotberpart, with its uncompromising portrait ofvirtue in terms ofcomplete


invulnerability. seems to undennine tha1 dimension. or al 1east Iel1der it highly
problematic
Even in his most "Aristotelian" moods. 1argue tha1 N'Ietzsehe's "Stoic"


lII1l3gOnism towaIds the IOle ofcontingency in buman affaiIs pIays a 1aIge IOle in

his thougbt. Nietzsehe.like Machiavelli. believes tha1 superior human beings

6
• should resist Fortlma's efforts ta exert influence over their lives and should attempt
ta replace ber with their all-powerfu1 will. 1 will argue that the whole political

project of "breeding" is posited in this context, as li combat not just against the
"degenerate" values of slave morality, but also against those forces that hold sway

over the herd: the forces of contingency and luck. The highest hnman beings,
believes Nietzsche, should control the conditions of their existence and their
reproduction, rnther than continue ta submit ta the conditions of li servile milieu
over which they have no controL FUIthermore, 1 argue that Nietzsehe's "breeding"
fantasies form only one front of li two-front assault on Fortll1UL 1 identify bis
second assault with bis celebrated notion of the Eternal Retum of the SaIne, which 1

read as li thought experiment through which the superior human being imaginatively
defeats Fortlma by joyously willing retrospectively evetything that bas ever

happened ta him (and, by extension, evetything that bas ever happened, perioti).

N1etz:schean Naturalism

Nietzsche is often said to adopt an exclusively debunking stance towazds the


concept of natIIIe, deriding all philosophical efforts at invoking natuIe in support of
any motal-ethical system. Once again, 1find the position of the new orthodoxy to
be tao one-sided, and unsupported by the balance ofNietzsehe's writings. As we
shall sec in the COlIISC of this WOIk, Nietzsche's position on natuIe is in fact much

more complex, and indeed ultimately contradietoIy, bc'A:ansc ofbis tendency ta slide
between two very different and incompatible uses of"natuIe" that coexist uneasily
with one another.
Nietzsche attempts from time-to-time to ground bis own ethica1 framewoJ:k,
along with all normative Dameworlcs, in an amoral (or, perbaps more accurately,

• pre-motal), "scientific· conception of the naIura1 world. This identifiably modem


type of "naturalism", the attempt to legitimate or undcIgiId an ethica1 system by

7
• reference to an allegedly more basic, substratum of "fact". bas been predominant in
European moral and political philosophy since the seventeenth century. and. as we
shaIl sec in the course ofan examination of the notion of the will to power,
Nietzsche is strongly influcnced by this prototypically modern dîscourse.
As we shaIl sec. however. Nietzsehe's modern naturalism forms only one side

of bis treatment of nature. He also invokes a notion of (specifically human) nature


that makes sense only from wit1ùn., rather than apart from and prior to, bis ethical

vision. In this context. the notion of nature in Nietzsehe's conception of human


flourishing comes into play at two levels: at one leveI. "tnere" nature is identified as
thase aspects ofourselves (ourtemperament. aptitudes. physical constitution. etc.)
that are unchosen; the innate parts of ourselves with which we must wode in our

attempts at moral and spiritual self-improvement. At another 1eveI. Nietzsche.


much like Aristotle. ptuposes adevelopmentJll mode! ofethics in which nature also
represents an ethical ideal. ie. a conect way ofdeveloping our poteDtial as ethical
beings. According ta this developmental mode!. it is indeed "natural" for a human
being with moral-spiritial potential ta transcentf bis "tnere" natural endowments and

strive for ever-higher levels ofhuman pe<fedion. Thus Nietzsche cau celebrate the
"artificiality" of the highest hnman being - Le. bis ability ta create an artifice of
meaning and value out ofnothinglcss or chaos - while at the same lime BIgUing for
the "natura1ncss" of this very achievement.

Problems arise whcn wc tty ta reconcile these rival discourses. and the whole
coherence oUfJetzsche's project suffers as a consequence. As 1will argue
throughout this study. there is something inescapably incoheœnt in N'Jetzsehe's

attel'lpt ta have it bath ways. On the one band. in a "naturalistic" temper he wants
ta ground all moral schemata in a ptoper understanding of a prc-moral state of


affaiIs (which he 50metÏmes claims ta have been the first in the modem world ta

properly unclezstand, and at other limes believes ta he apparent ta any "healthy"

8
• individual). On the othcr band, he undcrmines bis own naturalistic foundationalism
by insisting. in effect, that there is no pre-moral. neutral sphere of fact upon which

we could base our valuations. He insists. in other words. that our very perceptions
of reality and ail of c.JI" judgements (even scïentific ones) axe imbued with a more
basic normative-ethica1 stance tow:mls the world that we eithcr self-consciously
choose (like the admirable highest type of man, who chooses to follow the ethica1
orientation suggested by bis deepest, visceral self) or, like the "hcrd", unreflectively
inherit. Unlike those who insist that Nietzsche somehow overcame all residual
foundationalism in bis mature thought, 1remain convinced that this is a tension that
N"1elZSche never resolved.
AlI of this bas implications for Nietzsche's portrait of bis superior human
beings and their relationship to the "mediocre" majority ofhumankind. Whereas
his developmental ethics and bis stress on moral pedagogy suggest that the highest
human being is bath vulnerable and falh"ble, and needs to he helped along in
progxessing from an inadequate to a more adequate understanding ofhimself and
the world, in bis naturalistic temper Nietzsche seems to suggest the opposite: that

the highest man's "instincts" or deepest inclinatiQns are iaeproacbable from the

start. As we shall sec. Niettsehe tends to invoke this latter position whenever he

wisbes to reject any sort ofextemal,legal fetter on the creative will of the highest
man. Nietzsche wants to mgue that the highest man's deeply intemalised sense of

propriety and self-discipline (which we shall examine al senne length) will ensure
that only good things come as a result ofhis untrammelled, aeative self-asscrtion.

However, once we take note of (a) the unmitigated contempt in which Nietzsehe's
higbest men hold the majority of the population, and (b) tbeirblithe dismissal of the
,
idea that the majority possesses "rlghts" or IeCOlIl'Se ofany sort, we will find lellSOIl


to he sceptical ofNietzsche's xeassurances (along with those ofhis many academic
champiQDS).

9
• To anticipate anotber.of my conclusions: although, as 1 suggested above.
Nietzsche hegins bis enterprise with an avowedly moral-ethical view in minci, and
makes use of the ineplo.chable conceptual and normative tools of an Aristotclian
developmental ethic, 1 will axgue that bis contempt for the majority of humankind
and bis nalUl'a1istic effort ta legitimate an unconscionable ranking of human beings
lead him out of moral discourse altogetber. Nietzsche ends up lllgIIing for the
construction ofa hierarchical political order chara::terised by the untrammelled
aesthetic self-expxession of a se1f-absoIbed élite that bas no compassion (or even
much thought at all) for the majority of their fellow human beings.6 (Thus 1 part
company with se1f-styled "left-Nietzschean" authOlS who claim to unearth a
"progxessive" political and moral orientation from Nietzsche's writings.)7
The Nietzsche that emerges from this study is deeply problematic, bath from the

standpoint oflogic and ethics. While a probJematised Nietzsche may he less


intellechJally and aesthetically satisfying - not ta mention ethically objectionable - 1
would suggest that this flawed pieture is in fact closer ta the lea1 Nietzsche !han the
unproblematic, benign forerunner ofpostmodcmism often depieted in the new
orthodox literature. As a figure tom between competïng ethical ideals, who. in the

pulSUÎt ofa normative vision ofhuman flourishing. comes ta blithely disR:gard


fimdamental ethical conside!ations with respect ta the tœatment of others, N'Jelzsche
disconcerts, infiujates, and fascinates.

6 1 will m:gue furtbemKll'e that Nietzsche's pieture of mastcr-sIave relations in bis


idea1ised order of the future further .mdennines bis Stoic idea1 ofse1f-snfficiency.
Although he insists. as a gencral IU1e, tbat the "master-type" ofbmnan being is
.minw'CSteci in and unreIated ta the slave type. at other, ClUCial jwa:tmes Nietzsche
messes the impoItanee of the Iatter as a too1 for the former.
7 The new orthodoxy's reading ofNietzsehe as an unambiguously positive figme
revea1s a less-than-complete b!eak with the views of Kanfjnann Whether


Nietzsche is pollxayec). Ua Kanfmann, as a distinguished (albeit sceplical) member
of the Canon or as its Jl""Wltimate cxitic and destroyer, there is a clear convexgence
in the secondaxy liteI'atuœ around the view ofNietzsehe as an admirable.
emancipatoly tbinker. This view, 1 suggesl, needs ta he JeeXamincd.

la
• An Out1ine of the Cbapters

In the first chapter 1 discuss Nietzsehe's complex treatment of ttuth, arguing

tha1 the conception of ttuth he criticises and xejects is one tha1 he associates with a

whole package ofdubious metaphysical assnmptions about the nature of reality and
the human condition. It is this notion ofcapital "T" ttuth, 1 argue, tha1 Nietzsche

criticises in the name ofa ttuer, more accurate pictute of the natw:e ofreality.
Moreover, in an interpretation of Nietzsebe's celebrated "perspectivism", 1 suggest
tha1 he aims at teeonciling the notion ofobjective ttuth with the ubiquity of

perspective. In this context 1suggest tha1 Nietzsche identifies a particular,


antbropomo1pbic standpoint - his own, wbicb he identifies with tha1 of any superior
human being at the heigbt ofhis powers - as the one most likely to do justice to a
complex, multifarious reality.
Chapter fi seeks to defend my claim tha1 Nietzscbe's overriding vision and the
substance ofhis ttutb-cIaims are ofan etbical nature. Althougb he seems at times to
want us to take him at his word when he describes bimself as "amoral" or
"immoral" - particularly when he tries to ground all morality "naturalistical1y" - 1
argue tha1 on balance the texts suggest that his scathing attaek is focussed DOt on an
manner ofetbical valuation, butratber on apac!rage ofvalues and concepts that he
often identifies dcrlsively as "slave morality". Nietzscbe's etbical concem is for the
state of the superior type ofhuman being. who. as we sec in Cbapter nI, is

identified with the bigbest moral and spiritual potentials ofhnmankind as a who1e.
Cbapter m also explores the moral psycbological account that undcrgiIds
N'1etzscbe's pœsumption of an inescapable Rangordnung ofhnman beings. We
shal1 examine his crucial account ofbodily "knowledge". i.e. of the cognitive and
normative stalUS wbicb he (m Jine with a tradition ofmoral tbought traceable back to

• Aristotle and the Hel1eDistic philosophers) attributes to our visceral "instincts"•

11
• Nietzsche believes that an objective assessment of the quality of our affective
instincts is crucial 10 determining our moral-spiritual "rank." vis-à-vis other human

beings. (Such an assessment, for Nietzsche, is objective only to the extent that it is
made by li superior sort ofhuman being who is in possession of an undistorted

view of bimselfand the world.)

Chapter IV examines Nietzsehe's depietion ofhow superior human beings with

initially hea1thy, e1evated instincts are routine1y forced 10 suppress and repudiate
these deepest parts of their selves by li pernicious form of socia1isation that bas been

characteristic of"herd" societies since the vietory ofChristianity in Europe. His


portrait of the morally-<lbjectionable servile type ofhuman being will be further
exami~ as will bis ambiguous, complex tteatment of the ascetic priest, that
paradoxical figure who, as li "hybrid" ofmaster and slave e1ements, is said to
devolC bis lUltIeniab'y creative energies 10 the spread of li slave morality that
uJtimately aims lit the eradieation ofall future foans ofhuman creativity.
Tbe latter sectiODS ofChapter IV are devoted 10 li defeDse ofmy view that
Nietzsche does in fact countenanee the possibility of li recoDStituted "master
morality" in the modem era. While rejecting all nostalgie hope for li retum 10 the
unm:onsttueted "blond beast". and embracing the undeniab~ gains of modemity
(m terms ofaitical se1f-consciousness), Nietzsche thinks it possible 10 progteSS 10

li highcr. Dobler form of moral valuation in and through the sort of rationality that

he himse1f evinces wl1en. for example, he construcls bis ce1ebrated "genealogies".


As 1 argue in Chapter V. the author of On the GeneoIogy ofMorals construets these

debunking genealogies with li pedagogical aim in mind. Bis sort of.pedagogy,


however, is Don-tutc1aly: given bis view of the essentially persona1, idiosyncratic:

lIatUre ofse1f-overcoining. N"1CtZSclle be1ieves that the most bc can do is give li

"DUdge" (orperbaps li _ robust kickin the derriùe) 10 li select audience that, he

• be1ieves, must do the bard wod: itse\f. Tbe road 10 the superlor human being's

12
• "rec:overy" from false COnsciOUSDess must go through a fonn of self-healing. We
shall examine how the highest man's self-overcoming is descn1led in terms of an
ever-more profound exploration of the "knowledge" of bis own body; i.e. ofbis
own deepest inclinations and orientations.
In the context of Chapter Vs discussion of Nietzsche's conception of self-
discipline, 1argue further that this call to embrace one's "instincts" is in no way
analogons to a h"bertine call to abandon aIl manner ofrational self-mastery. On the
contraxy, unlike the ascetic priest, who urges bis followers to suppress and
extiIpaIe their primaI urges, Nietzsche wishes bis superior human beings to both

embrace their dangerous, "Dïonysian" side and to harmonise this dimension with

the highest man's rational, controlling element the "Apollonian" dimension. (As

we shall see in Chapter X. however, N"1ClZsche also approves of the idea of "letting
loose~ ~t crucial jllllCttIreS, a concession that bas serious implications for those
whom he designates as the "herd".)
Chapter VI takes up Nietzsche's "debunking" stance towards mainstream

society. As is well-known, Nietzsche lauds the ability to negate, believingthat the

noble type ofhuman being who reacquaints himselfwith bis own visceral instincts
will develop a fine di<criminating sense, and will criticise and repudiate much of
what he sees. Negation alone, however, wbile a precondition for self-overcoming,
is by no means a snfficient condition. After exarnining Nietzsche's dadc portrait of
the nihilist. ie. of the pathological negating type, 1shall begin an account of
Nietzsche's conception ofan affirmative stance towards reality. Bcqnse he feaIs
that the higbest human being may lose bis capacity for Jasagen in the face of the
overwhe1ming ugIiness and mediocrity ofherd society. Nietzsche urges bis select,
superior readershipto breaIc with the mainstream and move into solitude. Alone,


thefreespiritmustembarkuponamoral-spirituaIjoumey,thec1imaxofwhichis
described in ClapIer VII as Nietzsche's proposed thought experiment known as the

13
• Etemal Retum of the Samc. In my view. Niettsehe is convinced that the definitive
OVeICOming of ressentiment and revenge is contingent upon successful passage
through this fonnidable mind game, which he represcnts (rather fancifully. 1 will
suggest) as the highest man's triumph over Forruna. As 1sec it, the Etemal Retum
tums out ta be a conceptual conjuring trick that obscures, rather than e!iminatof our

vulnerability to contingency.
Chapter Vil also examines Nietzsehe's views on the importance of friendship.

1argue that solitude is treated as a necessary phase of moral-spiritual development,


rather than as part of its culmination. 1explore in this context Nietzsehe's own
yeamings for meaningful contact with like-minded others, and outline bis depiction
of the ideal sort offriendship. which, far from being warm and comforting.
involves a fair amount ofantagonism and contestation. Nietzsche rejects what he
sees as the commiserating mediocrity encouraged by most friendships, and urges
friends ta be "bard" on each other. In this chapter 1 also take up the problems
Nietzsche encounters in trying ta reconcile bis view of the importance offriendship
with bis Stoic ideal ofself-sufficiency.
Rather than be content ta wait for the appearance ofsuitable companions,
Nietzsche (largue) seeks ta make a rarified conummity offriends happen through
the founding ofa radically new social and political arder. Taking on the common

inœrpretation ofNietzsehe as an anti-political thinker. 0Japter vm explores


Nietzsel1e's assessmc:nt of the political-constitutional act of founding as an
"artistîc". creative gesture worthy of the highcst sort ofhnman being. (Hence my
~t with "aestheti::" readings ofNietzsehe thatrely on an excessively

narrow conception ofaesthetic activity.) His motives, 1suggest, are bath persona!
and political, as he is concemed bath with finding meaningful buman contact and


with the future of the human specïes. Only if the higher sort of men wrest the
"breeding" of the next generatîon out of the bands ofChance (and those of the

14
• resentful majority) will human excellence be preserved in an age of increasing
mediocrity. 1argue for the existence of a continuum in Nietzsehe's complex
treatment of breeding, ranging from the strictly metaphorical use of procreative
language. to the easily recognisable use of "breeding" in terms of upbringing and
non-tutelary education. to finally the frank reference to a polities ofeugenies. 1
argue furthermore that NielZSChe's ambivalence with respect to the question of
heredity are traceable back to the aforementioned tension in bis thought between the
"fatalistic" view of human capabilities found in bis "scientific" naturalism and his
more supple developmental ethies.
Chapter IX moves to an examination of Nietzsehe's imagined aristocratic
politica1 order of the future, focussing firstly on the relations between the highest
human beings. and secondly on bis depiction of idealised gender relations and
relations between masters and slaves. With respect to gender relations. 1argue
against recent attempts to unearth a proto-feminist stance in Nietzsehe's writings
and claim that bis portrait of the highest type of human being is unreservedly male.
although 1acknowledge bis effusive praise for the "healthy" type of higher woman
who would serve as an ideal consort of the highest type (and as an idea1 mother to
bis children). In contrast to the standard, new orthodox insistence on Nietzsehe's
transcendence ofall manner of "essentialism". 1propose that he unapologetically
puts forth an essentialist view of the ideal. healthy woman, and criticises her
"unhealthy" counterpart for the latter's failure to live up the· sublime standards of
the Obermensch's consort.
With respect to bis depiction of relations between the bighest and lowest Imman
beings. 1note that Nietzsehe's occasional insistence on the bighest man's self-
sufficiency is rendered problematic in light of bis view of the highest man's need
for those to tread upon and over. 1examine a wonisome portrait of ostensibly

• lower order human beings at the mercy ofa supposedly magnanimous upper crus!,

IS
• whose innate sense ofself-control and good taste (Nietzsche assures us) guarantcc
that they would never lord it over their inferiors. 1express doubts about !bis

guarantee, and about Nietzsche's broader interdiction on alliegal restraint on bis


élite, in Chapter X. Although Nietzsche does find the idea of lording it over

inferiors repugnant. we find that he quite readily countenances the prospect of a


J..
bigher ordéi"man unintentionally injuring a nominally "inferior" one in the course of
the former's innocent. aeative, self-expressive activity. 1argue that Nietzsche's
unmitigated and open contempt for the majority of humankind, indeed bis refusaI to
accord the majority the status of "hnman" in the fullest sense, places him in the end
outside of the boundaries ofall recognïsable morality.

M('~'lodological Considerations

Periodisation and Selection of Sources

Cogent arguments can be made both for the presence ofunderlying continuity
and for significant change in the course ofNietzsehe's relatively briefbut very

prolific intellectual career. The case for a more serious examination ofthe shifts
from period to period bas recently been made by Ruth AbbeY, who suggests that
commentators have too often imposed an artificial uniformity on Nietzsehe's
writings in their aeation ofa "single, static Nietzsche" (AbbeY 1994: 283). In the
course ofa c=ful study of the so-called "middle period" texts (from the 1879
Human, AH Too HID1U1n to thefirstfourbooks of The Gay Science of 1882),

AbbeY argues persuasively, for exarnple, for N'JlltZSChe's shift in ernphasis from
Germano- to Eurocentrism from the early to the middle period (Ibid., 13), and
suggesls that bis rich, nuanced treatment ofmorality of the middle period gives way


to a tendency in the mature period to caricabJ~ "slave" morality (Ibid., 16)•

16
• Alexander Nebamas, for bis part, suggests !bat otber crucial devclopments
occur in the transition from middle 10 late periods, and 1agn:e particularly with bis
contention !bat although Nietzsehe's middle works contain many passages on
power, bis crucial conception of the will 10 power becomes central only in the late
writings. (Nebamas 1985: 75, Because some of the clements of NiClZSChe's

thought !bat 1 wish 10 explore in depth are most fully treated or developed in bis late
or mab.IrC period (including the will to power, bis political vision, bis conception of
master-slave relations, and bis treatment of questions of "breeding"), 1have decided

10 focus on these later works. Accordingly, the vast majority of my references will le
taken from the following: Thus Spoke Zara1hustra (1883-5); Beyond Good and

Evû (1886); the fifth book of The Gay Science (1886-7); NiClZSChe's prefaces to the
second editions of most of bis pre-Zarathustra works, including the Untimely
Meditations, HumanAU Too HU1NJ1I.,Daybreak, and the Gay Science (1886-7);
On the Genealogy of Morals (1887); the four works of 1888 (The Case o/Wagner,
Twilight of the ldols, The Antî-Christ, and Ecce Homo) and selections from the

NachJJJss, writings from the period 1883-8 unpl.lblisbed in Nietzsehe's lifetime and
subsequently edited and pub1ished in bis col1ected works and in English lraIts1ation
under the title The W"ül 10 Power.
Altbough 1 accept in principle the importance ofperiodisation, and agœe that
Nietzsche neitber held one positionall of bis adult life nor said cxactly the same
thing in all of bis books, 1remain convinced, nevertheless. that the case for certain
timdamental continuities is CC'mpelling. Many commentatms have argued, in my
view conv:incingly, thatcertain basic concems pervade N1ClZSChe's wOIk as a

whole. Berkowitz, for examp1e, asserts that Nietzsehe's writings "are marJœo!f by
an exceptional unity ofintention and exccution." (Berkowitz 1995: 262'/ 1hope 10

• 8 Tracy SttoDg seems to me to overstate lD8lters, however, when he claims that


"Nïetzsehe's wod;s are all (or almost all) of a piece" (Strong 1988: ix) and that
there is no development at all in bis thought over time (Ibid., 7).

17
• bring out this diachronie unity by supplementing my mature period citatioDS with
selective references to early and middle period pieces, especially with respect to the
following tbemes: Nietzsehe's "Aristotelian" conception ofhuman nature stressing
the creative- "artificial" potential of the human species, bis recourse to truth, bis

stress on the virtues of intellectual honesty, integrity, and courage, and bis
endorsement ofsocio-political hierarchy.

On the Treatment of TItus SpoTœ Zarathustra

The use of Thus Spoke Zarathustra poses partieular scholarly problems.

Berkowitz bas recently alerted us to the danger ofattempting to interpret passages


from this text apart from the Il31TlItÏve stream in which they are embedded Such a
strategy leads, in bis view, to the all-too-common practice of "making arguments
about what Nietzsche intented or thought hased on picking and choosing, mixing
and matehing, and cutting and pasting words, phrases, and ideas from wheIever
they can be found.••" (Ibid., 10) Berkowitz appears to treat Thus Spoke
Zarathustra as a seamless web, casting doubt on the legitimacy of arry attempt to
extr.ICt passages [rom it and to examine them alongside passages from other

Nietzsehean texts in the COUISe of a thematic study.


As 1 intend ta quote extensively from Thus Spoke Zarathustra without,

however, pansing on each occasion ta comment on the place of the cited passage in
the DlIlTlltive progression of the WOIk as a whole, Berkowitz's critic::ism seems ta
speak directly ta studies like my own. Ifhis claim is that one should cite
Zarat1uIstra only if one's avowed aim is ta study this text alone, then it seems ta
me ta be excessive and umeasonable. Berkowitz, however. may be making a much
more œasonable and 1egitimate point: he may simply be cal1ing upon us ta respect

• of the narrative integrity of the text. This pointseems most compelling when one
looks al specifie passages in Zarat1uIstra where the Ieader's understanding is

18
• indeed contingent upon a knowledge of the sw:rounding namttive context. When
provClbs and teachings come !rom the mouths of one of the dubious "bigher men"
characters of Part IV, for example, one ought ta be exceedingly cautious; though
Ù1Cy mimic some of Zarathustra's lIIlIltims and gestures, their general portrayal in

the namttive as pathetic, servile creatures should discourage any effort ta identify

their words with NielZSChe's position on anything. "1 need pure, smootll mirrors

for my teaching;" decIares Zarathustra ta these so-called bigher men. "Upon your
surface even my own reflection is distorted." (Z IV G) In cases like this, 1 agree

with Berkowitz that ta deny the importance of the namttive context wou1d be folly.
1maintain, however, that regard1ess ofhow one intelprets the namttive as a

whole (llIId there are numeroUS, conflicting intelpretations), there are aIso many
passages in ThlIS Spoke Zara1JuIStra that cao be understood and appreciated on
their own, written as peads ofwisdom readily accessible and meaningful without

continuaI reference ta the immediate narrative context. On one important level, this
text may be seen as emnlating a genre ofclassiC'l1 Greek and Roman (and, Iater,
Renaissance) literanne that had a profound impact on N"1CtZSChe through bis
classicist and philological background: the genre of"wisdom literanne", produced
by fathers for their sons or by hnmanist scbolars for the Mifieation ofprinces and

aimed at an expIoration of the attinufes that should be taken towards various spheres
oflife (e.g. fami1y, friends, comrnnnity, po1ities, waretc.), monumentous life-
changes (ascension ta adu1thood, marriage, acx:eding ta public office, old age,
death). and varlous types of people. The pedagogic inœnt of the 7..artzthustra text, 1

would BIgUe, mirrors this genre quite clearly. thus barkening back ta many o~
excmpIars of the genre: LaRocbefoucauld's maxims. Ciccro's Ietters ta bis son in
bis On DIlties. Hesiod's Worb and Days. and so on. One cao. 1 think, quote


freely (aIbeit CllIe1ùI1y) !rom any section ofthese texlS in a themariç SlUdy aimed at
exploring tbeir author's attitudes towards the abow-mentioned spheœs oflife

19
• without doing violence to thesc tcxts as a whole. The same may be said, 1would
argue, for Nietzsche's T1uIs Spoke Zarathustra.

T1ws Spoke Zarathustra, as 1 understand it, is written as a tale of moral


enlightenment in which the central character gradually and painfully moves upward9
towards a progressive1y more adequate understanding of himseIf and of reality in
generaL Zarathustra's self-development is meant not only to miIIor Nietzsche's
o'IVn progress. but also that of any self-respecting superior human being who
decides, against aIl odds and at the cast of great spiritual tonnent, to embark upon a

serious joumey of moral-spiritual self-discovery. Nietzsche's Zarathustra, in other


words, is drawn as bath a self-portrait and as a portrait ofanyone sharing
Nietzsche's deepest sensibilities and inclinations.
My position, however. needs to be nuanced: in suggesting that the Zarathustra
character is Nietzsche's alter-ego. 1 do not wish to suggest that Nietzsche is in
agreement with everything Zarathustra says or does at every point in the text. As a
ta1c of moral deveIopment, the author clearly finds the central charactcr's position in
the latterpart of the book more adequate that at the beginning (even if the
charactcr's position at the end of the narrative is not, from the author's standpoint,
wooDy satisfaetory). For example, it seems to me that Nietzsche deems bis
charactcr's initial decision (m the Prologue) to preach wisdom to the "herdish"
majorlty to be a monumental ea'Ol'. The Zarathustra of the Prologue is portrayed in
an immahlre stage of developrnent, an immll!Juity thatN"1elZSCbe likely believed
himselfto have passee! through. Nietzsche ensures that Zarathustra is given a
hostile reception in the marketp1ace in orderto providc him with agood lesson that
~his~development,tow~~~~inthe~mthenarrati~

9 As ~ sball note in Chaptets V and Je. Nietzsche. in both Zarathustra and other

• tcxts, uses the mel8Jd!ors ofascent and desccDt to describc the ptoc:ess of moral and
spiritual progression. Just what he means by this twin movement is discussed in
these cbaptcts.

20
• Henccforth Zarathustra gradually redirects bis attention from the majority plebeian
clement 10 a more rarified, minority audience, reflecting the author's (mature) view
that such teachings ought 10 be düected at those few with the capacity to undeIstand

and intemalise them.

On the Use and Status orThe Will to Power

Any writer focnssing on Nietzsche's mature period must decide on the levcl of
importance 10 accord Nietzsehe's so-called Nachltzss , the thousands of pages of
unpub1ished notes written during the mature period, most ofwhich weIe collated
and edited by Elisabeth Fôrster-Nietzsehe eL al and published under the title Der
Wùle ZJIT Macht.
Two opposing (and extteme) positions bave emerged in the debate over the
Nachltzss: either it is lauded as an essential component ofNietzsehe's work,
,representïng the culmination ofbis philosophy or bis philosophy's "true" core (e.g.
Heidegger 1991), or it is dismi5S'"d as "pseudo-canonical" and rife with many ideas
that Nietzsche eventnally disgmded (e.g. Magnus eL al 1993).
1sec no reason 10 taIœ a stand at either extteme. While it secms 10 me an
unwise scho1arly practice 10 accotd the same weight 10 an author's posthumoUS,
unpublished matc:rial as 10 bis or ber published works, 1 do not sec any valid reason
why we should deny their significance altogether.l0 It secms clear that the

conoems of the published pieces are refIected andIeinforced in the postbnmously-


published Dotes, as 1hope 10 illusttate through occasional quOlalions from and

10 1 concurwith Ricbani Scbacht in this matter: "One !DaY always question the
commitmeDt of Il writerto things he writes but does Dot pllbJjsh; but this is a worry
ofwhich toomuch can he made. And it is doubly desirable Dot 10 mate 100 much
ofit in the case of _. N;etzsche, whose productive life endcd abruptly and qujte


early. with majorprojecls undcrway and in the offing. mateôaJ forwhich he was
am 1J!!lJ]atinB in the nolebooks from bis 1ateryears. One cannotknow what use he
migbt have made oftbis mateôal; but this. in my opinion. is DO reason 10 ignore il."
(Scbacbt 1983: xiI)

21
• cross-rcferences ta The Will to Power. However. 1 will avoid excessive reliance on
the materialleft unpublished by Nietzsche, under the working assumption that my

arguments are sustainable tbrough rcferences to the published work alone.


Following Broce Detwiler (1990: 214).1 accord the Nach1ass material the status of
cin:umstantial, supportïng evidence.

• 22
• The Received VIew
Cbapter 1: Nktœ:hean Tmtb and Objedivity

The new orthodoxy proclaims that one of the most important things Nietzsche

bas to tcaeh us is the essentially dogmatic nature of tIUth-claims. Bound up as they

are with the "dogmatic, univeISalist tradition" ofWestem thought from Plata to
Kant (Nebamas 1985: 223), a tradition typically posited as a "unified system"
(Allison 1985: xxi), tIUth-claims are said to evoke a vision ofsome transcendent,
etema1 realmofBeing-orcapital "R" Reality -which serves as the ultimate
standani-beaIer ofTruth in the cbanging, human wood of appearances. NielZSche

is routinely said to equate the concept of truth with this Platonic-Cbristian clnalism.
and is invoked in support of the view that ail truth-claims or claims to knowledge
lleCeSS8ri1y presume some sort ofprivileged access to and grasp ofan unchanging,
peâeà realm. As MarleWarren suggests in what he believes to he a Nietzschean
spirit, one shou1d he suspicions of ail truth-claims in light of the tendency of
metBphysical theories to view tIUth as a "neutral discoveIY", as "somc:thing that
exists apart from retlexive practices, and that .,. can he ciisc:ov=d and politically
applied.••" (Warren 1988: 236)
In presnming that Nietzsche's gR:8t importance stems from bis supposed
aiticism ofand bœak: with the concept oftruth, the new orthodoxy. as Peter
Bedrowitz observes, "drastically shifts the actuaI center ofgravity of [Nietzsche's]

books," thereby obscuring bis con<:em with ethical and political questions and
. .
making him over "into a theorist prlm8TIly conœmed with questions ofhow we
know rather than ofhow we should live." (BeI:kowitz 1995: 3)1 In the new

1 Eric B10Ddel o1feIs a c1earevmple ofthis ~ to see Nietmche as

• concemed above ail else with questions about the possl"bility ofknow1edge. He
dcclares that "[t}he basic moving fon::e bebind N"ldZ9"'he's philosophical en=prise
is the problem ofmeœùng •••" (1991: 32) 1 disagree with Bedrowitz's view that

23
• orthodox frameworlc, Nietzsehe's debunking of the notion of a higher realm of
Truth or Being is said to demonstrate clearly "that there are no prior conect starting

points for questioning; hence, there can be no foundation for historica1 truth.•
(Strong 1988: 39) There can be, in other words, no truly objective truth-claim,
since ·objectivity", understood as privileged access to or contact with a flawless,
neutral standard, is simply impossible. AIl that rernains are limited, partial
perspectives or interpretations, and to deny this by making pretentious claims to
objective truth is dogmatic. Alexander Nebamas goes to great length ta convince us
that Nietzsche's real bête noire is dogmatism understood in this sense: any belief

that commits the epistemologica1 sin of malàng spurious objective truth-claims

while masking its true status as a partial, inteIested interpretation (Nebamas 1985:
125-6). Revulsion in the face of dogmatism, claims Nebamas, is ~ main pillar of
Nietzsche's aitique of Socrates and Plato: Nietzsche "attributes to them the view
that their view is not simply a view but an accurare desaiption of the real world

which foIces its own acceptance and makes an unconditional claim on everyone's
assent.• (Ibid., 32; cf. 4).

As an sltemative to dogmarism, it is often axgued that N"Jetzscbe ptoposes an

enticing type ofthinking that is conscious of ils oWn particularlty and partiality. In
describing this sltemative, new orthodox theorists usually invokc the celebraIcd
concept of "perspectivism", said to imply that "no particular point of view is
privileged in the sense that it affords those who occupy it a betler pietme of the
world as it really is than all otIIcIs." (Nebamas 1985: 49) Broce Detwiler's account

Blondel e9:apes the pœvailing, œductionist ttend (Berkowitz 1995: 1:15). WlI1ml
appears al first g1ance to resist tbis reductionism, dccIariDg that "Nît'tzcche's
approach to truth is DOt firndamentally epïsternologicaL" (WlI1ml 1988: 94) Upon
fmtber œading, however, it SOOD becomes clear that he resists linking N"Jetzscbe
widl "epistemology" only bccanse he associates this teml with the assmnprions of


mctaphysica1 duslism (JbùI). SinceWlI1ml 8.«lDDtS that Nietzsebe's primaxy
conc:em is to dcbmk metapbysical dnalist conceplions ofknowlcdge (and how they
Idale to agency: Ibid., 26), wc can safely say that he falls in line after all with the
new ortbodoxy's stress on language and meaning.

24
• admirably fleshes out the new orthodox view: Nietzsche's perspectivism, he
daims,

means there cau never be a correct inteIpretation to


the exclusion of ail others, there cau never be
conclusive praof that any one inteIpretatÏon is more
valid than another, and there cau never be conclusive
praof that anything deserving the name 'truth' is
even possible. (Detwiler 1990: 26; cf. 6)
Inherent in Nietzsche's perspectivism is said ta be an admirable epistemic
humility, a frank acknowledgement of the inherent limitations ofone's own
position. William Colll1011y desaibes the Nietzsehean project in this sense, as
involving the simultaneous affirmation of "the indispensability ofinterpretation and
the limited, porous, and problematic character ofany particular effort." (1991: xi)

Wben Nehamas claims that Nietzsche presents "an interpretation that demands to be

believed even as it says that it is only an interpretation" (1985: 40, emphasis added),
the ward "only" is injected. to evoke the image of a levd epistemic playing field

"which countenances the possibility ofan infinite number of valid perspectives"


(Detwiler 1990: 170), in which one's own is neither more nor less doser ta reality

than a11 the rest

Proponents of the new orthodox consensus usually hastcn ta preempt the


cIwge ofIe1ativism by stressing repeatedly that N'letzschc's perspectivism is
perli:ctly compatible with the view that "some in1eLpletaliODS are better than otbcrs
and that we cali even know sometimes that this is the case." (e.g. Nehamas 1985: 3;

cf. S, 198) Warren. forexamp1e, claims that "a1thoughNietzsche Jejected the


coaespondencc theoIy of truth, bis philosophy does include criteria that suggest
good reasons why we migbt want ta acccpt one iI&tetpietalion of the world rather

than another." (1988: IS; sec also 93) For Nehamas. Nietzsche's image of a

superior, admirable in1eLpl'dative stance is that of a self-1imiting, self-consciously

• modest perspective that serves only as an a,dl..ntic miaor of one's OWD views,

without S'JC'C'l mbing ta the (mberently dogmatic, alltho, i,man) temptation of.

2S
• generalisal:ion: "Nietzsche's opposition to dogmatism," explains Nehamas. "does
not consist in the paradoxical idea that it is wrong to think that one's beliefs are
true, but only in the view that one's beliefs are not, and need not be. true for

everyone." (1985: 33) In Nehamas's subjectivist reading. Nietzsche steadfastly-


and admirably - refuses to present his views "as more than views ofhis own"
(Ibid., 20-1).

For Nebamas. then, Nietzsehe's "good reasons" for distinguishing better


intel'pret3tions from worse ones are linked to an assessmen~ of the self-awareness
of the interpreter: the holders ofbetter interpretations are aware of the inadequacy.
aroitrariness, and partiality of their positions, in contrast to the blinkered
proponents ofdogmatic schemas. Epistemic humility is the key to greater adequacy
for theorists who.like Nehamas and Blondel, prefer to sidestep al1egedly dogmatic
language by speaking not of tIlle and false interpretations, but rather of "plural
interpretation anddogmatic interpretation ([the latter cha:ractcrised as] the type that
does not recognize itse1f to be an intecp:tetation made against the backdrop of a

plurality, but presents itse1f as the unique and absolute truth of the text)_." (Blondel
1991: 146)2
Awareness of the partiality and biased nature ofone's own thought is,
however, oniy one oftwo anti-dogmatic strategies said to be involœd by N"1elZsche;
the other, it is widely clairrwl. al1egedly involves a deliheraœ cultivalion of
ambiguity. Nietzsche, it is c1airrwl, sides. dogmatism by mating it impossible
for his wrltings to be decipbeœd in a clear, UDeqUivocal manner. In this spirit Jean
Granier axgues that N"1WSCbe insists "on the j"'possibility of a definjtjve
intel'pret3tion that would exhanst the richness ofreality_" (GraDier 1985: 197)

2 Sec also Sarah Kofman's llCCOUIIt ofN"1t".tzsche's critique of "dcgeoaate" ptiestly


values. LiIœ Nebamas and BIODde1, Karman claims thatN"votzscœ sees the ptiestly
table ofvaloes as jnc!eœnt and dangerous primanly becm'SC it "preteikis _ to sec
the world as it is; it claims, that is, to deDy the paspective that is part of the vital
condition of an that 1ives." (Kofman 1988: 190)

26
• Blondel coneurs, characterising N'Jetzsehe's writings as a "wonderfu1 disorder"
(1991: 5), an "enigmatic ambiguity" (Ibid.. 6), and suggesting that they are open ta
an "infinite possible inteqnetative plurality." (Ibid., 145) In Blonde1's eyes,
N'1CtZSCbe's project appears ta involve an active seeking out and embrace of
incoben:nce:
not only does Nietzsche not seem ta care IDIlch about
not giving a strictly univocal definition of the value
of the concepts implied in bis text '" but he does not
even tty to link them up in a coherently
demonstrative fashion, which cau simply seem ta
lead ta incompab.llle propositions. (Ibid.. 14)
Connolly, in a similar vein, bestows on Nietzsche a "protean" status (1991: 185),
wbich he then invokes - conveniently - ta give himself as interpreter absolute
licence ta "shift the center of gravity ofNietzsebean discourse" any way he sees
fit.3
For the new orthodoxy, reality is "rich" because it is an ambiguous, chaotic
flllX, and the most admirable type of writing - Nietzsche's type - is one that both

miIrors and joyously celebrates this indetmninate staIe. In ADison's slœtch of the
sort of universe tbat N'1ClZSChe supposedly identifies with and œvels in,

each e1ement within the signifying order, as well as


the relations between these elements, cm '" be
continually reinvested. churned, altered. and
traDsformed by virtue of the temporally "open"

3 "Tbe point _ is DOt ta offer the ttue account ofthe true Niettsche biding behind
a series Ofmasks. but to construet a post-Niemcheanism one is wiIIing to endorse
and enact." (CoanoDy 1991: 197) Since ConnoUy (al tilDes) self~ously
distaooes bis tbongbt from N'1CtZscbe in this sense, bis detailed account of "post-
NiefDtheanism" will DOt be of diIect COIIœ.[n to this study. Connolly's approach
to Nïe'zscbe. howevet'. is more lIIDbiguous tban he lets on. On the one band, when
he insists cm the absoluœ liceDce of the ilmpreœr, he seems to suggest tbat no one
intapœtaticmofNietz~heis "Iight". Beappc:atstoinvokethis position when
crlticisiDg tbosc who sec Nietzsche as a tIwUist of domination; such a reading, he
conccr:1es, is possible, but~, becallse etherreadings are aIso poss1llle (Ibid.,
185). On the ether hand,he also seems to SUggest tbat bis own intetprel3tion of


Niefzso he capcwes whatNietzscheis cmaboutbettertban othe:ts (e.g. Ibid., 187).
This Jatœr aspect of ConnoUy's wœk - the aspect tbat c1aims to provi.dc an lICCUl'lIte
assessDlent ofNietzsche's thought - will he nitically examined in this study,
particulady in Cbapten V and X.
• cbaracter of the metaphorical economy. It is this
infinitely "open" aspect of transformation that
liberates the whole field of signification from its
traditional finitude. (Allison, 1985: xvii)
Blondel claims !bat Nietzsche's celebration of this openness, and of the limitless
interpretive freedom it allows, is the root ofhis Jasagen, or affirmative stance
towards life (Blondel 1991: 29).4
Blondel charitably concedes the existence ofclements in Nietzsehe's texts -
"explieatory discursive passages" -!bat might lead the UDtutOred mind to think that
Nietzsche does in fact take a clear stand on certain issues ("Only fanaticism would
contest the fact!bat there is first and foremost a discourse in N"1CIZSChe..." 1991: 24;
also Ibid., 76; 248), but he insists !bat nit is not on this discourse !bat Nietzsehe's

enterprise bases itself..•" (Ibid., 24) For Blondel, Nietzsche's main claim to
originality and pertinence is found in "those elements in him which resist discursive
synthesis," (Ibid.,7) i.e. the ineffable, non-discursive moments of "resistance" to
meaning in the text itself (Ibid., 89). Nietzsche's resistance, for Blondel. is
tantamount ID a Iefusal ID identify bimselfwhole-heartedly with one particular
vicwpoint or meaning, for this wouId involve closing himselfofffrom the
wonderful chaos !bat is life.s In a painfully contorted passage (which, ID be fair,
may be the IeSUl.t of a poor trans1aIion), Blondel proposes that
there are many discursive sequences in Nietzschc's
texts, but ... al the same lime Nietzsche œcants or
unsa15 them [s'en didït]- and ... he can only lI1WlY
what he 1uu saül. Nietzsche does not say 7IOt1ùng;
but he:~ longer sa15 something. 'Ibis is what
meaning is. in Nietzsche (Ibid., 76; emphasis in
original)
Ecboing a tbeme pœvalent in postmodetnist 1itetature, Blondel suggests !bat
N"1etzsehe uses traditionallanguage because he bas DO choice: it is aIl-pervasive. It

4 My (very di1ferent) account ofNieJzsche!ln Jasagen is given in Chapter vn.

• 5 "[E]very peispeclM: is the very negat:ion oflife as a play of petspectiws; evety


petSpCClive, 1lIking itself ID be truc, effJV'eS the vast petspeclM: ontsicic discourse"
(Blondel 1991: 79)

28
• is only through the use of ÏIODy, he daims, and in particuIar through the use of
those tell-tale signs of ïrony, the inverted COIDlIl3S, that Nietzsche succeeds in
"unsaying" what he says. in keeping a safe distance from the traditional,
metapbysicallanguage that he bas no choice but to invoke. "[B]ec:allse new words
aIe lacking, he uses the old ones in inverted commas, wbic:h is a silent way of

c:arving out a gulfbetween bim se1 f and metapbysics on bis own ground." (Blondel
1991: 141; also 30)6 For Blondel, in other words, the main thing that differentiates
Niel2Sc:he's discouIse from dogmatic: metapbysics is the presence ofinverted
commas, wbic:h allegedly serve as indie:atOIS of the autbor's awazeness of the

essentially artific:ial, invented, and llIbitraIy natw:e of bis discourse.. Blondel goes
50 far as to claim tbat "[i]t is, in fact, the whole of language that, ac:c:ording to
Nietzse:be, bas to he placed within inverted commas ••" (150)7

The Apparent Plausibility of the Received View

The attractiveness'of the new orthodox acc:ount lies in its bighlighting ofcertain
undeniab'y important elements ofNietzsc:be's thought. Refusing to heed "the siJ:en

6 The empbasis on irony as both a prefeacd stylistic: device and outlook on life bas
long bcen pervasive in posl1J»iem literatuze. Connolly, for exampte, asserts tbat
pt'SlllïOdemism involves the c:ultivation ofan iIonic: stance towani the self, even as
one affi , ms the selfin its i~ (1991: 47). See also the intlucntial wodc of
Richard Rorty (c:spcc:ially Rorty 1989). Blondel's great stress on iJ:ony in
Nietz.. Ile leads bim to dismiss the œ1evanc:e of pateDtly non-iJ:onic: elements in the
texts. In a revelatmy,)'Ct scan:ely discernable sc:holarly IDlIIIOC11ver, Blondel places
a sic! interpolation immediate1y after bis citation of one ofNietzsc:he's many
refeœDceS to the posslDi1ity of disting'Ûsbing betvteen truth and eaor (1991: 295).
Blondel's teJKlentious use of the sic, whichis usually ~ fora1erlingthe
readerto ïnsllPœS inc:oJrcct speDing. poor grarnmar, ~ logic:, and the lilœ, is
indicative of a dismismve c1ose-rnin..W ress towards the possibility tbat many of
Nietzsc:he's evoc:ations of truth are non-iIonic: and eamest (sec the disCJlssion
below).
7 The absunüty ofthis propositiOD is nothllld to sec. Jfthe whole oflanguage is
to he placed within inverted commas, does this Dot denude inverted commas oftheir


essential function, which is to dislinguish SOUle WOlds from. others? Wheœas
Blondel's c1aim rendcIS the ïnverted comma meaningless, Nietzsc:be (as wc shall
: sec) bestows upon tbem a very specifie meaning and fimction. (1 am indebœd to
discussions with Ruth ADbey on this point.)

29
• sangs of old metaphysical bird catchers" (BGE 230), Nietzsche docs indeed refuse
the conceit oflinking bis view of things to same timeless, unearthly standard akin

to a Platonic or Christian "real" world of Being. The very notion ofBeing,


Nietzsche argues, implies another, better world with its own standards, goals and
purposes; but this cannot be right, for an "existence" posited separately from human
aims "bas no goal or end" (WP 12a; cf. WP 55). Since there is no initial Being

apart from and preceding humanity, there is only "becoming", the ever-cl1anging

activity and reactivity of this world (the only world) !bat "docs not aim at ajinal
state, docs not flow into 'Being'." (WP 70S) If there is such a thing as "being",
Nietzsche suggests, it is we who create it out of the flux of becoming, by taking
charge of the contingency and chaos of the world by shaping it into a meaningful

arder: "To impose upon becoming the character ofbeing -!bat is the supreme will
to power." (WP 617) Nietzsche draws our attention to the immense scope of the
human power to create meaning and insists !bat we cannat understand our moral-
ethical fIameworks apart from this creative dimension (e.g. BGE 21; TI FGE S).
Indeed. as we will sec in gtearer detail in cbapter m. Nietzsche sees the &Ct of
carving out a stable, ordered realm ofmeaning part of the essence ofwhat it means
ta be human in the highest sense. AlI knowledge is dowDstteam of the creative aet:
"supposïng everything is becoming. !ben knowledge is possible only on the basis
ofbeliefin being." (WP 518)
Knowledge, then, cannot involve privileged access to a higher realm ofTruth.
Proponents of the new orthodoxy bave rightly observed that given Nietzsche's
denial ofmetaphysical dnalism, he cannat subsaibe ta the version of the
coaespondenœ tbeoly ofttuth that relies on it.s Nielz.. he denounces the Kantian


8 Ricbani Scbacbt malœs the point weIl: "it ctmI/Otbe the case that the 'truth' of
any such propositions _ is a JIIlItter of tbeir stt>nding in a coaespondcnc:e-relaon
ta a Iea1ity that bas an inttinsic stIuctIIral arlicnlatjon and ordr1 jng, since tbere is no
such reality for plopositions ta r.:oœspond ta_. When Nietzsche asserts that 'there

30
• thing-in-itself [Ding-an-sich] and derides the aspiration to attain unconditioncd
access to it as "the fable ofknowlcdge" (WP 555). Nietzsche does DOt claim that
bis views are "absolutely" correct, as this would imply a (nonexistent) standard of
universal, unchanging Reason (e.g. GS 374). As Schacht suggests, bis
repudiation ofcapital "T" Truth "might only he a candid admiss\on of the
impossibility of achieving a kind of knowlcdge that would he absolute, final,
rigorously demonstrable, and completely adequate to reality." (Schacht 1983: 2(0)
This does seem to point towards an enticïng type ofepistemic humility, a fOIm of

thinking !bat is conscious ofits own particuJarity and of the existence of


alternatives, one !bat invites challenges from all comers.9
So far, the new orthodoxy appears to he on solid ground. If all !bat was

attributed to Nietzsche was this aitique of metaphysical dnalism, the sole distortion
ofwhîch it would he guilty would he a wild exaggeratïon of Nietzsche's originality,
along with an unfair caricature ofthe whole ofpxe-Nietzsehean Westem thought.l0

is no truth,' bis point is that no propositions are or cao be tIUe in this sense."
(Schacht 1983: 61-2)
9 In BGE 22, N"lCtzsehe concludes a short discnssion ofbis view of the world as
will to power with the following famous momie "Granted this 100 is only
interpmation - and you will be eager enough to I3ise this objection? - weIl, so
much the better. -" We shouId note that this applllent hnmility is balanced in this
same section by a clear assertion ofbis view's superior access to reality; he derides
the "bad arts of ÙltElptelalion" practiced by physicists and countetposes agairst
their inferlor efforts bis own "opposite intention and art of intelptelation" that Ie3ds
sotœthing quite difI.'erent "out ofthe ;same 1IDtID'e œul with regard 10 the ;same
p1lmtJrMna [DUS tkr gleichm Natur und im H"mbück au!die gleichm
Encheinungen] (my emphasis)_" Sec also BGE 36. Brian Leiter (1992: 280-1)

r this point weIL


Authors like Wmen and Nehamas err in sccing Nietzsehe's aitique of
metaphysical d"a1ist philosophy as a ~ departure from the whole of the
Westem philosophical ttadition. As Nussbanm convincingly argues, the
aitique ofPlatonic dnalism was first formnlated by Aristotle. who broke with much
of prc-Socratic and Platonic t'pistemology by Iefusing to adheœ to the false
dichotomyof"thereal" and "thetIUe"ontheonehandand "appeauwœs"-
undetstood as the world perœived and inteqneted by us - on the otber. Fer
Aristotle, as for Nietzscœ, Plato's struggle "for an unconditional vantage point


outside the appearances, is both futile and desttuctive: futile, becanse such a
vantage point is unavailable, as such, to bnman inquiry; dcstIUctive, because the
glOlY of the promised goallDlllœs the humanly posst.Dle worlc look boring and
cheap." (NlIssbanm , 1986: 258) Aristotle, like Nietzsche, argued for a vigorous

31
• As we have noted above, however, the new orthodox view attributes to Nietzsche

much maIe than this: bis thought is routinely associated with a repudiation of ail
tnIth-claims as such, a rejection of the notion ofa reality outside ofour multifarious
interpretive schemata, and a celebration ofambiguity and chaos. Let us eyamine
how far new orthodox accounts have strayed from their purported. source of
inspiration.

Truth and Clarity vs. "Truth" and Ambiguity

Nietzsche's critique of "Troth" is in fact an assault on a clearly demarcated,


highly specialised usage of that teml, one that presupposes the assumptions of
metaphysical dnalism That Nietzsche is criticising this very specifie usage is

strongly suggested by passages like the following:


Becanse the ascetie ideal bas hitherto domùuJted ail
philosophy, becanse tnJth was posited as being, as
Gad, as the highest court of appeal- _. tnJth was not
permitted ta be a problem at aIL•• From the moment
faith in the God of the ascetie idea1 is denied, a new
problem arises: that of the value of tnIth. (GM
Ill.24)

When Nietzsche claims ta investigate the value oftroth, be mcans ta wean us away

DOt from the ideas of tnJth and reality::!S such, but rather from metaphysical,

transcendental portraits ofthem (tnJth "as being, as God", ete.). The significancc

ofNietzsche's ftequent usage ofinverted commas should be understood in this


light, and not, as Blondel would have us believe, as an ironie disclaimc:r of ail of

tnJth-ld'ereDces. As Schacht bas rightly noted, N'1etzSCbe's inverted commas me


meant ta flag "the putative 'ttuths' (which be taIœs actIJa]Jy ta be 'lies' and
'deceptions') ofother-woddly religious thinkers and metaphysica1ly inclined
philosopbers..." (Schacht 1983: 59) The ,mmaskjng of "tnJth" as lie seems ta .

• tbJ: ••
anopooentrie
than otheIs.
Vlew while JDqsting
• •• that c:ertaiIl....unopoa:lIl
• _.....

32
1" Are.. ' - -
iC VlewS .';: • uo;ug
• presuppose the existence of a Iealm of (non-dogmatic) truth outside the inverted
commas.
Nietzsche insists !bat authentic philosopbers (lilœ himselt) "use big words
sparingly; it is said !bat they dislike the very word 'truth': it sounds too
grandiloquent." (GM m.S) His own taste, he informs us elsewbere, ois for more
modest expressions..." (D Pref. 4) Nietzsehe's frequent usage ofinverted commas
around words like "morality", "truth", "virtue", "justice", etc. serves ta distance bis
discomse from what he perceives as the pompous locutions of many of bis

contemporaries, locutions he asso:ia'es with the "slave morality" !bat he feels bas

tainted many of the key concepts !bat he wants to use (and, as we shal1 sec, cannot
do without).ll In EH "Oever" 10, Nietzsche groups together the concepts "'God',
'sour, 'virtue', 'sin', 'the Beyond', 'truth', 'eterna1life'" as a package,
denouncing tbem as mere "imaginings, more strictly speaking lies from the bad

instincts of the sicle." He argues !bat previous philosopbers and moralists, along
with all pu1'VCYors of ·COmmolHCDSC· heœtofore, have all but sueceeded in
monopolising the word ·truth· for this mendacious package, thus making bis own
project of mzl truth-tclling all the more diffimlt "When mendaciousness at any
priee appropriates the word 'truth' for its pel:spective, what is actually veracious
must be discovered bearing the worst names " (EH "Destiny" 5)12 AlI

philosopbers hitherto, he notes elsewheI:e, "weœ 8JllIlllœtly aiming at certainty, at


'truth', but in J:ea1ity at 'majes1ic moral strucIUTeS ~ __" (D Pre!. 3) Nietzsche
claims !bat in adhering to these metaphysical sttuetures, we have m1etpiCll:d the

world "in a false and mendacious rfalsch und lilgnerisch] way, in accordance with
the wishes of our reverence.... (GS 346), and thus have actnally banished the truth

Il We will examine varions aspects ofNietzsche's COJlStruction and portrayal ofan


idcal-typical slave morality in CJlI'Ims n through IV.

• 12 "Wenn die Verlogeoheit umjedeD. Preis das Wort «WahIhei1» filr ihre Optik
in Auspruch nirmnt, sa muS dereigentljch WahdJaftige untel" den scJjIjmmsteJ]
Namen wiederznfinden sein."

33
• "on principle" (EH Forward 3). By contrast, he promises. the "comïng
philosophers" will he "new friends of 'truth'" (BGE 43). the inverted commas
serving heœ as a telling reminder of Nietzsche's view that this tcrm bas most often
heen used to desClihe "truth for everyman". fallacious beliefs that have nothing

more to he said for them than unthjnking custom and the adherence of the vast
majority.

1bat Nietzsche is interested in real, as opposed to bombastic, pseudo-truth-

telling is demonstrated by many instances of unapoIogetic, serious truth-claims


through bis work. When. for example, he makes Zarathustta declare that one
should combat "faIse values and faIse SCIiptul'es" rtaJseher Werte wul Wahn-Worte]
(Z n OP). and cIaims in another work that the "future task of the philosophers" is to

solve "the probIem of value" [das Problem vom Werte zu liisen]. to detcrmine "the
arder of rank among values" [Rangoninung der Werte]" (GM LI7), he seems

cIearly to he striving for a true, undogmatic account of the wodd.13 In bis Iate,
retrospective assessment of bis Thus Spoke Zaratlrustra, Nietzsche declares that the
work was "bom out of the innermost abundance oftruth [DUS dem inMrsten
Reichtum der Wahrheit]_." (EH Forward 4) "ZlIrathustra," he declares, ois more
truthful [wa1IrlztgDger] than any other thinJcer. His teacbing ._ uphoIds
truthfuIness as the supreme virtue [die Wahrhaftigkeit also obente Tugend]•••"
(EH "Destiny" 3) Until Zarathustra, "one does not know what height, what depth

is; one knows even Iess what truth is." (EH "Z" 6) In the samc work he
characterises bimselfas "the fiIst honut spirit [der ente rechtsc1uzjJiIe Geist] in

13 As Leitcr pots il, the point ofN'Jet7SChe's varions attaeks on particuIar, popuIar

• beliefsabootthewodd"isnottbatnoheliefisepistemica1Iywarranted(orthatthcœ
is DO uuth). but ratbertbataparticular (admittedly huge) c/Qss of fmmliar beliefs or
supposed 'ttuths' are in fact faIse." (Leiter, 1994: 340)

34
• the bistory of the spirit, the spirit in whom ttuth comes to judgement on the false-

coinage of four millenia." (EH "CW" 3)14


Against the fallacious efforts of previous philosophers, Nietzsche - both within

and apart from the guise of bis cbaracter of ZarathustraIS - puts foIWaId bis

docttine of will to power as rooted in an important ttuth about the nature of

existence. Niet2SChe sees bis doctrine, whicb he desaibes as bis "teacbing about

life and about the nature of ail living crealUIeS [mein WOTt vom Leben sagen und
von der Art aIles Lebendigen]" (Z fi OSO), as part of bis claim to originality and

aceuraey, as adiscovery of the "secret of ail life" [dDs GeheimnisaIles Lebens] (Z


fi 01'). Niet2SCbe believes tbat leaming to know "the course of the wodd" (WP
333), i.e. "the fundamental constitution of reality" [wie im GrutIIie die Realitiit
beschaffen ist] (EH "Destiny" 4), is an inhemltly desirable occupation, and the
docttine of will to power is bis articulation ofits workings: "up to now there bas
been only supposition, not knowledge, conceming the staIS and the future: and

therefore there bas hitberto been ooly supposition, not knowledge [bisher nur
gewl.l1urt, nü:ht gewuftt wonim], conceming good and evi1!" (Z m ONL 9)16

In atte'lIl"Ïngto outline bis perspective on reality, i.e. what he sees as the ttue
nature of exist=ce, NieIzscbe sttives for precision and clarlty ofexptession. Far

14 For some ofbis other eamest appeals to trutb, see: D 91, 164,456,556; GS 2,
319,335; BGE zn, 229; AC 36. See also BGE 230, wheIe Nietzsche insists tbat
the taskofthe "scelœrafœr know1edge" mustbe theIeCOgDition of"the etemal
basic text [ewigen Gnmdte.xt] of homo 1IlIIUrrl". In this passage Nietzsche asserts
tbat prlorclaims te "knowledge" have bcen supedicial pœcisely because they bave
ignored this "etemaI basic text" of man. As Leiter coaec:tly notes, "[t]bat this text is
etemal andbasic imp!ies _ tbat readings wbicb do Dot treat man lIlItIIralistica1ly
misread the text - they 'falsify' il. And it is pœcisely such misreadi.ngs of, 'tcxts'
tbat Nietzsche the 'good pbilologist' aims te coacc:t" (Leiœr 1992: 279) 1 will
bave moœ te say about Nietzsche's "1IlItul'alism" below, and in Cbapters fi and m.
15 See the Introduction for my undcœtandiDg ofNiet2SCbe's relatiODShip to
Zaratbustra.
16 We,sba11 examine N1etzscbe's c:loctrine of will te power in greater detail in
~ n. In Chap«rr ml will argue tbat there is amcI!!rlng, umesolved tellsion

• in NielzSche's thought between bis effort te ground bis prefeaed normative stance
in anatunl1istic (andostenSJoly mora1ly-neutra1) viewof"1ife" on the oue band and
bis occasional insistmN' on the i o 'J'ŒSI1lility of such an ~ on the other.

35
• from ce1ebrating ambiguity and indetcnDinancy, NielZSChc sees their cultivation as a
character flaw. Zarathustra, for example, declares in bis discussiQn with the "Old

Pope" of Part IV that ambiguity and indistinctness aIe to be counted against the
Judaeo-Christian God:
1 love everything that is clear-eyed and honest of
speech [was heU blic1ct und redlich redet]. But he...
was ambiguous [er war vieldeutig]J He was aI50
indistinct [zmdeutlich]. How angry he was with us,
this snorter of wrath, because we mistook bis
meaning! But why did he not speak more clearly
[wanon sprach er nicht reinlù::her]?/ And if Out catS
were to blame, why did he give us catS that were
unable to hear him pxoperly? Ifthere was dirt in out
catS, very weIl! who put it there? (Z IV RS)

Here the Deity is reproached not for being audaciously concemed with meaning,
but rather for bis caginess about bis own meaning, a trait Nietzsche associates with
the less-than-straightforwatd "prlestly nature" in general (Ibid).17 Nietzsche's
contempt for pretentious, deliberately opaque language is further demonstrated in
zarathustra's berating of the Wagner figure, the Sorcerex. "'You. however. must
deceive: 1 know you 50 far. You must aIways be ambiguous, with two. three,
four. five meanings [Du mujJt immer zwei- tIrei- vier- fi1nfdeutig sein]!" (Z IV S 2)

Elsewhere, Nitusche derides the alleged C..mnany tendency to "haillack. ofclarity

as a viItue [die Un1c1aTheit ols Tugend ehrt]" (BT"Attempt" 6); in Germany. he

complains, "one does not want to be clear about oneself" (EH "cw" 3). one would
prefer b1ithely to asS!!lne that logical and moral 0}1.\CSÏl&'s cao be easily reconciled:
the German nation _. continues to nourlsh itself with
opposites [sich von Gegensllt1.en zu nllhren] and
knows how to gulp down 'faith' as weIl as
scientificality [W"1SSe1IS~]. 'Oujstian love'
as well as anti-Semitism, will to power (to the
'Reich') as wellas the lwmgile des humbles. without
having any trouble digesting tbem (EH "CW" 1)

• 17 In Chaptcrs m-v 1 will discuss Nietzsebe's understanding ofascetism and the


prlestly chaxact.er-type.

36
• Rather thao celebrating the indetcrminancy of meaning, as authOIS like Blondel and

Granier would bave il, Nietzsebe's superior human being wishes above all eIse "to

become logical, simple, unambiguous, mathematics,law [logisch, einfach,

unz.weideutig, MathenuzIik werden; Gesetz. werden)••." (WP 842)

Objectivity and Perspectivism

New orthodox commentary bas tcnded bath to dismiss the importance of these
serious references 10 truth and clarity and to obscure the specialised nature of
Nietzsehe's attaek on the rarified, metaphysical notion ofTruth, due to the
commitnlent of many self-proclaiIT!I"P "Nietzsehean" thinkers 10 identify a
. specifically Nietzsehean attaek on truth and logical coherence as a whole. In effect,
authOIS like Nebamas establish a rlgid eitherlor scenerlo and attempt to persuade us

that wc bave only two options: eitber to make truth-cla.ims (and thereby succumb to

dogmatism), or 10 reject the notion oftruth altogether. When the problem is framed
in these temlS. wc seem 10 have little choice but 10 place ouxselves (and, ofcourse,
Nietzsche) on the side ofidiosyncraJic. subjectivist self-expression and ambiguity.
Who, L'œr aIl, wants 10 be labled a dogmatist?
Tbc whole deb8le, howcver, bas bcen skewed by the terms of this rathcr

COCI:cive and ovemmplliied eitberlor scenerlo. J:ronically, although those who


propose this sc""Crlo present tbemse1ves as the mostUUCOmptomising crltics of
metaphysical chmlism, tbeir position involves a SWleptitious embrace (albeit a
negative embrace) ofits standards. Proponents of the new orthodoxy sbare ~
witb neo-Platmlists like Allan Bloom than they let on or would like to admit they
boy Ïllto the Platonie notion tbat the beavenly staDdaros oftruth presupposed by

J'JII':lapbysical cfnaJjsm are in fact the only standaRIs, and, with authOIs like Bloom,

• agree tbat iftbese standaros are rejected tbere can he no standmIs atall As
Nussbanm suggests, it is only to one who bas pinned everything to the hope of

37
• absolute Troth in the metaphysical dualist sense tbat ilS collapse seems ta entai! "the
collapse of all evaluation" (Nussbaum 1992: 213; sec also Taylor 1987).18 In other
words, while the new orthodoxy and the defenders of metaphysical dnalism are
ostens1bly mortal enemics, a closer look exposes them as two sidcs of the same
coin.l 9
What the new orthodoxy's partisans fail ta consider seriously, and wha1 they
seem unable ta perceive in Nietzsche, is an account of objective standards of truth
tbat owcs nothing to the assumptiODS of metaphysical dnalism 1shal1 argue below

tbat Nietzsche believcs it is possible to make a truth-claim in the strong sense (i.e. a

claim tbat something is true notjust for oneself, but true iiberhoupt, as such)

without wrapping oneselfin the conceptual straitjacket ofan absolutist,


UDCbanging, teleological conception ofTruth.
But what do Nietzsc1le's strong truth-claims amount to? When he claims ta sec
things "as they really are" ,'1!J is he committing himselfto positivism (undetstood
beI:e as an enterprise attempting ta gain "nnlTJ"diatM " acccss ta the wodd)? By no
means Nietzsehe's critique of positi'Vism, after an. bas been widely recognised in
the secondaty literature. and sometbing like it is just as wide1y accepted in lDIICh of

present~philosophy of science and epistemology. Nietzsche 'claims tbat the


positivist conception pœsupposes "an eye that is completely .mthinkable, an eye

18 Leiter maIa:s a similarpoint when he atgUCS that the new orthodox


lIDCIemaDding ofN'JCtzscbc::an peispectivism (he calls it "the Reccived VJCW")
1JnClirica1l.y Ieplicares the logical stJ:ucture of metaphysical c1naJjsm· "on the
Received VJCW 'me:re peiSpcctives' seem 10 have the samc statns as the
metaphysician's 'me:re appearanccs' that Nietzsche sought 10 abolish." (Leitcr 1994:
n~ .
19 As wc shal1 sec in Chapter V. Nidzscbc maIa:s a sjnu1arclaim of asœtic self-
~ and hedoDistic proponenlS of 1lIisser aIlu.
20 1bat Nietzsche pI"'S!!JlCS the existence of a œality indcopeMent ofour
mtelpretatïoos is ill\b1lattd in passages like the fonowing: "Anodwmade of the
theologian is bis Wopocity for philology. Pbilology is 10 he undeilltJ 'Od beI:e in a

• very wide sence as the art ofrnding wdl- ofbeing able 10 œad ol!a fact without
falsifying it by intetptetatïon [TatMchm ablesen l:iJnnen, 0'- sie durch
Interpretation ZIlfillschm]-" (AC 52)

38
• auned in no particuJar direction, in which the active and inteIpreting forees. tbrough
which aIone seeing bccomes seeing something. are supposed to be lacking..." (GM
ID.12; cf. WP 481) The sort of "objectivity" positing "absolute know1edge," aimed
al "c:Ii m inat[ing] the will aItogether•••. suspend[ing] each and every affect," strikes
him as a lw1icrous a~ to "CIJStTQIe the intellect." (GM ID.12) Unlike
Nietzsche's ideaI of a truc knowledge-seeker. whose every action and desire for
enlightenm~t is driven (as we shal1 sec) by a deeply-felt, franldy personal. and
unhidden normative perspective, the so-caIled scientists and scholars who pmsue

the illusion of "plue" know1edge [Rein-E1*ennenden] would prefet "to be mere

spectators in evetything" (Z n OIP). acting as though they were "objectifying and

registering JDr&banisms with their ÎDDlIIdS·removed." (GS Pref. 3)


Notwithstanding their osteI!S'Dle refiJsal to offer value judgements of the objects of
their study. Nietzsche tinds them defacto on the side of slave mora1ity. dismissing
themas "leamedcattle" [gddutesHomvieh] (EH "Books" 1) becanscoftheir
inability or UDwiUingness to differeIItiate between things worthwbile investigating
and those contemptible aspects of the wood that ought to he igDored.21 Thus the
apparent 1ack ofdiscrimination is said to IeVCa1 a parti pris lifter aIl, in favour of
"the small". Partisans of the sort of "objectivity" proposed by this sort of modem

scientist seem .mable to acknowledge that any scienti1ic investigation, like any

21 In Z IV L, Nietzsche COIISlIUCts this vision ofan ignoble modem scienc:e in the


persoaa of the "conscientious" JDIIII. who observes and records "the.facts" !rom the
vantage-point ofhis home, the swamp. VIth respect to the object ofhis. .
investigatioas, the "cmsclentilJllS" manasksmetorlcally, '"wbatmatlcrifithegreat
or small? !fithe swamp or sky?...J In truly conscientious know1edge there is
notbing great and notbiDg smalL'" N"rJzscbe beliCves that this sort of1evclJing
cIiscowsew which places the great on the same plane as the insignificant, cleady
favours the latIerlIDd diminisbes the worth of the foaner. Sec also EH "BGE" 2-

• wbcreNielzscbe dc:ridts as "bail mannœ" the "c:e1ebrated 'objectivity'


[Objd:tivitilt)" ofhis age. with "its plostlation before petitsfaits, its ·scientificality'
[W"~)."

39
• practical pursuit, always involves a commitment ta "an ideal of value, a value-

aeating power." reines Wen-ldeals. einer wertucJuzffendm Macht] (GM m.2S).22


Nietzsche's presumption of the existence of a reality independent ofour various
interpretations, and bis attc:mpt.s ta give an account of that reality. do not, therefore,
depend upon any commitment ta positivist principles.23 Nictzsche concedes -
indeed, insists - that any account of that reality (good or bad, adequate or
inadequate) will invariably be developed in and through a partial perspective.
What, thcn, is Nietzsche's pietuIe of an "objective" foundation for truth and

knowledge? How is it possible ta acknowledge the inevitability of perspective


without thereby defeating any claim ta objective truth?
Pace Nehamas, although Nietzsche readily sees bis criticisms of transcendental
Truth as very much bis own perspective, he does not thereby unden:ut them by also
claiming that they aIe puxely idiosynaatic. He does not believe, in other words,
that bis account of the world is "betIer" or "truc" only in the very limited sense that

it is truly and authentically bis own. In a nutsbcll, Nietzsche believes that he bas
developed a stance which, baving incorporated bis OWD observations, assessmenlS,
and criticisms of other.limited (or one-sicled) points of view. passesses a higher

level of adcquacy than its rivais. "Before knowledge [ein ErkDmen] is possible,"
Nietzsebc mnarJes, one must come ta sec the strengtbs and weaknesvs and, most

22 N"IelZSche's ~que of~ positivism is ~t:~!absolute.


He, like the positiviSts, mnams CO"" IIItœd ta the geœral empmast criterion: that
sense experience is the SOlUœ of all gœuinc know~ (Lciœ:r 1994: 336-7). Sec
an
BGE 134: "AlI acdibility. all good conscieIIce, mdenœ oftruth comes only
from the senses [Sinnm]." Sec a1so TI RIP 3,6. Wheœ Nietzsche parts company
with the positivists is in bis insistence on the inIl:rtwiniDg ofmoral and
epistemological questions. For Nietm:be, DOt evayonc bas the moral comage and
integEitytoopenhim-orbclselfto "senseeApeMlce" and face the truth. As Leiter
nœs. much ofNielZ9 hc:'s "geœaIogical"1IlID:8Iives involve lV"i1ation about wiry
blllbmtly wroag.beaded metaphysical and/or religious beliefs me held, and about the
type of people who hold such bdiefs (Ibid., 353).

• 23 As Leiter nœs. the tr:ncfconry to conf/lite these two issues - the question of
positivism's talability and that of the tenability oftruth and knowledge about reality
- is a chata le' istic gestuI:e of the IICW orthodoxy (Lciœ:r 1994: 355).

40
• importantly. the limitations of each and every "one-sided view [einseitige Ansicht)
of the thing or event" in question (GS 333). Taking this first step tawards
knowledge requires a "1IIlttUre frecdom of spirit" which "pemlils access ta many
and contradietory modes of thought..•" (HAH 1 Pref. 4). which in tum is the
precondition for true (as opposcd ta bogus, positivist) objectivity:
[T)hc more affects wc aIlow to speak about onc
thing. thc more eyes. different cyes. wc can use 10
observe one thing, thc more complete [vol1standiger)
will our "concept" [BegrijJ) of this thing. our
"objectivity". [«Objektivitllt») be.24 (GMmI2)
Nietzsche aetually descn1les this ability ta "reverse perspedivcs" [perspektiven

umstellen) (EH "WISe" 1) as "impartiality" [Unbefangenheit). a1though, as wc


noted above. he does DOt mean moral ncutrality. His form ofobjectivity invol~
talGng a "grand vicw for the course" [der grojJe Blickfür den Gang) (EH "CW" 2).
a sort oftrnm;centJcnce of the prejudices ofooc's age, describcd metaphorlcaiiy al
onc point in temIS of the ability 10 overcome gravity:
In the main the question is how Iight or heavy wc are
- the problem of our "specific gravity." Onc bas 10
he very üght 10 drive onc's will 10 knowledge in10
such a distance and. as it were, beyond onc's lime.
10 create for oneself eyes 10 survey millennia... One
must have hDerated oneself !rom many things that
oppress. inhloit. hold down. and makc heavy
pœciseIy us Emopeans today. (GS 380)
In oVeLtoJ!ling "gravity". one is able 10 sec that much ofwhat had been considcœd
timeless. etcmaI. and se1f-evidellt is, in fact, historlcally contingent and
problematic.2S Z8nIthuslra demonstrates bis attainment of this lofty perspective by

24 As hesornetimes does with "troth". N"1CtZsche bere places objectivity in inverted


c:mmnas 10 empbasi'œ tbat bis use of the term differs mar!<rrlly &oui the popular
notions ofobjecliYity as eilbcr positivist value neutrality or metaphysical "absolute
KnowIedge". the vaIidity ofwhich he criticises earIier in this same passage (GM
IILI2).
2S N"iClZ.. he beIieYes that one of the gleat shoilc:omings of conve:ntional, "slave"
morality is ils jnability or lJIlWI1 'ingness 10 conntenanœ and embrace this idea of

• imparliaIity: "Consdcrr.c,repnt8tiœ. HeU, somdimes even the.poIice have


pelll.jtfeIJ and continue 10 pexmit DO impartiaIity [Unbeftzngenheitl-" (D Pref. 3)
Sec aIso Z mOSG 2, where Z8Ialhustra refers 10 the plebeian table ofvalues that

41
• dismic;<;ing the pmported1y "natural", etemal morality of good and evil as merely
conventional, ie. as "only inœrvening shadows and damp afflictions and passing
clouds [nur Zwischen-Schatten undfeuchte TriibsaJe und Zieh- Wolken]." (Z m
BS)
As noted above, Nietzsche's conception ofobjectivity inCOIpOl'ateS the ncecssity

of peISPeClive, the fact that "[t]here is only a petspec:tive seeking, only a peISPCClive
'knowing·..." (GM IILI2). Through the attainrneut of objective knowledge. one
leams that "alllife is based on appearance, art, deception, point of view, the
necessity of perspective and eaor." (BT "Attempt" Sf1" It is in this, and omy this
sense that Nietzsche speaks glowingly of the "rich ambiguity" [vie1deutigen
Charakters] of existence (GS 373; cf. WP 134,481). Far from implying, as the

new orthodoxy insists, that existence is too rich to be decipherable or captured bY


any schema of meaning, Nietzsche is suggesting that any one-sided view unable to
acknowledge and embrace the DeCessity ofperspective - and hence the ambiguity of
existence - will be unequal to the task of positing reality.z7 Proponents of one-
sided views, unable to scan the "big picture", remain caught within the insccuœ.
excesme solemnity and pomposity that NIetzsche associates with nmow-minded
dogmatjsm 28 By contrast, N'Ie!Zscbe's multi-faceted view, wbich claims to

pmvents cbild!en "from loving tbemselves" as the "Spirit of Gravity", an allusion to


the mendacious atternpts to portray it as a natural, extra-human force. As we sba1l
see in CbapterIV, N"Jetzsebe believes that an honest embrace of impartiality in this
sense wouId expose slave morality's inadequacy.
26 •...denn alles Leben ruht anfSc:bein, Kunst. Tlluschung, ()ptik, Notwendigkeit
des Perspektivischen und des Irrtums." Sec also HAH 1 Pref. 6: "You sba1lleam
to grasp the sense ofperspective in every value judgement...•
Xl N'Jetzscbe suggests that only those who mindlessly foUow "the DOW pIeva1ent
instinct and taste" tend to support tbeories of ·absolutc 1'ortIJÎto!mess· [du
absolutm ZuftJlligkeit] or ·mecbanistic se.oseJessness of all events.•
[mec1ranistische Unsinnigkeit alles Geschehens) (GM ILl2) When he attributcs
trendy tbeories ofmcaning1essness to "the democratic idiosyna:acy wbich opposes
everything that dominates and wants to dominare· (Ibid.). he mightjust as easily be
~ to sorne ofbis Jare.twentieth ceutury admireIs.

• m
28 1will argue in Cbapler that N'Jetzsebe's avemon to the self-rigbœous
soIemnity of the conventional morality ofbisday was 1argely bebind bis reluetanœ
to use conventional virtue-terms -lilœ "virtue·, ·morality", etc. - in support ofbis

42
• incorporate a number of different perspectives, represents Dot simply a different,
but a bener fonn of access to reality.
Nietzsche, as the new oIthodoxy never fails to point out, refuses to make any
claim of absolute infalh"bility on behalfof bis own perspective. Given the
impossibility of the universa1 standpoint ofBeing and the infinite nomber of
possl"ble perspcctival viewpoints, it, toc, is partial and limited. His crucial claim,
bowever, is that bis OWD perspective is Dot as limited (and nowbere near as
distorted) as its rivais. The apparent eqlJ3njmïty of Nietzsehe's perspectivism does
Dot tberefoIe entail an indiscriminate relativism that would see bis own perspective
as no better nor worse than aIl the others.29 Nietzsche imagines bis position to be a
dual one, in whicb bis perspective triumphs over others on the same, level playing-
field of worldly contestation while, simultaneously, flying higb above this same
playing-field in its ability to adopt a biId's eye view of the te1I'ain and of aIl the
players (itself included). From the serene, magnanimous viewpoint of bis self-
styled "meca"-level, whicb he claims to bave attained after baving "climbed above
bimseJf" and bebeld "the ground ofthings and their background [aller Dinge
Gnmtl schtnm und Hinlergrundj" (Z m W), Nietzsche claims to see bis own

perspective al combat with, and victorlous over, othee perspectives. In this context
Nietzsche associates the lI!tainme:nt of the objective viewpoint with a feeling of
joyful eqnanimity:_ "[the great artist] arrives al the ,ùtimate pinnacle of bis greatness

only wben he comes to see bimselfand bis art beneath bim - wben he knows bow
to lIJugh al bimselfo" (GM m.3)

prefea'ed noaDlltive stance.. 1 will also aIgUe that althougb he occasionally resists
these tenDs, and sometïDl"S subjects them to ridicule, in the end he cannot belp but
use them bimself in a wholly UIIÏroDic DIllIIDer.
29 As noted above. DCW orthodox tbeoriSIS like Nebamas deny that their


intequ'ellltiOll of perspecti vism is tantamollDt 10 an abandonme:nt of aIl ID8IIDer of
ptincipled discrimination, but the typically subjectivist understandiDg of
Nietzsehean perspeclÏvism maIœs it diflicult 10 see how the charge ofrelativism cao
he deflected.

43
• ln a move that saikes us as counterintuitivc, because of our typical association
of "objectivity" with absence ofbias or "disinterestedness", Nietzsche insists upon
both the ubiquity of pe!spective (bias) and the possibility ofobjective truth. A
proposition may he objectively truc, claims Nietzsche, not becanse someone from a
God-lïke, universal view could, in principle, confirm that this is so, or because it is

universa11y accessible and understandable, but rather becanse a highly cultivated


and gifted type of person, capable of attaining the objectivity required for the
grasping of truth, has recognised it as such and deemed it to he so. This type of
person (a "strong" person) "de1ineates reality as it is [dieser Art Mensch, die er
konzipiert, konzipiert die Realitlit, wie sie ist)" (EH "Destïny" 5) and bas the
courage to make the proper distinctions hetween the worthwhile and the
contemptible, the praiseworthy and the blameworthy.
What type of person is Nietzsche describing? Is he simply talking about

himself and no other? Nehamas would answer in the affirmative, for, as we noted
above, he sees Nietzsche's work as wholly self-referential and idiosyncratic.

Throughout the course ofthis work 1 will he arguing the contrary, that Nietzsche
presupposes or imagines truth and knowledge to he the property (or al least
potentially the property) ofa smal1, select group with a sensibility and character
similar to bis own, with whom he feels in spiritual solidatity and (so he believes)
with whom he shares a certain "rank".

Rangordnung and the Élite Monopoly on Truth

Nietzsche regards every human being as first and fOlemost a "physiological


representative" or "carrier" [Tniger] ofa particular order, or rank of human
existence, and believes that our respective orcier or rank shapes our entiIe existence

• ('11 FGE 2), determining the natuIe ofour relations with others, how wc react to

incoming stimuli, how and why wc seek to lJIllIerstand the wood around us, and

44
• what we think most important in Iife. Although, as we shal1 explore in Chapter VI,
Nietzsche calls for an individnalistic break with one's home community in the Dame
of self-development, he also asks, impatiently. "what do individuals matter to
nature!" in response to theories ofontological individualism of the Kantian or

utilitarian variety (BGE 188).30 What matters most, and that to which the
imperatives of nature are addressed, is not the individual, but "peoples. races. ages.
classes. and above ail ... the entire animal 'man'••.. mankind." (Ibid.)31
NielZSclte does not diminish the conceptual (and, as we shal1 see, moral)
importance of the individual, but stresses that "the individual [der Einzelne] himself
is still the 1atest creation..." (Z 1OTG). insisting that to ttuly know someone is to
determine the rank in which the person be1ongs.
The conception ofrank denotes a hierarchy. and this is exactly what Nietzsche

bas in mind when he speaks repeatedly ofan "arder of rank [Rangordnung]

between man and man" (BGE 228; also 263). Sttong is wrong to suggest that for

Nietzsche, there are "no nex:essa'Y and permanent characterlstics of a so-cal1ed


human condition." (1988: 26; cf. 37) Nietzsche identifies Rangortbmg as an
intrinsic, ubiquitous part of the human experience, one that we share with all oflife.
Accoo:Iing to the laws of Rangordnung. each living species is divided generally
into "different kinds oflife" (WP 592). and more particularly into "ascending" and
"descending" forms of the species in question. "Every individual," therefore, "may
be regarded as representing the ascending or descending line oflife." (fi EUM 33)
Our place in this "orderofcastes," [OrdnungderKasten] NielzscbccJaims. ois

30 See also WP 886: "A class [Stand]. a rank [Rang]. a race [Volks-Ra.rse]. an
environment [UmgœlDlg]. an accident [ZIifall] - anything is more likdy to be
~ in a worlc or aet than is a 'pc%son' reine <<Person»]." .
31 "_dies scbeint mir der moralische I:mpelativ der Natur zu sein, we1cher freilich
weder <<Icategorlsch» ist, _ noch an den Einz-Jnen sich wendel (was liegt ibr

• am Einzelnen1). wob1 aber an VlS1Iœr. R.assen, ZeitaJlr:r. Stinde. var A11etn aber an
das ganze T'Jel' <<Menscb». an den Menscben" Just what Nietzsche means by
"the imperatives of nature" will be investigated in 0JapterIlL

4S
• ooly the sanctioning ofa 1I01UTO! ortier, a naturallaw of the first rank [die Sanktion
einer NatuT-Ordrumg, Natur-Gesetzlichkeit ersten Ranges) over whieh no
arbitrary caprice, no 'modem idea' bas any power.· (AC 57) The natural arder also
ordains that the rep=talives of·a higher, brighter IulIDanity· are .very small in
number (for everything outstanding is by its nature rare)•••• (WP 993),32 while
those who represent degeneration and decadence will be many:
Among men, as among every other species, there is a
surplus of t'ailures [Miftratenen), of the siek
[Kranken), the degenerate [Entartenden), the fragile
[Gebrechlichen), of those who are bound to suffer
[LeitIenden); the successfuI cases are, among men
too, always the exception. (BGE 62)33
NielZSChe believes that ooly the Bite members of the ascending line ofhumanity
have the innate capacity ta aspire to the sort ofobjectivity described above as a
precondition for the attainDlP.nt of truth. Since, as wc have seen, Nietzsehe's
conception ofobjectivity is tied to the ubiquity ofperspective, truth and knowledge
appear in bis view ta be tied ta the positiO:l of the minority, ascending line of the
huma" species. Only they cao tum ·from a motbid perspedive [Knmken-Optik)
tawards 1reaIl1rierconcepts and values jgesi1nduen Begriffen und Werten).••• (EH

"W'lSC· 1), ie. taward the healthy perspective. To think the contrary, ta suppose
that truth cao be made aeœssib1e ta everyone (given the pl0per circumstances, a

32 Sec also WP 420: ·it is inevitable, it is petbaps also desirable, that the
philosopher should be a rare plant._" In WP 317. Nietzsche attempt;s ta describe
the "aristomltie magic" of virtue, claiming that "preacbets of virtue" have
mi",mde. stJod its "cbarm of rareness, inimitableness, exceptiona'ness and
UDaverageness [die Tugendpmligu_.1IdImm der Tugend ihren Reir. des Seltenen,
des Unnochahmlichen, des AJIstuJhmsweise und untbArchschnittl- ihren
<<aristokratischen 2'4ubu» ]••."
33 It is important to note that Nietzscbe's many disparaging references ta the
majority as "the herd," "the people," ~. are not Ineant as designatiODS of a specifie
sociological categoIy like Maa's proletariat. While Nielzscbe is c1early œferring ta


a majority of the popu1ace, lie does DOt tbeœby exempt those in politically and
economically advanlageous cimzmstanres of"berdish" status. As wc sha11 sec in
Chapter VIn, NielZSChe recogDises herd-like qnalities among many members of
actna!ly existing European aristoaacies.

