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AN INTRODUCTORY WORD ON NIETZSCHE 461
AN INTRODUCTORY WORD ON NIETZSCHE^
WILLIAM MACKINTIRE SALTER
According to Professor Riehl of Berlin, the most widely read of
serious writers in Germany today is Nietzsche.^ Grerman ideas
require time to cross the Channel and still more time to reach
America; but already translations of Nietzsche's numerous works
are appearing in England, and within three or four years three
books have been devoted to him in this country. Probably ere-
long the thoughtful among us will have to attend to him, as we
have had to attend to other German writers in the past. As yet
very confused ideas are current about him; his disciples are more
or less confused themselves. Nietzsche once half-humorously
remarked that the first disciples of a doctrine really prove nothing
Moreover, Nietzsche was a lonely, markedly individual thinker,
caring more to express himself than to be comprehended by the
ordinary reader, soliloquizing much; and he said many things
that, unless we carefully, patiently attend, may mislead, have
misled. I could easily quote passages from him that would
offend you, as they did me when I first came upon them. No one
needs to be studied more before he is judged. No one lends
himself less to impressionist treatment, which is all he ordinarily
gets from non-Continental writers.^ Indeed, I sometimes think
that Nietzsche is a philosopher for philosophers and a moralist
for moralists rather than for the common run of us, so subtle is
his thinking, such an acquaintance with the history and refine-
ments of philosophical and ethical speculation does he presup-
Accordingly, it may be most useful, as well as most conformable
to my abiKties, to cover a quite limited field this morning; and
'An address to the Harvard Divinity Alumni Association, 19 June, 1912.
* Friedricli Nietzsche, der KUnstler und der Denker (4th ed.), p. 8.
' Some of the exceptions are the late William Wallace, Professor Pringle-Pat-
tison, Mr. A. W. Benn, Havelock Ellis, our own Dr. Everett, Professor Thilly, and,
mirabile diciu, two women, Dr. Grace N. Dolson and Miss Emily S. Hamblen.
462 HARVARD THEOLOGICAL REVIEW
I shall content myself, after giving a few facts about his life and
a very general characterization of him, to portray somewhat in
detail his state of mind during one — the first — ^period of his career.
What I say may thus serve as a kind of introduction to the sub-
ject; and happy shall I be if I interest any one sufficiently to
take it up on his own accoimt.
Nietzsche was the son of a Protestant pastor (indeed he came
from a line of them), and was born in 1844 in Rocken, a small
Prussian village. He had the best and strictest of school train-
ing at Naumburg and Schulpforta; at Schulpforta beginning a
lifelong friendship with Paul Deussen, since well known as an
authority on Hindu philosophy, a disciple of Schopenhauer, and
now professor at Kiel. At twenty he entered the University of
Bonn, removing later, with his "great" teacher, the philologist
Ritschl, to Leipzig. His university studies were only interrupted
by a period of military service. At twenty-four (in 1868) he was
made professor of classical philology at Basel, becoming Ordi-
narius two years later. He also undertook work in the Padago-
gium, or higher Gymnasium, of the city. Eight years later he
was obliged on account of ill-health to relinquish his duties at
the Padagogium, and two years after, in 1878, he resigned, for the
same reason, his university position as well. To his sister, who
saw him in the spring following, he was hardly recognizable,
"ein gebrochener, milder, gedlterter Mann." He was then thirty-
five. His subsequent life was more or less spent in search of
health; summers ordinarily in the Upper Engadine, winters on
the Riviera. He lasted for ten years, when he had a stroke of
paralysis, which affected his brain. His natural bodily vigor kept
him alive for eleven years more, progressive paralysis ending in
death in 1900.
Perhaps a special word should be said of Nietzsche's insanity.
It came suddenly, with the paralytic stroke I have mentioned.
There are no real evidences of it before. A commentary on the
state of American criticism with relation to Nietzsche is furnished
by the fact that two of our books are prefaced with likenesses of
him after he was hopelessly deranged. All his work — sixteen
volumes in the octavo edition — was done before insanity came on.
That there are traces or warnings of it in any of these volumes is
AN INTRODUCTORY WORD ON NIETZSCHE 463
at best a subjective opinion; in fact, it is a position that tends to
be abandoned more and more.^ Highly wrought Nietzsche often
was, particularly in his latest writings; he said extravagant
things and uttered violent judgments. So did Carlyle; so have
many earnest, lonely men, struggling unequally with their time;
but insanity is another matter.
