Friedrich Nietzsche, Daybreak:  Reflections on Moral Prejudice. Morgenröte: Gedanken über die moralischen Vorurteile (also could be translated as The Dawn).

Written and published in 1881.

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A Question of Conscience "Now in summa tell me what this new thing is that you want.  "—"We no longer wish causes to be sinners and effects to be executioners".  


The Utility of the strictest Theories People are indulgent towards a man's moral weaknesses and in this connection they use a coarse sieve provided that he always professes to hold the most strict moral theories.  On the other hand the lives of free—thinking moralists have always been examined closely through a microscope in the tacit belief that an error in their lives would be the best argument against their disagreeable knowledge.  


The "Thing in Itself".  We used to ask formerly: What is the ridiculous?  as if there were something above and beyond ourselves that possessed the quality of provoking laughter and we exhausted ourselves in trying to guess what it was (a theologian even held that it might be "the naiveté of sin ").  At the present time we ask: What is laughter?  How does it arise?  We have considered the point and finally reached the conclusion that there is nothing which is good beautiful sublime or evil in itself; but rather that there are conditions of soul which lead us to attribute such qualities to things outside ourselves and in us.  We have taken back their predicates from things; or we have at all events recollected that we have merely lent the things these predicates.  Let us be careful that this insight does not cause us to lose the faculty of lending and that we do not become at the same time wealthier and more avaricious.  


To those who Dream of Immortality So you desire the everlasting perpetuity of this beautiful consciousness of yourselves?  Is it not shameful?  Do you forget all those other things which would in their turn have to support you for all eternity just as they have borne with you up to the present with more than Christian patience?  Or do you think that you can inspire them with an eternally pleasant feeling towards yourself?  A single immortal man on earth would imbue everyone around him with such disgust for him that a general epidemic of murder and suicide would be brought about.  And yet you petty dwellers on earth with your narrow concepts of a few thousand little minutes of time you would wish to be an everlasting burden on this everlasting universal existence!  Could anything be more impertinent?  After all however let us be indulgent towards a being of seventy years: he has not been able to exercise his imagination in conceiving his own "eternal tediousness "— he had not time enough for that!  


Wherein we know Ourselves As soon as one animal sees another it mentally compares itself with it; and men of uncivilised ages did the same.  The consequence is that every man comes to know himself solely in terms of his power for defence and attack.  


Men whose Lives have been Failures Some men are built of such stuff that society is at liberty to do what it likes with them—they will do well in any case and will not have to complain of having failed in life.  Other men are formed of such peculiar material—it need not be a particularly noble one but simply rarer—that they are sure to fare ill except in one single instance: when they can live according to their own designs—in all other cases the injury has to be borne by society.  For everything that seems to the individual to be a wasted or blighted life his entire burden of discouragement powerlessness sickness irritation covetousness is attributed by him to society—and thus a heavy vitiated atmosphere is gradually formed round society or in the most favourable cases a thundercloud.  


What Indulgence!  You suffer and call upon us to be indulgent towards you even when in your suffering you are unjust towards things and men!  Yet what does our indulgence matter!  You however should take greater precautions for your own sake!  That's a nice way of compensating yourself for your sufferings by imposing still further suffering on your own judgment!  Your own revenge recoils upon yourselves when you start reviling something: you dim your own eyes in this way and not the eyes of others; you accustom yourself to looking at things in the wrong way and with a squint.  


THE MORALITY OF VICTIMS.  "Enthusiastic sacrifice", "self-immolation" these are the catch-phrases of your morality, and I willingly believe that you, as you say, "mean it honestly": but I know you better than you know yourselves, if your "honesty" is capable of going arm in arm with such a morality.  You look down from the heights of this morality upon that other sober morality which calls for self-control, severity, and obedience; you even go so far as to call it egoistic and you are indeed frank towards yourselves in saying that it displeases you it must displease you!  For, in sacrificing and immolating yourselves with such enthusiasm, you delight in the intoxication of the thought that you are now one with the powerful being, God or man, to whom you are consecrating yourselves: you revel in the feeling of his power, which is again attested by this sacrifice.  In reality, however, you only appear to sacrifice yourselves; for your imagination turns you into gods and you enjoy yourselves as such.  Judged from the point of view of this enjoyment, how poor and feeble must that other "egoistic" morality of obedience, duty, and reason seem to you: it is displeasing to you because in this instance true self-sacrifice and self-surrender are called for, without the victim thinking himself to be transformed into a god, as you do.  In a word, you want intoxication and excess, and this morality which you despise takes up a stand against intoxication and excess no wonder it causes you some displeasure!  