46
• strong system of mass education, ete.), is, in Nietzsche's eyes, ta commit the error
ofgeneralisation [generalisiren] "where generalisation is impermissible" (BGE
198). TlUth can oever he the property of that unhealthy, dcdining fraction of

bumankind, the weak-minded "heId".


The assertion common in the secondaIy literatuIe that Nietzsche equates

"dogmatism" with the tenets of metaphysical dU3Jism is com:ct, but incomplete; he


also identifies oogmatism with the "secret desire ••• ta he a lIUth for everyman.•.

One bas ta set rid of the bad taste ofwanting ta he in agreement with many." (BOE
43)34 When ZaIathustra declazes before the so-called "higher men": "1 am a law
oo1y for iny kind, 1 am no law for all" (Z IV LS), he does not mean, as Nebamas
and others would have il, that bis "laws" are strictly idiosyncratic and say nothing at
aIl about the wood as such. On the contrary, as 1 argued above, Nietzsche makes

Zarathustra propound what he takes ta he important truths about the human


condition and the natural world a;; a whole. These truths. however, are not "for all"
in that they cannot he appredatrrl or wholly em1n'al;ed by C\IeIYOne.
The trutÏJ. and lœowledge embraccd by the highest sort is far from
"disinteIested" or "neutra1"; tIue knowledge is a1ways inemicably bound up with
the practical pursuits of those in possession of il. "Irttetptetation," as Nietzsche

succinctly pots il, ois itself a means ofbecoming master of something " (WP 643)
NussbaJ!!D rlghtly points out that Nietzsche believes "all our cognitive activity,
including logical œasoning, including the abstracting and genemlizing tendencies.
are ••• ways in which wc tty ta master the wood and ta make ourselves secu:re in
iL" (Nussbaum 1991: 95) When N"JetzSclIe makcs Z8rathustm say that bis "will ta
power" waJks with the feet of the enligblened man's will ta lIUth (Z II 080), he


34 "...Es muS ihnen wïderden Stolz gehn, auch wider den Gescbmack, wenn ilue
Wahdleit garnoch cine Wahdleit filr Jedennann sein soU: was bisher dergeheime
Wunsch und Hintersinn aller dogmatischeD Bemebongen war••• Man muS den
sch1echten Gescbmack von sich abtun, mit Vielen übcreinstimmen zu wollen."

47
• means to suggcst that cognitive activity is, first and foremost, a tool of the
ascendant or healthy man's efforts at exerting mastely over the world: "In knowing
and understanding [Erkennen], tao," insists Zarathustra, "1 fecl only my will's
delight in begetting and becoming [meines Wlllens Zeuge-1IlId Werde-Lust)•••" (Z
TI OBI) Those human capacities which we invoke in the search for truth and
knowledge, sensation [Sinn] and cognition [Geist), are but the "instruments and
toys" [Werk-1IlId Spie1zeuge] enlisted towards this end (Z 1ODB). A fine
snmmation of Nietzsche's position is found in the following NachùJss fragment:
"the measure of the desire for knowledge depends upon the measure to which the

will to power grows in a species: a species grasps a certain amount of Iea1ity in


order to become master ofil, in arder to press it into service." (WP 480)35
1bere is a great deal of IeSistance among Nietzsche commentators to this

suggestion that Nietzsche associarcd the highest form of truth with the pragmatic
aims of certain, select individuals. Schacht, for example, assumes that Nietzsche

maltes a hierarchical distinction between a lower-Ievel "truth" of a non-cognitive,


relativistic varlety ("truth" in the sense ofbeing more "lifc.enbancing" or agEeClIble
psychologically to certain types ofpeople), and truth in the (higher) cognitive and
objective sense ofbeing "less distorting and more faithful to the natuIe of that

which is interpreted than Clthers." (1983: 7; also 74-5) A version ofSchacht's


distinction is also maintained by Kanfmann and Wam:n, each ofwhom insisting
that Nietzsche scoms any and every pragmatiç approach to tnrth (Kanfmann 1974:

360; Waaen 1988: 93).

This distinction admittedly beaIs out with Iespect ta Nielzsche's treatment of


that which the "lower ordcrs" consider true: in this case, he does sec a disjunction

between that which œndcrs a lower order ofIife easier (the so-caJled "truths" of the

• 3S "_das MaS des Erkennenwolieus hlIngt ab von dcmMaS des Wacbsens des
Willens zur Macht der Art: cine Art ergreift 50 viel Reali1llt, um Ilber sie Herr zu
werden, um sie in Dieust zu nehmen."

48
• herd, referrcd 00 as "life-preserving en:ors" -lebenerhaltenden Irrtümer - in GS
110) and that which is authentically true: "A bellef, however necessary it may be

for the preservation of a species, bas nothing 00 do with truth..." (WP 487)36 The
majority, according 00 Nietzsche, tend 00 avoid inconvenient truths that would be
"harmful and dangerous" 00 them "00 the highest degree" (BGE 39), for 00 fully
embrace them would entait wholesale changes in their lives that they unwilling and

unable to countenance.
However, with respect 00 Nietzsehe's views of himself and thase he considers
like bimself- the highest order of hllmankind - Schacht's distinction breaks down,
for Nietzsche sees the (undistorted) dispositions and viewpoints of a truly
aristocratie, life-affirming class of higher men to be wholly in line with truth in

Schacht's second, cognitive sense.37 To argue that Nietzsche a1ways holds truth to
be separable in principle from the affirmation ofa particular life-fonn is 00 fall inOO

the eaor ofassnming that he believes truth 00 be S(lDlC':tbing neutra1, above and

beyond ail particular life-forms and tables of values. But as we have just seen,
Nietzsche posits an objective truth that is also embodied in one human life-forrn (in
the sense that only the mernbers of this life-forrn can pen:eive and live by it).38

Indced, N"1elZSChe believes that ownership of truth is 50 securely in the bands of

the higbest sort of bllman being as 00 warrant bis playing with il, twisting it as he

36 Sec also WP 172, 2SS, 483.


37 1 emphasize "undistot1cd" becanse Nietzsche is DOt cornmitted 00 the view that
higher ]mman beings are a1ways and in every c:iraJDlWUlce pœseS50ES oftruth. We
sha11 see 1aler that N"ietzsche readily admits that superlor types in bis age are, for the
most part, living in eaor, and DCed 00 be dIawn toward the truth by ~meonelike
bimseJI. who (he believes) bas ov=me eaor. Niet?Sche attends 00 them, and
only them, because he feels that this minority bas the potential for truth, unlike the
ever-self-dcluding majority.
38 Leiter correc:tly identifies Nietzsehe's episternology as "pluralistic and
hieœrchical." Wheœas N"1elZSChe sees the vast majority - the "weak" - as
po ssess ing inteleSts and DCeds that pEeVeDt them from seeing reality as it is, the

• "strong" minority are said 00 possess the right sort of CODStitutive intcrests and
DCeds lhat aIlow them to know (and embrace) the "teaible truth." (Leiter 1994: 346-
7) For Nietzsehe's understanding of wby this truth is "teaible", see below.

49
• sees fit with "mendacious innocence" in the manner of Socrates' "noble lie" [edlen
liigen] (Z IV S).39 The highest sort is someone for whom "the lie is sanctified and
the will 10 deception bas a good conscience" (GM Ill.25) precisely becallse he is in
sucb confident possession of it. In the bands of the highest sort, lying may even he
compatible withjusti= "[t]o him who wants to he just from the very heart," claims
Zarathustra, "even a lie becomes philanthropy [Menschen-Freundlichkeit]." (Z 1
OAB) By contrast, thase not in possession of the truth - the vast majority - can
only he slaves to wbat they believe to he true; i.e. they fee\ obliged to
indiscriminately "speak the truth" regardless of the worth oftheir utterance or the
consequences. As Zarathustra suggests, "inability to lie is far from being love of
truth [Ohnmacht ZJ,lT liige ist lange noch nicht liebe ZJ,lT Wahrheit] ..• He who
cannot lie does not know wbat truth is." (Z IV OHM 9)40
&cause "the service of truth is the bardest service" (AC 50), Nietzsche
constantly reiterates, it remains the purview ofa minority. "To he lIUthful [Wahr
sein]- few carl do it!" (Z m ONL 7) The lIUth !bat Nietzsche feels impe11ed to tell is
so diflicult to swa\low becanse it is harsh and unappealing: "the lIUth speaks out of
me. - But my truth is dreadfu1 [redet aus mir die WahrheiL - Aber meine Wahrheit
;s.furchlbar]•••" (EH "Destïny" 1) Elsewhere he describes the 1IUths !bat must he
told as "plain, harsh, ugly, repellent, unchristian, immoral" (GM 1:1; sec also GM
L16, 17; BGE 202, 228; EH "GM"), and declares !bat the value of a human life is
measuIed by "how much truth can a spirit bear, how much 1IUth can a spirit

39 The use of the masculine pronoun is, bcre and elsewhere, de\iberate. In
Chapter IX1 will argue against œcent feminist readingc: ofNi~ !bat he does
indcM seC (certain types of) men as the higbest cxcmplars of the hnman species,
although he acconis to (certain types of) women a noteworthy honourable mention.
40 Sec also GM m19: "Our educated people oftoday, our 'good people,' do not
tell lies - !bat is truc; but tbat is 1IOt to their aedit! A xeallie. a genuine, resolute,
'honest'lie (on whose value one shonld consult Plato) wouId he something far tao


seveIe and patent for them..." Kanfmann's insistenœ tbat "Nietzscbe bad the
greatest scom for [the noble lie]_" (1974: 326), while revelatory ofKanfmann's
efforts al putting a respectable Enligbtenment face on N1CtZSCbe, is DOt home out by
the texmal evidence.

50
• tiare•.." [Wieviel Wahrheit ertrllgt. wieviel wagt ein Geist?) (EH Forward 3) What
is so difficult about these harsh truths, and why, in NielZSChe's view, are so few

capable of facing tbem direcl1y?

The Cowardly Lies of Slave Morality

Nietzsche argues that the vast majority - the "good" people [die Gwen), as he
sometimes refers to them - could not embrace the truth of the nonexistence ofany
Gad, aftcr-life or higher plane ofexistence, for their belief in these nonentities

undergirds their lives and he1ps them make sense of their worldly suffering. "Good
men never tell the truth," he daims, for the condition of their existence

[ExistenzbedinglU/gen) ois the lie -: expressed differently, the desire not ta see al

any price what is the fundamental constitution of reality••." (EH "Destiny" 4) He


speaks, for example, of the Gennans' "most inherent cowardice in the face of
reality, which is also cowardice in face of tIUth.••" (EH "CW" 2)41
'Ibese cowardly lies of the majority are seen, then, as different in kind from the

"noble lies" of the few; whereas the falsehoods of the virtuous are landed as a sort
ofplayfulness undcrgirded by an absolute master of the tIUtb, those of the many are
looked down upoD as the scarcely willful, patbetic responses of servile types who
have Dot the sttength ofcharacter ta look an intriDsically fearl'ul reality in the eye.

In other words, the weak, cowardly majority lie out of necessity; they must falsify
reality.

41 "[IJhrer innedichsten Feigheit var der Realjtllt, die auch die Feigheit var der
Wahrheit ist._" Compare Wmren's suspiciously reassuring suggestion that
Nielzsche decms an inlapteta!Ϝ adequate ta the extent that it "empowers" ils
holder and proponent: "an iutetptetation must he kgitimDle in œrms ofhistorical
expcrience, the 'testimony of the senses' It must _ become an clement of
practice, and produce effects pemlitting a self-inteq»:eta!Ïon of agency - a 'feeling of


power.'" (Wmren: 98) Nietzsche would deem this subjectivist reading, which
comp1etely ignores Nietzsche's great stress on RDngordnuug. obscencly
indiscriminate. Far froID wanting ta "empower" everyone, Nietzsche identifies as
true and noble the interpretations and actions of oo1y a select few.

51
• As we have seen, Nietzsche rejects the notion that the universe is (a) meaningful

apart from human agency and (b) organised aceording to categories of ethical

valuation that cannot he attnbuted to the inventiveness of humankind. Neither the


idea ofinherent meaning and moral sense in the natural wood nor the voluntarist

notion of a transcenr.lent Deity who bestows meaning holds any water for
Nietzsche, who traces all eategories of meaning back to the aeative imagination of
human agents.42 He claims that the popu1ar, cowardly reluctanee to embrace the
human origin of meaning and ethics aceounts (at least in part)43 for the origin of
slave morality and its difference from any self-zespecting noble morality.
Nietzsche suggests that being forced to come to terms with the "artificiality" of
all fonDS of morality in a forthright, honest manner would lead a 1=, servile sort

of man "to nallsea and suicide." (GS 107) Confronting the nonexistence of extemal
sources and the absence ofany other-worldly xedemption after mortality, believes
Nietzsche, would utterly crush him. Life, for such a disillusioneci, weary soul,
would "he felt to he undesirable, valueless in itseif"; it would he "crusbed beneath
the weight ofcontempt..•" (BT "Attempt" 5) Such a man, who finds bis life of

deprivation and suffering difficult to hear and is destitutc of the internaI IeSOlJl'ceS
neeessmy for a l110Ie affiImative, optimistic stance. tends to push aside the truth (as
Nietzsche sees it) and craves rather a mythical, external SOUlCe of validation of bis
existence.

42 Nielzsche's secnJar bnmanism cao he seen as downstteam of the Judaeo-


Onistian tradition and its modem, smùar otrspring in bis ïntcnsification of the
early-modem tendency to transfer the powerful, Judaco-OIristian voJnntarist
discourse from God to hnmankind Whcœas in the religions, monotheistic
worldviews God is the SOUlCe of all meaning and value, in a smùar vollmtarist
perspective lilœ that ofHobbes, the SOUlCe is transfeaed to hnmanîty. A very
useful and impo.t1aDt discussion of the origins ofvol'mtarism in the Westcm
tradition is found m James Tully 1993: 179-241.


43 As we shall see in Chaptcr V, NielzSCbe also traces the origins ofbeliefin God
or tl'llDsceodenta1, other-worldly forces to the inability of the servile persona1ity type
to find a SOUlCe of diIectiOD from within. Slave morality, in other words, is seen as
stcmming from both moral cowardice lIIId a lack of self-sufficiency.

S2
• Hence the origin, amongst the needy, un-self-sufficient majority, of
transeendental, religious worldviews and ascetic practices which "siam shut" the
door to "ail suicidai nibilism" by providing a supposedly extema11y-grounded
inlelpret3.tion for human existence and suffering and the hope ofredemption (GM
m.28).44 "It was suffering and impotence [Unvermagen]," claims Zarathustra,

that created a11 afterworlds..J Weariness, which


wanlS to reach the ultimate with a single leap, even a
death-leap [Todessprunge], a peor ignorant
weariness reine arme unwissende Müdigkeit], which
no longer wanlS even to want: that created a11 gods
and afterworlds. (Z 1OAW)4S
Even post-religious philosophica1 constructs,like Kant's Kingdom ofEnds, are
rooted in this same, insecure need "to render the 'moral realm' lInassailable.••" (D
Pref. 3) "It is suffering that inspires these conclusions," reiterates Nietzsche in the
Nm:hlass. "[F]undamenta11y they are desires that such a world should exïsL. To
imagine another, more valuable world is an expression ofhatred for a world that
makes one suffer•••" (WP 519) Driven by suffering, hatred and fcar, such desiIe
for extemal valuation of mora1ity lead 10 flighlS of metaphysica1 fancy and spurious,
dualistic constructions pitting a supposedly higher, transcendent realm ofBeing
against an "apparent," transitoIy wor1d of human life that invariably comes out
second best. "Reality bas been deprived ofilS value, ilS meaning, ilS veracity,"

44 NussballID traces the drive 10 find an extra-hllIDan status for our mora1 values
back 10 Plato and the pre-Socratics. 'Ibis etrort "providcd a justification for the
hardness and lnvio1ability that people wished 10 associl!lJ': with the decpest ethical
œquirements. The view implied, among ether things, that tbese IequiremenlS could
never be set aside or annu11ed by hmnan action. It also means that our most
fimdamenta1 ethical re1aIionship is DOt 10 UDStlIble entities such as persans and city,
but 10 somethingfirmerthanany ofus-" (Nussbamn 1986:401) Ironica1ly,
Nietzsche is guilty of the same 1'CCOUl'SIC 10 extemaJly-grounded intapletation that he
(and NussballID) aiticise, when he claims that bis ethic ofexpansion and


domination is rooted in the "fact.. that life itself is Will 10 Power. Mme will be said
on this point in Chapters II and IlL
45 Sec also WP S86c:: "it is the instinct oflife-weariness. and not that oflife,
which bas created the 'other wor1d.... Sec also 11 RIP 6.

53
• insists Nietzsche, "to the same degree as an ideal world bas beenjabricaled.....46
(EH Forward 2)

Given Nietzsehe's 1'ropensity to trace inte1lectua1 positions back. to questions of

character and disposition (see Chapter ID). it should come as no surprise that bis
criticism of this supposed web offabrication is insepaIable from bis disparaging
assessment of those who allow themselves to be caught in il. Just as some
1'hiloso1'hers need their 1'hiloso1'hy as "a 1'[01'" or "a sedative" (OS Pref. 2). so do
servile people in general need to flee the truth about reality and take refuge in the
comforting lie:

Recognition. affirmation of reality [Die Erlœnntnis.


dDs Jasagen ZUT Realitlit] is for the strong man [den
Starken] as great a necessity as is for the weak man
[den Schwachen]. under the inspiration ofweakness,
cowardice and flight in the face of reality - the
·ideal·... They are not at liberty to know: décadents
need the lie - it is one of the conditions of their
existence [Erhaltungs-Bedingungen]. (EH "BT" 2)
This passage clearly suggeslS that the false and unhealthy beliefs he1d by the
"weak" must be accounted for by something much deeper than an ill-advised,

easily-IerQC'<Iied decision to embIace a set of false theorles. Were the latter the case,
the weak and unhealthy cou1d presnmab\y become stronger and bealtbier by being

weaned from the false belief systems and encouraged to embIace views more in line
with the tlUe state of things. For Nietzsche, however, this is simply inconceivable.
The vulgar majority·s embIace offa1sehood and illusion is seen as a symptom ofa
much more dcep1y-rooted state of affairs - the mean state of'their souls, the base

quality oftheir desiIes - and as sucb cannot he brolœD. Any efforts.at cbanging
their pattems ofbeliefor desiIe are doomed to failllIe, as NJetzscbe·s Zarathustra

46 "Man had die Realjtllt in dem Grade um ihre:n Wert, ihre:n Sinn, ihIe
Wahrbafligkeitgedncbt, aIs maneineidea1 Welterlog_." Cf. WP461: "[M]an


seeks a principle tbrough which he cao despise men - he invents a wodd so as to be
able to slander and bespatter this wodcL" See also EH "Destiny" 8: "The concept
'the Beyond', 'Ieal wodd' invented so as to deprl.ve ofvalue the only wood whicb
exists - so as to leave over no goal, no reason, DO task for our earth1y œality!"

54
• lcams in the Prologue 10 T1uJS Spoke ZDrathustra, where his vision of the
Obermensch is ridiculed and his dark portrait of the "last man" enthusiastically
embraced.
Nietzsche holds out a great deal more hope for the cultivation of nobility in
those already posscssing sound, healthy instincts. This is not 10 say that he
believes those posscssing a lofty SetlS1"ility are thereby safely innoculated from
grave error in the moral sphere, and predestined, regardless of the manner of their
upbringing and life experiences, to lead wholly praiseworthy lives. Indeed, as wc .
shall sec in Chapter IV. Nietzsche believes the majority ofhis (essentially healthy)
cohorts to be tragically caught up in the false consciousness of worldviews and
beliefs that go against the grain of their basic characters. Ifthis false consciousness
were 10 be transcentjed, howcver. N"1ClZSChe believes that an essentially noble

sensibility could come 10 shine through. In the absence of false consciousness,


theïr courage47 and "adventure and joy in the unknown, the nnattempted" [Lust am
Ungewissen, am Ungewagten] (Ibid.) would allow them 10 revel in their own
creativity and 10 ctiSTT!iss all transcendental dogma; evezything would be
transformed, in their eyes, "into the humanly-conceivable, the hnmanly-evident, the

humanly-palpable" [Menschm-DenkbcJru, Menschm-Sichtbares. Menschm-


FIJ1rJbares] (Z n OBI).

In this chapter 1argued that Nietzsche is very serious about the concept of truth
despite his treneban~ critique of"Truth" (as the concept is used in metaphysical
dna}igt perspectives). 1suggested thatNietzsehe. when atlcllqdiag 10 provide his
own, ttue 8CCOUI1t ofvarious states of affaiJ:s, prlzes clarity and precision, rather

• 47 zarathustra, in speaking ofbimself and bis imagined ciIcle of equals, declares


that whcreas the weak are 1èarful of the UDCertainties and cling 10 the comforting
certitude of Gad and religion, "lear - is the exception with us." (Z IV OS)

55
• !han ambiguity and indeterminacy. Furthermore. and perhaps most

counterintuitively. 1 argucd that Nietzsche sees bis own truth-claims as bath


pexspectival and objective; while he readily adroits that they represent a particular•.
anthropomorphic point of view (bis own). he also insists that they imaginatively
talœ into account many different, one-sidcd positions, thus providing an objectively

superior view of the phenomena in question. FmaUy. 1attemptcd to argue that the
particular point of view that is most likely. in Nietzsehe's eyC"S, to acccde to the
status of objective truth is that of a superior type human heing. i.e. a point of view

held by a memher ofthe minority that Nietzsche considers to represent (at least
potentiaUy) aU that is admirable and exemplary in the human species.
The suggestion that Nietzsche considers truth to he the "property" of an
exceptionally gifted minority does not mean, however. that he sees aU memhers of
that minority at any given time as possessors of a true, undistortcd account of

themselves and the wodd around them. On the contrary. as we notcd in the
Introduction and as we shaU see in greater detail in Chapters IV- vm. Nietzsche
finds those of noble sensibility in the modem wodd (himseJfexceptcd) under the

insidious. powerful influen~ ofa slave morality that prevents them from
recognising the truth that is potentially within tbeir grasp. A large part of bis task
involves attempting to Cree these confuscd souls from this false consciousness.
BefOte moving on, however.1O an investigation ofNietzsehe's understanding

of the essentially "noble sensibility" ofbis pri\i1eged minority. and 10 a detailcd


analysis ofbis project of moral-spiritual reseue, we still have some further
groundwork ta do. For although it may now he conceded that N'letZSCbe is serious
about trutb, it is far from obvious, at this stage, that he is serious about the notion
of moral truth. Is not Nietzsehe's avowed aim, after an. the debunking and


overthrow of "morality"? That the author of Beyond Good andEvil is operating
onder a moral-normative imperative ofsome sort bas thus far been simply assertcd

56
• and assumed; it bas yet ta be argued. 1bis argument, which involves an
assessment of Niet2Sche's complex twlttnent of the concept of morality, forInS the
subject of the next cbapter.

• 57
• Chamer Di Nietzschean Moralitv and Moral PbilOSQphy

The Alleged Overcoming of Morality

If truth-claims in general are to be ruled out of orcier as dogmatic and thus

potentially and dangerously authoritarian, this must be so to an even greater extent


with respect to truth-c1aims in the realm of ethics or morn1ity. At least tris is the
vi.:w of those who claim that Nietzsche's alleged status as an "amoral" thinker - a
status that is more often !han not taken for granted rather !han argued - is a logical
extension ofhis critique of metaphysica1 dogmatism. One of the most eloquent and
influential exponents of this vie.... is Nehamas. "The most crucial flaw he
(Nietzsche] finds in the interpretation that produces moral values," claims
Nebamas, "is the fact that moral valuation is essentially absolutist" (1985: 209; see
also 121; 223)

Beca"se Nehamas associates terms like "morn1ity" and "ethics" with rigid sets
ofprescriptive rules and maxims which in tum point towards a (non-exÏStent)
pristine realm ofTruth, he refuses to countenance the possibility that Nietzsche
makes claims of a moral-ethica1 nature. Nietzsche, insists Nehamas, refrains from

"o.ffer[mg] any descriptions of what an idea1 persan or an idea1life would be like"


(Ibid.., 8). "[A]ny effort to attribute to Nietzsche a positive view ofhuman conduct,

consisting perhaps ofa description of the right kind oflife or ofa set of principles
for becoming the sort ofperson he admires," he forewarns, "is bound to fail."

(Ibid.) Nehamas belittles the significance of Nietzsche's use of the expressions like

"master morality" (Herren-moral) and "noble mora1ity" (vomehme Moral),

implying that their appear.mces in the texts are too infrequent to be taken seriously
(Ibid., 254). He prefers to use a more neutral, less "moral"-sounding phrase of his

• 58
• own design - "noble mode of valuation" - whieh he repeatC'4ly invokes when
alluding ta NielZSChe's conception of nobility (e.g. Ibid.. 111; 126; 206).
As we noted in OJapter 1, Nehamas believes that Nietzsehe embraces
subjectivism in order ta escape from dogmatism; NielZSChe's "lIUths" are said ta be
"true" only in the (very limited) sense that they are presented authentically and

honest1y as bis own. without reference to anyone else or ta any sense ofobjectivitj·.
When Nebamas asserts that Nietzsehe presents "a view as true, by which one cao

live, without also presenting it as a view that is true necessarily. by whieh all must
live..." (Ibid.• 36). he appears ta assume that Nietzsehe's writings are meant to be
exclusively self-referential and idiosyncratic.! We cao see how weil this
subjectivism fits with Nehamas's account ofNietzsehe's alleged amoralism. For
Nebama s • Nietzsche presents himself ta the reader as a "specifie and idiosyncratie"
(Ibid., 233) literary character whose way of Iife and table of values are uniquely

bis, incapable ofbeing imitated (Ibid.. 4).2 This character. ratherthan beingput

forward as an exemplar, is "bath someone we cao admire and someone we need not
want to be." (Ibid., 39) When faœd with Nietzsehe's substantive (and, 1 will argue
be1ow, general) ethical cIaims about what it means ta lead a flourishing human life,
Nebamas cao onIy ignore or be1ittle these as "vague and banal" rules ofthumb
(Ibid., 226) oflittle consequence wben compared ta Nietzsehe's admirable,

idiosyncratie self-exemplification.
According ta this "amoral" strain of the Dew orthodoxy, as exemplified by
Nehamas. Nietzsche tums ta the celebrared technique ofgenealogy primarily ta

1 Detwiler shares Nehamas' view that the aitique ofmetaphysical dmjtism implies
a reducliOD of ethical discourse ta subjectivist self«pxessi.m: "As a result of the
col)apse of the transcendent inta the puxely physiological and psycbological, man
DOW comes c10sest ta the 'tntth' wben he expresses himself most authentically."
(DetwiIer 1990: ISS) -


2 A Iather ironie convergence ofviews occurs between Nehamas and Allan Bloom.
Although Bloom is inteJ:estcd in denouncing rather than ce1ebrating Nietzsehe's
alleged subjectivism (see Bloom 1987), bath he and Neinlmas embIace the view
that Nietzsehe's outlook is subjectivist.

S9
• debunk ail moral schemata. Nietzsche is said to conduet his genealogical
investigations from a morally-neutral vantage poilit that treats ail ethical frameworks
- including whatever ethical positions he may have toyed with from time-to-time -
as supezSlXuetural. At base, it is cJaimed, Nietzsche envisions an amoral, chaotic
void, out of which emerges an incommensurable and irreducible plurality of
moralities, each ofwhich claiming (dogmatically, and hence illegitimately) to
represent ultimate, absolute, universal Meaning or Truth. Genealogy is descn1led
as a limited, inhereDtly negative enterprise designed to prepaœ the terrain for an
overthrow of ail ethical frameworlcs through the unmasking of thdr intt:rested,
oppIeSSive origins (see, for example, Strong 1988: 13; 91). Nietzsehe's
genealogy, limited as it is to exposing "the errors and prejudices macic in the past",
is focused not on proposing a new, "better" morality, but rather on annihilating
morality altogether (Ibid., 39; see 99).

Nietzscl1e's Morality vs. "Morality"

According to authors like Nebamas, the claim that Nietzsche is dealing primarily
in ethics must be dismissed as preposterous in light ofNietzsehe's self-dec1ared
"amoral" debllIlking of ail morality. This claim appears more plausible, however,
if, in an exercise similar to the one used in the previous chapter with respect to

truth, we attempt to differentiate Nietzscbe's nmow, specia1ised use of the term

"morality" from the standpoint of bis broadly-defined ethicalWeltanschauung. This


exen:ise is inspiIed by BernaId Williams, who, in a m:ent study,looked at.

"morality" as a speciaHsed theoretica1 suIHystem within amore broadly-conceived,


mu1tifaceted universe ofethica1 discourse that is characterised by a plurality of
answers to the crucial Socratic question (the penuItimate question of ethics): "how

• ought 1to live?" (Williams 1985) Williams argues that we cm use the couceptuaI,
nonnative resources of the ethica1 universe (50 defined) in arder to criticise those

60
• internaI sub-systcms of "moraIity" !bat may he based upon questionable
metaphysical premises.
Alas. Nietzsche does not always follow Williams' useful semantic distinction.

often employing the tcrm "moraIity" confusingly in both a pejorative sense and in a
positive, non-ironic manner to denote bis own position. Whereas bis invocation of
morality in a pejorative sense is well-known, Nietzsehe's xepeated description of
bis own position as a morality of some sort is often overlooked. Among the many
examples of the latter usage is the following comment from bis 1886 pxeface to
DaybreaJc "in this book faith in morality is withdrawn - but why? Out of
moraIity! [Aus Moralitiit.'] Or what else should we call !bat which informs it - and

us?" (D PIef. 4) lJl a similar spirit, the following famous passage from Beyond

Good and Evil clearly iDdicates the possibility of more than one morality. with

Nietzsche taking the side of the "higher" against the "lower". dominant variety:
Morality [Moral) is in Europe today herd-animal
morality [Herdentier-Moral] - that is to say. as we
understand the thing. ooly one kind of human
morality beside which, before which, after which
many other. above all higher. moralities [Mhere
MM~]~~~~oo~tobe~~~$œ
202; emphasis in the original. Cf. BGE 260)
The same idea is found in theNach1ass ("Morality itself. in the form ofhonesty [ais
Redlichkeit]. compels us to deny monllity." WP 404).3 and reappears in aquati-
religious f~ in 71UIS Spoke Zarathustra: "I love him who cbastises bis God
because he loves bis God [lch liebe den, wekher seinen Gott zi1chtigt, wei! er

3 Sec also WP 268: "Two types of morality (7)pen der Moral] must not he
coDfused: the morality with which the hcalthy instinct [der gesund geblïebene
lnstinkr] cicfeDds itself llg8ingt incipicnt decadence [déœdmce]- and anothcr
morality reine andere Moral] with which this very decadence de6nes :mdjustifies
itselfand leads downwards." Anothcr revelatoty fragment is found in WP 317:
"One should defend virtue agaînstthepreachers ofvirtue [die Tugendgegendie
Tugendprediguvertheidigen]: they ~ its wOISt enemies." Later in this fragment

• Nietzsche refers to his bIand ofvirtue as in the style of the Rc:nai«ance "moraline-
free virtue." For Nietzscbe, as we shal1 sec, authc:ntic virtue is neither preached nor
"propagandïsed." (Ibid.)

61
• seinen Gott liebt]..... (Z Prologue 4) ln Ecce Homo Nietzsche makes a number of

persona! refetences to "his" morality; e.g. "A couple more signposts from my
morality [meiner Mo.al]" (EH "Qever" 1); "I would like to impart one more clause
of my moral code against vice [aus meinem Moral-Koda gegen das Lasru]" (EH
"Books" 5).

Blondel pen:eptively notes the influence on Nietzsche of a recognisably French


moraliste tradition that, from Montaigne and La Rochefoucauld to nineteenth-
century novelist like Stendhal, tumed away from sanctimonious preaclûng to focus

on mapping "a pol1Iait of mo.-es [moeurs] ... onto the hnman condition in general."
(Blondel 248: 336) Nietzsche clearly uses the term "moralist" in this French sense
when he asks, "Is a moralist not the opposite ofa Puritan? '!bat is to say, as a
tbjnker who regards morality as 50rnething questionable, as worthy ofquestion-
marks, in short as a problem? Is moraIizing Dot - immoral?" (BGE 228)4

Similarly in WP 981, Nietzsche declares that his goal is "not to preach moralityS to
them in any form..•; but to create conditions that nquire strongermen who for

their part need, and consequently will have, a morality (more clearly: a physical-
spiritual discipline) thIJt 1rIIJkes them strong! "6 Those who,like Blondel and
Nehamas. reduce the entire realm ofethics to the sort of moral preaching that
Nietzsche dcrldcs understandably conclude that Nielzsche ",",aios steadfastly

4 Cf. HAH II.2.19: "B«:allSC they disscct monility, moralists must DOW he
content to he upbraidcd as immora1ists. But he who wants to diSllect bas to kill; yet
only for the sake of better knowIedge, better judgement, better living; Dot 50 that all
the wodd sha11 start dissectïDg. UDhappily. however. people ••• confuse [the
mœalist] with the preacher of morals. The oIder moralists dissccted too little and
pœached tao much.••" (Emphasis added.) The suggestion that dissCction of
morality (m the pejorative sense) leads to "betterliving" suggests ID me that
N"1ClZSche conceives the diSS"'ding ent.crprise as an ethical-lIOI1D3tive endeavour (sec
be1ow).
5 Cf. GS 292: "To those who preat:h moraIs. - 1 do Dot wish to promote any
morality•••" .
6 1 will explGIC what Nietzsche means by "creating conditions" in Chapter VIn.
where 1 argue that N"1CtZSchc's main normative and political concem is to encourage
th=: plOper cultivation - or "breeding" - ofthe superior type ofhuman being.

62
• outside ethics. Afrr:r aIl, <Wcs not Nietzsche cJaim tbat wc make ourselves
"ridieulous" [1licherlich] wbcn wc tum to an individUlÙ and say, '''You ought to be
thus and thus' [<<sound so solltestdll sein/»]..."? (TI MAN 6) It seems to me,

however, tbat the reduetion ofethics to preacbing is unwarrantcd. As Ruth Abbey


bas =tly argued, both the carly-modern moralistes and Nietzsche (who follows

tbeir lead in this regard) criticised the moral conventions of tbeir day from a clcarly
deve10ped ethical vision of human flourishing, a vision tbat explicitly excludes the
tiresome sanctimony of moral preacbing. (Abbey 1994)7

The passages where Nietzsche presents bimselfas champion of a certain

morality are, ofcourse, more than countel:balanced by Nietzsehe's many references


to himself as "immoral" and as the gravedigget of "morality" (m the pejorative
sense). 1 wouid aIgUe. however, that bis derisive, often ironie treatment of

"morality" shouid be seen in the same Iight as bis treatment of truth; not as b1anket
rejection of ail ethical thinking and practice as such. but as part ofa broadly-based
attaek on a slave personality-type that, in Nietzsehe's view, bas unjustly
appropriated the virtue œans that by rîghts only should he used by those like
himself. When Zarathustta cries out, "Oh, you befouiers of Doble names [ihr
lJesc1tmulur edkrNomen]!" (Z n OIP). he is in effect bemoaning the debasement
of precious, inhezentJ.y-valuable vinue tenns by a plc:beian majority that
UDhesitatingly invokes them in the most distastefuIly self-rigbrmus and strident
manner.8 The word "vinue," Z8rathustra 1ater remarks, sounds "ill ... in their

7 In Chaptcr V 1 diSCIISS in some detail the nature ofNi~he'sversion of moral


"pedagogy", and argue that bis ideal pedagogue functions Dot as preacher, but
rather as eatalyst who alte"'11lS to trigger a p10cess of moral-spirilual deveiopmcnt
that must he collducœd by the "pupil" himself

• 8 Sec WP 870: "the bcst things bave becD. slandeled [verliistert] beèa'lse the weak
orthe immoderale swine have cast a bad ligbt on them - and the bcst men[die besten
Menschen] have rcmained biddcn - 2Dd bave ob misunderstood themselves."

63
• mouths." for "when they say: '1 am just' [ich hin gerechtl. it always soumis like: '1
am revenged!' [ich hin geriicht]" (Z n OV).9
Nietzsche bas a particularly sharp eye for the moral hypocrisy. the excessive
sanctimoniousness of those who have hijacked the normative vocabulary of virtue
but who remain, in bis eyes, mere pretenders to virtue. He pointedly criticises and
ridicules the "gloomy mien" of these pretenders. who ostentatiously display "the
beaving bosom" (TI MA 19). and in whom excessive moral seriousness [Ernst]
becomes "imprïnted on faces and gestures..." (GM Ill.2S) 50 eager to grasp at the
mantle of "virtue", these people "are disguised without wanting to admit il." (GS
365)

Nietzsehe·s observations on vanity [Eirelkeit] are instructive in this regard.


Although, as we sha1l sec in Chapter m, NielZSCbe identifies the potential gl'eatDess
of superior buman beings with the "artificiality" of their conduet, he tinds the
artifice of the vain persan ofan altogetber diffetent, and undesirable, mien.
Nietzsche finds a1l vain people "to he good aetors: they aet and desire that others
sha1l want to watch them - a1l their spirit is in this desire." (Z n OMP) Far from
praising this tbeatricality, NielZSCbe denounces tbeir sc1f-consciousness and
inanthenticity as hypocrisy: "There are othcr singers," zarathustra observes,
"whose voices are softened, wbose bands are cloquent, wbose eyes are expressive,
whose hearts are awakentil, only when the bouse is full: 1am not one of them." (Z
m OSG 1) N'1CtZSChe unIrashes bis most vituperalive Jbetoric at these "subtle
fabricators andaetors" [(/juejeinen Fa1schmiJnzerundSchtzuspieIer] in ZIV OHM
8, denoucing their "white-washed rottenness, c10aked with clever words, with
pretended virtues [Aushilnge-Tugtl1lden], with glittering, false dceds."lO "TlUly,

9 1bis passage seems to suggest that there is an altcmatc, more legitimatc usage of
the term "justice" that is more respectful of its true naIUre. 1mgue in 01apter IV

• that NidZSCbe &IV" 'Pts to invoke justice in this, more legitimatc sense.
10 "_ übertIIncbter WurmfraS, 1v:mlIntclt dm'ch starke Wortc, dm'ch Ansh!lnge-
Tugenden, dmch gl!lnv:nde falsche Wedœ."

64
• you filI your mouths with noble words," notes Z3rathustra in an earlier passage.
"[A]rc we supposed ta believe that your hearts are overflowing. you habitua1liars?"
(Z n OIP) The true test of virtue, for Nietzsche, is wbether a virtuous disposition

becomes manifest away from the crowd: "Do you possess courage, 0 my

brothers? Are you stout-bearted? Not courage in the presence of witnesses, but
hermits' and eagles' courage, which not even a god observes any morc?" (Z IV
OHM 4)11
Underneath the pomposjty and studied self-importance of the vain, Nietzsche
finds a profound self-loathing, as demonstratcd by their inabiliiy to find evidence of

self-worth from within. The vain man, Z3rathustra argues,


wants to learn belief in bjmself from you; he feeds
upon your glances, he cats praise out of your bands
[er friftt dos Lob aus euren Hiindt:n]J He believes
even your lies when you lie favourably to him: for
bis heart sighs in its depths: 'what am /TI And if the
virtue that is unconscious of itse1f be the true virtue
[Und Wt:7l1l dos dit: nchte Tugend ist, dit: nicht um
sich selbt:r wei,8]: well, the vain man is unconscious
ofbis modesty! (Z n OMP)
Nietzsche. of course, finds Ibis sort of "modesty," that Iefuses to countenance the
possibility ofself-va1idaIion away from the aowded IDllIketplace, pathetie.
The disguises of the vain - "the big moral words ... the rub-a~ub ofjustice,

wisdom, holiness. viItue" (GS 359) - IepIeseDt futile attempts to caver up their
deficiencies "in moralistic veIbal tinsel and valences." (BOE 23) These
observations fonn the bacltground to Nietzsche's often ironie or contemptuous
1J'e8tment ofthose he refers ta as "the viItoous" [Tug~] (e.g. Z n ov) or
"the good" (e.g. Z 1 OTM). Often misread as uepudiation of the idca ofvirtue and

momlity altogetber, Ibis coutempt or mockety is quite delibenltcIy put in the seMee
of autht:ntù: VÙ'llIe, allOWÏll6 Nietzsche to aeate a critical space between bjmselfand

• Il "N"1Cht Mut vorZeugen. sondem Eînsiedler- und Adler-Mut, dem auch hein
Gatt mehr zusieht."

6S
• an inlrinsically valuable moral vocabu1aIy that bas, aIas, been misuscd and abuscd
by the "befoulers of noble names."
1be sanctimonious befoulers bave tainted certain key virtue-tenns with specifie,
undesirable connotations. Nietzsche puIS forth "moderation" as an example of one
of the most hefouled of noble names A1though Nietzsche, as we sha1I examine in
Chapter V, follows Aristotle in wishing 10 steer a moderate course between the

exttemes of asceticism and laisser aller, bis embrace of this AristoteIian ideal is

obscured by bis steadfast refusai 10 embrace the German equivalenlS


[Geniigsamkeit, MiijJig1œil) of a notion he finds irretri~vably linked with a perverse

vaunting of mediocrity [MittelmiijJiglœit] (see Z mVMS 2). "The mediocrity of


weaker natures," he laments, "bas been confused with the moderation of the
strong!" (ViP 870) As zarathustra berates the crowd in the marlœtplace, "[i]t is Dot
your sin, but your moderation that cries 10 heaven, your very meanness in sinning
cries 10 heaven!" (Z Prologue 3)12 It becomes clear that Nietzsche associates bis
contemporaàes' calI for moderation with a contemptIble, tlabby aspiration for
comfort and ease: "they are modest even in virtue - for they want case. But only a
modest virtue is compatible with ease [Mit Behagen aber vertriigt sid. nur die
bescheidene Tugend.l." (Z m VMS 2) As a further illustration ofNietzsehe's
position, one need only think ofZllrathustra's salirlcal portrait ofthe "wise man" in
Z 1OCV. the self-procIaimed preacher of "opium virtues" [mohnblumige
Tugenden] who counse1s against sinning and indeed all forms ofrisky moral
expe1Ïmentation tw:allse they wouId he inconsistent "with good sleep." He cIaims
that accruing a gteat dea1 ofhonour for onese1f, in the manner of AristotIe's gEe3t-

souled man, would "excite spleen" 100 much, while possessing no honour al all
would make one sleep badly; the solution, concIudes the "wise man," is 10 seek out

• 12 "N"lCht cure SOnde - cure GenIlgsamkeit scIueit gen HimmeJ, euer Geiz selbst in
curerSÜDde schIeit gen Himmel!"

66
• a "moderate" (i.e. mediocre) fonn of honour: "a good name" in the cyes of the
majority.J 3
Following the jaundiced view of the majority of bllmankind associated with the
French moralist tradition of La Rochefoucauld tbrough to Benjamin Constant,
Nietzsche considers this risle-averse type of "vïrtue" a symptom of an inadequacy or
deficiency that slave morality altempts to repackage (perverseIy) as a praiseworthy
qua1ity: "[i)n truth, 1 have often Jaughed at the weaklings [Schwiichlinge) who
think themselves good because their c\aws are billOt!" (Z n OSM) In a reve1atory
fragment from the Nachlass, Nietzsche lands La Rochefoucauld for suspecting
"that 'virtue' was a pretty word rein schiines Wort) among those who could no

longer take any pleasure in vice.••" (WP 870; cf. WP 355)14 For Nietzsche, this
lowering of the horizon oflmman achievement and potential is truly a "vïrtue that
makes sma1l" [die verkleinemde Tugend) (Z m VMS 1): "_.their best is 50 very
small! lbeir worst is 50 very sma1l!" (Z m ONL 2) It is a "vïrtue" that "makes
modest and tame," turniug "the wolf into a dog and man bimself into man's best
domestic animal." (Z m VMS 2)
A closely-reJated orientation associatrd with the "1DOl'lI1i1y" package that
N"1ClZSChe wishes to repudiate is that caJcnlaring prudence or clevemess [Klugheit)
which he often treats as a cowardly hedging ofhets among those who are tao weak
to confront their enemies directly. "They are often kind to you," suggests
zarathustra to bis imaginaty noble interlocutor, "but that bas always been the
prudence of the cowardly [die Klugheit der Feigen). Yes. the cowardly are
prudent'" (ZIOFM) "Fuodarnentally," he observes latcr, "thcywantone thing

. 13 N;ettsebe repeats this critique of "moderation" in Z mONL 2.


14 Sec also Z nov: "... with others, their vices grOw Jazy and they ca1l that vïrtue
[antlre gibt es, die heifJen Tugend dos FOll1werr:len ihrer Laster]•••" Compare La


Rochefoucauld, Mtaimes CCCVID: "On a fait une vertu de la modération, pour
borner l'ambition des grands hommes ct pour consoler les gens m6:1iocres de leur
peu de fortune ct de Ieurpeu de nâire." On the iDfluence of La Rochefoucauld on
Niettsebe, sec Abbey (1994).

67
• mast of all: that nobody shal1 do them harm. So they steal a march on everyone and
do goOO to everyoneJ This, however. is cowardù:e [Feigheit]: although it be cal1ed
·virtue.... (Z mVMS 2) These are the ones, 1believe. to whom Zarathustra is
referring when he mentions those "who sit in their swamp and speak thus from the
rushes: 'Virtue - that means to sit quietly in the swampJ We bite nobody and avoid
him who wants to bite: and in everything we hold the opinion that is given us"" (Z
II OV) Moreover, as we shal1 see in Chapter IV. Nietzsche also reserves the tenn
Klugheit for the "ingenious". albeit unhealthy.life-calumniating inventiveness of
the ascetic priests, the ideologues of slave morality.15
Although Nietzsche believes that virtue terms ought to belong in the bands of
the select few. he suggests that the aforementioned regrettable plebeian
contaminations should make those interested in authentic virtue suspicious of them.
To allow oneself10 use a vocabulary claimed by the herd is to risk being mistaken
for a berd-animal Zarathustra notes bis disciples' desire to cal1 their virtue "by a
Dame and caress it," but cautions that in succumbing 10 this temptation they now

"have its name in common with the people and have come of the people and the
herd.••" (Z 1 OJP) The berd-animal. i.e. the nominally "goOO" people [den Guten].

he observes elsewhere, oflen call the "noble man" [Edler] good "in arder to make

away with him [beiseite bringen]." (Z 1 OTM) Renee the neeci to hold the language

15 Zarathustra's contrast of mean-spirited clevemess of those "inventive in small


slynesses" [kleinen Schlauheiten] with noble simplicity in Z II OS is illustrative.
We should remernberthatjust as with bis ttea'lliMt of moderation, Nietzsehe·s
critique ofcowardly or crafty "prndence" should not be taken as evidence that he
dispenses altogether with notions ofpnldenee. Jndeed, 1would argue that
Nietzsehe's critique of many aspects of the "morality" package is rooted in an
Aristotelian conception ofpracticaI wisdom [Phnmesis]. For Ntetzsehe, the
language of "morality" reveaIs a 1ack of phronesis in its users, whose 1ack of
innate, discriminating ability andjudgement compel them 10 deve10p moral systems
stressing inflexible, universaI rules that are, in princip1e, accessible 10 everyone.
Those who take these iron-clad rules seriously. claims Nietzsche, attempt 10

• compt'Iisate for their inability to judge weil in particular contexts by living their lives
on automatic pilot, 50 to speak: they are "lilœ household clocks wound op; they
repeat their tick-toek and want people to cal1 tïck-tock - virtue." (Z II OV)

68
• of virtue at arms-Iength. 10 ridicule and parody them when necessa'Y. Declaring
!bat "like aD creators, 1 have grown weary of the old lOngues," (Z n CM)

Zarathustra daims !bat bis mockery aims at blowing away aD "mouldered words"

[vennoderte Wortel (Z m 55 2).16 The truly virtuous, Nietzsche insists, perform


their deeds "without noise, without ostentation, with !bat modesty and coDcealmeot

ofgoodness which forbids the mouth 50lemn words and thc formulas ofvirtue."
(BGE 216) Hence bis empassioned appeal- through Zarathustra - to bis irnagined
kindred spirits to "let [their] virtue be too exalted for the farnmarity of names." (Z 1
OJP)17

Nietzsche, however, is unable 10 escape the vocabu1aIy of virtue completely,


and indeed expends great energy 3ttempting 10 wrench it away from the grasping,
plebeian bands !bat have sullied il. Truly virtuous individuals, Nietzsche suggest5,
know the true meaning ofvirtue terms, and ought 10 begin to invoke them in a
"new speech" [neue Retie] (Z n CM) !bat serves litè: "Good and cvil, and rich and
poor, and noble and mean [hoch und gering], and aD the names of the virtues: they

16 "Ifl must be compasSÎonate [mitleidig]," Zarathustra inSÎsts, "1 still do Dot waat
10 be ca11ed compassionate." (Z n OC)
17 Nietzsche also proposes another argument for being W3'Y ofvirtue terms. Even
ifwe assume !bat they have DOt been iIIevocably tainted by the herd, pœcocious use
ofthem may, he suggests, seriously damage onc's virtue: "Even the grand words,
the grand attitudes must be guaIded against! AlI ofthem xepresent a danger !bat the
instinct will 'understand itse1f' too carly..." (EH "C1ever" 9) PIecocious self-
consciousness, in other words, might easily lead 10 the vain self-regaId 50
characleristic of the servile personaL~ !bat would destroy the bealltiful,
unconscious innocence ofthose whose sou! is 50 "overfull" !bat they "forget"
themselves (Z Prologue 4). CompaIe .Aris:otle's inSÎstellce in the N'u:omochean
Ethics !bat the study of moral and politica1 philosophy should be limited 10 older
men, on the a.~nnptiOD !bat those with little life experlence and an as yet unsettled
c:haracter should first develop and be aDowed 10 hone ~tiaIlycorrect instincts
and habits before CUJbarlcing upon highly inte11ectual exercises. (109531-9; also
1146b34-35, Sec also RheIoric 1395a2-5). Nietzsehe's waming against
pœcocious self-conscionsness and bis trenehant critiquc of the 1mbea1thy form of
self-consciousness chaIacterlstic ofslave morality (Chapter III) do Dot mean, of
course, that he remains suspicious of a1llDllDDCl' conscious awareness and rational

• articulation ofvirtue. Indeed, as 1mgue in Chapter IV, he mgues that the


cultivation of the rlgbt type ofaitical rationality is a precondition of the fullest
flourishing of the superior human being.

69
• should be weapons and ringing symbols that life must overcome itself again and
again!" (Z II OT) He suggests that this project, alas, bas hardly begun. In contrast

ta the "habitua1liars" who free1y and easily spout the standard, noble-5Ounding
words, Z3raIhustra describes bis own, tentative vocabulary as "poor, despised,
halting" (Z II OIP). His first, awkward efforts al naming an alternative, noble
morality, he admits, may result in foolish-5Ounding prattle: "My happincss is
foolish and it will speak foolish things [Tiiricht ist mein Glück und Tiirichtes wird
es reden): it is still too young - 50 be patient with itl" (Z II CM)18 Nietzsche is

nonethelcss confident that such a vocabulary could be constituted. The


"emancipated individual" [Freigewordne), he cJaims. is Dot wholly ignorant of bis

virtue: he possesses a "proud consciousnCSS, quivering in every muscle, of what


bas al length been achieved and become flesh in him, a consciousncss of bis own

power and freedom, a sensation of mankind come to completion." (GM 11.2) Out
ofthis self-consciousncss emerges a ncw sense ofvirtue:
The self-rejoicing of such bodies and 50uls calls
itself: 'Virtue'J Such self-rejoicing protects itself
with its doctrines of good and bad [Gut und
Schlecht) as with sacred graves; with the names it
gives its happincss it banishes from itself all that is
contemplible [alles VeriichtIiche). (Z m TET 2)19

A "Left·Niet2schean" Recoostruc:tiOD ofNiet2schean Morality

Not all adherents of the new orthodoxy follow commentators like Nehamas,
Blondel and Strong in seeing Nietzsche as fundamentally an "amoral" thinker•
Another iniluentiaÏ strain in the Iiterature, which is most likely ta bepresent in
authors who position themselves al the left, "progressive" end of the political

18 At Z m ONL 2. zarathustra similady confesses that he bas yet ta makc much


headway; he cau still do no more than ta "hobble and stutter like pocts."

• 19 This approving mention of the proœctive evocation of "doc:trlnes of good and


bad" should be read together with N'1etZSche's well known decJaration that bis aim
is ta point the way beyond good and evil, and not beyond good and bad (GM LI7).

70
• spectrum,20 sccs a n,;.'V, franldy ·ethical scnsibility" (Connolly 1993: 372)
emerging out of the spirit ofNie!Zsc~'s thought. Authors like Connolly and
Bonnie Honig. while in general agreement with the broad themes and direction of
the new orthodox ~tofNietzsche, sec in genealogical negativism "an
alternative ethü: that seeks ta be more generous and creative - more responsive ta

the impulses, yeamings, and resentments that marlc the jmman condition in
modemity.· (Honig 1993a: 8; emphasis added) Honig differentiates Nietzsehe's
ethical stance from modemist moralities, or "moral virtue', which she associates
with inherently authoritarian attempts to facilitate identïty fozmatioD, consensus-
building, and collective decision-making at the cast ofstifling creative dissent.
Mainstream polities and society. aided and abetted by modemist moral and political
philosophies, are said to be driven by a 'need for closure and meaning" (Ibid.,41)
that entai! unjust, violent suppressions of "the Other', Le. the 'dissonant impulses"

(Ibid., 4-5) of our many-faceted selves which are unjustJy stigmatised,


crimiD!i!iseA. and/or ostIacised as "heretical, evil, irrationa!. perverse. or
destructive...• (Connolly 1991: 3).21
In this context, the debunking thrust of Nietzsche's genealogy is said to be
bound up with a recovery and celebration of the emancipatory potential identified
with this "Other": a Nietzschean ethics, in Connolly's words, strives .fiIst, to
expose artifice in hegemonic identities and the definitions ofothemess (evil)
tbrough which they propel their self-ce11ainty; [and] second, ta destabilize codes of
moral arder within which prevailing identities are set.• (Connolly 1993: 372)

20 Just what this entails. in the Jale 199Os, is unclear. ta say the least. Generally
speaking, however. the "progressivism' of the theorists discussed below appealS ta
be associaWI with a sympathetic treattnent of the situation of the politically
undeIrepIesented, economically IIIlIIgÎnaliwl groups, or otherwise disadvantaged
(e.g. people of colour. women, aboriginal peoples, those with homosexual

• ~ces, ete.)•
1 Sec also Marle Wam:n's contention that mctaphysical theorles oftruth are
"inherently manipulative and Jatently authoritarian... (1988: 236)

71
• Recovering this "Other" involves highlighting and revelling in paradox and
ambiguity, for these destabilising, disrupting devices are seen as our only hope in
the battle to loosen the hold that "monotonic standlirds ofidentity" have over our
lives. (Connolly 1991: 60) Similarly, Honig claims that Nietzsche offers Otherness
"a legitimate avenue ofexpression instead ofsilencing it by branding it abnormal.
unnaturaI. or irresponsible. He valorizes it and its resistance to formation into
responsible subjectivity..." (Honigl993a 65) Honig does insist that there is a
positive thrust to this negative-sounding enterprise ofconstant disruption:

the promise of Nietzsehean virtù is not only negative;


Nietzsche looks to virtù's disruptions to create
spaces of possibility for a new table of values in
which virtù, in its more positive dimensions, takes
the place of virtue as an excellence in an alternative
ethic of self-overcoming. (Ibid, 3-4)
Whenever she insists upon these "more positive dimensions" ofNietzsehean virtù,
however, Honig appears unable to move beyond this level of vagueness (and
ambiguity, which, in this literature, becomes a virtue).22
Partisans ofa left-Nietzsehean ethics attempt to claim a high moral ground by

linking their celebration of the negative thrust ofgenealogy to a defence of modem


democratic institutions and values: "democracy functions best in a wodd where the
culture ofgenealogy bas also gained a strong foothold." (Connolly 1991: 193)

Here we find a h"berationist ethic that sees the only hope for freedom and democracy
in the never-ending, piayful give-anei-take between belief, interpretation, and action
on the ('ne band and the ironie and subversive overtuming ofthese on the other.

22 Honig is on solid ground when she claims that certain paraIlels can he drawn
hetween Nietzsehe's ethical stance and Machiavelli's notion of virtù. 1will draw
attention to certain similarilies between Machiavellian and Nietzse:heN1 ethics in
Chapters VU and vm. However. 1intend to mgue below (and in Chapter X, when
1take up the question ofNietzsehe's stance toward domination) that ber account of
Nietzsehean ethics (Le. N"Jetuche's ethics, and .Ilot post-modemist imaginative


interpretations ofbis ethics) is off the mark in its snJdied ignorance of Nietzsche's
emphasis on socio-political hieran:hy and of bis blithe dismissal of the idea that the
majority ofbnmanlcind possesses certain, inalienable rights to respect and humane
treatment.

72
• "[E]xperimental detachment from the dominant terms of debate," states Connolly,
ois an element in tlle eultivation of freedom and care..." (Ibid., 14)
1 hope it will saon become elear, however, that in light of Nietzsehe's view
(discussed below) of the most desirable outcome ofethical contestation, this attempt

to e,:;tract a "progressive" politics from Nietzsehean thought is highly suspect.

Moral Pluralism, Conflict, and Domination

Nietzsche sees the social world as characterised by a plurality ofconflicting

tables of values arising out of an inescapable feature of human existence: our


overriding need to give "a human meaning" [einen Menschen-Sinn] (Z 1OTG) to
the world, a need that impels us to evaluate or rank phenomena in terms ofgood
and \>ad, higher and lower, noble and base, ete. Another name for "man", declares
zarathustra, is "the evaluator" [der Schiitzende] (Ibid.); "No people could live

without evaluating", for "only through evaluation is there value [Durch das
SchliJzen erst gibt es Wel1]•••"(Ibid.) In this same, important section of Thus
Spoke 7Arathustra, Nietzsche notes that an evaluating "table of values" [T1ife1 der
Güter] that bangs o\~ every people that ois the voicc ofilS will ta power" (Ibid.),
resuIting in an irreducible plurality oftables ofvalue, or wills ta power, in the
human-etbical univetSe.
Much that seemed good ta one people seemed shame
and disgrace ta another... [M]uch tbat was ca1led
evil in one place was in another decked with purple
honoursJ One neighbour never understood another:
bis soul was always amam at bis neighbour's
madness and wick.."dness. (Ibid.)
Although everyone agrees tllat SOJ;IIdhiiig ~""WD as "virtue" is desirable, clashes
me inevitable becanse "almost everyone 1iIm;y be1ieves he is paIticipating in virtue;
and ••• asserlS he is an expert on 'good' and 'evil'." (Z n OV) Nietzsche not only

• 73
• acknowledges the existence of !bis moral conflict, but also argues for its
importance:
And do you tell me, friends. that there is no dispute
over laSte and laSting? But all life is dispute over
taste and tasting! [alles Leben ist Streit um
Geschmack und Schmecken] •.. [W]oe to allliving
creatures that want to live without dispute over
weight and scales and weigher! (Z il OSM)
That Nietzsche sees dispute between rival tables of value as necessaty does not

mean, as authors like Connolly and Honig suggest, that he celebrates the prospect
of never-ending contestation and opposes, in principle, the prospect of a vietoty of
one.side or another.23 1wish to argue that while there is a nascent political vision
implicit in Nietzsehe's worlc, it is not the pluralistic, tolerant vision championed by
many ofhis contemporary admirers in the Academy.24 With respect to the clash
between moralities or tables of value, and hence between different social castes,
most of Nietzsehe's intetpreters have displaycd. as Berkowitz bas suggested, an
exquisite innocence about the moral and political implications of Nietzsche's higbest
aspirations. (Berkowitz 1995: 5-10) In Nietzsche's view. ooly those caught up in
that "democratic idiosyncracy which opposes evetything that deuninates and wants

10 dominate" (GM n.12) would fail 10 recognise that which is perceived as self-
evident by truly self-awme bearers of master morality: the importance of
domination and exploitation in a universe where ooc's self-aggrandisement and
self-pafectability are always attained st the expense ofothers.
It is "life itself'. N'1CtzSche famousIy claims, that shows this truth 10 us (or.
more accurately. ta those amongst us with the courage and sensitivity ta grasp !bis

23 Sec also Blondel's atternpt 10 denude Nietzsehe's expression "will ta power" of


all suggestion of aetual or sucœssful domination: "Life is the instability of power-
relations, there is no domination, only a strugglefor domination, Wüle ZUR
Macht..." (Blondel 1991: 233)
24 As we shal1 sec in C:apter VII. N'1CtzSche does prize a certain idea of perpetuaI

• co:1leSt, but only ofa rarjfied. highly circnmscnDed sort, condl1(:ted amongst a very
few in an imagined areœ ofa new aristo zatic politics. A detailed discnssion of
Nietzsehe's political vision will be conducted in Chapter vm.

74
• truth). "llie itself," insists Nietzsche, in a manner recalling the char2cters of
Thrasymachus and Callicles ofPJato's Republu: and Gorgias. ois essentiaJ1y

appropriation. injury. overpowering of the .>trange and wC2ker. suppression,


severity. imposition of one's own forms. incorporation and, at the least and
mildest, exploitation." (BGE 259)25 This is true regardless ofwJJich table of

values is in ascension at any particular time:

Whalever causes it ta mle and conquer and glitter. ta


the dread and envy of its neighbours [Was da madzt,
daft es hl!rrscht und siegt und gUinzt. seinem
Nachbam zu Graum und Neide]. that it accounts the
sublimest, the paramount, the evaluation and the
meaning of all things [der Sinn aller Dinge]. (Z 1
oro)

If we look at matteIs objectively. he claims. without the prejudice engendered by

slave morality. we can sec that "[e]very animal - thetefore la bête philosophique.
too26 - instinctively strives for an optimum offavorable conditions under which it
can expend all its strength and achieve its maximal feeling ofpower..." (GM III.7)
In c1aimin g that primordial human egoism is deeply consistent with the self-
aggrandising "motivations" allegedly found in all other natural creatures, Nietzsche
seems to be 7"")Iching for a realm of non-noanative "facto - in this case the

inescapable fact of primordial egoism in the natUta1 world - in order ta back bis
view ofour deepest motivations.27
Leaving aside for now questions about the viability ofgrounding the position of

prlm<m:lial egoism naturalistically. we can sec why Nietzsche believes that our

25 In DOting the filial relation of these views with those expIeSSed py Socrates' two
infamous interlocutoIs. 1 wish ta underline that although this attempt to ground a
meta-dhic: in "life" or "118tUIe" is cbaracteristic oflIlIICh (although certainly Dot all)
modem moral and political philosophy. it does have roots in certain intuitions and
beliefs common in the ancient world (If notin any reputable ancient school of
philosophy).
26 Nietzsche's treatment of the bllman being as an anima! (aIbeit a "philosophical

• animal"). will be taken up in the next chapœr•


27 Chapter m will explore another. very diffeœnt use of "118tUIe" in Nietzsche's
writings, one that forms part ot rather than undergiIds, ms normative view.

7S
• moral values "natuIal1y" are an important vehicle for our primordial drive to sclf-
aggrandisement "thus in the history of morality a will te power finds expression,

through which ... the slaves and oppressed ••• attempt te make those value
judgments prevail that are favorable to them.••" (WP 4(0) Nietzsche does not
always use the expression "will to power" when discussing bis view of the roct of
ail moral values in primaI egoism; in WP 345, for example, he declares quite

simply that "[e]veryone desires that no doctrine or valuation of things should come
into favor but that through which he himsclf prospers." The message, however,
remains the saIne: even the praise and (alleged) practice of self1essness is said to
exemplify this rule: "the neighbor praises selflessness because it brings him

advantages." (GS 21; sec also WP 246)28 Every form of will to power, even the
most ostensibly sclf-eifacing, officia1ly apolitica1 or philanthropie, desires te rule at
others' expense, regardless of whether this desire is expressed openIy or secret1y.29
Nietzsche's view tends to strike us as counter-intuitive, given our usual notion
of the moral-ethica1 viewpoint as, by definition, disinterested, or "se1fIess". For the
author of Beyond Good and Evil. however, this typica1 view is an illusion, a lie
manufactured and propagated by cennuies ofessentia1ly weak, unhealthy
individuals who have latched onto it as tbeir ooly means of(covert) sclf-

28 Leiter ca1ls this basic N"1el:ZScht'Jm idea - that (a) normative-evaluative systems
serve the prudential interests of paIticuIar types of persoDS, and (b) that these
systems are typica1ly promoted by persons whose interests they advance-
N"1ClZSChe's "Prudence Thesis." (Leiter 1995: 8) Sec Nietzsehe's characterisation
ofslave morality in GML13 as "theprodcnce of the lowest arder" [diese Klugheit
niedrigstm Ranges] and WP 134's description of "[slave] moral valualion as a
history of lies and the art ofslander in the service of the will to power•••"
29 Note, however, that a1though N"1CtZSche considers "selflessness" to be a cavert
form ofsclf-ïnterest in the bands of the majotity, he deems it not simply deceitful,
but also dowmight nnhealthy, espccia1ly when evoked by thase potentially
exceJlent, but woefuIly confused individuals (like the ascetic priestly type) whose
flollTishing is predieated upon open. honest self-assertion. "To choose what is
harmfu1 to onesdj: he atgUCS, "to he attraeted by 'disin1ciested' motives, almost

• constitutes the formula for dictJtlence." ('Il EUM 35) 1 will explore this idca-
Nietzsche's portrait of the potential greatness and aetua1 decadcnce of the priest1y
type - in Chapter IV.

76
• aggrandisemcnt. "Wbete 1found a living creature," concludes Zarathustta, "th= 1
found will ta power; and even in the will of the servant 1found the will to he master
[noch im Wlllen des Dienendenfand ich dm WUlen, Herr ZIl sein]." (Z n OSO)

N!etzscbe's Parti Pris in the Coming Clash of Moralities

We noted in Chapter 1 that Nietzsche sees individuals first and foremost as


Trliger of higher or lower orders of human existence; it is just as important to
recognise that this ranking is also one of mor:alities: he speaks ofa Rongordnung
"between man and man, consequently also between morality and morality." (BGE
228; empb3sis added)3O Nietzsche clearly sides with one table of values, which he
associates with an imagint:el group placed on the ascending curve ofhuman
existence, a group that includes himself and that he variously refers to as the
"masters"; the "strong"; the "free..spirilS"; the "healthy"; and the "new

philosophers". He is not interested in simply celebra!ing "the Qther", in "keep[mg]


the contest ofidentity and difference going" (Honig .1993a: 12), for Nietzsche's

imagined "Qther" repœsents a slave morality embodied in aheni-lilœ mass that he


considers ta he at a pitiably low level of moral developmcnt.
Nietzsche is well aware that he is engaging in considerable simplification by
singliDg out and criticising certain featmes of multi-faceted moral views. In BGE
186, he attempt.s ta justify bis simplification by arguing that although sociallife is
charaderised by a "vast domain of delicate value-feelings and value-distinctions

which live. grow, beget and perish", it is still possible - and indeed Decessary for
the pw:poses ofexposition - ta "alte!'JIpt ta display the moœ 1iequent and IeClIlring

forms of~Jivingaystal!izations - as pxepatation ofa typology of morals." His

• 30 Leiter comes close ta recognising this wheD he notes thatNietzsche posilS a


"correlDtion between differiDg systems of value and the types ofpersons whose
inteIeSlS they serve." (Leiter 1995: 9)

77
• categories of master and slave moralities should thus he consttued as idea1 types in
the Weberian sense.31 Speaking very generally, Nietzsche characterises those
normalive views as "servile" and a party to "slave morality" when, in bis
judgement, they tend to favour the lowest, most contemptible men at the expense of
the highest. "Master morality", by extension, is meant to r.:fer to that disparate

family of normative views that favour this "highest" sort.32


It is Nietzsehe's gzeat sense of pride and superiority, the same pride that allows
himto declare bimself"an antithetical nature [eine Gegensatz-Natur] to the species
of man hitherto honoured as virtuous" (EH Forward 2), that powers bis
denunciation uf "morality" in the name ofauthentic virtue, of what he variously
terms the "master morality" [HerTen-moral] (BGE 260) or the "noble morality"

[vomehme Moral] (GM LlO; AC 24) of the ascending, virtuous fragment of

humankind. As Nietzsche fumously suggests in On the GeneaIogy ofMorals, the


tille of bis previous book. Beyond Good and Evil, must he seen as a repudiation
Olh'y of the slave morality of gut and bôse. rather than a call to go beyond the

categories of master mcrality (gut UIId schlecht) as weil (GM Ll7)33


I:ot- Nietryehe, thete ca.n he no truck nor trade with slave morality; he bas
nothing but contempt for the idea oftoletation of a set of values which. as wc shall

31 h is Dot IIIU'elISOt1lIble to spect1}ate that one ofWeber's many debts to Nietzsche


is the notion of the idcal type. }Jebamas discusses N"1ClZSChe's use ofidea1
charaeter types in Nehamas 1985: 38. When Berkowitz criticises Nietzsche for
"œduc[mg] the whoIe complex and multifarious moral past of mankind to two
competing momlities", he may DOt he taking adequate account of the ideal typical
nature of N"1ClZSChean analysis. (Berkowitz 1995: 68) ..
32 1 owe this point to Lciter (1995: 28, 39-40). A good portion ofwhat follows in
this study involves an exploration ofjust what Nietzsche means by ."1owest" and
"hïgheSt" human beings and human values.
33 WllIICD does DOt quite c:aptme the full implicalion ofN"1ClZSChe's claim to move
beyond "good and evil" wben!le equatcs this move with the Jejcction of ail
"metaphysical identifications of the wodd, as weil as juc\gments that follow !rom
them." (Warren 1988: 117) N"1ClZSChe's rejection of the dichotomy of"good and
evU" is rooted in bis affirmation ~f another dichotomy ("good and bad") that

• Warren would probably denounce as metaphysical as well, since it serves "te


explain experiences by deriving them from transœndent, universa1, and unitary
origins" (Ibid.), one ofWaaen's definitiODS of metaphysics.

78
• sec, he blames for a graduaI moral decline of the human species beginning with the

rise of rabbinic Judaism, aceeIerating with Cbristianity's capture of Rome, and


continuing nnabated throughout Western histoIy (with the exception of a few
gIorious, epochal countermovements: the Renaissance, seventeenth-century France,
the Napoleonic period, and Nietzsche's own, nascent countermovement).

Nierzsehe disIikes the "moderation" that calls for talerance and compromise in the
face of moral confIict:
[W]e dislike these mediators and mixers... these
ha1f-and-ha1fers, who have leamed neither to bless
nor ta curse from the heart [diesen Halb- und
Halben, welche weder segnen lemten, noch von
Gnmd GUS fluchen] ••• For 1 would rather have noise
and thunder and storm-curses than this cautious,
uncertain feIine repose; and among men, too, 1 hate
most of aIl soft-waIkers [Leisetreter] and ha1f-and-
halfers and unc(:tain, hesitating [zweifelnde,
ziigemde] passing cI..Iuds. (Z m BS)
Like Machiavelli, who incur.ted the undying enmity of generations of readers by
insisting that in times of acute political crisis, one bas ta choose between Christian
and republican vittue (Berlin 1982: 25-79), Nierzsehe is convinced that intellectuaI
and moraI integrity [Rechtschajfenheit] demand that one must choose sides in the
batt1e he hopes will come betweelI these incompatible visions of society.
Nietzsche chooses the side ofthose higher Imman beings who alone possess the
capacity ta ascend ta an objective viCW1-'OilOt and ttue knowledge ~ who
potenrially ~t, at the same time, the embodiment ofan objectivP..!Y superior
form ofhuman flourishing. TheIe is only one set ofttue standards of"bappiness,
beauty. [and) benevolencc". and one of the great "privileges" ofNietzsche's

imagined aristocracy is in ~ting these on earth (AC 57). The "goodness"


[Gut] which they personifyis no "commongood" [<Gemeingut»). theYCl)'

notion ofwhich, for Nietzsche. is "a self-contradiction: [for) what can he common

• bas ever but little value [was gemein sein kann, kat immer 1IUTwenig Wert]." (BOE

79
• 43) As Leiter bas observed, NietzsChe identifies the preservation and cultivation of
bis "highest men" with the affirmation of "life" itself (Leiter 1995: 23).34

Nietzsche makes it clear !bat he will be content with nothing less !han the
complete vietory of bis set of"master" values, for the stakes are tao high to
contempIate the altemative:
Truly the power of this praÏSing and blaming is a
monster rein Ungetiim ist die Macht dieses Lobem
und Tadelns]. Tell me, who will subdue it for me
[wer bezwingt es mir], my brothers? Tell me, who
will fasten fetters upon the thousand necks of this
beast? [wer wirft diesem Tier die FesseZ über die
tausend Nacken?]1 Hitherto there have been a
thousand goals, for there have been a thousand
peoples. Ooly fetters are still lacking for these
thousand necks, the one goal is stilliacking [es fehlt
das «eine» Ziel]J Yet tell me, my brothers: if a
goal for humanity is still lacking, is there not still
lacking - humanity itself? (Z 1OTG)
The awesome power of determining moral value, in other words, ought not to be
treated lightly and left in many different bands. Humanity, claims NietzsChe, will
not attain its full flowering until the multiplicity ofWeltanschauungen are brought to
becl by "one goal"; l'. ruiing, noble set of values in the service of the full flourishing
of the superiortype ofhuman being.
A great admirer ofThucydides thtoughout bis intellectuaI ca=, Nietzsehe
agree!I wholeheartedly with the following millenia~ld sentiments recotded by the
great Greek historian'
"It bas a1ways been a rule that the weak. should he
subject ta the strong" (1.76). In the words of one of
Thucydides' Athenian generaIs: Our opinion of the
gods and our knowledge of men lead us ta conclude
that it is a generai and necessary law of nature ta ruIe

34 1 agree with Leiterthat Schach~s chluacte:risation oiN'1ClZSChe's commitment ta


"life" is tao vague. Schacht claims that N'1ClZSChe "takes 'life' in this wodd ta be
the sole locus of value, and its pn:servation, flonrishing, and ahove a1l its
enhaneement ta he ultimately decisive for de:tenninations ofvalue." (Schacht 1983:

• 359) As Leiter observes. "the things N'1ClZSChe identifies as 'valuable' for life are
thase he takes ta he necessary for the flourishing o{ the highest types of life (or
human excellence)_." (Leiter 1995: 24)

80
• whatever one cano This is not a law that we made
ourselves, nor were we the first to act upon it when it
was made. We found it a1Ieady in existence, and we
shallleave it to exist for ever among those who come
after us. (V.I05)3S
Unlike Thucydides, however, Nietzsche does not think the vietory of the best
and strongest ta be a foregone conclusion, for unlike the noble aetors of
Thucydides' historical draIna, NielZSche's irnagined nobles of the modem era are in
the unlikely position of underdogs. They are suffering from a false consciousness
that trains them to despise their noble, "gut" instincts. to feel guilty about

possessing them, and ta value ideals that they inwardly, viscerally, rejcct:
democracy, h"beralism, equality, feminism. Christian piety, etc. As wc shall sec in
more detail in Chapter IV, Nietzsche's great worry is that unless these nobles
5Omehow free themselves from this false consciousness, aIl traces of nobility will
vanish from modemity altogether, thus eliminating the future possibility for
grealDess and coI'demning the human species ta a perpetuaUy low-Ievel, "pitiably
comfortable" existence. Hence the need for Nietzsche's attempted rescue operation:
as moral philosopher and pedagogue concemed with the future of the species, he
must "raise the co:lSCÏousness" ofn8scent noble-types and incite them to take action

- first at an individuallevel, then at a collective, politicallevel- for the sake of the

species.36

3S Nietzsche expresses great admiration for Thucydides in HAH L92 & IL2.144,
D 168, and, in bis mature period, in TIWOA2.
36 Wanen does have a point in arguing thatNïetzsche wishes dcvelop a model of
politics that "moves towani reali'eing potentials for agency" (1988: 47), but in bis
unfortunatc decision ta fall in line with the new orthodoxy's tendency ta atlnDute a
leftist, political "spirit" ta its alleged fonnding father, he wrongly assumes that
Nietzsche's main philosophical concem is with agency as such; i.e. the agency of
aIl human beings. Wanen's insistence on imposing egalitarian ideals on Nietzsche
obscures the important hieran:hical dimension of this latter's thought. Nietzsche
does Dot think:, as Wanen suggests, that the main problem with Cbristi8nity was its
inhibition ofaction; on the contraIy, he DOtes constantly that Cbristianity

• encourages a great deal of activism, but (m bis vicw) of the wrong kind. (Sec, for
exampJ~ Nietzsebe's coOOemn8tion ofLuther's break with Rome in AC 61.)
Nietzsche's point is that the action 50 encouraged is destructive of aIl that is noble

81
• In this chapter 1bave subjected Nietzsche's treatment of the concept of morality
to critical analysis, and bave noted bis often confusing tendC:lCY to invoke the
concept both negatively and positively. In a negative sense, Nietzsche daims to
mount a root-and-branch critique of morality from either an "amoral" or "immoral"
standpoint, and it is this debunking strategy - the substance of which will be
examined in Chapters m and IV - which bas captured most of the attention of
Nietzsche commentators. 1bave suggested, however, that a careful examination of
bis writings reveals that the whole debunking project is powered by a deeply-felt

ethical imperative, an imperative that appears in NielZSChe's concern for the needs
and desires of the superior type of human being. The ethical nature of this
imperative is sometimes obscured both by NielZSChe's reluctance to employ many
standard virtue-terms that he believes ta bave been irrevocably tainted through

association with a contempb.ole normative set of values, and by bis occasional,


rather unconvincing attempt ta convince bis reader that bis stance is in fact

"grounded" in a view of the cosmos (as will ta power) that is "scientific", i.e.
neutral from a moral standpoinl.
We have seen, furthermore, that Nietzsehe's preferred ethical framework is
neither egalitarian nor compatlole with a democratic political culture, as some
commentators would have us believe. On the contrary, Nietzsche's polemic against
mainstream, "slave" morality is driven by bis conviction that this hegemonic set of

values, becanse it is demonsttably infeàor to the set ofvalues proper ta the highest
type and actnally inimical ta that type's proper development, ought ta be
subordinated ta the latter.
A more detailed examination ofNietzsehe's lICCOiIIIt of"master" and "slave"
moralities and of the clash between them is dearly wammted. Before wc can move

• and lofty. The problem, then, is not agency as such, but rather the type of agency -
what, and who drives il.

82
• ta such an examjnation, however, we must take a closer look at Nietzsehc's view of

the respective moral psychologies of bis ideal-typical master and slave types. As

we shaIl sec, Nietzsche makes it clear that one cannot fully grasp a moral outlook,
or "table of values", without attempting ta understand the type of person who
embodies il. In the course of our investigation of Nietzschean moral psychology, 1
shaIl argue that Nietzsehe follows an important stream of ancient moral philosophy

in treating the concept of nature as a sort of moral imperative and yardstick.