The causes of his break-down were manifold. In attempting to
mount a restive horse, when serving his time in the Prussian
artillery, he suffered a serious rupture and was incapacitated for
further service. Later he attached himself to the ambulance-
corps of his country during the Franco-Prussian War (he could
not be a soldier, as he was then living, and had become naturalized,
in Switzerland), and had dangerous attacks of cholera and diph-
theria, which were treated with strong medicines that deranged
his stomach. Eye-troubles (he was always near-sighted) still
further complicated the situation. Sick-headaches and insomnia
became more or less chronic. His sleeplessness drove him to the
use of drugs, and more and more powerful ones. All the time
he was living the intensest intellectual life. This state of high
tension, along with the other causes, seems sufficient to account
for the final collapse.
By nature he was of vigorous constitution. He had been fond
as a boy of swimming and skating, and at the university, until
his disablement, he was an active horseback-rider. At Bonn
he was described as a "picture of health and strength, broad-
shouldered, brown, with rather fair thick hair, and exactly the
same height as Goethe." ^ He was clean both in person and in
thought. At school the boys called him "the Uttle parson,"
instinctively repressing coarse language in his presence. He had
a brief taste of dissipation at the university, but seemed to sicken
of it. The delights of beer-drinking and duelling palled on him;
and his openly expressed dissatisfaction with the "beer-material-
ism" (as he called it) and the strained relations with his fellow-
* Cf. Karl JoSl, Nietzsche und die Romantik, p. 328; H. Liestinberger, La Phi-
losophie de Nietzsche, pp. 83 S.; R. Richter, Friedrich Nietzsche (2d ed.), pp. 91 ff.;
H. Vaihinger, Nietzsche als Philosoph, p. 16; Ernst Homeffer, Nietzsches letztes
SchaSen, p. 20.
' Havelock Ellis, Affirmations, p. 11, quotes this.
464 HARVARD THEOLOGICAL REVIEW
students that ensued, appear to have had something to do with
his leaving Bonn for Leipzig. Once he allowed himself to be
taken to a house of questionable character, but was soon speech-
less before what he saw there. For a moment he turned to the
piano, and then left.' Deussen says of him, "mulierem nunquam
attigit"; and though this may be too absolute a claim,' it shows
the impression that was left on one of his most intimate friends.
He was never married. He had, however, intimate relations
with gifted women, like Frau Cosima Wagner and Malwida von
Meysenberg, and his family-affections were strong and tender;
so tender toward his mother that he strove to keep his writings
from her for fear of giving her pain. He had a nature at bottom
sympathetic. No attentive reader can fail to feel this. If he
warned against pity, it was as much because he had felt the
excess of it as for lack of it. In personal intercourse he showed
marked politeness, and, it is said, an almost feminine mildness.
All his life he was practically a poor man. He called it his hap-
piness that he owned no house, sayiag "Wer besitzt wird besetzt";
liked to wait on himself; despised the dinners of the rich; and
loved solitude, aside from a few friends and the common people.
The sight of the latter, he said, was as necessary to him as that
of strong and healthy vegetation; and some of them in the later
days of his illness and comparative emaciation in Geneva spoke
endearingly of him as "il piccolo santo." He had remarkable
strength of will. Once, as a school-boy, when the story of Mucins
Scaevola was being discussed, he lighted a number of matches
on his hand and held out his arm without wincing. He asserted
himself against his later illnesses and depression in extraordinary
fashion; and when he became mentally and spiritually dis-
illusioned, he wrested strength from his very deprivations.* In
general, there was an unusual firmness in his moral texture. He
despised meanness, untruthfulness, cowardice, cunning; he liked
straight speaking and straight thinking. He did not have one
philosophy for the closet and another for life, as Schopenhauer
^ It is Nietzsche's own story, as narrated by P. Deussen, Erinnervingen an
F. Nietzsche, p. 24.
' Cf . Mebius, Nietzsche, p. 50.
' Also Sprach Zarathustra, p. 163.
AN INTRODUCTORY WORD ON NIETZSCHE 465
more or less did, but his thoughts were motives, rules. In his
thinking itself we seem to catch the pulse-beats of his virile will.'
Noble in spirit he was, too. One of his sayings is, "A sufferer has
no right to pessimism";'" the thought being, of course, that such
an one is too likely to be biassed by the personal point of view.
