Friedrich Nietzsche, Ecce Homo:   How One Becomes What One Is.  Ecce homo: Wie man wird, was man ist.  

Written in 1888 and not published until 1908

  Friedrich Nietzsche Full Text EBook  
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   As it is my intention within a very short time to confront my fellow men with the very greatest demand that has ever yet been made upon them it seems to me above all necessary to declare here who and what I am.  As a matter of fact this ought to be pretty well known already for I have not neglected to "bear witness” about myself.  But the disparity between the greatness of my task and the smallness of my contemporaries is apparent by the fact that people have neither heard me nor yet seen me.  I live on my own credit — is it only a prejudice to suppose that I am alive at all?  I only need to speak to any one of the learned people who visit the Ober Engadine in the summer to convince myself that I am not alive.  Under these circumstances it is a duty— and one against which my customary reserve and the pride of my instincts rebel to say: Listen to me!  I am such and such a person.  Above all do not confuse me with what I am not!  


   I am for instance in no way a bogey man or moral monster.  On the contrary I am the very opposite in nature to the kind of man that has been honoured to date as virtuous.  Between ourselves, it seems to me that this is a matter on which I may feel particularly proud.  I am a disciple of the philosopher Dionysus and I would prefer to be a satyr rather than a saint.  But just read this book!  Maybe I have here succeeded in expressing this contrast in a cheerful and at the same time sympathetic manner— perhaps this is the only purpose of the present work.  The very last thing I should promise to accomplish would be to "improve” mankind.  I do not set up any new idols; may the old idols learn what it is to have legs of clay.  To overthrow idols (idols is the name I give to all ideals) – that is much more like my business.  In the same proportion as an ideal world has been falsely assumed, reality has been robbed of its value, its meaning and its truthfulness.  The "real world” and the "apparent world”—in plain English the fabricated world and reality.  To date, the lie of the ideal has been the curse of reality; by means of it the very source of mankind’s instincts has become mendacious and false; so much so that those values that have come to be worshipped are the exact opposite of the ones which would ensure man’s prosperity, his future and his exalted right to a future.  


   He who knows how to breathe the air of my writings is conscious that it is the air of the heights, a bracing air.  A man must be built for it otherwise there is a real chance that one will catch a chill.  The ice is near, the loneliness is terrible—but how serenely everything lies in the sunshine!  How freely one can breathe!  How much one feels lies beneath one!  Philosophy, as I have understood it so far is a voluntary living in regions of ice and high mountains—the seeking out of everything strange and questionable in existence, everything which hitherto morality has forbidden.  Through long experience of such wanderings in forbidden territory I acquired a very different and perhaps undesirable opinion of the causes of men’s moralizing and idealizing.  The secret history of philosophers, the psychology of their great names was revealed to me.  How much truth can a spirit endure; how much truth can it dare?  This became for me more and more the actual test of value.  Error (the belief in the ideal) is not blindness; error is cowardice.  Every conquest, every step forward in knowledge is the outcome of courage, of hardness towards one’s self; of cleanliness towards one’s self.  I do not refute ideals; I merely put on gloves in their presence.  Nitimur in vetitum: under this banner my philosophy will one day be victorious; for that which has hitherto been most strictly forbidden is without exception the Truth.  


   In my lifework my Zarathustra holds a place apart.  With it I gave my mankind the greatest gift it has yet been given.  This book, the voice of which speaks out across the ages is not only the most exalted book on earth — literally the book of mountain air—the whole phenomenon mankind lies at an incalculable distance beneath it—but it is also the profoundest book born of the inmost abundance of truth; an inexhaustible well into which no vessel can be lowered without coming up again laden with gold and with goodness.  It is not a "prophet” who speaks here, one of those gruesome hybrids of sickness and Will to Power whom men call founders of religions.  One must pay attention to the tone—the halcyon tones—that fall from the lips of Zarathustra if one is not to do a great injustice to the meaning of the work:— "The stillest words are heralds of the storm; thoughts that tread with dove’s feet lead the world.  The figs fall from the trees; they are good and sweet and when they fall their red skins are split.  A north wind am I unto ripe figs.  Thus like figs do these teachings fall to you my friends; now drink their juice and eat their sweet flesh.  It is autumn all around and clear sky and afternoon”.  No fanatic speaks to you here; this is not a "sermon”; no faith is demanded in these pages.  From out of an infinite abundance of light and depth of joy the words fall, drop by drop—slow and gentle is the tempo of these discourses.  Such things can reach only the most elect; it is a rare privilege to be a listener here; not everyone can have ears to hear Zarathustra.  Is not Zarathustra because of these things a seducer?  But what indeed does he himself say when for the first time he goes back to his solitude?  Just the reverse of that which any "Sage”, "Saint”, "Saviour of the world” and other decadent would say.  Not only are his words different, he himself is different.  "Alone do I now go my disciples!  Go you now also away and alone!  Thus would I have it.  Take your leave of me and arm yourselves against Zarathustra!  And better still be ashamed of him!  Perhaps he has deceived you.  The man of knowledge must be able not only to love his enemies but also to hate his friends.  One does not repay a teacher well by remaining a pupil.  And why would you not desire my laurels?  You honour me; but what if your reverence should one day end?  Take care that a falling statue does not crush you.  You say that you believe in Zarathustra?  But of what account is Zarathustra?  You are my believers: but of what importance are all believers?  You had not yet sought yourselves when you found me.  Thus do all believers; therefore is all belief is worth so little.  Now I bid you lose me and find yourselves; and only when you have all denied me will I come back to you”.  

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