EVIL PEOPLE AND Music.  Should the full bliss of love, which consists in unlimited confidence, ever have fallen to the lot of persons other than those who are profoundly suspicious, evil, and bitter?  For such people enjoy in this bliss the gigantic, unanticipated, and incredible exception of their souls!  One day they are seized with that infinite, dreamy sensation which is entirely opposed to the remainder of their private and public life, like a delicious enigma, full of golden splendour, and impossible to be described by mere words or similes.  Implicit confidence makes them speechless there is even a species of suffering and heaviness in this blissful silence; and this is why souls that are overcome with happiness generally feel more grateful to music than others and better ones do: for they see and hear through music, as through a coloured mist, their love becoming, as it were, more distant, more touching, and less heavy.  Music is the only means that such people have of observing their extraordinary condition and of becoming aware of its presence with a feeling of estrangement and relief.  When the sound of music reaches the ears of every lover he thinks: "It speaks of me, it speaks in my stead; it knows everything!"  


THE ARTIST.  The Germans wish to be transported by the artist into a state of dreamy passion; by his aid the Italians wish to rest from their real passions; the French wish him to give them an opportunity of showing their judgment and of making speeches.  So let us be just!  


TO DEAL LIKE AN ARTIST WITH ONE'S WEAKNESSES.  If we must positively have weaknesses and come in the end to look upon them as laws beyond ourselves, I wish that everybody may be possessed of as much artistic capacity as will enable him to set off his virtues by means of his weaknesses, and to make us, through his weaknesses, desirous of acquiring his virtues: a power which great musicians have possessed in quite an exceptional degree.  How frequently do we notice in Beethoven's music a coarse, dogmatic, and impatient tone; in Mozart, the joviality of an honest man, whose heart and mind have not overmuch to give us; in Richard Wagner, an abrupt and aggressive restlessness, in the midst of which, just as the most patient listener is on the point of losing his temper, the composer regains his powers, and like-wise the others.  Through their very weaknesses, these musicians have created in us an ardent desire for their virtues, and have given us a palate which is ten times more sensitive to every note of this tuneful intellect, tuneful beauty, and tuneful goodness.  


DECEIT IN HUMILIATION.  By your foolishness you have done a great wrong to your neighbour and destroyed his happiness irretrievably and then, having overcome your vanity, you humble yourself before him, surrender your foolishness to his contempt, and fancy that, after this difficult scene, which is an exceedingly painful one for you, everything has been set right, that your own voluntary loss of honour compensates your neighbour for the injury you have done to his happiness.  With this feeling you take your leave comforted, believing that your virtue has been re-established.  Your neighbour, however, suffers as intensely as before.  He finds nothing to comfort him in the fact that you have been irrational and have told him so: on the contrary, he remembers the painful appearance you presented to him when you were disparaging yourself in his presence it is as if another wound had been inflicted on him.  He does not think of revenging himself, however; and cannot conceive how a proper balance can be struck between you and him.  In point of fact, you have been acting that scene for yourself and before yourself: you invited a witness to be present, not on his account, but on your own don't deceive yourself!  


DIGNITY AND TIMIDITY.  Ceremonies, official robes and court dresses, grave countenances, solemn aspects, the slow pace, involved speech everything, in short, known as dignity are all pretences adopted by those who are timid at heart: they wish to make themselves feared (themselves or the things they represent).  The fearless (i.  e.  originally those who naturally inspire others with awe) have no need of dignity and ceremonies: they bring into repute or, still more, into ill-repute honesty and straightforward words and bearing, as characteristics of their self-confident awefulness.  


THE MORALITY OF SACRIFICE.  The morality which is measured by the spirit of sacrifice is that of a semi-civilised state of society.  Reason in this instance gains a hard-fought and bloody victory within the soul; for there are powerful contrary instincts to be overcome.  This cannot be brought about without the cruelty which the sacrifices to cannibal gods demand.  