Nor is he always dogmatic. At the close of the first book of his
second or sceptical period, he asks his youthful readers not to
take his doctrines at once as a guide of life, but rather as theses
to be weighed; he throws the responsibility on them, urging them
to be true to themselves even against him. Elsewhere he says:
"It lureth thee, my mode and speech?
Thou followest me, to hear me teach.'
Nay! Guide thyself — honest and fair —
And follow me, with care! with care!"''
Well aware that his doctrine was a kind of adventure, he tells
us, "This is my way, what is yours? Tfte way there is not." "It
belongs to the humanity of a teacher," he declares, "to warn
his pupils against himself"; yes, a pupil badly recompenses his
teacher, when he is always pupil and nothing more.'^ His ideal
for the thinker as such appears in these lines:
"Destined, star, for radiant path,
No claim on thee the darkness hath!
Roll on in bliss through this our age!
Its trouble ne'er shall thee engage !
In furthest worlds thy beams shall glow:
Pity, as sin, thou must not know 1
Be pure: that duty's all you owe."''
Yes, Nietzsche was aware that the thinker might contradict him-
self, as he himself did more or less in the successive periods of his
mental evolution. "This thinker," he once says, evidently allud-
ing to himself, "needs no one to confute him; he suffices to that
end himself." Nor did he wish to be kept from following his own
9 Cf. Riehl, op. cit., p. 161.
"• Vermischte Meinungen u. s. w., (Vorrede, p. 5).
" Werke (Pock, ed.), VI, p. 42, (tr. by Thomas Common).
^ Zarathustra, p. 114.
" Werke (Pock, ed.), VI, p. 56, (tr. by Thomas Common).
466 HARVARD THEOLOGICAL REVIEW
path by friendly defence or adulation. One must needs, he said,
not only love one's enemies, but be able to hate one's friends.
In short, there was a kind of unworldliness about him. Vanity
he had little of; reputation, save among the selectest few, he
cared little for; personal resentments, such as Schopenhauer
cherished, he was incapable of. I do not mean that his language
is not severe at times, even unwarrantably so; but he tells us
almost pathetically in one place that we must not underscore
these passages, and that the severity and presumption come
partly from his isolation. A lonely thinker, who finds no sym-
pathy or echo for his ideas, involuntarily raises his pitch, he says,
and easily falls into irritated speech.^*
Perhaps I should add that the aphoristic form of much of his
later writing has partly a physical explanation. He was able
to write only at intervals, putting down his thoughts at auspicious
moments, oftenest when he was out on his walks or chmbing.
One year he had, he tells us, two hundred sick days. Such ill fort-
une was extreme, but he was more or less incapacitated every
Yet, despite the fragmentary nature of his work, Nietzsche
was, one feels, a genuine thinker. He cannot of course be put
into the same class with Aristotle or Kant; he is not systematic
enough; his ideas, save in instances, are not sufficiently reasoned
out. And yet he is more of a thinker (I mean more analytically
and critically so) than writers hke Voltaire, Rousseau, Carlyle,
or Emerson. He has reasoned and deep-going opinions on almost
the whole range of human interests, including metaphysics,
physics, psychology, ethics, art, religion, politics. It was the
tendency at first to take Nietzsche as an artist, a man of letters,
a "stylist" (to use a barbarous word imported from the German).
Now he is often spoken of as a prophet. He once betrayed what
he thought of style, when he said that the only way to improve
it is to improve the thought. And as to prophecy, he was too
remorselessly critical, too much concerned with ideas as such,
to come exclusively under that category. The fact is, he was
thinker -par eminence; and had he known better how to work and
" I borrow here from Riehl, op. cit., p. 23.
AN INTRODUCTORY WORD ON NIETZSCHE 467
how not to work, or even had he lived ten years longer, he might
have justified the title of systematic thinker, for he was engaged
at the time of his collapse on a work, Der Wille zur Macht, that
was to present in elaborate scientific form his total view of things.
There are, as it is, fragments enough of this work to fill a stout
volume and a half.
