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Back to Unedited Philosophy Quotes and Ramblings about Intequinism.

Book title: The gay science (Die vrolike wetenskap)

Author: Friedrich Nietzsche

Translator: Walter Kaufmann

Publisher: Vintage Books (A division of Random House)

Place: New York

Date: March 1974

Reader: Mr. M.D. Pienaar


3 August 2014


"BOOK FIVE – WE FEARLESS ONES" (Nietzsche, 1974:277)

"Section 344 – How we, too, are still pious" (Nietzsche, 1974:280)

'We see that science also rests on a faith; there simply is no science "without presuppositions." The question whether truth is needed must not only have been affirmed in advance, but affirmed to such a degree that the principle, the faith, the conviction finds expression: "Nothing is needed more than truth, and in relation to it everything else has only second-rate value."

This unconditional will to truth—what is it? Is it the will not to allow oneself to be deceived? Or is it the will not to deceive?' (Nietzsche, 1974:281)

'Section 357 – On the old problem: "What is German?"' (Nietzsche, 1974:304)

'You see what it was that really triumphed over the Christian god: Christian morality itself, the concept of truthfulness that was understood ever more rigorously, the father confessor's refinement of the Christian conscience, translated and sublimated into a scientific conscience, into intellectual cleanliness at any price. … interpreting one's own experiences as pious people have long enough interpreted theirs, as if everything were providential, a hint, designed and ordained for the sake of the salvation of the soul—that is all over now, that has man's concscience against it, that is considered indecent and dishonest by every more refined conscience—mendaciousness, feminism, weakness, and cowardice. In this severity, if anywhere, we are good Europeans and heirs of Europe's longest and most courageous self-overcoming.' (Nietzsche, 1974:307)


12 April 2015


Section "325

What belongs to greatness.--Who will attain anything great if he does not find in himself the strength and the will to inflict great suffering? Being able to suffer is the least thing; weak women and even slaves often achieve virtuosity in that. But not to perish of internal distress and uncertainty when one inflicts great suffering and hears the cry of this suffering--that is great, that belongs to greatness.[1]" (Nietzsche, 1974:255)

This statement by Nietzsche, i think, should be understood as merely a reflection of truth. Read together with the section where he said that not one has ever had the courage to let everything go, it means that Nietzsche had not admiration for "greatness". I think he indicated that foul play caused material wealth for self and misery for others, just as a matter of fact. The way i understand Nietzsche is that he did not necessarily promote "greatness", he just stated it as fact and actually opposed the type of behaviour, which cause "greatness". This section about "greatness" can be understood together with Foucault statement at the end of Madness and Civilization, where Foucault stated that wealth is dependent on the misery of others currently. Foucault stated that the 'greatness' we see in the world is dependent on misery. Without the misery, the 'greatness' cannot exist. That makes sense if understood in the context of Accounting of ideas, and actions of the Caiaphaci. At section 311, which Kaufmann compares Nietzsche states that his misery, which is caused by "greatness" actually enforces Nietzsche's truthfull life, which cause misery, but which he regards not as miserable. It is a statement by a type of Cynic, comparable to Diogenes's (of Sinope) way of life. It means to keep ones' dignity in the sphere of being 'sacrificed'.

At section 326 Nietzsche seems to act like Socrates who said the un-investigated life is not worth living. (NIetzsche, 1974:256) Could he have really transcended into a type of blissfulness in his pain? It seems it is possible if the Stoics and the Cynics endured more pain than for example Nietzsche and still decided not to complain. Nietzsche took a stoic stance.


15 April 2015


Section "344

How we, too, are still pious.-- In science convictions have no rights of citizenship, as one says with good reason. Only when they decide to descend to the modesty of hypotheses, of a provisional experimental point of view, of a regulative fashion, they may be granted admission and even a certain value in the realm of knowledge--though always with the restriction that they remain under policy supervision, under the police of mistrust. --But does this not mean, if you consider it more precisely, that a conviction may obtain admission to science only when it ceases to be a conviction? Would it not be the first step in the discipline of the scientific spirit that one would not permit oneself any more convictions?