WHERE FANATICISM is TO BE DESIRED.  Phlegmatic natures can be rendered enthusiastic only by being fanaticised.  


THE DREADED EYE.  Nothing is dreaded more by artists, poets, and writers than the eye which sees through their little deceptions and subsequently notices how often they have stopped at the boundary where the paths branch off either to innocent delight in themselves or to the straining after effect; the eye which checks them when they try to sell little things dear, or when they try to exalt and adorn without being exalted themselves; the eye which, despite all the artifices of their art, sees the thought as it first presented itself to them, perhaps as a charming vision of light, perhaps also, however, as a theft from the whole world, or as an everyday conception which they had to expand, contract, colour, wrap up, and spice, in order to make something out of it, instead of the thought making something out of them.  Oh, this eye, which sees in your work all your restlessness, inquisitiveness, and covetousness, your imitation and exaggeration (which is only envious imitation) which knows both your blush of shame and your skill in concealing it from others and interpreting it to yourselves!  


THE "EDIFYING" ELEMENT IN OUR NEIGHBOUR'S MISFORTUNE He is in distress, and straightway the "compassionate" ones come to him and depict his misfortune to him.  At last they go away again, satisfied and elevated, after having gloated over the unhappy man's misfortune and their own, and spent a pleasant Sunday afternoon.  


To BE QUICKLY DESPISED.  A man who speaks a great deal, and speaks quickly, soon sinks exceedingly low in our estimation, even when he speaks rationally not only to the extent that he annoys us personally, but far lower.  For we conjecture how great a burden he has already proved to many other people, and we thus add to the discomfort which he causes us all the contempt which we presume he has caused to others.  


RELATIONS WITH CELEBRITIES.  A.  Yet why do you shun this great man?  B, I should not like to misunderstand him.  Our defects are incomatible with one another: I am short-sighted and suspicious, and he wears his false diamonds as willingly as his real ones.  


THE CHAIN-WEARERS.  Beware of all those intellects which are bound in chains!  Clever women, for example, who have been banished by fate to narrow and dull surroundings, amid which they grow old.  True, there they lie in the sun, apparently lazy and half-blind; but at every unknown step, at everything unexpected, they start up to bite: they evenge themselves on everything that has escaped their kennel.  


REVENGE IN PRAISE.  Here we have a written page which is covered with praise, and you call it shallow; but when you find out that revenge is concealed n this praise you will find it almost too subtle, and you will experience a great deal of pleasure in its numerous delicate and bold strokes and similes.  It is not the man himself, but his revenge, which is subtle, rich, and ingenious: he himself is scarcely aware of it.  


PRIDE.  Ah, not one of you knows the feeling of the tortured man after he has been put to the torture, when he is being carried back to his cell, and his secret with him!  he still holds it in a stubborn and tenacious grip.  What know ye of the exultation of human pride?  


"UTILITARIA" At the present time men's sentiments on moral things run in such labyrinthic paths that, while we demonstrate morality to one man by virtue of its utility, we refute it to another on account of this utility.  


ON GERMAN VIRTUE.  How degenerate in its taste, how servile to dignities, ranks, uniforms, pomp, and splendour must a nation have been, when it began to consider the simple as the bad, the simple man as the bad man!  We should always oppose the moral bumptiousness of the Germans with this one little word "bad" and nothing else.  


FROM A DISPUTE.  A.  Friend, you have talked yourself hoarse.  B.  Then I am refuted, so let's drop the subject.  


THE "CONSCIENTIOUS" ONES.  Have you noticed the kind of men who attach the greatest value to the most scrupulous conscientiousness?  Those who are conscious of many mean and petty sentiments, who are anxiously thinking of and about themselves, are afraid of others, and are desirous of concealing their inmost feelings as far as possible.  They endeavour to impose upon themselves by means of this strict conscientiousness and rigorousness of duty, and by the stern and harsh impression which others, especially their inferiors, cannot fail to receive of them.  


DREAD OF FAME.  A.  The endeavour to avoid one's renown, the intentional offending of one's panegyrists, the dislike of hearing opinions about one's self, and all through fear of renown: instances like these are to be met with; they actually exist believe it or not!  B.  They are found, no doubt they exist!  Only -a little patience my haughty friend!  