And now, before attempting a partial portrait of the initial
stage of his mental evolution, let me note the fact that his de-
termination when a lad was to be a pastor, like his father and
his grandfather, and that when he matriculated at Bonn, it was
as student of philosophy and theology. It was only as his doubts
increased or came to a head that he abandoned the study of
theology, and something of the temper of religion remained with
him always. His mind was essentially reverential. And here
is the explanation of his craving for men beyond the men we
know, higher men, superman (whatever the phrase is), something
to satisfy, however inadequately, the instinct for the great and
I have spoken of his mental "evolution"; and it is one of
the most characteristic things about Nietzsche that he was a
changing, evolutionary being, as contrasted with his master
Schopenhauer, whose views crystallized when he was still young
and never materially altered. First he was under the spell of
Schopenhauer and of Wagner (Schopenhauer on the philosophical
side, Wagner on the artistic), and, I might add, of the anti-Socratic
Greek view of life, as he understood it. Later he became dis-
illusioned about Wagner, more or less turned against Schopen-
hauer, was appreciative of Socrates and his rationalism, admired
Voltaire and English positive science. It was his analytical,
rationalistic, positivistic, many would say sober period, in which
he dissected most of all his own earlier ideals, or, to use a phrase
of his, laid them on ice. Last of all came a fresh idealism, sobered
indeed and relieved of some of its early features, but none the
less real and with magnificent forecasts. Nietzsche may be more
interesting on account of this vivid life-history, but he is also
more difficult of comprehension; we cannot always say, so
Nietzsche thought, but so he thought at a certain time. And
yet the later periods cannot be understood without an acquaint-
468 HARVARD THEOLOGICAL REVIEW
ance with the eariier, and I must doubt whether one can under-
stand him at all without an acquaintance with his masters, Scho-
penhauer before all.
And now let me endeavor to bring before you in some measure
Nietzsche's initial state of mind. He is professor at Basel. He
is kindly treated by his colleagues. Particularly is he happy
in the friendship of Jacob Burckhardt, authority on Greek culture
and on the Renaissance. Happy is he also in a friendship with
Wagner, with whom and Frau Cosima he often spends delightful
week-ends at their villa above Lake Lucerne. His lectures are
strictly professional. He had specialized, I should perhaps have
said, in Greek philology, and only the few devoted to philological
study attend his lectures.^^
At the same time his interests are wide and he has an ideal
beyond the training of capable philologists.'^ Occasionally he
gives a public lecture, and now and then a little book or pam-
phlet appears from him. In these we find his ideas and ideals
in general. A new note is struck, a fresh stream of thought
seems to be forming itself, even his interpretation of Greek life
is more or less novel; feeling, passion, strong preferences and
aversions, make themselves heard and felt. He sees in Socrates
the beginning of the rationalistic spirit that killed Greek tragedy.
He writes about David Strauss und Andere Philister; and this
polemic from a new point of view against an honored name
makes a veritable stir in the intellectual world. Schopenhauer
als Erzieher appears, and "On the Use and Harm of History for
Life," and "Richard Wagner in Bayreuth." " Unzeitgemdsse
Betrachtungen" he calls them, i.e. considerations not in harmony
^ Burckhardt said of him at the time that Basel had never before had a teacher
like him (Lon Andreas-SalomS, Friedrich Nietzsche, in seinen Werken, p. 8).
" Cf. Werke (Pock, ed.), I, xxviii. Nietzsche had an early antipathy to those
who dissolve themselves into "reine Wissenschaft" (Schopenhauer als Erzieher,
p. 3). The "historische Sinn," so extensively cultivated in Germany at the time,
struck him as almost a "Krankheit" (Werke, Pock, ed., II, xli). He reflects at
length (Schopenhauer als Erzieher, p. 3) on the "Selbstsucht der Wissenschaft,"
i.e. of the learned class, as one of the forces, "von denen zwar die Cultur gefordert
wird, ohne dass man doch ihr Ziel, die Erzeugung des Genius, anerkennt." He
even says, "Ein Gelehrter kann nie ein Philosoph werden" (he means by this
" not merely a great thinker but an actual man. " Cf . what is said of Kant, Ibid.,
AN INTRODUCTORY WORD ON NIETZSCHE 469
with the spirit of the time. It is a young fiery spirit that ex-
presses itself, Professor Riehl remarks. A friend who visited
him in Basel in 1872 says he appeared "fiery, elastic, self-con-
scious, like a young lion."