• 83
• CbaRter mi NiWgbean Yirtuei Instinct. Nature. and Artifice

Vlrtue and BodiIy Knowledge

Nietzsche's various descriptions of the human species are punctuated with


affumations of a Grundprinzip that he cJaims is readily understood and embraced
by the highest sort of human being at the peak of bis development: our essential
animality. "The enlightened man calIs man himself: the anima) with red cheeks." 1
(Z fi OC) As animaIs, our conduet is said to he shaped by certain primaI instincts

[Instinkt] or drives [Triebe] rooted in our bodies, whether we are aware of this or

not and notwithstanding our most vigorous (albeit mistaken) efforts at transeending
our bodiIy selves through the sheer fOIœ of our intellect.
Nietzsche combats the belief- which he associa~ with the Platonic and
Christian traditions - that the only way to exuIt the human species is to help it
subdue its bodily, animalistic instincts. "We philosophers," he declares, "are not
free 10 divide body from souI as the people do..." (GS PIer. 3), since our entire

being is corporeal: "the awakened, the enlightened man [der ErwQJ;h1e, der
W"zssende] says: 1 am body entiIely [Leib bin ich ganz und gar], and nothing
beside; and souI is only a word for something in the body." (Z 1 ODB)2 Moreover,
as unwilling as he is 10 attribute an independent existence 10 the souI [Seele],
Nietzsche is no more prepared 10 make concessions to the "spirit" [Geist]: "'Since 1
have known the body better,' mentions Zarathustra 10 one of bis disciples, 'the

spirit bas been only figuratively spirit to me·•.•" (Z fi OP)3 N'1ClZSChe notes that the
insistence on a mind-body split bas often been accompanied by a contemptuous

1 "Der Mensch seIber aber ~t dem Erkennenden: das Tier, das rote Baclcen bat."
2 See also Z 1 OAW: "this most honest being [dies redIù:hste Sein], the Ego - it
speaks of the body, and it insists upon the body [es MU noch den Leib]" AI!d WP

• 229: That man "bas a nervous system (but no 'souI') is still the secret of the best
infonned." .
3 "'Seit ich den Leib besser kenne ••. ist mir der Geist nur nach g1eichsam Geist.·"

84
• repudiation of our bodily selves in the context of misguided ascetic programmes of
"self-improvement" designed to bring our errant bodies in line with our (alleged1y)
troe selves:
Once the sou!looked contemptuously upon the body:
and then this contempt was the supreme good - the
soul wanted the body lean, monstrous, famished
[mager. griijJlich und verhungert]. So the soul
thought to escape from the body and from the earth
[ihm und der Erde zu entschlüpfen]. Oh, this sou!
was itself lean, monstrous, and famished: and crueity
[Grausamkeit] was the delight of this sou!! (Z
Prologue 3)
As is weIl known, Nietzsche dismisses all traditional arguments for the

independence ofour rational faculties and repudiates the related, Platonic


assumption that our intellect corresponds to our troe selves. Nietzsche formu!ates
the conviction carly on that our intellect Mis only [nur] the blind instroment [das

blinde Werkzeug] of another drive", (D 109) and maintains this view into bis
mature period. Reason is not an independent faculty, he notes in the Nachlass, but

rather "a system of relations between various passions and desires..." (WP 387) •

When philosophical reason attempts to detach itse1ffrom its root in the body,
the resu1t can only he a "misunderstanding of the body" (GS Pref. 4) that

Nietzsche bas Z8rathustra Iefer to as the "raving of the reason." [Raserei der
Ve17lll1!lt] (Z 1OAW) As Z8rathustra suggests, any attelDpt to Iepudiate one's
bodily affects in the name ofreason can only resu1t, paradoxically, in a deformation
ofone's rational capabilities: "one shou!d hold fast to one's hem; for if one lets it
go, how saon one loses one's head, too!" (Z II OC) Hence the need for an
approach to practical reasoning that takes its "physiological" basis into account
"every table of values, every 'thou shalt' ••• xequires tirst a physiological
investigation and interpIetation..." (GM LI?) In a crucial, carly passage in Thus


Spoke ZDrathustra, Nietzsche maltes an important conceptua1 distinction between

"the Self" [das Selbst] as CIeative body and "the Ego" [das Ich] as conscious

8S
• thought and feeling. The latter, though proud of its imaginative leapings and prone
to vainglorious celebration of its allegedly ir,dependent power, is in fact the
former's handmaid: "Your Self laughs at your Ego and its proud leapings. 'What
are these leapings and flights ofthought to me?' it says to itse1f. 'A by-way to my
goal. 1 am the Ego's leading-string and 1 prompt its conceptions...• (Z 1ODB)4
Further on in this same section, the Ego is described as a "littie intelligence" [kleine
Vemunft] that is, in fact, "an instrument of your body, a littie instrument and toy of
your great intelligence rein kleines Werk- und Spielzeug deiner gro.f3en Vemunft]."
Nietzsehe's description of the body as a "great intelligence" and his reference
later in the same work to "the supple, persuasive body" [überredende Leib] (Z m

TET 2) reveal a complex view of the bodily affects, a view suggested in an earlier,
anecdotai account of an anonymous, eighteenth-century Frenchman, who laid his
band on Fontenelle's heart and said, "'what you have there, dear sir, is another
brain.'" (GS 3) In breaking with the Platonic tradition, which dismisses the affects
as unthinking and bestial in nature, Nietzsche repudiates the reason-passion
dichotomy altogether by insisting that emotion and practical reason are not mutually
exclusive after ail. Our self-conscious efforts at cognition are indeed in the grip of
instinctive feelings and drives,S but these actually embody certain claims 10
knowledge: "ofall forros ofintelligence discovered hitherto, 'instinct' is the most
intelligent." (BGE 218) There is always a cognitive clement in our passions, or, as
Zarathustra puts il, "some reason in madness" (Z ! ORW);6 and every passion

contains nits quannun of reason..." (WP 3F:l)7

4 "'Ich bin das Glingelband des Ichs und der Einblliser seiner Begriffe.'"
Elsewhere in book 1ofThus Spou ZoratJzustra. the claim is made that the Ego, in
its most honest forro, "speaks of the body, ••• insists upon the body [es will noch
den Leib]." (Z 1OAW)
5 "1 love him who is ofa free spirit and a free heart: thus his head is ooly the
bowels ofhis heart [sa ist sein Kopf1UlT das Eingeweide seines Herz.ens ] " (Z

• Prologue 4)
6 For this passage 1am using Kallfmann's, rather than Hollingdaie's, translation,
as it seems 10 me a better rendition of "Es ist aber immer auch etwas Vemunft im

86
• What is more, Nietzsche insists (or so 1would argue) that the rationality
embodied in our bodily instincts bas a CTUcial moral significanee. a moral-ethical as
weil as a cognitive status: "our most sacred convictions. the unchanging elements
in our supreme values," he claims. "are judgements of our muscles." (WP 314)
The new orthodoxy routinely interprets this to mean that our ethical judgement
stems ultimately from a substratum of (pre- or amoral) instinct. Proponents of the
new orthodoxy, in other words, suppose that Nietzsche helieves moral valuations
to he wholly contingent consttucts layered atop an amoral flux of physical
sensation. At first glanee. this reading of moral judgement as arbitraly
epiphenomenon may seem reasonable in light of Nietzsehe's recurring description
of the body (and himself) as "amoraL" If, however, we recall the discussion of the
last chapter and take into account (a) Nietzsehe's polemical tendency te label the
conventional moral schemata of bis day as "morality", and (b) that he also invokes
this same term in a more positive sense, as reflective of bis own position. the new

orthodox inteqlretation appears less convincing. It seems to me that Nietzsche sees


ethical valuation not as a wholly contingent epiphenomenon. but ratber as deeply
interna1isffl in oursclves, as rooted in our very bodily drives. Nietzsche, in other
wOrds, does not portIay the body as a morally-neutral puppetmaster manipu1ating a
series of marionette moralities; rather. the "marionettes" are understood te he patt

and parce! of the puppennaster te such a degree that any distinction between the

Wahnsinn" Sec also Z IV OHM 9: "Freedom from fever is far from heing
knowledge! 1do not believe in frozen spirits [Freiheit von Fieber ist lange noch
nicht Erkenntnis! A1Isgekiilteten Geistem glaube ù:h nicht]."
7 1 disagree with Kallfinann's insistenœ that "Nietzsche considers j)oth the man
who sets on impulse and the man who delibezatcly counteracts bis impulses inferior
to the man who acts rationally on instinct... (Kallfinann' 1974: 233) Sucb a
formulation does not quite capture the attempt of the author of Zaralhustra te
dispense with reason-passion dnalism altegether. Nietzsche finds bis idealised
nobleman admirable precisely because he sets on bis ("intelligent") impulses. As
we sha1l see below. what matters for the aristocratic-minded Nietzsche is always the

• quality of the impulse; if it is ofan elevated, refined 0Ider. tben by definition it


belongs te the elevated, refined sort of persan, who is justified in following it
unhesitatingly.

87
• two, and sense of extemal control of the former by the later, fades away. The
"supple, persuasive body" to which Zarathustra alludes is imbibed from the s!art
with an innate sense of right and wrong, nobility and baseness. Our "gut" feelings,
to which Nietzsche attributes the status of knowledge, seem to compel us to
perform (or avoid) certain actions and to make certain judgements on the basis of
this innate sense.
The attribution of both cognitive and moral-ethical properties ta our passions
bas a long history in the Western tradition of moral philosophy. In Williams' recent

discussion of Aristotelian conceptions of virtue, he notes tha1 moral philosophers


from Aristotle onwards commonly saw the virtuous character as involving
"characteristic patterns of desire and motivation" (Williams 1985: 9) or "intemalised
dispositions of action, desire, and feeling." (Ibid., 35) For philosophers within the
virtue ethics tradition, the preservation ofethical praetice in bath the individual and
the community is contingeJ?t not on the operation of sorne dispassionatc, universal,
rational faculty or on unswerving obedience ta a mora1law, but Iather on the
successful reproduction of and respect for these intemalised dispositions, which
constitute a form of knowledge allowing us ta make praeticaljudgements in

everyday life. As Nussbanm says of Aristotle's account of virtuous character,


a well-formed character is a unity of thought and
desire, in which choice bas sa blended these two
e1ements, desiIe being attentive to thought and
thought responsive to desiIe, that either one cao
guide and their guidance will be one and the ~e.
(Nussbaum 1986: 308)
In the situation of choice [Prohairesirl, Arlstotle recognises an ability "tha1 is on the

borderline between the intellectual and the passional, partaking ofbOth natures: it
cao be described as cither desiderative deliberation or deliberative desire." (Ibid.)8

• 8 Annas notes tha1 this Aristotelian xefusal ta see desire as wholly separate from
reason was maintained by m.ost post-Aristote1ian, Hellenistic mora1 philosophy
(Annas 1993: 35).

88
• Nietzsche's repeated references to bodily knowledge seem to suggest that there
are definite echoes of this ancient philosophical tradition in bis writings. TIlis 1:: !lot
to say, however, that Nietzsche is simply an unreeonslIUcted Aristotelian, a modem
represenœtive of the vinue ethies tradition. A recurring theme of this work is that
Nietzsche continually (and confusingly) moves back.-and-forth between the
conceptual framework of ancient vinue ethies and a distinctively modem,
naturalistic account of human psychological make-up.
In the carly-modern naturaIist account of the human psyche, found

paradigmalically in the writings of Hobbes and Locke, hum:m beings are described
as sentient creatures with pre-given, unchangeable sets of instincts that can be
managed, ttained, suppressed, or sublimated through the scientifically-guided
efforts of external parties.9 The imperative driving these authors and the tradition .
of thought and practice that grew out of thcir writing is the pereeived need to come
to an accurate, scientific undcrstanding of this essentially unchanging human nature
in order to ensure public order. The 11I!man "subject" had to be disciplined, and the
job of the modern science of man, in this naturalistic view, was to tender the public
authority's efforts al such discipline more effective.
Nietzsche, ofcourse, talœs great exception to modern society's attempt 10
"discipline" exceptional human beings, and wishes 10 h"berate superior bnman

beings from what he sees as the false consciousness engendered by this sort of
discipline which, in bis view, operatcs in the service ofa servile, contemptible set
of values. However, insofar as Nietzsche occasionally empbasises the
unchangeable nature ofour instincts, the influence of this modern, naturalistic
account ofhllman psychology seems never far from the surface. "[1']0 the
discerning man," declares Z3rathustra, "all instincts are holy" [dem Erkennenden
heùigen sich a1le Triebe] (Z 1 OBV 2), giving voice 10 just how unerring and

• 9 Sec the interesting discussion in Tully 1993: 179-241.

89
• permanent Nietzsche imagines the deeply intemalised, virtuous sensibility of bis
(idea1ised) superior human heing. 10 Nietzsche often suggests that the superior man
is perpetually equipped with an instinctive, confident decisiveness in actions taken
and judgements made, a decisiveness which he traces back to a "fundamentai
certainty which a noble soul possesses in regard to itself, something which may not
he sought or found and perhaps may not he lost either." (BGE 287) Elsewhere he
speaks ofa "complete automatism of instinct" as "the precondition for any kind of

mastely, any kind of perfection in the art ofliving" (AC 57), and notes in the

Nachlass that "the suong man ." is led [in the main] by a faultless and severe
instinct into doing nothing that disagrees with him, just as he cats nothing he does
not enjoy." (WP 906)11 Those personifying the "higher type" [die Mhere Natur],
who are "noble, magnanimous, and self-sacrificial" [Ed1e, Groflmütige,
Aufopfemde], oUght to "follow [their] own senses to the end" [eignen Sinne ••• zu

Enlie denken], for they are al their hest when "their reason pauses" and they
succumb to their instincts. (GS 3; zn OBI)
In attempting to give an account of what he sees as this "faultlessness",
confidence, and gracefulness,12 Nietzsche often resorts 10 the metaphor of the
dancer, claiming that "my virtue is a dancing virtue [eines Tiin:l.ers Tugendj••." (Z
mss 6) "Everything good is instinct - and consequently easy, necesS3J:y, free.
Effort is an objection ••• üght feet are the fust atlributc ofdivinity." (TI FGE 2)
This apparent effortlessness stems from the virtuoso's innate ability to maintain
contact with bis unerring bodily instincts: men of virtue, zarathustta daims, are

10 As wc shall sec in Chapter VIn, this rlgid conception of the instincts is related
10 a Lamarckian beIief in the great ÏIIlpOrtlIIlœ ofheredity.
Il It aIso possible 10 inteIptet this talk of "automarism ofinstinct" in a non-
naturalistic way that is more in line with the discourse of virtue ethics. Nietzsche
may he refening in these passages 10 the agent's achievement ofeffort1ess virtue
after a long process ofmoral-spiritual dcveIopment. Wc shall explore this

• altemalive reading in Chapter V•


12 "The generosity of the magnanimous man should include gracefulness [Die
Anmut geMrt ZUT Groflmut des Groflgesinnten]." (Z n OSM)

90
• "fine dancers" who "do not forget their legs" when they lift themselves Iùgher. (Z
IV OHM 19) These instincts are sometimes described in terms of a visceral.
internai rhythm that rebels against any clumsy attempt at imposing the foreign
"beat" of an opposing set of moral valuations: "ask my foot if it likes their melodies
ofpraise and enticement! Truly, ta such a measure and tick-tock beat it likes neither
ta dance nor ta stand still." (Z m VMS 2) Only the dancing man of virtue bas the
"light fcet" required ta "overcome gravity," i.e. ta main the type of objectivity
descn1led in Chapter 1: "[olne bas ta be very light ta drive one's will to knowledge
into such a distance and, as it were, beyond one's time, to ereate for oneself eyes to
survey millennia..." (GS 380)

The Rangordnung of Instincts and Persons

Given Nietzsehe's view of the existence of an innate order of rank


[Rangordnungl among human beings (Chapter 1), it is not surprising that although
he insists upon the ubiquity and importance of visceral, "animal" instinct in the
human being. he also believes that only some of us - a minority - possess noble
instincts. The key difference between finer and baser persans does not lie,

therefore, in the former's ability 10 somehow transcend animal instinct. Whereas


bath charactertypes evince animality, the issue is the type ofanimality, or (what is
for Nietzsche the same thing) the quality of the desiIes, passions and drives in the
individual in question.13

13 In this context1must disagree with Kanfmann's xeading ofNietzsehean self-


overcoming. which denies the aniwity of the higher Juunan being: "The
unphilosophic, inartistic, and unsaindy mass Iemain animais·.. [O]nly by a
superhuman effort can [man] asoend into the heaveos, leave the animal kingdom
beneatb him, and acquire a value and a dignity without equal in ail of uature."
(Kanfmann 1974: 152; also 175, 312) At one point Kanfmann does III3ke a
concession 10 Nietzsehe's vision of the higher man as a sort of anima!' "One would

• do seantjustice 10 bis thought _. were one 10 forget that he began with the
assumption that all men were essentially anima!s._" (Ibid., 176) But here, tao, he
missteps. In bis eagemess 10 place Nietzsche's thought in as positive a light as

91
• Pan of what it mcans to be a hea!thy. self-aware member of the highest order of
humanity is the ability to identify and distinguish beIWeen :hese IWO types of
instincts. and the IWO types of people who represent them; the ability. in other

words. to perceive the Rangordnung in the human world, to know one's (lofty)
place in relation to this hierarchy. and to have an innate sense for one's own and
one's inferiors. Nietzsche never fails to underline the importance of this literallyad
hominem endeavour. an ability to discriminate between types of character that

always takes precedence over any independent assessment of action as sucb: "an

action is perfect1y devoid of value: it an depends on who performs il." (WP 292)14
The value ofan action, sentiment, or thought cao be assessed only with reference to

the value of the aetor - i.e. the value ofthat person's charaeter and instincts. We
must always make, he repeatedly insists. a backward inference "from the deed to
the doer. from the ideal to those who need il." (GS 370; ct: WP 675)15 This is true

even for the assessment of ideas and theories: when we assess the value of a
particular philosophy. claims Nietzsche, we are realiy evaluating the charaeter of

philosophers. "[A]ssuming that one is li person, one necessarily also bas li


philosophy that beiongs 10 that person; but there is li big difference. In some it is
their deprivations that philosophize; in others, their riches and strengths." (GS 370)

possible, Kaufmann distortingly reads into Nietzsche's discussions ofhuman


animalil;y an advocacy for the basic equa!ity of an human beings. Nietzsche would
have dismissed such li l'C3ding as failing ta applecïare bis differentialion of types of
human anima1il;y.
14 Sec also this fragment from the NachIass: "Der Mensch UnerlalDnt, die
Handlung unerkannt:" VTI(2).2S.465.
15 Sec also BGE 221: "The question is always who he is and who the other is."
Cf. TI EUM 7. Kaufmann's suggestion that Nietzsche "denied that.man strives for
pleasure" (1974: 262) is off the mark because it fails ta take this point into account.
This rernark, with its vague œference ta Nietzsche's views on "man" in generaJ..
presumes that Nietzsche assesses an human beings equally. This ignores
Nietzsche's differentia1 treatment ofhigher and lower forms ofhuman life. As wc
shall note in Chapter V. in the conte:lrt ofan cxteDded discussion ofNietzsche's
treatme:n~ of asceticism, the author of The Anti-Christdeems pleasure-seekiDg 10 be

• admirable in higher human beings, while blame-worthy in the vulgar. quite simply
b«:lIllse he believes that superior lmman beings have li more refined, praiseworthy
conception ofwhat is truly pleasurable.

92
• Particular philosophies are most profitably looked at "as hints or symptoms of the
body, of its success or faîlure..." (GS PIef. 2)
ln contrast to bis aforementioncd descriptions of the unerring taste and
apparently effortless grace of that minority of gifted individuals Nietz5"..he deems
truly virtuous, he claims that those belonging to the majority cao hope ooly (at best)
to constantly strain after virtue, to make self-conscious anempts at emulaling noble
grace that will always appear inauthentic to the discriminating eye. There are certain
noble traits that simply cannot be sought out: "enjoyment and innocence [Gem!P
und UnschuId]," claims Zarathustra, "are the most modest things: neither want to

be looked for. One should have them..." (Z m ONL 5) Unaided by those healthy,
bodily instincts and elevated passions identified by Nietzsche as the sine qua non of
virtue, all heartfelt effort goes for nought, and may even be taken as evidence ofan
inner deficiency: "all perfect acts are unconscious and no longer subject to will;
consciousness is the expression of an imperfect and often morbid state in a person."
(WP 289) Nietzsche expresses this same point in a revealing, autobiographical

passage from Ecce Homo:

1 have at no time had the remotest idea wbat was


growing within me - •.. all my abilities one day 1eapt
forth suddenly ripe, in their final perfection. 1cannot
remember ever having taken any trouble - no trace of
strugg1e can he discovered in my life... To 'want'
something, to 'strive' arter something, to have a
'goal', a 'wish' in view - 1 know none of this from
experience. (EH "Oever" 9)
Using the same da:1ce metaphor evoked to descrihe Doble gracefulness,
Nietzsche contrasts true nobility with the awkward posturing ofthose who aspire
ta, but are farfrom. virtue: "There are beasts who are heavy-footcd even in

happiness [auch im G1iick schweres Getier], there are those who are clumsy-footcd
from birth. They exert themselves strangely,like an elephant ttying ta stand on its

• head." (Z IV OHM 19) Those who xepresent the "poor, sick type, [the] mob type"

93
• of human being [arme kranke Art, eine Piibel-Artl. remarks Zarathustra, have
"heavy fee!... [Tlhey do not know how to dance. How could the earth be light to
such men!" (Z IV OHM 16)

Nietzschean Ambiguity with Respect 10 Freedom

The insistent suggestion that all fine action and judgement is rooted in an
unerring. unchanging core of visceral instinct of the fortunate few (and that
authentic vinue is forever foreign to the majority with base instincts) leads to the
seemingly counter-intuitive suggestion that vinuous action is compelled, or
determined almost in advance, rather than chosen.1 6 "A well-constituted human
being, a 'happy' one," he insis\S, "must perform certain actions and instinctively
shrinks from other actions." (TI FGE 2; emphasis in original) Nietzsche refers to
artists (or rather bis ideaHsarion of them). for example, as the mest "involuntary"
and "unconscious" ofhuman beings. (GM IL 17; cf. BGE 213).l7 His "fatalistic"
line seerns to he further reinforced by bis well-known cIaim that the great
conceptual weight we tend te place upon our "intentions" (Absicht) is a mere
"prejudice". that conscious intention is, essenrially. superficiaI. (BGE 32)
Nietzsche's critique of"free will", however, is Dot driven sole1y by this
natucalistic line, as powerful as it may he in bis writings. His indebtedness to
ancient moral philosophy pulls him in another direction, one that is more congenial
to free agency. 1 will call this direction Aristotelian, because it involves a sort of
t/evelopmenral ethic favOU1'ed by Aristotle; the idea that it is possible for an agent

16 In TI MAN 6, Nietzsche fiirt yet again with determinism by declaring that the
"individual (der einzebze] is, in bis future and in bis past, a piece of rate (ein Stiidc
Fatum von vome um:l von hinten]•••"
17 Referring te bis own démarche, Nietzsche simply asserts, without expIanation,
that bis own unconscious, determinM behaviour bas been, in fact, a manifestation

• of the higbest sort of fieedom: "everything is in the bighest degree involuntary but
takes place as in a tempest ofa feeling offreedom. ofabsoluteness, of power, of
divinity••." (EH "zn 3)

94
• with i.'litially wund moral equipment (healthy instincts) to move from less adequate
to more adequate beliefs about what really matters in life. and consequently from a
less to a more virtuous life. While this ethic rejects the sort of naturalistic
àetenninism sometimes favoured by Nietzsche, it also provides Nietzsche with the
conceptual reso= to criticise as one-dimensional and superficial a particularly
contentious aceount of action and "free will" that Nietzsche associates with "slave
morality".
When in bis naturalistic humour, Nietzsche belittles and dismisses the
importance of conscious intention and deliberation. At other, more Aristotelian
moments, however, conscious deliberation is not belittled, but rather made a junior
partner to the profoundly internalised, "instinctive" type of ethical knowledge
mentioned above. Like Aristotle, he believes that we need not trace our actions
back to an identifiable process of conscious deliberation in order to deem ourselves

fully responsible moral agents. The "deliberation" that we engage in before the
performance of free actions need not be explicit; it can be deeply internalised to the
point where it can seem instinctive.18 It is from this perspective, rather than the
perspective of naturallstic determinism, that Nietzsche can reject the voluntaristic
notion of"free will", which he identifies with Christian and secular, post-ehristian
attaeks on the role ofpre-conscious bodily knowledge in practicaljudgemenL
Ardent defenders of "slave morality", claims Nietzsche, use the notion of free will
as a club with which to beat down healthy, superior men. When sueb men malte
the mistaken of acceding to this insidious notion, they come to mistrust their own
instinctive, bodily knowledge and are duped into thinking that they could have

18 For a lucid discussion ofAristotle's treannent of the development within the


virtuous persan ofbabits of eboice (prohoiresis), see Annas 1993: 29-30, 51-2-


Annas notes that the Aristotelian account ofmoral cboice (an account that is shared,
in my view, by Nietzsche) is nnacceptable to moral philosophers influenced by
Kant, who refuses to situate moral decision-making within any account of the
empirical, dispositional self (Ibid., 52).

95
• chosen (through the strength of their "will") another path.I 9 It is no accident.
observes NietzsChe, that "free will" has always becn associated with "sin"" ''The
concept 'sin' invented together with the instrument of torture which goes with it.
the concept of 'free will', sa as ta confuse the instincts, sa as ta make mistrust of
the instincts inta second nature!" (EH "Destiny" 8)
NietzsChe is suggesting, in other words, that those who insist that "an effects
[are] conditioned by something that causes effects, by a 'subject'" (GM 113) are
really self-interested ideologues ofa slave morality attempting ta convince the
strong that they could "freely choose" not ta manifest their strength against others.
These ardent defenders of plebeian interests "maintain no helief more ardently than
the helief that the srrong man isfree ta he weak and the bird of prey ta he a
lamb..." (Ibid.) For Nietzsche, in contradistinction, the "1" that expresses who we
are is not a disembodied, voluntaristic command center issuing orders ta a body that
is mean only ta ohey; it is rather a vehicle oheying the (intelligent) body's deepest
inclinations and proclivities.2O
His critique offree will, ta recap, need not stem from the naturalistic-
deterministic line he sometimes espouses. Indeed, 1 would suggest that the
influence of Aristotelian moral pbilosophy weighs more heavily on him becanse of
bis need for its developmental ethic, ie. the optimistic suggestion that, given the

right moral "equipment", it is poSSIble for us ta change our ways and move from
inadequate ta adequate states of moral consciousness. Nietzsche is drawn ta this
developmental ethic because of bis view - ta he discussed more closeIy in Chapters
IV through VIn - that inherently superior human heings, though initially deluded


19 As we shall sec in the next chapter, Nietzsche associates this path with that
moral and cultural dec1ine and decay•
20 Bernard Williams conduets a briefbut interesting discussion on Nietzsehe's
critique of"free will" in WIlliams 1994: 237-250.

96
• about their true interests. cC/uld be "nudged" toward a more accurate assessment of
their own potentialities and place in the world.
Let us now begin to exanüne this developmental ethic in sorne detail. At the
center of this ethic is a treatment of "nature" quite different from that found in the
modem tradition ofscientific naturalism. 1would argue that an understanding of
the use of nature in this sense is crucial to grasping Nietzsche's distinction between
noble and ignoble.

Virtue and Artifiee21

Nietzsche's aforementioneet insistence upon the profound animality of the


highest sort of human being is coupled with the daim that the highest type
surpasses the rest of the animal world through bis own, matchless expression of
human animality. When Nietzsche's literary creation declares that there is a
"sublimeness in man" [dos Hohe an den Menschen] (Z noV), he adopts a theme
beloved of al! the major Judaeo-Christian and Graeco-Roman moralists: !bat human
beings at the peak of their development transcend the rest of nature.22 The human
being, zarathustra remarks, is "the most courageous animal: with bis courage he
bas overcome every animal." [Der Mensch aber ist dos mutigsre Trer: damit
überwand erjedes Trer] (Z m OVR 1) This sentiment is echoed in GM m.13,

when Nietzsche pointedly insists that man, "the great experimenter with himself,
discontented and insatiable, wrestling with animaIs, nature, and gods for ultimate

21 The rest of this chapter appears in a slightly different form in Appel 1996
(forthcoming).
22 Nietzsche takes issue with what he sees as the levelling tendency ofDarwinism
that places the human animal on par with other species. Compared with this
denigration ofhumankind's inherent dignity, he suggests, the pre-modem vaunting


of man is infinitely preferable: "Alas, the faith in the dignity and uniqueness of
man, in bis irreplaceability in the great chain ofbeing, is a thing of the past - he bas
become an animal, literal1y and without reservation or qualification, he who was,
according to bis old faith, almost Gad ('child of God,' 'Gad-man)." (GM m.2S)

97
• dominion," has ... dared more, done more new things, braved more and
challenged fate more than ail the other animals put together..." In the eyes of man
the great self-experimenter, the mere ape is but "a laughing-stock or a painful
embarrassment" (Z Prologue 3)
Transcending the rest of nature means moving beyond the lowly goal of self-
preservation towards the struggle for "self-overcoming," a trait Nietzsche associates
at severa! points in Zarathustra not just with healthy, noble human beings, but with
all "ascending" life-forms. In an apparent slap against Darwinist thought,
Nietzsche denounces the idea !bat there is a "will to existence" [Willen zum Dasein]
(Z II OSO) or "will to health" (GS 120).23 "AlI creatures hitherto have created

something beyond themselves" (Z Prologue 3), Zarathustra insists, for "the living
creature values many things higher!han life itself [Vzeles ist dem Lebenden hiiher

geschiitzt. ais Leben selber]..." (Z II OSO) This is especially the case in the human
world, where higher members of the human species are said to have the potential
for "overcoming" the level ofexistence of the vast majority of men in contemporary
societies. whom Nietzsche sees as falling far short of the mark anainable by the
human species at its highest.
"Living - is !bat not pteeisely wanting to be other !han this Nature?" (BGE 9)
In creating their own meaniDg and ortler, the virtuous, as "genuine artists oflife,"

(BGE 32) inject a form of willed artifice in their lives Dot pre-given by nature. As
Nussbaum rightly points out, life, for Nietzsche,
is made worth living, made joyful and made human.
only by art - that is to say, in the largest sense, by the
human being's power to create an order in the midst
of disorder, to make up a meaning where nature
herself does not supply one. In the aeative aetivity

23 Nietzsche, too, is interested in a type of health. He considers the sort of


"health" that he disparates to he different in kind, Iefening specifical1y to the
tendency of the "many-too-many' to consider their own self-preservation and safety
as paramount. Nietzsehe's notion of moral-psychologiccal health will become
clearer in the Dext chapter. :

98
• (associated by Nietzsche not only with the arts
narrowly understood. but also with love. religion.
ethics. science - all being seen as fonns of creative
story-making). we fmd the source of what is in truth
wonderful andjoyful in life. (Nussbaum 1991: 99)
The highest fonn of this willed, creative artifice. the specifically human
endeavour that makes our species greal, is our evaluative, c1iscrinùnating ethical
capacity: "evaluation is creation [Sclu'itzen ist Schaffen] .•• Valuating is itselfthe
value and jewel of all valued things." (Z 1 OTG) Ethical valuation is par.icularly
noble, for Nietzsche. when it has no illusions about itself and self-eonsciously
refrains from seeking out meaning in external sources. Conducted by agents who
acknowledge its "artificiality" and who rejoice Î!l their own creation of meaning.
ethical valuation represents the highest fonn ofcreative artifice. "[I]f we cao learn
to value that activity, and find our own meaning in il, rather than looking for an
extemal meaning in god or in nature, we cao then love ourselves. and love life."

(Nussbaum op.ciL)
We should understand Nietzsehe's critique of Romanticism and Naturalism in
light of this stress on the "artificiality" of virtue. Nietzsehe's profound objection to
Romanticism, ie. to the view that one could "return to nature" (and thus to virtue)
by sloughing off the artifice ofculture and civilisation and recovering a pristine.
"natural" self, bas been well-explored. In part IV of Thus Spou Zarathustra,
Nietzsche burlesques the romantic nostalgia for the noble savage by making one of
bis foolish, so-ealled "higher men" (one of the two kings) declare:

'I think the finest and dearest man today is a healthy


peasant, uncouth, cunning, obstinate, enduring
[grob, listig, hartnlickig, langhaltig]: that is the
noblest type today J The peasant is the finest man
today; and the peasantly should be master [Bauem-
Art sollle HerT sein]!' (Z IV CI{)

The fact that the lowly peasant is thoroughly "natural" is no reason to show him the

• respect due to the highest orders ofhumanity. Nietzsche despises the intellectual

99
• and artislic fasbion of bis lime - associated bath with Romanlicism and nineteenth-
century "Naturalism" - that insists on the inherent worth of everything "natural". In
one's social dealings one should foUow the example of a man of taste like the poet
Emerson, who "inslinclively feeds on pure ambrosia and leaves alone the
indigestible in things." (TI EUM, 13) Emerson represents the SOIt of "barn
psychologist" Nietzsche describes in TI EUM 7, who "instinctively guards against
seeing for the sake of seeing; the same applies to the barn painter. He never works
'from nature' - he leaves it to bis instinct, bis camera obscura, to sift and strain
'nature'." Nietzsche believes that the fasbionable, Romantic idealisation of "rustic"
manners and the indiscriminate curiosity of Naturalists for everything "natural"
embody modem assaults against the true nobility and decency he sees himself as
championing: "[t]oday we consider it a matter ofdecency reine Sache der
Schicklichkeit] not to wish to see everything naked, or to be present at everything,
or to understand and 'know' everything." (GS Pref. 4)
Nietzsche also parts company with the view of Nature (with a capital "N") as an
aIl-powerful entity with its own logos and its own good, separate from natural
things and human beings and directing them in light of its own, master plan. He
cbides Romantic poets who, canied away by tbeir own "tender emotions" [ziirtüche
Regnungen] and rural reveries, claim 10 be in tune with Nature's "voice". (Z nOS)

The worldis not an interconnected system chal'llcterised by an underlying unity of

purpose; as "a total process" or system, Nietzsche contends, it "does not exist at
ail." (WP 711) Elsewhere Nietzsche wams us against thinking of the world as a

living being, with a moral direction ofits own:


Let us beware of attributing 10 it heartlessness and
unreason or their opposites: it is neither perfect nor
beautiful, nor noble, nor does it wish to become any
of these things; it does not by any means strive to


imitate man. None of our aesthetic and moral
judgements apply to it... Let us beware of saying
that there are laws in nature. There are only

100
• necessities: there is nobody who commands. nobody
who obeys. nobody who trespasses. (GS 109)24
"Life." remarks Nietzsche in an oft-quoted passage. "is something essentially
amoral." (ET "Attempt" 5) We must take this critique of universal teleology into
account when assessing Nietzsche's efforts at "demoting" morality. at locating it "in
the phenomenal world ... among the 'deceptions'. as illusion. delusion. error.
interpretation. artifice. art [ais Schein, Wahn, Irrtum, Ausdeutung,
Zurechtrruzchung, Kunst]." (Ibid.) Scholars within the new orthodox consensus

routinely take passages like these as evidence for Nietzsche's supposed view of
ethical valuation as epiphenomenal and hence excluded from his account of what
makes human beings sublime. 1 would argue. however. that Nietzsche's
"demotion" of ethics is not meant as a denigration of il. His refusai to give ethical
valuation a supra-human status. i.e. his insistance that it is firmly anchored in the
human domain. is in fact his way of honouring it in the highest degree. Seeing
morality as artifice is not to belittle il; artifice. in Nietzsehe's view. is what makes
the highest sort of human being great.

Vu:tue as Natural

The new orthodoxy tends to take Nietzsehe's c1ear rejection of pantheistic


conceptions of Nature to entai! a refusai to attribute any sort of significance to the
concept of nature.2S Strong. for example, insists that for Nietzsche. "'nature' is a

24 Sec also GS 301. 357 and BGE 21, 22. Granier quite rightly points out that
Nietzsche does not wish us "to fall back into metaphysical illusion by turning the
hypothesis of 'nature' into an abstraction that would surreptitiously lead back to an
in~lligiblesubstratum ofbeing in itself." (Granier 1985: 137)
25 Significantly. the new orthodoxy also assumes that Nietzsehe·s criticism of
capital "N" Nature is tantamount, in eff'ect, to a rejection of the whole legacy of
ancient moral philosophy, since it is wide1y assumed that the appeal to nature in


ancient moral philosophy is just of this sort; an appeal to a cosmic teleology with
the concomitant cIaim that our lives have a point only as part of a larger. ethically-
infused cosmic scheme. This all-too-eommon view of ancient moral philosophY
bas recently come under strong criticism in a number ofscholarly reassessments of

101
• plain of inaction. a darlc midnight of a world that permits no categories or action."
(1988: 141) Warren's insistence on placing the terms "nature". "natural". and
"unnatural" in inverted commas reinforce this same view that Nietzsche sees nature
as meaningless. groundless chaos. and that he could only look upon alternative
perspectives with irony (Warren 1988: 30. 32. 98. 150.265).26
A close reading of the teXts, however. reveals that Nietzsche treats the concept
of nature with the utmost serlousness. Notwithstanding bis virulent criticisms of
what he sees as the indiscriminate vulgarity of late nineteenth-century "Naturalism"
in the arts and letters. Nietzsche does not hesitate to define bis own perspective on
virtue as a form of naturalism. Nietzsche explicitly identifies bis understanding of
naturalism in ethics with "aIl healthy morality '" dominated by an instinct of life"
(11 MAN 4).27 While Nietzsche's new philosopher must criticise and denounce the

many erroneous ways in which nature bas been invoked to justify oppressive,
dogmatic moralities. religious traditions. political movements, etc.• he insists this
critique he mounted ftom the standpoint of "that eternal basic text" that is homo
natura. The new philosopher's task is

the tradition. It is aIgUed that the appeal to na!Ure in, for example, Aristotle and the
Stoics is an appeal to a normative conception ofspecifically human nature, rather
than nature in the cosmic sense. (See Nussbaum 1985: 102-3; Annas 1993: 136-
139; Irwin 1985: 416-417) Those few attempts in the ancient, pre-Christian world
to find an overa1I moral puxpose in the cosmos itself, and to propose cosmic nature
as a tirst principle for ethical conduet - for example, Plato (Phoedo 97b-98b and
1Aws 886a) and later Stoics like Marcus Aurelius and Epietetus - were heterodox
exceptions and not very influential in the ancient wodd (Annas 1993, 159-165).
We shall discuss the normative role of (anthropommphic) nature in Aristotle's
moral philosophy, and its similarity to Nietzsehe's trealmc:nt of nature, be1ow.
26 See also Nehamas (1985: 173), anè Blondel (1991: 205) for similar. dismissive
treatments of nature.
27 References to Nietzsehe's own "naturalism" are also present in the Nachlass.
In WP 283, he suggests that only unhea1thy ideologies stemming from the pleheian
slave revoIt in mora1s declare that "naturalness is evil; it is right to oppose nature."


In WP 462, he desaibes as one ofbis "fundamental innovations" the replacing of
"'moral values'" with "purely naturalistic values. Naturalisation of morality."
Ben:, as in many other contexts, Nietzsche associates the term "morality"
specifically with slave morality (sec the discussion in Olapter m.
102
• to translate man back into nature; to rnaster the many
vain and fanciful interpretations and secondary
meanings which have hitherto scribbled and daubed
over that etemal basic text homo natura; to confront
man henceforth with man in the way in which.
hardened by the discipline of science, man today
confronts the rest of nature, with daunting Oedipus
eyes. (BGE 230)
We have already explored one way in which Nietzsche considers his project to
be in line with "naturalism". 1am referring to his aforementioned attempt to ground
bis view of primordial human t;,l!oism in something more fundamentai than any
particuiar table of values (even bis own): the imperative of the will to power, which
purportedly gives a causal explanation of the behaviour of ail sentient beings.
There is, however. another important way in which Nietzsche treats the concept of
nature. a way that does not purport to serve as an independent validation of his
moral view. but instead emerges out ofhis moral view and remains inextricably tied
up with il. It is an understanding of human nature, as opposed to cosmic nature.
This view is aIlued to in the above excerpt from BGE 230. where the "eternal. basic

text" of homo natura is c1early distinguished from "the rest of nature".

What is this second understanding of (human) nature. an understanding that is

immanent to Nietzsche's view ofhuman flourishing? For Nietzsche, a "return ta


nature" in this sense involves not an unearthing ofsome pristine, Edenesque state
of noble savagety. but rather a discovery ofone's highest potential and the striving
ta be other than the rest of nature - i.e. other than thase people and things that are
naturally below oneself (BGE 9).
Nietzsche's view may be usefully compared with Aristotle's. and in particular
with the Aristote1ian distinction between two different senses of the concept
"nature": "virtue is not natura!, but it is not against nature, either." (Nico11UJCheœt
Ethics. 1l03a25) The meaning of the first part ofthis comment is straightforward:

• virtue is "unnatural" in that it does not develop spontaneously. without education or

103
• upbringing. In this flfSt sense, as Williams notes. hardly anything in human beings
is "natural," including the use oflanguage (Williams 1985: 47). "Mere" nature, in
this sense. simply provides US with certain potentials and capacities; it is up to US to
develop the "natural equipment" with which we may initially have been endowed
into a fully virtuous disposition.28 In the second part of the above passage.
however. Aristotle suggests that this. first sense of nature (as "mere" nature) is ooly
ha1f the story. Nature can also be seen in another sense - as an ethical standard
(Annas 1993: 142-147). He argues that the formation ofethical dispositions is a

natural process in human beings. where "natural" now refers te the cultivation of
certain essential human atttibutes. In ber g10ss on Aristotle's famous c1aim that the
human being is a "political animal". Nussbaum fonnulates the inSight with

[t]he cIaim that the political is a part of our nature


appears to be equivalent to the claim that a life
without it is lacking in an important good. is
seriously frustrated or incomplete... To find out
about our nature seems to be one and the same with
finding out what we believe to be the most important
and indispensible e1ements of our lives. (Nussbaum
1986: 350)
In the context of this antbropomorphic, developmental ethic, virtuous action that is
part of the creative artifice ofculture is natural in that it iepresents the culmination of
the correct deve10pment ofa certain kind ofanimal' the human being.29 Nature in

28 Cf. N'u:omac1reœl Ethics 1337al: "the deficiencies of nature aIe what art and
education seek to fill up." .
29 The tlbennensch.. it must be noted, is not conceived as some litcral OYeiCOming
of the human species. W8i1'eD. rightly observes that "[a]lthough Nietzsche c1aims
many times in Zorathustra that 'man is something that must be OYeiCOIDe,' he
never suggests that postmodem man - bis 0be171ll!1lSch - wouId CO<1SÏSt ofanything
that does not in sorne way exist in present man. 'only a buffoon things: <<:Man can

• also be jumped over».' [Z mONL 4]" (W8i1'eD. 1988: 160) 1 would argue that
Nietzsche porttays the tJbennnrsch as the quinessential hmnan specimen; a master-
type befitting modemity.

104
• tIüs second sense provides us with our ethical goals !hat should dictate. in tom, our
value judgements and political decisions.3O
Nietzsche does not believe !bat we cao find out what is natural in tIüs
developmental sense - and hence what our ethical goals should he - sirnply by
examining what most people do or believe. In Nietzsehean ethics, as in Aristotelian
and Stoic ethies, nature is used in a way !bat often leads the moral philosopher to
call for a radical break with conventional ways oflife and beliefs: "the natura!life is
the life we would idea1ly live, and the fact !bat we do not live !hat way merely

shows !bat we have been cormpted." (Annas 1993: 273) As we sha11 sec below
and in the n~ chapter, Nietzsche sees moral corruption as roe not just within the
majority of the population, but also - tragically - amongst those few with innateIy
noble dispositions. He treats the 1atter as an oppressed minority imbued with the
faIse consciousness of slave mora1ity. and consequently without a proper

understanding of themselves and their rightful place in the naturaI Rongordnung.


Thus we cao no more xely upon their initial accounts of the "natura!" !han wc cao
upon the accounts of the majority.
Despite its incompab"bility with Nietzsehe's "harder", modern naturalistic line,3\
1would argue !bat this twin-track AIistoteliIvJ perspective on nature rema;ns an

30 Sec also Annas 1993: 147. Unable to xecognise Nietzsche's indebtedness te


this Aristotelian strand of moral philosophy, Blondel suggests !bat Nietzsche was
the first thinker te collapse the I1lIlIlre-<:Ultuxe dichotomy. (Blondel 1991: 43) As
wc have a1Ieady noted, the pxesumption ofNiettsehe's absolute originality bas
attained caoonical stalUS within the new orthodox consensus.
31 The whole notion !bat higher sorts ofhuman beings cao he deluded and
Sllccnmb te "false consciousucss" is difficu1t te xeconcile with Nietzsche's
afoxementioncd belie! in the "tmerring" nature of the superior human being's
instincts. If holding the right views and doing the right thing comes 50 easily te
N'1CtZSCbe's highest human being, how could this superior being allow b;mself te
he seduced by a "slave mora1ity"? Nietzsche's difficu1ties, 1would argue, cao he
traced back te the tension in bis thought engendered by the respective influences of


modern naturaIism and ancient deve10pmental ethics. Whexeas the 1atter.
Aristotelian strain cao easily countenance the possl"bility of moral change within the
lifetime ofa superior human being - i.e. moving from a state of false consciousness
te a stance more in line with bis innare potentials - the former. natura1istic strain (as

lOS
• important part of Nietzsehean reflections throughout bis intellectua1 career.
Detwiler bas pereeptively observed this in noting that Nietzsehe develops a
conception of the natural that Ois not l'eressarily distinct from the conventional."
(Detwiler 1990: SO) As carly as "Homer's Contest," (1872) Nietzsche stakes out
the Aristotelian position whieh he never complete1y abandons:

When one speaks of humanity [Humanitiil]. the idea


is fundamental that this is 50mething whieh separates
and distinguishes man from nature. In reality.
however. there is no sueh separation: 'natura!'
qualities and those called truly 'human' are
inseparably grown together. Man, in bis highest and
noblest capacities. is wholly nature [ganz Natur] and
embodies its uncanny dual eharacter [unheimlichen
Doppelcharakter].32
Much later. we sec ~ view once again in the context ofNietzsche's assertion that
fllifillment ofone'strue nature - through obeying artificial, "arbitI'aly" laws rather
than attempting to rediscover 50me bogus, "pure" self. unsullied by artifice - is the

equivalent of attaining true freedom:


the strange fact is that all there is or bas been on earth
of freedom. subtlety. boldness. dance and masterly
certainty. whether in thinkjng itself. or in ruling. or
in speaking and persuasion. in the arts as in moraIs.
bas ev.olved only by virtue of the 'tyranny of sueh
arbitràry laws'; and. in all seriousness. there is no
small probability that precisely this is 'nature' and
'natura!' - and not that laisser aller! Every artist

we bave already seen) leads N"1CIZSChe ta sec moral personality as essentially statie
and pregiven.
32 Wenn man von Humanitlit redet, 50 liegt die Vorstellung zugrunde, es mi)ge
das sein, was den Menschen von der Natur abscheidet und auszeichnet. Aber eine
50lche Abscheidung gibt es in Wnk1ichkcit nïcht: die «natflrlichen»
EigeDschaftcn und die eigentlich <<rnenscblich» genannten sind ùotrennbar
verwachsen. Der Mensch in seinen hiSchsten und edelsten Krliften ist gaœ Natur
und trligt ihren unheïmIichen Doppelcharakter an sich." Kanfmann's ttansIation cao
be found in bis Portabk N"letzsehe (1982: 32). Cf. the following comment, from
the 1874 essay "Schopenhauer as Edueator": "[T]he fundamc:ntal idea of
<:Ultzw[Ku1tur], insofar as it sets for each one ofus but one task [IS] to promote the

• production ofthe philosopher, the artist and the saint within us and without us and
thereby to woTt al the perfecting of1llJtUTe [an der Vollendung der Natur zu
arbeiten]." UM.III.S.

106
• knows how far from the feeling of letting himself go
his 'natura!' condition is... (BGE 188)33
This passage refers back to the CIÏticism he makes a few paragraphs earlier of
anarchists who presume - mistakeo1y, in his view - that genuine freedom can oo1y
be defined negatively, by the absence ofalllaw and other artificial constraint. In a

manner echoing the classical republican political philosophy of Aristotle,


Machiavelli, and Rousseau, NielZSChe's own view of freedom suggests that
freedom is acmaljsed oo1y in and through human artifice: the enactment of human,
"arbitrary" law.

The Unnatural Berd

What of men and women unable to attain hnmanity's "highest and noblest
capacities"? How do those representing, in Nietzsehe's eyes, the vast majority fit
into this account of the dual character ofhuman beings? Ifbeing hnman in the
fullest sense means striving for greatness. those with neither the capacity nor the
desire for such striving "deprive existence of its great character" [dem Dasein
seinen groften Charakter nehmen) (EH "Destiny" 4), thereby distancing themselves
from human nature in its fullest flourishing. Unable and unwilling 10 strive for the
pinnacle of refined, creative artifice that is natural for the human species, Nietzsche
claims they resemble the rest of the animal wood more than his exemplars of

humanity.
In his early encounter with the crowd, before realising the futility of his
proselytising efforts among them. zarathustra asks if, rather than striving for
overcoming the human-all-too-human, they would prefer 10 "retum 10 the animaIs"
[lieber noch ZJQIl TIeTe zurückgehn) (Z Prologue 3). Later on, zarathustra

• 33 Once again, Nletzsclle resorts 10 the Ibetorical device of the inverted comma 10
distance his prefeaed trea!TTleDt of nature from that ofa despised group - in this
case,. Romantics and self-defined naturalists.

107
• interprets their longing for the "last man" as an affumative answer to bis question,
and henceforth turiIS bis back on them and redirects bis message to thase few with
cars to hear him. Henceforth the majority ofbumankind is disrnissed for its
incapacity to ttanscend the rest of nature, and is described repeatedly - and
revealingly - with animal imageIy. The many move together as a "herd", or
"swann", succumbing to the temptations of amerely (ie. not-fully-human) animal-
like existence focused on the firlfillment of immediate, basic needs. (Z Pref. 3; GS

351) "Ifyou believed more in life," Zarathustta remaries disapprovingly to Ibis

majority, "you would devote yourselves less to the moment." (Z 1 OPD) Instead,
the people Nietzsche deems "superfluous" clamber about "like nimble apes." (Z 1

ON!) In an echo of Aristotle's famous distinction in the Politics 1 between "mere


life" and "the good life", Nietzsche refers disparagîngly to the ~ed virtue that
is invoked "in arder to live long and in a miserable case [erbi.innlù:hen Behagen]."

(Z 1 OPe; cf. Z Prologue 3) Tuming away !rom the noblest part ofhuman life, the

majority pursues what Nietzsche refers to as "the happiness of serfs" [Glück der
Knechte] (Z n OfF), for he believes that the herd is truly enslaved ta the base idea1s

of mere physical health and comfort. Becausc of their repudiation of all noble
aspirations oftransœndence, they become like the cows portrayed by the
ridiculous. sermonising "voluntary beggar" ofZ IV VB, who "'have devised
rnmination [das Wrederkiiuen] and lying in the sun. And they abstain !rom all

heavy thoughts that int1ate the heart [aIler schweren Gedonken, welche das BeTZ
bUihn].'"
Zarathustta contrasts Ibis U1II/QtUral happiness of serfs with the attitude of the
master-type towards life: "wc love life, not becausc wc are used ta living but
bec8usc wc are used to loving." (Z 1ORW) Oearly, mere existence and the


satisfaction ofbasic needs are not sufficient. In a transparent nad ta ancient Roman
aristocratie mores, Nietzsche outlines the case for choosing the time and

108
• circumstances of one's own death, arguing !bat it is more noble to take leave of
one's life when one is at the height of one's powers ("One must stop pennitting
oneself to be eaten when one tastes best") than ta cling pathetically to life. (Z 1
OVD) ln contrast to a mob [Piibel] that "wants to live gratis," thase of noble sou!
[die Art edler Seelenl - in whose company Nietzsche includes, ofcourse, himself-

"are always considering what we cao best give in retum!" (Z m ONI. 5)

Nietzsche believes !bat it is profoundly unnatural to tum one's back on the most
distinctive'and complex capacities of the human species and succumb to a life
focused entirely on self-preservation and comfon.34 Hence the unnaturalness of
slave morality, the term he invokes to describe the mode of ethicai valuation
predominant in Western civilisation since the dawn ofJudaism and the carly days of
its Christian offspring. When Nietzsche refers to bis "attentat on two millennia of
anti-nature and the violation of man" (EH "BT" 4), he is speaking of this slave or
herd morality, which, he assures US, bas been found in "virtually every morality
that bas hitherto been taught,:teverenced, and preached." (Tl MAN 4) lt is notthe

epistemic errors of slave morality that horrify and offend him, not its lack "of
discipline, of decency, ofcourage in spiritual affaiIs ..• - it is the lack of nature, it is
the uttedy ghastiy fact that Q1ltÏ-1IIJtlUe itself bas received the highest honours as

morality, and bas hung over mankind as law..." (EH "Destiny" 7)

34 Unnatural, and yet frighteningly tempting and easy. Living in a medioae


manner with limited horizons comes effortlessly,like succmnbing to the laws of
gravity. Vutne, on 'the contraJ:y, is said to IeqUiIe a capacity and willingness to
fight that "devil and arch-enemy" ofzarathustra, the "Spirit ofGravity" [Geiste der
Schwerel, xepœsented in Z mOVR 1 as a hideous, mocking dwarf perched on
zarathustra's shoulder. It seems to me that the dwarfrepresents ail ofzarathustra's


self-doubts and anxieties about the possibility for success ofhis enterprise. AIl
ambitious striving after virtue, the dwarf mockingly seems to say, must come
crashing down in the end. 1 will say more about Nietzsehe's CODCerI1 about the
temptations to moral back-sliding faced by natural nobles in Chapter VI.

109
• This chapter began with an exam;nation of the cognitive and moral-ethical

significaoce that Nietzsche sees in our bodily "instincts". Like Aristotle and post-
Aristotelian moral philosophctS of the Hellenistic period, Nietzsche argues that
dettrmining the quality of our passions - something that involves determining what
anraets and repels us viscerally - is key to revealing the state of our moral-spiritual

development. While he believes the affects U> be present in both those at higher and
lower states ofdevelopment, he suggests that wc cao determine the truc status of
particular individuals by assessing the quality of their instincts. To make an
accurate assessment, of course. requires possession ofIoftier, more refined
instincts; reeall our discussion in Cbapter 1 of Nietzsehe's conviction that truth itself
is accessible only to the select, superior few.
1 argued that Nietzsche's treatment of this bodily "knowledge", while clearly
indebted to Aristotelian and Hellenistic moral philosophy, is also greatly influenced
by a modem form of naturalism that leads him to sugge5t, at times, that
fundamental moral-spiritual self-ïmprovement is, at some deep level, impossJ."ble.
In Nietzsche's naturalistic moments, he argues l3ther fatalistically that aulhentic
virtue is "unconscious", that one either "bas it" or one does not. This fatl1ism

proves to he a hindrance whenever Nietzsche wants U> suggest that self-


ïmprovement cao occur. Indeed, a central argument ofthis worlc is that Nietzsche
wants U> propose that it is possl"ble for thase with initially fine moral "equipment" U>

suffer from distorted and confused beliefs about themselves, and yet (neverthe1ess)
somehow ta tum themselves around (so to speak) and embrace a truer, nobler
"table ofvalues" more ret1ective of their noble sensibilities. In arder U> argue in this
manner, Nietzsche moves away from modern, scientific naturalism in arder U>
embrace the sort ofdevelopmental ethic found in Aristotle and the He11enistic moral


philosophers. N'1ClZSChe's complex. evocation ofa normative conception of nature,
1sugge5t, cao only he undctSU>od in the contex.t of such an ethic.

no
• Having established (at least provisionally) Nietzsche's status as a moral
philosopher. and having given an inttoductory (admittedly only formaI) account of
bis distinction between higher and lower human beings, we are now in a better

position to begin a detailed exarnïnation of Nietzsche's understanding of slave


morality and of the sort of person he sees as exemplifying iL The next chapter will
consider these issues, and will explore something to which 1have repeatedly been
alluding: the Nietzschean account of the faIse consciousness of the highest sort. 1
intend to argue that this account is crucial to grasping Nietzsche's "therapeutic"
project vis-à-vis this higher sort of human being.

• 111
• Chapter IV; The Corroption & Rescue of the Nietzschean J\:Laster-Type

Plebeian Ressentiment and the Lust for Revenge

As we noted in Chapter l, Nietzsche attributes the emergence of otherworldly,

metaphysical dualist accounts of the cosmos to the cowardice of the plebeian


character, i.e. to the widespread inability or unwiIlingness of the majority to
countenance the possibility !bat moral valuation is essentially an artificial construct
of the human agent. The bighest sort of human being, by contras.. supposedly
understands and even joyfully embraces this notion as he revels in bis own
inventiveness. In this chapter, we will examine a second, parallel account of the
roots of slave morality: Nietzsche's discussion of the consequences of plebeian
ressentiment, i.e. the bitter, tacit acknowledgement on the part of the inferior many
of the inherent superiority of thase with refined dispositions.
As Nietzsche famously suggests in bis On the Genealogy ofMorals, slave

morality is distinguished from its noble rival by its essentially reactive nature (GM
ll.ll). Whereas true nobility bas always been self-regarding, taking itselfas good
and praiseworthy and (almost as an afterthought) dismissing what cannot attain its
level as bad [schlecht] and undesirable, slave morality bas been preoccupied with
the business of regarding the other from start 10 finish, forever defining itself in
reference to an a1ready-existent noble standard ofexcellence.
In bis harangue against the "despisers of the body", Zarathustra elaims to
expose the unacknowledged but passionate, SH'thing envy that characterises the
multitude and explains many of their attitudes and actions: "no longer are you able
to aeate beyond yourselvesJ And therefore you are now angry with life and with
the earth. An unconscious envy [Ein IUIgewujJter Neid] lies in the sidelong glace of

• 112
• your contempt [eurer Verachtung]." (Z 1ODB)! As Zarathustra counsels his
young disciple in Z 1OTM. "[yJou still fcel YOl1lSelf noble. and the others. too [edel
fühlen dich auch die andem noch]. who dislike you and cast evil glances at you,

still fcel you are noble. Leam that everyone finds the noble man an obstruction."

Further on in Part 1, Zarathustra addresses another worthy interlocutor with similar


words of caution: "my friend, you are a bad conscience [das base Gewissen] to
your neighboUlS: for they are unworthy of you." (Z 1OFM) Superior human
beings. he suggests. are particularly exasperating to the mediccre in their refusai to
-1k.t
resort to that pretentious moral phraseologyYserves the insecure many as a crutch;

super~or men evir.ce a "silent pride" that "offends their taste." (Ibid.) The one thing
the people cannot abide, that which sets their teeth on edge. is the noble character's
calm, palite rejection of the universality of their aIleged ..virtues." As Zarathustra

noles ofhis own commerce with the plebeian element, "I go among the people and
keep my eyes open: they do not forgive me !hat 1 am not envious [neidisch] of their

virtuesJ They peck al me becanse 1 tell !hem: For sma\l people sma\l virtues are
necessary..... (ZmVMS 2)
The envy and resentment of the many are intensified by an aceurare sense of the
superior man's contempt towards them: "Even when you are gentle towards them,
they still feel you despise !hem; and they return your kindness with secret
unkindness." (lOFM) Despite bis magnanjmous show ofpalite gentleness, the
free, independent spirit's lofty reserve and dicdain are ail-tao evident - and

infuriating - to the crowd: "You approached them and yet went on past !hem: that
they will never forgive you.•. And he who flies is hated most ofaIl." (Z 1 OWC)

1 Sec also Z n OT, where Zarathustra noles the "repressed envy" [verira1tener
Neidj of the "tarantu\as." .Simi\arly, in TI MA 19 Nietzsche mentions the envious


nature ofthose sanctimonious individuals who (as wc saw in 0Japter II) try bard to
act the part of virtue without being al ail convincing in the eyes of those offine
character: they display "the beaving bosom, yet al the same time look with envy on
the advantages enjoyed by those who live for the day•••"

113
• In what appears to be a transparent allusion to Nietzsehe's own experience amongst

scholarly types, Zarathustra remarks that "when 1 lived among them [the scholars] 1
lived above them. They grew angry with me for thatJ They did not want to know
that someone was walking over their heads..." (Z II OS) In bis last work,
Nietzsche returns in an autobiographical cantext to the idea that the ressentiment
directed at the free spirit is fueled by the accurate popular perception of bis contempt

for the majority: "He whom 1despise divines that 1 despise him [Wen ich erachte,
der erriit, daj3 er von mir verachJet wird): through my mere existence 1enrage
everything that bas bad bloOO in its veïns..." (EH "Oever" 10)
Ressentiment quicldy leads to revenge. "Before YOD," claims Zarathustra
before one of bis youthful, noble interlocutors, "they fcel themselves small, and
their baseness [ihre Niedrigkeil] glimmer; and glows against you in hidden
vengeance [unsichJbarer Rache]." (Z 1 OFM) Bitterly resentful ofthe "advantages
enjoyed by those who live for the day" (TI MA 19), the plebeian forces, througb
the twistedly creative efforts of their priest1y leaders (sec bclow), succeed in
"mak[ing] others su1fer" (Z II OP) by reciefining, indeed demonising all that is truly
noble and healthy as "evil" [bèise], and recasting all that does not possess.inberent
nobility (ie. themselves) as "goOO" (GM L4). This program of revenge, Nietzsche
argues, cloaks itse1fin the sanetimonious language of "pn nisbment"2 and
"justice."3 "To hunt him [the free spirit] from bis biding place - the people a1ways
called that 'baving a sense of right' [<<Sinnfiir dtzs Rechte»]: tbey bave a1ways
set their sbaIpest-toothed dogs upon bim." (Z II OFP)4

2 "'pnnisbment' is what revenge calls itself: it feigns a good conscience for itse1f
with a lie [mit einem Lilgenwort heuchelt sie sich ein gutes Gewirsen]." (Z II OR)
3 Pol'traying the envious and vengeful. as "tarantulas," Zaratbustra attempts to goad
tbem into dropping the pretense ofjustice. thus revealing their vengeful motives: "I
~ pull al your web that your rage may lwe you from your cave oflies and your
revenge may bound forward from behind your word ~ustice.·" (Z II OT)

• 4 Proponents of the new orthodox CODSenS'JS in Nietzsche scbolarship bave great


diflieulty in recogrtising the élitist disdain bebind this cutting account of petty
vindietiveness and revenge. Wmen, for example, suggests that ressentiment and

114
• In the name of "justice". for example, the thirst for revenge manifests itself in
the democratic call for equality. Nietzsche associates doctrines of equality of ail
human beings - both Judaeo-Christian and later.liberal-democratic secularised
versiotts - with (a) the ever-present, timeless plebeian frustration at the prospect of
striving for but never attaining true equality with the naturally gifted, and (b) a
similarly timeless, tyrannical desire on the part of the majority to impose sorne fonn
ofpolitically- and/or religiously- sanctioned equality nonetheless. In an invective
launched al the "preachers of equality", Zarathustra claims that "from you the
tyrant-madness ofimpotence" [der Tyrannen-Wahnsinn der Ohn.macht] cries for
'equality': thus your most secret tyrant-appetite disguises itself in words of vinue
[eure Heimlichsten Tyrannen-Gelüste vermummen sich also in Tugend-Wol1e]."
(Z II OT) The preachers ofequality practice revenge "against ail who are not as

[they] are," i.e. "against evetythiDg that has power••." (Ibid.) Nietzsehe's portrait
of the resentful majority's target becomes cleater in the following fragment:
rr:Jhe concept of the 'equal value [Gleichwerthigkeit]
of men before God' is extraordinarily harmful; one
forbade actiotts and attitudes that were in themselves
among the prerogatives of the sttongly COttstituted
[Starkgerathenen] - as if they were in themselves
unworthy of men. One erected the proteetive

the concomitant thiM for revenge are quite simply the understandable reactiotts ofa
disempowered class subject ta the stresses of socio-politica1 oppn:ssion: "for
Nietzsche resst!llliment is not a natura1 psychological attribute but a psychological
effect of the social condition ofslavery." (Wmen 1988: 66) Ressentiment is said
ta arise in reaction ta "the loss of the relatiouship betwee.n goals and aetiOtts
necess3l)' to a sense ofagency." (Ibid..27) (In Wmen's view. the same is true
about Nietzsehe's twltment of "<feQIdence": "Decadcnce dcsaibes adisorganized
capacity for agency." {Ibid.. ISO}) Given the logic ofthis account, once the plebs
are taken out of their oppressed politica1 condition and given back their "agency."
ressentiment would presumably vanish altagether. This, however. cornes nowhere
near N'lClZSChe's position. For Nietzsche. ressentiment and J:eVeDge stem not from
socio-politica1 c:iIcumstances, but rather from petty. base cbaracters who. regardless
of their place in the socio-political hierarchy and their "capacity for agency". are
bound ta deride ail that is great and noble. The strong hierarchica1 element of
Nietzsehe's position is also ignored by Connolly. who. in line with bis

• postmodemist agenda, jmaginatively links resst!Illiment"al a deeper level" with the


universal, oppressive drive of modcmism ta impose univocal meanjng and fixed
identities on ourselves and otheIs (1991: 79-80).

115
• measures of the weakest [die Schutzmittel der
Schwachsten] (those who were weakest also when
confronting themselves) as a norm of value [Werth-
Norm]. (WP 871)

One of the unfortunate consequences of this push for equality, according to


Nietzsche. has been the aceelerated corruption of an already-unhealthy plebeian
population. The natura! slave, he believes. in order to anain bis full (albeit limited)
potential, "needs 5Omeone who will use him" (AC 54); if, on the contraI)', the slave
intemalises a democratic idea1 and cornes to yeam for the absence of this all-
important directive force, Nietzsche foresees an exacerl>ation of the natura! siave's
character flaws, tuming an already mean character into 50mething even more

wretehed.s
N"ielZSChe traces this progressive degeneration and decadence of the majority
plebeian element back 10 the dawn of Judaeo-Cbristian monotheism, and suggests
that it bas accelerated with the advent of modem libera1-democracy. The natural,

hea1thy instinct ofdeference to one's betters, he daims, bas been graduaIly replaced
by those typical, distasteful marlcs of the modem, democratic-minded plebeian type:
"untoward intemperance", "narrow enviousness". and "a dumsy obstinate self-
assertiveness." (BGE 264) Democratie ideology bas become 50 much a part of
mainstream "common sense," suggests Zarathustta, that l~ herd's initial, implicit
knowledge of Rangordnung and its OWD, inferior place in it bas been lost "The
mob [Pobel) .•• does not know what is great or small, what is straight and honest it
is innocently crooked [unschu/dig krumm]•.•" (Z IV OHM 8)6 "[H]e who makes

5 The para1lel with Aristotle's view of the master "completing" the natura1 slave is
tmmjstak'eable. Nietzsehe's poItrait ofidea1 master-slave relations is taken up in
further detail in Chapter IX. .
6 Nietzsche sees bis own people as particularly damaged in this regard. "In the

• end the Gem1ans bave no idea whalever how common [gemein] they are; but that is
the superlative ofcommonness [der Gemeinheit] - they are not even ashamed of
being mere Germans.•." (EH "CW" 4)

116
• the lame man walk," he intones, "does him the grea1est harm: for no sooner can he

walk than bis vices [seine Laster] run away with him..." (Z n OR)?
These ill-effects of slave morality on the slave, however. pale in comparison

with what Nietzsche identifies as its catastrophic effect on those whom he identifies
as the exemplars of human greatness, the minority of free spirits.

Capturing Noble Hearts and MIncis: Masters in Peril

NietzsChe holds slave morality responsible for the deterioration of an initially


innocent, commanding personality of the highest human heing into a suffering.
self-doubting shadow of its former self. In NietzsChe's historical narrative. the
original. warrior noble types living at the dawn of Westem civilisation prove aIl-
too-wlnerahle to a highly original and crafty plebeian table of values mat "steals by
secret paths into .•• the heart of the more powerful..." (Z n OSO). leading them to
cast grave doubt upon the source of their strength: their healthy. discriminating

instincts.
A sure indication mat their hearts and minds have 1>=1 captured is the
insinuation of"bad conscience" into their psyche, a state of mind associated with
the very genesis of rational self-consciousoess in the Platonic and Judaeo-Christian

moral systems: "Hitherto ail knowledge [WlSSen] bas grown up besùk the bad
conscience [bôsen Gewissen]!" (Z m Om."7; emphasis in the original)8 Rooted in

7 1 agree with Warren's claim that Nietzsche "registcrs occasional symparhy for the
working classes" (Warren 1988: 224). but would argue that bis sympathy. far from
being an expression ofsolidarity (as Warren would have it). stems from bis reading
ofbow egalitarjan ideas and political movements have perverted their original1y
docile, untroubled psyches.
8 1must disagree with Warren's assertion that Nietzsche considered bad
conscience ta he "Western man's most primaI psychology". that "bad conscience is
the psychological moment of the first society." (Warren 1988: 21-22) In


Nietzscbe's account, bad conscience is aIways associated with a slave morality that
eDlCIges in revoIt against a pre-existent master cilies. Far from being "most
primaI: bad conscience is seen as alater. artificial (and, in Nietzscbe's view.
unjust) imposition on an innocent, noble sensibility. This Nietzschean assumption

117
• a faIse set of beliefs that prevents a joyful and spontaneous embrace of lofty, fine
instincts, bad conscience is described a state of psychic self-torture, an inward-

tuming form ofcruel torment manifesting itselfonly after open, honest, and healthy
expressions of the body's intelligence - including, as we shal1 see later, "cruelty" -
are suppressed (e.g. GM ll.22). Bad conscience, Nietzsche argues, bas the power

to twist an initially open, spontaneously generous disposition aImost beyond


recognition: under its influence (especially in its ClIristian guise), admirably
aggressive "barbarians" have tumed "inwardly savage and seIf-lascerating," into
"strong but ill-constituted human beings [den starken Menschen, aber den
mfPratnen]." (AC 22)9 Obliged 10 deny powerful instincts that refuse to ebb,

determïned to resist (while unable to fully escape) this bodiIy knowledge, the noble
sufferer of plebeian faIse consciousness seeks out "new •.. subterreanean
gratifications" (GM n.l6), developing a secretive, guilt-ridden personality that
attempts 10 reconcile public adherence to servile mores with a covert enjoyment of
now shameful (albeit still pleasurable) inclinations.
Regrettably, the perverted noble character comes 10 share in the hypocrisy
Zarathustra ascribes 10 the envious and spiritually unhealthy majority: "And now
your spirit is ashamed that it must do the will ofyour entrails and follows by-ways
and lying-ways 10 avoid its own shame .. (Z n OIP) Indeed, the unfortunate noble
may even he infected with plebeian ressentiment and vengefulness. Unable 10
allow bis own instincts free Ieign, the repressed noble may resent those very few,
fortunate ones ofequally lofty potential who,like Nietzsche himself, have
somehow escaped indoctrination, and may nurse a desire 10 punish.them for having

the courageous audacity 10 follow their inclinations: "BeIieve me, my frlends:

is centnl1 10 bis mgument that bad conscience is a non~tial and thus excisable
part of the contemporaIy. noble psyche.

• 9 Wben Zarathustra beraIcs an imagined group ofnoble-types that they have


"Iistened 100 much" 10 the cries of"those 10 whom viItue is a writhing under the
whip._" (Z noV). he seems to he referring to this phenomena.

Ils
• stings of conscience teaeh one to sting [Gewissensbisse erziehn zum Beij3en]." (Z
HOC)
Most tragic, for Nietzsche, but also most fascinating, is the strange
phenomenon of the noble-type who undergoes a wholehearted conversion to slave
morality and becomes, because of bis natural1y forceful personality, creativity, and
innate sense of responsibility, one of its leading proponents; a "shepherd" to the

servile flock. He has lost, suggests Nietzsche, the noble, discriminating sense of
Rangordmmg that normally proteets finer sensibilities by keeping them apart from
the common orders. Seduced by doctrines of human equality, the natural noble
type comes to think the multitude worthy of bis consideration; indeed, of bis
guidance and leadership. Sadly, this superior type imitates what Nietzsche

describes metaphorically in T'hus Spoke Zarathustra as that "weight-bearing spirit"


[tragsame Geist], the eatnel, in bis willingness to kneel down before the herd and
take its cares upon bis back (Z 1 3M). This camel wades into "dirty water",

ignoring bis inDa te , discriminating sense by refusing to disdain anyone: not even
"cold frogs and hot toads." The camel-lïke creature, argues Zarathustra, "debases
itse1f" [sich erniedrigll1l] by "making friends with the deaf", by loving "those who
despîse us", ie. those of the noble order (Ibn). Much later in this work,

Nietzsche retums again to the image of the camel, making Zarathustra bestow bis
finaljudgement on the sort ofbigher man who stoopS to lead the many:
[H]e bears too many foreign things on bis shoulders.
Like the camel, he kneels down and lets bimself be
wellladenJ Especially the strong, weight-bearing
man [der starke. tragsame Mensch] in whom dwell
respect and awe [E1uftm:ht]: he bas laden too many
foreïgn heavy woIds and values upon himself - now
life seems to bim a desert! (Z m OSG 2)
Anotberpowerful metaphoric image used to descn"be the spoliation of these


misguided noble characteIs is that ofparasitism. Those oflofty character who
l'SSlU"C camel-lïke leadersbip roIes in mainsIream, "herd" society have their life-

119
• energy draincd away by ..the most offensive bcast of a man 1ever found," the
parasite [Sclunarotzer] (Z ID OSG 2). Parasitical men. unable to love but wanting
to live by anothcr's love (Z ID OSG 2). unable to create but profiting from the
creations of othcrs.\O spcnd their lives "cxtraet[ing] warmth from light-givcrs" (Z il
NS). In Z IV G. one of Zarathustra's nominal (but far from authentic) "bigher
men". the "king on the right," inadvertently acknowlcdgcs the majority dcsirc to
fceci parasitica1ly off Zarathustra: "The gloomy man. too. and the ill-œnstituted
[der MifJratene]. refresh thcmsclves at your tree. 0 Zarathustra; at your glanœ evcn
the rcstless man grows secure and heals bis heart."
This shamcless exploitation of the very best is not idcntificd as a willcd

conspiracy; on the contrary. as Zarathustra remarks, the parasite may be quite


unaware of bis own parasitism: "They want blood from you in all innocence, their
bloodless souls thirst for blood - and therefore thcy sting in all innocence." (Z 1
OFM) Neither should it be imagined that Nietzschc's parasites are found

exclusively among the unedueated working classes; Zarathustra's waming against


the "swarming 'cultured' vermin" [schwèirmende GeschmeifJ der
«Gebildeten») who "fcast upon the sweat of every hero" (Z m ONL 18) and
who "steal for themseIvcs the works of invcntors and the treasurcs of the wise.•••
[calling] their theft culture [Bildung)•••" suggests that Nietzsehe's ill-œnstituted

majority incIudcs most of the educated middle and upper classes as welL
Nietzsche secs the furtive rcscntment of the 1IIl\Ï0rity and their exploitation of the
very best as quite compatible, and often combined with, their often obsequious
flattery of the gifted minority. "They buzz around you even with their praise,"

observes Z8ratbustra to bis noble intedocutor. "and their praise is importunity


[Zudringlichkeit is ihr Lobm). They want to be near your skin and your blood." (Z

• 10 Z8rathustta denounccs those who "steal for themseIvcs the works ofinvcntors
and the treasures of the wise.•• [calling] their theft culture [Bildung)..... (Z 1 ONI)

120
• IOFM) As one of bis lessons leamed among the herd. Zarathustra notes that "he
who praises appeazs to be giving back, in truth however he wants to be given
more!" (Z ID VMS 2) Nietzsche bas Zarathustra counsel bis fellow-travellers to
follow bis example and be exceedingiy cautious in the face of such flatteIy,t t and
argues repeatedly elsewhere that true honour rests not oniy in being al odds with the
majority, but in being shunned and mocked by it (e.g. Z II OFP; BGE 30, 43, 220;
AC 46).
Nietzsche, it must be noted, demonstrates a grudging respect for the twisted
form ofcreativity of these deiuded - but "ingenious" [Geistreich] (GM L7) - noble
souls. He recognises their inherent nobility, identifying bimself as their kin (e.g.
GM IL24). Moreover, he concedes that their self-lascerating, disciplined
asceticism is more admirable thad the hedonistic orientation of the vast majority,
who are drawn to lives of "pitiable comfor!." Zarathustra's respectful treatment of
the solitaIy Hermit in Z Prologue 2, whose life evinces a certain form ofdisciplined
self-overcoming, may be taken as an illustration. Moreover, in the GeneakJgy of
Morals Nietzsche cannot help but show a certain, grudging admiration for the

inventive ability of the original, ascetic priest1y caste, wbicb developed somcthing
"50 new, profound, unbeard of, enigmatic, contradietory.••" as to constitute a
"sublime" spectacle wortby of "divine spectators." (GM IL16) He insists,
however, that aithough the noble-type bas presented an "interesting" spectacle, he
nevertheless represents "the most tem"ble sickness that bas ever raged in man.••"
(GMIL22)12

Il "And sbould they even praise me: how could 1 rest on tbeir praise? Their praise
is a baIbed giIdle to me: it scratches me even wben 1 take it off." (Z ID VMS 2)
12 See also WP 228, wbere the ascetic priest is descnDed as "the best" [Hikhsten]
of an essentially sick population. Authors lilce Warren, ever-determined to present
Nietzsche as a political ptogressive in sympatby with the downtrodden, folegO the


ba1anced view in focusing on Nietzsebe's acknowledgemcnt of the creativity of the
slave revoit (Waœn 1988: 26-7) while ignoring bis diagnosis of this creativity as
twisted and degenerate. While Scbacht is not in the samc eategory as Warren, 1
disagIee with bis suggestion that the ascetic priest1y leader represents, for

121
• Man, Nietzsche argues, is "the sicldiest of anjmals" (AC 14) beca nse out of all

the species in the animal world, ooly ours produces individual members who can

actually tum against their healthy species drives and attempt to build lives contrary
10 UlCm. The noble type involved in misguided plebeian projects is a case in point,

a bizarre manifestation of natural, human creativity in the service of a profoundly


unnatura1, herd ideology that itse1f stifles creativity. He represents a "gruesome
hybrid of sickness and will to power" (EH Forward 4) who continually "[deDies]
and condemn[s) the drive whose expression [he] is..... (wp 179) He is a case of
"[n]ature that is also against nature" [Es ist NalUr wider etwas, das NalUr ist]. (WP

228) Life is soon seen as barren by such a man, claims Nietzsche, because he is in

the grip of an unnatura1 idea "without flesh and desires" (WP 228). The noble
tumed priest, he concludes, bas succumbed to "the morbid softening and
moralization through which the anima! 'man' finally leams to he ashamed of all bis
instincts." (GM ll.7)13
In contributing 10 his own "softening," the deluded noble type services a
tendency identified by Nietzsche as the gravest attack upon the ideal of greatness in
the human species: species degeneration. "Tell me, my brothers," Nietzsche's
alter~o rbetorlcally asks bis disciples, "what do we account bad [Schlechtes] and
the worst of all [Schlechte.stes]? Ys it not degeneration [Entartung]?" (Z 1OBV 1)

The slave morality cbampioned by the ascetic priest of noble origin, argues

Nietzsche, promotes a set of moroid instincts that crowd out ~ own, natural,
hea1thy ones, and threaten 10 do the same in the human species as a whole. "[M]en
of gIeat creativity, the Iea1ly gIeat men according 10 my UDdemanding," he daims.

Nietzsche, some sort ofh1leration: "A general bIeakdown of the pœvïously


establishcd instinct-str1ICtIlIe of a form. oflife also bas the significance ofliberating
it from the constraints imposed upon it by that str1lCtUœ; and while its sur\'i~'a1 is
tbeœby œrtaiDly endangeted, developmental possibilities open up for it which it

• would DOt otberwise have." (Scbacht 1983: 274)


13 ".[I)n meine die krankbafte VetZllItlichung und Vermoralisierung, vemllSge
deIen das Geticr <<Mensch» sich scblie8lich aller seiner Jnstinkte scblimen lernt."

122
• "will be sought in vain today" becanse "nothing stands more malignantly in the way
of their rise and evolution 000 than what in Europe today is called simply 'morality'"
(WP 957)014 As Leiter bas noted, Nietzsche identifies the threat posed by slave

morality in terms of its ability to lead "potentially excellent individuals ta value what
is in fact not conducive to their flourishing and devalue what is in fact essential to
it" (Leiter 1995: 34-5)15
As we noted in Cbapters I-In, Nietzsche identifies the potentiality of the fine,

noble sort of man with the potential greatness of the human species as a wholeo
Hence bis view that the destruction of the finest sort would be tantamount to the
degradation of the species as a whole. Nietzsche fcars that such a species-wide
degeneration - "the physiological ruination of mankind" (EH "D" 2) - is spreading
like a disease throughout the body politic of modem societies, and that slave moral
values are the SOUICC of the potentially-lethal infection. Nietzsche evokes this
degeneration in terms of a downward movement ofdemocratic levelling,leading ta
a state of "no herdsman and one herd" (Z Prologue 5) where even the pervcrted
creativity of the ascetic priest would no longer be possible. At the terminus of such
a development, after the ability ta discriminate between higher and lower bas been
eradieated, all ideas and idea1s would be saupulously p1aced on an equal footingo

As zarathustra notes elsewhere, "[i]n the marlœt-place no one believes in Higher

Men. And ifyou want ta speak there, very weil, do sol But the mob blink and
say: 'We are all equaL" 'You Higher Men' - thus the mob blink. - 'there are no
Higher Men, we are all equal, man is but man, before God - wc are all equal!'" (Z

14 Here, once again, Nietzsche uses the broad term "moralïty" ta mcan "slave
morality." Sec Cbapter II for my discnssiQll ofhis various usages of "morality."
15 The claim that s1ave morality imperi1s the cultivalion ofhuman excellence is by

• no means limited ta the Nach/ass. Sec D 163; BGE 62, 212; GM Preface 6; GM
I1L14; BT "Attempt" 6; AC 5,24. For other Nach/ass passages evincing the same
sentiment, sec WP 274, 345, 400,870,879,897.

123
• IV OHM 1)16 Pcrfect toleration of the diversity ofviews, remarks zarathustra, is a
characteristic of this scropulously democratic society: "[e]verything among them
speaks•••" (Z m HC) While everyone scrambles to he heard. however. the views

of the elevated are treated with no more respect !han thase of the lowly ("everything
is unheard"). for "no one knows any longer how to understand." (Ibid.)17 Such a
tolerant society represents a criticalloss of practical knowledge: that disceming
knowledge of tasteful judgement Nietzsche associates with the select few. 18 "All-
contentedness that knows how to taste everything: that is not the best taste!"
declares zarathustra.
1 honour the obstinate. fastidious tongues [die
widerspenstigen wahlerischen Zungen] and
stomachs that have leamed to say 'r and 'Yes' and
'No') But to chew and digest everything - that is to
have a really swinish nature reine rechte Schweine-
Art]! .•• (Z m OSG 2)
Although it might come as a SU1Prise to those accustomed to associating
Nietzsche's name with the destruction of all moral categories, Nietzsche clearly
invokes a central concept of moral and political philosophy - justice - in criticising a
society "where injustice [Ungerechtigkeit] is always at its greatest: where life bas

16 Elsewhere zarathustta identifies beliefin the Judaeo-Ouistian God as the


"greatest danger" ofhigher sorts of men (Z IV OHM 2).
17 In this same section. however, Nietzsche does seem to allow that one sort of
orientation - market values - may triumph in the end: "One may ring in one's
wisdom with bells - the shopk«i'er in the market-place will out-ring it with
pennies!" (Z m HC)
18 There are some provocative parallels with Socrates' description of the
democcatic state in Plato's Republic VIII: "L1"berty and free speech are rife
everywhere; anyone is allowed ta do what he likes... Thal being 50, every man
will arrange bis own manner oflife ta suit bis p1easuIe. The result will he a greater
variety ofindividuals !han under any other constitution... There is 50 much
talerance and superiority ta petty considerations; such a contempt for all those fine
principles we laid down in founding our commonwealth, as when we said that only
a very exceptional nature could tum out a good man._"(SS7b-SS8b) Nietzsehe's
pieture of democracy differs from Plata'5o however, in one important respect:


wbereas Plata speaks of the emeLgew:e ofadizzying variety ofindividuals in
democcatic society, Nietzsche fOIeCllStS ever-rising 1evels ofconformity. See, in
this context, zarathustta's portrait of the last man in 17uIs Spoke Zarat1uIstra.
Prologue. 1am indebted to discussions with Ruth Abbey on this point.

124
• developed at its smallest, narrowest, neediest, ... calling into question the higher,
greater, richer..." (HAH 1Pref. 6) Just as Aristotle argues in the Polmes m.9 that
it would be unjïlSt to treat the better sort of man like everyone else, 19 Nietzsche
insists that "what is right for one cannat by any means therefore be right for
another... The demand for one morality for ail is detrimental to precisely the higher
man." (BOE 228; cf. BOE 82) The noble soul fully in tune with his instincts, he
continues, understands that "justice itself" supports bis belief that deferential
tteatment and privilege are bis due. (BOE 265)20 "For men are not equal," intones
zarathustta, "thus speaks justice. And what 1 desire, they may not desire!" (Z n
OS) "[J)ustice speaks thus to me," he reiterates in zn OT, "'Men are not

equal·..."21 With reference to those "good" people who insist upon one law for ail,
zarathustra exclaims, "how could they be - just [gerecht] towards me!" (Z m
HC)22

19 "[I]t is thought that justice is equality; and so it is, but not for ail persans, only
for those that are equal•.• We make bad mistakes if we neglect this 'for whom'
when we are deciding what isjust." Politics,l280alO-l3
20 Leiter petceptiveiy notes that "while Nietzsche might not dispute the general
moral imperative that 'like cases should he treated alike' he clearly rejects the idea
that we are, in fact, aH like cases." (Leiter 1995: 15) Indeed, 1 shal1 argue in
Chapter VU that Nietzsche remains a firm believer in equality: aristocratic (rather
than democratic) equality.
21 "Denn so redet mir die Gerechtigkeit <<die Menschen sind Dicht gleich.»"
22 Sec WP 361, where Nietzsche speaks ofwanting not to destroy the "anemic
Christian ideal (together with what is closely related 10 it)", but rather 10 "put an end
to its tyranny.••" Slave morality in all its forms, he believes, unjustly tyrtJ1l1lises
over the 10flier minority. primarily through its stubbom insistence that it "and
nothing besicles" is "morality itse1f." (BOE 202). 1therefore disagree with
DetwileI's insistence that N"JetzSChe's defence of elitism bas nothing 10 do with
arguments for "a more equitable or more just social order_" (Detwiler 1990: 102)
1 must also voice qualified disagrec aient with Wanen's contention that "Nietzsche
did not oppose equality on principle but rather becanse he viewed its modem form
as an ideology devoid ofcontent. AlI 100 often, in Nietzsche's view. the idea1 of
equality expressed a mutual envy of, and a revenge against, individual
personalities." (Wanen 1988: 72) Wanen is right to point out Nietzsche's
insisteDce that ideologies ofequality are based in envy and lust for revenge, but he


is off the marlc in snggesting that Nietzsche's critique is not based "on principle"
and that he found snch ideologies "devoid ofcontent." Nietzsche believed that he
understood their content all-too well, and opposed them in principle. on the basis of
this content, which he thought contraty 10 the cultivation ofexcellence and virtue.

125
• Nietzsche thus sees an injustice ta the superior few. and hence a grave danger to
the moral and spiritual potentiality of hnmankind, in modem, mainstream society's

emphasis 011 "equal rights". "Injustice never lies in unequal rights. it lies in the

claim ta 'equaf rights..." (AC S7) It is simply not right for the naturally strong to
serve as physicians ta the weak and sicle: "the higher must not be made an
instrument [Werkzeug] of the lower; the 'pathos of distance' must to all etemity
keep scparate tasks separate." (GM m.14)23 Modern social:md political

arrangements, however. have violated these strictures ofjustice. What is bis


response ta this modern predicament?
In the pages and chapters that follow. 1 argue that Nietzsche attempts to reach
out to kindred, free spirits, urging them to break away ftom mainstream society.24
and, eventually. to come togethcr in a new community. a IeCOnstituted commu.:ity
ofcreative, mutually-ehallenging. mutually-suspicious equals. My IeCOnstruction
ofNietzsehe's attempted rescue operalion cannot begin, however, before 1 conftont
a formidable objection that will inevitably be raised from the start.

A Modem Nobillty?