REFUSING THANKS.  We are perfectly justified in refusing a request, but it is never right to refuse thanks or, what comes to the same thing, to accept them coldly and conventionally.  This gives deep offence and why?  


PUNISHMENT.  A strange thing, this punishment of ours!  It does not purify the criminal; it is not a form of expiation; but, on the contrary, it is even more defiling than the crime itself.  237- PARTY GRIEVANCES.  In almost every party there is a ridiculous, but nevertheless somewhat dangerous grievance.  The sufferers from it are those who have long been the faithful and honourable upholders of the doctrine propagated by the party, and who suddenly remark that one day a much stronger figure than themselves has got the ear of the public.  How can they bear being reduced to silence?  So they raise their voices, sometimes changing their notes.  


STRIVING FOR GENTLENESS.  When a vigorous nature has not an inclination towards cruelty, and is not always preoccupied with itself, it involuntarily strives after gentleness this is its distinctive characteristic.  Weak natures, on the other hand, have a tendency towards harsh judgments they associate themselves with the heroes of the contempt of mankind, the religious or philosophical traducers of existence, or they take up their position behind strict habits and punctilious "callings": in this way they seek to give themselves a character and a kind of strength.  This is likewise done quite involuntarily.  


A HINT TO MORALISTS.  Our musicians have made a great discovery.  They have found out that interesting ugliness is possible even in their art; this is why they throw themselves with such enthusiastic intoxication into this ocean of ugliness, and never before has it been so easy to make music.  It is only now that we have got the general, dark coloured background, upon which every luminous ray of fine music, however faint, seems tinged with golden emerald lustre; it is only now that we dare to inspire our audience with feelings of impetuosity and indignation, taking away their breath, so to speak, in order that we may afterwards, in an interval of restful harmony, inspire them with a feeling of bliss which will be to the general advantage of a proper appreciation of music.  We have discovered the contrast: it is only now that the strongest effects are possible and cheap.  No one bothers any more about good music.  Yet you must hurry up!  When any art has once made this discovery, it has but a short space of time to live.  Oh, if only our thinkers could probe into the depths of the souls of our musicians when listening to their music!  How long we must wait until we again have an opportunity of surprising the inward man in the very act of his evil doing, and his innocence of this act!  For our musicians have not the slightest suspicion that it is their own history, the history of the disfigurement of the soul, which they are transposing into music.  In former times a good musician was almost forced by the exigencies of his art to become a good man and now!  


THE MORALITY OF THE STAGE.  The man who imagines that the effect of Shakespeare's plays is a moral one, and that the sight of Macbeth irresistibly induces us to shun the evil of ambition, is mistaken, and he is mistaken once more if he believes that Shakespeare himself thought so.  He who is truly obsessed by an ardent ambition takes delight in beholding this picture of himself; and when the hero is driven to destruction by his passion, this is the most pungent spice in the hot drink of this delight.  Did the poet feel this in another way?  How royally and with how little of the knave in him does his ambitious hero run his course from the moment of his great crime!  It is only from this moment that he becomes "demoniacally" attractive, and that he encourages similar natures to imitate him.  There is something demoniacal here: something which is in revolt against advantage and life, in favour of a thought and an impulse.  Do you think that Tristan and Isolde are warnings against adultery, merely because adultery has resulted in the death of both of them?  This would be turning poets upside down, these poets who, especially Shakespeare, are in love with the passions in themselves, and not less so with the readiness for death which they give rise to: this mood in which the heart no more clings to life than a drop of water does to the glass.  It is not the guilt and its pernicious consequences which interests these poets Shakespeare as little as Sophocles (in the Ajax, Philoctetes, Oedipus) however easy it might have been in the cases just mentioned to make the guilt the lever of the play, it was carefully avoided by the poets.  In the same way the tragic poet by his images of life does not wish to set us against life.  On the contrary, he exclaims: "It is the charm of charms, this exciting, changing, and dangerous existence of ours, so often gloomy and so often bathed in sun!  Life is an adventure!  Whichever side you may take in life it will always retain this character"! Thus speaks the poet of a restless and vigorous age, an age which is almost intoxicated and stupefied by its superabundance of blood and energy, in an age more evil than our own: and this is why it is necessary for us to adapt and accommodate ourselves first to the purpose of a Shakespearian play, that is, by misunderstanding it.  