As I have said, he is a disciple of Schopenhauer. As a student
at Leipzig he had chanced on his works. After he read one page,
he knew he must read the whole, he felt Schoperhauer's full
charm. It is interesting to see that Schopenhauer did not de-
press him. As against the scepticism and despair which Kant
had bred in a man like Heinrich von Kleist,*'' Schopenhauer was
to him a leader who took one up to the heights of the tragic view,
with the heavens and infinite stars overhead. He gave him, he
says, a view of the world as a whole, opened up to him the mean-
ing of life, and made him feel the true consolation for one's
individual limitations and sorrows, namely, in renouncing self
and giving one's self up to noble aims, above all to justice and
pity.'* He echoed the words of Schopenhauer: "A happy life
is impossible. The highest to which man can attain is a heroic
course of life." This was to him a kind of battle-note. In seek-
ing for happiness, he says, we do not go beyond the animal; yes,
all our restless moving to and fro on the earth, our building of
cities and states, our waging of wars, our restless accumulating
and spending, our running amuck at people, our copying them,
"Cf. the Quarterly Review (Oct., 1896, p. 310): "Reason, made suddenly-
aware of its own impotence, so Nietzsche felt, would drive thoughtful men towards
the wilderness in which, for example, Heinrich von Kleist had done himself to
death." Kant, it must be remembered, reached the conclusion that we know noth-
ing of things as they exist in themselves, our mind putting its shaping hand on
every object; so that the world as we conceive it and the world as it really exists
are separated by an impassable barrier. [Cf. the summary statement of O.
Kiilpe, "Outer experience is bound up with space, inner experience with time,
and they can be thought only in and through categories (space, time, and the
categories being alike subjective, according to Kant). And so all realities of the
several sciences, nature as well as soul, become phenomena. The knowing mind
places on every object its stamp" (Philosophical Review, Jan., 1912, p. 8).]
'' Ibid., p. 3. Cf . the description of his feelings after first reading Die Welt
als Wille und Vorstellung: "Here there met me the full, unselfish, sunlit gaze of
art; here I saw sickness and healing, exits and a haven of refuge, hell and heaven"
(Professor Pringle-Pattison's translation from the Leben, in " Man's Place in the
Cosmos," 2d ed., p. 259).
470 HARVARD THEOLOGICAL REVIEW
our outwitting one another and trampling on one another, our
cries in need and our shouts of joy in victory — all this, he says, is
only continuation of our animality. It is, in a way, a picture of
nine tenths of the content of human history; not only of the
barbaric world, but of the world as it has now been going on for
some two thousand years since the birth of Christ, yes, as it is
going on at the present moment. Nietzsche at this time sees
chiefly pain in it — pain, illusion, disappointment; he discovers
little sense in it. The will plunges aimlessly forward, and does
not know itself or the higher aims for which it exists. The world —
this greater part of the world, that is — is to him full of gloom and
contradiction. At bottom there is something terrible about it
and something absurd. The terrible thing is that we live on one
another; that forgetting our essential unity, imagining we are
separate individuals, we prey on one another. Our human world
is like the world outside. Animals prey on plants, we prey on
animals; yes, animals prey on one another, and we men prey on
one another. It seems to be a part of the order of things, the price
of individual existence. A certain violence and wrong cleaves to
life. This is the foundation of Nietzsche's tragic view of the
world, as it was of Schopenhauer's. It is a mistake to think of
Nietzsche originally, as of Schopenhauer, as having only the wish
to put a slight thereby on morality. Both (Schopenhauer always
and Nietzsche at the beginning) take their stand with morality,
and it is life, not morality, that is put in the wrong. As Nietzsche
afterward put it, "Before the court of morals (particularly Chris-
tian, i.e. absolute morals) must life forever and unavoidably be in
the wrong, since life is essentially something unmoral." i' It is
this fact, that morality and right are violated in life, that makes
the world to him enigmatic and terrible. It is the fight for exist-
ence and the necessities it imposes that are the terrible things.
Only a sensitive, a profoundly moral nature would feel in this way.
Hegel did not feel so; Bismarck did not; our masters in political
economy (till recently) have not; nine tenths of the world do
not. Commonly, men see nothing more immoral in fighting for
existence, whether with animals or with one another, than the
'^ Versuch einer Selbstkritik, p. 5, prefixed to a 2d ed. of Die Geburt der
AN INTRODUCTORY WORD ON NIETZSCHE 471
South saw in subjecting slaves to their masters, or than the ancient
Greeks in making slaves of those they conquered.