From the perspective of the new orthodoxy, the idea that the author of Beyond
Goodand Evil countenances the possibility ofam:onstituted mastercaste in the

modem era must seem preposterous. The new orthodoxy converges around the

beliefthatthe "mastertype", as portnlyed byN1elZSCbe, is apre-reflectivetypeof

human being belonging exclusive1y to the pre-modem era. In this view,

23 ConnoUy's reading ofNietzsehe's notion ofa "pathos ofdistance" completely


eviceraIes ilS crucial hieran:hical meaning. In an imaginative, po1itically benign
reworking of the phrase, it is associated with "the creative te.nsion ofcont1'aIy
perspectives be10nging to each othee in inteRlependenœ and contestation."

• (Connolly 1991: 196)


24 "[L]et us not be equal before the mob: exhorts Z3rathustra to bis imagined
comarades. "You IDgber Men, depart ftom the market-place!" (Z IV OHM 1)

126
• Nietzsche's long-vanished "blond beast" cannot possibly serve as a model for any
new, modem ideal ofhuman flourishing.
The tone was set by Kaufmann in bis influential, post-war tome that
rehabilitated Nietzsche in the Anglo-Saxon academic community. "In spite of the
polemical tone" of Nietzsche's writings, insists Kaufmann,
it does not follow from Nierzsche's 'vivisection' of
slave-moraIity that he identifies his own position with
that ofthe masters. Nietzsche's own ethic is beyond
bath master and slave morality. He would like us to
confonn to neither and become autonomous.
(Kaufmann 1974: 297, emphasis in original; cf. 302)

Martha Nussbaum, in a recent essay, echoes this very position, remarking rather
complacently that ..this is something Kaufmann's book should have laid to rest once
and for all..... (Nussbaum 1994: 166). Nussbaum suggests that the masters evoked
by Nietzsche - especially in GM 1.11 - "lack not only the discipline that is a
necessary prerequisite of Nietzsehean virtue, but also the inner se1f-awareness and
se1f-critical reflectiveness that is a central mark of the virtuous. and even of the
'interesting·... (Ibid.) Similarly, Schacht believes that although Nietzsche may have
felt"a certain admiration" for and stood "somewhat in awe" of the pre-modem
"barbarian", he adV0cate5 the supercesslon of bath the blond beast and the
mediocxe. insipid man of modemity (Schacht 1983: 412) "Nietzsche," Schacht
insists. "looks ta a different [configuration ofdispositions and circnmstances], and
to the emergence ofhuman beings in whom bath 'herd animal' and 'beast of prey'
have been overcome." (Ibid., 413; cf. 279)
Notwithstanding their conspicuous break with Kanfma nn over the question of
Nietzsehe's originality, proponents of the new orthodoxy in Nietzsche studies have
enthusiastically taken up Kanfmann's position on this matter, with only minor
variations. In Strong's influential account, for example, Nietzsehe's discussion of

• master morality mnains bound up with bis treatment of the pre-rationaI. heroic

127
• culture of Homeric Greece. (Strong 1988: 148; 237) Noting that Nietzsche
identifies the development of "intelliger.::e and calculation" with the rise and
eventtlal triumph of slave morality, Strong argues that a retum to master morality,
for Nietzsche, would entai! a Dow-impossible reversion to a pre-rational state; hence
"the triumph ofslave morality bas become well-nigh total." (Ibid., 275; cf. 39; 238;

244-5; 258; 271) In assimilating Nietzsche's discussions of instinct with the men
of this by-gone cm, Strong presumes that Nietzsche effects a complete separation of
rationality and instinct. Thus Nietzsche is said ta believe that "men do not have
'instincts' to live by any more." (Ibid., 258; empbasis in original) In a slight
variation on the Kanfrnann reading, Strong claims that instead ofstaking out a
position beyond both master and slave morality, Nietzsche identifies himself whole-
heartedly with the latter: Nietzsche"does not take himselfseriously: as the product
ofover (WO thousand years of western culture. he still cao accept that he and aIl he
bas represented is coming to an end." (Ibid., 65)
Nc:bamas, ta bis credit, acknowledges the possibility ofan alternati",e reading of
Nietzsehe's treatment of masters and slaves. even if, in the end, he aligns himself
with the convcotional view. He perceptively notes that one ofNietzsche's central
concems is ta outline an idea1 character type, "a struetuIe that cao be embodied in a
large number of particular characters."25 (Nc:bamas 1985: 38) 'Ibis undetstanding,
at the very least, leaves open the possibility ofboth pre-modern and modem
manifestations of the same, broadly-dcfined idea1 type. Indeed, Nc:bamas ponders
whether the ancient and mediaeval baIbarlan nobles described in On the GeneoJogy
ofMorals are not "one manifestation, under specifie bistorical cÏIcnmstmecs, ofa
general personality type which Nietzsche outlines and ofwhich they are an

2S In BOE 260, for example, Nietzsche talks of certain traits regularly =rring


together and bound up with one another". and in GM Lll, in an importallt
discussion of the noble-type, notes that !lis portrait "._goes as weil for the Roman,
Arabian, Gennan, Japanese nobility as for the Homeric heroes and the
Scandinavian vikings", i.e. a plurality of different noble-typeS ofvmying cras.

128
• example." (Ibid., 206) Moreover, al variance with the common view, Nehamas
concedes that Nietzsche beIieves "the attitudes associated with the noble mode of
valuation [to be] still present within our c=t schemes of thought and action"
(Ibid., Ill; empbasis added). Although Nietzsche, as Nehatnas points out, may

not believe it is possible to go back to the specific instance of the character-type


manifested by the pre-modern baIbarian nobility, "he may still want us to go back

to the type itseIf." (Ibid., 254; emphasis in original)


Unfortunately, Nehamas refuses to take this promising line of inquiry any
further, and in the end rejects any suggestion that Nietzsche's vision of modem
Obermenschen or free spirits bas any family resemblance to bis concept of master
morality. (Ibid., 167) In a manner very similar to Strong and Nussbaum, Nehamas
is content to cite Nietzsche's anti-romanticism as adequate proof of bis position:
"Nietzsche does not advocate a retum to the specifie instance which the nobles
constitute. Such a retum would be in principle impossible on sound historical
grounds in any case: the nobles be10ng ta an era that bas passed once and for alL"
(Ibid.,2l7) Like Strong, the author of Nietzsche: Life as Literature even insists

that Nietzsche refuses ta advocate an abandonment of slave morality.26 and

assumes that Niettsebe finds slave morality ta be the only ethical orientation
possible in modemity. In light of Nietzsche's unmistakable critique ofslave
modity. concludes Nebamas, Nietzsche's discourse is beyond notjust "good and
evil". but beyond all ethies.27
We need not follow Nehamas along this path. 'The alternative route he
perceptively but all-too-briefly sketches. however. wammts further exploration.

26 "To he beyond good and evil is not simply ta discaId these temIS of valuation
and the system ta which they be1ong._ It is not even necessa'Y ta abandon all the
QUalities that this system commends." (N'ehamas 1985: 206)

• 1.7 As wc noted in Chapter I. Nehamas' insistence on the supposed idiosyncrasy of


Nietzsche's ideal character-type obviates any exploration of its bistorïcal rootedness
in temIS of a shared ethos.

129
• By my lights, this promising route sees Nietzsche evoking the possibility of "a new
nobility" [neuen Adels] (Z m ONL 11),28 a small collection ofself-conscious,
modem individuals of refined sensibility who trace their genealogy (in a non-literaI
sense) baclc ta ancient limes and yet who ünprove upon the pre-reflective master
ethos of their "forebears" through a heightened sense of self-awareness and.a
robust, critical intellect in harmony with their unerring, lofty instincts. This
reconfigured master ethas, hopes Nietzsche, will provide them with the conceptual

and moral resources for escaping the false COnscioUSDess of ascetie, plebeian
worldviews. Nietzsche. 1argue, does not conceive of this transfiguration in terms
ofan absolute break with all past traditions of moral and political thought and
practice. He is convinced that it is possible ta look ta the past for inspiration
without attempting ta mimic it in a servile manner by engaging in a reasoned,
selective appropriation ofan older sensibility through its adaptation ta contemporary
circumstances. He bas embarked, in other words, upon a Renaissance-Iike project
of imitatio of a virtue first artÎcn1atffl in ancient times.29

Ratiooality, Modemity, and Master Morality

In viewing the dominant trend of modemity in terms ofa graduaI decline

towards mediocrity, and in describing bis position as "a critique of modemity' (EH

28 Recall zarathustra's call ta bis "brothers" ta "consecrate ._ a new nobility" [zu


einem neuenAdel] in Z m ONL 12. As Detwiler rightly notes. "N'lClZSChe sees in
bis own work yet another reassertion of the classical ideaL Like the masters of
antiquity, Nietzsche advocates 'What is Noble' (the title ofBGE's concluding
chapter) as opposed ta what is moral in a modem sense." (Detwi1er 1990: 134-5)
29 The modem term "imitation" bas an .mmistakably pejorative. nnseemly
reputation, associatffl as it is with the idea of servile mimiay. Given this modem
connotation, our dif6culty in grasping the nature ofa project of imitatio in the

• Renaissance sense is understandable. For a very useful discussion of the


altemative. oider sense of imitatio and its eclipse in the modern era, sec the
discussion in Wayne Booth (1988: 2Zl-60).

130
• "BGE" 2).30 Nietzsche seems at fust glance to favour the emergence of a
"postmodem" noble sensibility whieh. to many. suggests a wholly unprecedented
state of affairs, owing nothing to past (modem or pre-modem) intellectual and

moral traditions. Indeed, most contemporary Nietzsche commentators tend to he


eatrled away by Nietzsche's expansive, rhetorical claims to complete originality. A
recent illustration can he found in Blondel's confident claim that Nietzsche's
"irreducible originality" is demonstrated by textual passages like the following.
heated declaration to Peter Gast in a letter of 24 November IS8O: "Let us stand
alone and not listen to others... No more masters or models'" (Blondel 1991: 4)
Nietzsche suggests in numerous passages. however. that·modem defenders of
nobility would do weil to look towards the future with an eye to the past. The
leading lights of the contemporary new orthodoxy in Nietzsehean scholarship seem
resistant to Nietzsehe's unrelenting message that a "postmodem" nobleman must
"[go] backward like someone who is about to take a great leap." (BGE ISO) He
urges thase of noble sensibility. for example, to take heart from the knowledge that
men of sensitive and fine natures of previous eras have gone through sirnj1ar trials,
and successfully overcame them: aristocratie thinkeroi ofancient Greece like
Heraclitus, for example, suceessfully avoided !ne very same things "which we shun
today: the noise and democratïc chatter of the Epbesians, their politics. their latest

news of the 'Empile' ••.• their market business of'today' •••" (GM m.S) As
Z8rathustra suggests, there is much wisdom to be mined among the ancients which
is far from incompatible with the innovative formulntions ofa contemporary.
revitalised nobility: "0 my sou!. 1 have your soil ail wisdom to drink. ail new
wines and also ail immemorially ancient sttong wines ofwisdom [unvonlenklich
a1ten starken Weïne der Weisheit]." (Z m OGL) As carly as bis Untimely

• 30 In this same passage (EH "BGE" 2) Nietzsche also desaibes bis preferred
"noble [vomehmen]. _. affirmative Uasagenden] type" ofman assomeone who is
"as little modem as possible."

131
• Medirarions, Nietzsche urges those like him to take the exarnjnation of ancient
societies ("classical studies") seriously, "for the benefit of a rime to come," as part
of a broader stnlggle against the dominant, servile ethes of the modem age.31 (UM
2, Foreward)

There is some tnIth, nevertheless, in the new orthodoxy's stress on Nietzsehe's

originality: undeniably, and importantly, Nietzsche does advocate a type of break


with the pasto As suggested by Z3rathustra's insistence that we must "write anew
upon new law-tables the word: 'Noble'" (Z m ONL Il; empbasis added),
Nietzsebe's modem noble ethos, while bearing a distinct family resemblance to its
past articulations, also represents something unprecedented and, in bis view, better.
Notwithstanding bis praise of the "healthy desires" [gute Begierde] (Z n OLe) of
innocent, pre-refleetive nobility, bis occasionally nostalgia for bis own adolescent
period of nal'veté,32 and bis belief that modem exemplars of mastermorality must
rediscover the nalve "joy and innocence of the animal" (GM n.7), Nietzsche argues
that the pre-retleetive, lofty stare that does not understand itse1f remains fatally

flawed. He wams, in short, that an exquisitely innocent noble sensibility remains


vulnerable to perversion in the absence of critical self-understanding.33 Citing the

31 Nussbaum right1y notes that Nietzsche's great interest in ancient societies is


always focused on "clear[mg] the way for new possibilities ofcreation." (1993:
262)
32 On NietzscJ1e's wistful pining for bis own youthful innocence, see the poignant
autobiographicallamcnt in Z n FS, wbere Zarathustra treats the passing otbis own
youth: "Once 1longed for happy bird-auspiees: then you led an owl-1I1OIIster rein
Eulen-Untier] across my path, an adverse sign. AIas. whither did my tender
longings flee then?l ._ Once, as a blind man, 1 walked on happy paths; then you
thIew filth in the blind man's patb: and DOW the old footpath disgusts him." (Z n
FS) In this passage the enljgbtcnnv:nt that comes with critical reason is identified as
"an owl-1DODster" (quite likdy an allusion to the ancient symbol of wisdom, the
Owl of Minerva) that leads Zarathustra into great suffering, a "sleepless tonnent "
(IbûL)
33 It seems 10 me that there is an .mmistakab\e conneetion between Nietzsche's
account and Atistot1e's guarded comments about pre-refleetive "natural virtue",


which he (leemed 10 be a precoodition for, but DO gwuantee of, complete virtue:
"(E]ach. ofus seems 10 possess bis type of characterto some extent by natuIe, since
we are just, brave, prone to tc,,\"'ZlIIlCC, or have anotber featw:e, immediately from
birtb. However, we still searcJi for some other condition as full goodness.••

132
• ancient noble warrior caste - Nietzsehe's infamous "blond beasts" - as an example,
he atttibutes their eventual prostration before a rising plebeian sensibility to its
wealcncss in this area.
The fatal flaw of ancient, primaI nobles, where they were st their "weakest and
most fallible" (GM n.16), was their lack of rational se1f-consciousncss and critical
thinking skills.34 Possessing no cognitive resources other than those provided by
their admirable "unconscious drives," primaI nobles proved unable to withstand the
challenge posed by the completely unprecedented development outlined above: the
emergence ofa plebeian intellectu al , spiritual, and normative movement. Upon
their initial encounter with this movement, ill-equipped nobles with "small intellects
and spacious sauls" [Kleine Geister und umflinglidle Seelen] (Z II OP) suddenly
felt obliged to play, awkwardly, by its new, unfamiliar rules of reasoned
articulation and conceptualisation: they were fon:ed to exercise the weakest part of
themselves, "reducing" themselves "to thinking, inferring, reckoning, co-onlinating
cause and effect.••" (GM n.16) Moreover, in doing 50 they were obliged to buy
into the distorted conceptual and moral package ofplebeian metaphysics, complete
with its earth- and body-calnmniatÏQn and attendant "bad conscience", since slave
morality, in Nietzsehe's view, was for the longest time the only vehicle for critical
se1f-consciousness. "Hitherto," explains Zarathustra, "all knowledge [WlSSen] bas
grown up beside the bad conscience [bOsen Gewissen]!" (Z mONL 7)

[T]b.ese natural states belong to childIen and to beasts as well [as to adults], but
without undelstanding they are evidently harmfuL. [l]f somcone acquires
undelstanding, he improves in bis actions; and the state he DOW bas, though still
similar [to the natural one], will he virtue to the full exteDt." (lVlCOInlJC1Ieon Ethù:s,
1144bS-14) Sec also 1337al: "the deticiences of lIlItUle are what art and edneation
seek to fill up." At 1178a17-20, Atistotle explains that in the fully viItuous man
what lie calls the "viItue ofcharacter", or natural viItue, and "intelligence"
CP/rrone$is) are "yoked together". Sec the discussion in AImas 1993: 74.

• 34 In GM L6, Nietzselle suggests that "all the concepts of ancient man were Iatber
at first inCredibly uncouth, coarse, extemaI. DlI11'OW, straigbtforward. and altogether
IDISY"Ù'OlictJl in meaning to a degree that wc can scarcely conceive."

133
• Nietzsche is quite clear that the origina1, pre-reflective version of nobility is no
longer an option for us. At one point Nietzsche suggests that we ought to he
grateful for the introduction ofcritica1 consciousness into Westem society, even if a

despised table of values was responsible for its introduction: "[h]uman bistory," he

concedes, "would he altogether tao stupid a thing without the spirit that the
impotent have introduced into iL.." (GM 17) Once introduced, se1f-consciousness
and the practicc of philosophy changed the complexion ofhuman society and the
human personality completely, to the point where modernity is inconceivable

without them. As zarathustra reminds bis jmagined comrades, "[n]either in the


incomprehensible [Unbegreifliche] nor in the irrational [UnveTllÜ7!fi'ige] cao you he
at home." (Z il OBI)3S The Pandora's box of rationality is open, and whether we
. celebrate or bemoan this fact, the modern personality, whether noble or servile, is
reflective about itselfand the world around it to an extent impossIble ta imagine in
ancient times.36
As we noted in Chapter m, Nietzsehe's contempt for the modern, romantic cult

of antiquity, for the efforts of "priests and moralists ... ta take mankind back,force
it back, to an earlier stal'.daId ofvirtue" (Tl EUM 43), bas been will explored in the
secondary literature.37 "A reversion, a turning back. in any sense and ta any

3S Sec also Z 1 OWW. where Zarathustra urges bis disciples ta be "wamors of


knowleège", and Z m SOS 2, in which "Life". personified as a woman, impresses
upon Zarathustra the importance ofthat other woman in bis life, WJSdom: "'lfyour
WJSdom should one day desert you, alas! then my love would quicldy desert you
tao.'" This seems ta suggest that for Nietzsche, life affinnatjon is bound up with
wisdom. Nietzsche follows Socrates when he insists that the life ta be affirrned
must be an exmninedlife.
36 Williams rightly DOleS that the complexity ofNielZsche's attitude towards
modernity stems, in part, "from bis ever-pxesent sense that bis own consciousness
would DOt be poss1b1e without the developments that he disliked In partîcular bis
view of things _•• depended on a heightened reflectiveness, se1f-conscionSDCSS. and
inwaniness that, he thought, it was precisely one of the channs, and indeed the
~wer. of the Greeks ta have done without." (1993: 9).
7 Reca1l also Nietzsche's assCSS"'C!'~ of the limitations of "Q-.t''1.~history"

• in UM Il His criticisms of the fashionable cult ofantiquity of lIis age may be


protitably co111p8Ied ta Macbiave11i's very similar sentiments in the 1atter's prefaces
to bis Prince and The Discounes.

134
• degree," as Nietzsche insists, "is quite impossible. "(Ibid.) "[W)e do not permit

ourselves," he declares, "any bridge-of-lies to ancient ideals" (D Pref. 4), any futile
anempt to recreate a pristine, ancient aristocratie society and the "blond beast" who
inhabited il. Nietzsche does not permit himself this soIt of nostalgia not merely
becallse ofits futility, but also (and perhaps more importantly) because of its
ignominy: to pine for a long-lost antiquity and to attempt its reconstitution, in bis
view, would entail a fortn of servile obedience to and confortnity with received
tradition that would he antithetical to a truly noble morality. Servile obedience is
not part of Nietzsehe's idea ofnobility, which bas much more ta do with bold,
creative change in the light ofchanging circumstanccs.38 This is why, as he so
famously proclaims, "[w]e must overcome [überwinden] even the Greeks." (GS
340)

The inescapability of rational self-consciousness bas great implications for the

perpetual struggle between slave and master moralities. For Nietzsche, the context
of this struggle bas altered considetably; the pre-modem set ofoptions - priestly,
self-conscious "craftiness" on the one hand and unref1ective, noble naïveté on the
other - no longer hold a monopoly over us. Since we modems as a whole cannot
escape rationality. the important question, for Nietzsche, becomes: what soIt of
rationality does the superior. noble sensibility choose ta embody? Will bis modem
rational, self-consciousness aim al serving life, or al denigrating it? Will he, in
other words, IeIIIlÙIl trapped in the clever web of false theories and beliefs
inaugurated by servile priestly sects two mjJJenia ago. or will he forge a newform
ofTationality more in lœeping with bis noble SCDSl'bilities? Nietzsche would have
approved of the title, although not the content, ofone ofA1asdair Maclntyre's

recent books: Whose Justice? WhichRationality?

• 38 Nietzsebe's understanding of the place of "obedience" in the life of the highest


hlllnan being will he taken up again in the next chapter.

135
• Nietzsche concedes that the very origins and development of rational self-
awarencss were the ploperty of the priest and bis ascctic ideal, and that up until bis
time, rationality bas always been in the service ofpriest1y, ascctic deca d ence.39

Whence the attraction and great power ofslave morality: "faute de mieux - becanse

hitherto it bas been the ooly ideal, becanse it had no competitors... What was
lacking above aIl was a counJer-ïdeal - untiI the adveru ofZarathustra."4O ~,
"GM"; emphasis in original) Nietzsche insists, however, that although rationality
bas long served as a life-denying force, it need DOt forever serve in this manner,

and may indeed he enlistcxi ta combat that force in the name ofa life-affirming,
reconstituted noble stance.41 Indeed, he identifies himself as the originator ofa
"counter-ideal," an unprecedented mixture of noble sensibility and critical self-
consciousncss.
Whereas the original rationality of the ascctic priest served the interests of sJave

morality by encouraging an association of aIl natuIa1 instincts with bad conscience,


Nietzsche wishes ta tom the tables on aIl morbid rationalists and Iay the conceptual
foundations for a reconstituted noble morality that would inculeate an association of

39 Consciousness, he argues, original1y arase out of man's "social or herd


nature.••" Thus heretofore, in aIl ofour efforts al "knowing oiJrselves", we have
become conscious "ooly ofwhat is not individual but 'average.'" (GS 354)
40 Sc:becht does not quite bit the mark when Ile claims that Nietzsche sees
"potentiality and promise" in the development ofbad cooscience (Scbecht ZlS).
N"lClZSChe sees promise not in the priest1y gaIb in wbich rationality bas heretofore
been Wlappcd. but rather in the emmv:ipatory possibilities ofa critical self-
consciousness freed ofthis mande.
41 Nussbanm notes in a Ie1ated context that "once philosophy exists, respondïng ta
and fuIther nonrisbing the natuIa1 human demand for oIder in confusion. the
simplifications ofbad philosophy cannot he answered by a simple retum ta the
SIatUS quo ante. The powerful appeal ofphilosophical system and argument cannot
he undone by simply putting forward a poem or stOl)'; or cannot, al least, fo...


people on whom pbilosophy bas deeply leftits mark." (1986: 393) Just as Aristot1e
needed ta use philosopby ta combat what Ile saw as the distortions ofPlatonie
pbilosophy, sc must Nietzsche's aristocratie sensibility look ta rationality ta combat
a rationality in the service ofignominy.

136
• aIl unnaturaI inclinations (U1I1UZtürlichen Hange) with bad conscience.42 (GM
ll.24) Nietzsche imagines that in the modem, self-aware noble type, the intellect or

spirit [Geist) is bis body's "hera\d, companion, and echo of its battles and
vietories." (Z 1 OBV 1) In Nietzsche's conception ofa worldly rationality in the
service of life (ie. at the disposai of a reconstituted nobility), spirit and body are
one: the spirit "elevates and rises up" the body, wbich in tum "enrapmres the spirit
with its joy [mit seiner WOIl7le entzückt er den Geist), that it may become creator
and evaluator..." (Ibid.) An individual having the good fortune to possess bath a
fine sensibility and this woridly rationality would possess, unlike bis pre-modem,
pre-rational counterpaIt, the "maximum of the art and power of adaptation" needed
to counler (what Nietzsche sees as) the clevemess and trickery ofPlatonic-Christian
aqrument.
This, 1 would argue, is where Nietzsche sees bis originality. He is not tuming

bis back entirely on the master mora\ity fust found in antiquity: "1 tao speak of a

'Ietum ta natuIe'. although it is not rea\ly a going-back but a going-up [nicht ein

Zuriickgehn, sondem ein HÎ1ID1ljkOmmen) - up into a high, free, even frightful

nature and naturalness..." (TI EUM 48) He is not, that is to say. giving up on the
idea1 ofa mora\ity that is "nalUrai" in the developmentai, Aristotelian sense
discussed earlier. that serves the (hea1thy) body and its instincts and aIlows the
individuai to strive for the greatness that is the ptoperty of the human species at its
most sublime. On the contraty. he is convinced, that retuming ta a more nalUrai

table of values in this sense involves not tuming one's back on Ie8SOn, but
developing a worldly rationality capable ofservicing a newer. stronger. master

~ty.

• 42 By ",mnatnra\ inclinations" Nietzsche IefeIs ta "all those aspirations ta the


beyond, ta that which runs counter ta sense, instinct. lI3tUIe, animal • which are
one and all hostile to life..." (GM IL24)

137
• Nietzsche refcrs to bis conceptual innovation, a synthesis of heightened self-
consciousness and healthy, pre-rational instincts, as a "transposition of the
dionysian inta a philosophical pathos" (EH "BT" 3). "Before me," he insists, othis
transposition..• did not exist tragic wisdom was lacking - 1have sought in vain for
signs of it even among the great Greeks of philosophy, those of the twO centuries
before Socrates..." (Ibid. Empbasis in original) Tragic wisdom involves
attaining, through genealogical analyses. the sort of rational "objectivity" discussed
in Cbapter I, a view characterised bath by healthy, embodied instinct ("natura1
virtue" in Aristotle's sense43) and a rational, historically-sensitive undcrstanding of

the origins, development, and true value of respective, competing tables of values.
Nietzsche predicts the future appearance in Europe ofa type of man embodying this
unprecedented tragic wisdom. a man "~ôIOnger and richer than bas perlJaps ever
happened before ••• thanks to the treme...<tdous multiplicity of practice, art and
mask." (BGE 242)

In this chapter we continued our exploration ofNietzsche's conception and


assessment ofslave morality. Whereas in Cbapter1 we noted that Nietzsche traces
the metaphysical dnalist categories ofslave morality back ta the alleged moral

cowardice of the inferior, servile type of human being, this chapter highlighted bis
assessment ofwhat he sees as the other, complimentary motivating drive behind
slave morality: the majority's gmdging acknowledgement ofthe inherent
superiority of the minority ofsuperior human beings, an acknowlecigement which,
in bis view, is always accompanied by jealousy, bitter resentment, and the thirst for
revenge.

The majority's revenge is achieved through the consolidation ofthe "slave


revoIt in morals", which Nietzsche as.cociates (at times) with the vietory of Socratic

43 Sec footnote 33 above.

138
• dialectic in Athens, but more often with Christianity's attainment of cultural
hegemony in Europe during the latc Roman Empire. The new moral climate
engendered by this successfu1 revoIt, to the extent that it is embraced by the finest
as weIl as the lowest, plebeian clement, places the former in the torturous position
of feeling compelled to fcel badly about their own, innate dispositions. Those of
noble, refined sensibility, becanse they have intellectually assented to a set of
valuations al variance with their deepe:st selves, come to fcel guilty about their own,
essentially healthy inclinations and desires, and adopt the unhealthy, secretive habit
of hiding them or indulging in !hem on the sly. The false consciousness of this
tortured noble type reaches, in Nietzsehe's eyes, an almost staggering level in the
character type of the ascetic priest, that originator and guardian of slave morality
who places bis creative talents al the service of a moral project that aims, ultimately,
al the nullification of all futuIe manifestations ofindividuality and creativity.

Outraged by what he sees as the injustice petpetrated by the many on the few,

by the tyrannical overtbrow of the naturaI Rongordrumg, Nietzsche sets himself the
task ofwinning hack the hearts and minds ofthose of noble sensibility. As 1
argued above, however, he advocates not for a retum ta the original "blond beast"

ofpre-Christian antiquity, but rather for the embrace ofa wholly modern, critical
master morality that he sees himself as bringing inta being. 'Ibrough bis criticaJ..

genealogical studies, Nietzsche be1ieves that he is the fiIst ta practice a very modem
fonn of rationality in the service of (rather!han subversive of) an admiIably noble
sensibility. As we shall sec in the next chapter, this project is direeted al a highly
selective audience, a sma1l, disparate collection of"kindred spirits" who are going
through the same psychological turmoil, suffering, and metamorphoses as himself.
This reading may seem deeply problematic in light of Nietzsehe's view of the

profoundly personal and interior nature of "self-overcoming". How could wc

• possibly sec a moral-pedagogical intent in bis writings, given bis view that the

139
• highest type of human being should never "follow" anyone eIse? Chapter V will

wrestle with this issue. in the course of an investigation of Nietzsehe's view of the

highest man's ideal relationship to concepts Iike obedience. commancl, discovery.

and creativity.

• 140
• Chanter V; Reconstituting the Master (1); Self-Discovery and SeJf-Mastery

The Personal and the Pedagogical

As we have seen. Nietzsche identifies the oppressive nature of mainstream

moral thought and practice in its pemicious attempt to universalise its own moral
categories. thereby rendering superior sorts of human beings Iiahle to judgement
and condemnation under its own (limited, plebeian) standards. The noble sort of
human being caII. combat this oppressive, leveI!ing effort only by "discover[ing]
himself' and declaring. Iike zarathustra, "'[t]bis is my good and evil·..." Only thus

cao he "silence thereby the mole and dwarf who says: 'Good for an. evil for aIl:"
(Z m OSG 2) Far from constituting a repudiation of moral language altogether.

this great emphasis on the personal is meant to combat "dwarfish." plebeian-spirited

moral philosophies that are quick to equate the mediocre with the "UniversaI".
Nietzsche believes that moral philosophies in the service of slave moraIity. i.e. most
moral philosophies heretofore, have always discounted the great importance of the
personal. 1
Thar Nietzsche places great stress on the personal in bis writings is

uncontestahle. "[I]n the final analysis," suggests zarathustra, "one experiences


only oneself••." (Z m W). a sentiment reiterated in the following comment on the
idiosyncratic nature of aIl knowledge: "in the case of every cardinal problem ••. a
thinker cannot relearn but only learn fully - only discover aIl that is 'firm and
settIed' within him on this subject." (BGE 231) Nobility cannot be unearthed
without the deepest, most persona! form ofself-examination. and its presence is
wholly tïed to one's own idiosyncratic personaIity: "ifyou have a virtue and it is

• 1 He bas these philosophies in mind, 1be!ieve, when he notes in the Nachloss that
"words dilute and brutalize; words depersona\ize; words make the uncommon
common." (WP 810)

141
• your own virtue," insislS Zarathustra, "you have it in common with no one." (Z 1
OJP) The stress on finding a unique. singularly persona! path to nobility leads to a
seeming rejection of al1 impersona! qualifietS: "not good taste, not bad taste. but rrry
taste," declares Zarathustra in an attaek on the aforementioned universalising and

levelling tendencies of slave morality. (Z ID OSG 2)


Nietzsehe's dual emphasis on originality and on the multiplicity of paths to
greatness seems al fust glance to imply a repudiation of al1 generalisable morality:
"1 came to my truth by divetSC paths and in divetSC ways." Zarathustra intones:
[I]t was not upon a single ladder that 1 climbed to the
height where my eyes survey my distancesJ And 1
have asked the way only unwillingly - that bas
always offended my taste! 1 have rather questioned
and attempted the ways themselves. (Z m OSG 2)
The road to virtue, in other words. comes not through faithfully following a map
designed by othetS; indeed, there is no single road that ought to be followed. We
are told that experimentation with many pa:hs is an inevitable part of the precarioUS,
extremely persona! odyssey leading to moral and spiritual development of the
highest sort. Thus Spoke Zarathustra continuously reiterates Nietzsche's message
that neither univetSa1 mies and methods nar mimicry of othetS are ofany help in
this hjghJy persona! affair. Zarathustra mentions the existence of "a thousand forms

ofhea1th and hidden islands oflife" that are "still unexhausted and undiscovered"
(Z 1OBV 2), and in response to those who ask him for "the way" to spiritual

growth, he replies, "'[t]bis - is now my way: where is yours?' ••• For the way -
does not exist!" (Z m OSG 2) "If you want to rise high," Zarathu5tra proposes to
those with noble pretensiODS, "use your own legs! Do not let yourselves be carried
up, do not sit on the backs and heads ofstrangel's!" (Z IV OHM 10) The insistence
on the solitaly nature of persona! development is further empbasi sed in Nietzsehe's
1886 Preface to Daybreak. in which he wams bis readership,

• [d]o not think for a tDOment that 1intend to invite you


to the same hazardous enteIprise! Or even only to

142
• the same solitude! For he who proceeds on bis own
path in this fashion encounters no one: that is
inherent in 'proceeding on one's own path·... (0
Pref.2)
Nietzsche':, emphasis on singularity in self-development is further reinforced by
a crucial characteristic of the Nietzsehean noble spirit noted in the previous chapter:
the highest sort of man in touch with bis truest instincts is said to abhor the idea of
servile obedience. In a manner reminiscent of Aristotie's megaJopsuchos,
Nietzsehe's great man, who truly loves himself and bis virtue, feels compelled to
rebel viscerally against moral systems that equate moral action with obedience to

sometbing outside of the self. zaratbustta declares that ooly those who have
removed themselves from "aIl obeying, knee-bending, and obsequiousness [alles
Gehorchen, Kniebeugen und Herr-Sagen]..... (Z m OGL), who ·renounce aIl
submission," [alle Ergebung von sich abtun] are bis equals (Z m VMS 3). This
sort of "glorious selfisbness" derides servile behaviour of ail kinds, whether it be
servility ·before gods and divine kicks, or before ... the silly opinions of men.....
(Z m TEl' 2) Hence the necessity of an idiosyncratic démtuche in the

mOi'a1lspiritual sphere.
Given this stress on the persona!, it would seem to follow that Nietzsche rejects
out of band the idea that bis work could serve as an example (moral or otberwise)
for others. However, a close reading ofNietzsche's OWD comments about bis
work reveals that for the author of Thus Spoke Zaralhustra, a focus on persona!
experience and a lively interest in the sort ofothers are not oecessarily mutually
exclusive. Wben zaratbustta observes that ·he who is of my sort will also
encounter experïeDces of my sort.•.• 2 (Z m OA 1), he appears 10 be speaking not
just ofhimse1f, but ofa broadly-defined cbaracter type [meiner Art] ofwhich he is

but an exemplar. As sucb, bis démarche and experiences may be ofsorne use to

• 2 "Wer meiner Art ist, dem werden auch die Erlebnisse meiner Art über den Weg
laufen..••

143
• other representatives of t1ùs same type. Farther a!ong in his odyssey, zarathustra
c1early and deliberately represents himseIf and bis own experience as a beacon for
"shipwrecked" others, i.e. for those presently in grave difficulty:
With rope-ladders 1 learned to climb ... up high
masts: to sit upon high masts of knowledge seemed
to me no small happiness - 1 to flicker like Iittle
flames upon high masts: a Iittle light, to be sure, but
yet a great comfort to castaway sailors and the
shipwrecked! (Z m OSG 2)
Nietzsche does appear, therefore, ta be interested in setting an example, in
"show[ing) them the rainbow and the stairway to the Supennan..... (Z Prologue 9)3
and sees no contradiction between writing in an intensely persona! manner and
expressing a keen interest in the motal-spirit:1al development ofothers. Following
Montaigne, he believes that exacting seIf-examination and introspection leads the
most perspicacious ofsouls to a greater understanding of the human condition, and
mus to a form of knowledge that may be transmitted ta like-minded others.4 "ShalI
my experience .,. have been my persona! experience a!one?" asks Nietzsche
riletorically in an 1886 preface ta an early work. (HAH fi Pref. 6) The negative
answer!hat he immediately gives ta bis own question is reveIatol)': "Today 1
would like to believe the reverse; again and again 1feeI sure !hat my trave! books
were not written soleIy for myseIf, as sometimes seems to be the case..." (Ibid.)
Nietzsche goes on to "commend" bis books "ta the hearts and ears" ofthose simiIar
to himseIf, ie. those still struggling with and suffering from the "burden" oftheir
pas!, the "most imperiIed, most spiritual, most courageous men who have to be the

;1 As we shalI discuss in further detail beIow, the Zarathustra ofBooks fi-IV bas
definitive!y rejected bis earlier efforts - most c1early found in the Prologue - at
talking sense to the "herd" in the marketp1ace. Zarathustra's preferrcd audience
then sbifts, from the many to the very few. His pedagogical intent, however,
remains constant. He still wishes ta show the way to the 0be171U!TlSch, but only to
a select, high-minded minority.
4 The celebrated author of 7he Essays wrote that "[e]very man bears the whole


Form ofthe human condition" [l'humaine condition] (1993: Ill.2, 908) and
observed that bis long study of himseIfserved to train him "to judge passably weIl
of others..." (Ibid., m.13, 1221)

144
• conscience of the modem soul and as sucb have to possess its knowledge '" whose
comfort it is to know the way to a new health... a health of tomorrow and the day
after..." (Ibid.) In sharing bis account of bis own trials and tribulations. Nietzsche
hopes to give aid and comfort to those ofsimilar make-up going through similar
upheavals, who are now passing through a difficult periodS but who may gain
solace in the knowledge of a future "redemption". Perhaps, muses Nietzsche in
another section of this 1886 preface, "1 sha1l do something to speed [the] coming"
of worthy. noble friends and companions "if 1descn1le in advance under what
vicissitudes. upon what paths. 1see them coming?-" (HAH 1 Pref. 2) In il late
work, Nietzsche once again stresses the pedagogical value - indeed healing powers
- of bis own experiences: "he who is related to me through loftiness of will [Hohe
des Wollens] experiences when he reads me real extasies ofleaming.... (EH
"Books" 3).6

The pedagogical relationship wbicb he describes and seeks to foster. far from
encouraging domination and submission, is of a type that respects the independent
spirit of the pupil conceived ofas an equai or near-equai: a master-in-training, as it
were. As noted in the previous chapter, the sort of lmitatio to wbicb NIetzsche
points involves active, creative appropriation rather than servile mimiay.
Paradoxically, Nietzsche urges bis select audience to follow bis example by not

5 As, according to Nietzsche, they must. We shall explore Nietzsche's view of the
neeessity of suffering in the next chapter.
6 Thal NIetzsche cleady bas a specifie audience in mind and is interested in
illiciting a specifie responsc is illustrated in bis IepClIted admonishments to bis
readership to "get it nght"; "My friends," pleads Zarathustra, "1 do not want to be
confused with others or taken for what 1am not [ich wiU nicht vemiischt llIId
verwechselt wenlen]." (Z II O'I) In bis last wœk, Nietzsche n:m arks that thougq
bis "habit, even more the prlde of [bis] instincts IeVOlts" against the idea of
exp1aining bimself, he feels he bas a duty to do so, in order to "prevent people from
making miscbiefwitb me.... [es soUe verlzilten, tkJjJ man UnJug mit mir treibt] (EH
Forward 1, "Dcstiny" 1) "Do not, above aIl," he insists, "confolllld me with w1uJt 1

• am not!" (EH Forward 1) For fmther evidence ofNietzschc's anxiety at being


propcdy undcrstood by the nght sort ofpeople, see BGE Preface, GM Preface, AC
Preface, and WP 1052.

145
• following anyone or anything but their own inc1inations and instincts: "1 need
living companions who follow me bxanse !bey want to follow themselves..... (Z
Prologue 9) This paradox of "follow me, command!" is succinctly encapsulated in
the following injunction: "Lead, as 1 do [gleich mir]. the flown-away virtue back ta
earth..." (Z 1 OBV 2)7

Despite zarathustra's warm recollection of bis first disciples as "a lively flock

rein lebendiger Schwann]. full oflove, full offolly. full of adolescent adoration
[unblirtige Verehrung]" (Z m OA Il). he stemly wams those who are of "[bis]
sort" not to "grapple [their] heart" ta uncritical, hero-worshipping "believers": "he
who knows fickle-cowardly human natul'e [wer diefliidrlig1eige Menschenart
kennt] should not believe in these springs and many-coloured meadows!" (Z m OA

1)8 If. as Nietzsche imagines. the tIUe destiny of the natuta1 noble invo1ves
commanding. rather than obsequious obeying, leaming how ta command [befeiùen]
must require "unleam[ing] how ta obey [das GeJwrche verlemen]." (Z n SH)9 Let
the patient's "best healing-aid he to sec with bis own eyes" (Z 1 OBV 2). and let
himlook ta bis teaeher as an inspiration, ratherthan aauteh.10 Formedy.

7 Cf. GS 2SS: "I do Dot want ta have people imitate my exarnp\e; 1 wish that
everybody would fashiOD bis OWD exarnple, as 1 do."
8 The "king OD the nght" in Z IV G porttays the sort ofhero-worshiPPing disciple
Zaralhustra re1ùses ta Ile saddled witb. This servile. dependent character type is
made al one point to lament ~fbctically: '"Does Z8I:athustIa SIill.live? There is DO
longer any point in living. it 15 an one, cverything is in vain: except wc live with
Zarathustra!'"
9 Note, however. Zaralhustra's injunction al Z n 050 that the highest man ought
ta practice obedience "even in commanding." [es gehorcht lIIId befiehlt und
befehknd noch GeJwrsam ilbt] Have wc cangllt Nietzsche (or. al lcast,
Z81:athustIa) in a contradiction? 1 think DOt. The <>bedience ~ in this
passage refers ta the tightly disciplined sense of deœnan of the man ofvirtue that,
as wc shall sec beJowe, is self-imposed and self-policed. N'1CtZSChe's man of virtue
oheys bis OWD dietates which, although generated tbrough aets ofwill, are Dot seen
as c:aprlcious, becanse they are said 10 retlect an inner core of solid, unwaverïng.
and noble instincts and sensibilities. By contrast, the sort ofobedience criticised in
zn SB and elsewhere refers ta the cIefeIence towan1s an outside somœ (Gad,

• Nature, public opinion, ete.) for which Nietzsche bas only conternpt.
10 "1 am a tailing besidc the stream: he who cao grasp me, let him grasp me! 1am
DOt, however. your cruteh." (Z 1 OPe)

146
• Nietzsche explains, master-typeS in the grip ofa self-abnegating false
consciousness saw virtue as an extemal. superior slave-driver. crying plaintively,
"'What 1 am not. that, that to me is Gad and virtuel'" (Z TI OV) Under bis

influence, he hopes they will come ta recognise a profound uuth that emerges from
"the bottom of [their] souls". vil.• that "your virtue is your Self and not something
allen. a skin. a covering..." (Ibid.)

Moral Development as Redisc:overy ofBodïly Knowledge

The allusion in the above passage to a uuth already present in the sou! suggests
another reason why Nietzsehe's imagined master-in-training cannat he a passive,
obedient receptaele for the moral insight ofan inherently superior teaeher. In
describing bis pedagogical role, zarathustra xefers to himself as a "drawer. trainer.
and taskmast.er"11 rein Zieher. Züchter lI1Il1 Zuchtmeister] who cao ooly demand of
bis charges: "become what you are." [Wenie, der du bist] (Z IV HO)12 This

invocation, IeÏterated in the famous subtitle ofEH ("How one becomes what one
isi. suggest8 that the most important task is accomplished by the "pupil" himself.
"mtimately." Nietzsche elaboratcs further on in EH, "no one cao exttact from
things. books inclutled, more than he already knows. What one bas no access ta
through experience one bas no ear for._" (EH "Books" 1) MoralIspiritllll1
development, then, is a highly personaljoumey allowing one ta experience
(ped1aps for the fust lime) the jnnate, instinctive knowledge that defines who or

what one ttuly is. It is also a joumey of h"beration, for in tbis pocess of
(re)discoveIy one Ieams ta free onese1f from all manuer of "foœign~ lICCOllterIDent
collected through early. misguided, and noxious indOClrination. The"free spirit"

Il Kanfmann's translation of Züchte;-. "cultivator". may be superior ta

• H~'sbecanse of the absence of the anthoritarian connotation of "trainer."


12 This is in line with zarathustra's earlier question ofZ 1 OWC: "Do YOl1 want ta
sect the way ta yomself'l" [W"rllst du dm Weg VI dir selber suchm?]

147
• ffreier Geist] is one who bas cast off that which is nonessential, thus "seiz[ing]

possession of itself [von sich selber wieder Besitz ergriffen hal]." (EH "HAB" 1)
The repossession of the selfinvolves a recovery of contact with the COIpOre&
knowledge of instinct and drive that, as we have seen, Nietzsche deems so crucial.
Zarathustra expends much effort berating bis intcrlocutors for heing out of touch

with this knowledge, urging them ta think more deeply about their troe selves and
ta embrace more authentic positions in line with their profoundest inclinations. Let
us briefly examine bis response ta the portentaUS, self-important sermonising of the
"volunwy beggar" of Part IV:
'You do violence to yourself, mountain sermonizer,
when you use such stern words. Neither your
mouth nor your eyes were made for such sternness
[HaTte]J 'Nor your stomach cither, as 1 think: that
opposes ail such raging and hating and over-frothing
[Oberschaumen]. Your stomach wants gentler
things: you are no butcherJ 'On the contrary, you
seem to me a man of plants and roots. Perl1aps you
grind com. But you are certainly disinclined to
flesby pleasures rJleischlichen Freuden] and love
honey.' (Z IV VB)
For bath zatatbustra and bis creator, the truth ofone's soul spealcs from the
corporeal self; i.e. the "gut". zatatbustra is suggesting tbat the voluntary beggat's
bard words ring false becallse they do not seem ta emerge from a careful, attentive
listening ta the self.!3 The result is a somewhat ridiculous spectacle of empty
bluster, an inauthetie, unedifying, "over-frothing" perfOIDWlce. zatatbustra
proposes an altemative ta bis "brothets": tbat they "[l]ïsten _. ta the voice of the
hea1thy body [die Stimme des gesundm Leibes]: this is apurer voice and amore
bonest one [Red1icher redet und reiner der gesuru:k Leib]." (Z 1OAW) Such a

13 In speaking of those pofCI1tial1y fine men who associale virtue with


obsequionsness, Zaratbustra remarks: "They yield, these good men, they

• acquiesce, their bearts mntate, tbey obey from the heart: but he who obeys does not
liskn 10 himself [sie ergeben sich, ihr Ben sprichl nach, ihr Grund gehoreht: wer
aber gehorcht, der 1WI't sich selber nicht]'" (Z mONL 7; emphasis in original.)

148
• proposa!, dirccted at those ofe1evated sensibilities, is meant "to give men back the
courage to their natural drives." (WP 124)
The process of rediscovering innate, bodily knowledge is often descnbed by

Nietzsche in terms of a combination of ttanscendence and descent "into the depths"


[in die Trefe steigen]. (Z Prologue 1) MoralIspirital ascent and the "descent"

involved in reacquainting oneselfwith one's visceral sentiments are inextticably


1inked: "the soul which possesses the longest ladder," claims ZarathustIa, "cao
descend the deepest.••" (Z m ONL 19) Searcbing for an explanatory devicc,
Zarathustta evokes other metaphors: that of the tree, which tises to the heights and

the light ooly by plunging its 1'OOts "into the depths - into evil" (Z 1OlM). and of
the mountain rising from the sea: "The highest must arise to its height from the

deepest [Aus don Trefsten ml4fJ dos HOchste zu seiner Hohe kommen]." (Z m W)

The problem with most efforts at auaining transcendence heretofore. claims

Nietzsche. is the Jack ofappreciation of this intimate relationship between ascent


and descent, Jeading to one-sided rejections of the latter in the Dame of the
former. 14 Nietzsche tries to convince those of noble instincts who have
misguidcd1y denigraœd theireatthly.l:OqlOreaJ selves in theirefforts at moral seJf-
pexfection to come back to earth and leam the nature ofauthentic, healthy
ttanscentience. "Stay loyal to the earth [Bleibt mir der Erde treu]," urges
Zarathustra of bis "brothers":
May your bestowing love and your knowledge serve
towards the meaning of the earth [dem Sïnne der
Erde]! ••• Do DOt let it fly away from the things of
the earth and beat with its wings against the etemaI
walls!•• J Lead, as 1 do. the flown-away virtue back
to earth - yes, back to body and life: that it may give

• 14 Recall our discnssion in Cbaptc:r mofNietzsehe's cJaim that any attempt by


pbilosopbical reason to detach itseJf from its root in the body cao result only in a
"mis&aII:lersta1lding of the body." (OS Pref.4)

149
• the eanh its meaning, a human meaning [einen
Menschen-Sinn]! (Z 1OBV 2)15
Zarathustra's frequent injunctions against the tempting, imaginative flight from
earthly reality inta "cloudland" [Reich der Wolken] (Z n OP) and bis
characterisations of those who succumb ta the temptation as "world-calumniators"
and "world-slanderers" [Welt-Ver1eumder] (Z m ONL 15, m SS 2) call to mind
Francis Bacon's spirited, idcological defense ofearthly empiricist method against
the enttenchcd Aristotelian science of bis age.16
While Nietzsche's recurring emphasis on creativity and originality bas been
wel1-noted and much comment.ed upon. its ctucial connection ta this rbetoric of
rediscovcty bas mrely been given the recognition it deserves. Against the backdrop
of the new orthodoxy's commitment ta a pietuIe ofNiettsehe as a philosopher of
complete originality, there is an undcrstandab'y sttong IeSistance ta the idea that
Nietzsehean creativity is related in any way ta se1f-disc'Jvcty. To bis aedi.t,
N'chamas serves as a (partial) exception when he rernarks that "making and finding,
creating and discovering, imposing laws and being coostrained by them are

involved in a complicated, almost compromising relationship." (1985: 174) On the


same page, however, Nehamas backs away from tbis nllllnœd reading by iDsisting
that Nietzsche "prefers ta think of UUth as the product ofcreation l3thec than as the

object ofdiscovery" (IbiIL), once again sum1mbing ta the new orthodox

15 Z8rathUSll'a speaks agaiDst this onc-sidcd unde:rstanding oftraDsœndence at the


stalt of the book, ta the people in the marlœtplac:e" befoœ drci<liDg that attending ta
them is a waste oftime: "••• remaïn true 10 the eœ1h {1Ileibt cler Enie tmll, and do
DOt believe those who speak ta you ofsupertœesttial hopes [ilberirdischen
Hoffiumgen]!" (Z Prologue 3) "To b1asphcme the eanh is DOW the most dIeadful
o~~clerEnie~~~~~F~~~~

• 16 Nietzsche undcrstandab1y admi1ed Bacon, dN:ming him "the originator, the


se1f-tonDcntor of this uncanDiesr species ofliterature... lT]he fust zealist in every
gœat sense of the word._" (EH "Oever" 4)

ISO
• assumption that self-creation and discovcry of the self must be mutually
exclusive.J7
Far from identifying human =live activity with "purposeless play", as sorne
would have it, Nietzsche insists that at its highest, =livity is something attuded to
a profound truth about the self and the world, a truth that bas always been deep
within the noble self and that needs to be drawn oul The "new psychologists" of
tomorrow, suggests Nietzsche, are condemned to inventing the new - and, who
knows? perhaps toftnding il" (BGE 12) The rather mysterious relation ofcreation
and dis;:ovcry is evoked in the following exchange between zarathustra and the
young man in Z 1 OTM: "'How," asks the young man of bis mentor, ois it possible
you can uncover my soul [meine Seele entdecktest]TI zarathustra smiled and said:
There are many souls one will never uncover [entdecken], unless one invents
[e1findet]them fiIst.'" No =livity, it seems, without discovery.

The reverse, however, is also true: no discovcry without =livity. Nietzsche

is no neo-Platonist, for whom the truth and beauty of the Cosmos would become
apparent through agradually deve10ping awareness and embrace ofa preexistent,
unchanging Reality. In the Platonic view, agency is relevant only in the struggle to
see the True Order of things and one's place in il Once that Truth bas been seen,
one presnmably bas found eudaimonia and a blissful state of pesee. For Nietzsche,
however. it is idle and slavish to speak of truths apart from creative agency. of truth
revealed to us by a wholly externa1 fon::e. The "creating, willing, evaluating Ego".

17 Leiter perceptively notes that Nehamas defends bis final position through a
highly selective manner ofquOlation (Leiter 1992: 286). Nebamas c;ites the
following passage. from GS 335. where Nietzsche insists that people who "want to
become those they are" are pœcisely "hl!Jnan beings who are new. unique,
incompa1'llble, who give themselves laws, who create themselves." The section
continues, bowever. thusly: "To that end [of creating omselves] we must become
the best bm= and discoverers ofevcrything that is lawful and necessary in the
wodd: we must become physicists in onier to be able to be cnaIOrs in this

• sense "This suggests thatN'1CtZSChe's higbestman sees seIf-creation as


involving sorne sort ofclear-headM investigation ofnatural pbenomena, including
(or so 1 would argue) one's own innate "drives".

151
• he insists, is "a first motion", a "self-prope1ling wheel" (Z 1 OWC), i.e. "the

measure and value of aIl things." (Z 1 OAW) Zarathustra hopes that bis "brothers"
with forever "fut anew" the value of aIl things (Z 1 OBV 2), that the ultïmate
exemplar of modem nobility, theObermensch, will "create a goal for mankind and

gives the earth ils meaning and its future..." (Z ID ONL 2) In so doing, the highest
sort of man fulfills bis true natuIe in the Aristotelian sense discussed in Cbapter DL
Oearly, any discoveries made by such a superb being will he accomplished in and
through creative making, and any truths so discovered cannot he said to exist above
and heyond this making. These truths are, however, "objective" in the Nietzsehean
sense discussed in Chapter 1, i.e. the property ofa.noble, discerning sensibility that
possesses a monopoly on truth and virtue.

Nietzsche Contra Laisser-Aller

The sort ofself-rediscovel}' desaibed above is nothing st alllike a h"bertine


overthrow of aIl sense oforder and discipline. or a celebration of the chaotic,
internal play ofcontlieting passiODS. Yet this is often what the new orthodoxy
suggests that Nietzsche is advocaring. Nehamas. for examp\e, posits the

Nietzscbean self as a fundamcntally incoherent battleground ofconflieting drives:


what we think, want, and do is seldom Ü ever a
coherent collection. Our thoughts contradict one
another and contrast with our desires, which are
themselves inconsistent and are in tum belied by our
actions. (Nehamas 1985: 180)
Accordïng ta Nehamas, Nietzsche believes that even in the best ofus, multiple
charactertraits will coexist uneasily and forevercompetc for dominance (Ibid., 181-
2; 183). Far froID suppressing or disciplining any competing part ofhimselfin the
Dame of coherence or internal unity, the best a truly admirable Nietzscbean self cao

• accomplish in this chaos is b develop "style", i.e. a talent for living in relative

152
• harmony with these powcrful and confiieting tendencies without disowning any of
them (Ibid., 7, 187,216).18
In advocating !bis supposed1y Nietzsehean "multiple self', proponeilts of the
new orthodoxy seem to propose a new type of postmodemist, egalitarian meta-
ethic. Connolly, for example, claims that the Obermensch should be understood as
"a set ofdispositions that may compete for presence in any self." (Connolly 1991:
186-7) Part of what it Im'-3DS 10 be to possess these admirable, Obermenschlich
qualities, for Connolly, is the ability to disrupt the repressive, deadening hold of
stable forms ofidentity through "compensatory strategies" like genealogical
discourse (Ibid., 13). Connolly denounces the will to impose order on chaotic

impulses and desires as "a reclpe for the repression of difference" and an example
of slave morality (Ibid., 178-9), suggestiag that the set ofadmirable qualites
associated with Nietzsehe's Obennensch should be seen (as is a11egedly seen by
Nietzsche "10 a significant degree") as "a voice in the selfcontending with other
voices, including those of ressentiment." (Ibid., 186-7)19
Taking a slightly different taek, but relying on what 1consider 10 be a sim;Jarly
fanciful metaphorical reading, Honig "democratizes" and "raè!;ca!j'D"$" the
Obermensck. tuming !bis construet into a reptesentative of all those aspects of the

18 At. one point Nehamas comes close 10 Nietzsehe's position when he describes
N"tetzsebean style as "conJrol1ed multiplicity and resolved conflict" (1985: 7.
emphasis added). The general thrust ofNehamas' position, however, appears 10
resist the constancy that such control and stability would entail: "The self,
according 10 Nietzsebe, is not a constant, stable entity." (Ibid.) Blondel makes a
sim;!ar assessDlent of the Nietzschean body as a plurality of forces, a "political
organization based on relations between forces that are unstable and DOt univocally
regulated by conscious causallogic.•••" (Blondel 1991: 232) Detv61er concurs:
"theIe are apt 10 he multiple pelspectives vying for supremacy within a single breast .
because the self, according 10 N"Ietzsehe, is wtrinsically a multiplicity and DOt a
unity. In most cases what we call the selfis little more than a battleground of
competing drives..." (Detwiler 1990: 21)
1~ At. other points Connolly appears 10 suggest thateven the admirable,


0ber:nmsch1ich qualities of the Nietzschean (multiple) selfare inconsistent with
each other. The "mature 1ITIelZSChe". he states, is said 10 have come 10 the "tragïc·
conclusion "that the esse, .I;al clements ofnobiliIy (let alone the overmau) cannot be
combined in the same self al the same time." (Connolly 1992: 70S)

153
• "multiple self' that refuse to be Sqlleeu4 into oppressive, unitary identities. (Hooig
1993a: 8-9) The Obermensch, claims Hooig. is simply the name Nietzsche
bestows on "the othemess within the self that resists the discipline of moral

responsibility•••" (Ibid.. 65) On this reading, "Nietzsebe's figure of a resistant and


unmasterable being is seen to exist within eacb of us." (Ibid.J2fJ Hooig
acknowledges that "some ofNietzsche's cornments about the overman seem to
resist" ber fanciful metaphorisation of the tJbermensch, notably bis "disturbing"
(Ibid., 74) tendency to associate the Obermensch with "great politics", but sbe

claims that other passages endorse it. In support of ber interpretation, Hooig cites

Nietzsche's famous remarks in the early piece "Homer's Contest" that endorse the
notion ofperpetua1 contest, or "agan". (Ibid., 229) Nietzsebe's valorisation of
struggle, conc1udes Hooig, entaiIs a rejection of the notion ofself-masteIy: "he
does not experience the veogefulness that comes with that quest." (Ibid., 63)

It is my view that this portrait of the multiple self strays far from Nietzsche's
emphasis on the self-discipline and self-mastety cbaracrcristic of bea1tby, bigbest
buman being. Wbile Nietzsche's praise ofDionysian freuzy and chaos bas been
well noted, many commentators bave neglected bis aucial emphasis on the
Apollooian counterpart to Dionysus. He advocates not an endIess pezpetuaâon of
struggle within the bigbcst individual, but Iatber the fustering ofa disciplined
inclination to submit 0nese1f, in the end, to one particu1ar orientation. 1am

20 'Ibis attempt to dcny that Nietzscbe's maser-slave typology refers to discrete


types of persans is characteristic ofthe ncw 0Ith0d0xy. Cf. Waaen, who,like
Connolly aiid Hooig, insists tbat "in pàncip1e" Nietzsche's nobility "migbt occur
anywbereinsociety." (Wmen 1988: 176) HeIeSiststheideatbatNietzsche's
masters and slaves refer to "different kinds of natures from wbicb difrerent political
consequences flow: because of bis belief that Nietzsche is beyond such "uncritical
mctapbysics." (Ibid., 21) His agenda, bowever, is somewhat different from tbat of
Connolly and Honig, Wheleas tbese 1attertwo wish to associate Nietzsche's
Oberminsch with an iotcma1ised. cbaotic, dcbunking orientation, Wmen (as we
noœd eadier) is more cœcemed with a."SOCÏaring Nietzscbeantbougbt with the

• vaJorisarion ofInlQlan agency as such. He infomIs us tbat Nietzsebe's ;dWised


nobIeman reaIly denotes "good c:onscience in action together with the feeling of
self<ertainty that attaches to suecessful actions." (Ibid.)

154
• suggesting, in other words, !bat bis idea is not to celebrate a chaotie, internaI
struggle, but to encourage the absolutc victory ofone, admirable orientation in the
self and its mastcry over other, baser traits.
Honig is quitc right, of course, to note Nietzsehe's criticism of the type of self-
discipline propounded by the slavisb "moralists", who counsel extirpation of (rather
!han mastery over) the Dionysian chaos within the self. She and other proponents

of the new orthodoxy err, however, in assuming !bat all ethical projects ofself-
mastcry involve this sort ofself-vivisection. Zarathustra suggests!bat "[e]very soul
is a world of its own.••" (Z mC 2), giving expression to Nietzsehe's vision of
disciplined unity incoIporates complexity and plurality. His point is !bat striving
for a unity ofcharactcr need not entail the excision of aIl interesting, creative
expLessions ofindividuality and the emergence of a Marcusean "one-dirnensional
man".
'Ibis is not to say !bat NIetzSChe believes self-mastcry - the a!tllinment. of a

synthesis of multiplicity and unity - to he an easily attainable goal. Indeed, he

readily aclcnowledges the fact !bat internaI struggle is part and parcel of the process

ofmoral-spiritual development "Behold how each of your virtues ••• wants your
entù:e spirit, that your spirit may he ils herald, it wants your entire sttength in anger,

hatc. and love." (Z 1 OJP) Inevitably, in the COUIse of such development, there axe
intema1 struggles and upheavals. 'The bighest men, however, will find the sttength
to impose Apollonian omer on their impulses; !bey will becorne "willers of a single
will" (Z 1OBV 1). In aself-IefeteDtial comment lare in his intcllectua1 cmer,
Nietzscbe infonns us that he eventnally came to understand that the many struggles
and metamorphoses of his past which see"'C'd pointless al the tirne had a raison
d'2tre: the development ofhis well-ronnded., unified cbaractcr. "It is my sagacity to

have been many dJ!ngs and in many places so as to he able to become one persan-

• 155
• 50 as to be able ta attain one thing.

3; emphasis in origina1)21
For a time 1 had to be a scholar.-" (EH "UM"

'The ncw orthodoxy appears ta presume that a wholehearted dcdieation to the


fine performance ofone's roles - as father. mother. teaeher. doctor. ete. - is
potentially dangerous aI best, and violendy oppressive aI worst, for in 50 doing one
ignores the hypothetical e1aims of aIl other potential l'Oies one could conceivably
play. In the commitmeDt ta such role-play. suggests Honig. one "Ioses one's car
for the other as one is formed (disciplined through increasingly perfect repetitions)
inta the mode ofsubjectivity." (Honig 1993a: 229) The ideal orientation, then,
would seem ta be one ofironie detachment, for heartfe1t commitment and
disciplined dcdieation would ooly turn us inta servile, uncreative autamatons who
have been "nonnalised" ta fit certain fimctiona1ly l1CCCSS3ry (albeit oppressive)
social l'OIes. As we have seen, moreover. Nietzsche routinely is enIisted as a

founding father of this line.


N"JC1ZSCbe is Dot intercsted. however. in encouraging an ironie orientation in bis
superior men taward such things as, for example, promises and pledges.22 h is
difficult ta imagine -from a N'1dZschean perspc..'1ive, how the capacity for making
promises could have come about in the midst of a cacophony of multiple selves.
NielzSCbe identifies this capacity as an example ofwhat it lIIClIDS ta be a hnman
being qua artificial and natura1 entity. i.e. a seIf-conscious, cultivated and seIf-
cultivating individual who rises over and above the IeSt of the animal wor1d (sec
Chapter lII). Like aIl forms ofcreative artifice, however. the faculty ofmaking
promises is purehased only with great difficulty and through sacrifice: "To breed
an animal with the right 10 make promises - is not this the paradoxical task that

21 As wc sball see in Chaplcr vu, N"JC1ZSCbe 1inks this important insight with the
S'u=cessful peri"ormance of the thought experiment known as the "Etemal Retum of

• theSame."
22 More will be said about NielzSCbe's views on irony in the next chapter. when
wc sball explore bis treatment of nibiliSID

156
Il3tUIe bas set itselfin the case of man? is it not the real problemregarding man?"
(GM lU) This capacity for the creation of "a long chain of will," for "desir[ing]
••. the continuance of something desired once" (Ibn), could hardly become
manifest without a certain faIsightedness and disciplined regularity of character.

Discipline and Self-Mastery

Although the professional dancer malœs ber craft seem like an effortless project
of uncontrolled, spontaneous inspiration, bebind this surface appearance lie years
of bard work and training that make possible ber apparent effOrtlessness in
performance. Similarly, Nietzsche outlines a deve10pmental account of virtue in

whicb the apparently effortless certituœ and graceful ease of the virtuous
disposition is usuaIly:l3 seen as an acbievement that is unthinkable without a great
dea1 of training, self-discipline, and the "self-<lvercoming" involved in the constant,
vigilant assessment of and control over one's actions and reactions.
Nietzsche considcrs self-discipline an absolute necessity, given the high stakes
involved in the game ofmoral valuation. As we noted in OJapter TI, Nietzsche
considcrs the naroing of good and evil ta he a "terrible power" that sbould not he
taken lightly.24 Although, in bis "fatalistic" mode, he occasionally suggest5 that the
superior blUD8 n being cao do no wrollg. he also (and, 1wculd argue, more usually)
indieates that this power could tum monstrous even in the bands ofthose with the

nalUra1 stuff ofnobility. Not everything that emerges from the deptbs of sncb men
is refined and noble: "Even in the best there is something ta excite disgust [An dem

23 Recall, bowever. the observation in 0Japter m ofN'1l'tZSCbe's occasional


"fatalistiç" Jeanings wben speaking ofinnate, bodily instincls. The fata1istic
account is cleady incompahb\e with Nietzscbe's view (explOIed be1ow) that those
with natmaIly ele\"ated instincts must put in a great deal of effort ta attain the
pinnacle ofbmnan excellence.

• 24 "Truly the power ofthis praising and b1aming is a monster. TeR me. who will
subdue it for me [wer bez.wingt es mir]. my brothets? TeR me. who will fasten
fetteB upon the thousand necks ofthis beast1" (Z 1 OTG)

157
• &sten ist noch e/Was vun Ekeln]; and even the best is something that must he
overcome!" (Z ID ONL 14) Although Nietzsche believes that a refined sensibility
pervades the chatactet of the free-spirited man of vïrtue, the ubiquitous presence of
loathsome clements necessitalCS the cultivation of "a noble shell":
And much that is intrinsic in man is Iike the oyster,
that is loathsome and s1ippery and bard to grasp [ekel
und schlüpfrig und schwer erfajJlich] -/ so that a
noble sbell with noble embellishments must inteteede
for iL But one bas to leam this art as weil: to have a
shell and a fair appearance and a prudent blindness
[~chale haben und schOnen ScheÙl und kIuge
Blindheit]! (Z ID OSG Z)
Envcloping oneself in a noble she1l alIows one to maintain a dcliherate, studied
ignorance - or blindness - bath towards one's least admirable sentiments and
d;:sires and"towards the ugJiness and vulgarity in the world at 1arge.2S
Characteristically, Nietzsche imagines the capacity to construct such a shell as
ar'.sing from a "dominant instinct": the "dominating spirituality" ofNlelZSChe's new
pbilosopbers, he suggests, "had fi.rst to put a check on an unrestrained and initable
pride or a wanton sensuaIity"; petbaps at fi.rst it
had a bard job ••• maintain[mg] its will ta the 'desert'
against a love of luxury and refinement or an
excessive liberality of heart and band. But it did il,
preeisely becanse it was the dominating instinct
whose demands prevailed against those of aIl the
othr.r ïnstinets.•• (GM mlS)

The passage just quoted, evoking a portrait ofa nobility wrestling with and
finally subduing excessive hubris,.sensuality,love ofluxury, ete., suggest5 that
Nietzsche's stress on the nobleman's "automarism ofinstinct", when seen in light

2S As Leiter observes (1995: 37-8), this theme of "OVClCOming" W1gar elements


within the self is linked to Nïwscbe's view of the importance of socio-political
hierarchy. In passages liIœ BGE 2S7, Nietzsche argues that unless a "pathos of
distance" betw=1 ditfdent strata of peISOIlS is euforced in society, lofty, fxee-
spirited types will he less lilœly ID recognise the hierarchy within themse1ves, ie.
less able ID "long _ for an ever-inCIeasing widening of distance within the soul

• itself, the formation ofever higher, nuer, more remote, tenser, more
comprehensive states "The existence and maintenance ofa recognised hierarchy
in society, in other words, is a precondition for self-oVClCOming (sec Chapter IX).

158
• ofhis developmental ethic, in no way entails a blind, indiscriminatc indulgence of
all sentiment or dcsire. On:he contrary, he insists that any sort of moral valuation
"teaehes hatred of laisser aller, of too grcat freedom..." (BGE 188) "Blind
indulgence of an affect," he observes in the Nachlass, "1Otally rcgardlcss of
whcthcr it he a gcncrous and compassionate or a hostile affect, is the cause of the
grcatcst evils." (WP 928) Nietzsche evokes the image of the taut bowstring in

dcscribing a praiscworthy, disciplincd virtuc, and fcars the day when laisser aller
triumphs ovcr the characteristic "tension" of nobility: "1be timc is coming whcn
man will no more shoot the arrow ofhis longing out ovcr mankind, and the strong
ofhis bow will have forgottcn how to twang! [nicht mehr••• die Sehne seines
Bogens ver1emt 1ult, ZJl schwirrenl]" (Z Prologue S) While it is true, in other
words, that Nietzsehcan virtue involves a hcalthy dose ofself-love (in constrast to
the ostenslole self-abncgation encouraged by slave morality), Nietzsehean self-love
is by no means a defence of mcrc self-indulgence.26 Nietzsche, aftcr all, urges that

wc cultivate a "strict selfishncss" [stnmgen Selbstsueht] (EH "Dcstïny" 7;


cmphasis in original), one characteriscd by the tight form ofdiscipline dcscnOcd

above.

In light of the Nietzsehc's insistencc upon the cognitive and moral significance
of the cœporcal passions (Chapter m), howevcr, bis distastc for "1etting it all bang

26 Significantly, Nietzschc's writings is rife with criticism of the self-indulgence


of the many who, in bis view, arc slaves 10 thcirpassions. Sec, for examplc,
ZlIrathustra's attaek on "sick seltishncss" [die k:rtmke Selbstsueht] in Z 1 OBV l,
and t!le rcference ta the "self-secking [eigenniltZig] catt1e and mob" in WP 752.
Once again, however, the complexity ofN'lelZSche's position obliges us to nuance
this argument. Fustly, the tension in Nietzsehe's wIitings between an Aristotelian,
devclopl1JCi Ital ethic and a naturalistic fata1ism i.nIroduccs a complication. Whilc
Nietzsehe's devclopmentaJ ethic may not countenance laisser aller, bis complaccnt
fata1ism, which sccms 10 suggest that the bigbcst human bcing (m vil'tue of bis fine
instincls) can do no wrong.lcads him into an inexcnsable laxity in this regard.
Compounding this problem is bis .mmistabble suggestion that the highcst man's


pcnt-up encrgies should he cxpended from time-to-timc; spccifically, in proximity
of the lower 0Idcrs. who could very wel1 suifer the unintended consequences of the
dionysian discharge. We shall explore bath ofthescpoints furthcrin Cbapterx. in
the context of li :liscussion ofNietzsehe's portrait of master-slave relations.

159
• out" cannot entail an ascetic renonciation of pleasure and desire altogether. Wben
N"JelZSChe speaks of the noble self as "a tremendous multiplicity which is
nonetheless the opposite ofcbaos"27 (EH "Oever" 9), he is suggesting that the
immense richness of sensation and the intensity of passion cbaracterising bis
imagined noble must be preserved. albeit in a tigbtly bound and disciplined manner.
By insisting that the body is "a multiplicity with one sense [eine Vze1heit mit
«einem» Sinne], a war and a peace. a berd and a berdsman" (Z 1 ODB),
Nietzsche furtber deve10ps the view introduced in The Birth oITragedy that the
human being - as weil as society and culture as a whole - requiIes both the protean
substrata of Dionysian energy and the shaping, form-giving order of Apollonian

discipline.28
Nietzsche. therefore. comes out in favour of a fonn ofdr.cipline that involves
scrutinising and disciplining the sentiments. rather tban suppzessing tbem.
"Greatness ofcharactcr does not coosist in not possessing tbese affects - on the
contrary, one passesses tbem 10 the higbest degree - but in baving tbem onder
controL" (WP 928)29 Kanfmann bas rigbt1y noted that unlike the ancicnt Stoics
and the Christian ascetics aiticised in On tire Genetzlogy ofMoraIs, Nic:tzscbe does
not sec the way 10 discip1iMi virtue through an extirpation of the passions: "1hz

good man isfor Nim.,sche the passionate man who is the mtJSter oIhis passions."
<Kanfmaun 1974: 280, ernpbasis in mgiual) Much like Arlstotle. Nietzsche
wisbes 10 steel a middle course between the barmfiJl ex1It:me~ of ascetic
.
renunciation and hedonistic laisseralIer. Nietzsche's bigbest man.like Arïstotle's.
ongbt 10 be a stranger neither 10 bardship and suffering nar 10 physical p1easuIe:

1:1 "_eine ungebeureVtelhcit. die trotzdem das GegenstlIck des Chaos ist."
28 N"u:tzsche contrasts bis OWD conception of cliscipline with the "great self-
control" [die groJJe SelbstbeIrerrscg] evinccd by the servile type ofman wbose
"discipline" aI10ws him 1Odissimn1ate andape thegesturesofthetmlyvirluous.

• ~GEI4)
Sec also wP 966: "wberc the plant 'man' shows himself strongest one finds
insfuIets that confliet powerfully (e.g.. in SbalœspeaIe), but are controlled."

160
• "he who belongs to me," declares zanuhuslra, "must Ile ••• merry in war and
feasting, no moumful man, no d.reamy fellow, ready for what is hardest as for a
feast..." (Z IV LS)30 In order, however, for our merry-making affects ta service
"our best interests", they must be subjceted "ta a protraeted tyranny": ooly then will
they "love us as good servants." (WP 384)
The reference to the affects as servants and ta the body as bath herd and
herdsman indieate that command and obedience remain fundamental components of
Nietzsche's moral psychology,3\ which is more indebted ta ancient notions than he
is often willing ta admit. "[W]berever 1 found living creatures," remarlcs
zanuhustra, "there too 1 heard the language ofobedience [Gdwrsame]. " (Z n
OSO) The type ofobedience characteristic of a paIticular individua.l. however,
depends upon the persan's character: "And this is the second thing: he who cannot

ohey himseJfwill becommanded. Thatis the nature ofliving creatures."32 (Ibid.)


In other words, it is in the natural order ofthings that saDIe are able ta command
themse1ves (and thus dorninate othels), while others, laclàng this "art of
commanding" [Kunst des BefehIens] (BGE 199), cao ooly evince a "herd ÏD:..tinet of
obedience," a crude, indiscrirninate appetite for direction that "accepts whatever any
commander - parent, teaeher,law, class, prejudice, public opinion - shouts in its
cars." (Ibid.'jJ3 Nietzsche places ail beIievers in God in the latter camp of servile,

30 According ta Aristotle. as Nussbanrn rlghtly observes, nit is DOt compatible


with practical wisdom ta scck ta minimize the appetites or unduly ta dissociate
oneseJf from their claim._ [Aristot1e iDsists that] the appetitive clements in our
lIlIbJre... must be accorded intrinsic value in the plan of the best human life."
<Nussbsl1!lD 1986: 3(9)
31 And of bis political vision as weIl, or sa 1sball argue ÏIi. ChapteI;s lX and X. In
these chapteB 1 will atternpt: ta show how N'1dZschc, following PJa(o, analogises a
master-slave theœy of moral psychology ta the politica1 rea1m, tbereby providing a
ratioœle for politica1 hierarchy and domination.
32 "_cIcm wini befohlen. der sich nicht selber gehorchcn kami. 50 ist es des
I.ebendigl:n Art." In BGE 19, Nietzsche argues simj1arly that evecy ;;ct ofwill of a
superior lu!lDaD beiDg contains a dualit;y ofcommanding and obeying: "A man who

• wills - CX'D1D1ands something in bimselfwhïch obeys or which he believes obeys."


33 Apart from those uttedy incapable ofissning self~l!!lII!iIs and those capable
ofboth issuing and obeying such commawls, N'1dZschc introclnccs a thiId eategory:

161
• obedient subjects, looking upon them with considerable disdain for tbeir inability ta
sec virIue in any sense otber than obedience ta an omniscient, omnipotent Deity.
He associates the great monotheistic religions with an undue, wlgar emphasis on

reward and pnnisbment st the bands of a divine "paymaster" (Z n OV), and sees an
truly virtuous dispositions as steering clcar of these base motives: "in an decent
actions, are wc not deliberately indifferent ta the prospect of what !DaY happen ta
us? To avoid an action that might have barmful consequences for us - that would
mean a ban on decent actions in generaI." (WP 92S)34 Ourehoice. as N'lCttsche
sees it, is not between obedience ta Gad (in anticipation of reward or in fcar of
pnnisb~t) and the empty chaos of laisser aller. Wc can have oràer and
discipline and meaning and logic from within ourselves.3S

The Dishonesty of Ascetidsm

those able ta issue self-commanm but who fall short when itcomes ta obeying
tbem. 'Ibis thiId eaIegO[y eaDs ta mind Arlstotle's notion of akrasia, or moral
weaJmess: "many a one ctln command bimselfbut be very remiss in obeying what
he commands [manchu ktmn sich befehlen, aber dafeh1t 7IOCh viel, dafl eT' sicJ;
auehgehon:he]l" (ZmONL4) By contrast, the "unconditionaIcommander"
[unbedingt lkjehlenden] (BGE 199) bas nO such difficulty; he "commands
sollll'tbing in bimselfwbich obeys or which he believes obeys." (BOE 19)
34 "'You want 10 be paid as wcn. you virtuous! Do you want IeW81d for virtue
and beaven for earth and etcmity foryourtoday?/ And are you now angry with me
becausc 1 teach that tbcre is DO reward-giver BOr paymaster [es gibt lceinen Lo1lll
und 7ahlmeistu]? And truly. 1 do DOt even teaeh that virtue is its own rewardJ
AJas. this is my sorrow: rewmd and pmisbment have bcen lyingly introduced inta
the foundation ofthiDgs [in den Grund der Dinge hot mon Lohn U1!d Strafe
hineingelogen] - and DOW even into the foundation ofyour souls. you virtuous!'"
(Z noV) Later ou in this section. Zarathustra dcclaœs ta the i m agilll'4 noble:
"You love yourvirlue as the mother ber child; but when was it heaJ:d of a mother
wanting ta be paid for ber loveT
3S Nussbanm 81'lÏcnJaœs the Nielzscbean position well: "Centuries ofCbristian
fnc:bing bave left us with 50 little self-respect for our bodies and tbcir desires that

• wc are convinc:ed that anything wc omselves maIœ up must be disoIde:dy and


pcdJaps even evil. The arts tell us that this is Dot 50; they enable us ta talœ prlde in
ourselves. and the work ofour bodies. ft (Nn5Sbaum 1991: 101)

162
• We have notcd sincc Chapter 1, Nietzsche tends ta stress issues of character as a
mcans ofcounteracting what he secs as the unjust universa1isation of the categories
of slave morality. Nietzsebc. wc will recall, argues that plebcian majorities sincc
the dawn of the "slave revoIt" in marals have attemptcd ta generalisc "whcrc

gcneralisation is impermissible" (BGE 198) by projecting tbcir own moral


categories - i.e. tbcir own cxpcriencc of suffcring, jealously, bitter rcsentment, and
fcar - onto the world as a whole. As Nietzsche argues in the Gay Science, thase

who arc vulgar through-and-through possess a sort of Midas-touch in reverse:


"spirit becomes pJison, education becomcs poison, possessions becomc poison,
solitude becomcs poison for thase who have turncd out badly [MiPratenen]." (GS
359) Whcrcas thosc with fine sensibilities and lofty dcsircs tend ta love life as tbcy
love thcmsclvcs, sccing in lifc "a fountain of dclight," [em Born der Lust] the
MiPratenen tend on the contraIy ta sJander all of existence by projecting their own
sclf-loathing outwards: "all wells arc poisoncd for him for whom an aching
stomach [derveniorbene Magen], the fatbcrofafflietion, spcaks." (Zm ONL

16)36 The "aching stomachs" of the many-too-many, in othcr words, serve as a


filter saecning out all oflifc's bcai1ty and goodncss, allowing only uglincss ta pas.~
through. "The prcacbers of dcath," observes Zllrathustra, accurately see "only one
aspect of CJtistence" (ZI OPD): themiscIy, JlY'.8!!D CSS, and uglincss oftbcirown
lives. Unableto œcognisc"the sublime in man" [das Hohean dmMenschen] but
adept al noting "bis basencss [N'ledriges] all-too-closcly", the oœ-sidcd spirit of the
sIave-type takcs grcat pride inpainting out basencss and uglincss CVCI)'Whcrc he
looks, pervcrscly caIling "[bis] cvil cyc virtuc." (Z n OVj>1

36 Thal thcle is beauty and virtuc in the wodd, Nielzscbc bas no doubt. The

• description oflifc as a "fountain ofde1igbt" aIso appclIlS al Z n OR. Sec aIso Z m


ONL 14: "Tbcrc is much filth in the world: SI) much is truc! But the world itse1f is
DOt yet a filthy monster on that account!"

163
• Nietzsche accuses the partisan of slave morality not only of this sort of wrong-
headed projection ofdepravity onto the universe. but also of a fondamental
dishonesty and hypocrisy in denying the very existence of the base instincts that
campel to make such a projection.38 Nietzsche speaks. for example, of religicns
faith as "a cloak, a pretext. a screen, behind wbich the instincts played their game -
a shrewd blirulness reine kIuge Blindheit] to the dominance of certain instincts.••
One bas always spoken of faith, one bas always acted from instinct." (AC 39)

Metaphysical dualist positions, in other words, are not what they seem:
notwithstanding (and perbaps becanse of) their holders' sincere aspirations for
otherworldly status, they indieate a very worldly (indeed, sickly) condition and set
of interests.
The ftaudulent nature of their claims to speak for "otberworldly", transcendent
values is, for Nietzsche. obvions. Oose obserTh:ion of them reveals that
"[a]lthough their spirit [Geist] "bas been persna tfed to contempt of the earth1y, •.•
[their] entrails [Eingeweide] have not"; these "entrails", Z3rathustra hastens to add,

are their "sttongest part." (Z n OIP) The so-called "afterworldsmen". regardIess of

their osteI1Slole repudiation of the body. "believe most firmly in the body.•} But it
is a sickly thing to them; and they would dearly like to get out of their skins." (Z 1

37 "Und mancher. der das Hobe an den Menschen nicht sehen kaon, nennt es
'I\lgend, daB cr ibr Niedriges aJ17,lm ahe sieht also hei8t cr seinen bl:Isen Blick
'I\lgend." Sec also BGE 'ZlS: "He who does not want to sec what is elevated in a
man looks all the more kcen1y for what is low and foreground in bim - and thereby
~ves bimself away."
8 Speaking on bebalf of a noble table of values, N'1CtZSche goes oUt ofhis 'way to
empbasise how much he prizes honesty and integrîty. As Z3rathustra dcclares, "I
count nothing more valuable and rare today tban honesty" [Redlichkeit] (Z IV OHM
8). In D l'ret: 4, N'JClZSChe speaks ofhis hope that a small number of "men <>r
conscience" [Menschen des Gewissens]. who possess a natural honesty and
integrity [Rechtschajfenhei]. will refrain from re1lUning ta that wbich is "outlived

• and decayed" once they have leamed of the truc arder ofthings. (D l'ret: 4). Sec
also WP 404: "Morality itself. in the form ofhonesty [ais Redlichkeit]. compels us
to deny morality."