Fear and Intelligence If that which is now expressly maintained is true viz.  that the cause of the black pigment of the skin must not be sought in light might this phenomenon perhaps be the ultimate effect of frequent fits of passion accumulated for century after century (and an afflux of blood under the skin)?  While in other and more intelligent races the equally frequent spasms of fear and blanching may have resulted in the white colour of the skin?  For the degree of timidity is the standard by which the intelligence may be measured; and the fact that men give themselves up to blind anger is an indication that their animal nature is still near the surface and is longing for an opportunity to make its presence felt once more.  Thus a brownish-grey would probably be the primitive colour of man—something of the ape and the bear as is only proper.  


Independence Independence (which in its weakest form is called "freedom of thought ") is the type of resignation which the tyrannical man ends by accepting—he who for a long time had been looking for something to govern but without finding anything except himself.  


The two Courses When we endeavour to examine the mirror in itself we discover in the end that we can detect nothing there but the things which it reflects.  If we wish to grasp the things reflected we touch nothing in the end but the mirror.  This is the general history of knowledge.  


Delight in Reality Our present inclination to take delight in reality—for almost every one of us possesses it—can only be explained by the fact that we have taken delight in the unreal for such a long time that we have got tired of it.  This inclination in its present form without choice and without refinement is not without danger—its least danger is its want of taste.  


The Subtlety of the Feeling of Power Napoleon was greatly mortified at the fact that he could not speak well and he did not deceive himself in this respect: but his thirst for power which never despised the slightest opportunity of showing itself and which was still more subtle than his subtle intellect led him to speak even worse than he might have done.  It was in this way that he revenged himself upon his own mortification (he was jealous of all his emotions because they possessed power) in order to enjoy his autocratic pleasure.  He enjoyed this pleasure a second time in respect to the ears and judgment of his audience as if it were good enough for them to be addressed in this way.  He even secretly enjoyed the thought of bewildering their judgment and good taste by the thunder and lightning of his highest authority—that authority which lies in the union of power and genius—while both his judgment and his good taste held fast proudly and indifferently to the truth that he did not speak well.  Napoleon as the complete and fully developed type of a single instinct belongs to ancient humanity whose characteristic—the simple construction and ingenious development and realisation of a single motive or a small number of motives—may be easily enough recognised.  


Aristotle and Marriage Insanity makes its appearance in the children of great geniuses and stupidity in those of the most virtuous—so says Aristotle.  Did he mean by this to invite exceptional men to marry?  


The Origin of a bad Temperament Injustice and instability in the minds of certain men their disordered and immoderate manner are the ultimate consequences of the innumerable logical inexactitudes, superficialities and hasty conclusions of which their ancestors have been guilty.  Men of a good temperament on the other hand are descended from solid and meditative races which have set a high value upon reason—whether for praiseworthy or evil purposes is of no great importance.  


Dissimulation as a Duty Kindness has been best developed by the long dissimulation which endeavoured to appear as kindness: wherever great power existed the necessity for dissimulation of this nature was recognised—it inspires security and confidence and multiplies the actual sum of our physical power.  Falsehood if not actually the mother is at all events the nurse of kindness.  In the same way honesty has been brought to maturity by the need for a semblance of honesty and integrity: in hereditary aristocracies.  The persistent exercise of such a dissimulation ends by bringing about the actual nature of the thing itself: the dissimulation in the long run suppresses itself and organs and instincts are the unexpected fruits in this garden of hypocrisy.  


The coward does not know what it means to be alone: an enemy is always standing behind his chair.  Oh, for the man who could give us the history of that subtle feeling called solitude!  


Night and Music It was only at night time and in the semi-obscurity of dark forests and caverns that the ear the organ of fear was able to develop itself so well in accordance with the mode of living of the timid—that is the longest human epoch which has ever yet existed: when it is clear daylight the ear is less necessary.  Hence the character of music which is an art of night and twilight.  

Friedrich Nietzsche, "Ecce Homo" Ebook

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