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Human, All Too Human

Friedrich Nietzsche

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Tags: Philosophy

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Human, All Too Human by German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche was first published in 1878. It is a collection of aphorisms, ranging in length from a few words to a few pages. A second (Miscellaneous Maxims And Opinions) and a third part (The Wanderer And His Shadow) were published over the next couple of years and were first published as a three volume set. This was changed to a 2 volume edition in 1886. This edition includes all three parts. The first book is split into nine sections: Of First and Last Things (dealing with the subject of metaphysics); On the History of Moral Feelings (discusses and challenges the idea of Christian good and evil); From the Soul of Artists and Writers (where Nietzsche dismisses the concept of divine inspiration); Signs of Higher and Lower Culture (in which he criticises Charles Darwin and the survival of the fittest theory); Man in Society and Women and Child (discusses the nature of men, women, and children); Man Alone with Himself (a collection of mostly short aphorisms).

Like most of his books, Human, All Too Human didn't sell well during Nietzsche's lifetime - only selling 120 copies when it was first printed.

Another fact about the book is how it was taken on board by an archivist and Hitler supporter called Max Oehler, who saw it as evidence of Nietzsche's support for anti-Semitism, which Nietzsche actually wrote against in other works such as Thus Spoke Zarathustra and The Antichrist.

This book has 330 pages in the PDF version. The translation of the first part by Helen Zimmern was first published in 1914. The translation of the second part by Paul V. Cohn was first published in 1913.

Production notes: This edition of Human, All Too Human was published by Global Grey ebooks on the 29th June 2021. The artwork used for the cover is 'The Thinker: Portrait of Louis N. Kenton' by Thomas Eakins.

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Excerpt from 'Human, All Too Human'


CHEMISTRY OF IDEAS AND SENSATIONS.—Philosophical problems adopt in almost all matters the same form of question as they did two thousand years ago; how can anything spring from its opposite? for instance, reason out of unreason, the sentient out of the dead, logic out of unlogic, disinterested contemplation out of covetous willing, life for others out of egoism, truth out of error? Metaphysical philosophy has helped itself over those difficulties hitherto by denying the origin of one thing in another, and assuming a miraculous origin for more highly valued things, immediately out of the kernel and essence of the " thing in itself." Historical philosophy, on the contrary, which is no longer to be thought of as separate from physical science, the youngest of all philosophical methods, has ascertained in single cases (and presumably this will happen in everything) that there are no opposites except in the usual exaggeration of the popular or metaphysical point of view, and that an error of reason lies at the bottom of the opposition: according to this explanation, strictly understood, there is neither an unegoistical action nor an entirely disinterested point of view, they are both only sublimations in which the fundamental element appears almost evaporated, and is only to be discovered by the closest observation. All that we require, and which can only be given us by the present advance of the single sciences, is a chemistry of the moral, religious, æsthetic ideas and sentiments, as also of those emotions which we experience in ourselves both in the great and in the small phases of social and intellectual intercourse, and even in solitude; but what if this chemistry should result in the fact that also in this case the most beautiful colours have been obtained from base, even despised materials? Would many be inclined to pursue such examinations? Humanity likes to put all questions as to origin and beginning out of its mind; must one not be almost dehumanised to feel a contrary tendency in one's self?


INHERITED FAULTS OF PHILOSOPHERS.—All philosophers have the common fault that they start from man in his present state and hope to attain their end by an analysis of him. Unconsciously they look upon " man " as an æterna veritas, as a thing unchangeable in all commotion, as a sure measure of things. Everything the philosopher has declared about man is, however, at bottom no more than a testimony as to the man of a very limited period of time. Lack of historical sense is the family failing of all philosophers; many, without being aware of it, even take the most recent manifestation of man, such as has arisen under the impress of certain religions, even certain political events, as the fixed form from which one has to start out. They will not learn that man has become, that the faculty of cognition has become; while some of them would have it that the whole world is spun out of this faculty of cognition. Now, everything essential in the development of mankind took place in primeval times, long before the four thousand years we more or less know about; during these years mankind may well not have altered very much. But the philosopher here sees “instincts" in man as he now is and assumes that these belong to the unalterable facts of mankind and to that extent could provide a key to the understanding of the world in general: the whole of teleology is constructed by speaking of the man of the last four millennia as of an eternal man towards whom all things in the world have had a natural relationship from the time he began. But everything has become: there are no eternal facts, just as there are no absolute truths. Consequently what is needed from now on is historical philosophizing, and with it the virtue of modesty.


ESTIMATION OF UNPRETENTIOUS TRUTHS.— It is the mark of a higher culture to value the little unpretentious truths which have been discovered by means of rigorous method more highly than the errors handed down by metaphysical ages and men, which blind us and make us happy. At first, one has scorn on his lips for unpretentious truths, as if they could offer no match for the others: they stand so modest, simple, sober, even apparently discouraging, while the other truths are so beautiful, splendid, enchanting, or even enrapturing. But truths that are hard won, certain, enduring, and therefore still of consequence for all further knowledge are the higher; to keep to them is manly, and shows bravery, simplicity, restraint. Eventually, not only the individual, but all mankind will be elevated to this manliness, when men finally grow accustomed to the greater esteem for durable, lasting knowledge and have lost all belief in inspiration and a seemingly miraculous communication of truths.

The admirers of forms, with their standard of beauty and sublimity, will, to be sure, have good reason to mock at first, when esteem for unpretentious truths and the scientific spirit first comes to rule, but only because either their eye has not yet been opened to the charm of the simplest form, or because men raised in that spirit have not yet been fully and inwardly permeated by it, so that they continue thoughtlessly to imitate old forms (and poorly, too, like someone who no longer really cares about the matter). Previously, the mind was not obliged to think rigorously; its importance lay in spinning out symbols and forms. That has changed; that earnestness in the symbolical has become the mark of a lower culture. As our arts themselves grow evermore intellectual, our senses more spiritual, and as, for instance, people now judge concerning what sounds well to the senses quite differently from how they did a hundred years ago, so the forms of our life grow ever more spiritual, to the eye of older ages perhaps uglier, but only because it is incapable of perceiving how the kingdom of the inward, spiritual beauty constantly grows deeper and wider, and to what extent the inner intellectual look may be of more importance to us all than the most beautiful bodily frame and the noblest architectural structure


ASTROLOGY AND THE LIKE.—It is probable that the objects of religious, moral, æsthetic and logical sentiment likewise belong only to the surface of things, while man willingly believes that here, at least, he has touched the heart of the world; he deceives himself, because those things enrapture him so profoundly, and make him so profoundly unhappy, and he therefore shows the same pride here as in astrology. For astrology believes that the firmament moves round the destiny of man; the moral man, however, takes it for granted that what he has essentially at heart must also be the essence and heart of things.


MISUNDERSTANDING OF DREAMS.—In the ages of a rude and primitive civilisation man believed that in dreams he became acquainted with a second actual world; herein lies the origin of all metaphysics. Without dreams there could have been found no reason for a division of the world. The distinction, too, between soul and body is connected with the most ancient comprehension of dreams, also the supposition of an imaginary soul-body, therefore the origin of all belief in spirits, and probably also the belief in gods. " The dead continues to live, for he appears to the living in a dream ": thus men reasoned of old for thousands and thousands of years.

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