164
• OAW) Further on in the text, Zarathustra openly accuses the "worId-weary" of
hypocrisy on this score:

1 have always found you still greedy for the earth,


still in love with your own weariness of the earth!l
Your lip does not bang down in vain - a little eartbly
wish still sits upon it! And in your eye - does not a
little cloud of unforgotten earthly joy swim there? (Z
mONL 17)39

Ironical1y. these embodied beings. who despise their own bodies and wish to
transeend their corporeal selves, gain an almast sensual pleasure out of their
transcendental flights of fantasy. thereby exposing (at least to sensitive observees
1ike Nietzsche) the lie al the core of all metapbysical dualist ftameworks: "to what
do they owe the convulsion and joy of their transport?" asks Zarathustra. The
answer he provides ta bis own question is eategorical: "To their bodies and to this
earth." (Z ! OAW)

Nietzsche's point is not simply that servile practitioners ofasceticism are wrong
to think that they cao escape the hegemonic sensations of bis body. His critique of
asceticism runs deeper. suggesting in an ad hominem manner that this confused,
dishonest doctrine attracts many people who are in fact steeped in a sensna1jty of the
mast lascivious, revolting varlety. Stripped of their etherea1 pretensions, many

ascetics reveal a low-brow set ofdesires rivaling that of the most shameless of
hedonists: "just look al these men: their eye reveals it - they know ofnothing better
on earth than to lie with a womanJ There is filth at the bottom of their sauls•••" (Z
IOC) Sïnce the ascetic's ostens1"le anti-sensualism prevents him from openly
embracing bis own lasciviousness, bis sexual feelings must be "sublimatl'Ai":
denied physical sensuality. bis lust finds more "spiritual" abjects. "[N]ow your

emascnlated leering [entmanntes Schielm]." Zarathustra taunts those with

• 39 "LOstem fand ich euch immer nach nach &de, vediebt nach in die eiguc Erd-
MOdigkeit._ im Auge - schwim:mt da nicht ein WlSl1a:hen unvergessner Erden-
Lust7"

165
• otherworldly pretensions, "wants to be called 'contemplation'
[<<BeschauIichkeit» l!" (Z II OIP)40
rrJhe biteh Sensuality [die Hündin Sinnlichkeitl,"
observes Zarathustra elsewhere, "glares enviously
out of all they dol This restless beast follows them
even into the heights of their virtue and the depths of
their cold spiritl And how nicely the bitch
Sensuality knows how to beg for a piece of spirit,
when a piece of flesh is denied ber. (Z 1OC)
Further along in this work, Zarathustra revealingly refers to sucb men as "dainty,

sneaking lust-eats" [naschhafte verkrochene Lust-Katzen) (Z m ONL 17), whose


futile effons to escape sexuality through celibacy lead only ta a "filth and lust of the
soul." (Z 1 OC)
Perversely, the practicing ascetic finds lustful satiation even in bis own
seemingly self-<lenying and self-pnnisbing rituais: "Man is the cruellest animal
towards himself; and with all who call themselves 'sinners' and 'bearers of the
Cross' and 'penitents' do not overlook the sensual pleasme [die Wollust) that is in
this complaint and accusation!" (Z m C 2)'U Zarathustta, moreover, unearths
covert lecheIy where one would least expect it in the ascetic's expIessions ofpity:
"you look upon sufferers lustfully. Has your Iasciviousness [Wollust) not mcœly
disguised itselfand called itselfpity?" (Z 1 0C)42 Base desire, mgues Nietzsche,
manifests itselfeven in bis most "disinterested", other-regarding sentiments and

actions, and ail the more so when the abject ofhis pity is one noblcrthan bimse1f:
"When the great man aies out, straightway the little man cames nmning; his tangue

40 See also, in this context, Zarathustra's description of the old sorcerea:'s


"meIancholy voluplUonsness" [schwemrütigen Wollust) in Z "N OS.
41 See also Z 1OPD, in which Zarathustra identifies the "lustsft of the "preacheIs
ofdcath" with "self-mortification" [Se1bstze1jleischug). As a romp1iment ta their
lustful satiation through self·inflicteci pnnishment, ascetics talœ great pride in their
feats ofself-abnegation: "And somc want ta be edified and raised up and call it
viItue; and others want ta be thrown down - and call it viItue tao. ft (Z noV) Cf.
Aristotle's disavowal of SpaItan asceticism, which he c1aims is a disguised form of

• boasttùlness (lVlCOl7IlldIean Ethics, 1127b27-31)•


42 "Ihr_ blickt lllstem nach Leidendcn. Hat sich nicht nur eme Wollust verkleidet
und hei8t sich Mitleiden?"

166
• is hanging from bis mouth with lasciviousness. He, however, calls it bis 'pity'."
(Zmc2)43

Nietzsehe's view !bat ascetic discourse evinces a debased, vulgar form of desire
is further demonstrated in the following confession of a nameless character in Z n
OIP, denounced by Zarathustra as one of the "sentimental hypocrites"
[empfindsamen Heuchler) or "Iustful men" [Lüstemen):

'For me, the highest thing would be to gaze at Iife


without desire [auf lias Leben ohne Begierde zu
schaun) and not, as a dog does, with tongue hanging
out' - thus speaks your mendacious [verlogner) spirit
to itself:l 'To be happy in gazing, with benumbed
will [mit erstorbenem Wùlen 1 without the grasping
and greed of egoism [ohne Griff und Grier der
Selbstsucht) - cold and ashen in body but with
intoxieated moon-eyes! (Z n OIP)
This association of desire with base animality - dog-like behaviour - reveaIs the sort

ofpernicious universalisation mentioned above: having experienced desire in this


manner, the ascetic character type unhesitatingly makes a conceptualleap in
declaring ail forms of human desire to be like bis own. By contrast, Nietzsche. like
Aristot1e,44 insists upon making qualitative distinctions between the desires of the

virtuous and those of the vicions.


As an extension of bis nnmasking of the lasciviousness in the ascetic heart,

Nietzsche insists (perbaps counterintuitively, given the popular perception of the


ascetic as a strong-wi1Ied figure) !bat the ascetic cali for extiIpation of desire is

43 Nussbanm draws a provocative paralIel between Nietzsche and the Roman Stoic
Seneca in this context (1994: 165). This linkage between pity and base sensl1 alïty
forms one of two Nietzsehean arguments against the sentimeot ofpity. The second
argument, to be explored in Chapter vu, implies !bat pity is an insulting fatm of
condesœnsion towald the pitied. and hence inappropriatc as a sentimeot among
ûiends (as equals).
44 Annas peIteptively discusses Aristotle's view !bat the pleasure experienced by
the virtuous individual in, forexample, peâatming brave actions"could [not) tempt
the cowa:nl,just as the brave person is Dot tempted by the pleasures of nmning
away and avoiding danger. Similarly. the pIeasure of acting temperatcly is available

• only to t h e : Dot to the greedy and uncontrolled person; and the pleasures
of pigging
you value." (
Dot tempt the tempctate. What you find pIeasant clepends on what
1993: 369)

167
• revelatcIy not of ÎI.dIer strength, but of a weakness stemming from the sort of
baseness that the ascetic shares. ironically, with the hedonist. Ascetic self-denial
and hedonist indulgence, for Niettsehe, are merely two sides of the same coin. The
ascetic and the bedonist share the saIne, base desires and instincts - indeed, me
sarDe, basic personality type - differing ooly in that the fonner chooses ta repudiate
them, while the latter indulges them. The"pteachers of death," claims zarathustra,
have ooly two choices before them: "lusts or self-mortification." (Z 1 OPD) "1 call
wretched [Unsclig]," he declares furtheron, "aIl who bave ooly one chcice: ta
become an evil beast [bèisc TlCrc] or an evil tamer ofbeasts [bèisc TlCrbiindigcr]."
(Z m OSG 2) Regardless ofwhich role is chosen, the chaste angcl or the

sbarneJess lecher, the attitude tawards ~he beast" - what it is, bow it bebaves. ete. -
is thesame.
As our earlier discussion ofNietzsehean self-discipline suggests, Niettsebe's

idea of virtuous conduct involves not the "uD1earning of aIl violent desiring [heftige
Begehren]," as zarathustra bears "the people" counsel eacL. another in wbispers (Z
m ONL 16), but ratber a careful cultivation ofDionysian clements under the
guiciance of ApolloDian discipline. To assume, as "aIl preacbeJs ofmoraIs as well
as aIl theologil!DS" do, that "aIl bappiness begins ooly after the annibiliarion of

passion", is ludicrous (GS 326). Unable ta gain mastcry over their lower-order
desires, being possessed by them rather than possessing them, ascetics respond ta

this inner slavmy by "s1anderlng" desire altagetber in ca1ling for its eradication.4S
The servility ofthis stance is œiteœted in Z mONL 16. wbere ZlIra!bustra deems
the anti-seosnalism of the ascetiçs a "sermon urging slavmy" [cine Predigt ZUT
KnechJschtift]. N"Ul!'zSCbe's gloss on the ascetic idea bebind the Gospel of Mark

• 4S "Euch fehlt die UDSChuld in der Begierde: und nun ver.1enrndet ibr chum das
Begebren!" zn OIP.

168
• ("And if thy band offend thec, cut it off; •.• And if thine eye offend thec. pluck it
out." 9:43-47). sums up bis position admiIably: to follow sucb edicts would result
not only the 1055 of an organ but the emascuiation of
a man's character - And the same applies to the
moralist's madness that demands, instead of the
restraining of the passions. their extirpation [die
Exstirpation der Leidenschaften]. Its conclusion is
always: only the castrated man [der entmannte
Mensch] is a good man. Instead of taking into
service [in Dienst zu nehmen] the great sources of
strength [Kraftquellen]. those impetuous torrents of
the sou! that are so often dangerous and
overwhelming. and economizing them [<: u
èikonomisiren]. this most shortsighted and pemicious
mode of thought, the moral mode of thought, wants
to make them dry up [versiegen machen]. (WP
383)46

Nietzsehe's critique of asceticism, then, involves not only an unC'Jvering of the


ascetic's own (leering. vulgar) passions. but also a denunciation of the supposedly
emasculating. spiritual impoverishment involved in the Very attempt at extirpating
the passions once and for aIl.47

The Impediments to SeIf-Mastery

46 Once again 1 wish 10 argue that the "moraIïst's madoess" [Moralisten-


Wahnsinn] and "moral mode ofthought" [die Moral-Denkweise] criticised here
refer not 10 all manner of ethical valuation, but rather 10 a highly circumscribed, (in
~etzsche's view) blameworthy type ofvaluatioo. N"ltttSChc reinfon:es this
imptessi.m by entitling this Nachlass fragment "Religious Morality" [Die reUgiiJse
Monzll. although arguably he cou1djust as easily bave entitled it "Stoic morality."
For Nietzsche's criticism of Stoic calls 10 extirpate the passions. sec GS 326 and
359. 1 will suggest in Qapter vn that Nietzsche's reIatiooship wit!l Stoic doctrine
is ambivalent. While on the one band bis positive view ofindividual self-
sufficiency pulls him a Stoic direction, on the otber band the importance he
attributes 10 friendship seems to push him away!rom Stoicism and 10wards a DlO[Il
Aristote1ian position that stresses the importance of"extemal goods" to the good
life. See also Chapter VI, footnote 12-
47 The equation ofextirpation of the passions with castration is far from

• accidentaI, suggesting a clearequation ofvirtue with the (conttolled) presence of


maIe passions. 1 will argue in Chapter IX that Nietzsche's idea of virtue remains a
thoroughly masculine one.

169
• It is e:dS'j enough ta say that the supcrior hum:m bcing shouJd rcdiscovcr bis
Dionysian instincts and cxert Apollonian control ovcr thcm. It is quite anothcr
thing, Nietzsche concedes, for this ta aetually come about. "Man is àifficult to
discover," notes Zarathustra, "most of all ta himsclf•.•" (Z m OSG 2) Natural
nobles still living amongst the hcrd and in the grip ofits servile table of values may
not cven pcrceive the nccd for cmbarking on such ajoumcy of sclf-discovcry, or
may somchow bclieve that thcy have a1ready undcrtalœn it and have rcachcd a
satisfactory terminus. Thcir "spirit" [Geist], as Zarathustta puts it, oftcn "tells lies
about the sou!: [Seele] (Ibid.) and not simply bccansc it bas made a series ofcasily

corrcctable miscalculations. The spirit of the 10fty sort who suffcrs from falsc
consciousncss bas bcen misguidcd ta such a profound cxtent that cxroncous bclicfs
have aetually hampcred the body's ability ta cxpcricnce its authcntic, hcalthy
instincts. Whcn Nietzsche suggcsts that the dccp intemalisation ofothcr-worldly
idcals bas made "mankind itself [die Mensch.'leit selbst] ••• falsc down ta its dccpcst
instincts [lDItersten Instinkte] - te the point ofworshipping the itwerse values
[umgekeluten Werte] ta thosc which alone could guarantee it prospcrity_.", he

docs not pœsumc that the instincts of the fincst have bcen lcft UnlOlk'hed (EH
Forward 2).48 Thcre is still much "illusion" and "blundcring" in our bodies,
concludcs Zarathustra: nit bas thcle becoClC body and willJ _. Alas, much
ignorance and cxror bas become body in us!n49 (Z 1OBV 2)

48 Zarathustra spcaks ofbow a "grcat foolishncss" dwcl1ing in our will bas


"acquiIed spirit" [dt!P diese Narrileit Geist lemte],lcading ta the devcIopment of
sophistieated but misguidcd thcories ofothcrworldly transcendence' Such a
devcIopment bas bcen "a curse ta all hnmankind." (Z II OR) Tbrough the SClIICh
for "the Good" cvetytbing bas bcen "distorted and twisted down ta its very
bClttom.••".(Z m ONL 28) .
49 "_.in nnscnn Lcibc wobntjctztnochall dicscrWabn undFebJgriff: Lc1"b und
Wl1le ist cr da gewordcn._ Miel Unwisscn und l1Itum ist an uns Lc1"b

• gcworden._" Cf" Nietzsebc's COllllDCDt in EH "cw" 2 tbat among the Gcrmans,


"falscncss._ bas. become instinct" [ihrer bd ihnm Instinkt gewordenen
Unwahr1uzftigr4if].

170
• Nietzsche is weIl aware that the great power of our well-established.
conventional moral systems bas liUle to do with overt coercion. "[M]orality," he
notes in one of bis 1886 Prefaces,
does not merely have at its ccmmand every kind of
means of frightening off critical bands and torture-
instruments: its ser-...ci>y reposes far more in a certain
art of enchanttneut [Kunst der Bezauberung] it bas at
its disposaI- it knows how to 'inspire'. With this art
it succeeds, often with no more !han a single glance.
in paralysing the critical will against itself, so that,
like the scotpion, it drives its sting into its own
body. (D Pref. 3)50
Most of us have been "bewitched" by the dominant slave morality to such an extent
that herd sensibility bas become our "good conscience," which deems any proud
expression ofindependent, assertive individuality beyond the pale: "as long as the
good conscience [gute Gewissen] is calIed herd, only the bad conscience [schlechte
Gewissen] says: L" (Z 1 OTG) The "heavy words and values" of the herd,

observes zarathustta, have been imposed upon us alI our lives, beginning "almost
in the cradle." (Z m OSG 2) Indeed, it is a "madncss" that bas been omnipresent
for millennia: "the madncss of millennia too breaks out in us. It is dangerous to be
an heir." (Z Il OR)
Without someone ofcharismatic presence and insight 10 jar them out oftheir
dogmatic slumber and seIf-abasement, superb Imman beings may squander their
fine instincts and enslave themsel~-es forever 10 a base morality (as, indeed, the
ascetic priests have; sec Chapter IV). N"Ietzsehc,like AristotIe, believes that
superior men without disciplined intellects in harmony witli their bodiIy knowledge
are at sea, so 10 speak, bereft of a compass sophistieated enough 10 help them
navigate sucoessfully through the fog. 1beir innate instincts do serve as a crude
sort ofcompass, and with it they may find the right way unaided. As we noted in

• 50 As Zarathustra IelDlIIks 10 bis beleaguered young discipline in Z 1 OTM, "[i]t is


invisible bands that tonnent and bend us the worst."

ln
• the previous chapter. however. NietzsChe tends to subscribe 10 a more pessimistic
scenerio. The natural noble typ: with underdeveloped rational facu1ties - or with
highly developed, yet misguided philosophicalleanings - is highly suscepn1l1e to
indocttination in ail manner of mendacious. self-abnegating dogma, and, like the
"blond beast" ofantiquity. is more likely 10 succumb 10 some form or another of
self-abnegating slave morality. In line with the Aristotelian tradition of moral
philosophy. Nietzsche insists !bat highly talented, sensitive men must be aided in
their attempts at dïscovering the right targets at which 10 shoot. zarathustra wants
thase under bis influence "to desire !bis path !bat men have followed blindly [diesen
Weg woUen, den blint/lings der Mensch gegangen]. and 10 call it good and no more
to creep aside from il, like the sick and dying!" (Z 1OAW) Nietzsehe, in other
words, believes !bat essentially virtuous men have a predilection for the right target,
but often "creep aside from it" becanse of a bad upbringing. education, or in general
a corrupt socio-political milieu. With the proper influences and disciplined training.
bowever. the full potential of their virtue may blossom.
We creep aside from the paths ta virtue becallse ofour embrace of false beliefs
and desires !bat have estranged us from our essentially hea1thy.life-affirming
instincts. In order 10 discover our truc selves, wc must be weaned away from these

wrong or foolisb beliefs and desires and encouraged 10 embrace a new set more in
line with our deepest inclinations.St Like Aristotlc and the moral philosopbers of
the Hellenistic cm, Zaralbustra states !bat the "tare" he provides is aimed at

51 "Unlike appetitcs such as tbirst and hungcr, [the emotions] have an important
cognitive element: !bey embody ways ofinterpreting the world. The feelings !bat
go with the cxperience ofemotion are hooked up with and lest upon beIiefs or
judgements !bat are their basis or ground, in such a way !bat the emotion as a whole
cao appropàately he evaluated as truc and false, and also as rational or ïrrationat.

• IlCCClIding ta ourevaluation of the grounding belief. Sïnce the belief is the ground
of the feeling, the feeling, and therefore the emotion as a wholc, cao he modified by
a modification ofbeliet:" (NussNmm 1987: 140)

172
• "awaken[ing] new desires" [neue Begierden weckte ich] and "stretehing" and
"unburdening" of the heart (Z IV Al).
Nietzsehe's goal is to illicit the profoundest of personal changes in bis select
readership. It is not enough, he implies. simply to assent intellectually to bis
doctrines. Zarathustra evinces great scepticism towards those whose facile, rapid
conversion to bis ideas and overheated repelÏtion of !hem suggest (to him) the
absence of a deeper embrace of them: "For thus you speak: 'We are complete
realists, and without belief or superstition': thus you thump your chests - alas. even
without having chests!" (Z II OLe) Looking inward, Zarathustra suggests at one
point that perhaps even he bas yet to intemalise bis own doctrines to a satisfactory
degree: in Z II sa "something voiceless" says to him, "0 Zarathustra, your fruits
are ripe but you are not ripe for your fruits!'" Zarathustra tinds the doctrine of the
Etemal Return of the Same, for =pie, fnndamenœlly sound. but when the
doctrine is first introduced he acknowledges may not yet he able to fully embnce it
and all it would entaiLS2 For new beliefs and desires to he full~ awakened.
Nietzsche concludes, they must not he consented. to in a facile manner; rather. they

ought to have emerged !rom within us, !rom othis most honest being" [dies
redJkhsre Sein], the "Ego", which "speaks of the body, and it insists upon the body

[es will noch den Leib], even wben it fables and fabricates and flutters with broken

wings." (Z 1OAW)

Wc began this chapter by arguing that the intensely persona! nature of

Nietzsehe's writing and its pedagogical intent are not mutuaIly exclusive. 'Ibrough
bis deeply personal accounts of bis own joys and sufferings, bis frustrations !Illd

• S2 The notion ofEremaJ Retum, so crucial to NielZsche's life-affirming creed, will


he discussed in Chapter VIL

173
epiphanies (bath in the fl1'St persan and through bis alter~o, Zarathustra),
Nietzsche hopes te toueh a chard within the bearts of the select readersbip for
whom he writes and !bat he seeks te eultivate. The next cbapter will explore further
Nietzsehe's conception of the rarified, selective nature of bis ideal audience. As we
sball sec, far from aspiring te the status of a "best-seller" author, Nietzsche talces

bis marginality te be a badge of honour; ooly the very few, he believes, will ever

understand what he is on about, and this (he is convinced) is as it sbould be.


Nietzsche puts forward no blueprint or dogmatic model of personal
development; rather, he sketches in a bighly general, schematic manner a pattern of
moral-spiritual awakening !bat begins with the individual's increased attention te
and respect for bis own, innate sensibility, i.e. bis"bodily knowledge", te reiterate
the expression first used in Cbapter III. The would-be pedagogue cannot spoon-
feed this sort of re-discovery of the self te the "pupïl"; at best, he can ooly serve as
a cata1yst, a provocateur who attempts te entice the (perlIaps initially reluetant,
recalcitrant) readerte a type of"transcendence" tbat, at firstglance paradoxically,
involves an intensive explmation of the "depths" of the self. 1noted Nietzscbe's
conviction !bat the admired creativity of the bigbest hmnan being at the peak of bis
development can never be attained without this re-discoVClY process, and suggested
!bat the discxJve[y-aeatMty djalectic in N"Ietzscbe bas been neglected in mucb of the

secondary literature.
Furthermore. 1argued !bat Nietzsebe's call te bis select Ieadership te embrace
its "deepest" inclinations can in no way be understood as part ofa h'bertine
philosophy or a form of morallaxity. Although, as we sbaU sœ in Cbapter X,
Nietzsehe's fatalistic side sometimes leads him in this diœctiOIl, on the whole he
sees the moral-psycbological malœ-up of the superlor human being as cbaraàerisl'd


by a rigorous, uncompromising form of self-discipline. The bigbest man's
embrace ofbis multifarious, intense. tbreateDingly cbaotic passions must, in

174
• Nietzsehe's view, he accompanicd by a rational fonn of self-surveillance and tight
control over the raging impulses (he introduces, however, a number of worri50me
exceptions to this IUle; wc shall discuss this in Chapter X). As we shall see later
(Chapter VIll), Nietzsche expects that the highest man's self-control will he

directed tawards the anainment ofone, overriding goal: reversing the ever-

acoelerating process of moral-spiritual "degeneration" of the human species that he


sees as characteristic of modemity.
In light cf this view of noble self-masteIy in terms of the rational control over
raging passions, Nietzsehe's repudiation of ascetic strategies of moral development
through the extirpation of the passions is readily understandable. Nietzsche sees
ascetic doctrines as bath futile - given of the inescapability ofour passionate drives,
even in the context ofour most wildly etherea1, nominally "otherworldly" projects -
and stultifying, in their detennined attempt to ttuneate the dionysian sources of
human greatness. The ascetic, suggests Nietzsche, bas much more in common
with the hcdonist than is usually believed; bath experience a lust ofa wlgar sort,
and differ ooly in their respective attitudes towards il. For Nietzsche, as for the
moral philosophers of antiquity, the highest sort ofhuman being experiences a type
ofpleasure that is of a completely diffcœnt, more admirable oroer.
We ended with a discussion ofN"lClZSChe's assessriÎent of the depth of the
highest human being's false consciousness in modm1 European society. Only with
the gIeatcst difficulty cao wc suc:ceed in setling the confused, dc1udcd higber sort

on the road ta "recoVC[}'" (which, Nietzsche emphasi ses , must he a fonn ofself-
healing). The difficulty of this project seems ail the greatcr, and its attraetiveness
even more dubious, when, as wc shall sec in the next chapter. wc come ta
undeIstand that the pxucess ofmoral-spiritual development cao be begun ooly by
subjecting oneself ta widespread societa1 reprobation. ridicule, and intense personal

• suffering.

175
• Chapter YI: Reconstitutine the Master (2); The FlIebt jnto and Beyond
Sclitude

SeIf·love & Love of Hieran:hy: Rediscovering Rimgortbumg

The higheSt type of man in bis fully developed state is a lover of virtue ("you

love your vi..rtue as the mother ber child..." zn ov) and, as a consequence, a
self-lover: "Your virtue is your dearest self [Es ist euer liebstes Selbst, eure
Tugend]." (Ibid.) As "a self-propelling wbeel, a first motion, a sacred Yes" (Z 1
3M)1 who finds meaning and strength from within, Nietzsehe's healthy man of

virtue taIces delight in bimself and bis OWD activity. The "image and epitome" of
bis "supple and persuasive body", claims zarathustra, is the figurative "self-
rejoicing soul" [selbst-lustige Seele] (Z m TET 2) in close consort with the
body. As zarathustra remarks of bis "dancer", "the self-rejoicing of such bodies
and souls calls itself: 'Vntue'." (Ibn)
As a natural extension ofbis virtuous self-love, the highest type cvinces a
profound love of ail the earth. Zsr:-.ihustra speaks ofan "eartbly virtuc" [Eine
irdische Tugend] that is in no way a "sign-post to superearths and paradises " (Z
IOJP) Men ofvirtue, he empbasises, strive for "the'kingdom ofearth" [das
Enlenreich] ratherthan the~mofheaven [Himmelreich]. (ZIV AF2) In

what zarathustra terms a "besto\ving love," the hea1thy. self-loving body/soul


impriJlts its OWD stamp onta ail things: "You compel ail things to come to you
and into you, that they may flow baclc from your fountain as gifts ofyour love."
(Z 1OBV 1) This bestowing love, dcscribed as a sound and hea1thy

"scJfisbness" [Selbstsucht]. tums evezything into a mirror around its "exalted


body" [hohe LeÜ1]. (Ibid.; cf. Z m TET 2)

• 1 "_.cio Ncubeginncn, cio Spiel, cio aus sich rcllendcs Rad, cinc CISte
Bewegung. cin Heiliges Ja-sagen."

176
• The love of the earth does not imply, however, an indiscriminate embrace of

alI manner of human existence. NielZSChe's seIf-affirming superior man is

extreme1y selective in bis bestowals oflove. He C3i1I1ot abide what he


eharacterises as the superficial optimism of Le1llnizian and Spinozist views of a
rational universe in which evetything is just as it should he in the best of alI
poss1llle worlds: "Truly," remaries zarathustra, "1 dislike also those who cali
everything good and this wood the best of aIl. 1 cali sueh people the alI-
contented [die AUgenügsamm]." (Z m OSG 2)2 Nietzsche wishes to foster a
hea1thy, discriminating suspicion in bis select xeadership lOwards alI unfamiliar
(and many alI-too-familiar) things, persons, and ideas. Far from considering alI
things worthy ofattention and carefuI consideration. Nietzsche's version of the
"man who bas tumed out weil" rein wohlgeratner Mensch] is someone who
habitually "=ts slowly lo every kind ofstimulus. with that slowness which a
protracted caution and a wil1ed pride have bred in him - he tests an approaching
stimulus.heis farfromgoing outtomeetit" (EH "WISe" 2) The man of
discriminating tastes must know how lo shun and repudiate as weil as how to
embrace and affirm; he must not ooly leam that the beautifuI should he pursued,

but also that the ugly shou1d he avoided: "1 honor the obsfimlte, fastidious
[widerspenstigen wilh1erischen] lOngues and stomachs that have Ieamed lo say
T and oYes' and 'No'." (Z m OSG 2)3 The higbest man's spontaneous,
uncompromising honesty manifests itself in negati.on. as weil as affiImation.
As wc noted in our earIier cxaminarion ofNielZSChe's critique of Jlineteenth-

CCDnny literaIy "Naturalism" {Chapœ:r 111), he beIieves that onIy the wlgar sort

2 As wc will ~ in the next chapter, N'JelZSChe contt1lStS this superficial


optimism with what he considel:s bis own deep fonn of optimism, or Jasagen;
the optirnism found in bis c!oc:trine of the Eternal Retum of the same.
3 "It does not ••• lie in my nature lo love muchor many kinds ofthings.

• Caution. eveD. hostility towards new books is rather part of my instinct than
'tolerancc', 'largeur da coeur' and other fonns of 'neighbour love.'" (EH
"0ever"3)

ln
• evince an jnsatiable curiosity for everything and anything: "to chew and digest
everything - that is to have a really swinish natuIe [eine rechte Schweine-
Art]!••." (Ibid.)'+ "He who wants to understand all things among mer.,"

observes zarathustra elsewhere, "bas to touch all things. But my bands are too
clean for that." (Z m HC) In line once again with the tradition of moral
philoscphy sttetching back to Greek antiquity. Nietzsche proposes a willfiù
ignorance of wlgarity as a means of maintaining one's virtue. zarathustra sets
an example for others of bis kind by deciding to "[dwell] with stopped cars
among people with a strange language." (Z II OR) He clearly believes it
essential for "the language of their bartering and their baggling for power ... [to]
remain strange to [him]." (Ibid.)S Nietzsche speaks favourably Dot only of such

willful ignorance, but also ofwillfiù forgetting ofone's past en~unters with it
"Blessed are the forgetful," he declares (BGE 217). for forgetfulness represents
"a force, a form of robust hea1th" (GM ILl) in thase of "strong. full Dl\lDIes."
In this context the example of Mirabeau, who had "no memory for insults and
vile actions done [to] him," is cited (GM LlO).6 The desiIed goal appears to be
a state in which one bas "IejUVCl1llted [one's] cycs" and fœed oneself "from

4 Or perhaps a "donkeyish" nature, for zarathustra suggests that the ass "spums
DO one, Dot beggars Dor kings." (Z IV A 2)
S Sec also Z m ONL 21: "[Y]ou must pass many things by. especially I!'''st
you pass by many of the rabble.••" Bernard Williams, in bis recent discussion
of the virtIIe ethics tradition. bas commented on the importance of willed
ignorance and mainstream moral philoscphy's tendcncy ta overlook it "An
effective way for actions ta he 1Uled out is that they never come into thought at
aIl, and this is often the best way. One dacs DOt feel easy with the man who in
the course of a discnssion ofhow ta deal with political or bnsin"(SS rlvals ~-:.
'Of course, wc could have themkilled, but wc should lay that aside rl.ght from
the begiMiDg.' It should never have come into bis bands ta be laid aside. It is
cbaracteristic ofmorality [Le. modem moral philosophy; FA] that it tends ta
overlook the possibility that some c:oncems are best embodied in this way. in
deliberati.ve silence." (Williams 1985: 185) ,
6 Cf. Aristotle, whose magnanimous man [megalopsuchos] ois DOt proDe ta '"

• xenember evils. since it is DOt proper ta a magnaniIMUS persan ID Durse


memmies, especially Dot of evils. but ta overlook them." N"lCOmot:hean Ethics.
1125a4-S.

178
• disgust" [Ekel] by "[flying] to the hcight wherc thc rabble no longer sit.... (Z n
OR), wherc thc pettincss of the majority cao no longer bc foremost in ooc's
mind.
Once again, the élite, minority status of Nietzsehc's imagincd audience,
those "most select" [Auserwiihltesten] who cao truly grasp bis ideas (EH
Forward 4), comes to the fore. zarathustra, likc Christ, is saie! to be a "fisher of
men", but with this aucial differcnce: in rcjccting Cbristianity's uni-...::tsalising
message, zarathustra wishes to bc much more discriminating in bis choice of
fishing hale and of catch. Unlike thosc who "sit all day with fishing-rods bcsidc
swamps and for that rcason think thcmsclves deep," who fish "wherc thcrc arc
no fish." (Z m OA 2), zarathustra, the "most wickcd of all fishcrs of men,"
sccks "thc faircst [schlinsten] human fish.. (Z IV HO) Earlier in thc tcxt,

Nictzsche adopts a diffcrent metaphor in characterising Zaiathustra as "a north


wind to ripe figs" (Z II OBI), suggcstingthat he cao ooly facilitale the moral-
spiritual dcvelopment ofthose few individuals "ripe" enough for bis mess. .
As for the majority, thcy arc doomcd to withcr on the vine without ever
having attaincd ripeness· "if thcy could do othcrwise," i.e. if thcy possessed the
capacity for virtuous willing and action, "thcy would choose othcrwisc." (Z m
OA 1) If, Nietzsche suggests, bis teaching docs not im !TV'!fiate1y elicit a
sympathetic, undetstanding ICSpOnsc, touching sometbing dcep within the
inter10cut0r, all efforts st persuasion will bc futile.1 "Who could overlUm with
rcasons." Zarathustra asks d1ctorically, "what the mob [Pôbel] bas once Ieamed
to bclieve without rcasons [ohne GrlbuIe]?" (Z IV OHM 9) "Rcasons," hc

continues, "malœ the mob mistrustful." (Ibid.)

7 For an ear1y example ofthis view, sec BAH, WS 131, whcre, aftcr stating bis

• view on what it means to improve OIIC'S literaIy style, declarcs, "[ilf you do not
straightaway agrce with this it will be impossible to convince yon ofit." (HAH
ll.2.131)

179
.
It is bere, in the contcxt of bis blankct rejcction of the possibility of moral
self-improvement on the part of the majority, that Nietzsche's afoIe1IlCDtioned
fataIistic reading of the "instincts" predomin ates over the more elastic view of
instincts found in bis developmental ethical model Appaxently, those without
the "natural equipment" of the naturally virtuous cao ooly = t , envy, and fear

virtue, and condemn ils manifestations as evil. It would he sheer folly, and a
simple wastc of rime, claims Nietzsche, te attempt te teaeh !hem te understand
and embrace it, as Zarathustta found out the bard way in the Prologue of 1hus
Spoke Zarathustra. "Zarathustra bas not come to say te aU these liars and fools:
'Wbat do YOu know ofvirtue? What couldyou know ofvirtue?'" (Z II OV) By

Parts II and m of this work, Nietzsche's alter-ego bas concluded that when one
is dOVln in the valley, one would he well-advised te "pass by" [Vorübergehn]

the many, for among !hem "aU speech is in vaïn.••" [da ist alles Reden umsonst]

(Z mHC) Switehing metaphors, he warns that "one should not want te he


physicans te the incurable [Unheilbaren]•••" (Z m ONL 17) "[l]n spite of aIl,"
he concludes in theNachlass, echoing the subtitle te EH, "one will become ooly
that which one ÎS... [l]n spite of aU: that means education, instruction, milieu,

chance, and accident." (WP 334)8 Once a plebeian (or noble) spirit,

pxesnmably, always a plebei an (or noble) spirit.


Nietzsche wishes te cultivate a noble esprit de corps incorporal:ing an acute
sense of this etemaJ hierarchy and of the superiority of the natural nobility within
it. In a late, autobiographical account, Nietzsche xeveaIs that detecting in an
interlocuter an awareness ofthis hierarchy and a sense ofsuperiority aIe
preconditions for bis forming a favouœble impression of the other:

• 8 In EH "WISe" 8, Nietzsche claims 10 perceive "aU the concealed dirt al the


bottom ofmany a lI8tUIe, periIaps conditioned by bad blood but whitewashed by
education [in schJechtem Blut bedingt, aber durch ErzJehung übertuneht]•••"

180
The flISt thing in which l 'test the reins' cf a
person is whether he has in him a feeling of
distance [ein Gefiihl fir Distanz im Leibe].
whether he sees everywhc!'C rank, degree. order
between man and man, whether he distinguishes:,
one is thereby a gentleman [gentühomme]; in any
other event one belongs irretrievably to the widc-
hearted. alas! so good-hearted concept of the
canaille. (EH "CW" 4)
Along with acknowledging the fact of hierarchy and feeling himselfsuperior.
the superior human being at the height of bis powers ought to feeJ contempt for
and repulsed by bis inferiors. An interlocuter worthy of bis company. claims
Nietzsche, should be contemphlous of those Jacking the critical faculties to
question the "rich ambiguity of existence," those who do not or cannot tremble
"with the craving and the rapb1re of such questioning..•" (GS 2) The importance
ofcontempt as a sign of virble is pervasjve in 11lus Spoke Zarathustra. Another
ofZarathustra's names for the "Iast man" is "the most contempllole man"
[Veràchtüchsten] (Z Prologue 5), and it is presumed throughout the text that any

self-respecting superior type of human being will despise him.9


Nietzsche apparently be1i.eves that contempt for the vast majority and for
one's previous life amongst them is indissociable from pride in one's
exuJtedness, and a first and necessary &tep towards the wisdom of seIf-
overcoming: "There is wisdom in the fact that much in the worid smelIs j)):
insists Zarathustra. "[D]isgust itself creates wings and water-divining powers
[der Ekel selber schajft Flügel rmd quellmahnende Krljfie]." (Z m ONL 14)10

9 As W'C noted in Chapter IV, the objects of the higbest man's cop.tempt will he
all-too aware ofbis dici!ain' "Even when you are gentIe" towards the small-
minded, mediocre souls in the rnarlretp1ace, observes Zarathustra, "they still feel
you despise them.••" (Z 1OFM)
10 'Ibis notion of the salutary etfects ofdisgust and contempt, in tenns of their
reinforcemeut offeelings of RDngordnung and self-love, appears to belie


Nietzsche's insistenee in GM llO that master morality, unIiIœ its servile rival, is
complete1y seIf-sufficient in its refusa] to define itseIf relative to the Othcr. We
shall examine Nietzsche's view of the importance of the slave to the master more
c10sely in Chapters IX and X.

181
The grcat ncgation represenœd by contempt is part of the essentially affinDative,

Jasagendm stance of the Nietzsehean bigher sort: zarathustra speaks of a

"great, loving contempt [das grofte, das liebende Verachten] wbich loves most

wbcle it despises [verachtet] most" (Z m OGL), and claims "ta love the grcat
despisers, forthey are the great venerators [groflen Verehrendm] .•." (Z
Prologue 4; Z IV OHM 3) At the highest level ofbnman existence, the contempt
for much ofbnmankind is said ta he inseparable from the love ofcreation and
the desire to creation. "The lover wanlS ta create, becanse he despises! What
does he know oflove who bas DOt had to despise precisely what he loved?" (Z 1
OWC)

The noble with unfettered, healthy instincts can look to bis own body and ilS

senses as allies in the fight ta maintain the neeessal)' distance from and contempt
tawaId the herd. Blondel right1y observes that whereas the Platonic tradition

prlvileges a conception of abstraet, "immaterial" knowledge, imagïning a "sours


eye" that perceives in a manner quite distinct from (and superior ta) the material
senses, Nietzsche lauds as "psychological antennae" (EH "WlSC" 8) the most
conaete and material of bis senses; in particular, those of hearlng,
tasteldigestion, and smell. (Blondcll991: 120) Invoking what Blondel
describes as the "metaphorics ofhearing" (Ibid.. 107), Nietzsche insists that bis
teaehings are only "for the most select cars" [die ausgesuch1esten Ohnm] (EH
"Clever" 7) and speaks, through bis alter-cgo, of "[a] truth that penetrates only
sensitive cars." (Z 1OFM) This truth is inaccessible ta those with donkey-like
"long cars", for whom zarathustra long ago "unlearned consideration" (Z IV CK
1). Moving from tbe auditmy ta the gastro-intestinal, Nietzsche further

di1'ferentiates the noble from the base by way of the stomach. zarathustra is
made ta "describe the stomach momIly" (B1onde11991: 226) by Iefening ta bis

• teaehing variously as "man's fare" [Meine Manns-Kost], "warriors' food"

182
• [Krieger-Kostl, and "conquerers' food" [Eroberer-Kostl (z IV A 1). The
natural noble is said to possess a discriminating, selective palate and stomach:
"he is led by a faultless and severe instinct into doing nothing that disagrees with

him,just as he cats nothing he does not enjoy." (WP 906)11


The metaphor ofsmell is also frequently invoked to describe how our body's
intelligence guides us in drawing boundaries and making distinctions; how the
nose, an organ "of which ..• no philosopher bas ever spoken with due respect,
is as yet the most delicate scientific fphysikalisch] instrument in existence: it is
capable ofregistering vib.-ations whereeven thespeclloscope fails." (WP46I)
"My genius is in my nostrils," Nietzsche declares, claiming immodestly that"1
was the first to discover the truth, in that 1 was the first to sense - smeU - the lie
as lie.••" (EH "Destiny" 1) He claims the ability to "perceive physiologically -
smeU - the proximity or ••• the innermost parts, the 'entrails' of every soul.."
(EH "W1SC" 8), and finds "utteriy unendurable" the smell of "the entrails of

some ill-constituted souI" [die Eingeweùfe einer mifiratenen Seele] (GM L12),
which he elsewhere describes as the "smell ofdissolution and decomposition
[der Geruch _. der Aufliisung. der Verwesung]." (TI EUM 20) Zarathustra
claims that such degenerate, "superf1uous" individuals [die Obeiflüssigen]

possess"bad bIeath" andpass theirtimc in "musty air", SIIITOIIIlded by"the evil


aroma ofburial vaults" (Z II Op) and "bad odour" in genetaI (Z ION!). "Where
the people [dos Volk] eat and drink," claims Nietzsche, "even where it worships,

Il Note Nietzsche's unfavourable contrast to the Stoic strategy of "digestion":


the Stoic "trains himselfto swallow stones and worms, slivers of glass and
scorpions without nan...,,; Ile wants bis stomach to become ultimately indifferent
to whatever the accidents ofexistence might pour into il." (GS 3(6) Unlike the
Stoic. who discounts the moral significance of ail extemal goods - e.g.
friendship, physica1 hea1th, politica1 status, honour, economic cin:umstance, ete.
- and who strives to put on an indifferent face toWllIds unfavourable and
favourable woddly situations a1ilœ, Nietzsche does sec the quality of extema1

• goods as mattering a great deal. His highest man, for example, simply refuses
to "swallow" inferior types offriendship and commnnity, and seeks out higher
types that agree with him. More on this in the next chapter.

183
• there is usually a stink [da pflegt es zu stinken]. One should not go into
churches if one wants to breathe pure air." (BGE 30)
The visceral desire to maintain a distance from the mob is often described a.~
a question of hygiene. Nietzsche claims 10 possess "the instinct for c1eanliness"
(EH "WlSC" 8) and ofien describes contact with morally inferior types of people

in terms of contamination or defilement. Zarathustra warns, for example, that


"where the rabble '" drinks ail wells are poisoned," (Z n OR), and that he who
comes into contact with the rancorous priestIy type is "easily defiled" [leicht
besudelt sich] (Z n OP).

MaiDtaining a Critical Distance from the Berd

Rediscovering the reality of Rangordnung ultimately requires, in Nietzsehe's


view, the highest man's abandonment of ail sense ofheartfelt aIlegiance and duty
towards bis (hetd-like) community ofbirth. Nietzsehe's literary creation,
Zarathustra, certainly follows this path, as demonstrated in this reflection late in

the text "[w]hen 1 went to men for the fust lime," he reca1ls, "1 committed the
folly ofhermits [die Einsiedler-Torheit], the gxeat Colly: 1set myselfin the
market-placeJ And when 1 spoke to everyone, 1spoke 10 no one [ais ich zu
allen redete. redete ich zu keinem]." (Z IV OHM 1) Zarathustra, 1 would

suggest, is referring not only 10 bis earnest efforts in the Prologue to reform the
masses by speaking 10 them of the Obennensck. but also of bis own derogatory
comments directed 10wards them early on in the text: in part 1, Zarathustra is still
coneemed with "sayrmg] a word to the despïsers of the body." (Z 1ODB)
However. as Thus Spoke Zara1hlIstra moves towaId its end, and indeed as
Nietzsehe's own writing career draws 10 a close. even this sort ofvituperalÏve

• comm.mication with the many is abandoned. In a late passage, N1etzsehe


dec\ares that "1 never speak 10 masses [ich mIe niemaIs zu Massen]." (EH

184
• "Destiny" 1) Once in flIl11 possession of the sense of one's lofty position in a
natura! socio-political hierarchy, any other stance now seems preposterous:
"How could I. with this feeling of distance [Ge.fiiJùe der Distanz], even want the
'modem men' [<<Modemen» II know - to read me!" (EH "Books" 1)
Zarathustra's growing distaste for the idea of intervening in or ruling over
"herd society" is illustrated in several of bis comments in Part I and il on the
nature and origin of mainstream, European politics. He shows bis disgust with

the hurly-burly of modem politics by noting that only the "superfluous


[Oberjliissigen] ••• strive towards the throne." (Z I ON!) "[l]t is amadness they

have," he continues, "as ifbappiness sat upon the throne! Often filth [Sch1amm]
sits upon the throne - and often the throne upon filth, too." (lbid.) Disdaining al!
manner of activity that smacks of mercantilism, ZarathUStra ostensibly "turn[s]
[bis] back upon the rulers [den HerrscJrenden)" after discovering what they

associate with political ruIe: "bartering and baggling for power - with the rabble
[Gesindel]!" (Z il OR)12

In Part 1Z3rathUStra launches a virulent assault on the pursuit of honour.


faIne, and glory in mainstream societies by denouncing a pervasive tendency that

heeharacterises as the "lustingforeminence" [LüstemheitnachHôhe]: "Thete

is 50 much convulsion of the ambitious [sa viel Kriimpfe derEhrgeizigen]!

Show me that you aIe not one of the 1ustfu1 or ambitious!" (Z 1 OWC) The
nature ofNietzsehe's critique emerges more clearly in the course ofbis 1aler
encounter with the "frothing fool" ofZ ID OPB. who lurks 1>Y the gales of the
gIell1 city and caricatures Z3rathUStra's teaehings in bis overwrougbt, pseudo-

prophetie damnatioDS ofpassers-by. Although the fool's frothing beaIs a


superlicial œsemblance 10 Z3rathustra's own violent rbetoric, Z3rathustra

• 12 1 shall argue in Chapter VIn, however. that Nietzsche's contempt for the
poUties ofherd society by no meaDS entails a xepudiation ofpoUties as such.

185
• discovers that the true, albeit unconscious motivation driving this petformance is
a contemptible, unrequitted desire for the flattery and praise of the many:
What, then, was it that started you grunting7 l'hat
nobody badflaltered you enough: therefore you
sat down beside this filth, 50 that you might have
cause for much grunting - 1 so that you might
have cause for much revenge! For all your
frothing, you vain fool, is revenge; 1have divined
you weil! (Z m OPB)
The fool's great disappointment at not being recognised and valued by the many,
leading to bis subsequent ressentiment and vengeful rhetoric, reveals a
misguided dependency on the opinion ofthose who, in Nietzsehe's view, ought
to he despised. This pseudo-prophet is deemed a foolWanse he does not sec
the fooIishness in seeking recognition from the herd)3 Zarathustra declares the
pursuit ofsuch recognition is essentially wrong-headed; the adulation of the
many is worthless, because their standards ofgreatness are worthless: "1 have
never believed the people when the}' la1ked about great men..." (Z il OR)14
A herd society based upon life.caIumniaring values can only honour those
who exude and defend these same values. By extension, herd society can only
shun and persecute those evincing hea1thy, noble, life-affin:ning values. Hence
the possession of pariah status amongst the herd, being shunned and mocked by

it, ought 10 he a badge ofhonour for the tru1y noble spirit: "he who is hated by
the people as a wolf is by the dogs," claims Zarathustra. ois the Cree spirit, the
enemy offetters..." (Z il OFP) Nietzsche argues, for examp\e, that all those

13 N'1ClZSChe's attraction 10 the ideal of self-sufficiency. and the .difficulties this


causes for bis account offrlendsbip. will he discussed in the next chapter.
14 Zarathustra argues that the masses, being llttr8Cted only 10 empty spectacl'=.
can never reeognise truc greatness and nobility: ~ people have little idea of
greamess [Wenig begreifrdas Volkdas Gro.Pel. thatis 10 say. c:reativeness. But
they have a taste for aIl preseDters and aetors of great things... The world
revolves about the inventor of new values: impeLC,eptibly it revo1ves. But the

• people and the glmy revolve around the aetor_" (Z 1 OFM) Cf. Z il OGE:
'The wood revolves, not around the inventors of new noises, but around the
inventors of new values [die Erftnder von neuen Wertenl; it revolves inaudibly."

186
• attaeked by the "fust Christians" of the New Testament are "thereby signaIized.

Whomever a 'fust Christian' attaeks is not besmirched by it... Conversely: it is


an honour to have 'fust Christians' against one." (AC 46) It is a fact of human
existence, he claims, that "the great majority of those things which ioterest and
stimulate every higher nature and more refined and fastidious taste appear
altogether 'uninteresting' 10 the average man..." (BGE 220) It would offend the
pride and taste of the "coming philosophers" if one were 10 presume that "their
ttuth is ... to be a troth for everyman." (BGE 43) "One bas to get rid of the bad
taste," Nietzsche continues, "ofwanting 10 be in agreement with many•••

[W)hat cao be common bas ever but little value." (Ibid.)lS


Nietzsche believes that the weI1-meaning but misguided pedagogue who
refuses to veer away from the unrealistic goal ofeducating the uneducable may
very well damage bis own virtue. One could, as Zarathustra argues, easily fall
ioto the tiresome bluster of the frustrated, frothing fool ofZ m OPB if one

charges oneselfwith the impossible task ofimpatting knowledge 10 the thick-


headed. "[Ilfwhat 1want 10 do up here is a stupidity," suggests zarathustra,

better 10 do it than to become soleron ffeierlich ]


and green and sallow by waiting down there, 110
become by waiting a pompous snotter of wrath
[ein gespreù;ter Zornschnauber vor Warren], a
holy howling storm from the mountains, an
impatient man [ein UngeduIdiger] aying down
into the vaIleys: 'Listen. or 1 shalllash you with
the scourge ofGod!' (Z IV HO)
AbsuIdly waiting for a flash ofenligbtenment from the many that Devet comes,
the highest man tumed shepherdmay evolve. out offrustnltion, into the
ridicuious pseudo-propbet burlesqued in Z m OPB and deemed 10 be good only

15 Unlilœ Machiavelli, thcrefore, N'1ClZSChe does DOt appear 10 believe in the


importance ofpumùng etema1, posthumous fame. Instead, he empbasises the


ïmportance.ofvirtuous deeds themselves. and their long-term impact; like the
ligbt ofa distant, Dow-extÏDet star, the Dobility ofone's good cIeeds will continue
to travel, "eveu when its task is done. Though it be forgotten and dead, its beam
ofligbt still lives and trave1s." (Z n ov)

187
• "for a laugh" (Z IV HO). Zarathustra, who clearly secs a pedagogical raIe for
himself vis-à-vis a select group, bas time neither for the masses nor for their
shunned, would-be prophet: "This great city, and not ooly this fool, disgusts
me. In bath there is nothing to make better, nothing to make worse." (Z m
OPB) As he notes elsewhere, "beauty is unattainable to all violent wills." (Z n
OSM) The calmness required for beauty and virtue cao ooly be required,
believes Nietzsche, away from those who cao ooly drive one to distraction.
For those lofty types obliged to live amongst the herd, Nietzsche counsels a
studied, inscrutable aloofness to go along with lofty contempt. One of the marks
of nobility in contemporary European society, suggests Nietzsche, is the fact of
"always [being] disguised" [immer verkleidet]; "the higher the type, the more a
man requiIes an incognito." ('NP 943)16 The imperative ofself-defense dictates

this taetic: it would be dangerous to bear one's soul in the midst of the vulgar,

who cao ooly exploit and (uJtimately) diminis1:l greatness. As he su~ in EH


"Oever" 8, this "self-defensive instinct" [Selbstverteidigungs-Instinkt] is merely
ano~ word for a more traditional term: "taste" [Geschmack].17 As Zarathustra
admits in an aside to bis select readersbip, bis decision to show the masses ooly
bis most austere side stems from a self-protcctive instinct

[D]o 1 not have to bide myself [mich


verbergen],like one who bas swallowed gold. so
that my soul sball not be slit open?1 Do 1 not have
to wear stilts, 50 that they may not notice my long
legs - all these envious and injurious people
[Neidbolde und Leidholde] around me? (Z m
OMO)

16 "je hôherer Art, um. 50 mehr bedarf der Mensch des incognito." In
Nietzsche's ideal society, by contrast, the highest human being is able to evince
undisguised contempt for the herd animal (Nietzsche, as 1 sball argue in
Cbapter X, associates openness and hoDCSty with "health", and counsels
~ ooly for those still obliged te live in berd society.)

• 17 N'lelZSChe also speaks of this type ofselective deceptiveness as "Seltishness"


[der Selbstsucht], which he considers "the masterpiece in the art ofself-
preservation" (EH "Oever" 9).

188
• Since those with "woebegone souls" could not "endure [bis] bappincss",
zaratbustra reveals "ooly ice and winter on [bis] peaks." (Ibid.) He aIso
suggests, bowever, that bis outward, inscrutable austerity conceals a \Varmth
and lovingncss that, as we sball sec in the next cbapter, is being saveà for a
more select group ofcompanions: "not that my mountain aIso winds aIl the
girdles of sunlight around it!! They bear ooly the wbistling of my winter 51orms:
and oot that 1aIso fare over warm seas,like passionate, beavy, bot south
winds." (Ibid.)
In the passages cited above that advocate deception and inscrutability,
Nietzsche appears to follow a Stoic line of thougbt, suggesting that a stable,
virtuous cbaracter may be forged and maintained even within a vice-ridden
ambient culture. "[A]lthoUgb there are swamps and tbick affliction on earth,"
suggests Zarathustra optimisticaIly, "he who bas Iight feet runs even across mud
and dances as upon swept ice." (Z IV OHM 17) The pitfaIls ofslave moraIity
may be skipped over, as it were, by the dancing ·virtuoso with nimble feet.
Elsewhere, however, and (I would argue) more pervasively, Nietzsche
c1ear1y suggests that life amongst the herd is not a viable option for a noble type
of person interested in preserving bis virtue and contïnuing bis persona!
démarche of moral-spiritual development. This more AristoteIian view, the
view that one's environment and the company one keeps plays a detemlinant raie

in one's moral development, is found side-by-side with the aforementioned Stoic

argument in Thus Spoke Zarathustra. It is undesirable, Zarathustra c1early


suggests, to have commerce with those whose lives are characterised by
unending, demoraIising pain and suffering: "May my destiny ever lead across
my path only those who,like you, do Dot sorrow or suffer [Leidlosel, and those
with whom. 1cao have hope and repast and boney in common!" (Z n OC)

• Zarathustta confesses at a number of points how witnessing the morbid

189
• suffering of lower human beings affects him in a visceral way. As he takes
leave of the pathetic "ugliest man". for example, he feels "chilled and alone: for
he had absorbed much coldness and loneliness. to such an extent that even bis
Iimbs had grown colder." (Z IV VB) His confrontation with that
Schopenhauerian figure, the gioomy prophet, bas the same effect: Zarathustra
claims that he bas become "wet with [the gioomy prophet's] affliction and

drenched like a dog•.•" (Z IV CD) His self-prescribed cure for this contagious
Schopenhanerian pessimi sm is to "shake myself and run away from you [the
prophet]. so that 1 may become dry again.••" (Ibid.)
Delaying too long before making the alI-important break with the community
oforigin may have a deleterious effect on the nascent noble's vïrtue. In another
autobiographical aside, Zarathustra notes that while in close quarters with the
many-too-many. bis instinctive desire to remain aloof forced him to live "with
truths held back" [Mit veha1lenen Wahrheiten]. (Z mHO Obligee! to live
among them "disguised" [Verkleidet]. Zarathustra adroits that.he was alI-too-
ready to "misunderstand myselfso that 1might endure them [<midz» zu

verkennen, dojJ ich sie ertriige]." (Ibid.) It seems that self-understanding. for
Nietzsche, can develop only when one bas parted company with those from

whom one must aiways remain aioof.


The cali to escape the herd begins in Part 1of Thus Spoke Zarathustra and

remains a recurring theme of the work. The alI-too-close proximity of mediocre


spirits and a mispIaced preoccupation with their sort are said to place the
important project ofselfo()vercoming (and the related, equally-important political
project ofraising the level of the human species) injeopardy: "It is the distant
man who pays for your love of your neighbour._" (Z 1 OLN) Zarathustra
criticises the aforementioned "frothing fool" largely for the fool's decision to

• remain in close proximity to the large city: "Why did you live so long in the

190
• swamp that you had to become a frog and taOO yourself?/ ... Why did you not
go into the forest? Or plough the earth? Is the sea Dot full ofgreen islands?" (Z
m OPB) By remaining near the city, the fool bas been contaminated by it His
message, a1though infIuenced by Zarathustra's OWD rhetoric, is tainted by its
misdirection. Zarathustra cites as evidence of the fool's error the fact that the
masses aetuaIly ridicule him (as they ridiculed Zarathustra in the Prologue) and
look ta bis diatribes as a source ofamusement, rather than inspiration (Ibid.).
Nietzsehe's message seems ta be that those with an essentially healthy stance
towards life ought to surround themselves only with good things and good
company, in order to preserve their optimism: "Set good little perfect things
around you, you Higher Men! Things whose golden ripeness heaIs the heart
Perfect things teaeh hope [Vollkommenes lehrt hoffenJ." (Z IV OHM 15) For
Nietzsche, who seeks, like bis a1ter-ego, to "luxe" [wegzulocken] individuaIs

away from the herd (Z Prologue 9), one can only begin ta move in this direction
by first breaking cleaniy with one's primary, herd-like commnnity, including
one's biological family and fotmerly close friends.

The Importance of Negation and the Duger ofNihUisrn

Only when the master type begins ta bIeak with bis faIse consclousness and
adopt a critical distance from bath bis commUDÏty ofbirth and bis previous set of
values and loyalties is he on the road ta se1f-overcoming. Critique, or, as
Nietzsche often terms it, the "destruction" ofolder, faIse values and beliefs, is

essential for the cuItivation of the creative, affirmative self.18 His literary a1ter-

18 As welI as for the championing oftruth. We ought ta recall our claim


(Chapter I) that Nie:tzscbe's creative, noble individuaJ. in and through bis


criticisms of rival. mendacious tables ofvalues, is aIso purveyor ofobjective
tnlth. The "cruel No" [dos grausame NeinJ, claims Z8rathustra, foIms part of
the seed from which truth is raised (Z m ONL 7).

191
• ego constantly insists on the intimate relation between creation and destruction:
"And he who bas to be a creator [Schlipfer] in good and evil," advises
Zarathustra, "truly, bas fust to be a destroyer [Vemichter] and break values

[Werte zerbrechen]." (Z n OSO; aIso Z 1 OTG) "[O]nly wCere there are graves
are there resurrectïons. n (Z n FS) Zarathustta argues that although the
destructive, "lionn part of the souI is itselfincapable ofcreation, the lion's
merciless, "Sacred No" [Heüiges Nein] provides the freedom for the
development of a new, creative space [Freiheit sich schaffen zu neuem Schaffen]
(Z 1 3M). A similar view is found in GM n.24, where Nietzsche deems it a

"law" that "[i]f a temple is to be erected a temple must he destroyed.•." In a late


piece that strikes a similar chord, he insists that an "affirmation of ...
destruction" is a "decisive element" ofbis "dionysian philosophy" (EH "BT" 3),
and confesses that bis "joy in destruction" [die Lust am Vemichten] is simply
part of bis obedience to bis own dionysian nature (EH "Destiny" 2).

Notwithstanding the tremendous importance accotded to the "Sacred No",


Nietzsche also sees it as a potential danger, especially for those who have yet to
break completely with herd society. Nietzsche urges that an aloof, critical stance
towards everything shouId only be a phase, rather than a permanent feature, of
the noble type's development. He describes it variously as a "midway
condition" [einen mittleren Zustand] (HAB 1 PIef. 4j, an "intem1ediaxy period"
[Zwischen-periode] (wp SSSa), and a "traDsitional stage" [Zwischenzustand]
(wp 7) between the break with oppressive social conventions and the crucial

discoYClY of a new fotm of reverence. It is described both as a "great h"beration"

and, Hat the same lime, a sickness that can destroy the man who bas it.•." (HAB
1 Pre!. 3) The stage may tum "pathological", however, if it encourages a most
pemicious "genetalization" [die ungeheure VeralIgemeinenmg]: the idea that all

• tables ofvalue are emply and false simply bec8n sc one previously cherished set -

192
• a plebeian set, bound up with belief in God and a higher realm of Being - bas
been exposed as empty and false (WP 13)0 19 To remain stuck within whaI

ought to he a transitory phase in one's moral and spiritual development - the


debunking, negating phase - is Nietzsche's definition of nihilismo
Nihilistie tendencies are most likely to appear in those unable to transcend the
spirit of adolescence, a period Nietzsche associates with disillusionment and
bittemess, with the youth who "loves immaturely and immaturely too 00. haIes
man and the eartho" (Z 1OVD) As the youth starts to mature and develops a

critical stance towards ail thaI he previously held clear, the naïve, uncriticallove
of former titues is transformed into such bitter disappointment as to engender the
opposite extreme: an indiscriminate hatred and repudiation of ail values. Having
overthrown God and rejected the existence of another, higher realm ofBeing
which heretofore gave meaning and value to this earth, the still-immamre critie
now heaps scom on any effort aI finding meaning in the world. "Now thaI the
shabby origin ofthese values [die mesquine Herkunft dieser Werthel is
becoming elear," Nietzsche explains in the Nachlass, "the unive= seems to
have lost value, seems 'meaningless' [<<sinnlos>>l..." (WP 7)'1JJ The idea
thaI there is no meaning becomes, in a sense, a new religion for the youthful

nihilist; having "tom himself away" from the older metaphysical traditions, he

fetishises bis own tranmatie break with bis former commnnity and table of
values, feeling compelled "10 tum bis unbelief into a new belief, a purpose, a
martyIdom." (GS 346) The young iconoclast does not Yel possess

19 "Der Nibilism stellt einen pathologischen ZwischDu:Jlstand dar


(pathologisch ist die ungeheure Ver:.l.llgemeinerung, der SchluB OJI/gar keinen
Sinn)••" (WP 13) -
20 See also WP 12a: the youthful nihilist's "feeling ofvaluelessness [Dos

• Geji1hl do Werthlosigkeitl was reac:berl with the realiZlltion thaI the overaIl
character ofexistence may not he interpreted by means of the concept of 'aim,'
the concept of 'unity' 0.0 50 the worId looks va1uelesso"

193
• the strength to reverse values [die Werthe
umzuwenden] and to deify becvming and the
apparent world as the ooly world, and to call them
good [dos Werdende die scheinbare WeIt ais die
«Einzige» zu vergottlichen. gutzuheiften].
(VIP 585a)2\

In the absence of this ability to Jasagen, the youth of noble instincts may

lose bis faith in humanity, in the great potential of its best exemplarso In its
absence, a "great disgust al man" [Der groj3e OberdrufJ am Menschen] creeps
into bis throat to choke him, as it aImost chokes Zarathustra himself (Z m C
2)022 Like the Wagnerian "sorcerer" figure who appears near the end of

Zarathustra's saga. "disgust [der Ekel] 0.0 clings to [bis] mouth"; he now
"reap[s] ilisgust as [bis] single trutho" (Z IV S 2) Contempt for humanity
translates inta self-loathing, as Zarathustra prophesises to bis disciples early on:
one day solitude will make you weary, one day
your pride will bend and your courage break..J
One day you will no longer see what is exalted in
you; and what is base in you, you will s::e all too
closely [Einst wint du dein Hohes nicht mehr
sehn und dein Niedriges allzunahe]••• (Z 1 OWC)
With neither a clear sense of bis higher possibilities nor indeed any hope for
the future, the wayward, self-hating youth finds salace in perpelnating that
initial, iconoclastie pleasure experienced as a result of breaking ftee from the

strictures of bis former, oppressive community. This pleasme - and the


intaxieating feeling of "bird-like fteedom, bird-like altitude, bird-like

21 As Scbacht right1y notes, Nietzsche believes that most people have "bccome
addicted ta [the idea of Gad] as a means ofxendering tlIeir lives endurable...
bebind this tendency [Nietzsche] discerns a fJmdamentallack of Se1f-confiden~
and of the sttength ta accept and affirm life in this wodd..." (Schaebt 1983: 126)
Altbougb the youtbful nibilist bas rejected bis former belief in Gad, he bas not
yet overcome this lack ofself-confidence.
22 In Z n OR Zarathustraconfesses that at one point disgust tboroughly
consnmed bim: ""Not my bate but my disgust [N'rcht mein HajJ. sontlem mein

• Ekel] hungrlly devoured my life!" Cf. NIelZscbe's self-assessmen~ in EH


"Wise" 8: "Disgust at mankind [Der Ekel am Menschenl. at the 'rabble', bas
always been my greatest danger..•"

194
• exuberance" (HAH 1 Pref. 4) th:J.t comes with it - is sustained by maintaining the
same ironie, debunking attitude towards everything and everyone. Early in Part
1of TItus Spoke Zaratlutstra, Nietzsche evokes the metamorphosis of the

weight-bearing, suffering "camel" into the "lion" to desaibe metaphotically the


.emergence of this destructive, debunking will. The lion, wishing to be "lord in
its own desert," emancipates itself from the tyranny of received values - the
"Thou shalt" - by moving into the domain of the "1 will." (Z 13M) For the lion-
like individual, nothing is sacred apart from bis own "sacred No" rein Heiliges
NeinJ, which displaces aIl other objects of reverence; he is compelled "to find
illusion and caprice even in the holiest." [Wahn uruI Wzlllàir azu:h noch im
Heiligsten finden J (Ibid.) The destructive lion state is taken to the extreme by the
Shlidow character of the fourth part of the book, who describes bis "virtue" as
"fear[ing] no prohibition", as breaking whatever bis heart revered and
"unleam[mgJ .•. belief in words and values and great names•••" (Z IV S)
While Nietzsche deems the lion-like debunkiDg phase to be an essential step
on the road to human floutishing (recaII Z3rathustIa's injunction that the erection
of a temple requires the destruction of a temple), he insists that its fetishisation is
inimical to such floutishing. Just as wodd.œllTnnialion may arise as an
immoderate, knee-jerk response to the rejection of transeendental metaphysies,

50, believes Nietzsche, is the exultation a"'soci8trrl with thoroughgoing

sccpticism merely an extLeu:e reaction agaiDst religions and philosophical

perspectives that deny the possibility ofindividual freedom:

Once people believed in prophets and astrologers:


and therefore people believed: 'Everything is fatc:
you shall. for yon must!' [alles ist Schicksal' du
sollst, dDuz du mujJt]/ Then again people
mistrusted aIl prophets and astrologers: and
therefore people believed: 'Everything is freedom:


you can, for you will!' [alles ist Freiheit: du
kannst, denn du willst] (Z m ONL 9)

195
In this passage the "freedom" of perpetuaI, untramme11ed scepticism is portrayed

as just as wrong-headed as - indeed, the mirror-image of - the servile


determinism to which it is 50 viIulently opposed. Both are the product of an
essentially slave-like disposition; the slave type who bows obsequiously and
abandons bis own sense of agency 50 meekly before the allegedly omnipotent
forces of God or Fate would also, if freed from these reslIaining forces, set off
on an undisciplined, wild rampage, revelling in his own unchained liberty.
Nietzsche observes how much "sickncss" is expressed in these "wild
experiments and singularities through which [this] liberated prisoner now seeks
to demonstrate bis mastery over things.•." (HAH 1 Pref. 3) The blind, wild
rebellion of the slave is the opposite oftrue nobility: 'To rebe1- !bat shows the
nobility in a slave. Let your nobility show itselfin obeying [Eure Vomehmheit
sei Gehorsam]! Let even your commanding be an obeying!" (Z 1OWVl)'23
Here zarathustra alludes to a view ofNietzsche's !bat we examined in
Cbapter m. namely !bat the highest man's true hàeration involves obedience to

bis own, deepest instincts; instincts which are aimed at creative, optimistic

making, rather!han simple negation. "Do you call yourselffIee?" demands


zarathustra of bis youthful disciples, who are still revelling in the intoxication of
hàerating critique.

I want to hear your ruling idea [Deinen


herrschenden Gedanken], and not that you have
escaped from a yokeJ •.• Free from what [Frei
wovon]? Zarathustra does not care about that!
But your eye should clearly tell me: fIee for what
[freiWO%U]? (ZI OWC)

23 Sec also zarathustra's warning to bis young, errant disciple in Z I OTM:


"You long for the open heights, your soul thiIsts for the stars. But your bad
instincts [deine schlimmen Triebe] too thirst for fIeedom." Once again, wc find
!bat for Nietzsche, it is character!bat counts. Freedom!rom extemal


irnpediment, ie. negative fIeedom in Jsaiah Berlin's sense (Berlin 1969), is
desîrable only forthose in whom noble instincts are dominant, for ooly these
individuals will use their h"berty to good ends. As wc shall sec in Cbapter VIn,
this view bas great implications for N"1ClZSChe's politics.

1%
Thus Nietzsche joins with a vast and disparate group of past moral and political
philosophers, including Aristotle, Machiavelli. Locke and Rousseau. who
identify liberty with the "positive freedom" (in Isaiah BerIin's sense) involved in
perfecting our nature in the performance of virtuous deeds.24
Nietzsche identifies a num1ler ofequally undesirable paths that nihilistic
negative freedom could take. For exampJe, the nihilist could grow weary at the
struggle between rival tables of values, dec1aring it al1 a matter of indifference
and sliding into a weary reIativism. Zarathustta indicates that this is the path of
"weak men" [schwacher Menschen] who ask: "'Why have we ever taken any
way? It is a matter ofindifferencel" It sounds pleasant to their cars when it is
preached: 'Nothing is worth whilel You shall Dot wilIl·.... (Z m ONL 16)
SchOpenhauerian teaching appears to he the target here. Further on in Part m.
Zarathustta !ables this perpelUal1y sighing. "AIl is vain" perspective a "sham-

wisdom" [4fier-Weisheit]. worthy of "slaves [Knechte] and old men and weary
men..." (Z m TET 2)25
Another Iikcly consequence of the nihilistic deifieation of negative freedom is
the embrace ofhedonism and the laisser allerphilosophy that, as wc noted in

the previous cbapter. Nietzsche 50 detests The man with the spark. of nobility

may become "an impudent one," rein Fncher]. a "sensualist:" [Uïstlinge]

24 Tbat Locke, a pillar of the h"betal tradition, propounds a notion ofpositive


freedom in this sense bas been effec:$ely argued in the recent work: of James
Tully (1993: 9-68; 281-314).
2S Waaen believes tbatN"Jt!l7scbe associates the nihiIist with the desiIe to
exercise domination over "the Other": "When one denies the otbemess of the
world, its separate existence and one's dependence on this separate existence for
one's OWD being. then one _ produces a conception of the world as something
that cao he fu1Iy mastered, and hence fu1Iy dominated This is why metaphysics
ofsubjectivity me closely Ie1ated to domination, and why Nietzsche's analysis of
nibilism is.•• an implicit critique of domination." (Waaen 1988: Il) As
Nietzsche's lIntlattr:ring portrait of the nihilist as weary relativist demonstrates,
however. one ofN"1CtZsChe's main criticisms of nihilism is tbat it cao sabotage

• the very preconditions ofc:!omination hy discouraging us from taking strong


positions in favour ofor against anyone. Yct again Warren's interpretive lens is
distorted by the desire to parllay Nietzsche as a "progressive."

197
indulging in "briefpleasures" and "[having] hardly an aim beyond the day." (Z 1
OTM) Likc the Shadow characterofZ IV S. sucha man basembraced the view

that "[n]othing is ttue, everything is permitted". having abandoned ail "shame

and beliefin thegood" ralle Schom und aller Glaube an die Gute1I] (ZIV S).
He bas succumbed 10 the base sensualism of the herd even as he tries to appear
above it by cultivating an ironie demeanour: he "snatch[es] at sweets••••
eling[mg] to [bis] sttaw oflife and mock[ing] that [he is] still clinging to a
sttaw." (Z 1 OPD)26
Altematïvely. the nihilistie persanality may fall prey as easily to dogmatie
ideologies of vaIYing sorts as it does 10 empty irony and weary relativism. After
patiently listening 10 the Shadow's praise of negative ii:eedom in Z IV S.
Zarathustra warns him that he is likely 10 sueeumb to any "narrow belief. a bard,
stem illusion rein enger Glaube einflingt, ein harter. strenger Wahn]! For

henceforth everything that is narrow and firm will entice and tempt yon." The
nihil.ist. ill at ease with himselfand the worId, may find as much comfort in the
"prison" ofdogmatie beliefas the criminal finds in being finally c:aptw:ed: "Have
yon ever seen how captured criminals sleep? They sleep peacefully, they enjoy
theirnew security." (Ibn)
Wbatever face the young persan chooses 10 adopt - irony, extreme
scepticlsm, or c!clgnwism - Nietzsche a1ways tteats bis njbi1ism as the samc
phenomcnon, a "stteteh of desert, exhaustion, disbelief. icing up in the midst of

26 Nietzsche does counseI lighthearted mockety as the best antidote 10 excessive


moral seriousness and pomposity, but insists that such ridicule oiJght 10 be
undergiIdcd by a deeply serions, goal-düectcd orientation: "[C]beafulness [Die
Heiteriœit] - or in my own language gay science - is a reward: the œward of a
long, brave. industrious, and subterranean seriousness [Emst], of whieh, 10 be
sure, not eveI)'one is capable." (GM pret: 7) In GS 382, Nietzsche refers once
again to bis brand of"great seriousness [der grojJe Ernst]," which he compmes

• favourably to "an earthly seriousness 50 far, an 50lemnity in gesture, ward,


tone, eye._" Nietzsche's sort of mockery is therefore the opposite of the
uncommitted, infantile insolence he sees as the prope.ty of the nihi1ist

198
• youth, this interlude of old age at the wrong time..." (GS Pref. 1) If, however,
the young person's instincts are fundamentally sound, and if he finds the proper

guidance !bat spurs him to listen lO bis deepest inclinations, he may find the
inner strength lo overcome bis bittemess and engage œ. the neX!, crucial

metamorphosis evoked in Z 13M: from the debunking, contemptuous lion to the


Jasagen-ing child.27 After the lion completes the groundwork of sweeping
away all previous, imposed tables of value, all "Thou shalts" that had been bome
by the youth in a camel-like fashion, the child is needed to start afIesh; he is "a
new beginning, a sport, a self-propelling wheel, a first motion, a sacred Yes."
(Z 13M)2S For the child-like, creative spirit, "belief" is no longer a dirty word:

"he who had lo create always had bis prophetic dreams and star-auguries - and
he believed in belief!" (Z n OLe) In line with the child metaphor, Nietzsche

speaks of the OVeICOming of nihilistic tendencies in terms ofa œbirth:


from such abysses, from such severe sickness, ...
one retums newbom, having shed one's skin,
more ticklish and malicious, with a more delicate
taste [feineren Geschmacke] for joy, with a
tenderer lOngue for ail good things, with merrier
senses, with a second dangerous inncœnce in
joy, more childlike and yet a hundred times

Tl We should perllaps note !batNielZSChe's portrayal of the achievement ofa


sort ofchild-like innocence described here bas nothing ta do with any sort of
regrusion lo a IDOre infantile stage. Indeed, Nietzsche helieves !bat the loving
optimi sm of the "child-like" noble is much more likely lo emmge in the mature
adult!han in the youth: "there is more child in the man !han in the youth,"
argues zarathustra, "and ~ melancholy: he bas a better understanding oflife
and death." (Z 1OVD) Sec also Z n SH: . "he who wants lo hecome a child must
Ovetcome even bis youth.'" In Z 1OVD, zarathustra atttibutes Jesus'
melancholy lo bis youth, suggesting!bat he wouId have OVClcome bis al1egedly
life..ca1!lJDnja ting tendencies had he lived longer ("The youth lovès immahlrely
and i mmahJre1y tao he hales man and the earth.") Nietzsche also contrasts the
life affirming child-like innoce~ of the mature adult with "childisbness"
[K"mderei] in the pejorative sense. Sec, for cxample, Z n ONL 13: "There is
much childishness [KindeTel1 in the old books of wisdom." Cf. zarathustra's
description of the so-cal1ed "higher men" in Z IV A 2: !bey kneel before the ass

• like "pious liUle childJ:en." [wie die Kindkin, nlIm1ich fromm]


28 "[Elin Neubeginnen, ein Spïel, ein ans sich rollendes Rad, cine CiSte
Bewegung, ein Heiliges Ja·sagen."

199
• subtler [raffinierter] than one bas ever been
before. (GS Prei. 4)
NielZSChe's Jasagen ultimately involves the emergence of a more hopeful
attiblde 10watds the fumre, as illustrated in bis description of the escape from

dead-end nihilism in terms of "a reawakened faith in a tomorrow and the day
after tomorrow, of a sudden sense and anticipation of a future, of impending

adventures, of seas that are open again, of goals that are permitted again,
believed "'~." (GS Pref 1) 1would argue, however, that Nietzsche strongly
suggests that this reawakening cannot occur in the bosom ofherd society. For
the affirmative stance to be attained, the soul must be cJeansed; and this, for
Nietzsche, means an abandonment of the mainstream altogether in the course of
building an entirely new life.

Solitude and SufTeriDg

Living amongst bis inferiors, the noble sort who discovers the hDetating
effect ofcritique could begin 10 despise the bad company surrounding him with a
passion that might overwhelm bis essentially aftjnnative, optimistic state.
N"1elZsche, as wc bave just seen, takes this threat seriously, and suggests that the
best way to protect the highest man's essential, but fragile, optimism is 10 bave

him avoid environments wheIe he would be forced œpeated1y - and


"pathologically" - 10 negate. The idea, he claims elsewhere, is "10 say No as
little as possible. To separate oneself, 10 depart from that 10 which No would be
required &gain and again. The rationale is that defeDsive expenditures ••.
[becoming] a ruIe, a habit, lead 10 an extraordinaIy and ped'ectly superfluous
impoverisbment." (EH "Clever" 8) Nietzsche concludes that the only way 10


avoid such a debilitating waste of energy is for the higbest man 10 effect a

200
• "radical retreat into solitude as a sclf-defense against a contempt for men that had
become pathologiClllly clairvoyant..." (GS Pref. 1)
In a number ofautobiogrnphical passages, Nietzsche c\aims that bis own
decision to escape bis society of origin and scek out solitude was made
suddenly, alter a fldsh of insight. He speaks of a "reveIation, in the sense that
something suddenly, with unspeakable certainty and subtlety, [became] visible,
audible, something that sbalces and overtums one to the depths..." (EH "Z" 3)
This cpiphany was both complete1y out of bis control and powerliilly h"berating:

he describes it as a "great hDeration" (HAH 1 Pref. 3) in which bis youthful souI


was overwhehned by a "drive and impulse ••. 10 go off, anywhere, at any cost; a
vehement dangerous curiosity for an undiscovered world flames and flickers°in
an its senses: (Ibid.) In this saIne passage he speaks of bis "rebellioUS,
arbitrary, volcanically erupting desire for travel, strange places. esttangements,

coldness, sobemess, frost..." (Ibid..)


Notwithstanding the fatll!istic pœœnsion of this persona! account ofa
mysterious. effortless inner compulsion, Nietzsche acknowledges the great
anguish and re\uetanee that other, kindred spirits might feel at the prospect ofa
definitive abanOonment of past loyalties and affcctions.29 Althougb. one can
readily debUllk slave morality intelll'ànally, N"letzsebe (as we nOlCd in the last
chaptcr) is aware that escaping this "grearest of an mistIesses ofsednetion" (D
PIer. 3) is another matter altogether. Given our deep internalisation ofa given
intelledUa1 fiamewodc and set ofmoral values, abandoning it definitively by
physically uprooting OUISClves from its breeding ground will inevitably cause
great spiritual torment, DO matter how mendaciQUS and misguided wc discover it


29 zarathustra nOIeS that acommon, fustmletion to the cxposÏtion of the "hani
truths" of modem, henl society is resistaucc, and even hostility towards the
pedagogue: "Truly, 1 have taken a hundred maxims and yourvil'tues' cIearest
playthings away from yoD; and yoo scold me DOW, as children scold." (Z n ov)

201
• 10 he. "The voice of the herd will still ring within you," wams Zarathustra.
"[II]nd when you say: 'We have no longer the same conscience, you and r, it
will he Il lament and Il grief." (Z 1OWC) Zarathustra here seems 10 he

descn"bing the inner tonnent ofone of bis disciples, the young man of Z 101M
who, upon bis break with the values of bis commllnity oforigin, still finds the
conscience of bis former community ringing in bis ears as he suffers through its
ostracism ofhim: "No one speaks 10 me," he laments, "the frost of my solitude
makes me tremble." His wish 10 "cise into the heights" bas made him Il pariah
amongst bis former comrades ("When 1 ascend 1 oftenjump over steps, and no
step forgives me that"), and the IeSU1ting misery makes him doubt the wisdom of

the whole enterprise: "What do 1 want in the heights?" (Z 1OTM; also Z 1


OFM)30

Nietzsche notes that someone in the position of this young man might very
weIl consider IelIeatÎIlg from the critical stance by seeking once again the warmth
of the herd community. "In the yellow sand and bumed by the sun," this
be1eaguered, noble soul may "blïnk tbirstily at the islands fi1led with springs

where living aeatures rest beneath shady trees." (Z n OFP) Wbile finding this
temptation understandable, Nietzsche bas only contempt for the backslidel:s who
would actnally snccumb 10 the sùen song of their commnnities of origin. who
would grow "welIIy", snccnmb 10 the "common, comfortable" [mllde, gemein,
bequem], and actuaUy slander "their morning boldDess." (Z m OA 1) Whereas

they once "Iifted their legs like Il dancer", recaIls ZanIthuslra, with an eye 10 such

backslidel:s (real or imagined), now they "creep 10 the Cross." (Ibid.) In the

30 "He who proœeds on bis own path," notes N'Jetzscbe in D Pref. 2, becomes
aIl-too-awme ofbis alienation from bis fonner friends: "bis path is his aIone - as


is, of COUISe, the bittemess and occasional ill-humour he feeIs at this 'bis alone':
among wbich is inc1uded, for instance, the knowledge that even bis friends me
unable 10 divine wbeI:e he is or wbither he is going, that they will SOOJCtimes ask
tbc:mse1ves: 'wbat? is he going at aIl? does he still bave - Il pathT"

202
• end. they tum out not 10 bave been the stuff of true nobility aCter aIl, for they
lack tbat which only the few, fine exemp1ars of humanity bave in their hearts: "a

long-enduring courage and wantonness" [einen langen Mut und Obennut)


(Ibid.). In the end, their affinity with "the majority, the commonplace, the

superBuity, the many-too-many" is demonstrated by their moral cowardice


(lbid.).31

By contrast, the tnIe noble does not allow bis thirst for companionship and
bis fear and anguish in its absence 10 persuade him "10 become Iike these
comfortable creatures [Behaglichen): for whete there are oases there are aIso
idols [Gèitzenbilder)." (Z n OFP) Raving intimate knowledge of the fear and
pain of social disapprobation, he Iefuses 10 let these emotions dominate him:

[h)e posscsses heartwho knows fearbut masters


fear [BeTZ bat, wer Furcht kmnt, aber Furcht
%WÙIgt); who sees the abyss [Abgrund], but sees
it with prideJ He who sees the abyss, but with
an eagle's eyes - he who grasps the abyss with an
eagle's claws: he posscsses courage. (Z IV OHM
4; emphasis in original)32
Nietzsche wishes 10 brlng aid and comfort ta like-minded souls by exhorting
!hem ta take pride in their intemal twmoil and anguish. The su1fcring that
resuits from ostracism and loneliness is. for Nietzsche, not only nonnaI, but aIso
desirable as a sign of serious commitment ta radical moral and spiritual self-
remaking (whicb, as we have seen, is also for Nietzsche a fonn of self-

31 Mastcr morality, cIaims 2'Mathustta, "banishes from itself all that is


coward1y; it says Bad [schlecht) - tbat is ta say, coWllId1y [feige]!" (Z m TEl' 2)
In bis lare remaries on 71Jus Spoke Zarathustra, NIetzsche comments that
zarathustra's truthfUlness is "the~te of the cowardice of the 'ideaJist; who
talœs fIigbt in face of œality-"(EH "Destiny" 3) Elsewhete in this text
Nietzsche reinfoR:es this view that œjec:tion ofnoble, woddly values (Le. for
NiC'tZSCbe, the tnIe values) is akin ta COWlIIdice: "Eaor (- belief in the ideaJ - ) is
Dot blindness, eaor is cowardice [Irrtum ist FeigIIdt]_ Every acquisition,
every step forwaRI in knowledge Ueder Schritt in der Ei*enntnis] is the r4Ult of

• ~-" (EH Forward 3)


32 Cf. Aristotle's view tbat the man ofvirtue knows fear, but masters it
(N"u:omachean Ethics, 1115a12-13).

203
• discovery). One should not, he stresses, abandon this suffering prematurely and
seek relief in the "pitiable comfort" of herd existence. '"The way to yourse1f,"
claims Zarathustta, is also "the way of your afflication." (Z 1OWC) Throughout
Nietzsehe's account ofzarathustra's odyssey. suffering consistently appears as
a reliable indicator of the authenticity of one's efforts at self-improvement:
"C>enuine [Wahrluiftig] - that is what 1 call him who goes into god-forsaken
deserts and bas broken bis venerating heart [sein verehrendes Herz]." (Z fi
OFP) In the midst of Zarathustra's chastisement of the so-called "higher men"•
we leam that one of the clearest signs of their moral-spiritual impoverishment is
their not having "suffered enough" (Z IV OHM 6). A mea~ of the depth of
our examination of life, Zarathustra suggests earlier. is the depth ofour
suffering.33
Suffering [Leid]. then, is an essential part of the packageofauthentic self-
overcoming and a precondition ofcreativity. There is "much bitter dying" (Z fi
OBI) in the life of the creative individual; ie. one must he prepared to
countenance mpeated zeenminations - and even l'ejection - of one's most
cberished beliefs and closest relationships in order to reemerge as a "child new-
bom".34 One who aspires to this new-bom status "must also he willing to he

33 "[A]s cleeply as man looks into life, 50 cleeply does he look also into
suffering [$0 tief der Mensch in dos Leben sWa. so tiefsieht er auch in dos
Leiden]." (Z m OVR 1) The suggestion that suffering is a precondition for the
cultivation ofbnman excellence is also made powerfuIly in BGE 225: "The
discipline ofsuffering. ofgreat suffering - do you DOt know that it is this
discipline alone which bas created every elevation of mankind bitbcrto? Sec also
WP 910: "To those human beings who are of any concem to me 1 wish
suffering. desolation, siclmess. ill-treatrnent, indignities._ 1wish them the only
thing that can prove today whcther one is worthy anytbing or DOt - that one
endures." One of the ttu1y coutemptible features of an slave DlOIlI1ity. for
Nietzsche. is its desire to abolish an manner ofsuffering, its aspiration for what
he refeI:s to dcdsive1y as an "English bappiness". ie. a life cIwacterised 501ely
by the pmsuit of "comfort and fashion" (BGE 228).