Yet Nietzsche says (and here his view grows more tragic still),
not only do we prey on one another, but we must; must, not
merely for selfish ends, but to attain the things that make life
worth while. By implication he asserts that the very means
by which we rise above the sphere of animality, just described,
are immoral means. For what are the things that make life
worth while? Nietzsche answers, with Schopenhauer, philo-
sophic contemplation, aesthetic appreciation, creation, the vision
of truth and beauty; in short, philosophy and art. And how
are these things reached? He answers, again with Schopenhauer,
only by means of leisure. And how is leisure possible, since man
lives by the sweat of his brow? Only as some men produce more
than they need, thereby freeing others from the necessity of
labor. That is, leisure is the fruit of surplus labor (Nietzsche
uses Marx's term, " Mehr- Arbeit") P And as men are not apt
to render this labor willingly, as they naturally want all they
produce, some kind of necessity or force must be used upon them.
Whether this be force of law, or of competition among them-
selves for the chance to work, is immaterial. In either case the
men are without choice, i.e. are slaves.^^ Nietzsche knows that
the slavery of the "free laborer" of today is just as real as that
of the legal slaves in the ancient world. On this shameful foun-
dation, then, does the higher culture, philosophy, art, arise.
Nietzsche says it in so many words: "Culture and art rest on a
terrible foundation. In order that a wide, deep and fruitful
soil may exist for their development, the vast majority must
be in the service of a minority, must labor beyond the measure
of their individual needs, be slaves of poverty. At their expense,
20Der Griechische Staat in Werke (Pock, ed.), I, 210; cf. 211, "Das Elend
der miihsam lebenden Menschen muss noch gestiegen werden, um einer geringen
Anzahl olympischer Menschen die Produktion der Kunstwelt zu ermOglichen," and
Die Geburt der TragOdie, p. 18, "die alexandrinische [i.e. Socratic, theoretical]
Cultur brauchte einen Sklavenstand, um auf die Dauer existiren zu kSnnen."
^^ Cf. Nietzsche's express language later: "Sklave (wie wir vielleicht jeden
geistigen und korperlichen Lohnarbeiter bezeichnen mtissen"), Werke (Pock, ed.),
V, xviii; also Professor Simmel's language quoted, xxiii, and MorgenrSthe, p. 206.
472 HARVARD THEOLOGICAL REVIEW
by means of their surplus labor, must the few rise to freedom." ^^
It was so in ancient Greece (students of political science and
political economy would do well to read his little paper on "The
Greek State"). "To the nature of a higher culture slavery be-
longs;" and Nietzsche unflinchingly makes the statement, not
at all because he favors slavery or fails to be outraged by it, but
simply because he sees, or thinks he sees, the fact. Indeed, about
the absolute worth of a scheme of things in which slavery can
be necessary, there cannot in his estimation be two opinions.
This world is not a divine world, and he praises Schopenhauer
for squarely saying so.^'
And yet there is no way out for mankind save through phi-
losophy and art. The many must toil and suffer, and only in-
cidentally for their personal good. They must live in relative
darkness that a few may reach the light, though this will ulti-
mately be of universal benefit. In other words, tragedy is in-
separable from life at present; even those to whom the joy of
life does come, the philosophers and artists, must live for ends
beyond their personal selves, live to pass on their light and the
beauty they create. And the highest man of all (for philosophy
and art are at best preparatory), the saint, the hero-saint— he
dies to himself absolutely, makes himself one with all, with their
pain and suffering as well, marks out some great path for the good
of all, and follows it unflinchingly and with firm-set face, like the
knight in Durer's picture, riding along his frightful way with
Death and the Devil for companions, to the bitter end. For, it
should be distinctly said, Nietzsche in this period puts the saint
or hero above the philosophers and artists; and no one, he holds,
^ Cf. Werke, XII (8vo. ed.), 206 (p. 439), "Aber haltet immer fest, dass diese
ungeheure Bemiihung [of Fiirsten, Kaufleute, Beamten, Ackerbauer, Soldaten],
dieser Schweiss, Staub u. Arbeitslann der Civilisation fur die da ist, die dies
alles zu benutzen wissen, ohne mitzuarbeiten: dass es Ueberschussige geben muss,
welche mit der allgemeinen Ueberarbeit erhalten werden, u. dass die Ueberschiiss-
igen der Sinn u. die Apologie des ganzen Treibens sind!"