Probably this is so; only we still have to ask: To make it possible for this discipline to begin, must there not be some prior conviction--even one that is so commanding and unconditional that it sacrifices all other convictions to itself? We see that science also rests on a faith; there simply is no science "without presuppositions." The question whether truth is needed must not only have been confirmed in advance, but affirmed to such a degree that the principle, the faith, the conviction finds expression: "Nothing is needed more than truth, and in relation to it everything else has only second-rate value."

This unconditional will to truth--what is it? Is it the will not to allow oneself to be deceived? Or is it the will not to deceive? For the will to truth could be interpreted in the second way too--if only the special case "I do not want to deceive myself" is subsumed under the generalization "I do not want to deceive." But why not deceive? But why not allow oneself to be deceived?

Note that the reasons for the former principle belong to an altogether different realm from those for the second. One does not want to allow oneself to be deceived because one assumes that it is harmful, dangerous, calamitous to be deceived. In this sense, science would be a long-range prudence, a caution, a utility; but one could object in all fairness; How is that? Is wanting not to allow oneself to be deceived really less harmful, less dangerous, less calamitous? What do you know in advance of the character of existence to be able to decide whether the greater advantage is on the side of the unconditionally mistrustful or of the unconditionally trusting? But if both should be required, much trust as well as much mistrust, from where would science then be permitted to take its unconditional faith or conviction on which it rests, that truth is more important than any thing, including every other conviction? Precisely this conviction could never have come into being if both truth and untruth constantly proved to be useful, which is the case. Thus--the faith in science, which after all exists undeniably, cannot owe its origin to such a calculus of utility; it must have originated in spite of the fact that the disutility and dangerousness of "the will to truth," of "truth at any price" is proved to it constantly. "At any price": how well we understand these words once we have offered and slaughtered one faith after another on this altar!

Concequently, "will to truth" does not mean "I will not allow myself to be deceived" but--there is no alternative--"I will not deceive, not even myself"; and with that we stand on moral ground. For you only have to ask yourself carefully, "Why do you not want to deceive?" especially if it should seem--and it does seem!--as if life aimed at semblance, meaning, error, deception, simulation, delusion, self-delusion, and when the great sweep of life has actually always shown itself to be on the side of the most unscrupulous polytropoi.[2] Charitably interpreted, such a resolve might perhaps be a quixotism[3], a minor slightly mad enthusiasm; but it might also be something more serious.--"Will to truth"--that might be a concealed will to death.

Thus the question "Why science?" leads back to the moral problem: Why have morality at all when life, nature, and history are "not moral"? No doubt, those who are truthful in that audacious and ultimate sense that is presupposed by the faith in science thus affirm another world than the world of life, nature, and history; and insofar as they affirm this "other world"--look, must they not by the same token negate its counterpart, this world, our world?--But you will have gathered what I am driving at, namely, that it is still a metaphysical faith upon which our faith in science rests--that even we seekers after knowledge today, we godless anti-metaphysicians still take our fire, too, from the flame lit by a faith that is thousands of years old, that Christian faith which was also the faith of Plato, that God is the truth, that truth is divine.--But what if this should become more and more incredible, if nothing should prove to be divine and more unless it were error, blindness, the lie--if God himself should prove to be our most enduring lie?--" (Nietzsche, 1974:280-283)




NIETZSCHE, F. 1974. The gay science. (New York: Vintage Books)

[1] "Cf. section 311 above, especially the beginning. The distress that this section caused some of Nietzsche's first readers illustrates his point. He knew how his development and books had pained his mother and sister, Richard and Cosima Wagner. Wagner's admirers, and ever so many others." (Comment by Kaufmann, Nietzsche, 1974:255)

[2] According to Kaufmann, Nietzsche used this word to refer to Odysseus, who, thanks to his deceit survived many ordeals. (Nietzsche, 1974: 282)

[3] According to Kaufmann, Nietzsche like Don Quixote. (Nietzsche, 1974: 282)