3'J "One pays deady for being immortal: one bas to die several tilDes while
alive." (EH "Z" S) Leiter rightly observes tbat N"JetzsChe sees suffering as a
pœrequisile ofany great bnman achievement (Leiter 1995: 31). His account of
the itapoltanœ Nietzsche atttibutes to suffering is flawed. however. in one

204
• the mother and endure the mother's pain." (Ibid.) The metaphor of maternaI
labour pain reappears once again in the Preface to the Gay Science. when
Nietzsche insists that "we have to give birth to our thoughts out ofour pain.••
Only great pain is the ultimaIe hôerator of the spirit." (GS Pref. 3)35
Nietzsche sees one of bis most important but difficult tasks as encouraging
bis fellow travellers to embrace this 10neIiness and suffering by breaking with
their primary communities. "One forgets what one bas leamed about men,"

wams zarathustra, "when one lives among men... [W]hat can far-seeing. far-
seeking eyes do there!" (Z m HC) Nietzsebe's position appears to he: no
psychological distance from the herd without physical separation from it. In the
absence of this physical and psychological distance, one cannat adopt the
superior bird's eye view of the wood desaibed in Chapter 1, the objecû've view
ofhow things truly aIe. Even the comforting camaraderie of the youthful,
ideaHstic worshippers smrounding zarathustra is no substitute for the insights
derived from a period ofenforced solitude. As Z3rathustra mentions to bis

loving disciples in Z 1OBV 3. "[y]ou had not yet sought yomselves when you
found me. Thus do all believers; therefore all belief is of so little account."

Although these youthful, nasœnt noble types took an important stcp in negaring
their a:)11 In"mities of orlgin. they betrayed their continued attachment to servile.

communal values by foIming a new sort ofreligions cult ofdevotion and

important respect Leiter appears to assume thatN"1etz5Che had physical


sufCering in mind first and foIemost, and attributes this to Nietzsche's own
frequent physical sufCerings throught the ISSOs (1995: 32). Without attempting
to deny the influence Nietzsebe's poor bea1th had on bis WIiting (an influence
Nietzsche bimselfdiscussed; e.g. EH "WISe" 1),1 think the emphasis on
physical pain 1II1derestj"'afr:S the degJ:ee to which Nietzsche spcaks of the psychic
suffering that is necm arily a part ofbreaking away from hearth and home.
35 This portrait of the noble. heroic suffering involved in breaking with past,
deeply-held loyalties is quite diffcœnt from Nietzsche's afOO::11 "'otioned
treatmen~ of the knawing, morbid suffering of the slave type (Olapter IV).

• Unlike noble suffering, seen as the by-product of the all-consumiog desiIe for
self-improvetDCllt, p1ebeian suffering is traced back to the slave type's dim
awareness ofbis own inadequacies and wretchedness.

205
• worship. with Zarathustra as its godhead. Uoless the abject of their veneration
gently pusbes them away onto solitaly paths. they may tum into the pathetic. 50-
called "bighermen" burlesqued in Part IV. who bang on Zarathustra's every
ward while never really understanding what he says. Like the "king on the
right". the}' will find meaning and value only in the persan of their Master:
"'There is no longer any point in living, it is a11 one, everything is in vain: except

we live with Zarathustra!'" (Z IV G)


Ta counteraet the danger ofbacks1iding into servile dependency. Zarathustra
bids bis young friends ta "find themselves" by leaving him (Z 1 OBV 3). In
conttast ta Christ, who. through divine omniscience, prediets bis disciples'
betrayal and retums resurreeted despite this tteaehe1y. Zarathustta encourages
betrayal and makes bis mum conditional upon it: "ooly when you have a11
denied me will Imum tayou." (Ibid.)
Bidding bis young protégés to depart, while essential for their further
deveJopment, is not easy for a mentor who is far from immune from these
wann, seductive feelings of attaehment and camaraderie. Nietzsche urges us,
however. to be suspicious of such longing for companionship and love, of the
"involuntaly b1iss" [Seüglceit wider Wdlen] coming "out of season" (Z m OIB)
wbich may seduce us inta comp1omising our bighest aspirations and potentiaJ.
into abandoning the journey ofself-overcoming. We must not, in other words,

become comp1aœnt ly satisfiM in our dcpendent attaehment ta each other and


assume that this feeling ofsatiatïon repœsents the end ofour journey.
For Nietzsche, moral-spiritual mannity cannat he akin ta b1issful stagnation

and the self-satisfacti'>D thatcomes with the be1iefthatone bas fina11y attained
one's ethical œlos. Committed ta the idea ofperpetual self-improvement, he
makes bis literaIy aeatÎon impLess upon bis disciples that "mak[mg] peace [IS

• only] a mcans ta new wars." (Z 1OWW) B1issful peace of mind must give way

206
• ta the terrible. war-like, psychic agony of soliwde !bat is the precondition of

moraI and spiritual independence and further growth. At the end of this same

section, Zarathustra compares the tempting, facile bappiness !bat pursues him ta
a woman who aims to dominait: ber man and suppress bis independence
altogether (Ibid.).36 One must develop a "hatred ofIove" ofthis sort (HAH 1

Pref.3). ZaratilUStIa bas this sort of"desire for love" [das Behehren noch
liebe] in mind when he decIares: "To desire -!bat now means to me: to have lost

myself [Begehren - das heijJt mir schon: mich verloren haben].•." (Z m OIB)
For Nietzsche. this is type of "love" is in filet pseudo-love; through Zarathustra,
he argues !bat one does not yet know love's troe meaning if one bas not drunk
fIom the cup ofbittemess: "There is a bittemess [Bittemis] in the cup ofeven
the best love: thus it arouses longing for the Superman [Sehnsucht zwn

O1Jermenschen], thus it arouses thirst in you, the creator!" (Z 1OMC)37 True


love must involve a passionate commitment to self-betterment, which, as we
shall sec, involves improving the species. "What is great in man," declares
Zarathustra at the beginning and once again near the end of bis adventl.Jn:S, His

that he is a bridge and not a goal; what cao be loved in man is that he is agoing-
across and a down-going rein t1beI'gUIIg und ein Untergang ist]." (Z Prologue
4; andZIV OHM 3)

36 N"1etZScl1e thereby de"'Olll>1:laICS a continuity with the tradition of civic


republicao political philosophy, ie. with thinkers like Aristotle. MachiaveIli, and
Rousseau, aIl ofwhom infamously ac:sociate the influence ofwomen over men
with the coauption of (male) civic virtue. Sec Cbapter IX.
n In the next cbapterI shall argue that N1etZScl1e associates truc friendship with

• an UI1COIIIp1omising œjeetion of the complacent pseudo-Iove that, in bis view,


serves ta steer us away from the ceaseIess suiving for self-improvemeut. One
must cultivate in oneself and encourage in one's friends a "haIdness".

207
• We began this chapter with an examination of Nietzsehe's stress on negation
- i.e. bis critical debunking of inferior tables of values and the ideas and practices
reIated to them - as a precondition for moral-spiritual se1f-improvement. A
Nietzschean affitmation of "life", 1 argued, should not be equated with an
indiscriminate embrace of all manner of human existence; on the contrary, the
highest man must leam to shun and repudiate as well as to affirm. In particular,
superior human beings should abandon their futile, wrong-headed efforts at
reforming mainstream society and its slavish-minded people (who, in
Nietzsche's fatalistic view, are beyond hope), and instead, under the guidance of
their visceral, sensitive "psychological antennae", exert hea1thy, se1f-defensive
strategies aimed at sheltering themse1ves from all manner of contemptuous,
"herd" influt'.nce.

Nietzsche speaks in terms of se1f-defense becanse of bis view!bat bad


company and (in general) a deleterious milieu may subvert the highest human
being's potential for greatness by fotcing him te needlessly expend vital, creative
energy for se1f-proteetive pmposes. In particular, Nietzsche is concemed !bat
the critical, negating spirit, if left indefin ite1y in the midst ofa contemptible

society, will overwhelm the me spirited rebel complete1y, thereby stifling bis
essentially affumative, Jasagen-ing disposition. Nietzsche explores in this
context the dangers of the nihilistic personality, !bat pathology of untramrneled
negation barn of youthful, bitter disillusionment at the shattering of naIve,
complacent belief. It is this concem for the well-beïng of the me spirit !bat
compe1s Nietzsche te encourage in bis select readers notjust a noble aloofness
from the herd. but a sttonger, visceral feeling ofcontempt and a desire te flee at
allcosts. ~

The best self-defensive strategy, in Nietzsche's view, is a distancing one,

• involving a complete break - physica1 as welll\!: psychological- with the hetd-

208

• like community as a whole. He acknowledges !bat the sort of whole-scaIe


repudiation !bat he countenances - involving. for example, a break with one's
immediate family.long-time mends. and with long-cherished values - will tum
the free spirited type into a social pariah and cause him great persona! anguish.
In order tu hearten those ofhis select readelS who may he contemplating such a

move. Nietzsche insists !bat such persona! suffering is in fact a precondition for
further moral-spiritual growth. Those who embrace it, and suffer the mockery
and/or rejection of lower order people, show admirable courage and
determination. Nietzsche aiso empresses upon us the unavoidability of this type
of suffering. in light of how deeply interna lised slave moral categories are in the
hearts of nascent noble types and of how difficult it would he to effect such a
drastic change in value stances.
The suffering is also. Nietzsche hopes, temporary. As wc shall sec in the
next chapter. Nietzsche argues that the future-oriented optimism of those who
overcome the temptations ofnihilism by f1eeing mainstream, heId society cao he
sustained in the long run only by arrempting tu reconnect with humanity. After a
necessaI)'. cJeansing period of solitude, the free spirit must seek out and find
suitable companions in orderto continue bis moral-spiritualjoumey.
Nietzsche also believes, however. that wc cao enter into a friendship of this
higher sort ooly after wc have traVCISCd a difficult, solitaI)' period in which wc
succeed in adoptiDg an affirmative stance with respect to our own past and to the
pastingeneral. This "Iedemptïoo" ofthepast [Die VergangenzuerlOsen] (Zn
OR; z m ONL 3). suggests Nietzsche, cornes through an inward, psychological
"stretching" !bat is said to result from CC1ndnctiDg a thought experiment known as
the Etemal Return of the Same. h is to Nietzsche's account of the Etemal


Retum, and to bis view of the sort offriendship po8S1ole in its aftermath, that we
DOW tom.

209
• Chapter vu; Reconstituting the Master (3); Jasagen and the "Que for
Friendship and Communjty

Saying "Yes" 10 the past; EtemaI Return of the Same

Described variously as "the highest formula of affirmation [die hOchsteformel


der Bejahung] that can possibly be attained" (EH "zn 1) and as a "vast and
boundless declaration of Yes and Amen" [das lUlgeheure unbegrenzte Ja- und
Amen-sagen] (Z ID BS), Nietzsche's doctrine ofEtemal Retum represents a rite of
passage tbrough which the individual of noble sensibility must pass on the way to
full human flourishing. Tbrough successful conduct of this difficult thought
experiment, the noble type supposedly demonstrates a healthy, unql!a1ified self-

love as well as a love oflife itse1f, in all ofits imperfections.l


Successful performance ofthis thought experiment involves recognising and
embracing one ofthose "haId ttuths" that, as wc noted in Chapter 1, Nietzsche
sees few people as being able ta countenance: the idea that our so-called "errors",
and the suffering that goes with them, conlnDute as much ta our self-development
as our joys and triumphs. "[E]ven the blunders oflife," argues Nietzsche, "the
temporary siclepaths and wrong tumings ••• have their own meaning and value.

They are an expression ofa great sagacity, even the supIeIIlC sagacity•••" (EH

"Oever" 9) As wc noted in the last chapter, Nietzsche believes that one must pass
tbrough periods of great persona! upheaval and anguish, suffer ridicule and
ostraeism, and talœ many "wrong" tums in arder ta attain the lofty moral and

spiritual outlook of the highest man. Were this superior individual·given the
hypothelical chance ta live bis life over again, Nietzsche believes that ifhe ttuly

1 Although tbroughout this work 1have made many criticisms ofNehamas'

• inle1pretation ofNietzsche, 1find bis view of the Etemal Retum as apsychological


doctrine, rather than a cosmological theoIy, compe1Ijng. Sec Nehamas 1985: 141-
169.

210
• loves himself (and he must, if he is to qualify as a "highest man"), he would
assent unhesitatingiy 10 the whole process again. 'Was that hfe?" remaries the
highest sort of man. 'WeU then!" he courageously decides: "Once more!" (Z m
OVRl)
The Etemal Retum doctrine, moreover. involves imaginatively embracing the

prospect ofa hypothetical, never-ending repetition aIl of existence, and not simply
the retum ofincidents related directly to one's own life. "My formula for
greatness in a human bcing," declares Nietzsche towards the end of bis career. "is
amorloti: that one wants nothing to be other than it ÎS... Not merely to endure that
which happens of neeessïty. stilliess to dissemble it - an ideaJism is untruthfulness
in the face of necessity - but to love it... "(EH "Oever" 10)
Given the discriminating soul's keen awareness of the Rongordnung between
nobility and wlgarity and bis utter contempt for the latter, it is easy to appreciate
how such an individual, al first giance, would view the prospect ofsuch an
UDconditional embrace with horror. 'Ibis thought experiment, after an, entails
imaging the etemaI recurrence Dot just of an that is beautiful, but ofugliness as
weil; even of the contemptably wlgar, slave-like man: ""l'he man ofwhom you
aIe weary, the little man, recurs etemally'," 2'.arathustra repeats incredulously to

himself. " •.. etemaI recuaence even for the smallest! that was my disgust al an
existence [das war mein OberdrujJ an allem Dasein]!" (Z mC 2)2 Nietzsche's
harsh thought experiment is one that envisages affiImation "even ofsuffering

[Leiden]. even ofguilt [Schuld], even of an that is strange and questionab1e in

existence [allem Fragwiirdigen und Fremden des Daseins]•••" (EH "BT" 2)


zarathustra, hecanse of bis visceral IeVu1sion of the herd, initially deems this idea

an "abysmal thought" [abgriindlichen Gedanken]. (Z n OSO) The same phrase is

• 2 Nietzsche lays out the matter more peISOnally, andeuttingly,inEH "WlSC" 3:


"1 COIÛeSS that the deepest objection to the 'Etemal Recmrence', my idea from the
abyss, is always my mother and my sister."

211
• invoked once again in Z mom, when Zarathustra concedes he has yet to
summon the strength ofcharacter and "arrogance" [Obermute] required to
"summon [it] up." (Ibid.)
Nietzsche wants to convince us, however, that heing an unconditional
affinner of all ofexistence need not entai! abandonment of our visceral disdain for

vulgarity and baseness. He clearly wishes the higher sort of man to retain bis

disJike for simple-minded, blindly optimistic aflirmation ofevetything. We have


aiready noted (but it bears repeating) Zarathustra's derisive description of
proponents ofindiscriminate, polyanna-ish aflirmation as

the all-contented [die Aligenügsamen]J All-


contentedness that knows how to taste everything:
that is not the best taste! 1 honour the obstinate,
fastidious tangues and stomachs [d i e
widerspenstigen wiihlerischen Zungen] that have
leamed to say T and 'Yes' and 'No'J But to chew
and digest everything - that is to have a really
swinish nature reine rechte Schweine-Art]!••• (Z m
OSG2)

Nietzsehe's vision of Jasagen, then, retains that sense of discriminating taste


required in oIder ta encourage and promote certain ways oflife and discourage
otbers. "1 contradiet as bas never been contradieted.," declares Nietzse:hc. adding
crucially that "[1] am nonethe1ess the opposite of a negati.ve spirit." (EH "Destiny"
1) SimiIarly, Zarathustra attellqllS ta explain ta the IIIICOIIIp[ehending "frothing
fool" that bis contempt "shall ascend from love aIone .•. [Aus der Liebe a1lein soU
mir mein Verachten _. mifIliegen]" (Z m OPB) Tbc apparent paradox is Dot lost
on Nietzse:hc as he refIeets on bis famous literary aeation: "Tbc psychological
problem in the type ofZarathustra is how he, who ta an unheard-of degree says
No, does No ta evetything ta which one bas hitherto said Yes, cao nonetheless be
the opposite of a spirit ofdenial -"(EH "Z" 6) Nietzsche wants ta convince us.


then, that an jmaginative, loving embracc of all that bas 00CUlTed is in faet

212
• compatible with the maintenance of a heightened, discriminating sense. How is it
possible ta reconcile the two?
Cearly the reconciliation is not easy; as we have just seen, Nietzsche calls it a
"psychological problem". He believes that this unconditional, yet discriminating
embrace cm be attained only by a mature individual, who bas developed a sttength
of character that appears only lifter the turbulence of youth bas subsided. It is only
Mat the midday ofour life," he informs us, "that we understand what preparations,
bypaths, experiments, temptations, disguises the problem had need ofbefore it
was al10wed ta rise up before U5.••" (HAH 1 Pref. 7) Successful conduct of this
thought experiment, therefore, presupposes the overcoming of the dangers of
youthful nihilism The highest man is ready ta embrace it only when he is able te
keep beauty and virtue in the forefront of bis mind at all times. In other words,

only when he cm constantly remind hjmselfof the peaks ofhnman achievement


(of bis achievements, real or potential) cm he bear ta embrace the full spectrum of
human life, including its swamps and deepest gullies.
This "embrace", as 1 argued above, does Dot entail coming ta love the swamp;
it refeIs rather ta an acl;nowledgement ofits necessity in the scheme of things.
Ugliness and vulgarity, believes Nietzsche, are obstacles that the superior man
must ovt:lcome on the path ta ever-higher moral and spiritual deVe1opmc11t; they
are neœssary in this, strictly instrumental sense, and must therefore he embraced
in this spirit Our visceral revulsion in the face of them, and the unplCllSllDt
confrontation with them, are an absolutely essential part of the process that
consttucted who wc are. And if, ta IepC8t, we tIuly love how wc have turned out,
wc must also concede the necessity of the ugly, contemptuous things that helped
make us who wc are.3

• 3 We shall Ietum in Qaptcr X ta this idea of the instrumental necessity of


ugliness and vuIgarlty in the context ofa discnssion ofNietzsche's view of
maslCr-slave relations. 1shall argue that Nietzsche contradicts bis view {professed

213
• The EternaI Return and the Triumph over FoTtuna

By deciding to give bis unconditional stamp of approval to all of existence, the


highest man imaginatively subordinates Dasein to bis own affirming will.
Nietzsche suggests. in effect, that this imaginative leap is tantamount to willing
everything into existence, to "bending and accommodating" reality to the highest
man's all-powerful will. AIl that exis15, insis15 Zarathustra, "must become smooth
and subject to the mind as the mind's mirror and reflection." (Z n OSO) Once one
bas truly convinced oneself in this way of the will's absolute hegemony, the whole

idea of "misfortune" as an independent, mendacious force to which one is


perpetually vulnerable lases i15 legitimacy. Througb. sheer force of will, that

which had once been seen - wrongly, impotently - as "misfortune" becomes a


dehDerately chosen 1001 of moral growth: "From your poison you brewed your
balsam; you milkffl your cow, aftlietion [Trübsal], now you drink the sweet milk
ofhec udder." (Z 1 OJP) The higbest man's will-power, in effect, renders him
invulnerable [Unverwundbar].4 Once wc have successfully run the gauntlet of the
Etemal Return, tragedy can never again break, or even toueh us: "[h]e who climbs

upon the highest mountains," observes Zarathustra, "laughs at aIl tragedies, real or
imaginary [lacht aber alIe Trauer-Spiele lI1I/l Trauer-Emste]." (Z 1ORW)
NIetzsche be1ieves bis thought experimen~ ta be 50 empowerlng as ta banish the

in GM) ofthe self-snfficiency of the highest type ofhlJ1D8n being in dceming the
Datura1 slave type "necessary" (m this iDstrumental sense) ta the deve10pment of
the bighest type. .
4 "yes, something invuInerable, UDbw:iable is within me rein
Unvuwundbares,
Unbegrabbares ist an mir], something that reuds rocks: it is called my W"11l.
Silently it steps and unchangîng through the yearsJ It sball go i15 course upon my
feet, my old Will; hlud ofheart and invu1Dc:rable is i15 tenFJ Iam invu1Dc:rable
only in my hee1s. You live there and are always the same. most patient one! You

• will always bIeak out of aIl graves!" (Z nPS) Just as IeVCa1ing is Zarathustra's
charaaerlsarionofthestrongwill as "thisdispellerofneed" [diese Wendealler
Not]. (Z 1 OBV 1)

214
• very notion of accidentaI 0CCIIlleIlCC (31 least with respect ta the superior man):
Zarathustra serves notice !bat "[t]he time bas passed when accidents [Zlifd1le]
could befall me; and what couid still come ta me !bat was not already my own?" (Z
mW)S

The breathtaking audacity and courage required ta become a "redcemer of

chance" [Erliiser des Zufalls] (Z il OR; Z m ONL 3) in this sense is said ta be


beyond the reach of most people, who remain Fortune's "prisoner". (Z m ONL 3)
The vast majority, claims NielZSChe, IOUtinely think themselves 31 the behest of

forces beyond their conlIOl, whether these forces aIe seen as stemming from God
or as completely independent, capricious phenomena. Unable ta creatively rethink
the pasto "he who is of the mob" [Pobel) uncritically submits ta its authority. AIl
!bat is past, for this sort of man, simply is "handed over" [Also ist alles

Ve1'8angene preisgegeben]. (Z m ONL Il) Unable ta will the past, he "is only

'willed', he is the sport of every wave" (Z m ONL 16), a fact !bat fills him with

regIet and recrlminarion.6 Bitterly IeSCI1tful of the cards !bat "fate" bas dealt bim,

he cannot Iep1icate the courage of the higbest man and face unblinkingIy the
prospect of living bis life over again in exactly the same way.

The mediocre man's powerlessness in the face of"dreadful chance" [grauser

Zlifall] (Z il OR) fmtber encourages bis afOiementioned ptedilection for fIustration

and rancor, not ta mention revenge (Chapter IV). Z8r!Uhustra observes how the
weak, servile will tums ill-tempered. "gnasbing its teeth" in its awaxeness ofits

own impotence (Z m ONL 3), and "tak[mg] revenge for its inability to go

5 An alternative stmIegy for makïng oneself invulnerable to the UDë:ertainties of


fortune is the Schopenhmv::rjan attempt to stop willing altogetber. One is tbereby
said to attain a sense of iDne:r peace !bat is denied the agitated individual driven by
an insatiable will NielzSche, bowever, deems this IOUte "a fable song" (Z IV G)
and symptomatic of weary. cIcgenerate, life-denying instincts.
6 SeeZaJ:athuslIa's assessnentoftheso-called "highermcn" ofZIV. Unableto

• ta!œ clwge of and fully embrace tbeirpast, tbey remain filled with œgret: "Many a
burden, many a memory weigbs down your shoulders; many an evil dwarf
crouches in your comers." (Z IV G)

215
• backwards" (Z n OR) by making others suffer for its own impotence. "[T]bis
alone," explains Zarathustra, ois revenge itse1f: the wiIJ's antipathy towards time
and time's 'It was'." (Ibid.)
Nietzsche's doctrine of the Eternal Retum is therefore a test to see if the
prospective noble cao triumph over such rancor. and ultimately over what
Nietzsche identifies as "the world's oldest nobility": "Lord Chance" [«Von
Ohngeflihr» - das ist der iilteste Adel der Welt]. (Z m BS) Although he

considers bellefin radical contingency and flux infinitely preferable to


detemlinistic religio-philosophical systems that insist upon a rationally struetured
universe owing nothing ta human creativity.7 Niet:zselie envisioDS the highest man
tuming that contingency into a new order: bis own. Whereas "the senseIess. the
rneaningless" [der Unsinn, der Ohne-Sinn] rules over the vast majority of
mankind, Nietzsehe's highest man fulfils bis "nature" (m the Aristotelian sense
discussed in ChapterIll) by h"beraling bimselffrom the domain of chaos (Z 1OBV
2; Z m ONL 3).8 Kanfmann is quite right ta observe that Nietzsche's
philosophical position "hinges on the view that only the weak fear chaos while
powerful natures organize il." (Kanfmann 1974: 293) Zarathustra seeks to
embrace Chance ("my doctrine is: 'Let chance come ta IDC.•••" Z m OMO) Dot ta
celebrate the essential meaningIessness or radical contingency of existence (as the

7 Zarathustta deems the sky "pure" becanse there is no "etemal resson-spider


[ewige V07UD!ft-8pinne] andspider's web" in it. (Z m BS) In this same section,
Zarathustra declares that he bas fieed chance from its "servitude underpmpose"
[der Knechtscluzft lI1Idu clem Zwecke].
8 In Z m ONL 8. Zarathustra evokes the image of gangways and railings Iain
over a rnnning stream, spanning its length and allowing safe passage aaoss. In
the face of such structures of IDJ1Dan design, he argues, we ought DOt believe those
who say that "[e]verything is in flux." [Alles ist im FlqfJJ The c1ever wordplay
might distract us fromNietzsehe's meaning: that pure contingency and flux,
although a dominant, ÏDSt!J'!T!OJJDtable part ofthe world for those who cannot
c:onsttuet gangways, do notrule the lives of the creative souls who impose arder
on the world. The accent, itmust he noted, is on creativity: those who attcmpt ta

• aoss over using already-existent railings, believing these ta he "firmly fixed"


forever. may he suxprised ta find themselves in the waret. theirrailing having
"come to nothing." (Ibid.)

216
• new orthodoxy would have it). but rather ta subdue ber entirely. as illustrated in
this graphie depiction ofcomplete and utter submission:
1am zarathustra the GodIess: 1 cook every chance
Ueden Zufall] in my pot. And only when it is quite
cooked do 1 welcome it as my foodJ And truly.
many a chance came imperiously ta me: but my will
spoke ta it even more imperiously [mancher Zufall
kom herrish Vl mir: aber herrischer noch sprach
Vl ibm mein Wille]. then it went down imploringly
on its 1aIees -/ Imploring she1ter and love with me,
and urging in wheedling tones: 'Just see. 0
zarathustra, how a friend comes ta he a friend!' (Z
mVMS3)
Unlike the ancient Romans. who deified Chance as the goddess FortullO..
Nietzsche refuses ta see contingency as a powerful, independent force in the lives
of the finest human beings. The only god he wisbes the highest I:IlIIl ta worship is
bis own self. the self-creating Obermenseh, before whom there cao he no rivaIs.9

Like MachiaveIli, who counseIs prospective politicalleaders ta fcm:ibly subdue the


female FortullO.. Nietzsche wisbes ta subotdinate all of life ta bis dietates.10
In positing invuInerabilily ta fortuDe as a favourable state, N"1etZsCbe
demollstIateS an indebledness ta a long-standing tradition in Western moral and
political phDosophy traceable back ta the Stoics, and .ùtimarely ta Socrates. As
NussbalJJn bas recendy pointed out, phDosophers and re1igious tbinkers have often
given expression ta our desire ta believe that acting and living well "are things that

9 "Better no god, bettcr ta produce destiny on one's own account [üeber aJI/eigne
Faust Schù:1csal machen]. bettcrta he a fool, bettcrta he GodoneseIf [üeber
selber Gott sein]!'" (Z IV RS) Elsewbere, zarathustta w:ges liko-minded souls ta
consïdcrthemseIves tbeir own "fate": "And if you will not he fates [Schicksale]. if
you will DOt he inexorable [Unetbittliche]: how cao yoo - CODquerwith me?" (Z m
ONL29) .
10 In one scene in 7'hus Spoke Ztm1Ihustra, Life appeIIIS in a female persona,
descn"bing hersc1f as "changeable and 'mtaJDC'd and in evuything a woman, and no
virtuous one." (Z n DS) Z8rathustralater makes it clear wha1 is the best way ta
dea1 with such a mocking, wild woman: "To the Ihythm of my whip you shall
shrlek and trot! Did 1 forget my whip? - 1 did notl" [Nach don Takt meiner

• Peitsche $OUst tbl mir tom:en und schrein! lch vergafJ doch die Peitsche nicht? -
Nein!) (Z mSDS 1) An extended disMlssi'Jl1 ofNietzsebe's stance tawards
women must he defemd ùntiI C1apter IX.

217
• dcpend only on human effort, things that human beings can always control, no
matter what happens in the world around them." (Nussbaum 1992: 263)

Nussblmm identifies the first philosophical exp1ession of this desire in P1ato's


Apology. where Socrates is reported as saying that a good man cannot be harmed

(Ibid.). The Stoics Iatcr radicalised this thought, insisting that the good man ought

10 disengage himself psychologically from that which fortune controls or


influences; ie. the "extemal goods" of wealth, political freedom, friendship. and
commnnity. In the Stoic view. one may conceivably be bereft of aIl these goods
and stilllead an upstanding, admirable life (Annas 1993: 262-290; 385-411).11
Nietzsche bath radicalises this Socratic-Stoic view and, 1 believe, introduces a
crucial amendment 10 il. The radicalisation is found in bis desire to dethrone
Fortune completdyas an independent power in the lives of the higbest men. With
the Stoics, as with Machiavelli, Fortune rernains a formidable force in the lives of

even the most admirable ofmcn. What separates the virtuous ODes from the
majority. in theirview. is the ability of the fonnerto en:ct effective "d.ykes". of
either a strietly interna!, psychological natme or of a political nature, 10 stem

Fortune's tide. The adoption ofcompensatory strategies -lïke the Stoic


psychological disengagemem from an "extema1 goods" and Machiavellian political
1IÎTtÙ - involve an implicit acknowlecigement ofFortune's great power. Nietzsche.
by contrast, wants 10 claim that the higbest man bas dethroned Fortune comp1etely.
Although pme contingency wm always play a great role in the lives ofthe

Il This Socratic-Stoic moral idea1 of peISOIIa1 invulnerability 10 fortune is


opposed 10 an altemalive view. a.csociatM with the great ttagedians ofancient
Gteece and given philosophical expt:ession in Arlstotle, that IeCOgDises luck as
"seriously powerful, that it is possible for a good personto suffer serions and
undeserYed haan, that this pos51Dility extends 10 bnman beings generally."
(NussbalJ1D 1986: 384-5) WiUiams. in a receut l'''examination of this rival
perspective, notes its insistenœ on the possibility of "social reality [acting] 10
crush a worthwhile, significant, c:haracler or project without displaying either the

• lively individual purposes of a pagan god orthe wodd-historica! significanœ of a


Judaic, a Christian, or a Marxist teleology." (Wj1Jiams 1993: 165) 1 BIgUe below
tbat Nietzsche, despite himself, fee1s the fcm:e of this rival tradition.

218
• spiritually and morally impoverisbed, the same, he insists, cannot be said for the
finest, who have succ:essfully pelfonned the psychological conjuring aet of the

Etemal Rctum. Once one bas successfully "willed backwards" and thereby
masteIed all of lime and destiny, there is no longer any need for compensatory
strategies; in the lives of the finest, Fortune plays no further role.
Given this insistence on associating the conquest offortuna with the highest
form ofethical development, it would seem I3ther incongroous to suggest that
NielZSChe aIso argues - in diamelric opposition to the Stoics - for the importance of
"externa1 goods" like friendship and community in the lives ofhis highest men.
As 1 shall argue beIow, however, this is just what N"1etZSChe does, thereby

sacrificing a great deal of theoretical consistency. For these views are indeed
incompatible; how could one hold that the higbest man's virtue is invulnerable to
contingency while, al the saDIe time, insist that the inherently uncertain, contingent
goods offriendship and commllDity are necessary preconditions for virtue's
cultivation?
1 intend to explore this tension, and take up NieIZSChe's views on friendship,

below. FIISt, however, furtber groundwork. needs to be done. In aIder to argue,


as 1 intend to, that N'le!ZSCbe COImtenances the formation of a higbec form of

commllnity offriends, 1must fim confront the widely-shared view ofNielZSChe


as a radical individnalist, a view that bas long since become a "commonsensical"

pillar of the new orthodoxy. Berme pursuing Nietzsche's views on sociability,


tben, wc ought to pause and e.umine bath the stl'engths and weaknesses of the

prevailing orthodoxy.

Nletzsdle as Lone Wolf: A Problematic Co!JSPDSDS

• The secondary literalUle overwhe!mingly cames out in favour ofwhat 1 will


call the IODe wolfthesis, which assumes NielZSChe's unremittingly hostility

219
• towards any and every fonu ofhuman community. The consensus on tbis point
extends over a very broad field, encompassing commentators who disagree

sttenuously with each other in many other respects.


Kanfmann set the tone in bis bigbly inf1uential study, declaring tbat bath
society and the State represent, in Nietzsebe's mind, "only the embodiment of
mediocrity and the teInptation tbat bas 10 he overcome before the individual can
come into bis own..." (Kanfmann 1974: 162) Notwitbstanding the typical claim
to bave discovered a "new Nietzsche" at variance with Kallfmano's, proponents of
the new ortbodoxy faitbfu11y maintain tbis position, typically witbout even
botbering to argue for its veracity. Strong, for example, simply declares tbat the
"llomasking and questioning voice" ofNietzscbe's "fully conscious individual"
will inevitably bring bim into conflict with the group. (Strong 1988: 112) Warren

ecboes tbis view. declaring tbat "for the most part, [Nietzsche] remains an
advocate of the individua1 against the 'berd' tendencies ofsociety." (Warren 1988:

61) For Connolly. Nietzscbe's tJbermensch is necessarily a "figure of solitude"


who "[clears] a space on the edge of sociallife" in oIder 10 "avoid extensive
implication in a dense web ofrelations" tbat he finds intolerably oppressive.
(Connolly 1991: 187) Honig. for ber part, insists tbat Nietzsche is a tbeorist "of
radical individua1ity" whosc conception of "virtù" is infinitely preferable 10 the
commnnal "se1f-abnegating excellence" known as "virtue" (1993a: 230).
Some inf1uential commentators not identified with postmodem scho1alship
bave taken up the saule line. Scbacbt, for example, believes tbat Nietzsche
porttays the admirable person as a robustIy individnalistic, extra-social character".

{Scbacllt 1983: 407)12 Ironical1y. a "commnnitarian" thinker Jike AJasdair

12 Furtber on in tbis text, bowever. Scbacllt comctly observes tbat with lespect


10 Nietzsebe's concepJion ofmaster moraliJ;y "we are confronted with a
fllnc! amc:nta1Jy sociol mode of valuation, ldlecting the cba1acter of one sort of
group and bound up with its relation ta anotlJer." (ScbaclIt 1983: 409) If tbe1e is
indeed an impoI1aDt social dimc:nsion 10 master mora1ity. in what sense can we say

220
• MacIntyIe, whose spirited antagonism towards postmodemism is well-known,

adheres unreservedly to Deleuze's view of Nietzsehe as a "nomadie" thinker,


insisting that the Nietzsehean great man "cannot enter into re1alionships mediated
by appeal to shared standards or virtues or goods..." (MacIntyre 1984: 258)

Nussbanm, who n:mains as antagonistie towards postmodemism as MacIntyre


(but much less 50 towards Nietzsche), coneurs, coneluding that Nietzsche sees

marriage, family, friends and other"externa1 goods" as incompatible with the


vocation of the philosopher (Nussbaum 1994: 158).l3
A first glance at Nietzsehe's writings seems to show that the lone wolf thesis
bas a lot going for il. Oearly rejecting the notion that "commnnity" in and ofitself
should take moral priority over the individual, Nietzsche strongly endcmes a form
.ofaristocratie individnalism that teacbes the exceptional, creative individual "to
stand out" (TI EUM 37), to value himselfas one to whompréférences, in
Montesquieu's sense (1979: m7), are owed. "A great man [em grofter
Mensch]," observes Nietzsche in the Nach1oss, deliberately rendert himself
"incommunicable" [unmittheilbar]; "he finds it tasteless to be fammar [erfindet es
gesc:1unDdcIos, wenn er <<venraulich» wird]." (WP 962) 1bat wbich allows
the exceptional individual to stand &part from the heni cornlDlmity is a type of

independence or self-sufficiency, an ability to mainblin a (justifiab1y) high 1eve1 of


self-esteem in the absence of CODStaIIt aowd validation and IeÜlfou:emeal.
Nietzscbe believes this self-sufficiency to be woefuIly absent in the
"gregarious" [hee~] (WP 886) lower orders. The type of man characteristie

that the harmonious inner state ofNietzsche's ptototypical master is "exila social"
in nature?
13 Lciter also shares in this consensus Altbough he effective1y aiticisCs many
aspects of the new orthodoxy (Leiter 1992, 1994), he maintaïns tendentiously that


Nietzsche shouId DOt be seen as endOIsing any vadent of"mastecmorality",
becmlSe such an endorsement would a11egedly "require an embedding in particular
cornIDImal ~ and traditions foreign to the Nietzsche who a$Ïgns higher
value to 5OIJbK1e and individual creation." (Leiter 1993: 263)

221
of these orders, the "subservient, unauthoritalive and un-self-sufficïent species of
man" [nicht herrschenden, nicht autoritativen und auch nicht selbst-genugsœnen
Art Mensch] who possesses "the instinct for bis own kind" (BGE 206), is pictured

vividly by zarathustra as a "lover of bis neighbour" Dot out of authentic virtue, but
out of neœssity. This "dependent" [abhangigen] (Ibid.) type cannot bear the
thought ofexistence without the warmth generated by rubbing himself against
others (Z Prologue 5). As we notcd in Chapter II, Nietzsche believes that the
"good works" of this dependent type of man are performed with an eye for
"honour and recognition" becanse of bis desire for "that constant affirmation of bis
value and bis utility" so desperately needed to Ieinforce bis own shaky sense of
self-worth (BGE 206). His vanity, in other woIds. conceals a profound self-
loathing that prevents the dependent man !rom finding self-valuation in the absence
ofconstant, comforting recognition of others like bimself. Thus, zarathustra
observes, he cau hardIy "endure to he alone with [bimself]..•" (Z 1ONL) "You
tlee 10 your neighbour away from yourselves," zarathustra points out 10 those of

the marketpIace. "and would like 10 malte a virtue ofit..." (Ibid.)

Nietzsche recommends solitude only for those few who have the moral
strel1gth 10 endure the pain ofsocial ostracism and the loneliness that comes with
it. Without the sound and healthy self-love of the master type. "those who have
tumed out badly" [MfPratenen] cau only experience solitude as a prison (Ibid.),

or, as he notes elsewhere. as "poison" [Einsamkeit wird G!fi]. (GS 359) Hence
the futility of the attempts br woebegone souls 10 escape !rom tbemselves and their

own base desiIes in10 a life ofascetic self-knial, eitber in a monaste1y or the
desert "many should he dissnaded !rom solitudcJ Has there ever been anything
filthier on earth than the saints of the desert'l" (Z IV OHM 13)14

• 14 Z3rathustramalœs aclcardistindion betweenan unhealthy solitude sougbt br


UDhea1thy souh;, and a nec esmy, admirable solitude chosen br the finest of men:
"For one person, solitude is the escape ofan invalid [die Füu:ht des Krankm]; for

222
• The lone wolf thesis appeatS in even better light when one xecalls NielZSChe's

= t suggestion, discussed in the previous chapter, that self-isolation from the


herd is of paramount importance ta one's moral and spiritual deve1opment.
Nietzsche ta1ks of solitude in terms ofa therapeutic "recoveI)'" [Genesung], a state
in which one's "wounds are nwsed" and one "retUJ:nS" to oneself (EH "Wise" 8;
4)0 Something "voiceless" counsels zarathustra to "go back. into solitude", for

only in this state will he "grow me11ow" [mürbe werden]o (Z n Sil) Further on
Nietzsche personifies solitude [Einsamkeit] as a woman who appeatS before
zarathustra, contrasting herself with 10ne1iness [Verlassenheit] and reminding him
ofhow much better she is for him than bis previous, 10ne1y life among the masses:
'0 zarathustra, 1 know all: and that you were
loneüer among the crowd, you solitary, tran you
ever were with me!l Loneliness is one thing,
solitude another: you have Ieamed that - now! And
that among men you will always be wild and
strange [wild lI1Id fremdJ:J 00' But here you are at
your own hearth and home; here you cao utter
everything and pour out eveI}' reason, nothing is
here asbamed of hidden, hardened feelingsJ •••
'Here you may speak to all things straight and tIue
[AzqTecht lI1Id mifrichtig dœftt du hier zu allen
Dingen reden]: and truly, it sounds as praise to their
ears, that someone should speak with all things -
honestly! (Z mRC)IS
This is not, however, the whole &tory. In assuming that passages lilœ these
reflect a repudiation of aIl forms ofcomm1mity, ptoponents of the Ione wolfthesis

oftcn fan to nOle }f1etzsehe·s selective tmgetting of the so-<:a1led Iower orders and
thdrneed for community. For Nietzsche, criticising and breaking with the
"pitiable comforts" ofhenl-like community !DaY be a neœss ory precondition for
full human flollJisbing, but it is not. bY itself: a sufficient one. Beyond the

another, solitude is e5C8{Ie,from the invalids [die FludrtNT den Kranken]." (Z m


OMO)
IS Cf. EH "Clever" 10, where Nietzsche iDsists that finding solitude bard to bear
is a sign ofbad character: "To suffer from solitude is lilœwise an objection [to the
man and bis woric] - 1have always suffered only from the ·multitude·•.•"

223
• temporary. albeit necessaxy need to break with aIl forms of community, there

emerges in the more fully rounded noble sort a aucial element of Nietzsehean
Jasagen: the attempt to cultivate full human f10urishing in the context of a new
type ofcommunity.

Jasagen Through New Forms of Solidarity

zarathustta's relief at having escaped the stifling atmosphere of herd society


saon gives way to a deep yeaming. often couched in metaphor. for new,
meaningful connections with like-mjnded others. Although Zarathustta's "wild
WlSdom J:lecame pregnant upon lonely mountains," saon it "runs madly through
the auel desert and seeks and seeks for the soft grassland..JUpon the soft
grassland of your hearts, my friends! - upon your love she would like 10 bed her
dearest one!" (Z il CM) Although the pursuit of wisdom requires a period of
"voluntaxy living in ice and high mountains" (EH Forward 3). once the ice bas
been attained, Nietzsehe's literaIy aeation can only cry out, "my band is bumed
with ice! Ah, thirst is in me, which yearns after your thirstV ••• It is night now

my longing [mein Verlangen] brea.'cs from me like a well-spring - 1 long for


speech [Rede] •••" (Z il NS) It seems that the "speech" of loving friends is needed

10 counteraet the "tbreatenîng, suffocating. heart-tightening" effects ofa solitude

that encircles and embraces the now-isolated, ostraeised seeker oftruth (cf. BAH 1

Pref. 3). zarathustra does not wish 10 end up like the hermit he meets in the
Prologue. WhiIe he does seem 10 feel a sort ofkinship with this ascetic loner
("thus they parted from one another_laughing as two boys laugh" Z Prologue 2).

bis 1ater comments clearly suggest that the f1ight in10 solitude, however laudable as

a self-protective measure against the berd, may tum in10 a wholescale, lJIIhea1thy
------

• repudiation oflife itself: "And many a one who~neaaway from life, tumed

224
• away ooly from the rabble [vom Gesindel]: he did not wish 10 share the weIl and
the flame and the fruit with the rabble." (Z II OR)

Further evidence that Nietzsche believes the period ofsolittlde ought 10 he


ttansitory is provided by Zarathustra's description of the "test" he intends to

adminisw 10 bis disciples al the start of Part ID of Thus Spoke zaraJhustra.


Desctibing metaphorically bis "cbilden and companions" as lIeeS, Zarathustra
noies that as moral pedagogue it is bis duty to "uproot" them and
set each one up by itse1f, that it may leam solitude
and defiance and foresigbt [Einsomkeit ••• und Trot<.
und Vorsicht)J Then it shall stand by the sea,
gnarled and twisted and with supple hardness [mit
biegsamer Hlirte], a living lighthouse of
unconquerable life. (Z ID OIB)
This enforced isolation. he explains, is mèant 10 determine wbetber each tree ois of

my kind and my race [meiner Art und Ablaoift)•••" (Ibid.) Only if a patticular tree
passes the test may it move out ofsolitude and enjoy the privüege ofreuniting with
Z8ratb:Jstra, ofbeing bis "companion [Geftihrte] and a fellow-creator and fellow-
rejoicer [Mitsduz.ffender und Miifeiemder].•• - sncb a one as insctibes my will
upon my tablets: for the grearer petfection of aIl tbings.••n (IbûL)
As N'1etzSChe confesses in one ofbis 1886 prefaces· "Wbat 1 again and again

needed most for my cure and self-IeStotation [Selbst-W"lederherstellung] ••• was


the be1ief tbat 1was IlOt thllS iso1ated [rricht dergestll1t einzeln DI sein], not alODe
in seeing as 1 diL n (HAB 1l'zef. 1) He m:alls the time wben he began 10 crave
a nrelatedness and identity in eye and desiresn [V~ und Gleichheit in
Auge und Begienle] with tbose whom he can sbare bis fastidious ways, tbose with
whom he could Iepose "in a tIUSt offriendship_. witbout suspicion or question-
marks ." (Ibid.) -Further on in tbis important preface, Nietzsche comments tbat

othis morbid isolation" [dieser 1crankhoften Veninsamung] on the icy peaks nis

• still a loug road ta tbat tmmendous overfIowiag certainty and bealth _., ta tbat

225
• mature freedom of spirit..." (HAH 1Pref. 4) Zarathustra refers to this type of

maturity in quasi-religions - or al least spiritual- terms: "Now 1 await my

redemption [ErlOSIDlg]," he declares, as he contemplates reestablishing contact


with the rest of humanity,
that 1 may go to them for the last timeJ For 1 want
to go to man once more: 1 want to go under among
them [unter ihnen will ich ll1Itergehen], 1 want to
give them, dying, my richest gift! (Z m ON!.. 3)
We recall that Nietzsche always associates the verb "untergehen" with great hope,
since its literaI JTlI"<!njng, "going under", is equated figuratively with the process of
"killing" one's old self in order to "self-oVeICOme." Le. to reinvent oneselfon a
higher moral-spiritual plane. 1bat Zarathustra should express the desire to "go
under" in this sense in the midst ofothers reveals the great importance of
significant others to Nietzsehe's whole project.
The first step on the road to this mature understanding ofself-overcoming is
foreshadowed by the still-solitaxy Zarathustta upon bis awakening to a "new
tnlth": "Zarathustra shall not speak to the people but to companions [Geflihrten]!
••• The creator seeks companions, not corpses or herds or believers. The creators
seeks fe1low-creators [Die M"rtschaffenden]." (Z Prologue 9) One might pause to

wonder if, in this passage. Nietzsche is not contradieting bis own, repeated
emphasis on the ïndependenœ and self-snfficiency of the creative type. Does this
seaxch for like-rnjnded comradcs not suggest a certain neediness, a dependency
wholly uncharactcrlstic of self-sufliciency? Nietzsche, however, wants to have it
bath ways: individual self-snfficiency and seme form ofC(\rnwmal existence. At

one point he suggeslS, through Zarathustra, that the self-sufficiency bom of


complete isolation is inadequate: The "lonely height" [die einsDme Hohe], as
Zarathustra observes, may not always be "sufficient to itself" [se1bst begnilge] (Z

• m TET 2). This SC"m'ingly paIadoxical notion ofa self-sufliciency requiring the

226
• presence of others is further hinted at in passages likc the following: "What dawns
on philosopbers Iast of all lis that] they must no longer accept concepts as a gift,
nor merely purify and polish them, but fust make and create them, present !hem
and make !hem convincing." (WP 409) Here the emphasis is not only on
innovative, individual concepmaHsing. but also on the importance ofa dialogical
community. the presence of a group ofhigh-minded, receptive, and contentious
interlocutars whom one cao aspire ta convince.
These interlocutars must also be friends. In what follows we will explore

Nietzsche's understanding of friendship. and its importance for a fully flourishing


noblelife.

FrieDdship and the Importance of Giving to Others

According ta Aristotle, of the three different grounds for friendship [philia]-


pleasme, advantage or utility. and good character - the third is by far the best
(N"~ Ethù:s. 11S7a3o-b22). Although aU three axe said ta be
constitutive of the good life, the latter is conside1ed supeàor because it involves a
"sharing ofconversation and thought" amongst virtuous men. rather than a heId-
liJœ"sharing [of] the same pasture." (Ibid., 117Ob12). This highest type of

friendship presupposes "likeness and equality" (l287b3l). SÙ1CC friends ofgood


character "approve of the same things [and] _. find the same things enjoyable or
painfuI." (Ibid., 116Sb27-28) Ourexperience and love ofour own good
characters aIlows us ta rec:ognise and embrace these same quaIities in others.
Aristotle, as AImas norcs, sees the bighest fonn offriendship as a psychological
extension of the highest man's self-love.16


16 "Arlstotle is claiming that wc cao in fad: extend self-love in certain respects,
cao come ta re1aIe ta a friend in some of the ways wc re1aIe ta ourselves. Westart,
as a matterofpsycho1ogical fact, with self-concem; but ft cao, also as a matter of
psychological flet. come ta extend ta others the relevant aspects ofthat concem,
• Nietzsche, as we noted above, approaches Aristotle in bis condescension
towaxds the commiserating "friendship" that =bles mere animalistic huddling
for warmth. He, too, makes a hierarchical distinction between this lower order
5Olidarity, which he sees as pervasive in modem democratic societies, and the
50lidarity ofkindred, noble spirits bound together in equality and virtue. "Are you
a slave?" asks Zarathustra of bis disciples. "If so, you cannot be a friencl. Are
you a tyrant? If 50, you cannot have friends." (Z 1OF) The character defects of
the slave and despot, DOt the least of which aIe their bitter ressentiment and deep
feelings of regret about the past, prevent them from becoming tIlle friends in the
highest sense; they simply do Dot possess what Zarathustra claims the virtuous
man loves most about bis friend: "the undjmmed eye and the glance ofeternity

[das U1Igebrochene Auge und den Blick der Ewigkeit]." (Ibid.)

&cause tIlle friends aIe equally endowed with fine instincts, they œcognise
themselves in the ref1ection ofeach other's nndimmed eye: a friend's face, claims
zarathustra, ois your own face, in a rough and iJ:npelfect mïrror." (Z 1OF) In light

of the difficulty we experience in seeing our own lives clearly and without bias, it
is particularly useful to study ourselves second-band, as it were. embodied in
another good life. As NUssOOIJTn notes in the context of ber discussion of
Aristotle's view offriendship, an cxamination ofgoodness as embodied in our
closest friends "enbances our uncierstanding of our own charactcr and aspirations,
improving self-criticism and shaJ:peningjndgment" (Nussbanm 1986: 364)t7
Blinded as wc aIe by ourpartiality, wc may in fact end up being a greaœrscnuœ

and 50 come 10 care about their good for their own sakes... (ADDas 1993: 254)
ADDas argues fuItberthat Arlstotlc was the only major moral pbilosopber in the
ancient wodd to explain the virtuous person's conc:em for otbers in œrms ofself-
love. In berview,latertbinkers (e.g. theStoics) weremore likdy 10œservethe
notion of self-love for common, se1fish Iegard (Ibid., 262; 288).

• 17 Aristotle puts forwanl bis notion of the bigbest sort of ftiendsbip as a vehicle
for self-discovely in the N"u:mnac1Jean Ethics, 1169b28-1170a4. Sec the
di."C'lssion in ADDas 1993: 251-257.

228
• ofinsight for our friends than for ourselves. As ZarathustIa puts il, "[m]any a one
cannot deliver himself from bis own chaiDs and yet he is bis friend's deliverer." (Z
lOF)
The friend is 50metimes said to he important in another sense as weIl. Like the

sun and every star in the heavens, NIetZsChe suggests that the highest man's
happiness and virtue is dependent upon bis shining on - ie. giving to - others. At
the very beginning of bis adventures, and again near the end of Part IV,
ZarathUStIa gives voice to bis feelings ofkinship with the sun wben he calls out

this message to it: "Great star! What would your happiness [dein Glück] he, if
you had not those for whom you shine!" (Z Prologue 1; Z IV S)18 Just as
ZarathUStIa and bis animaIs bless the sun for its "supedIuity" r()beTjùJJJJ and draw

sttength from il, 50 do lofty men draw sustenance from each others' overflow.
ZarathustIa identifies with the sun from the start; both he and the sun are

"superabundant" [überreiches], requiring others to take in and give back their


energy. Switcbing metaphoIs, but retaining the same idea, Zaratbustra compares
bimselfto a bec that bas gathercd too much honey and needs "bands outst:tetched
to take il." (Z Prologue 1) Until others have experienced bis overflow, he
suggests, he cannot claim to he a human being in the highest sense of the wOtd:
"This cup wants to be empty again, and Zaratbustra wants to he man again [wieder
Mensch werden]." (Ibid.)19 Bence the necessity ofgiving, and of the highest
man's sense ofthankfulness for the pl':scnce of others to give to: "does not the

18 "'Du groBes Gestim! Was wâre dein Gllk:k, wenn du nicht die bllttest.
welchen du IClJc1rt='" The image of the superabundant sun, giving off
"inexhanstible rlches", appeats again in Z IIfONL 3•
.19 Aftcr the Prologue, of courSe, Zaratbustra cames to sec bis earlier generosity
toWards the hem in the JI'IlU'!œtplaœ as misguicIed. xeaJising that Dot just anyone
shou1d he the œcipients ofbis bene1icent overflow. The idea of the necessity of

• giving, however, of the "bestowing vïrtue" [der sc1JenJ:endm Tugend], never


vanishes; what allerS is Zarathustni's heigblPJ1cd sense of disc:riminariOD and
Rangordrumg as he sean:hes for worthier reclpients ofhis generosity.

229
• giver owe thanks to the IeCCiver for IeCCiving? Is giving not a neeessity [Ist
Schenken nkht eine Notdwft]?" (Z mOGL)

The idea that giving to others is essential for the full expression of virtue is

evoked in other metaphors taken from the natural world. Zarathustra confesses
that he feels as compe11ed to shan: with others as the stream that tlows into the sea:

"My impatient love overtlows rJlieftt aber] in torrents down towards morning and
evening. My soul streams into the va1leys out of silent mountains and storms of
grief... How should a stream not find its way to the sea at last!" (Z il CM)
Further on in this same section, he speaks of needing to release a storm cloud-1i1œ
"tension" [die Spannung meiner Wolke], and in Part IV notes rather threateningly
that bis wisdom "bas long collected itself1i1œ a cloud, it is growing stiller and

darker. Thus does every wisdom that sha1l one day give birth to lightnings." (Z
IV OHM 7)'J!J As wc sha1l sec below, Nietzsehe's vision of the "sbaring" needed
between lofty companions is not all sweetDcss and light; there is an important
clement of conflict in a friendship ternpered by aggICSSive "hardncss" towards the
other.
Nietzsche mentions otber ways in wbich the absence offriendship may prove
deleterious to one's moral-spiritual developmenL Too long a period of self-
ilTlp"'S"'d isolation. for example, may render the naso:nt noble so "needy: so
starved for bllman contact that he may ignme the waming from bis discriminaIing
taste and fal1 back into the mediocre companionship from which he C9:aped in the
fiIst pIace. "The solitary," observes zarathustra, "extends bis band tao quickly ta

20 Using yet anotber. but much less aggœssive, metaphor from n3tme, N'JCtzSc1Ic
compares the necd for the higbest man ta give ta others with the mothets necd ta
succor ber cbild: "0 my soul, now you stand superabundant and beavy (ilberreich
und schwerl. a vine with swelling uddeEs and closo-aowed golden-brown wine-
gœpes: 1 opptesscd and weigbted down by your bappiness, eJqleCtant from
abnndanœ (wœtDui 'IIOr 'Obetjlussel- 0 my sou1, 1 understand the smile ofyour

• melancl1oly: your supeœbundancc itself DOW stretebes out longing bands!! Your
ftlDness looks out overIaging scas and searcbes and waits; the longing of over-
fullness gazes out of the smiling beaven ofyour eyes!" (Z m OGL)

230
• anyone he meets." (Z 1OWC) This message is reitcrated in Z m w. when
Zarathustra dcclares that the greatest danger for the solita:ry man is "[l]ove ... love
of any thing if only it is aIive!" Still farther along in the text, Zarathustra refers to
tbis lapse of the instinct for Rtmgordrumg as "the foUy of hermits" [die Einsiedler-

Torheit]. to which he bjmself succumbed in the Prologue, when, after a long

period of solitude, he set out to speak to eVel)'one in the market-place (Z IV OHM


1). In retrospeet, Zarathustra understands that by attempting to speak to eYel)'one,

without distinction, he "spoke to no one." (Ibid.)


Altematively. a life bereft of all friendship may lead to another hermit's foUy:
exccssively morose introspection. "I and Me are always tao earnestiy [zu eifrig] in
conversation with one another." remaries Zarathustra. "[H]ow could it he
endured, if there were not a friend?" (Z 1OF) Here Zarathustra offers a paralle1
hetween bis own, solita:ry selfand the hennit, for whom "there are tao many
deptbs." (Ibid.) Without a friend to engage him in a conversation that would draw
him out ofbimselfand help provide him with a more objective viewpoint,
Zarathustra was in danger of inadvertel1tly developing the humourless. immoderate
moral seriousness that, as we saw in Cbapter II, N"lt'ttSChe ruthlessly mocks and
criticises as a moral flaw. In pro1oDgcd solitude even the most optimistic of spirits
may repeatedly go over past slights and personal fai1ules, tuming bitterly resentful
and lusting seaetly after revenge: "How could a hennit forget? How could he
requite?/ A hennit is like a deep weIL h is easy to tbrow a stone into it; but ifit
sink to the bottom, tell me, who sball fetch it out again?" (Z 1 OAB)21 A sociable
wodd oflively·conversation is infinitely pœferlibIe: "where there js talking, the
world is like a garden to me. How sweet it is, that wonis and sounds of music

21 For another ofNietzsebe·s C;QIilIi IClU3ries on the moroseness that comes with


excessive isolation, sce bis portrait of the unhealthy. withdrawn [Zunïckgezognen]
·slIbljny:man· inZn OSM. ·[O]n1y ifheturns awayfrombjmseIt" suggests
Zarathustra, ·will he jump over bis own sbadow_ He bas sat ail tao long in the
shadows••••

231
• exist are words and music Dot rainbows and seeming bridges between things
etcmal1y separated?" (Z me 2)
Nietzsche does Dot believe, however, that life among one's frieDds is one of
constant bavardage. Paradoxically, just as one needs to flee from the herd in
oroer to overcome 10Deliness, SO ODe requires the company of kindred spirits to
attaïn a healthy, peaceful silence. This insigbt comes to Zarathustra after mODths
and years of self-împosed isolation: "1 have belonged to solitude too long: thus 1
have forgotten how to be silent."2Z (Z II CM) Farther alODg in Zarathustra's
quest, he reiterates this insigbt in the following, ostensibly puzzling passage: "It is
my favourite wickedness and art, that my silence bas leamed DOt to bettay itselfby
silence."23 (Z m OMO) The IIIlItUIe Zarathustra bas leamed, in other words, Dot
to disturb the healthy, exemp1lll.y silence attaïned amoDgst worthy companions by
retteating unwisely into yet another fon:ed silence ofsolitude. The fiIst retreat was
Decessaty, for reasons discussed earlier (Chapters IV-VI); a second would be
inadvisable.
Pezhaps our difficulty in coDceiving ofNietzsche as a theorist offriendship
and commUDÏty stems from our resistance to bis uncompromisingly austete
understanding ofthcse DOlions. One tends to think offriends and comm'mity in
terms ofwarmth, tagethem-ss, the comfort of shaIed rneanings, and the shariDg

ofjoy as well as SOlIOW. While thcse ideas are DOt wholly absent from
Nietzsche's account oflu!JD an solidarity. what stands out, and what he intcods ta
emphasise above aIl, is a barsh, adversarial view that must seem nnpahltable ta
many.24 This is particnJady the case with Iespect ta bis rejection of an forms of
pity, ta which wc DOW tum.

22 "Zu lange gehôrte ich der Einsamkeit so vedernte ich das Schweigen."
23 "Meine liebste Bosheit Jmd Kunst ist es, da8 mcin Schweigcn 1ernte, sich nicht

• durch Schweigcn ZU verraten." -


24 Not SWp1isingly. given bis Bitist adheœDce ta ideas of Rongordnung,
Nietzsche saw its unpaJatability ta popular tastes as evidence of its wisdom.

232
• "Bard" Friendship and the Critique ofPity

In a recent, very Nietzsehean exposition of the cognitive and moral linkages


between sentiments and beliefs. Nussbaum argues that expressions ofpity
presuppose the bellef!bat the suffering of the pitied figure is ofserions magnitude,
and !bat the resulting damage or loss bas 0CClll"led through no fault of bis or ber

own (Nussbaum 1990: 52). Were the contrary were the case, and the damage or
loss was commonly felt to have bee.n the fault of the sufferer. the more likely
reaction ta the suffering would be one ofblame, rather than pity. Nussbaum
argues further !bat pity and its correJ.ate emotions - fear, joy. grief, anger, envy -
aIl have sometbing in common: the ascription of a high value to certain, vulnerable
"extemal goods."

To cherish sometbing, ta ascribe to it a certain high


value, is ta give oneself a basis for the response of
profound joy wben it is present; of fear wben it is
threatened; of grief when it is lost; of anger when
someone eIse damages it; of envy when someone
eIse bas it and you don't; ofpity when someone eIse
loses sucb a thing through no fault of bis or ber
own.•• (Nussbaum, 1987: 141)
Presumably, if our bellefs about the value ofcertain extemal goods were
exposed as misguided and false, and subsequcntly abandoned, these IeSU1ting
emotions wouId vanish. If, for examp1e, 1 were ta abandon a long-standing belief
in the value ofmaterial possessions, 1 wou1d most 1i1œ1y refrain from taking great
pleasure in having them; neither would Ifearlosing tbem, nor bemoan tbeir
sudden Ioss, nor envy those richer in possessions than myself, nor even pity those
who have lost tbeirs through no fault oftheir own. As Nussbamn notes, bath
AIistotle and bis HeIIenistic successOlS in motal philosophy undetstood this


aucial reIaD.onship between emotion and evalualive belle(, and (especia1Iy in the
case of the Epicureans, Stoics, and Sceptics) sought "therapeutica11y" ta alter

233
• emotional patterns indirectly. through philosophical arguments.aimcd 31 debunking
wc1l-entrenched beliefs about the value ofextemal goods (see also Annas, 1993:
246-248).
Nietzsehe's stance is most profitably seen in light of these psychologic:ù
insights of ancient moral philosophy. Successful passage through the thought
experiment ofEtemal Retum entails, for Nietzsche, a rejection of a whole eategory
ofbeliefs that make pity a conceivable and even laudable response to human
suffering. Most general1y. the mature noble type comes to Iepudiate the belief that
vulnerability to fortune is an endemic part of the human condition (31 least as it is
experienced by the highest form ofhuman life). As we noted above, Etemal
Retum xepresents a complete conquest offortune, an intoxieating sense of total
control over one's entire destiny that cao be experienced ooly by the highest
exemplars ofhumanity. Having convînced himself of the omnipotence of bis
own, aeating will, Nietzse1Je's highest man would naturally resist the suggestion
that bad things cao happen to good people (like himself) through DO fault of their

own.
The logic ofthis position suggests that superior human beings must be adverse

to showing pity to kindœd spù:its who are experiencing a period of aisis and
intense sufferlng. Being tteated as an object ofpity would imply vulneœbility to

b3d luck, whicb, for any self-respecting fiee spirit, would be taken as a
concJescending affront to bis dignity. an injuIy to bis pride (cf. zn OC). "To
offer pity." as Nietzscbe remaries in a middle-.period text, "is as good as to offer
contempt." (D 135) The real danger ofpity. he suggests, lies in ilS effect on
n8scent nobles who have yet to break comp1etely fiee of slave morality. The aI1uIe
ofpity. in ilS comforting. tranqnilising indulgence oflnun8n weakness. migbt be
very strong indced for those weary of the sttuggIe and sorely telllpt.cd to backsljde

• from the diffiOJIt, painful qucst for higber moral and spiritual cIcvelopmcnt

234
• (Chapter Vl). Nietzsche considers pity especially iDsidious bccallse its ostensibly

benign, nurlllring face masks a noxious leveling effect, whereby the noble type is
gently but assuredly discouraged from continuing bis upward trek, and (what is
worse) even rewarded for abandoning il. Pity is thus seen as part of the leveling
agenda of hegemonic Christian and post-ehristian slave morality:15 Hence
Nietzsche's insistence that there is no room in the sublime friendship of natural
nobles for the lax sort of "nurlllring" that indulges and excuses moral-spiritual
weakness.26
In colllrast 10 the servile friendship ofindulgence and commiseration,
Nietzsebe counsels "hardness" as a SUIe sign of love between bigher friends.27
The bardness with whicb we treat our loved ODeS, he argues, is first and foremost

a reflection of the st'.ingent standards 10 whicb we bold omselves a.xountabIe.2S


If, as Nietzsebe be1ieVl:li, our refusai 10 "spaIe" ourselves is a manifestation of
self-coucern and self-love, why then should we "spaIe" our loved ones, the

2S Nietzsche shaJ:es Goethe's concem that excessive indulgence ofweakness and


mcdiocrlty is becoming widesptead in the modem age. In the following passage,
Goethe evoIœs the image of the hospital 10 cIescribe the univeIsalisation of this
moraI indulgence: "I fear that _ the wodd will become a large hospital and each
will become the other's bnmane nurse." (LetIer10 Fran von Stein, 8 June, 17F:l,
quoled in Kanfmann 1974: 369) N'letzs! lIe's forebcding evocations of the bospital
mocIe1 may very weIl have been inf1uenced by Goetbe. Sec, forcxamp1e, AC 17.
26 Altbough, as Abbey argues (1994: 144, 157), one finds occasiooa1 hints at a
more positive view ofpity in N'Ieœcbc's middIc period, this line (m my view)
vanishes by the timc of the mature works. Abbey concedes. morcover, that cven
in the middlc period the DOtion of a disaete, sensitive, and rcspectful fcm:n ofpity
8IJKlIIgst the higber. frcc spiritcd types coexists l!!1MS'1y with N"Ieœcbc's more
common association ofpity with softbearted, over-indu1gent commiseration (Ibid..
142-163).
ri NussbanDl notes bow Nietzsche follows the Stoics in this œgmd, who also
werc fond ofusing images ofsoftness and hardness "ta conttast V1ilneIability 10
exœmal conditions with dignified absenœ ofsncb vuInerability._" (Nussbanm
1994: 146) .
28 Nictzscbe be1icves that haIshness 10wards tbe self is a pteeondition for bealth.
"Onc must neverhave spared oneself[nie gesc1umt haben]. harshness [lliirte]
must bc.lllDOllg one's habits, if one is 10 bc happy and checrl'ul among nothing but

• bard ttuths [harten Wahrireiten]." (EH "Books" 3) As ZMathustra puts il, he


who bas always been indulgent [schonend] towards bimself "sickens at last
through bis own indulgence [Schonung]." (Z m W)

23S
• friends who are, as Nietzsche suggests, a mirror-image ofourselves? Dec1aring
that "[w]e do not wish to be spaIed by ..• those whom we love from the very

heart" (Z 1 OWW), Zarathustra proposes that the highest sort of love is that which
splU'S our friends 10 3Chieve their highest potential In serving as "an arrow and a
longing for the Supenna.n" for our friends (Z lOF), we ought 10 conceal our
feelings of pity for them "under a bard shell" rather than indulge in them (Ibid.),
for "all great love ... oven:omes even forgiveness and pity." (Z n OC) Zarathustra
suggests, for example, that wben we wish to give sustenance 10 our suffering
friends, we ought to provide not an oasis of easy respite, but rather "a resting-

-
place Iike a bard bed, acamp-bed: thus you will serve him best." (Ibid.) A "bard"
stance towards our friends, in other words, is in their best interests. however
diflicult it may be 10 mainrain in practice.
The difliculty in being bard with one's friend is similar 10 the difliculty

experienced by the pedagogue who, as we noted in the previous chapter, is


obliged by bis love ofvirtue 10 meœilessly push bis pupils away from their home
communities, and even away from himself, onto solitlUy paths in arder that they
may continue 10 deve10p and grow. In an impoItant sense. N"1elZSChc's idea1-
typical friend aets Iike this afore"lC't!tioned pedagogue: friendship bas a aucial
pedagogical component, as friends push one other progressively harder, hc1ping
each other 10 "pcdsh", i.e. 10 oven:ome thc:mselves and emeIge "reborD" in newer,

ever IDOle advaDced stages of moraI deve1opment.29 Resisting the temptations of


easy sentimentality and mollycoddling. however, is a great challenge. In one's
hardness 10wards one's friend and/or pupil, one might initially think onese1f an
insensitive cad, and ask plaintively, "Wheœ have the tears of my eye and the
bloom of my heart gone?" (Z n NS)

• 29 Zarathustra suggests that only wben life becomes "harder and harder" will
"man grow 10 the height where the lightning cao strike and shatter him..." (Z IV
OHM 6)

236
• We can best steel ourselves to being bard on our friends, and resisting the
heart's tendency to melt at the sight of their suffering. if we remind ourselves of

the probal)le consequeuces of the alternative route: "the bands of pity can under

certain circnmstances introde downright destructively into a great destiny•••" (EH


"WISC" 4) The kind indulgence of the "soft-bearted" [Weichlichenl. believes
NJetzsche. is more likely to tranquilise the friend into wasting. rather!han
aetua1ising, that individual's moral-spiritual potential. It is the "gentlest part" of us
[lias MiIdestel, the part that loves the virtue in our friend, that ought to become

"bard" in refusing to sec it slip a'Mrj without a fight (Z m W). In treating our dear
friends barshly, our gentle, loving side strives to cultiVate in them similar qualities
of harshness so t'ecessary for moral-spiritual épanouissement: "in arder to grow
big, a tree wants to strike bard roots into bard rocks!" (Z mVMS 3)
The cballenging, "hardeIIing" sort of friendsbip jmagined by Nietzsche thus
appears less COIISCDSWÙ !han adversaria1, an uneasy relationship in wbich the
distinction between friend and foe is bluned. Nietzsche is no "c:omrmmitarian"
dreamer of a conflict-free society of equaIs, in wbich stIife is e1jminatee! or reduced
to a minimum through a peacefiJl convergence around commonly-sbamf

understandings.30 Nietzsehean friends me"brotbers in war [Bri1der im Kriegel'"


lit war with each other as much as against a c:ornmon adversary; Z8rathuslra

reminds thelcindled spirits SUItOUDding bim tbatbe is "alsoyourbestenemy [eller

30 Somc version of tbis over-simp!i6ed cbaut",c.isation of "c:omrm'nitarianism" is


~ used tbese days as astraw man by political theotists ofstrikjngly
diffemIt Pmuasions.
•CCriiii'illmtarian'sm
Somc liberal tbeuists. for exarnple, aiticise
1
. • . ".mmgymSCLvcsagaiDStctitiasmso
defend· tI1 • •• • f..... .
'U.IIl;;excess:rve
ll10IDism ofcertain rlghts-based varieties of Iiberalism. P<is1U kldemists, for their
part. castigalr "COQl1DImitariaDs" for 1dkding a supposedly nefarlous tendency
found in all ofWesleID tbought since Plato: an oppressive effort lit starnping out
all confIict and "diifeœnce." Jronically, the caricatural c:cmmmnitarlanism of
hllera1s and poiltIi1OOemists is no more ref1ective of the stance taken by tbat


prototypic:al ·communitarlan,· Arlstotle, tban it is ofNietzsehe Aristotle's clear-
eyed COUDlCnance ofpe.!pelUa1 social and political conflict in even the JOOSt stable
of r6gimes bas recently been bighlighted in an admirable study by Bemani Yack
(1993).

237
• bester Feind)." (Z 1 OWW) "In your friend," he counsels farthcr along, "you
should possess your best enemy. Your heart should feel closest to him when you
oppose him." (Z 1OF) In the final section of Part 1, as he parts from bis disciples
into another long period of therapeutic, self-impow! isolation, zarathustta
suggests that heartfelt intimacy is in no ~ incompatlble with feelings of halred:
the "man oflcnowledge" [Der Mensch der Erkenntnis] "must be able not only to
love bis enemies but also to hale bis friends." (Z 1OBV 3)31 Becanse it is in our
nature as bigber human beings to be "warlike,"32 we must love the friendlenemy

who provides us with the "œsistances" [W"uierst<2nde] needed to maintain our


aggressive. attac:!cjng instincts (EH "WISe" 7).

Notwithstanding Nietzsehe's repudiation of the religious, world-<:alnmniating


asceticism that evinces contempt for the body, the warrior-like "hardness" towards
frlends of wbich he speaks affirms a different type of asceticism, one that is meant
to serve as an altemative to DlII1'OW, exclusively materialistic conceptions of the
good life.33 As we noted in Chapter DI. Nietzsche thinks it "nnna h Jra1" for human
beings to limit their strivings to mere self-preservarlon and maIerial comfort; such a
life, he tells us, Jœeps us at the level of the leSt of the anima' world and betrays our

31 "[N]icht nur seine Feinde lieben, sondern auch seine Freunde hassen klSnnen."
Hate, but DOt despise; as we have a1Ieady seen and shal1 explcxe in further detail in
Chapter X. Niettsehe insists that the most sublime man must œserve contempt
(Venu:hten) for bis inferiors. Halxed, by contrast, expresses in Nietzsehe's view a
grodging admiration for one who is equal in statuIe. Sec GM LlO: "How much
reveœnce [E1ujiadJt] bas a noble man for bis eneTDies! - and such Jeverenœ is a
bridge to love... For he desiJes bis enemy for bimself. as bis mark ofdistinction
[ais seine Auszeichnung]._"
32 Following Nietzsche's self-understandïng as a bigber sort ofhuman being: "I
am by nature wm:IiIœ [lch bill meiner Art JIlJCh 1aiegerisch]." (EH"'W'ISe" 7)
33 Niettsehe UDhesitatingly involœs the teml "asceticism" in describing bis OWD
position. Sec, for e,Tample, GM m.27: "Unconditional honest atheism (and ils is
the 0n1y air we bJeathe, we mme spiritual DICD of this age!) is therefcxe 1IOt the
"rd il' <sis of [the ascetic] ideal, as it appeaIS to he; it is rather only one of the 1atest
phases ofits evolution..." Cf. BGE 61: "asceticism and pnritanism are virtually

• jndispeœable means of edncatiQD and ennobling [~gs- und


Ve-llungsmittel] if a race wants to bccowe masterover its origins in the Iabble,
and wOIk its ~ up towards future rule [einstnraligen Herrschaft]."

238
• highcr. more noble potentiality. Hence Zarathustra's claim that our virtue bas nits
origin and beginning" in the contempt for the easy Iife, "the soft bed and what is

pleasant [dos Angenehme]" (Z 1OBV 1). "the land wherc butter and honey-
flow!" (Z m W) Nietzsche counsels "a moderate poverty; and dcems the
endurance of poverty ta be one of the characteristics of nobility (WP 943). because
he feels.1ike many motalists in the Western philosophical tradition before him.

that the temptations of a Iife of "pitiable comfort" axe diminished when one is

habituated to a modest Iifestyle. As expœssed by Zarathustra in one ofhis


homilies. "he who possesses litt1e is so much less possessed' praised he a
modcrate poverty!" (Z 1ON1)34 Nietzsche's call ta flee from herd society is often
reminiscent of the civic bnmanist repudiatîon ofbig city Iife as irreparably COlIUpt,
a place for nunpant malerialism and disreputable charactertypes including. among
others, the complacent, "well-fed famous philosophexs" (Z n OFP).
We DOW see why N'lCtZSCbe shuns the idea that a "soft" sentiTlll'Jlt Iike pity
should he desirable in a friendship ofsuperior men. One might suppose.
however. that he might allow for noble e.xpxessioGS ofpity directed
paternalistically or condescendiDgly al inferioIs; lifter an. why should DOt the one
impervious ta fomme pity the suffedng. common sort who cannot help but he
crushed by misfortune? As it tums out, however. N'1ClZSCbe mgues the contrary.
Pity of all sorts, he insists. is most unworthy of the noble scnsibility; those who

34 Cf. Z m OMO. whereZarathustra claims that ft a meagre bed warms me more


tban an opulent one.: and admits that his rejection of opulence is a DCCC ssery part
of avoiding contact with the vu1gar: "Let them he4rme cbattr:ring and sighing
with winter co1cL Wlth such sighing and chattr:ring have 1 CS' aped tbeir heated
rooms.ft In GM ms. Nietzsche again invoJœs the idea that -œ who possesses is
possessedft. c:aJJjng it the motto of the truc philosopher. He then mentions,
however. that the philosopher h:llds ta this maxim DOt out of ftvirtue," ie. Dot out
of "a llitvleble will ta contentrnent and simplicity." but ratber "becanse tbeir
S'llpIeme lord demant!s this oftbem. prudently and incxorably_" Hele again


Nietzsebe tteats the tl:lm "viItue" pej~y. associating it with slave moraIity
and the self-conscious. artificial, thealIical attempt ta fIaunt OQC's merits in the
public sphere.. A.uthentic virtue, in this COD!P.Xt, œfuses the name, appearing as a
more natuIa1, visëeraI compulsion. Sec Cllapter TI.

239
• readily indulge in it do 50 out out ofan inner, spiritual poverty, a nced ta boIster
their shaky sense of self-worth through ostentatious displays of their compassion

and philanthropy in the public sphere. Pity, moreover, represents a base,


dishonest forro of will ta power, as these same. contemplible philanthropists
secretIy and lasciviously exult in their power over the objects of their charity, even

as they profess "disinterested" motives (cf. Chapter V). In 50 doing, they actually
increase the amount ofsuffering i:l. the worlel. theIeby contradicting their avowed

intentions. As Zarathustra puts il. "what in the wodd bas caused more suffering
than the follies of the compassionate?" (lbïd.)35

A more appropriate response ta those crushed by misfortune. in Nietzsebe's


view, is that of sbatne. One ought to fee! shame al witnessïng a painfully obvious
inabiIity ta tum aIl misfortune ta one's advantage by "willing" it retrospectively.
In the face of such vulnerability and weakness of will. it is ooly right for the
virtuous noble ta feel s1vIlD~~ like the sbatne Zarathustra experiences wben tirst
exposed ta the "ugliest man" (Z IV UM). By the same token. Nietzsche finds the
absence of shame befote such a cIear example ofundignified and degradïng
behaviour unconscionable, and a sign ofbad cbaracter. The "Shadow" cbaracter
ofZ IV S seems ta sense bis moral inadcquacy in this mea wben he laments,
.'Alas, where have aIl my goodness and shame and belief in the good tledl'"

Hele Ni~ is directly in line with the virtue etbics tradition and its

recognition of a vice known as "sbamelessness; a Iack of shame in situaliollS, like


the one mentioned above. where we think a good man OIIght ta feel sbame 36 In

3S In Chapter X 1 sball disclJss yet another Ie8SOn for Nietzsche'; refusai ta


COImtenance expœssions of pity taWllld iDferiors: bis desiIe ta maintain caste
distinctions by pteventing the formation ofsentimental bonds between "bigher"
and "Iower" ordeIs.
36 SeeAristotle'sRhetoric 1383bl4-16, bisEudemianEthics 1221al and


1233b23-28, and Nussbsmm's discussion in 1980: 399. See aIso Williams' very
useful discussiOn of ancient Greek notions of shame in Williams 1993, As
always. Nietzsche's position is complicatc04 by bis propeosity for distinguishing
betweea admirable and disIeputable versions of the same concept. feeling., or

240
• the presence of pathctic individuals 1ike the so-called "bigher men" of part IV of

Thus Spoke Zorathustra, those suffering creatures who yeam to be "spared"

«<geschont» werde] (Z IV G) and who plead for mollycodd1ing and "more

comfortable beds" (Z IV OHM 6), the embaIIassed blush and the averted eye,
rather than the eager expression ofinterested curiosity, are considered appropriate

and praiseworthy. One of Zarathustra's criticisms of "the compassionate who are


happy in their compassion" is that they are "too lacking in shame (Scham]." (Ibid.)
He also suggests that excessive involvement in charitable giving amongst the
needy and vulnerable may "normalise" in one's eyes repugnant, debased
behaviour that ought to he shunned: "the danger for him who always gives, is that
he may lose bis shame.•." (Z il NS)

The Prospect for CommUDity: Despair, Hope, and Anxiety

The likeIihood of aetually meeting and living with friends of the sort described
above seems al limes 50 remoœ and improbable that Nietzsche is moved on
occasion to great despair, invoking language clearly suggesting that the life of the
free spirit, for all bis efforts al finding meaningful contact with lilœ-minded others,

is one of unending iso1alion and suffering. In bis gloomiest periods, Nietzsche


toys with the idea tbat noble seIf-sufficiency means in effec:t that all c:realive types

are completely seIf-contained soun:es oflight "1 live in my own light, 1drink
back into myself the flames that break from me..." (Z il NS) Cleative beings, in

this sedion, appeardoomed to iso1aliOD from otherprodncers of meaning and

practice. In this case, N"JelzsCbe distinguishes this healthy,lalldab'e sense of


shame with the "stupid shame" [durnme Scham] typically cultivated in herd
societies and aimed al stifling independeDt thought and actiOD (Z IV AI). When

.'
Zaratbustra decIares ta bis disc::iples, "You must become a child and without
sharnc •." (Z il SB), and when he appeals ta warrior types like bimself Dot ta he
asharnc:il oftheir batred (Z 1OWW), he is attacking this second, c:onfoanist sttain
ofsharnc.

241
• values: "Many suns circle in empty space: 10 aIl that is dark they speak with their
light - to me they are silent." (Ibid.)
Here Zarathustra speaks not ooly of inaccessibility. but also of mutual
hostility. of the "enmity oflight [die Feindschaft des Lichts] 10wards what gives
light... Unjust towards the light-giver in its inmost heart, cold towards suns
[UnbiUig gegen Leuchtendes im tiefsten Herzen. kalt gegen Sonnen]- thus travels
every sun." (Ibid.) The sun-like producers of light and meaning may indeed find
human contact, but of a strictly noxious kind; they seem to connect ooly with "aIl
that is dark," i.e. inferior types who. unable to produce light for themse1ves,

parasitically feed off of their light: "Oh, it is ooly you, obscure, dark ones, who
extraet warmth from light-givers! Oh, ooly you drink milk and comfOIt from the

udders of light!" (Ibid.) In Nietzsche's experlence. it seems that the


communication most easily attained is instrumental in nature, aiming at the
exploitation of the best and most creative by the unproductive, "drone" population.
Communication amongst the very best exemplars ofhumanity often strikes
Nietzsche as problematic at best. "Every soul is a world ofits own," notes
Zarathustra, stressing the gteat complexity and singularity ofour inner lives; and

among those "most alike" in tbis complexity. "the sma1Jest gap is the most djflicult

10 bridge." (Z mC 2) As illustrated in aNachlass fragment entitled "What is


noble?". Nietzsche deems it a sign of nobility 10 doubt profuundly the possibility
of "commnnicability of the heart." (WP 943)37
In comhatting the pessimism that tbIeatens 10 overwhc1m him from timc-to-
time, Nietzsche puts on a brave face; indecd. bis own doctrine ofEtcmal Retum of

the Same, which rejecls in principle any nolion of misfortun€ beyond our control,

compe1s him 10 imaginarively transfom1 ail miserable lonelincss into a source of


sttength. Henee bis occasional (and not always convincing) clenials that the

37 "Unser Zweifel an der Mittheilbarlœit des Herzens geht in die TIefe..."

242
• absence of durable companiollShip in bis life bas bad any negative impact: he
claims. for cxample, that bis Jack of "adequale company" [vueit:herukr
Gesellschaft] "exists today as it bas aiways existed without pIeventing me from
being brave and cheerful [heiter und tapfer]." (EH "Oever" 2) The
disingenuousness of this statement is exposed further on in Ecce Homo, when
Nietzsche momentarily forgets bis supposedly "cheerful" demeanour and oft-stated
conr.:mpt for recognition in comp1aining about bis colIl?lete Jack ofdefenders on
the German intellectual scene: "'l'en years: and no one in Germany bas made it a
question ofconscience to defend my Dame againt the absuId silence under which it
bas Iain buried.••" (EH "CW" 4) It is difficult 10 detect invulnerability and cheer in

a plaintive cris de coeur like the following: "where may 1 look with any kind of
hope for my kind of philosopher himself, at the least for my need [meinem
BediirftùJIj of new philosophers?" (WP 464)

Having difficulty in finding meaningful collDeCtions with real people in the real
world, Nietzsche demonstrates bis psychic need for comradeship by creating
idealjsffl friends in bis imagination. Zlltathustra counsels bis disciples 10 follow
this route, dœming it pteferable 10 "create your friend and bis ovedlowing heart
out ofyourselves" [euren Freund und sein iiberwalkndes Hen schaffen) rather
than "endure _. any kind ofneïghbour•••" (Z 1OLN) Zarathustra's rnJ!sings

about suitable companions becomes positively utopian at times; in Z n OLC, for

example, imagery from Hesïod's Worb and Days is evoked 10 pottlay bis
sought-after "chi1dren's land, the undiscoven:d land in the furthest sca..."38 Later
this vision n:emerges as one of "the distant futme, which no dIeam bas yet seen,

in10 warmer Souths !han artists bave ever dreamed of, theœ whele gods, dancing,

• 38 In Hesiod's Worb andDays. the fourth age of Man sees a "divine race of
Heroes". "juster and nobler". fashioned by Zeus, living a life apart from other
men, at the ends of the Earth.