® Cf . the admiration he later expresses, but no doubt early felt, for Schopen-
hauer's repudiation of theism or pantheism: "The un-divinity of existence was
recognized by him as something given, tangible, indiscussable " (FrBbliche Wis-
senschaft, p. 359). Cf. "Der Atheismus war Das, was mich zu Schopenhauer
ftthrte" (Ecce Homo, "Die Unzeitgemassen," p. 2).
AN INTRODUCTORY WORD ON NIETZSCHE 473
makes such sacrifices, accepts such obUgations,^ so absolutely
parts with all self-seeking, as he. He once formally compares
three ideal types of men: the Rousseau ideal man, easily a blind
revolutionist, the Goethe ideal man, who too easily accepts the
world as it is, simply glorifying it by philosophy and art,^^ and
the Schopenhauer ideal type, the hero and saint; and he puts
the Schopenhauer ideal man on top. He praises Schopenhauer
for making the saint the final arbiter and judge of existence.
He says, not victory in this world, but tragic death may be the
highest thing; as we actually feel when we listen to old Greek
drama and are Ufted to the thought of being other than we know
of here.^* Yes, in the saint he sees the consmnmation toward
which all nature presses and strives; for the saint is he in whom
and through whom nature, the blind egoistic will working every-
where, is redeemed from itself. He is the solver of the riddle
of the world. With him indeed we all have affinities and ties.
He is in actu what we are in potentia. He points to the redemp-
tion toward which we all may strive.^'
"From the start Nietzsche speaks of "Verpflichtungen" and "Pflichten" in
a very different way from Schopenhauer (cf. Ibid., pp. 6, 8), though the difference
may be more in language than in essential conception. Schopenhauer reacted
against Kant's categorical imperative by going to an absurd opposite extreme.
^Schopenhauer als Erzieher, p. 7: he had said of the philosopher, "Denn
das ist die eigenthiimliche Arbeit aller grossen Denker gewesen, Gesetzgeber fUr
Maass, Miinze und Gewicht der Dinge zu sein" (Ibid., p. 3); but above the phi-
losopher he puts the saint.
^ Die Geburt der TragSdie, p. 21; cf. Schopenhauer als Erzieher, p. 5,
cf. II, 264-265, 1, 155, 148 ("' Wir glauben an das ewige Leben,' so ruft die TragS-
die"). Geburt der Tragodie, p. 16 ("'Wir glauben an das ewige Leben,' so
ruft die TragBdie"); p. 17 ("am reinsten Tone vielleicht im Oedipus auf Kolonos
der versShnende Klang aus einer anderen Welt.").
''' Cf. his recognition of Christianity: "Das Christenthum ist gewiss eine
der reinsten Offenbarungen jenes Dranges nach Cultur und gerade nach der ioimer
emeuten ErzeugUQg des Heiligen" (Schopenhaur als Erzieher, p. 6). In Die
Geburt der TragSdie, p. 11, he shows appreciation of the deeper side of Chris-
tianity, as contrasted with the lightness and surface cheerfulness of the later
Greek spirit, so different from the serious and almost sombre views of the sixth
century b.c, quite in the manner of Schopenhauer. Cf. Schopenhauer als Erzieher,
p. 2, where he speaks of Christianity as surpassing in the elevation of its ideal the
ancient moral systems "und die in alien gleichmassig waltende Nattlrlichkeit";
though he admits at the same time that Christianity went so far that it produced
a reaction, and hence the vacillation of the modem mind. It was in the midst
of his own perplexity over ultimate problems that he came on Schopenhauer (in
1865), and found relief (Ibid., p. 2).
474 HARVARD THEOLOGICAL REVIEW
Things being so, the whole aim at happiness is delusion. The
final aim of our life is not in anything we can ourselves attain to,
any passing success or satisfaction, but beyond us, above us, in
producing or helping to produce those philosophers, artists, and
saints through whom nature and man are redeemed; or, if we may,
in producing the philosopher, artist, or saint in ourselves. "Hu-
manity should continuously work to this end, to produce single
great men; and this and nothing else is its task" — so Schopenhauer
had said and so now Nietzsche after him. For such an end we are
to strive; for it we are to make sacrifices. What accords with it is
right; what clashes with it, wrong. Hence for every man to seek
happiness, each in his own individual way, seems to Nietzsche
folly. We do not exist for ourselves. The life of most of us has
not significance enough to make it worth striving for as an end
in itself. The purpose of our life is to serve higher life. In this
way the lower gets a significance that it has not in itself.