243
• are ashamed ofall clothes..." (Ill ONL 2) In a preface from 1887. Nietzsche
unhesitatinglyadmits ta the fanciful origins of "companions" such as these:
Thus when 1 needed to 1 once aIso invented for
myself the 'free spirits' ta whom this melancholy-
vallant book •.• is dedieated: 'free spirits' of this
kind do not exist, did not exist - but ... 1 had need
of them al that timc if 1 was ta keep in good spirits
while surrounded by ills (sickness. solitude.
unfamiliar places. acedia. inactivity): as brave
companions and familiars with whom one can laugh
and chatter when one feels like laughing and
chattering. and whom one can send to the Devil
when they hecome tedious - as compensation for the
friends 1 lacked. (HAH 1 Pret: 2)
The imaginative creation offictitious friends is undeniably one of Nietzsche's

central strategies in combating his depressive loneliness. Given Nietzsehe's


central commitment to a this-worldly orientation, however. it would he surprising
if this were his ooly stIategy. As it tums out, Nietzsche envisions another.
creative means ofseeking out "companiODS [Gqèihrten] and childten ofhis hope"
(Z mom) which involves construction not of a fantasy. but of Ie3l world fellow-

trave1ers. Notwithstanding bis occasional bouts of pessimism, Nietzsche never


abandons bis be1iefthat the "raw material" for worthy friCilds and companions can
still he found in the modern world. Real, flesh-and-blood companions. as distinct
from imaginmy friends, are in the offing:

Thal free spirits of this kind could one day exist,


that our Europe wiU have such active and audacious
fellows among its sons of 1Omorrow and the next
day. physically present and palpable and not, as in
my case. merely phantoms and hermit's
phantasmagoria: 1 should wish to he the 1ast 10
doubt il. 1 sec them already coming. slowly.
slowly••• (HAH 1 Pref. 2) .
Such bopeful enthnsiasm for the appearance of "choice intelligences [ausge:ruchte
Intelligenzen] of proved character" (EH "Books" 2) is reflected in the musings of

• N'Ietzscbe's literaIy creation. "The earth." dccIares zarathustra, "still remains ûee
for great souls. Many places - the odour oftranquil seas blowing about them - are

244
• stil1 empty for solitaries and solitaxy couples [Einsame und Zweisame]." (Z 1ONI)
With the proper guidance and nurturing of these initially margina1 individuals. nit
will Dot be long before new peoples [neue Volker] shall arise and new springs rush

down inta new depths." (Z m ONL 25)39


"From DOW on," announces Nietzsche in EH "BGE" l, "all my writings are
fish-hooks." Nietzsche, as we bave a1ready seen, follows ebrist's example in
seeing himself as a "fisber of men" (Chapter V1). And like alI good fishetmeD, he
knows that patience is a viInJe. Z3rathustra identifies patience as one of the "fine
arts" of the noblest man,40 and strives for a balance between, on the one band, the
unrealistic, foolish optimism that foresees a quick completion of the task at band,
and defeatist pessimism on the other: ""But 1 and my destiny - we do DOt speak to
Today, neither do we speak ta the Never: we bave patience and lime and more than
lime. For it must come one day and may Dot pass by." (Z IV HO) Nietzsche
notes that bis Zaratbustra is stilllooking for tbose "ta whom one ought ta
communiC8te oneself." and cautions that "he will bave ta look for a long lime yet!"
(EH "Books" 4) Tbe project oflJrcoMing of a "beantiful new race" [neuen schOnen

Art] may take a generalion or IDOle ta ("Jme ta fruition: Z3rathustta suggests ta bis

friends that although tbey migbt Dot be able ta create the Obermensch, "you could
uansform yoursel.ves Ï:1ta foœfatbexs and ancestors [Viitem und Vorfahren] of the
Superman: let this be your finest creating!" (Z II OBI)41

39 1bat Nietzsche identifies the "mw material" of the noble cultmal arder of the
futme with the maIginaliSC'd of COIIlempOIaIy, mainstleam society is illustratcd
elsewhcre in 7'htIs SpoJ:e Zomthustra: "Yoo solitaties oftoday, yoo who bave
seceded from society [ihr.AILrsc:heidmde], yoo shall one day be a:people rein
Volk sein]: from you, who bave chosen out yoursel.vcs, shall a chosen people rein
ausuwi1hlIes Volk] spring - and from this chosen people, the SupemJan." (Z 1
OBV2)
40 "[T]o leam ta love onesclfis no commandment for today or for tomorrow.
Ratber is this art the finest, subt1est, nltimatr:, and most patient of ail [von al1en

• KilMendiesediefeinste, listigste, lœJeundgeduldsamste]." (ZmOSG2)


41 See also Zarathustra's WO!ds ta the much flawed, so-called "higber men":
"From yoursced tbere may one day grow for me a genuine son and perlèct heir

245
• Nietzsche is greatly concerne<!, however. that bis painstaking fishing
expedition, bis "slow search for those related ta [him]" [der langsame Umbück
nach Verwandten] (EH "BGE" 1). may ultimately be undermined by the

wichecked, growing hegemony of slave morality in Europe. As early as 1878.

Nietzsche was darldy prognosticating that "our civilisation [Zivilisation] is tuming


into a new baIbarism reine neue Barbareij" (HAH 1 285). and maintained ioto bis
mature period bis concern that slave morality will become so pervasive as to uttcrly

overwhelm. those with high potential (who. in virtue ofliving in modem European
civilisation, are aiready suffering the perverse effects of false consciousness). If
measures are not taken to shield these individuals from the general cultural decline,
the emergence of a new. modem nobility - and thus a set ofworthy companioos
for Nierzsche - will tragically be aborted. The time ta set in defence ofthis futuIe
nobility. believes Nietzsche, is now; whereas the soil of hnmanity may still be
"rich enough" for the cultivatiOIl of a master ethos, "one day" saon it will become

too "poor and weak." for such a task (Z Prologue 5). This "one day," if 3ll0wed ta
happen, will be that of the complete triumph of the "last man," the pathetic excuse

of a bnman being whose existence represents the eclipse ofhumanity's highest,


finest capacities. Zarathustra raises the posst'bility tha1 "the mob could one day
become master" [es kOnnte einmal konrmen, dojJ der PiJbel Herr wilnle] (Z m
ONL 11), but bis use of the conditional tense indieates that Nietzsche does DOt
believe this ta be a foregone conclusion. Envisioning an escape from this
nightmarish scenerio, Nietzsche offels a new sort of"good news" rfroher
Botsehafter], but contraly ta the usua1, Christian understanding ofthis te1m,42 bis
good tidings are aimed not at the fonnation of a Dew religious cult, but rather at

• rein echIu SolIn und vollkommener EThe]: but tha1 is far ahead. You yourselves
are DOt those ta whommy heritage [Erbgut] and name belong." (Z IV G)
42 "Die Frohe Botsehaft" is the Ge! QIan, Lutheran expression for the Gospels.
• unprecedented, "prescribable patbs of culture" [vorzuschreibende Wege der
Kultur] (EH '"IT' 2).

1 argued above tbat Nietzsche posits the notion ofEtemal Retum of the SaIne
as a sort of thought experiment tbat represents, in effect, a watershed in the
superior human being's self-overcoming. An unconditional embrace of the
"results" of this experiment - which would involve acccding ta a hypothetical,
infinite repetition of all ofone's past experiences, including the most unpleasant
and painful ones - is put forward as a precondition for the superior individual's
future moral-spiritual development. We noted tbat saying "yeso ta life in this

sense nccd Dot entai! abandoning NielZsche's insist.ence on the need ta discriminate
between admirable and contemptJ."ble modes ofhuman existence On the contrnzy.
heartfdt adheœnce ta the results of this thought experiment simply entails
acknowlcilging the instrumental necessity of the ugliness in the wood - including
the ugliness of the lowly. contemptz"ble lunnan being - ta the process of the highest

man's self-overcoming.
By acx:eding in principle and with enthnsia sm ta this fictive repetition, the
highest man tbereby emancipates himselfimaginatively from the tyranny of
Chance. In saying "yes" ta ail of existence. he bas stlcceeded, in othe!' words, in
œtroactively "chosing" ail tbat bas been and is, in bringing ail past events under
the hegemony ofhis omnipotent will Unlikc the mediocre masses, who remain

the impoœnt, passive viClims of arbitœy misfortune and thus remain full ofregxet

and resentmeDt, the higbest man of the post-Etemal Retum perlod ensures tbat the
e:ategoIy of"misfornme" cau never again be applied ta him. Sïnce he bas


conviDced himselfthrough this imaginative conjUIing aet that henœf01th nothing is
out ofhis control, he becomes (at least in Nietzsehe's view) inwJnerable. The

247
• good Iife is thus portrayed as solely dependent on human effort, owing nothing to
factors outside of our agency (these factors are, for the highest human being.
nonexistent). Nietzsche theIeby links up with (and markedly radicalises) a
powerful strain ofancient and Renaissance moral philosophy, which gives pride
of place 10 the notion of the virtuous man's invulnerability.
Nietzsche's stress on invulnerability and se1f-sufficiency sits uneasily,
however, with bis view of the importance of friendship to the Iife of bis imagined
highest men. Notwithstanding the commonly-held view that Nietzsche propounds
a type of radical individualism (the free spirit as "Ione wolf'), 1hold thatbis
undeniable praise ofsolitude and flight from the herd commnnity is mitigated by
bis insistence that solitude should only be a temporaI)' phase, a period of se1f-

cleansing that prepares the "purified" superior being for new, higher sorts of
human solidarity. We bave èyamined, moœover, Nietzsehe's view that (bis
conception of) friendship is positiveiy essential for the full flourishing of the
highest human being. In effect, he believes that meaningful exchange with others
ofsimilar stature and mind is essential for the emergence ofindividual creativity.
For such "exchange" to bave this effect, it must, however, depart from our
common-seuse ideas that friendship involves commiseration in the face of the
others suffering. Amongst superior types of men, friendship is "baId", and
sometimes even adversarial. To pity one's friend is, in Nietzsehe's eyes, 10 insult
him. The act ofpity involves, for him, the implicit beliefthat the persan who is

pitied bas come upon bis suffering through misfortune; and as we bave seen,
Nietzsche is convinced that superior hmnan beings, at 1east at the peak of their
deve1opment, are impervious 10 Fortune. The point of such lofty friendship is not
10 commiserate, thereby bowing before Fortune's power, but rather 10 he1p the


. other strive for bis highest potential, and overthrow Fortune's hold on bis Iife.

248
• This sort of friendship might therefore sooner entail a swift kick in the posterior
rather than more comforting gestures.

Furthermore, we noted that despite Nietzsche's occasional, brooding lapses


into despair, he never abandoned bis hope at the prospect of finding friendship of

this sort in bis lifetime. Indeed, 1believe that bis writings show a strong
commitment not to passively waiting about for the appearance ofsuch friends, but
rather to an aetivism aimed at making a veritable community offriends happen.

This is the key to understanding the essentially political nature of bis project.
Nietzsche wants Europe's scattered master types to come together into new forms
ofcommunity that would serve as propitious "breeding grounds" for the next
generation ofexemplaty human beings that would lead Europe into a cultural
renaissance. 1bat this vision, which involves some very frank allusions to
eugenic experimentation, is eminently political in nature bas been tien:ely contested
in the seconda1y literature. Our next chapter is devoted to an exarnination of a

number of popular "anti-political" or "apolitical" readings ofNietzsche. and


through a detailed exploration of the relevant texts will argue that Nietzsche should
indeed be looked at as a political tbinker•

• 249
• Chanter ym: Njetroçbe's Will to Po)ltics

Nletzsche's AIIeged Anti·Political Strain

Many of Nletzsche's contemporary interpreters seem particularly adverse to


exploring the unavoidable political implications of Nletzsche's aspirations for the
highest type ofhuman being. For SOUle, the form and content of a transfigured life
along Nletzsehean lines are either too complicated or too ethereal to warrant a
serious political reading. Strong, for example, insists that while the author of
Beyond Good and Evil bas in mind a "transformation of the whole person," the
transformative picture that emerges is "so complex as to defy ••• all attempts" at
description in concrete political terms (Strong 1988: 287; 292). For others, the
problem is not one ofcomplexity, but rather over-simplification: Nietzsche, in this
view, offers us hardly any content al an. evincing an impoverished conception of
the political. In this spirit Schacht suggests that Nietzsche never !noves beyond the
level of vague generalities in slœtehing bis pictw:e of a brighter futuIe for humanity:
The 'goal' of which Nietzsche speaks ••• is to be
conceived in terms of the ideas of what he calls 'Iife
raised to the highest degree ofpoteney' [WP 899] •..
Although Nietzsche speculates a good dea1 on the
topic, he is far from confident that it cao be
ascertained how this enhancement of life cao be
brought about. (Scbacht 1983: 381)
Similarly, Wù1iams concludes that Nietzsche possesses no "coherent set of
opinions about the ways in which power should be exercised in modem societies,
with what limitations and 10 what encls." (WiJljams 1993: 10-1) Nietzsche, he
claims, provides no way ofrelaring bis ethical and psychological insights 10 an

intelligible account of modem society - a failing only thinly concealed by the


impression he gives ofhaving thou8hts about modem politics that are determinate

• but tem"ble. (Ibid.)

250
• Often this supposee! failure is attributed ta an uncompromising hostility towards

evcrything politicaL Even Berlcowitz, who mounts an otherwise ttenchant critique


of the new orthodoxy. falls inta line with the pIedominant view by insisting that
Nietzsche rutblessly denigrates politicallife. NJetzsche. he claims, denies that "the
good is intrinsically connected ta any political regime, [or] system of •.. personal
relations." (Berlcowitz 1995: 2)1 For proponents of the new orthodoxy iike
Nehamas and Blondel, the emancipatOty element in Nietzsche is understood in
terms of an escape from politics (as well as from ethîcs). To suggesl the contraIy.
Le. that a political project cao be unearthed from Nietzsche's texts, is ta trample
underfoot "the multiple and innocent nature of the object itselt:" (Blondel 1991: 6)
Indeed. to suggest that there is something real beneath the surface appearances of
Nietzsehe's thought is tantamount ta engaging in "the imperialism ofa forced
synthesis", a form of "verbal violence" (Ibid., 5).2

This apolitical view seems at first gIance ta be bome out by Nietzsehe's many

deprecatoty remaries about the politics ofhis day and his related self-desctiption as
a thinker who is "abovc" politics (e.g. BT Preface; AC Preface). As is well

1 1 should add, however, that Berkowitz dues not thereby conclude that Nietzsche
bas nothing ta contribute ta political philosophy. He rightly notes that "[b]y
starting from an analysis ofwhat bnrnan beings desire and what is desiIable for a
human being, Nietzsche moves within the domain of moral and political
philosophy." (Berkowitz 1995: 2)
2 This sort of gross 0VCJ:StaICDIent and hypetbole are charadcristic of this
ostenst1>ly "postmodern" commentary, in which violent, rni1itaristic metaphors are
routineJy invoked as aJhetmical devices aimed at associaring all opposition ta the
author's positbn with the daIk imagery offascistic oppression. Se1f-declared
postmodemist conttibotors ta this cIebate over the political status ofNietzscbe's
thought are all-too ready ta take these questionable tlights of rltetorlc. At one point
in Connolly's ~ book, for enmpl.e, he places the innocuous academics who
criticise him in the same camp as virulent racists: bath types of people, he insists,
rely on identities "that must de1ine what deviates from them as intrinsically evil (or
one ofits modem surrogates) in order ta establish their own self-certainty••."
(1991: 14-15) In Connolly'seyes, apparently, allassertioDS ofopinion different


from his own are ïnherently dangeruus, oppressive, and potentially violent. The
ovel"'stetiJhetorlc is unfortuDate, as itserves todebase the coinage ofthe language
used ta describe violation and annexatïoD, which should be œserved for acts of real
violence and coen:ion.

251
• known, Nietzsche derides the "long-drawn-<lut comedy of [Europe's] petty states
and the divided will of ils dynasties and democracies" (BGE 251), and throughout
bis cmeer casts scomful glances at modem nationalism,3 imperialist pretensions,4
and the "new idol" of the herd, that "coldest of all cold monsters," the bureaucratic
state (Z ION!). It is easy to take these aiticisms of"petty politics" [kleinen Poütik]

to mean that Nietzsche viewed all politics as petty, assimilable to herd-like

behaviour, and beneath bis dignity.


The anti-political reading is further buttressed by a Il3II'OW interpretation of

Nietzsche's avowed aestheticism. As Nussbaum accurately observes, Nietzsche's


remarks about existence beingjustified only as an aesthetic phenomenon (e.g. BT
S, 24; GS lem are most often "taken to imply some sort of amoral aestheticizing of
existence, a playful overturning of all moral and political categories in the name of
detached aesthetic values." (Nussbaum 1991: 101) Most of the secondary
literature, in other words, assnmes that Nietzsche's emphasis on the eultivation of
the individual as artist is somehow incompab."ble with a concem for social and

political projects. The toDe, once again, is set by the ever-influential Kanfmann,
who claims that Nietzsche
W2S not primarlly a moral philosopher at all... He
was concemed with the artist, the philosopher. and
those who achieve self-perfection... Particular
actions seemed much less important to Nietzsche
than the state ofbeing of the whole man - and those
who achieve self-perfection and affirm their own
being and all etemity. backward and foreward, have
no thought of the IIlOI1'OW. (Kanfmann 1974: 322)

3 In a 1ate passage, N'1etzscbe refers to European nationalist movemenls in terms of


a "nevrose 1IDtkmtJle with which Europe is sicle. [an] etemalizing of the petty-state
situation of Europe. of pelty politics..." [der Kleinstluzterei Europas, der kleinen
Politik] (EH"CW" 2)
4 Nietzsche equates the "pompous" Gennan effort at founding an empire with "the
transition to mediocrity. democracy and 'modem ideas·•••" (BT "Attempt" 6) In


one ofbis many other stabs at the Bismarckian Reich, Nietzsche declares that
"[t]here is no more vicions misundeIstanding than to believe that the Germans'
great success in arms could demonstIatc anything in favour of this eulture..." (EH
"UM" 1)

252
• Thus. he conc1udcs, the author of zaratlwstra "does not write to endorse a cour"e
of actiOI:"; bis "primaly concem is not with particular actions." (Ibid.. 248. 325)
Kanfmann's narrow understanding of Nietzsehe's aestheticism is reproduced in
nwnerous studies of more recent vintage. For Nehamas. Nietzsche's "aesthetic
attitude toward life" implies a strictly individual project ofself-realisation. a

"tum[ing] to oneself in arder to make one's life valuable without c1ai ming that one's
particular method for accompIishing this end should. or even could. be followed by

others." (Nehamas 1985: 136-7)5 Honig echoes this view ofNietzsehe as navel-
gazing self-actmiliser. insisting that the Nietzschean tJbermensch "exercises bis will
to power primarily (even solely) 01: hirnself and not on others_. [TJbe matter with

which the Nietzschean artist woIks is the raw matter ofself." (1993a: 231)
For Nietzsche, however. there is no contradiction between the aesthetic on the
one band and the ethical or the political on the other. Even when speaking of "art"
in the conventional.limited sense. as a ciJ:cumsaibed dom.'lÏIl or endeavour (as in
les beaux arts). Nietzsche insists that "art" is in no way isolated from broader
questions of power and ethicaljudgement. He claims that when one looks al art
"u.:.der the lens ofEfe." (BT "Attempt" 2) one sees thatitis farfrom that
"disinterested" realm posited in the aesthetic theories of Kant and Schopenhauer.

Artists, in Nietzsehe's view. are engaged in an eminently ethical endeavour. in that

their art involves an implicit practice of ranking ofditferent types ofbnman

existence: "'what does ail art do? does it not praise? glorify? choose? prefer'l" (TI
EUM 24) In taking a stand about the best sort ofbl!JDan life, art moves us not into
a disengaged contemplation of the Beautiful, as in the Kantian aesthelic tradition.
but zather towards discriminaring, practïcaljudgements about hUlIllll1 flourlsbing. It

• 5 As noted in Cbapter 1. Nebamas identifies this attitude with "moral


perspectivism." (Nehamas 1985: 137)

253
• is this sort ofjudgement, as a manifestation of will to power,6 that Nietzsche deems
beautifuI. and that he sees as constituting the beauty in art: "When power [die
Macht] grows gracious and descends into the visible: 1calI such descending beauty
[Schiinheit]." (Z n OSM)7 Zarathustra elsewbere reinforces this linkage between

artistic activity (narrowly conceivecl) and power and domination when he points to
the existence of a basic. underlying "battle and inequality and war for power and
predominance" among alI things. "even in beauty." (Z fi OT)s
For Nietzsche, however. the intimate relationship between aesthetics, ethics,
and will to power runs even deeper. Not only does he see the ci1'l:umscribed realm
of "art" as a practical-normalive endeavour. he often posits the aesthetic realm as a
whole in a much broader sense, inc1uding within its boundarles any form ofbold,
original creativity. Nietzsche repeatedly invl'kes the notion of the "artist" to
describe any admirably action~ented, productive life that transcends the
boundaries of art, nan:owly conceived. Artists [Künstler]. liS he notes in the
Nachlass. are a "productive" fproduktiv] species-type "to the extent that they
aetnally alter and transform [veriinde~ und W1!fonnen]..." (WP 585a)9 The
problem with most artists. however. is that their creative prowess "comes 10 an end

6 Recall our discussion in Chapter n ofNletZSCbe's insistencethat all normaiive


judgements are manifestatioos of the judge's will 10 power.
7 "Wenn die Macht gnlidig wird und he!abkomlDt ins Sichtbare: Schônheit heiBe
ich solches He:œbkommen "
8 "Da8 KaI!lPfund Ungleiches auch noch in der SclKlnheit sei, und Krieg um
Macht und Obermacht.:" A striking passage further on in this same section,
involving an anthropolllOIphic description of stone columns and their "stIuggle",
illustrates Nïetzsehe's attaehJDcnt 10 the view that power-conf1ict is endemic 10 all of
existence: "How divinely vault and arch here oppose one another in the stIuggle:
how they strive against one anotherwith light and sbadow, these divinely-striving
thingsJ Beautiful and assured as these, let us also be enemies, my friendsl Let us
divinely strive against one anotber!" (Z fi OT)
9 In an early essay. Nietzsebe dcfines the Greek statesman Perlcles as an artist:
"Pericles:represented the visible human mlJi:zation of the constnJctive, moving,


distingnisbing, ordering, reviewing, planning, artistically creative [kilrutlerisch],
self-detennining power of the spiIit." PhiJosophy in the Tragic Age of the Greelcs;
19. Cf. the Ieference in GM n.18 10 "those artists of violence lIIid ~
[GewaIt-Künstlem und Organisatoren] who build states [Staaten haut]•••"

254
• where art eDlls and Iife begins••. " (GS 299) The highest sort of men, by contrast,
adopts the creative stance towards their entire eAistence; in Nietzsche's striking

phrase, "we want to he the poets of our Iife [die Dichter unseres Lebens] - fiIst of

all in the smallest, most eVCl)'day [Kleinsten undAl1Jliglichsten] matleIS." (Ibid.)IO

The Will to Politics

The = t studies that skirt around the issue of Nietzsehe's politics tend to
argue - wrongly, in my view - that the Lutheran minister's son is simply
uninterested in action. Strong, for examplc, asserts that Nietzsche does not concem

bjmseJf with "actual behavior" (1988: 13; 91), and Nebamas similarly insists that
that Nietzsche's primaIy concem is "not with the specific content ofparticular

actions ...." (Ibid.,203) While it is truc, as Nebamas argues, that Nietzsche


considers the quality of our motivations ofcapital importance, it is mjsJeadjng to

assume that this entails a completely neutta1 stance with respect to the content or
results ofactions. 11 In one of his comments on artists. NIetzsche illustrates his
concem for the latter by suggesting that

10 "Sïnce it is only as an aesthetic phenomcnon that Iife bas mearing, Nietzsche


proposes as a new goal that we strive to make art out oflife by promoting the
higbestb1J!T! an orsuperbnman type." (Detwi1er 1990: 7-8) Detwilerpen:eptively
n~ an importan.. shift in NIetzsche's attitude towards art during the course ofhis
intelled'lal dcve1opment. Al the time ofBT, "Dionysian art, which is to say music,
dance, lyric poetty, tragedy, and music drama, is pœsented as a genuine somce of
tIlIDscendent metaphysical insight. In the later writings. in contlaSt, the fine arts
lose their privileged stItUS as.somces ofbigba truth, and the artists as a group ll1'C
reviled for their supediciality and mcndaci<.\Il5!1CSS The truc Dionysian genius of
the later WIitings is clearly the new philosopher." (Ibid.. p. 145) In what follows 1
sbal1 attempt to mgue that Nietzsche sees his new philosopher as an eminently
1Xiliticalaetor. .
11 The idea that NIetzsche is interested only in motivations may stem from
passages like BGE '1E1, where Nietzsche suggests that what makes someone
"noble ••• is not his actions [Hœzd1ungen] which reveal him._ [N]either is it his
'woIks'... [l]t is thefaith [Glaube] which is decisive here, which determines the


order of ranlc here, to employ an old religious formll!a in a new and deeper sense:
some fundamental certainty [Gnmdgewisshdt] which a noble sou!. Pl sse sses in
regard to itself•••" Of COUISe, given Nietzsche's repeated stress on questions of
peJSOIIlI1 cbaracter and disposition, the quality of our motivations are treated as

255
• one does best ta separate an l!.Itist from bis work, not
taking him as seriously as bis worle. He is, afu'.r all,
ollly the precondition of bis work, the womb, the
soil, sometimes the dUDg and manure on which, out
of wbich, it grows - and therefore in most cases
something one must forget if one is to enjoy the
work itself. (GM IIL4)
The artist, in other words, is valuable only as a vebicle for a determinate,

mtrinsically precious outcome: the artwork produced.


Nietzsche insists not only that the agent's worth as a human being depends
upon the quality of bis life's work, but also that bis very identity derives !rom what
he does. According ta this performative view of the self, the self does not exist
apan from its deeds. One actna!j~ oneself, including one's virtue (or vice), in and
through one's actions. "Your body and its great intelligence," claims Zarathustra,
"... does not say T but performs T [die sagt nicht [ch, aber tut [ch]." (Z 1 ODB)
Further on. Zarathustra argues that the true nobleman's "Self" ought ta "be in the
action [Dqp «euer» Selbst in der Handlung sei], as the mother is in the
child..." (Z fi OV) Unlike lower order human beings, wliose du1l, dreary lives and
Jack of innate talent lead to umealistic, futile fantasies about their "truc selves"
wholly divorced from their actual existence, those with noble sensibilities kcep their
fcet firmly planted on the ground in the imp1icit know1edge that "the thought [der

Gedanke] is one thing, the deed [der Tat] is anot.'ler, and anotl1er yet is the image of

the deed [lias BiLl der Tat]. The whee1 ofcausality does not roll between them."
(Z 1 OPe) Simply thin!cjng about oneself in a certain way cannat lead ta the

emergen.:e of a new self; self-ttansfonnation cao occur only if wc attend ta our


"actual bebaviour" and alter our life projects.12

ctucia1ly impollant. The groJJ politi/c he envisions must come !rom men of great
character, with magnanimolJS motivations. 'Ibis necd not imply. however, a Jack of
interest in wbat they do. .


12 Nietzsche's position is simUar ta Aristotle's, who, as NussbanID rightly notes,
sees the "namral fiJJfi11mcnt and flonrishing" of virtuous character in activity
[energda]." (Nussbm!JD 1986: 324) In this context, Nietzsche sides with Aristotle
against the Stoics, who he1d - counterintuitively - that the good and praiseworthy

256
• Since Nietzsche believes that we are what we do. bis afor:ementioned
Rangordnung of bigher and lower order human beings is inrimately Iinked with a

paraIIel ranking of dceds. For Nietzsche, praiseworthy individuals are those who
perform praiseworthy actions. while the mediocre and contemptible engage in
activity of a coaespondingly base nature. His interest in cultivating a bigher sort of
human being. therefoIe, is aIso an interest in laying the foundations for the
performance of gIeat dceds. That Nietzsche takes the idea of gIeat deeds very
seriously is illustrated by Zarathustra's vituperative response to the "subtle
fabrieators and aetors" lfeinm Falschmiinz.er und Schauspieler) whose scurrilously

bogus cIaim to virtue "awaken mistrust of gIeat things" [grojJe Dinge] (Z IV OHM
8). When those who are smaIl of spirit have the gal! to attempt to "will gIeat

. things". their impertinence threaIens to cali the very idea of gœatness in things and
in action into question.
What characterlses a great deed? Nietzsche tends to concentrate on certain
fonnal properties of fine action, stressing above aU the importance ofits ambition

and long-term scope. The doer of great deeds possesses a "protraeted and

unbteakable will" reines longen ~rbreddichen W"ù1ens] (GM IL2) to aeate


things oflasting value, things that withstand even the millenia 'mdiminished· "it
must seem bliss to yeu: Zarathustra remarks to an imagined. virtuous comrade, "to

press your band upon millennia as upon wax/ bliss to write upon the will of
mi1lennia as upon mctaI- harder than metal, nobler than metaJ ." (Z mONL 29}13
This far-sighted, ambitious c:reator is above aU a built.ler. Zarathustta c1aims that

lifehas little to do with a pc:rson's activity. materia1 staœ. or socio-politica1 status.


Sec Nussbanm, Ibid.. p. 319. and 1987: 135.
13 The pœ1IIio(lemist a.~ation ofN"JCtzsebean thought with an .mambiguous
celebration of the state offlux and an advocacy ofconstant, chaotic overtbtow of


previous creations. regardless of1bcirintrinsic value, is be1ied by bis own refeœnce
to such a mnmstic mindsct as "madness": "madness preached. 'Everything passes
away. tbeIefore everytbing cIcsenes to pass away!''' (Z n OR) Recall my
discnssion in Qapter VI.ofNietzsehc's undcrstanding and critique ofnibilism

2S7
• those who follow Christ's examp]c and movc mountains with their spirit are
proverbial small-fiy compared to the "enlightcned man" [der Erlcennende] who
"Ieam[s] to build with mountains" [mit Bergen soU der Erkennende bauen lemen]
(ZllOFP).
Nietzsehe's model for the farsighted doer or builder is the architcet,14 and
following Aristotlc and Machiavelli, he equates the ar..hiteetural vocation al its
summit with the woIk of the master Icgis1ator. Honig, unlike many other recent
commentators, bas rightly noted Nietzsehc's "deep reverence for institutions (of
particular kinds) as well as [bis] abiding interest in the way they function to produce
and maintain a variety offorms oflife and exce1lence.•." (Honig, 1993a: 69) In
Nietzsehc's vicw, the task of the greatest ofarchiteets, the building of "a society in
thc old sense ofthat word" (GS 356), is not unlike tbat ofa constitutional
"founding father" who aims al "[etema1ising] a grand orgacisation of society reine
grojJe Organisation der GeseUschaft zu <<.verewigen»], lM $upreme Condition
for the prosperity oflife." (AC 58)15
Nietzsehc's admiring evocation of a conception of society "in the old sense" is a
reference ID ancient Rome and the constitutional (or "architectural." in a NiClZSCbean
sense) genius of the Roman people. "[N)obody stronger and nobler [than the
Romans] bas yet existed on earth" (GM L16) in large part becansc they had the
unprecedented (and, as ofyet, UDSIIIpllSSCd) courage and audacity ID enact plans for
social and politica1 engineering that were millenial in scope, plans which 1ed ID the
establishment ofinst!tutions 50 sturdy as to survive "the acciden~ of persoIIS," ie.

14 "The most JlOwerful men bave a1ways inspi!ed the arcbiteds; the arcbitect bas
a1ways been. iDf1uenced by power. Prlde, vietoly over weight and gravity, the will
ID power, seek to Iender themse1ves visiblc in a building; architeetw:e is a kind of
Ibctoric ofpower reine Art Mac1rt-Buedsam1ceit], DOW persuasive, even cajoling in
form, DOW b1untly imperious." (TI EUM 11)

• 15 Reca1l in this context a pleVÏously-cited passage in which N"1ClZSCbe speaks


higbly of"those artists ofviolence and organiV'SS [GewaIt-Ktlnstlem lIIId
Orgarùsatoren] who build states [Staatm haut]•••" (GM ll.18)

258
• the foibles of corrupt emperors. (AC 58) Commentators with a blindspot for the

political dimension in Nietzscbe's writings bave teDded to pass ovec his admiration
for the political achievements ofancient Rome,16 the most impressive of which, in
his eyes, was the development of a "most grandious form of organization [die
grojJartigste Organisations-Form] ••• in comparison with which everything before
and everything since is patchworlc, bungllilg. dilettantism." (IbiQ..) The Romans
owed their great achievement to "a protracted temole will ofits own [einen langen,
.furchtbaren eignen Wùlen] which could set its objectives thousands of years

ahead..." (BGE 208)


In wha1 axe seme ofhis most politically-conscious passages. Nietzsche
bemoans the alleged subversion of this impressive sttucnmù edifice by a Christian
table of values tbat he sees as evincing great hostility towards the political
dimension. Faced with the painstakingly construeted Roman edifice ofinstitutions
and practices, Nietzsche's antipolitical Christian cao ooly ask,
[w]ha1 is the point of public spirit, wha1 is the point
of gratitude for one's âeso".nt and one's forefatheIs.
wha1 is the point of CCHlpeflIlion, trust, of furthering
and Iœeping in view the general welfare? _. Sc many
'temptatioos'. se many diversions from the 'right
road'. (AC 43)

Nietzsche points to and condemns the political quietism preached !Ti Paul (m. e.g.•
Romans 13:1-3). claiming tbat it is logically downstIeam of this other-woddly
neglect ofimportant political JIIlItIers: "tbere is nOlbing :"1ore faIse or deceitful in the
wodd." declaresZ8rathustra, than tosay. "'Lethim whowatltsto&laughterandkill

and hamIss and swindle the people: do Dot raise a finger against it! 1bus they will

16 Itis noteworthy tbatN"1etzSCbc sees the "symbol" ofthe long-s1luyling struggle


betlil:Cll muter and sIave mœalities as "insc:ribed" in the fonowing "Ietœrs legible
aaoss aIl human history": '"Rome against Judea, Judea against Rome·••." (GM
Ll6) Rome, even lI10le than PericIean Athens or Sparta, is idenlified as the


champioo[KlToc:ellence ofmester mœality. l'bis passage should also give pause
•to those, like Kanfmann , who altempt to argue tbat Nietzscbe's view of the Jews is
unambiguously positive. A full discnssioo ofthis matter is. however. beyond the
scope ofthe present study.

259
• yet leam ta renounce the world.'" (Z m ONL 15)17 Once il gains a popular
following. argues Nietzsche, Christianity proves destructive of the political and
social order by

detach[mg] the individual from people, state, cultural


community. jurisdiction [es lOst hertulS tulS Volk,
Staat, Cultur-Gemeinschaft, Gerichtsbarkeit];
[Christianity] rejects education. knowledge.
cultivation ofgood manners, gain. commerce - il lets
everything go that comprises the usefulness and
value of man [Nutzen und Werth des Menschen] - il
shuts him off by means of an idiosyncrasy of
feeling. U!1political [unpolitisch]. antinational.
neither aggressive nor defensive - possible only
within the mest firmly ordered poiitical and social
life, which allows these holy parasites [heiligen
Parasiten] to proliferate at public expense - (WP
221)
Nietzsche castigates OIristianclerics aS "parasites" becauseofhis belief that people
who remain focussed on (for him) fictitious other-worldly goals must live offof the
political-aIChitectur2l achievements oflofty-minded, worldly others, even as they
denigrade these same achievements as "vainglory."18

Nietzsche argues that a precondition for any attempt by a "new ruling caste for
Europe"19 l.O inst!tutea "thousand-yearempiIe" of the type envisioned by
Zaralhustra [das Zarathustra-Reich von tausend Jahrm] (Z IV HO) is the

17 Nietzsche appears ta echo Machiavelli's trencltant crlticism ofChristian


quietism: Christianity, claims the FloreDtine, "bas assigoed as man's highcst good
humility, abnegation, and contempt for mundane things. wbereas the otber [pagan
Ie1igions] ideutified it with magnanjmity, bodily strength, and evezything else that
conc!ltœS ta malœ men w:cy bold. And if our religion cfcmands that in you 1hcre be
strength, what il aslcs for is stIeDgth ta suffer rathcr than stIeDgth ta do bold tbings.
This pattem oflife _ appcals ta have made the world weak, and ta have banclc:d it
over as a prey ta the wiCkcd, who run il SIJCCeSSfully and secmely since they are
weil aware that the geuerality ofmen, with paradise fortbeir goal, consider how
best ta bear, rathcr than how best ta avenge, their injuries." The Discoursu, IL2.
18 Jnlightofthis (arguably caricabrral) N"tetzsebean pottlaitofChristianity,
Kanfimnn's effons al minjmising Nietzsebe's diffeIeDces with Christian doctrine

• (c.g. 1974: 374) are WJhelpful and uuconvincing.


19 "_einer neuen tlber Europa IegieIenden Kaste." BGE 251. Cf. BGE 208; WP
960 ("master race" - Hermz-Rasse); and WP 976 ("ruling castej.

260
• oveztbrow of this antipolitical Christian mindset and the recapturing of the same

type of (eminently political) will that gripped the pre-Ouistian Romans. a will

to tradition, to authority, to centuries-long


responsibility, to solidarity between succeeding
generations backwards and forewards in inftnitum.
If this will is present, there is established 50mething
such as the Imperium Romanum••. (TI EUM 39)20
Only wben this sense of responsibility leads to a rekindling of the desire for creative
making in the hearts of men oflofty SeDSlbilities will "the time [come] wben politics
will have a different meaning [die Zeit kommt, wo man über Politik umlernen

wird]." (WP 960)

Respo~bmty for the Spedes

Nietzsehe's political vision ':lIIl11ot he understood apaIt from an exarnination of


bis notion of the highest man's deeply-felt respons1bility. With great gifts and

privileges, believes Nietzsche, comes great respoDSlbility that "penetrate[s] to the

profoundest depths and become[s] instinct." (GM n.2; cf. BGE 203, 212) Indeed,
Nietzsehe's natural noble-type "instinctively seeks heavy respons1bilities" (WP
944) in viItue of bis social station.21 In bis last, leb:ospective woxk, Nietzsche

20 "••• den Wtllen zur Tradition. zur Antoritllt, zur Vexantwortlicblœit auf
Jahxhundcrte binans, zur SoUdariliit von Geschlec:hter-Ketten vorwlixts und
xOckwllrts in injinitum. Ist dieser Wille da, 50 grilndet sich etwas wie das imperium
Romanum.••" Cf. EH "Clever" 10, wbexe Nietzsche speaks of the need to bear"a
respoDSlbility for the coming nn11ennia [mit einer Verantwortlichkeit fi1r a1le
Jahrtausende 1IIICh mir]_" The emphasis on futurc.oxiented respoDSlbility belies
Kanfmann's aforementioned idca that for Nietzscœ, "those who achieve self-
ped"cction._ have no thougbt OfthelDOllOW." (1974: 322) More will he saidon
N'JClzSChe's conception of the bigbestman's lcsponsibility be1ow.
21 Willj,xns notes that nit bas been in evexy society a xecognizable ethical thought,
and remains 50 in 0UlS, tbat one cao he UlIder a [moral] xequirement ._ simply
becanse of who one is and of onets social situation." (W"illiarns 1985, 7) He argues
that ancient moral pbi10s0phy was better able to account for this fact of our ethical
lives than cootempomty Ksntian ethics: "In the thougbt ofKsnt and ofthose

• ixdlueuced by bim, ail genuine1y moral conside:AtiOllS leSt, ultirnately..., in the


agent's will. 1cannot simp1y he required by my position in a social sttuetule ••• to
aet in a c:ertain way, if that required is to he of the moral kind... To aet lDOl8lly is

261
• describes bis zarathustra charactcr as "a spirit bcaring the hcavicst ofdcstinics [das
Schwerste von Schicksal], a fatality of a task rein Verhiingnis von AIifgabe]••." (EH
"Z" 6)
In the carly stages of moral dcvclopmcnl, one might fecI oncsclf in possession
ofa grcat dcstiny, an "organising idca," without quitc knowing what it is for (EH
"Oevcr" 9). Long bcfore one bas caught sight of one's grcat task,
[t]hc secret force and ncccssity of this task will rule
among and in the individual faccts of bis dcstiny like
an unconscious pregnancy... Our vocation
commands and disposes of us [Unsre Bestimmung
ve1fi1gt über UlIS] cvcn when wc do not ye: know it;
it is the future that regulatcs our today. (HAB 1 Pref.
7)

This sense of responsibility bccomcs as dcmanding upon us as a "tyrant."22

Conscious awarencss of what this rcsponsibility entails dcvclops iatcr, coming with
an undcrstanding ofwhy our dcvclopmcnt had to havc takcn the paths it took: nit is
ooly now, at the midday of our life, that wc undcrstand what preparations, bypaths,
experimcnts, tcmptations, disguiscs the problem had need ofbefore it was alIowed

to rise up before us•••" (HAB 1 Pref. 7) Just what is this grcat responsibility?
It refers, as zarathustra puts il, ta a "new virtuc" [neue Tugend] or a "ruling

idea" rein herrschender Gedanken]" (Z 1OBV), wbich suggests that the


responsibility in question entails a beightenM, obscssivc conc:cm with one thing
and one thing only.
The cssentiaJ thing 'in heavcn and upon earth' seems
••• ta be a protractcd obedienœ in one direction: from
out of that there always emerges and bas always

ta aet autonomously, not as the rcsult of social pressure." (Ibid.. 7)


N1etzsche. 1
wouId argue, follows the spirit of ancient moral philosophy ratber than Kant in this
hcre. .
~ "This tyrant in us taIœs a tcm"ble retnDution for every a~ we make ta avoid
or e1ude il, for every prematlIle dccision, for every association on equal temIS with


those with wbom we do not belong, forevery activity. however respectable. if it
distracts us !rom our chief undertaking, cvcn indeed for every virtue that wouId Iike
ta shie1d us !rom the sevcrlty ofour OWD most personal rcspoDS1Dility." (BAH n
Pret4)

262
• emerged in the long run something for the sake of
which it is worthwhile to live on earth, for example
virtue, art, music, dance, rcason, spirituality -
somcthing transfiguring, refincd, mad and divine.
(BGE 188)
Nictzsehe's new philosophcrs obey dcmands ofthcir "suprcme lord" who is
"conccmcd with one thing aJone, and assembles and saves up evcrything - time,
cncrgy,love, and intercst - oo1y for that one thing." (GM DI.8) In the preface to
this same work, Nietzsche insists that "our ycas and nays, our ifs and buts, grow
out of us with the nccessity with which a ttee bears fruit - rcIatcd and cach with an
affinity to cach, and evidence oÏ one will, one hcalth, one soil, one sun." (GM
Prcf.2)
This rcsponsibility, 1 would argue, cntails a conccm not simply with the moral

and spiritual pcrfectability ofparticular individuals (aJthough it is dccply conccrned


with this), but aIso, and most importantly, with the rate of the bnman spccies as a
wholc, a rate that he secs as indissociably bound up with the lot of the highcst type
ofhuman bcings. Nietzsche - and, in bis view, any self-rcspccting, self-awarc,
hca1thy TIIClII1:l=' of the master caste - fcc1s dccply rcspoIIS1"b1e for "the preservation
and cnhanccmcnt of the power of a certain spccies ofanimal," the blJTJlan spccies
(wp 567), an imperativc that he cquates with a responsibility for the flourisbing of

a small minority of our spccics.23

Nietzsehe's new type of politics is ta be d."'ÏVen by the "conscience" that


Nietzsche secs bis new philosopbcrs as sbaring for a particularkind of cœa!ivc
aetivity that bas as its goal "the collective evolution of mankind "[die Gesomt-
Entwiddung du Mmschen) (BGE 61)24 Elsewherc, he describes the tiIsk facing

23 RecaIl my lIIgUIDCIIts that Nietzsche secs the highcst sort ofbnman being as
having averitable monopoly on truth (~1) and as the prlvileged vcssel of the
blUnan species' fuIlest moral and spiritual potentiaJ (Cbapter III).

• 24 "Zarathustra's goal._ is in some sense the perfection of mankind as well as bis


own self-perfection, and thcre is good rcason ta beIievc this is Nictzsche's goal as
well. He secks the elevation ofD1lllL" (Detwi1er 1990: 44)

263
• bis new philosopher as the search for "a new greatness of man reine mue GriJjJe

des Menschen]. a new untrodden path to bis enIargement [VergriJjJenmg]." (BGE

212)25 The ascending fOIm of human life. repteSeDted in Thus Spoke Zaralhustra
as the tJbel71lDlSch, is. as Zarathustra declaIes in the Prologue, ·the meaning of the
earth" [der SÙUI der Erde] (Z Prologue 3). the telos in the naIne of which ail other

goals ought to De subordinated. As zarathustra argues. the only sort of knowledge


worth having is that which aids in the cultivation and flourishing of the
tJbermensch: "1 love him who lives for knowledge and who wants knowledge that

one clay the Superman may live [welcher erk.ennen will, damil einst der
tJbermensch lebe].· (Z Prologue 4)26 AlI manner of social organisation - indeed,
human society itself- is to bejustitied ·only as a foundation and scaffolding [nur
aIs Unterbau und Gerüst] upon which a select species ofbeing reine ausgesuchte
Art Wesen] is able to raise itselfto its highertask [hiiherenAiifgabe] and in general

to a higher existence [hiiheren Sein]•••• (BGE 258)


N'lC1Zscbe marries the ail-important goal ofperfecting the human species with
bis view of virtue as original. artistic aea!ion by imagining the fonner as the

ultimate artistic projeet. He sees himself, along with bis imaginM new
philosophers, as ·artist-tyrants· [KibJstler-7yrœIIIen] (WP 960) sculpting a
magnum opus - a new type ofhuman being and society - with humanity itself.
rather!han stone or clay. serving as the raw material.27 To zarathustra, as

25 See also WP 973: "One cao conceive philosophers as those who make the most
extJ:ewe efforts to test bow far man could elevate himself [zu erproben, wie weit
sù:h der Mensch erheben kônne]_.·
26 As we noted in CJaptcts 1 and II, large categories 1ike "life., "Iialurc", and
"species" take pt'CC"'4ence in Nietzsche's thought over individual cases. Highly
gifted individuals, as zarathustra argues, me most impottantly seen as life's chosen
vehicle through which it "raise[s] itselfon high with piJlm and steps.• (Z n OT)
27 Cf. WP 960, where Nietzsche speaks of the "higher kind of man" reine hiihere
Art Menschen] "work[mg] as artists upon 'man' himself [am <<Menschen»

• selbst aIs Ki1nstIer zu gestalten]." Similarly, in WP 962 Nietzsche notes that ·in
bis intercourse with men [the higbest sort of man] is always intcnt on making
SOD)!"Jbing out of them." One might suppose that a COIlttlIlY view is put forth in EH

264
• Niet7sche confinns in bis iate autobiographical work, "man is formlessness,
material, an ugly stone which requires the sculptor [der Mensch ist iJun eine

Un/oml, ein Staff, ein hlJjJlicher Stein, der des Bildners bedarfJ." (EH OZ" 8)
Indeed, Zarathustra confesses that bis "ardent, creative will" drives him "again and
again ••• to mankjnd... [T]hus it drives the hammer to the stene." (Z II OBI)

Noting that the men of today a."C but "fragments of the future" [Bruchstiickm der
Zukwift], i.e. only the precursors of the more sublime, yet-to-be-fully-defined type

of man ofa reconstituted, noble society,28 Zarathustra decJares that it is bis "an and
aim _. to compose into one and bring together what is fragmen~ and riddle and

dIeadful chance." (Z II OR)29 Nietzsche imagines, in other words, a new social


lII!d political unity th.."t would be much more propitious for the reproduction of
superior human beings.
Nietzsehe's new sort of society, constituted as it is by an elevated, as-yet-
undefined type ofhuman being, cannat come about overnigbt. He envisions it
graduaIly falling into pIace as the "great enterprises and collective experiments in
discipline and breeding" [Zucht lI1Id Züchtung] referred to in BGE 203 begin to
bear fruit. The emelgence of the good society is aucially dependent upon the
success ofthat"greatest of ail tasks", "the higher b[!'MIing ofbnmanity" [die
HiJhenJ1chtung der Menschheit] (EH "BT" 4), the aim ofwhich is the aeation of a

Forward 2, where N1etZSCbc declares that "[t]he Iast thing lwould promise would
be ta 'improve' mankind [die Menschheitzu «veri1essem»]". In this passage,
however, he refers iroDically ta the so-calIed "improvements" wrought in Europe
aIong ('bristjan (and, later, senJ1ar liberal-democratic) Iines, and pledges xesolutely
ta bIeak with this path of "ïmprovement" (which, as wc saw in Chapter IV,
Nietzsche claims ta have been infact a type of debasement). .
28 Sec aIso Nietzsehe's description ofbis new philosophers as "hera1ds and
forerunners" (Vorousgestandten] in BGE 203.
29 "_das ist ail mein Dichten und Tracbten, daB ich in Eins dichte und
znsammentrage, was BrnchsUIck ist und Ritsel und gnwser ZUfalL" This new


political 0Ider would notably improve the now-hapbazard conditions under which
D8scent noble types come into the wodd and are brought up. Further aIong in this
cbapœr 1 will discuss the importantrole ofN1etZSCbc's imagined aristomltic polity
aS acountervailing fon:e to the "dreadful c1lllDCC" evoked by Zarathustra in Z II OR.

265
• "more valuable" [hOherwertigeren) type ofhuman being, one that is "more worthy
of life" [lebenswürdigeren] (AC 3).
Nietzsche urges bis sympathetic, select readership (those purported superior
types for whom he writes) to abandon their misguided concems for the fate of the

vast majority and work - counterintuitively - towards "the greater petfc..."tion of aIl
things [zu aller Dinge vollerer Vol1endung)" (Z m Om) through a selfish
preoccupation with themselves and their own moral and spiritual development. In
an extremely important section towards the end of Thus Spoke Zara1lUlstra,
Nietzsehe's alter~go poses a rhetoricai question aimed at aIl of bis imaged higher
human beings:

[W]ho is your neighbour? And if you do things 'for


your neighbour', still you do not create for him.!I
Uolearn this 'for', you aeators: your very virtue
wants you to have nothing to do with 'for' and 'for
the sake of and 'becanse'. You should stop your
ears to these false little wordsJ This 'for one's
neighbour' is the virtue ooly of petty people: there
they say 'birds of a feather' and 'one good tom
deserves another' - they have neither right to nor
strength for your selfishness! (Z IV OHM Il)
Zarathustra suggests that the master type shows more "prudence and

providence" [Vorsicht rmd Vorselumg] in bis selfishness [Eig~; bis true


"neighhour" is in fact bis work and bis will [Buer Werk, euer W"11le] (Ibid.). In
contrast to the IllIIIOw-minded, petty selfisbness of the lower orders, Zarathustra
speaks of "the sound, healthy selfishness that issues from a mighty souL••" (Z m
TEI' 2)30, where concem with the self and "virtue" merge: "there will be worship

even in your vanity!" (Z n OSM)31 "For the sake of bis children," c1aims
Zarathustra ofhimse1f, "must Zarathustra pe1fect bimself [sich selbst lIOlIenden]."
(ZmOIB)

30 "._die heilc, gesund Selbstsucht, die ans mkhtiger Seele quillt.••"

• 31 "Anbetung wird noch in deiner Eitellœit sein!" Recall my discussion of


Nietzsebe's distinction between healthy, noble selfishness and the "sick"
selfisbness of the majority in Chapter v.

266
• JU3t how literally should we take co=ts like these?

literaI and Figurative Images ofBreeding

The secondary literature usually dismjsses with naIY a second thought the idea
!bat Nietzsche takes seriously the concept of breeding in a literaI, eugenical sense.

The ever-infIuential Kat/wa nn , for example, insists !bat "Nietzsche looked ta art,
religion, and philosophy - and not to race - ta elevate man above the beasts, and
some men above the mass of mankind." (Kaufmann 1974: 285) In Connolly's
view, the idea !bat Nietzsche aimd at breeding a coherent personality type is

obviated by the supposedly "tragïc" conclusions of the "mature Nietzsche": "thar. the
essential elements of nobility (let aIone the overman) cannot he combined ln the
same self at the same time." (1992: 705) In genera1, the new orthodoxy's
commillDent ta the emancipatoty thesis - the pieture ofNietzsebe as a wholly
admirable thinker aiming at li'beration - seems ta subvert any serious e:ramjnation of
bis tRmllDent ofbreeding.

Tracy Strong makes some provocative counter-suggestions, even though he


fails ta follow through with them. He points out !bat "the ta1k about 'bIeeding' and
'race' is important in Nietzsche's thought" (Strong 1988: 274), and comes to the
importaat conclliSÏon !bat "those commentatoIS who have chosen ta ignore
Nietzsebe's lengthy passages about [these concepts] aIe ignoring what Nietzscbe
bimselfregm:dcd as a œnlt'a1 portion ofbis thought." (Ibid.. 215) He rightly notes
!bat 1'l"'CtZSChe "œpeated1y uses the woni zj;chten, which means ta breed. raise,

œar, grow or cultivate, a ward normally used in connection with animaIs or plants"
(Ibid.. 274), and obse:ves !bat he "intended bis œaching and philosophy ta reshape
_and consciously remold the vety stuff of bumanit:y." (Ibid.. 16) Yet despite these

• .sensible urgings ta take Nietzsche's language seriously, in the end Strong refrains
from practicing what he pteaebes As wc have a1Ieady noted, aIthough he insists

267
• that Nietzsche bas in mind a "transformation of the whole persan" (Ibid., 287) as

well as a "new transfigured world" (Ibid., 290), Strong sbies away from examining
the fonn and content of that transfiguration, claiming that 'it would he "50 complex
as to defy ..• all attempts" at description. (Ibid., 292) This is a most convenient
c\aim, for a sericus aLtempt at description would, 1 believe, create great difficulties
for Strong's very sympathetic reading of Nietzsche as a benign figure of liberation.
In the face of a hegemonic consensus that seems 50 se\f-evident its proponents,
but rather one-sidedly incomplete to me, 1 have drawn inspiration from Strong's
"face-value" principle:
1 have ttied ... to take Nietzsche seriously and at the
same lime to make sense of all bis claims. Most
previous interpreterS have ••• managed to blind
themselves to what they did not want or need to
sec... 1 was helped in my endeavor by an almost
accidenta! èecision, to take at face value thase claims
in Nietzsche wbich appear the most histrionic and
exasperating. Among these are bis demands for
'master races' and 'breeding,' bis assertions that he
'breaks the world in two,' and sa forlh. (Ibid., viii)

While most commentators concede that Nietzsche's work is rife with


procreative language, those interested in discounting the seriousness of bis
treatment ofbreeding tend ta insist upon its striet1y metaphorical usage.32 This
stance owes its initial, intuitive plausibility ta the repeated, nndeniably metaphorical

evocation of terms such as "fertility" and "inferti\ity", "begetting" and bearing", and
the like.33 Nietzsche clearly associates the creative per.;onality with notions of

fertility, Ieferring repeatedly ta the artistic, "continually creative per.;on" [ein


Bestiindig-scJuzJfender] as "a 'mother type in the grand sense" [eine <<MutteT'»

32 In the next chapter wc shall sec that the tendency ta adopt striet1y metaphorical
readings ofNietzsebe's IeI1!arks on pregnancy and the like is also pervasive
an.'Ongst those attetDfIting ta unearth a proto-feminist orientation in Nietzsehe's
WIitings. 1 shall argue that Ibis attempt falls short of success.

• 33 Such metapho.tical usages have a long history in moral and political philosophy•
AristotIe, for example, claimed in the Nico1lll1dzean Ethics that lnunan beings
brought forth their actions "like children." (1113b18)

268
• von Mensch] (GS 369), or "the motherly human type" [die mütter1iche Art Mensch]
(GS 376).34 As carly as Daybreak, N"1ClzSChe declares that the aearive type is no
more in conscious control of the ideas or deeds gestating within him than the
mother of her offspring's rare of growth or time ofhirth.3S He even equaleS the
"birthing" process of ideas and deeds with that of infants, when he exhotts us t.o
"give birth to our thoughts out of our pain and, like mothers, endow them with an
we have ofblood, heart, fire, pIeasure. passion, agony, conscience, fate, and
catastrophe..." (GS PIef. 3)36 In GM m.S, Nietzsche informs us that this form of
"fruitfulness" [Fruchtbarkeit] - the fruitfulness of the new philosopher - is to be
found not in the sphere ofbiological reproduction, but rather in bis work [Werk],
which is to its aeator as the child is to its mother.37 "One is pregnant only with
one's OWD child," declares zarathustra, as he urges bis imagined companions to
eschew the servile idea that one ought to act "seIflessly", for the sake only of
something other than oneself. (Z IV OHM Il)
1maintain, however. that Nietzsehe's Ibetoric ofprocreation is most profitab1y
seen on a continuum, from the metaphoric to the literaI, with a great many
ambiguous passages in between that lend themselves to readings in either direction.
While there is no clear line that dcDWCates the litera1 from the metaphorlc. this

34 Nietzsche analogously treaIS mediocrlty as a type of infertili1y. Sec, for


example, Z n OLC, where UDaelItive modem man is eJeemed "unfruitful"
[U'!fivchtbare]. and Z n OIP. in which N1etzsehe claims that men who overtJ.y
deny their desires or their will but desiIe or will seaetly "will uever bring forth [ihr
nie geb4ren weniet]. even if [tbey] lie broad and pmgoant on the horizon!"
35 "And ifwhatis expecœd is an idea, a deed - toWllIds every Mnging forth we
have essential1y no other relaIionship than that ofpœgnancy and ougbt to blow to
the winds aIl pœsumptuous ta1k. of 'willing' and 'creating'." (D 552)
36 See also zn OBI: "For the creatorbimse1l'to be the childnew-bom he must
also be wi1ling to be the mother and endure the mother's païn." .
37 Similarly. inBGE 206 Nietzscbe refers to the genius [Genie] as "a being which


either begets or bears. [dnem Wesm, welches entwederuugt odergebierl}_"
Cf. zn OBI: "In knowing and undetslanding. too. 1 feel only my will's de1ight in
begetting and becoming (Auch imErkennenjüh1e ichnur meines Wdlens Zeuge-
und Werde-Lust]••."

269
• should not Ile used as a pretext for denying altogetber the presence of the former.
cspecially i:J. a text as rife with imagety extcnding from one end of the continuum to
the other as Thus Spoke Zarathustra. When ZlIrathustra declares, for example, that

"one loves from the very heart only one's child and one's wode" [sein Kind und
Werk] (Z ID Om). why should we assume that the Kind in this passage is only a

me!aphorical evocation of Werk? Ratberthan countenance such a redundancy.


should we not take seriously Nietzsche's placing ofa patemalistic type of
re1ationship on par with the artistic "relationship" of the creator with bis artwode?

Breeding as Educatiou and the IDfluence ofHeredity

Many of the passages that seem ta xesist placement at eitber exlleme ofthe
continuum, that seem, in otber words. to he used neither wholly metaphorically nor
with eugenics immediatt:ly in mind, aIe most profitably Ie3d as evocatioDS of
"breeding" in the sense ofeducation [Eniehung] and/or upbringing.38 As Detwiler
rightly notes. Nietzsche's ftequent coupling of the Gennan temlS Zuchl
("discipline") andZiü:htung ("breeding") suggests that in bis view. breeding
involves (but need DOt he limited ta) the cultivation of othets who aIe not
necessarily one's own children through ptopct moral edllcatiOn.39 When
Zarathustra shaIes with us bis hope for the aealion of "companiODS [Gefli/u1m]
and children [Kinder] of bis hope,• (Ibid.), he expœsses a desiIe ta become a

38 Recall my llIgUDIeI1t Cm QIapters V and VI) that N"1elZSclle fancies himself ta he


a moral pedagogue vis-à-vis a higher sort ofbllman being suffering from false
consciousness.
39 "Wc need DOt ass"me _ that bm:ding is for Nietzsche exclusivëIy a matter of
eugenics. The woni '\xeeding' (ZUeht, Zilchtung) bath in English and in German
can have a cultural as we1l as a biological CODDotatiœ (e.g. in EDglish a well-bred --
child is typically a well-trained child, wbeœas a purcbrcd cisw is typically a CUVe' -.::::
with a pme lineage)." (Detwiler 1990: 111) Wanen rightly observes that Nietzsche


tends ta ptefertbc temlZilchtung ta Bildung, which he routinely associares with the
pœdominant educational pbilosophy a Cm bis view) comp1acellt, servile liberal-
d<mIocmtic society. For seme cu n q.1es ofN"1elZSclle's disrnissive usage of
Bildung, sec GS 86; zn OLC; CW 6; 11WGL S.

270
mentor ta a group of youthful. nascent noble types which, as a "new nobility"
[neum Adel], will hopefully "become begetters and cultivators and sowers of the

future [Zeuger und Ziichter werden und Slimiïnner der Zukunft]••." (Z m ONL 12)

In this and other passages, bis concem for the charactcr development ofkindred
spirits (and potential friends) is causally reIated to bis political conccms for the

future development of European society. Nietzsche sees an intimate relationship


between the moral character ofindividuals and the type of society in which they

live; if the cultivation of noble, fine character in a select few is not properly
encouragecl through Ziichtung, a noble society aimed at the pUISUÏt of greatness will
be ÎIIIpOSSlllle. l'hose concemed with the emergence of such a society (as weIl as

with the poSS1llility of having suitable companionship4O), therefore, must attend to


the education of such individuals.41
Just as Aristotle complained about the lack offormal attention given ta
questions ofupbringing and educatiQn in the GIeek city-states of bis time, so
Nietzsche bemoans the fact that systemaric exeICises aimed at the Ieproduction of a
higher sort of man have yet ta be conducted in modem Europe. Indeed, he believes
that the contraty bas been the case, that modem European educariona! systems

founded on a fear and loatbing of "the most valuable type" of man [hOhel'We1'tigere
7)lpus] have had as theirtwin aims bis annihilation and the systemaric breMing of

bis contemptlllle replacement, "the domestic animal, the herd animal, the sick

40 Nietzsehe's concem for the state of Europe and bis vision ofpolitico-culturaJ.
IeVitaJisalion are not, of comse, "selfJess" in the sense ofbeing diVQrced!rom bis
own intensive search for suitable companions (Chapter VlI). TheIe is no
separation. in otherwords, betwcen the "pemmal" Nietzsche and the "polilical"
Nietzsche, For all ofbis attacks on the ethical stance ofmoderr.1t:minism,
Nierzsche wou1d agJee with the fammar feminist insistence that the persona! is
IiticaL
iY

The peiception of aœciprocal relationship betwcen individual character and the
state of a society's moeurs bas, of COUIse, a long pedagree in the history of moral
and political thought, and is eIsewbe1e found in the nineteenth centmy in the
writings of de Tocqueville. Sec Tocqueville 1991: Il5.

271
• animal man [dos Haustier. dos Herdentier, dos 1cr'ank Tler Mensch] - the
Cbristian.." (AC 3) In modem herd society, Nietzsche complains,
[a]11 questions of politics, the ordering of society,
education [Alle Fragen der Politik. der
Gesellschajts-Ordnung. der Ertiehung] have been
falsified [geflilscht] down to their foundations
because the most injurious men have been taken for
great men - becanse contempt bas been taught for the
'little' things, which is to say for the fundamental
affairs of life [die Grundangelegenheiten] ... (EH
"Cever" 10)

Wbat passes for modem-day education and "culture" [BiIdung], claims

Zarathustra, is simply a pastiche of customs, prec:epts, and traditions of ages past

aimed at conceaHng the moral-spiritual decrepitude of this most contemptible,


plebeian sort, a lower type who is but a shadow of a virtuous, xeal man:
AlI ages and ail peoples gaze motley out ;:Jf your
veils; ail customs rSitten] and ail beliefs speak motley
out of your gesturesJ He who tore away from you
your veils and wraps and paint and gestures would
have just enough left over to frighten the birds. (Z n
OLe)

"One day or other: Nietzsche informs us, this hodge-podge k:nown in modem
Europe as BiIdung will have ta be swept aside ta make room for badly-needed
"institutions [lnstitutionen] ._ in which people live and teach as 1understand living
and teaching.••" {EH "Books" 1)
Who are the ones ta have aœcss ta these institutions? We have aIIeady
examined Nietzsehe'$ fatalistic beliefthat bis type of pedagogy would be wasted
upon those without the ir.11e:I:ently noble predisposition that arises from a healthy set
ofdrives or instincts. "There are books," he BIgUeS. ftwhich possess an opposite
value for sou! and health depending on whetber the lower soul, the lower vitality,
or the higher and more powerful avails itselfofthem._ft (BGE 30) Fme books and
ed,'Cation. while landable and indeed essential for an individual with refined

• instincls, "become poison for those who have tumed out badly [MfPratenen]••• ft

272
• (GS 359) It bears repeating that Nietzsche beIieves that the pedagogue should
aspire only to awalcen the sense of virtue in those who already have visceral
possession ofit: "[u]ltimately. no one cao extraet from things. books included,
more than he already lœows." (EH "Books" 1)42
Nietzsehe's fatalism in tbis context - the brutally harsh notion that a minority
simply bas the capacity for virtue, while the majority does not - is further reinfon::ed
by bis flirtaIion with a nineteenth-<:entU1y nalUI'alistic view of the all-determining

power of beredity. He seems on this course wben, for example, he suggests that
one's (literai) genea10gy essentially presctibes one's potentialities. In mging bis
readers to "[f)ollow in the footsteps ofyour fathers' virtue [Gdtt in den Fuj3tapfen,

wo schon eurer VlJ1er Tugend ging]," Zarathustra exhorts bis interlocutors to attend
to their own genealogies in tbis sense, in order to prevent them from overreaching

themselves (Z IV OHM 13). One should not, for example,


pretend to be :;aints in those matters in which your
fathers were vicious./ He whose fathers passed their
tilDe with women [mit Weibem hielten]. strong wine,
and roast park, what would it be ü he demanded
~aty of himseJf?/ It would be a piece of folly!
(Ibid.)

This passage strongly suggests that N"lClZSCbe takes the idea of the heritability of

character traits very seriously. Other remarks, Iike the following fragment from the
NachkJss. furt~' illustnltcs the strong influence of the bellef in heritability of
character throug'.l "blood":
Theœ is only nobility ofbirth [Geburtsadel]. only
nobility ofblood [Gebliltwdel]. (I am not speaking
bere of the little woni 'von' or of the Almanach de
Gotha: paœntbesis for asses.) When one speaks of
'aristocrats of the spirit,' [<<Aristokraten des
Geistes»] reasons are usually not lacking for
concealing something; as is well known, it is a
favo:ite term among ambitious [ehrgeizigen] Jews.

• 42 In EH "WJse" 8. Nietzsche c1aims to possess a "psychological antennae" that


aIlows him to identify the truly plebeian nature of those who have alleUIIJled to
"whitewash" the "dirt" al the bottom oftheir natures with education [Eniehung].

273
• For spirit alone does not make noble [Geist allein
niimlich adelt nicht]; rather. there must he something
to ennoble the spirit. - What then is required? Blood
[Des Geblüts]. ('NP 942)43
In scoffing at the expression "aristocracy of the spirit," Nietzsche aims to expose as
wishful thinking the Enlightenment notion shared by parvenus of plebeian origin -

like the German Jew - that ascension to a "true" aristocracy is open to any educated
individual. regardless ofbirth. It appears that he retains a traditional aristocratie
prejudice against those of rural or peasant birth in particular. casting aspersions on
the idea that refined sensibilities couid he nurtured in such an environment.44
With respect to Nietzsehe's view ofhis owngenealogy. this·fatalistie stance
remains influential. Becanse. as we have seen, he remains committed to the view

that he himself is. summa summarum,4S essentially "healthy" and a member of the

higher order of the human species, we occasionally find himjustifying his


tJbermenschlich credentials naturalistîcally, by vaunting his own genealogy (in, for
example, the rather pathetie attempt in Ecce Hor.w to claim genealogical descent
from a specifie Geblütsadel: the Polish nobility).46 There are, however, problems
here. We have already alluded to Nietzsche's acknowledgement that his own

origins are hybrid, "from the highest and the lowest rung of the ladder of life, at

once dicadent and beginning•••" (EH "WISC" 1) He concedes not only that he bas

43 Cf. WP 684, in which Nietzsche claims that while a quality as ephemeral as


"genius" is not heleditaty, a species-type is: "Die km:ze Daller der SchiSnheit, des
Genies.•• ist sui-generis: dcrgleichen vererbt sich nicht. Der Typus vererot sich.••"
44 This prejudice, it should he noted, is not simply about J'ews. The dcrisive
comments directed at Martin Luther, which stress Luther's peasant origins and
"boorishness", are a case in point of Nietzsche's aristocratie condescension toWllIds
"rustics" as a wÏlOle. On Luther, see BGB 50; GS 358; GM m.22:
45 Nietzsche desctibes himself in thiS way in EH "WlSC" 2: whcreas"the âfradenl
assuch always chnoses the means hannful to him: Nietzsche believes that he
instinctively chose the right path hecanse "szanma summarum 1 was healthy_."
46 "1 am a pure-blooded Polish nobleman, in whom there is no drop ofbad blood,
leastofall Gennan." (EH "WlSC"3) This version, which also includes areference

• to bis mother and sistcr as CQ1IIJÜ/e (see below), was suppressed by Nietzsehe·s
sistcr Elisabeth in the post!uunous edition ofhis works that she supervised. The
suppressed version is used in Hollingdale's translation.

274
• bcen "infected" by a slave morality that pervades the culture of modemity, but also
that he bas inberited some of the "decadeDce" ofhis parents. His father, although
"lovable" [liebenswilrtig], was also "delieate" [zan] and "morbid" (EH "WISe"
1),47 while his mother and sister are derided as thoroughly cœzaille, possessing

"incalculably petty" instincts. (EH "WISe" 3) How, given Nietzsehe's


demonstrable flirtation with the deterministic view of heœdity, cao he tberefore take
bimseJfto he a higher human heing? Nietzsche is weIl aware of the problem: "to
he re1ated to such amaille [i.e. his mother and sister; FA]," he declares revealingly,
"would he a blaspbemy against my divinity." (Ibid.)
1 would argue that Nietzsche deals with this difficulty by backing away from the

fatalistic view ofheœdity and relying on a developmental ethic that, as we have


noted tbroughout this study, pervades his work. In line with this ethic, Nietzsche
is convinced that one cao indeed "overcome" the disadvantages and limitations of
one's genealogy and background. While conceding .,,=- an immabJre, nascen~

noble type might pass through a pedod of mouming and teSeDtment for the
impoverisbment ofhis upbringing ("Wbat child bas not had reason to weep over its
paIeIIt5?" Z 1OMC), Niettsebe definitively rejects the pessimistic notion that a less-
tban-adequate upbringing repIeseDts an unmitigatecl disaster, destroying forever the
developmental possibilities of the individual with essentially bea1thy instincts
Although he flirts with such a bleak, deterministic view from time-tc-time
(especially in his comments on the "berd's" lack of moral-developmental potential),
he nonetheless derldes it (with:espect to bimse1fand others like him) as

"physiologica1 nonsense in an unsurpassable measure.••" (EH "WISe" 3) As


zarathusua proposes, one may stem "from the race of the hot-tempered or of the


47 On Nietzsehe's view of the hemiitlUy influence ofhis father, see EH "WISe" 5:
"1 am merely my father once more and as it were the continuation ofhis life..." Cf•
zn OT: "What the father lœpt silent the son speaks out; and 1 of'.en found the son
the father's revealed secœt...

275
• lustful or of the fanatical or of the vindietive," yet uneler proper guidanœ still find
the resources within oneselfte tum all of one's pass:ons into virtues, and all of
one's "devils [into] angels." (Z 1 OJP)
Nietzsche gives us a clear idea of how he came to reconcile himself with the
"decadent" nature ofhis petsenal background in the course of bis own moral-
spiritual transformation. The key, he explains, is that center-piece of bis

developmental ethics, the thought experiment known as the Etemal Retum of the
Same. Let us recall our earlier eyamination ofNietzsehe's view that a crucial
signpost of mature moral development and noble self-love is the heart-felt,
unconditional embraœ of aIl elements ofone's past, becallse of their respective
contributions to the formation of oneself, including one's virtues. In assessing bis
own "priestly" heritage via bis father, for example, Nietzsche comes to understand
that the ascetic project ofservice te Gad and truth, while fundamentally misguided,

did involve a type ofdisciplined, uncompromising belief and self-overcoming that


is woefully absent in the "last men" (who aspire te nothing finer than a "miserable
ease").48 Hence the "heroic" dimension of the ascetic priesthood, and bis express

wish for bis blood to he honow:ed in theiIs (Z n OP). Nietzsche, in SUIn, believes

bimselfto he the "heir" [Eben] ofthis heroism, the "executor of [the] innennost
will" [Vollstrecker ihres innenten WI1lens] of the priestly conscience (D PIef. 4).
Having acknowledged - and even, via this thought experiment, affi J]T1C"4 - a
tainted ancestty, one who possesses a "higher nature" is thcn in a position te

transcend a vulgar, immediate parentage and embrace a loftier, fanciful (Le. willed)

One is least related te one's p=ts: it would he the


most extteme sign of vulganty te he related te one's
parents. mgher l1lltW:eS have their origins infinitely

• 48 In BGE 14, N"1etzSChe lauds PIatonism for its "oveœoming" ofplebeian


sensnWism, even as he castigates its dnalism and ronromitant denigration of the
woddlyas "the most dangerous of all errors hithcrto." (BGE Pref.)

276
• farther back, and with them much had to be
assembled, saved and hoarded. (EH "W"1Se" 3)
It is in this context that we should undcrstand Nietzsehe's claims to be "related" to
such political figures as Alexander the Great, Julius Caeser, Emperor Friedrich II,
and 10 philosophers and men of letters 1ike Plato, Pascal, Spinoza, and Goethe.
Having made bis peace with bis past, the noble type can then will a new ancest1y
for himself in which "kinship" is found with other, higber typeS.49

Propagation, Race, and the Meaning of Aristocracy

It does not follow, however, that Nietzsche's eventuaI repudiation of the


fatalism of heredity entails a dcfinitive rejection of the idea that propagation and
child-rearing are appropriate aetivities ofhigher human beings. The ~ view, of
course, bas become a pillar of the new orthodoxy. In maintaining that Nietzsche His
concemed with cultw:e, not with raœ...", Kaufmann presumes that the two areas
are mutualIy exclusive (Kallfmann 1974: 303). Nietzsche's fucus on art,
philosophy, and cultw:e, he believes, must preclude any intcœst on bis part in
breeding in the mme literal sense. In my view, however, Nietzsche Iefuses 10
submit 10 this rigid either-or scenerlo, deve10ping instead a mme expansive notion
ofbreeding that encompasses both procreation and education. As explained in a
note from bis so-called midd1e period, he sees the former tlowing in10 the latter:
"Education [Die Erzie1umg] is a continuation ofprocreation [der :àugung], and
often a kind of suppIementmy bealltification of il." (D 397"f1J

49 Sec N'Ietw:he's evoc:ation of "he who is relate . 10 me through Toftiness ofwill


[Wermiraberdurr:h1lii1ledu Wollensverwandt ist]•••" in EH "Books" 3, and
bis evocation of bis "slow semch for those related 10 me [der langsame Umblick
1IDCh Verwandtm]_." in EH "BGE" 1. Sarah Kofmanrightly notes tbatfor
Nietzsche, "kinship is DOt a physiologicaI 'given' but something that IeStS on the
will 10 be or DOt 10 be in alapport ofcloseness or identification with those 10 whom

• one is closest physioIogicaIly_" (K.ofman 1994: 36)


50 "Die Erziehung ist eine Fortsettlmg der Zeugung und oft eine Art nachtrliglicber
Beschônigung dcrselben."

277
• Commentators oftcn ignore the fact that Nietzsche speaks very higbly ofchild
bearing and rearing. One of bis most significaot compJaints against the ascetic
"preachers of death" is their unhealthy, negative attitude towards procreation; these
asceties, observes Zarathustra, renounce the begetting ofchildren becanse of their

view that "Just is sin", that "giving birth is laborous", and that "one gives birth ooly
to unhappy children." (Z 1 OPD)S1 In light of Nietzsehe's well-known comment in
GM nL8 about the "fruitfulness" of philosophers manifesting itself in something
other than children, we might be disinclined to interpret literally Zarathustra's desire
for "heirs and children" (e.g. Z II OIP; Z mom). But when one considers bis
repeated suggestion that the "garden of IDlIIIiage" cao assist one in propagating
oneself "not ooly forward but upward" (Z 1 OMC; Z m ONL 24),52 and that
IDlIIIiage cao best be described as "tlIe will of two to create the one who is more
than those who created it" (Z 1OMC), it seems plausible that Nietzsche

countenanced the propagation of future generations as one important way in which


higher human beings could ~ their fruitfulness. Nietzsche appears to b-.lieve
that the propagation and nurture ofchildren, ie. the creation of a potential creator,
is one way (although certainly not the ooly way) for the healthy body, das Selbst,
to "create beyond itself" [über sich 1ùnœIs <Jl schaffen] (Z 1 ODB).S3

51 See also EH "Books" 5: "1 would like to impart one more clause of my moral
code against vice [aus meinem Moral-Kodex gegen das Laster]: with the word
vice 1 combat every sort ofanti-nature, or, if one likes beautiful words, ,dea1ism
The clause reads: The preachi!lg of chastity is a public incitement to anti-nature.
Every expression ofcontempt for the sexuallife, every befouling ofit through the
concept 'impure', is the crime against life - is the intrinsic sin against the holy spirit
of life.'"
52 ."Nicht nur fort sollst du dich pOan:zen, sondern hinauf!" Z 1oMc
53 Detwiler notes tbat Niettsebe's favourable views on the institution of IDlIIIiage
makes him a much 1ess radical thinker than Plato in this regard (Delwiler 1990:
Ill). Even Kanfmann concedes tbat while Nietzsche condemns the type of
IDlIIIiage (ta the "dressed-up lie", Z 1 OMC) that spoils a man's COmp:!11Y and
subverts bis moral-spiritual potential, "he does not, for that reason, depreciate

• marriage altogether... [M]aniage can be creative and 'boly': namely, when two
single ones •.. come together ta aid each other in this supleme effort, mutually
intensifying the 'longing for the overman,' eager that their children should not ooly

278
• Ever-conscious of Rangordnung, Nietzsche is hardly enthusiastie about aIl
manncr of ~ and reproduction. When Zarathustra asks rbetorically, "are you
a man who ought to dcsire a child? [bist du ein Mensch, der ein Kind sich

wiJnschen tIœf'!J" (Z 1OMC), the implication seems to be that only certain types of
parents and motiYalioDS forparenthood are praiseworthy. Nietzsche does DOt sec
the birth ofehildIen as sometbing to be celebrated if, for example, the parental
dcsire to reproduce is driven by "the animal and necessity" [dos Trer und die

Notdw:ft], or "isolation", or "disharmony with ycurself." (Ibid.) The act of

reproduction, he cJaims, should stem not!rom such weakness of cbaracter, but


from the life..affirmiI1g strength ofsuperior hllman beings who wish to produce
"living memoria1s" [Lebendige DenJanale] to their "vietory and ... h1leration."
(Ibid.) Hence the importance of attaining a certain moral-spiritual mab.lrity befOIe

embarlcing upon such a project "You should build beyond yomself. But first you
must be built yourself [em 7TUljJt du mir selber gebaul sein], square-built in body
and sou!." (Ibid.)
Nietzsche's attention to the questicn of who should rigbtfully "bIeed" the Den
generation ofbigher human beings is ofcourse in line with other, nineœentb-
century aristocratie Ieflections on the impoItance ofmaniage and propagation as a
means of reproducing a healthy ruling c1a"'''' It is important to note, however, how
Nietzsche deparls from standard nineœenth-century aristocratie peœeplÏons ofwhat
constitutes good bIeeding. His afoIeIDCDtiOned, CODtemptuous leference to the
"Almanach de Gotha" (WP 942), a Well-knOWD "who's who" ofEuropean royal

familles, and bis equally dcrisive treattneIJt of the Geananic princely title von,

illtisttate how far IeIDOVCd he is from the sentiments of the European aristOCl'at of
bis lime. When Zarathustra enjoins bis intcrlocutors to "[l]et wheIe you are going,

• repIeSeDt another generation but SUIp3SS them, [thcn] their marriage is a truc
mmiage..." (ICallfmann 1974: 311)

279
• not where you come froIn, hencefortb he your honour..." (Z m ONL 12), he is
urging us not to fetisbise genea10gy along the lines of theA1manach de Gotha.54
Unlike most of bis aristocratie-minded contemporaries, Nietzsche does not seem 10
caxe for the bl00d ofany of the existent European. aristocracies. Individuals of

refined instincts, allows Nietzsche, may need to bave the rigbt sort of blood
eoursing tbrougb their veins, but he leaves undefined just what type of bl00d tbat
may he. It is tbis refusai to atttibute innate1y refined sensibilities to any of the
recognised and privileged races, classes, or nations of bis day tbat wc must

understand bis claim 10 bave taken the concept of "gentlemen" more "radically"
[mdikaler genommen] tban it bas ever been taken (EH "BGE" 2). Nietzsche
eategorically refuses to identify the bl00d of specifie races or national groups as
particu1arly beneficient (althougb, as mentioned earlier, he retains a ratber general,
albeit recognisably traditional, aristocratie contempt for the origins of those whom
he refers 10 as canoiJle).ss Indeed, bis ideal ruling caste is multi-racial in cbaracter;

he dreams of belping 10 produce "intemational racial unions [intemationalen

Gesch1echts-VeriKJnden] wbose task will he 10 rear a master race, the future


'masters of the eartb' [eine Herren-RDsse he~ die zukünftigen

<<Herren der Erde»]•••" (WP 960)S6


A Junkets nominally "noble" genea1ogy, tberefore, is no guarantee ofa ttuly
noble SeDS1Dility. Indeed, he could very well he as bad-like in bis disposition as

54 "0 my brothers. your nobility sball not gaze backwaId, but outward [nicht
zuriick soU euerAdel schauen, sondem 1Iiruzus]!" Z mONL 12
55 Sarah Kofman suggests tbat N'Ietzsche's insistence on the absence of"had
blood" [sch1echtes Blut] in bis veins (EH "Wl5e" 3) reveals aristocr8tic. ratber tban
racist preoccupations: "hy the exptession 'bad blood' he means the plebeian type.
wbich he calls (m French, as he does the term SQ1Ig pur) la canoiJle, 'the rabble';
and by the exptession 'good' and pure blood, he means the nobility." Kofman
1994: 36.
56 Detwiler rigbtJy notes tbat wbile Nietzsche rejects the connotation ofpure

• bloodedness in the modem racist sense. he still invokes terms like "hlood" and
"race" wben speaking ofa stronger, superior species ofhuman being (Detwiler
1990: 111). ~

280
• the crudest of peasants. and most likely is sc. given the state of degeneration inlo

which Nietzsche believes modem European aristocracies have fallen. Modem-day


aristocrats. claims Z3rathustra, have been seduced by mercenary values. having
scld their nobility [AdeZ] to "shopkeepers with shopkeepers' gold". (Z m ONL 12)
Even worse, they have tumoo uncompromisingly reactionary. becoming in every
country knee-jerk defenders of the political status quo. But serving a prince and
''becom[ing] a bulwark to that which stands" can hardly be deemOO honourable
from a Nietzsehean standpoint: "ofwhat account are princes [Fürsten] now!"
(Ibid.) Having abdieated real political power and responsibility to the modern

politicians who nm the centralised nation-state, modem-day aristocrats are accused


of debasing the very term "nobility". which by the nineteenth-century had become
associatecl strictly with Hôjlù:hJœit, ie. courtly manners and gestures. The
aristocrat, observes Z3rathustta bitingly, baving "grown courtly al courts" [an
Hô/en hôftsch wurde], bas "leamOO to stand for long hours in sballow pools,
motley-coloured like a flamingo: 1for beÙlg able to stand is a merlt with courtiers
[Hôjligen]; and all courtiers believe that part of the bliss after dcath is - beÙlg
a1Iowed to sit!" (Ibid.) Zarathustta decries the mindless servility of this debased
"noble", who associates the whole of virtue with being able to wait endlessly in
courts (Z IV CK. 2).

Breeding and the Struggle against FoTtuna

Building beyond ourselves by breeding the next generation is a way of


"w!eeming" the past that serves as a complement to the more intensely personaI
form of xedemption ascociated with passage through the Etemal Retum thought
experiment. It is Nietzsehe's hope that the childIen ofhigher types, raised in an

• environment that encourages, rather !han punishes, efforts al self-overcoming,


stand a good chance al becoming even grearcr exemplaIs ofhuman excellence. In

281
• providing such a propitious, nurturing environment for the emergence of ever-finer
nobility, the parents "rcdeem [erUisen] all that is past" and even "make amends" to
their children for thei! own, imperfect geneaology (Z mONL 12).57
Some might question whether these IWo forms of "redemption" reallyare
complimentaty. Given our understanding of the Eternal Return, one might well
wonder why someone prepared to accede in principle to a an eternal reliving of all
existent socio-political and family arrangements would countenance the "collective
experiments in discipline and breeding" mentioned in BGE 203. Does not
Nietzsehe's understanding of the Eternal Return preclude any commitment to
political aetivism? A number ofinfluential commentators think 50, most notab1y
Kanfmann:

Nietzsehe's pre-eminent concern with the negative,"


he observes, "••. has 1ed many readers to suppose -
mistakenly - that he was a critic who would have
preferred things to he different from the way they
were. Any such interpretation, however, must
perforee ignore bis amor fari. 'Nothing that is may
he subtraeted, nothing is dispensable' (EH 'BT' 2).'
(Kanfmann 1974: 243)
N'chamas coneurs with this asscssment, declaring snmmarily that "[t]he 1ast thing
[Nietzsche] is is a social refonner or revolutiollll1j'." (N'ehamas 1985: 225)

! would suggest, however, that Nietzsehe's Eternal Return doctrine, properly


understood, would no more lead to political quietism than (say) Calvin's notion of
predestination. 1intend to argue that this thought experiment and the political
aetivism entailed by Nietzsehe's cugenicist ideals are complementaty, rather than

contradietory aspects of bis thought. Thal N''ClZSChe sees the IWo as mutually
reinforcing is suggested in the following fragment from 1887: "In place of

ST "You sha1llove your chi1t1rm:s land: Let this love he your new nobility - the
undiscovered land in the furthest sea! 1bid your sails seek it and seek W You

• sha1l make amends to your children for being the children ofyour fathers: thus you
sha1l redeema11 that is past! [An euren Kindem soUt ihr gut lIUlChen, dojJ ihr eurer
Vc'iter Kinder seid: Alles Vergang~ soUt ihr so erUisen]" (Z mONL 12)

- 282
• 'metaphysics' and religion, the theory of etemal recWTCllce (this as a means of
bre.:ding [Züchnmg] and selection [Auswahl])." ('NP 462)58 Etemal Retum leads
to breeding in the sense that successful passage through its uncompromisingly
harsh strietures contributes to the development of a mature, refined moral agent
woIthy ofparticipation in the political project NielZSChe prizes more than any other:
the raÏSing of the &uman species through selective breeding.
!ben: is, moreover, anoilier sense in which Nietzsche sees Etemal Retum and
breeding as leading to the same result: bath are depicted as attempts to neutralise the
power of Fortuna over the lives of the highest human heings. Whereas the Etemal
Retum thought experiment looks backwards, as it were, redeeming all past
misfortune by imaginatively transforming it into the produet of the great man's will.
the project ofcontrolled breeding involves an analogons, practical effort al bringing
the future wholly within the purview of the will of the gIeatest. Nietzsche, in oilier
words, launches a two-front assault on Fortuna, via past-oriented imaginative
means (the Etemal Retum) and a future-oriented call for political-practical means
(eugenies, institution-building). Vietory on the fiIst front, in Nietzsche's view,
must precede vietory on the second, for political action aimed al producïog a higher

type ofhuman being can succeed ooly ifthose thus eogaged have tbemselves

evolved into morally mature human beings with .mimpeacbable judgemeot and
standards.

là us pursue further this idea that controlled brfflIiog, for N'lCtzsche, is the
best way ofproducing a higher form ofhuman life and ofeliminating the iofluence
of pure chance and contingency in hnmao affaiIs. As noted eadier,.N'u:tzsehe
believes that the appemaace ofhigher human heings bas always been ir.regular and
iofrequeot; he descnëes them as as "brieflittle pieces of good luck _ that here and

• 58 ftAn Stelle von Metaphysik und Religion die ewige WJedericunftslehre (diese aIs
Mittel dcrZüchtung und Auswahl)"

283
• there come flashing up." (BGE 224) and as "lucky bits" [Glücks.fàlle] in contrast to
the "nonnal sick1iness" of the majority of men in the modern age (GM IIL14).

Nietzsche bemoans the "extteme vulnerability" ofthese acciclcntaI windfalls (TI


EUM 31). the all-toexommon likelihood that a rare but immatuIe noble type,
before developing the capacity ta wage war on Chance. may be croshed by her.
"[T]he bigher the type of man a man represents." he observes. "the gzeater the
improbability he will tum OUI well..." (BGE 62)59 Zarathustra proposes.
moreover. that the frailty of great genius and sensitivity is part of what makes these
traits so precious: "I love him whose sou! is deep even in its ability ta be wounded,
and whom even a little thing can destroy [der an einem kIeinen Erlebnisse
zugrunde gehen kann]•••" (Z Prologue 4)60
The likelihood of the higher type's pzemamre destruction, explains Nietzsche, is
duenot
to any special fatality or malevolence of nature, but
simply to the concept 'higher type': the bigher type
[der Mhere 7)lpus] represents an incomparably
greater complexity - a greater sum of co-ordinated
clements: so its disintegration [die Disgregation] is
also incomparably more likely. The 'genius' is thc
subliJDe"t machine there is - consequently the most
fragile. (ViP 684)

Nietzsche confesses that he "suffers from a feeling of anxiety" [BeiingstiglDlg]


(BGE 203) when contemplating the "dreadful" [am erschrecklichsten] destruction
ofpotentially fitting companions reaped by Chance, that "law of absurdity [dos

S9 "••• je hlSher gemtet der Typus cines Menschen ist, der durch ibn dargeste1lt
wird, um 50 mehr steight nach die Unwahrscheinlichkeit, da6 cr gerlit_." Cf. Z IV
OHM IS: "'Ihe higher its type, the less often does a thing sllcceed [Je hOher von
Art, je seltmergeriit ein Ding]." Sec also WP 684: "Among men, tao, the bigher
types, the lucky strokes ofevolution [die Gli1cksftll1e der Entwick1ung], perish most
~ as fortunes change."

• 60 Sec also Z 1OFM, wheœ Z8rathustIa observes that the profoundest of men
suffer "tao profoundly even from small wounds.••" [Aber du Tzefer, du leidest zu
tiefauch an kIeinen Wunden]

284
• Gesetz des Unsinns] in the total economy of mankind" (BGE 62).61 After noting
that "the ruination [das Zugrundegehen] of higher human beings ... is the role,"

Nietzsche describes how "dreadful" [schrecklich] it is "to have such a role always
before one's eyes." (BGE 269) Speakïng in the third person of the "manifold
tonnent [vielfache Marter] of the psychologist who bas discovered this ruination,"
(Ibid.) Nietzsche is cleady sharing bis own tonnent and frustration with the reader

in the face of "this etemal 'too 1ate!'" (Ibid.), i.e. in the face of Chance's obstinate
refusaI to "permit" the appearance ofhigher human beings at moments that would
be most conducive to their flourishing (BGE 274).
Contra Darwin, Nietzsche proclaims somberly that "man as a species is not
progressing [der Mensch aIs Gattung steUt keinen Fortschritt]." (WP 684; also TI
EUM 14) On the contraIy, he proposes, the species is rapidly degenerating, not

simply becanse of the penury ofhigher human beings and the precariousness of
their existence (which bas always been the case), but also beca'lse of the
increasingly desperate lack of space fortheirpropercultivation in light of the ever-
encroaching, universa!ising tendencies of slave morality. "He who bas the desires
of an elevated, fastidious sou!," Nietzsche opines, "will be in great danger at aIl
times: but today the danger he is in bas become exIIaOIùinaIy." (BGE 282)

Nietzsche offers two reason why. in the modem wodd especiaJJy. "the wealœr
dorninate the stronger again and again...": in the first pIace. "they are the great
majority...". and secondly, "they are also cleverer [kliiger]." (11 EUM 14)
Nietzsche considers the majority status of the lower ordeIs ofluJJDanity to be
guaranteed by the fact that. un1ike the fragile, vulnerable higher sort, the lower

0Iders are quite hardy in a teproduetive sense, and need no help in propagating

61 Nietzsche also speaks of the "[ungeheuerliche ZUft1lligkeit] which bas hitberto


p1ayed its game with the future of man." (BGE 203) Hol1ingdale translates this

• expxession as "nemendous fortuitousness," which does not quite capture the horror
that Nietzsehe feeIs when contemplating thetragedy of this routine subVCISÎon of
potential greatness.

285
• themselves: the "Ultimate Man [der letxJe Mensch] lives longest," observes
Zarathustra. "His race [Geschlecht] is as inexterminable [unaustilgbar] as the
flea." (Z Prologue 5)62 As for the superior "clevemess" of the majority, Nietzsche

makes two interrelated points. FlI'St1y, as we saw in Cbapter IV, Nietzsche deeros

the herd majority's priestly leadership adept at stamping out all noble non-
conformity by turning youthful noble types against themselves and their own
instincts from the start. "Our best is still young," wams Zarathustra, "this excites
old palates. Our flesh is tender, our skin is only a lamb-skin: - how should wc not
excifC old idol-priests!" (Z m ONL 6) Secondly, Nietzsche associates slave
morality with a cowardly, calculating prudence or clevemess [Klugheit] that enables
the servile-minded ta place their own self-preservation and "pitiable comfort" above
all other considerations (sec Chapter Il). In Zarathustra's memorable portrait of the
letzte Mensch. for example, the last man councils bis fellows to "go about warily."
(Z Prologue 5) The many-too-many would never consider putting themselves at

risk in the name ofany higher ideal; this is an important IelISOn why they breed so
successful1y. "Wbat distinguishes the common type," Nietzsche observes, "is that
it never loses sight ofits advantage [VOTteil)•••" (GS 3)63
The noble-minded, by contrast, routinely court danger in countless ways, and
are often "glad ta go over the bridge" (Z Prologue 4) inta oblivion as aresult of
some risky, but outstanding, deed. They have neither the time nor the enezgy for
self-defensive "prudence," as their ICSOurces must he cbannelled in their entiIety

62 Sec also BGE 268. where N1CIZSCbe suggests that "mon: on:IinaIy human
beings" are much IDOle likely ta find snitable mates and reproduce than "the mon:
select, subtle, raIe and harder ta understand," who may VClj' well pass their entire
lives without finding a companion who could understand them. The
autobiographical allusion is nnmistakable.
63 Earlier in this passage Nietzsche suggests that "[c]ommonnatures consider all

• noble, magnanill!tJUS feelings inexpedient and therefote fust ofall inaech"ble." [Den
gemeinen NatuTm erscheinen alle edlen, grofJmiitigen Geftih1e ais unzweekmIijJig
111II1 desha1b zuaIlererst ais ung1aubwürdig•••]

286
• into creative aetivity. Their resulting "helplessness" [Hiljlosigkeit] in the fuce of
"everything small," Nietzsche elaborates, is
conditioned by the ttemendous expenditure of all
defensive energies [ungeheuren Verschwendung
aller J)efer.siv-Kriifte] presupposed by every creative
deed, every deed that comes from the most persona!,
innermost, deepest part of one's being. The minor
defensive capabilities are thereby as it were
suspended; they no longer receive any energy. (EH
"Z" 5)

The high-minded, magnanimous type, moreover, evinces a visceral repugnance


before the prospect of remaining CODStantly vigilant against the attaeks of bitterly
resentful inferiors. "1 must be without caution [ohne Vorsicht]:" insists
Zara!hustra, "50 my fate [mein Los] will have il." (Z IV S 2) Zarathustra decries
the petty suspicion that would be required for such cautious self-concem; "[t]imid
mistrustfulness," he supposes. "seems base [Das scheue Mifltrauen gilt ihr
germg].•• [as does] all-too-misttustful wisdom, for such is the nature ofcowardly
5ouls." (Z m TEr 2)64 As this charge ofcowardice demODStrates, Nietzsche
considers the authentic noble's "indifference ta and contempt for securlty, body,
life, comfort" (GM Ll!) ta be a sign of bis virtue. In GM LlO, Nietzsche speaks
admiringly and with obvious pricle of "a certain imprudence" [eine gewisse
Unklugheit] characterising the nobleman, bis "bold recldessness [lias tapfre
D1'IllIjlosgehn] whethcr in the face of danger or of the enemy•••" The lofty man's
badge ofhonour consists in steadfast1y Iefusing ta defend himself against the
thousand pinpricks or stings of the common natures smrounding him, even though
the accumulation ofthese petty annoyances may prove fatal6S "1 will makc light of

you," Zarathustta says ta the ïnsect-like common types SUltoUDding him, "since 1

64 See also Z n OMP, wheIe Zarathustra deems it bis "fust manly prudence"
[Menscben-Klugheit] ta let himselfbe deceived [betügen] "50 as not ta be on guard
[tuif der But Dl sein] against deceivers."

• 6S Apart!rom the images of the thousand pinprlcks or insect stings, Zarathustra


also evokes that of the stone which is gradually hollowed out "by many drops of
wickedness ••" (Z m He)
• have heavy things to carry; and what do 1care ifbPet1es and dragonflies sit
themselves on my bundIe!" (Z n OLe) He is "100 proud 10 kiII these sweet-toothed
creatures." (Z 1OFM), for to do so would he to attribute too much importance to

them. Better 10 he "without foresight" [oluze Vorsicht], to "live blindIy among


men, as if 1did not recognise them...". than "to he prickly towards small things,"
whieh seems to Zarathustra Iike "the wisdom of a hedgehog." (Z n OM!'; z m
VMS2)66

Nietzsche bas outlined two seemingly insurmountable obstacles to the


successful flourishing of the higher type of human heing in the modern age: the
capriciousness of FOT1U1Ul that tragically precipitates the routine sIaughter of
genius. and the petty vindietiveness of the many-too-many. against whieh the lofty
sort seem eonstitutionally incapable of self-defense. In spite of these obstacles, of
the seemïngly impossible odds against a renaiSS"nce of virtue and greatness.
Nietzsche refuses 10 adopt a resigned. despairing posture. Indeed, he condemns
"the fatality [dos Verhlingnis] that lies concealed in the idiotie guilenessness" of

must modems in the face ofthis holocaust (BGE 203). Hnmankind, he firmly
believes, can and ougbt 10 take up arms against the degradation of the species, and
enact counter-measures that work 10wards the species' petfcction.67 In order to do
SO, Nietzsche COllntenances a break with the pattern of allowing Chance and the

66 As Nussbanm bas recently pointed out, the idea that noble character is
incompatible with constant suspicion goes back 10 anciCllt Greek tragedy. moral
philosophy, and historical writing: "Euripides, Aristotle, and Thueydides CODeur in
the view that openness is an essenti.al condition of good character and that a
mistrustful SuspiciOIlS'""SS, which can come 10 an agent througb no moral failing,
but only througb experlenœ of the bad tbings in life, can he a poisop. that corrodes
all of the excellences, tuming them 10 forms ofvindictive defensiveness."
(Nussbaum 1986: 418)
67 Cf. JCanfmano' "Nature bas pIIIpOses (Zwecke). but it is not zweckmiJssig: it
does not proceed wisely 10 realize its purposes; its means are inadequate. wastefuI.
and inefficient. Hence man must help nature and work at bis own perfection."
(Kanfmaoo 1974: 174) Altbougb Nietzsche would not agree with Kanfmaoo's

• attribution of agency 10 "Nature" with a capital "N" (see Chapter m>, he does call
for intervention in a "natural" process that appeiUS 10 be 1eading the human species
to utter degradation.

288
• practÏtioncrs oÏ slave morality to subvert the reproduction of bigher human beings.
Nietzsche insists that although the status quo bas miraculously (or, perbaps more
appropriately, "accidently") aIlowed for the appearance ofone such as he - someone
who managed to =pc the leveling tendencies of mainstream society with bis
nobility intact - mattcrs will never improve for the bigher type in general unIess a
concerted interVention is made into the reaIm of politics.
Nietzsche speaks in this context of the need to cali upon "[t]remendous counter-
forces [ungeheure Gegenkriifte] •.• to cross this nanu'll1, aIl tao natural progressus
in simile [progress towards uniformity]" (BGE 268) The sort of counterVailing
political action envisioned by Nietzsche is aimed at ensuring that "this type of
'accident''', i.e. the appearance of strong, noble men, is "willed consciously." (WP
979)68 It involves the establishment of planned and controlled measures of
cultivation ofnascent noble types, as a means ofsheltering them from bath the
vagaries of Chance69 and the vindictiveness of the base. Thal Nietzsche sees bis
twin enemies as Fortuna and the proponents of slave morality is demonstrated

clearly in EH "D" 2, when he speaks of bis "task" [Azifgabe] as the preparation for
mankjnd's "step[ping] out from the domination ofchance and the priesthood [aus

68 This entire fragment of the Nach1tIss, from 1885, reads as follows:


"Flmdamental thought: the new values must fiIst he =tee! - we shal1 not he spared
this task! For us the philosopher must he a legislator [Gesetlgeber]. New types.
(How the bighest types bitherto {e.g., Greeks} were reared : ta will this type of
'chance' consciously.)" [(Wre bisherdie hOchstenArten (z,B. Griechen) geVlchtet
wurden: diese Art <<Zufall» bewujJt wollen)] Cf. AC 3: the "more valuable
type" of man, observes Nietzsche, "bas existed often enough a1ready: but as a lucky
accident, as an exception, never as willed." In breaking with this past trend,
Nietzsche asks, "what type ofhuman being one ought ta breed, ought ta will. as
more valuable, more worthYoflife..." (Ibid.) Nietzsche, it shouId he DO!ed,
stœssed Iepeatedly that he wisbed the bighest sort of man ta sec himselfDot as an
accident [Zlifall], "but [as] a Decessïty [Nezessitllt]" (EH "Clever" 8). zarathustra
identifies the bigbest sort as "the most nccessmy souI" [die notwendigste] in this
sense (Z m ONL 19).
69 "•..it is all my art and aim. ta compose inta one and bring tagether what is

• fragment andIiddle and dreadful chance [das ist all mein Dichten und TrachJm,
dofl ich in Eins dichte und zusœnmentrage, was BrudJstiick ist und Riitsel und
grauser Zufallj." (Z II OR)

289
• der Herrschaft des Zufalls und der Priester heraustritt).•." He understands this
"stepping out" in tenns of a rectification of injustice, which is the great
responsibility of the "new philosophers," whose motto ("royal calling") Nie1Zsche
takes from Chatlemagne's Anglo-Saxon advisor, the theologian Alcuin: prava

corrigere. et recta corroborare. et sancta sublimare [fo correct what is 'l\TOng.


and strengthen the right, and raise what is holy). (WP 977)

To recap: 1began this chapter by arguing that NielZsche's undeniable rejection


of the conventional (democratic and dynastic) politics of bis day is in no way
indicative ofa fundamentally a- or anti-political stance. The conventional view of
NielZsche as an anti-political thinker ofien stems from narrow interpretations of bis
avowed status as an "aesthetic" tbinker. 1 suggested instead that if we read bis
aestheticism much more broadly we are in a better position to appreciate bis
vaunting of many kinds ofcreative, "artistic" prowess, inc1uding that evinced by
political actars. We found that the type ofpolitical activity that Nie1Zsche valorises
above all must he of an ambitioUS, foundational nature. An admirer of the
"architectural" spirit orthe statesmen ofancient Rome, he considers as partïcuiarly
praisewortby and "great" thase deeds aimed at founding or sustaining a long-lasting

political-cultural onIer. 1then suggested that Nietzsche fancies bjmselfa would-be


emn1ator of this ancient constitutionalist tradition, and looks toward the foundation
of a radically new onIer that would not only haIt, but aclnally œverse the insidious
process of "species degeneration" that Nietzsche believes to be characteristic of the
modern age. The bigbest bnman beings, at the height of their moral-spiritual
maturity. come in bis view to realise their great œsponsibility for the future of the
hnman species, and set as their overriding goal the improvement of the species. In
light ofNie1Zsche's aforementioned tendency to associate the bighest potentials of

• humankind with a minority of supposedly gifted human beings, species

290
• improvement tums out to involve a firm commitment to the ultimate artistic projcet:
that of attending to the condition - and the possibilities of successful reproduction -
of these gifted exemplars.
In this context we began our discussion of the use of the concept of ''breeding''

in NielZSChe's writings. Against the tendency to sec NielZSChe's references to


procreation in a 5'nctly metaphoricallight, 1cla;1lled to detect a continuum in bis use
of procreative imagery. from the clearly metaphorical to the literaI. Between the
two extremes there secms to be a great deal ofimportance placed on "breeding" in
the pedagogical sense. as Nietzsche attends to matters of the early upbringing and
education of the young. Modem. "herd" :;ociety. he believes, bas been committed
for centuries to the cultivation of the wrong sort ofhuman being: the weak-willed,
mean-spirited sort. Room bas to be made for another. rival type of breeding that
would be aimed al the minority offiner human specimens and that would be wholly
inappropriate for the majority.
The issue ofNietzsehe's occasional flirtation with fatalism was once again
raised as we examined bis ambivalent views on the impact ofheredity. The
fatalistic dimension appears in bis rather blithe assumption that the sort of
pedagogical regime he posits for the finest would be wasted on those without their
inherently noble instincts. He noted how Nietzsche al times appears 10 embrace the
view that such instincts are essentially a produet ofa certain genealogical, "blood"
lineage, whose effects are inescapable. His own (rather dubious) efforts al
establishing a conventionally distinguished heritage for himself can be taken as
further evidence ofbis attraction to this view. However, in the face of bis own
rather modest backgmund, and bis contempt for bis own mother and sister.
Nietzsche ~ from this biological detenninism, adopting a position much
more in line with bis (Aristotelian-type) developmental ethics that refuses 10 tie

• moral character 50 tightly 10 heredity. It is posstole, he concludes, for someone of

291
• modest lineage to somehow he bom with (or develop early on) noble instincts, and
transcend the limitations and disadvantages of bis immediate milieu through the
strength of bis will.
Notwithstanding the thrust of Nierzsche's definitive rejection ofbiological
determinism, 1 continued to axgue for the existence of the literaI end of the
continuum. i.e. for Niettsehe's abiding interest in the procreation and rearing of
children. While finding little worthwhile in most mar.riages and familles (given bis
jaundiced view of the characters of most spouses and parents, including those
found in conventionally "aristocratic" circles), Niettsehe deems it ofover.riding
importance to ensure the most propitious conditions for bath the physical
reproduction of the highest human beings and the nurture of their offspring.
Indeed, 1 axgued that Niettsehe's foray in the area of eugenics represents the second
of a two-front assault on the fon:es of bis capricious nemesis: Fortuna. The first
assault, represented by the thought experiment known as Etemal Return,

purportedly subdues Fortune rettospectively, through an imaginative transfonnation


of all that was into a "thus 1 willed it". Nietzsehe's desire ta control the "breeding"
conditions of a select groUP. by contrast, involves a more future-oriented strategy.
Whereas heretofore the lot of the superior human being was subject ta the Yae,oaries
of Cbance, ie. was unproteeted from the disastrous effects ofunintended bad luck
(and intended maliciousness on the part of the resentful majorlty), Niettsehe intends
bis vietory over the forces ofcontingency ta ïnclude a definitive taking charge of the

highest 5Ort'5 breeding.

"[T]he goal for mankind that Nietzsche affirms and the cultural vision it
entails," DOtes Detwiler. "are of political significance because this goal._ may he
compatible only with a certain kind ofpolitical order." (Detwi1er 1990: 12-13) But


what does this imagined political arder look 1ike? When Nietzsche claims to know
"away out of [the] blind alley" that is modem, "herd" society (EH "cw- 2), what

292
• sort of alternative society does he have in mind? Where is political power held, and

how is it organised? In the next chapter, we will examine Nietzsche's picture of

how the friendship of bis free-spirited human heings would manifest itself. and will

also explore the crucial question of their relationship with the vast majority. We

shall also examine bis view of the place of women and of the gender relations that

oUght to he present in such a society.

• 293
• CbllDter IXi Cam and Gender Relations in the Nietzschean Utopia

The Inner Cïrcle

Nietzsehe's portrait of bis ideal community is admittedly sketchy, and the seant
attention he gives to many issues of capital importance (such as how the new order
is to he brought about, where it should he located, how its economic and social
institutions should he organised. ete.) might lead one to conclude, with Williams,
that Nietzsche in fact bas "no coherent set ofopinions" about how polities ought to

he organised in the modem world (W"illiams 1993: 10-11). 1would argue,

however, that this penuxy ofdetail should he secn as evidence of the


underdevelopment, rather than the absence, of a political vision: A determinate
pietuIe of the political sphere - albeit one that is wanting in specifies - does emerge
in the course of Nietzsehe's outline of the conditions ofhuman flourishing. In the
pages that follow 1 will attempt ta descnèe it, outlining the features that 1 take to he
morally objectionable as well as inherently unstable.
It may seem strange to suggest that Nietzsehe's imagine<! political order
resembles Plato's ideal polis in a number ofimportant respects. given the former's
identification ofPlatonic metaphysies with the "slave revoIt" in marais. Bllt as
Nehamas bas rightly noted, Nietzsehe's view of Socrates and Plato is far from
completely neg3tÏve. (Nehamas 1985: 24-34) 1 would argue that Nietzsche's
greatest difficulty with Plato Ie1ates to the 1atter's notion of the Forms, which is

rooœd in a metaphysical dualist frameworlc thatNietzsehe cannot accept (sec

Chapter 1). As far as Plato's polities are concemed, however, Nietzsche heartily

embraces its unapologetically Bitist and aulhoritarian implications. 1 The strocture

1 Sec bis admjring comments about "Plato's pe1fect state" [Der volIkommne Staal

• Platos] in an carly essay, "The Greek State". Sec Der griechische Staal, KGA
m(2): 258-271. Cf. bis discussion ofPlato in the essay "Schopenhauer as
Edueator" in UM.m.8.

294
• of Nietzsche's own envisioned political order can he described in terms of a series
ofconcentric ciI'C1es, with an inner ciI'C1e composee! of a minority ruling clique of
bigher human beings. SUITOunded by a much larger ciI'C1e representing a majority
population that is both under the tutelage of the minority and instrumental for its
continued flourishing. 2
Within the inner ciI'C1e, divcrsity rooted in commonality is the rule. As
Zarathustra explains, "many noblemen [Edlen] are needed. and noblemen of many

kinds.for nobility [Adel] to e.xist!" (Z m ONL Il) Further on in this same section

he makes the same point in the form of a parable, declaring that "'[P]recisely this is
godIiness, that there are gods but no God!'" (Ibid.) Although Nietzsche assumes

that noble persons have many traits in common (wbich aUows him to speak of

nobility in genera1, as an Ideal type; see Chapter m. he also believes that there are
many different ways and spheres in wbich nobility can manifest itself.3 The
members of the select commnnity are aU oflofty sta1UIe not becallse they move in
lock-step (from a Nietzschean perspective, such uniformity would he a sign of

slavishness), but rather becanse each bas it in him to find bis own path to nobility.
Neither a "social contract" nor any other legalistic device serves as the cement

that binds these friends and antagonists together. Zarathustra decries as "soft-

hearted" the view that that society is a conlract (Z mONL 25); such an insistence
upon "oaths instead ofloolcs and bands", he believes, implies a "timid
mistrustfulness" [das scheue Mi,6tnzuen] and is theIefore "base" [gering] (Z m
TET 2). In contrast to the "cowardly souls" who prudently bide behind legalistic
guarantees ofpersonal safety, Nietzsche's imagined nobles (likc the nobles of

2 We sball see be10w that Nietzsche also posits an "inner, inner circIe" ,Le. a
bieran:hy within the ruling caste.


3 1 disagrec with Wmen's contention that Nietzscbe's explicit politics denies the
role ofcultuIe "as a medium ofindividuation._" (Wmen 1988: 74) For Nietzsche•
the role ofcultuIe and politics is to cultivate, rather than stifle, noble individuality
amongst those (fe) with lofty dispositions and bea1thy instincts.

295
• antiquity) constrain themselves through "custam, respect. usage, gratitude, and
even more by mutuaI suspicion and jeaIousy..." along with "consideration, seIf-
control, deIieat.:y, loyalty, pride, and friendship..." (GM L11) Warren accurately
notes tha1 Nietzsche foresees the preservation of social order not through "equai
rights" in the form ofJega! guarantees, but through "the prese:ace of a eulturaIly
sustained mutuaI respect for others." (Warren 1988: 72) In a social context of
relative equaIity, a smaIl group of noble types may consider it "good manners"
[guten Sitten] to refrain "from mutuaI injury, mutuaI violence, mutuaI exploillltion,
to equate one's own will with tha1 ofanother..." (BGE 259) In sum, rather than
proposing the state as an externaI guarantor of rights, Nietzsche posits "a self-
policing eommunity of individuaIs•••" (Ibid., 74) in which informai displays of
(sometimes grudging) respect for those ofequai stature take the place of (what are
for Nietzsche) petty-minded, cowardiy rules and regulations.4
Some Nietzsche commentators, eager ta put the best po5S1ole face on
Nietzsche's poiitical views, have fastened upon tbis portrayai of aristocratie
equaIity and mutuaI respect ta argue tha1 Nietzsche was favourably disposed (al
least al certain points in bis career) towards some form ofpopular democracy.

Detwîler, for cxample, points to Nietzsche's so-caI1ed middie period as a time of


"heightened tolerance for democrati.e institutions", when Nietzsche œtreated "from
the more c1carly aristocratie poiitical vision which ••• is present in both the earlier

and 1ater writings." (Detwiler 1990: 14) Warren similarly claims tha1 severa!

aphorisms from Nie!7.SChe's middie period "delineate a positive political equaIity

4 Sec in tbis context tbis carly depiction of crime and pnnisbment in an ideaI
political orcier. in which the transgxessor, instead ofbeing sentenced by an
impersona11egal code, "caIls bimself to account and publicly dietates bis own
pllDisl!JDent, in the proud feeling tha1 he is thus honourlng the law which he bimself
bas made, that by pllnishing himselfhe is exeR:ising bis power, the power of the

• lawgiver [die Macht des Gese~ebus]_." (D 187) In Nietzsche's imagined


political arder, there can he no rule oflaw that circumvents the highest human
being's hegemonie will.

296
• based on a mutual recognition." (Warren 1988: 71) While conceding that it "may
seem odd" 10 impute an egalitarian strain to Nietzsche. Warren insists that Nietzsche
does not oppose "political cultures that inc1ude equal rights." (Ibid.. 72)
Warren is, in one sense, quite right: Nietzsche does make conceptual room for
the notion ofpolitical equality. However. in failing to place bis picture of equality
within the larger context of a hierarchical, aristocratic society• Warren and Detwiler
have mjssec! the ClUCial point. Nietzsche is interested in encouraging relations of

equality between bis highest h'JIIIan beings, and not between thcse noble types and
the rest of the population. With respect to relations between the noble ciIcle and the

larger mass ofbumanity. relations of domination and subordination (as we shall

see) are routinely proposeci as perfectly compatl"le with the principle ofjustice.S
As we noted in Chapter IV, Nietzsche staunchly opposes "equal rights" when this

phrase is taken as an injunction 10 treat aIl- the fine as weil as the vulgar - in the
same manner.6

The wary respect that characterises relations between the friends and rivals of
Nietzsehe's inner circle is c10sely related 10 each individual's zeaIous assertion and
defence of bis own self-sufficiency, i.e. bis freedom from dependency upon others
(Chapter Vll). Unlike late eighteenth-centUly theorists ofcolDlllCl:CÏa1 society like

Montesquieu. Kant, Adam Smith. and Benjamin Constant, who argued that the
emeIging varieties ofmutuaI dependence in a modem. commercialised wodd would

5 Nietzsche's inegalitarianism is by no means limited 10 bis "mature period". His


anti-œmoaatic sentiments cmcrge even in those middle period passages that are
purpo11ed 10 speak favourably ofdem.ocracy. For example, in the aphorlsm in "the
Wanderet and bis Shadow" where dem.ocracy is cbaracterised as a mode ofpolities
that creates and guarantees "as much independence as possible" (HAB IL2.293),
Nietzsche presupposes a tendentious notion of democracy that in no way
coaesponds 10 the modem (or even the Dineteenth-centmy) undelstanding of the
term. When read carefully, Nietzsehe's "democracy", which is said 10 be
"sornetbing [thathas] yet 10 come", bans aIl political party activity, as weIl as voting
amongst the ploperty-Iess and the very rich. These can hardly be the suggestions

• of a democrat.
6 "For men are not equal, thus speaks justice. And what 1desire. they may nut
desire!" (Z II OS)

297
• have a benign effect upon the human condition, Nietzsche stubbomly maintains the
aristocratie view that ail occupations dependent upon the will of others are. by
definition, servile. As Zarathustra declares, "1 also call wretehed those who always
have to wail - they offend my taste: ail tax-collectors and shopkeepers and kings
and other keepers of lands and shops." (Z m OSG 2) Even a head of modem
nation-state. in bis eyes. is not wholly self-sufficient, for no matter how fum bis
grasp of the helm of state. he, too. must "wait" upon the will ,?f many others.
Nietzsche cannot abide this fact of modem politicallife: "Truly. 1 tao have learned
10 wail, 1have learned it !rom the very heart, but only to wait for myself." (Ibid.)
Exactly what this is supposed to entail is unclear. How is a noble type
supposed to attain a state of perfect self-sufficiency. in ligbt of the importance
Nietzsche attributes 10 friendship. which (arguahly) implies a certain mutual
dependency? We have a1ready notcd this tension between an uncompromising.
Stoie-inspired desiIe for self-sufficiency and bis competing desite 10 develop and
sustain satisfying telationships with kindred spirits ofsimilarly lofty dispositions.

When zarathustra insists that "1 live in my own ligbt, 1 drink back. into myselfthe
fJames that break from rœ.I 1 do not know the joy of the receiver; and 1bave often
dteamed that stealing must be more blessed than receiving" (Z II NS). he seems 10

repudiate the dimension ofIeciprocity sa aucial 10 the sustenance ofany long-term,


satisfying huma" telationship. Ironically. the Nietzsche who insists upon the
necessily ofgiving as a pxecondition for the deveIopment ofvirtuc7 cannat bàng

himself10 ac1alowledge the corol1aIy: that one must learn 10 receive as well as 10
give.
The dccision 10 teceive who1e-heal1edly the offerings ofa friend is denounced
as an unconditional surrender. a "going over" 10 one's frlend [übervareten] that is

• 7 "Does not the giver owe thaDks 10 the teceiver for teceiving? Is giving not a
nece ssity [lst Sc1umken l'licht eine Notdu1ft]?" (Z m OGL) Recall the diccnssion in
Cbapter VII.

298
• base and servile (Z lOF). As an altematVe, Zarathustra counsels a more cautiaus,
guarded approach to one's friends, a "going near" 10 them [herantreten] rather than

the "going over" that supposedly compromises one's absolute independence


(Ibid.). To reiterate,just how Nietzsehean individuals are supposed to square this

cirele and reconci1e their undeniable need for supportive, lofty human contact with a
harsh, uncompromising autarehic ideal is left unc\ear. Nietzsche's failure to

explore these issues more deeply suggests (to me, at anJ rate) that the very
coherence (not to mention realism) of Nietzsehe's inner circle of friendslrivals is
very much in doubt.

Varieties ofPolitical Rule in the New Order

We have already noted how Nietzsche's ambivalence 1Owaros sociability


produces an agonistic conception offriendship in which friend and enemy seem to
intertwine. Forinspiration, Nietzsche looks back approvingly to the competitive
nature ofpolitics in the ancient Greek polis, believing that the ancient
concepmalisation of the political sphere as agon, a space of aristocratic contest and
rivalry, contributed in no small way 10 the cultivation of nobility in antiquity.8
Nietzsche wishes 10 sec this contentious spirit zebom in bis reconstituted political
order: "Who cau CQIDmand. who cau obey - that is experimentuJ here [Wer
befehlen konn, wer gehorchen mujJ - das wir4 da venucht]!" (Z mONL 2S)

8 In "Bomets Contest", Nietzsche argues that the insti~ti(ll1alised Competitions of


the Greek agon provided a CODStrUCtive outlet for the potœtially destructive wills of
competitors, tb=by preserving GIeek commlJnity life and fostering a higher
cultme. Ruth ANx:y draws an intcresting parallel between this N1etZSChean account
ofbow the pUISUit ofself-inteœst worlœd unintentionally for the public good and
earlier, eightcenth-cent accounts of the .mintendcd, benign c:ooscquences of

• individual egoism in Kant (".msocïal sociability") and Smith (the "invisible band")•
sec Abbey 1994: 7. Foran interesting discussion of this eighteenth-centUIy
discourse, sec Hh'schmann lm.

299
• Fierce competition must he the rule in Nietzsebe's ideal society, for in bis view
every individual who evince the ttaits of a "master" seeks openly and
unapologetically to rule over others. "[T]he best [dos Beste] shall rule,"
Zarathustra procla.ms, "the best wants ta rule [will auch herrschen]! And where it

is taught different1y, there - the 1:lest is lacking." (Z ID ONL 21) One of the reasons
NIetZSChe 50 despises slave morality is that it cultivates an ethos in which desire for
rule is ostensibly discouraged and disparaged. In the society of the "last man," as
Zarathustra famously utters, no one wishes ta rule any more, for ruling (and even

obeying) are deemed ta he tao much ofa "burden". (Z Prologue S) While he

observes that 1ust for rule is also present in societies undergirded by servile morality
(notwithstanding protestations ta the contraly), he argues that in these societies it is
manifested covert1y, masking itselfdishonestly and hypocritically in the rhetoric of

"obedience" and "service";


And 1 have found this hypocrisy the worst among
them: that even those who command affect the
virtues of those who obey [aueh die, welche
befehlen, die Tugenden derer heucheln, welche
diellell]J 1 serve, you serve, we serve' - 50 heIe
even the hypocrisy of the rulers. [die Heuchelei der
Herrschenden] intanes - and alas, ifthe fiIst ruler is
only the fiIst servant! (Z ID VMS 3)

Hypocrisy, believes Nietzsche, is the ODIy outeome of a social ethos that denies the
fact that the will ta power drives evetythiDg: "They lie in wait for one another, they
wheedle things out ofone another - the call that 'good neighbourliness' [gute
Nadrbarschaft]." (Z ID ONL 21)

In Nietzsebe's ideal new political oroer, by CODtrast, ail hypocrisy is tossed


aside in favour ofan open, hoDèst "lust for power" [Herrschsucht], a desire ta rule
which, when evinccd by the loftiestofmen, scarcely wmants the appellation

"lust"; "Lust for power: but who sha1l call it lust, whCn the height longs ta stoop

• down afterpower [doch wer hiejJe es SucIrt, wenn dos Hohe hinab nach Macht

300
• gelüstet]! Troly, there is no sickness and lust in such a longing and descent!" (Z

TET 2) The open clash of competing wills to power in the aristocratie inner circle
is, for Nietzsche, a noble thing of beauty.
m

As for the nature of this competition - whether it involves tests of physical

prowess, rhetoIical skills, etc. - Nietzsche leaves these matters undefined. He is


quite c1ear, however, about what he sees as the ideal result of such a competition.

Wbile the inner circle bas no set hierarchy au départ, Nietzsche appears to
countenance the emetgence of a meritocratie hierarchy out of the "experimentation"
involved in having a group ofexceptional human beings compete for supremacy.
Un1ike commentators like Honig and Connolly, who find in Nietzsche a utopian
idea1 ofperpetual, chaotie contestation (e.g. Honig 1993a: 229), Ibelieve!bat
Nietzsche envisions a telos ta bis battle of giants: the emergence of a victor who is
strongest, wisest, and most virtuous. As Zarathustra puts it, "[h]uman society
seeks ... the commander [Befehlenden]!" (Ibid.)9 Around the commander, he

continues, "assembles a people, !bat is ta say: manyexperimenters [Versuchende]."


(Ibid.)

In a strikingly Platonie spirit, Nietzsche sees emerging out of these lofty battles
for supremacy a new, inner hierarchy, with a "predominantly spiritual type" [die
vorwiegend Geistigen] reigning ovec a "predominantly mnSC'l1ar and tempem1ental

type" [die vorwiegend Muskel-und Temperaments-StaTken], the latter being

"second in rank" and expected ta Idieve the former, ie. "the most venerable
[eluwiùdigste] kind ofhuman being," of "everything coane in the work of ruling

9 Aristotle also speaks of a St'JIl ofcompetition between Doble friends in the


NICtJmIlCheanEthics (1162b6-l3; 1168b19-69a6-1S), butas Annas convincingly
argues, he (1ID1ike N"JCtzschc) does not conceive ofthis COmpetitiOD as a zero-sum
game. For Aristotle, "COmpetitiOD ta he virtuous is Dot a contest for a limited good,
and 50 does Dot take away anything from others, or cont1ict with what is in their
interests. This is a competition in which thete me DO winDers and DO lasers, and

• things workout fortlx; bestforeveryone..." (Annas 1993: 2S7) As largue be1ow,


Nietzsche adhcres ta a more conventional Dotion ofcompetition involving winners
and lasers.

301
• [alles Grobe in der Arbeit des Herrschaft]." (AC 57) It is surely no accident that

this emergent hieran:hy recalls the divisions within Plato's "guardians" in the

Republic between a crème de la crème inner clique of philosophees and an outer


group of "auxiliarïes." (Republic DI, 412b-421c)

These au-rj1jaries play a key l'Ole in the relations between Nietzsche's

hierarchically-organised élite and the vast majority. As we noted in Chapter IV,


Zarathustta concludes that maintaining any sort ofintegration between the higher
and Iower ranks ofhumankind would he self-destructive for the former: a higher
type ofhuman being living in the midst ofmainstream society is always "sucked

dIy" hy the parasitical majority (e.g. Z m ONL 19). The imperative of maintaining

a form of apartheid between master- and slave-types, a prime motive for the higher
sort's flight into solitude (Chapter VI), is retained in the recanstituted political order
of Nietzsche's imagination. Nietzsche insists that a "master race" [eine Herren-
Rasse] at its highest Ievel ofdevelopment cannot remain preoccupied with the

mnndan~ task of nùing ovec inferiors. "Not merely a master race whose sole task
is to rule [regieren]," emphasises N'1ClZSChe in a fragment from the Nach1ass, "but

a race with ils own sphere of life [eine Rasse mit eigenerLebenssphlire]•••" (WP
898; emphasis added) One should sec bis favourable comments about the Indian
"Law ofManu", which countenanees a rigidly-maintained hierarchical caste system,
in this lighllO The attitude ofN'lClZsche's "spiritual" type of master towaIds the

10 Cf. TI TIM 3, in which Nietzsche lands the separation ofIndian society into
fOlU' "races": a priestly. a warrior, a uading and fanning "race", and finally a menia!
race. Further on, he remaries: "One draws a breath of reliefwhen coming out of
the Christian 5Ïck-house and dungeon atmospbeœinto this bealthier, higher, wider
worId. How paltIy the 'New Testament' is compared with Manu, Iiow ill it
smeIlsl" (Ibid.) When discnssing the strlngent restrictions on the "Untoucbables"
of the Indian caste system, N'1ClZSChe suggest5 that "[P]erbaps there is nothing
which outtages 0lU' feelings more than these p:oteetive measures ofIndian
morality." (Ibid.) Kanfmann argues thattbeseWOJdsimply acritical stance
towaIds this "morality of breeding" [Die Moral der Zilc1rtlmg) (TI TIM 5) as a

• whole. (Kanfmann 1974: 225) My view. on the contrary, is that Nietzsche


endorses the separation ofcastes in genetal, and merely wishes to take issue with
the unsanitaIy nature of certain restrictions upon the Untoucbables (which, he

302
• plebeian e1ement, moreover, can be seen in zarathustta's approach to beggars.
zarathustra, we will reca11, finds the very sight of beggars offensive, and yeams for
their banisbme1lt (or e1imination).l1

Like Plato's auxiliaries, Nietzsehe's are expected to have greater day-to-day

contael with the majority "mediocre type" [die Mittelmiij3igen] than with the highest
individua1s, who cannot be expected to sully their bands by dealing with the
majority plebeian e1ement (AC 57). This division of labour between different types
ofpolitica1 rule - i.e, between those in the inner circ1e with the task of ruling over
the majority and those responsible for ruling only over themse1ves and their peers -
recalls the hierarchica1 distinctions of Aristotelian politica1 philosophy. AristotJe, it

will be recalled, associates the highest form of rule with a participatory, republican
politics conducted between free, self-goveming men, conttasting it favourably with
despotic rule over slaves or slave-like persons. who, for whatever reason (mnate
deficiencies, economic deprivation, ete.), cannot govem themse1ves. 12 Similarly,
Nietzsche deems the kind of rule nover select disciples or brothers" [ausgesuchte
Jünder oder Ordensbrüder] to be best and "most refined," (feinste] whereas the
direction of the larger commnnity of unequals is said to require a cruder form of
rule, "the necessary dirt of a11 politics [dem notwendigen Schmutz alles Politik-
Machens]." (BGE 61)13

belïeves, is respons1Dle for "murderous epidemics" that endanger the lives of a11; TI
TIM3).
11 "Beggars._ shou1d be entirely abolished! Truly, it is annoying to give to them
and annoying not to give to them." (Z n OC) .
12 "AlI the different kinds ofrule are not, as some affirm. the samè as each other.
For there is one rule exercised over subjects who are by nature free, another over
subjects who are by nature slaves." The Politics, L7, 1255b16-17. Cf. 1253820-
24; 116Oa1O-b32; 1295b18-22; 1324b31-35.
13 In this context NielZSclte once again refers to the Jndian caste system, singling
out the Brahmins as an admirah1y discip1ined religious œder that "have themselves

• the power ofnominatjng their kings for the people, while keeping and feeling
tbemselves aside and outside as men ofhigher and more than kingly tasks." (BGE
61)

303
• It is worth emphasising that this imagined type of rule over and between high-
minded equals is indeed eminently political. Just as Aristotle criticises many of bis

contemporaries in the Politics for wrongly assuming that the inferior, del;potie type
of rule constitl1tes politics as such, wc should take to task those commentators who
assume that Nieœsche's condescension towards the rule of masters over slaves is
tantamount to a repudiation ofpolitics. Detwiler makes this dubious assumption
when he declares that the "new philosopher" at the pinnacle ofNieœsche's new
aristocratie order ois not a politicalleader, but ..• uses politicalleaders as bis tools
as he sets the will ofmillennia on new ttaeks." (Detwiler 1990: 144) In passages
like these Detwiler adheres to an ex.cessively restrictive conception of politics, in
whieh the "political" refers narrowly and exclusively to the master's rule over
inferiors. Given such a restrictive Ieading, it is understandable why he deems
Nit:tzsche's position to he "antipolitical".l4 If, however, wc adopt the broader,
more inclusive view of the political used in this study, that sees politics as
incorporating aspirations for the cultural and moral betterment of the hnma n
species, Nietzehe's writings can he placed firmly in the "political" camp.ls My

14 Detwiler is not entiIely consistent in bis use of the term "political". At one
point, when he claims that Nieœsche "advocatcs akind ofpolitics ••• that is wholly
suboldinate to what is conducive to or expressive of the levels of cultural
attainrnent..." (Detwiler 1990: 66), he appe81s to conntenance a broader, more
inclusive conception.
15 Admittedly, Detwilets D8m1W conception of the political bas a long and
distinguished bistoIy. As far back as the French religious wars of the sixteenth
centUIy, those idcntified as the Politùples argued in favour of a purely smilar.
œSttictive concept of the state, dcDoJmcing as "antipolitical" those who argued for
the retention of oider, theoclatic modeIs, according to which politics must subserve
higber ends. Tbe Politùples, it will he recalled, insiS'M that tbeir naaow notion of
politics was the only way to save France from self-destnJction through unceasing
civil sttife betweeD religious factions. Their viewpoint bas proved tIernendously
attractive in the modem wortel, and today finds perbaps its most articulate
ex:pIession in the woJX ofJohn Rawls, whose notion of an "ovedapping
consensus" remains dependent upon a vision ofpolitical dtbaIe that rules all (or

• most) questions of the good Jife out-of-bouncls. Sec Rawls 1993: 133-211•
Wbether this view ofpolitical contcstalion is desirable, and even coherent, remains
a matter ofcontroversy and cannot he dise1Jssed here.

304
• argument, in a nutshell, is that Nietzsche denounœs "petty politics" in the name of

another, ostensibly "grander" conception of the political.

Master-Slave Relations & the Myth of SeIf-Sufticlenc:y

While favouring the rarified type of political contestation charactcristic ofan


élite inner circle, Nietzsche does not ignore the second, inferior type of rule over the

vast majority. As we discussed in Chapter IV, Nietzsche believes that since the

dawn ofslave morality the majority bas always nUISed a bitter resentment towal'ds
the few, noble spirits whom it knew i.nstinctiveiy to he superior. The rancor is saiei
to be due, we will recall, to the majority's intuitive recognition of the asymmetry of
obligation between themselves and this lofty minority; the majority feels itselfin
greater debt to the creative few than vice-versa. This coostitutes a significant
danger for the few, for, as zarathustra remaries, "[g]reat obligations do not makc a

man grateful. they makc him resentful [GrojJe Verbindlichkeitm mm:hen nù:ht

don/cbar. sondem rachsiichtig]._" (Z n OC) Effective minority rule over this


resentful majority must therefore involve ways ofkeeping the latter's potentially
lethal rancor in check.

Unlike the rule within the inner ciIcle, which is envisioned as operating
accoIding to informaI, ad hoc ammgements, rule over the greater society should he

sttuetured by "the entire adminsttation ofIaw" [Recht]. which, claims Nietzsche.


lepresents a exucial tool in the stxuggle of the "active, sttong, spontaneous.

aggressive" men against the mob's "xeactive feelings." (GM Kil) As it was in the
days of the aristoaatic societies ofantiquity, 50 it should he in the future: a
Jasagen-ing, ruling élite should use·"the institution oflaw" [die Aufrichtung des
«Gesetz»] "to impose measure and bounds upon the excesses orthe reactive

• pathos and to compel it to come to texms." (Ibid.) This, Nietzsche insists, is


entirely consistentwith theclaims ofjustice: "Whereverjustice [Gerechtigkeit] is

30S
• practiced and maintained," he dcc1ares, "one sees a stronger power seeking a means

of putting an end to the senseless raging of ressenJimenl among the weaker powers
that stand under it..." (Ibid.) The just polilical order is one in which the vast

majority je: regulated by stringent legal codes administered and intetpreted by a well-
cullivated minority (or at least the lower, "auxili3l)''' lier of the minority élite),
which itself is exempt from such restrictions.
In Chapter IV we lOOk note of Nietzsche's view that the just society must he

one of hierarchy. "[J]ustice speaks thus 10 me," declares Zarathustra,


'Men are not equal.'/ And they should not hecome
so, either! For what weIe my love of the Superman,
if 1 spoke otherwise?/ ••• [r]here should he more
and more war and inequality [immer mehr Krieg und
Ungleichheit] among them... (Z n 01)
The "love of the tJbermensch",linked in this passage with an altllchment to the idea
ofhuman inequality, implies a passionate commitment to the moral and spiritual
furtherance of the human species. 1would argue, furthermore, that Niel2SCbe
believes that sucb furtherance aetua1ly requires the increasing dominarion of the
inberently "strong" over the weak. My position must seem tendentious in ligbt of
Niel2SCbe's own, avowed normative idea1 of self-sufficiency. Indeed, many of
Nietzsehe's most ardent champions in the academic community see him to he a
wholly (X\DSÎstent advocate ofse1f-sufficiency, intelpreting this idea1 in terms of the
wholly se1f-referential goals ofse1f-masrery and care of the self: In this spirit
Strong concludes that Nietz:scbe's masters and slaves do not depend upon each
other in any way. (Strong 1988: 353)
Consistency, however, was never one ofN'JelZSChe's strongest points; our
e.uminarion bas revealed a more ambiguous pieture. By my lights, Nietz:scbe
subverts bis own ostensible commitment to self-sufficiency by holding that bealtby


expressions will to power, iftbey are to advance the species, must hecome other-
directed. The"emancipated individual [Freigewomne]," he insists, in the course of

306
• bis moral-spiritual development, becomes aware of how bis "mastery over Iùmself

[Herrschaft über sich] also necessarily gives him mastery over circumstances
[Umstiinde]. over nature [Natur]. and over all more short-willed and unreliable

creatures [alle willenskürzeren und ZInVlVerliissigeren Kreaturen]••." (OM ll.2) In

essence, he deems the presence of the weak and inferior to be essential to the
freedom of the strong. master type. "That which is termed 'freedom of the will'
[Freiheit des Wùlens]." he explains, "is essentially the affect of superiority in
relation to him who must obey [der Oberlegen.'reits-Affekt in Hinsicht aufden, der
gehorchen 17lI4ll: 'I am free, he must obey' [«ich binfrei, er muj3 gehorchen»]
- this consciousness adheres to every will..." (BOE 19) Although he insists that

willing invoives a form of self-commanding.16 Nietzsche also crucially stresses that


bis conception of willing as a whole is relational in nature; i.e. it cannot be

abstraeted from power relations. (This. ofcourse, is an implication and a further


drawing out of bis view of the importance ofsociability for persona! flourishing.)
"Life," claims Zarathustra,
wants to raise itself on high with pillars and steps; it
wants to gaze into the far distance and out upon
joyful spiendour - that is why it needs height!l And
because it needs height, it needs steps and cOnfliet
between steps and those who climb them [braucht es
Stufen und Wulerspruch der Stufen und Steigenden]!
(ZnO'I)
The illusory nature ofNietzschean "self-sufficiency" lies in this need of the higher
sort ofindividual for the Iower type as a "step" to be tread upon in the ascent
toWllIds the summit ofhuman development Zarathustra Ieiteratcs this view further

on when he asks, "must there not exist that which is danced upon., danced across?

• 16 "A man who wills - commands something in himself which oheys or which he
believes oheys." (BOE 19) Recall our discussion ofNietzsehe>m self-mastery and
discipline (Chapter V) in this context.
• Must there not be moles and heavy dwarfs - for the sake of the nimble ...7" (Z m
ONL2)17

ln sum, the domination of a slave caste is said 10 be cssential for the


establishment and preservation of an aristocratie society. "As 10 how an aristocratie
society (that is to say, the precondition for this elevation of the type 'man' [der

VoraussetzJmgjener ErhOhung des Typus <<.Mensch»]) originates," Nietzsche


counsels us "not to yïeid to any humanitarian illusions..." (BGE 257) The "bard"
truth, he informs us, is that in every "higher culnue" heretofore, "men of prey

[Raubmenschen] sti1I in possession of an unbroken strength of will and lust for

power [Macht-Begierden], threw themselvcs upon weaker, more civilised, more


peacefu1 ••• races, or upon old mellow culnues.•." (Ibid.) Although Nietzsehe's
jmagined aristocratie types of the modern worid are quite different from bis portrait
of the original "barbarian castes" ofantiquity (Chapter lV), he be1ievcs that such
domination rernains a precondition for the establishment ofany aristocracy; even a
modern one along bis lines. In speaking ofhimseJfand bis imagined, like-minded
"children of the fut!lre," Nietzsche confidcs that

we think about the neccssity for new ordeIs [neuer


Ordnungen], also for a new slavery [einer neuen
~i] - for every strengthening and enhancemc:nt
[VerstBriamg und Erhôhung] of the hIJJnan type also
involvcs a new kind of enslavement reine neue Art
Vel;klavung]. (GS 377)
Even more specifically, Nietzsche decIares it to be a general rule that "the
homogenisïng specics" [Diese ausgeglichene Species] must serve "a higher

sovereign species that stands upon" it and that "ean raise itselfto its task oniy by
doing this."18 (WP 898)

17 It is in this light,I be1ieve, that we should read WP 7(IJ. "We must think of the
masses as unsentimentally as ",oc think of nature: they preserve the specics "
18 "[S]ie liegt im Dienste einer h6heren, souverllnen Art, we1che auf ihr steht und

• eISt auf ihr sich zu ihrer Aufgabe ~ kann." TheNachIoss contains many
otber passages which clearly indicaœ that the plOper function of the average (Le.
"slavish") individual in a m:onstituted aristocracy of the future is 10 serve as a tool

308
• Lower order human beings, al best, ought to he treatcd as "intelligent machines"
(AC S7) that "exist for service and general utility and ... may exist ooly for that
pmpose." (BGE 61)19 Evincing a traditional aristocratic di.wain for "menial"
occupations, Nietzsche appears ta 1imit their vocation to manuallabour and other
lowly "matcrialistic" pursuits.20 "The crafts, trade, agriculture, science, the greater
part of art, in a word the entire compass of professional activity [Berufstiitigkeit),"

he proffers, "are in no way compallble with anything other than mediocrity


[Mittelnu!Pl in ability and desires; these things would he out of place among the
élite [Ausnahmen) ••" (AC 57)21

for the higher sort. In WP 901, Nietzsche informs us that the "main consideration"
is "not to see the task of the higher species in leading the lower (as, e.g., Comte
does), but the lower as a base upon which bigher species perfurms its own tasks -
upon which alone it can stand." Cf. WP 960, where higher men are urged to
"employ democratic Europe as their most pliant and supple ÏDstl1lment [ais ihres
gejügigsten und beweglichsten Werk4eugs] for getting hold of the destinies of the
earth.••" In WP 962, Nietzsche notes that the man "whom oature bas constructed
and invented in the grand style" wants "no 'sympathetic' heart, but servants, tools
[Diener, Werkleuge]•••"
19 Nietzsche is indeed a "perfectionist" in John Rawls' sense, in that he directs us
ta ammge institutions 50 as ta maximise the achievements ofbnman excellence,
bestowing a sbameful or slavish Iife upon the many in oroer ta foster high levels of
achievement in the few (see Rawls 1971: 25, 325). Rawls may he wrong in
identifying bath Plata and Aristotle as pe.rfectionists in the same sense. For bath
Plata and Aristot1e, the aim of the law is Dot "ta mate some one group in the city
outstandingly happy but ta conlrlve ta spread happiness through the city, bringing
the citizens into baImony with each other by persuasion and compulsion." Republic
51ge-52Oa. Practically speaking, however, a society organised along the lines of
Plato's Republic would no doubt he pe.tfectionist in Rawls' sense, regardIess of the
intentions of its rulers.
20 In ber survey ofancient moral philosophy, AI1nas notes that whereas Plata and
AristotIe followed aristocœlic seDS1bilities here, the Stoics did DOt, and refused ta
see an agent's occupation as an obstacle ta bis becoming virtuous (Annas 1993:
72). Nietzsche clear1y follows Plata and AIistot1e, rather than the Staics, in this
context.
21 Cf. WP 943, where Nietzsche observes that being noble cmies with it the
nnsbakable conviction that "although a craft in any sense does Dot dishonour, it
certainly takes away nobility [ein Handwerk injedem Sinne zwar nicht schilndet,
aber sicherlich entodelt]." Nussbanm bas recent1y criticised Nietzsche for allegedly


denying the importance of the practical dimensions oflife in bis wrltings; ie. the
fact that even a "new philosopher" or"fœe spirit" must, for c,'tampte, procure food
and eso "le menia! labour in oroer ta think weil (Nussbanm 1994: 158). By my
lights, however, Nietzsche is very aware ofthese materia! concems, and dea1s with

309
• Nietzsche's Happy Slave

Despite al! of Nietzsehe's fulmjnations against the unjust slave appropriation of


virtue-terms that belong by rights to a gifted minority, he does at times speak of a
type of "virtue" that is proper to the lower, servile sort of human being: the "herd

virtues" [Heerdentugenden] (ViP 901). The most "admirable" slave seems in bis

eyes to be one who is fully aware of bis limits and refuses to oveneach himse1f.
"00 not will beyond your powers [WoUt nichts über euer Vemùigen]," Zarathustta

berates us in Z IV OHM 8. "[T]here is an evil falsity reine sch1imme Fa1schheit]


about thase who will beyond their powersJ Especially when they will great
things'" (Ibid.) The same theme reappears in Z IV OHM 13, when Zarathustra
remindsus not ta be "virtuous beyond [our] powers [Seid nicht tugendhaft über
eure Kriifte] '" Further on, in Z IV S 2. Zarathustra infOnDS us that the one

redeeming feature of the charlaran-like SOl"CeIer character is this latter's honesty


when, in a fit ofwearlness. he confesses that he is not "great" [gro.Pl. "[I]n this
one moment," the sorcerer is told, "you were - genuine [echt]." (Ibid.)
Nietzsehe's idea1 slave undersrands that he needs bis master ta complete
bim5l'Jf. In a manner that recalls Arlstotle's discussion ofslavelY. Nietzsche
suggests that the master-slave zelationship ofdomination is really in the best
,
inteleStS of al! conccmed: "[T]hus speaks virtue [die Tugend]," Z8rathustra
infOnDS the dependent type ofman,

'If you must he a servant [Diener]. then seek him


whom you cau serve !lest [welchem dein Dienst am
bestDI" nillzt]!'/ 'The spirit and the virtue of your
loni [deines Herm] should thrive bc:c.anse you aIe
bis servant: thus you yourse1f will thrive with your

• !hem à la PIato andAristotle in having the "herd-like"lower oIders perfoIm all of


the allegedly clegrading infrastructuœl WOtk in bis imagined comm'mity of the
future.

310
• lord's spirit and virtue [so wiichsest du selber mit
seinem Geiste und seiner Tugend]!' (Z il OFP)
It is Nietzsehe's hope that the modem Europe of the future will produce a large
number of "weak-willed and highly employable" servile typeS who know
themselves in this sense, who "need a master, a commander, as they need their
daily bread..." (BGE 242) The naturaI slave in a properly ordered society will find
an inttinsic satisfaction in the fulfillment of bis (limited) basic capacities: "To be a
public utility, a cog, a function," he claims, is a "natural vocation" or a "kind of
happiness of which the great majority are alone capable.. which ~ intelligent
machines of them. For the mediocre., it is bappiness to he mediocre..." (AC S7)
This type of "virtue," as Nietzsche never tires ofemphasising, is and must

remain that of the slave caste alone. While acknowledging that servile "virtues" of
uncritical obedience and deference may be benign and even desirable when
embodied in truly servile types,22 Nietzsche takes up arms against the alleged
tendency of slave morality ta universalise these charaeter traits as virtues tout court,

for all of hnmankind (Chapters 1, ll). This pemicious universalising project,


believes N"1elZSChe., bas been al the root of the subversion ofall forms of master
morality for centuries. Nietzsche insists by way ofopposition that "the ideas of the
herd should rule in the herd - but not reach out beyond it [Der Sinn der Heerde soU
in der Heerde herrschen, - aber.nïcht ilber sie hinausgreifen].... (WP 287)
N"Ietzsehe's view of"herd morality for the herd alone" implies DOt omy that its
values have no place amongst master types, but also the reverse; that master virtues

22 "Beyond good and evil- but we demand that herd morality shoÛld he he1d
sacred unconditionally [die unbet1ingte Heiligholtung der Heerden-Moral]." (WP
132) Cf. GS 381. where Nietzsche notes that "being an immoralist. one bas ta take
steps against corrupting innocents._" Schacht explains Nietzsebe's position
admiIably: "N"1elZSChe would by no means have everyone abandon the 'herd
morality_ On the contraIy, he considers it ta he entirely fitting, and hardly capable

• ofbeing improved upon _ where all those who do not have it in them ta he more
than the 'herd type' oflnunan being are concemed. Wbat he abjects ta is Iather its
inculcation in the potential exceptions ta the buman rule.-" (Scbacbt 1983: 4SS)

311
• are misplaced amidst the herd. It would he inappropriatc. for example, for a slave
ta seek the sort of freedom appropriate for nobles,23 for he is not "such a man as
ought ta escape a yoke.••" (Z 1 owq "There are many," remarks Zarathustra,
"who threw off their final worth when they threw off their bandage [seine
Dienstbarkeit wegwœf]."(Ibid.) N"1ClZSChe is convinced that efforts on the part of
servile types ta ape noble virtucs and lifestyles only end in disaster and great
suffering for the latter:
That which is available only to the strongcst and
most fruitful natures [stiirksten und fruchtbarsten
Naturen] and makcs their existence possible -
leisure, adventure, disbelief, even dissipation -
would, if it were available to mediocre natures,
necessarily destroy them - and actnally does. This is
where industriousncss, rule, moderation, firm
'conviction' have their place [die Arbeitsamkeit, die
Regel, die MèIjJigkeit, die fest «Oberzeugung»
am Platzl - in short, the 'herd virtucs'
[Heerdentugenden]••• (WP 901)
Hence it is in the slave's best interests ta be ban'ed, for example, from the type of
education that, in Nietzsehe's view, becomes "poison" in the bands ofthose "who
have tumed out badly." (OS 359)

Nietzsche and the "EtemaI Femfnfn~"

Wbat is the place ofwomen in Nietzsehe's ideal commllDÏty? One looks in vain
for guidance from much of the secondaIy litera!uIe, whichJeDlains caught between
two extremes: on the one band, a denunciation of Nietzsche's al1eged misogyny,
and on the other a strained effort at uneartbing a proto-feminist vision beneath bis
writiDgs on womeu. and the "etr:rnal feminine"•

• 23 Recall our disctlssiQn of noble, "positive" freedom in Cbapter VL

312
• References to Nietzsche's allegedly 0ve1t misogyny - which is assumed to he
synonymous with bis anti-feminism24 - are now routine: "Nietzsche.." claims
Detwiler. "appears to have been an unabashed misogynist..•" (Detwiler 1990: 15),
while Wam:n refers to "Nietzsche's well-known misogyny." (Wam:n 1988: xiv)
For some feminist theorists, this alleged misogyny is reason enough for
discounting bis thought outright. Penny Weise, for example.. responds to
Zarathustra's infamous reminder ("Are you visiting women? Do not forget your
whip!" Z 1 OYW) with the dismissive reply. "Thus spake misogyny." (Weise 1993:
137) Other. more charitable commentators, while implicitly or explictly accepting
Nietzsche's status as a misogynist, attempt to hive offand marginaIise bis remaries
on women, claiming that they have Iittle n:levance to bis philosophy as a whole.
The paradigm case here is Kanfmann, who dismisses Nietzsche's comments about

women as "unfortunate" Iapses ofjudgement, rooted in the prejudices of the times.


"Nietzsche's writings," Kanfmann explains in an often-cited passage,
contain many all-too-humanjudgments - especially
about women - but these are philosophically
irrelevant; and ad hominem arguments against any
philosopher on the basis of such statements seem
trivial and hardly pertinent... [T]he unjust and
unquestioned prejudices of a philosopher may be of
inœtest to the historlan as weIl as to the psychologist;
but Nietzsche's prejudices about women need not
greatly concern the philosopher. (Kanfmann 1974:
84)

A related attempt al marginalising bis perspective on women is made by CIark, who


constIucts a dichotomy between N"1etzsche's admirable philosophy on the one band,
and bis childish "expressions of resent:ment disguised as beIiefs" (Clark 1994: 7) on
the oilier. "His nasty comments about women," suggesl5 CIark, in an echo of
Kanfmann, "have always seemed to me a reflection not of bis basic idcas, but ofbis

~ Maucfemari~CIark, for CX8mple, cbaalcœrises Nietzsehe's assertion that

• feminism involves a cormplion of the instincts (BGE 233) as "misogynistic" (Clark


1994: 10). 1 will argue below that the equalion ofNietzsche's anti-feminism with
misogyDy is tendentious.

313
• understandable, if human, all-too-human need for revenge against Lou Salomé."
(Ibid.,4)
While conceding Nietzsche's contempt for the idea ofgender equality, many
commentators move on to extoll those allegedly proto-feminist e1ements ofhis
thought which the}' claim undercut his overt anti-ferninisrn Amongst so-called
postmodemist theorists, NielZsche is often said to celebrate a chaotic "female"
dimension oflife as inherently superior to the allegedly dogmalic and oppressive
"male" domain of metaphysics. According to Blondel, for example, Nietzsche
holdsthat
life is a woman, aIl appearance and make-up, a mask
devoid of underlying reality or base, the innocence of
becomiDg, a disconcerting game: this pure appearing
is reified by the c1umsy and unwholesome outlook of
the theoretical ma.n. a voyeur who perverts the
innocence ofbecoming by assuming it bas a Grund,
a background, and several seductive ulterior motives.
In addition, Nietzsche views this woman-life as an
illogicality, a contradiction, the negation of a
concocted essence.•• (Blonde11991: 28)
One might weIl wonder, however, how we should understand Nietzsche's notion
of the "Eternal feminine" [dos Weib an sich] (BGE 231) in lightofthis account; is
this not an example of the sort ofahistorlcal "essence" that Nietzschean proto-
feminist., post-modemist thought supposedly decries?
No, cIaim a number ofcommentators, who argue that Nietzsche lUldercuts aIl
manner ofessentialism, especially with respect ta women. Peter J. Burgmd, for
example, sees in Nietzsche's Withering criticism of nineteenth-century feminist
attempts "to enligbten men about 'woman as such' [dos Weib an sich]" (BGE 232)
an illustration ofhis combat against the "essentializing tendency" peT se. (BurgaId
1994: 9) Bmgani refuses to countenance the very real possibi1ity that BGE 232
contains a criticism not of the "essentializing tendency" as such, but rather ofone

• particular intel:ptetation - a feminist one - of woman's essence. 1 shall argue in the

314
• pages that follow that Nietzsche, far !rom claimjng that there is no such thing as li
womanly essence or nature, argues instead that the nineteenth-centurY feminist
understanding of that nature is both wrong-headed and dangerous. In the previous
section (BGE 231) and elsewhere.2S Nietzsche purports to outline bis own
(ostensIbly more accurate) understanding of das Weib an sich.2f>
Some Nietzsche scholaxs claim to find li subversive undermining ofessentialist
views ofwomen even in li passage Iike BGE 231. We recall that in this passage

Nietzsche. while announcing bis intention to "utter li few truths about 'woman as
such'", appears to qualify bis statement by placing the phrase das Weib an sich in
inverted commas and by insisting further on that "these are only - rny trurhs [meine
WahrheitenJ." Clark sees these qualifications as evidence that Nietzsche does not
take the notion of das Weib an sich seriously, that he presents it as li mere social
construction "that individual women need not exemplify." (Clark 1994: T'jD In the
fiIst place, insists Clark, the self-conscious use of the phrase Weib an sich is meant

to xecall the critique ofKant's Ding an sich in BGE 16; Nietzsche shows as much

2S Burgani studiously ignores BGE 239, in which NIetzsche claims that modem
feminists commit li gEe8t error - li "stupidity" - when they alft:mpl: to talk men out of
the idea "that thcre is something etemally,no:ess" i1y feminine [Ewig-1IIId
Notwendig-WeiblichesJ_." Similarly, in EH "Books" 5, Nietzsche suggests that
"perbaps 1 am the fiIst psychologist of the elCrDa1-womanly [des Ewig-
WeiblichenJ_." Unlike many commentators, who claim to pen:eïve irony
eveI:}'Where in Nietzsche's writings, 1 am able to detect neither ironie cJetachment
nor any sort ofself-unden:utting in these passar-s-
26 Burgani comes close to conceding this point when he deems Nietzsehe's own
essentialising gestuIe both an "irony" and "aDIDcfamenlllJ paradox" (Burgard 1994:
10). h seems to me that he finds Nietzsehe's substantive positions on woman's
nature and on natlJXe itse1f (sec QIapœr III) surprising and paradoxical only "ecanse
he lIssn mes that Nietzsche holds a belief in "Illdical pelspectivism" tbat ought to IUle
out such positions (Ibid.. 9). As 1 argued in Chapter 1, however, Nietzsche is oot a
"radical perspectivist" in Burgani's (or Nc:hamas') sense, since he sees bimselfas
putting forward accounts of reality that are both "perspectival" ond objective1y truc.
TI A simiJar llIgUmeDt is presented by Kofman in Kofman 1988: 198. Sec also
Janet Lungstrum's reveaIing (and typical) refeœnce to "N"letzsche's self-denigrating

• announcement that bis comments on woman are 'rny truths' only_" (LungstnJm
1994: 141. Myemphasis.) 1 shall argue below thatN1etzsebe's qlllllificatjQD is not
meant to he self-denigrating lit alL

315
• contempt for the former notion as he does of the Ianer (Ibid.) In the second place,
CIarlt suggests that "the waming that these are 'only my truths' may he Nietzsehe's
way of dicclaiming the beliefthat bis misogynistie comments are truc." (Ibid., 5)
She concludes that Nietzsehe's views are presented "on the level of sentiment, not
be/ief',ZP. and that he succeeds - heroically - in maintaining an ironie distance from
them. (Ibid., 4)29
What should wc make ofCIarlt's c1aim that Nietzsehe's treatment of theWeib an

sich echoes bis derisive treatment of the Ding an sich? It is certainly true that
Nietzsehe's use ofinverted commas around the former indicates a desire ta distance
bimseIf!rom a particular use of this expression. As wc noted in Chapters 1 and II,
inverted commas often function in Nietzsehe's writings as a device aIIowing the
author to maintain a critical (often ironie) distance from certain aII-too-eommon
ways ofusing a given term or phrase. However, as 1argued in the context of my
discussions of Nietzsche treatment oftruth, virtue, morality, and related concepts,
this distancing, ironie device signifies ironie detacbment only!rom mainstteam
usage, and not (as many Nietzsche scho\ars argue) !rom the concepts themselves.

While 1>enmaning the debasement or defi1ement of "noble wonis" by the bands of


plebeian momIity, Nietzsche conc1udes tbat he bas no alternative but ta invoke
many of these same, tainted wonis in developing bis own conception ofhuman .

flourishiDg (Cbapter m. This ambivalent attitude is apparent, 1believe, with


~ ta the notion of "woman": even as N'1etzsebe pteSCDtS bis own
understanding of the Weib an sich. he does not wish ta be mistaken for those who

28 Further on Clade characterises Nietzsehe's comments about women in BGE as


"tit{s] ofchildis1mess... expœssions of IeSCDtment disguiscd as beliefs." (Ibid.. 7)
29 CIarlc sees NieI7sche as heroically "overcoming what he wouId liIœ ta believe


about women, out ofhis commitment ta truth." (Ib;d.. 10) She suggests tbat this
admirable O'.e.. oming of self-intei:ested l'eSC umeo t is sometbing that feminists
ought ta strive ta c:ml1bte (Ib;d.. 4). In this picture, Nic:tzschc: Iec:merges as a
model for feminists afœr an. bis anti-feminism notwithstanding.

316
• use the same language for different (in bis view, contemptible) ends. Hence the
distancing device of the inverted commas.JO

What of the apparent denigration or undeIcutting of bis own perspective that


CIark and others sec in bis qualification of bis position as "ooly - [his] truth"?

CIark bases ber argument on the questionable assumption that objective trulh, for

Nietzsche, is something impersonal. "IfNietzscbe daims that bis comments about


women are truc," sbe reasons, "he can't sensibly claim that they are true ooly for
bim." (Ibid.,5) Seen from this angle, a self-conscious reference to "ooly bis" truth

must "sellS1oly" subvert any truth-claim as sucb. As 1 tried to argue in Cbapter 1,


however, Nietzsche adopts a counter-intuitive position with respect te truth,
believing that there is no contradiction between the deeply persona!, embodied
perspective of a superior, perspicacious human being on the one band and objective
truth on the ether. Indeed, Nietzsche claims that a truth is objective only te the
extent that it is held by the hea1thy, sound sort ofindividual whose unerring
instincts allow him te rigbtfully claim te embody truth as sucb. Far from

xepresenting an ironie retreat from bis own understanding of the "eternal feminine,"
Nietzsche's emphasis on the intensely persona! DlltUIe of bis views constitutes an
avowal of their objective truth, a truth disc:ov=d througb the most scrupulous and

intensive self-exploration.
But what ofNietzsche's IepClIted insistence on the "artî6ciality" (i.e. the
human-constructed status) ofall moral scbc:ma!ll? Dacs this view not imply that
notions of gender roIes and Ie1ations are construeted, and that attempts te legitimise
one's own conception ofgendcrIe1ations by refeaing te some "essential" S!llDdaxd
of"DlltUIe" are untcnable? Not nec:css Bdly; as far as 1 can tell. Nietzseœ deems bis

30 It is instructive te contrast BGE 231 with the passages from BGE 239 and EH
"Books" 5 cited in note 24. In neïther ofthese passages is the notion ofthe etemal-

• womanly p1aced ininverted commas. Perbaps Nietzsebe is moœ inclined ta


embrace unreservedly the phrase Ewig-Weiblic1ren because it does Dot evoke the
Kantianconceptual "baggage" ofthepbrase Weibansich.

317
• historicist account of how women (and men) become who they are peri'ectly
compatible with bis gender essentialism. Yes, he seems 10 suggest, the concept of
"woman" is malleable, and in fact changes through time; their views of themselves
and our view oftbem cao change and bas changed throughout histoJy. In xecent

times, many European women (regrettably) have come to believe themselves

worthy of the same rights and privileges of European men. But this, he insists, is
WI'Ong, and (as wc shall sec below) indicative of widespread cultural degeneration.
Feminism, this contingent historical development arising as a post-ehristian
offspring of slave morality, is contraIy to women's essential nature, wheleas
Nietzsehe's own (CODStructed) master morality said to he superior in large part
because it bas an accurate grasp of the essence of woman. In sum, Nietzsche (m
my view) attempts to combine a social constructivist view with a deeper gender
essentialism.31
Wi1Jjams bas xecently obsetved that "[t]be double idea that thel'e should he a
shaIp and unchanging distnDution of roles and that females and males were

designed 10 fill those roIes bas managed 10 find a remarkable range ofpolitical
philosophies xeady to accommodate it._" (Wi1Jjams 1993: 123) Nietzsche. 1would
argue, bas a fiImly entrenebed position within this "J'CID&kable range." Anti-
"cSsentialist" readings notwitbstanding, Nietzsche taIœs the idca ofthe "etemal
fcminioc" very seriously, believing thel'e to he an ahistorlcal, acultural essence of
womauhood that women in partïcuIartimes and places cither succccd in cmbodying
or fail 10 live up to.

In the pages that follow 1will attempt to explore bis unde:rstanding of this
essence. As wc shall sec, N'1CIZSChc falls into linc with much of tIllditional moral
and political philosophy in lauding the virtuc supposed1y intJ:insic 10 the woman

• m.
31 Cf. Cbapter whcrc 1 mgued for the logical COIIlpatibility bctwcen
NiclZsCbc's normative use of the concept oflllltUœ (à la Arlstotle) and bis view of
the "a11ific:ialit" of an moral sclJemara

318
• who serves as worthy consort ta thc higher sort of man and as mother ta his
children. Also in linc with this tradition, Nietzsche maintains that the ultimate form
of human excellence is a!tl!inablc ooly by IDCI:. That such a position could hardly
be chaIacterised as fcminist goes without saying. Just as contestable, by my lights,
is its routinc characterisation as misogynist. Whilc very few enlightened peoplc in
contcmporary Western societies would agree with NiClZSChc's views on women, to
dismiss them as hateful, childish ranting seems tao easy.
It would be wrong, moreover, ta tIy ta marginalise these views from thc teSt of
Nictzsehc's philosophy. NiClZSChc's ManY xemarks on women oUght to he taken
seriously as an inttinsic part ofhis moral and political vision - a vision in which
conceptions of marriage and breeding are given pride ofplace - and any CU1'SOIY
dismissal of them can ooly serve ta impoverish our understanding of that vision.32

The "Unhealthy" Woman: Nietzsche's Anti-Feminism

Nictzsche's vituperativc language is IeSeIVCd not for the femalc sex as a whole,
as Clark. (1994: 4) and otheIs have rightly suggested, but ralher for a partïcular type
ofwoman. an "unbealthy" woman al the bottom end ofN"lCtzSChe's Rangordnung
of femininity whom he compares unfavourably to his ideal.33 She is considcIed
unbealthy becallse ofher shllnnjng of customaxy femalc defeIence ta men and her
dccision to seek gender equality, particularly in the traditionally malc-dominated
public sphere. Nietzsche aetually traces feminist dcmands for gender equality back
ta physiological pat!lQlogy: "[t]he stmgglc for equa1 rïghts fg1eiche Rechte] is even

a symptom of siclrness [ein Symptom von Knmkheitl: every physician [Arzt] lcnows
. that." (EH "Books" S) MOle specifical1y, the feminist woman is alleged ta be

32 Abbey perœptively DOleS the close coadation betweeI1 Nietzsebe's attitude

• tawaxds womcn and his social and political vision (1994: 323)•
33 Kofman points to Nietzsche's distinction between different types ofwomcn and
ta his valorisation of the "afIirmalivc" type ofwoman in Kofman 1988: 193.

319
• physiologically deficient in the area where healthy women demonstrale (for
NJCIZSChe) their greatcst use and importance: biological reproduction. FeminislS are
"abortive women [die vmmg1ilcktm Weiblein], the 'emancipateli' who lack the

stuff for children [das Zeug zu Kindem]." (Ibid.)


In this poItrait the feminist's infertility is inextricably linked with a
degenerative, morbid set of instincts that produces a woman who is secret1y
envious of and bitterly ItSeIItful towards the healthy, fertile woman ofNietzsehe's
imagination. Much like ber degenerative male counterpart, who, as wc will recall,
sccretIy envies and plots revenge upon the healthy master-type, ber political

activism is said to be driven by this envy and ressenJiment:


'Emancipation ofwoman' - is the instinctive hatred of
the woman who bas tumed out ill, that is to say is
incapable ofbearing, for ber who bas tumed out well
[der Instinktha'p des mi'pratenen, das heij3t
gebàrunti1chtigen Weibes gegen das wohlgeT'Jtene]
••. At bottom the emancipated are the fJ1IQTChists in
the world of the 'etemal-womanly', the
undeIprivileged whose deepest instinct is revenge...
(Ibid.)34

Nietzsche's sterile, resentful woman not only shares same disposition as the
plebeian sort, she appears to represent to an even greater degIee the worst aspects
of the plebeian characler: "A littlc woman chasing aftcr herrevenge would over-run
faIe itself. - The woman is unspeakably more wicked [bOser] than the man, also
. clcverer [klüger] •••" (Ibid.)3S

34 Nietzsche, it should be noted, is no more fond of "anlIIChists" tbatllC is of


socialists, h"beral-clemocrats. or feminists. For a sampling ofbis disapproving
lâerenœs ta anlIIChists and lIII81'chism. sec GS 370; D Pret: 3; GM 15; and AC 5S.
3S As wc sbaR cvmine more closely in the next chapter. NietzschC also uses bOse
as a tmn ofbonour to desaibe the iaeptessiblc tendcncy of the bigbest sort ofman
ta transgress the boundarles Of slave morality by ped"oll oing deeds stigmatised by
plebeians as "wicked." (Sec, for Cxample, Z 1OYW. where Z8Iatbustra reveals
tbat "man is at the bottom ofbis soul only wicked [bOse]. but woman is base
[schlechtl_") In the context of EH "Books" S. bowever. Nietzsche does not seem

• ta bave this positive sense of "wickedness" in mind, and uses the tmn in the more
conventiona1l (Le. pejorative) sense. Once again wc sec tbat consistent:}' in the use
oftmns is oot to be found in Nietzsche.

320
• Ironically, argues Nietzsche, although the fcminist remains convinced that she
is worlcing for the troe inteI'eSts of the female sex, sbe in fact ensures a contnuy
result. A "real woman" rein wohlgeratenes Weib] in touch with ber "most
womanly instincts" [weiblichsten Instinkte] (BGE 239) undexstands this: "The
more a woman is a woman [Dos We;b. je mehr Weib es istl the more she defends
bexselftooth and nail against rights [Rechte] in general••." (EH "Books" 5) It
.
would be in the best interests ofwomen to submit to the natura! order of unequal
gender relations, for women would thereby retain the advantages of their abilities in
one crucial area where, as we shall see in further detai1 below, Nietzsche believes
they exercise a significant modicum ofpower: the area ofpersonal relations.
"[T]be state of nature [der Nat/UVlStll1Idj, the eternal war between the sexes puts
ber in a superior position by far••." (Ibid.) In this private realm of gender relations,
men of bonour provide a "tribute ofrespect" [Achtungszoll) to their consorts,
something that modern, degenerate women have perversely come to see as "almost

offensive," preferring as they do the "competition for rights" [Wettbewerb um


Rechte] (BGE 239). By insisting upon "equal rights," i.e. upon equal access to

"grammar school education. trousers and the political rights ofvoting catt1e"
[Stimmvieh-Rechte],36 women aClnally abandon their great natura1 advantages in

exchange for