Taken abstractly, a view like this may not offend us; but
Nietzsche is in earnest with it. The slave class of ancient Greece
did not exist for itself. How meaningless was their toil and
drudgery, save as thereby Greek genius was set free! Suppose
the slaves had risen and asserted their own individual rights to
happiness, the "rights of man," as we say. Where would the
age of Pericles have been? No more do the corresponding class,
the working-class of today, exist for themselves; and Nietzsche
comments on the unfortunate consequences in modern times
of the general-happiness philosophy, that is, the idea that all
may attain happiness on the earth, for culture, now as always,
requires a class of virtual slaves as its foundation,^* and if they
rise, considering themselves wronged, culture will be destroyed.
'' His sister says in summing up his views: "Man muss ohne Heuchelei zuge-
ben, dass Sklaverei, oder wie man es nennen will, die schmachvoUe und betrilbliche
Kehrseite jeder Civilisation ist! Man kann sie mildem, sie weniger schmerzhaft
machen; man kann dem Knechte die Annahme seines Loses erleichtem — das
Mittelalter mit seinen Feudal-System steht in dieser Hinsicht Uber der Neuzeit; —
aber so laage es eine Gesellschatt giebt, wird es auch Machtige imd Privilegirte
geben, deren Gllick auf der Muhsal u. schweren Arbeit einer unterdrflckten
und zu ihren GUnsten ausgebeuteten Masse beruhen wird. Das sind harte Wahr-
heiten, welcher nur der tragische Mensch in aller Unerschrockenheit in's Auge zu
sehen wagt" (Werke, Pock, ed., II, xxxi-xxxii).
AN INTRODUCTORY WORD ON NIETZSCHE 475
"There is nothing more fearful," he declares, "than a barbaric
slave-class that has come to consider its manner of existence a
wrong, and sets about taking revenge not only for itself but for
all generations." From the start, he had little sympathy with the
spirit of the French Revolution or with present socialism: "Der
gute Urmensch mil seine Reekie: welche paradiesischen Atissichten"!
he ironically exclaims. Let Nietzsche not be misunderstood.
The business-classes do not exist for themselves, either. They
think they do, indeed, and there is just the trouble, for they are
on top now and do pretty much as they like. The economic
doctrine of laisser-faire which these classes virtually inspire,
works injuriously, Nietzsche holds, on the morality of whole
peoples today. The egoism of these classes, particularly since the
period of the Reformation (for before that time the church had
been a more or less restraining force), has become one of the
determining factors in modern Kfe. It, along with the egoism
of the military class, is to be reckoned among the coarsest and
most evil influences that work upon us. The selfishness of the new
industrial wealth perverts the aims of culture itself, looking on
it as a means to its own gain and happiness. It opposes culture
that has no industrial value. It thinks man has a right to happi-
ness on earth, and needs education for this end, but only so far.
Nietzsche speaks with scorn of the gold-aristocracy, the banking
lords of our day without country or home, who use the State for
their own ends, and so oppose war and even favor the masses
against monarchs — ^patrons of peace and the people, forsooth!
He questions the notion that wealth of itself prepares the way
for culture. He satirizes the Germans after the Franco-Prussian
War, who said, "Now let us become rich and self-conscious, and
we shall have culture." Their wealth and surface-polish have
been rather the foe of culture. Some kind of a surplus there must
be, of course, but not, Nietzsche holds, the kind that is being
piled up in modern communities. No, the business-classes, like
the working-classes, have worth and dignity, in Nietzsche's view,
as they serve ends beyond themselves, as they consciously or
unconsciously, willingly or unwillingly, are the helpmeets of
genius, as they too contribute to the production of the phi-
losopher, the artist, and the saint. If he recognizes the necessity
476 HARVARD THEOLOGICAL REVIEW
of slavery for the workingman, it is not as the business-man or
the economist might do so. He is ever a son of the muses, not
Undoubtedly, a certain hardness and severity come to the fore
here. It is the beginning of the characteristic Nietzschean note.
Life is a difficult business, and there is no easy way out. If we
take a great aim into ourselves, we must be hard to all that op-
poses it.^' Softness, weakness, become folly and worse. Even
cruelty may be necessary. Might, rule, says Nietzsche, is always
ruthless. Something of cruelty lies in the nature (i.e., at the
basis) of all culture. The state which made slavery law and con-
tinuous was cruel. Nietzsche speaks of the shameful origin of
the state. Indeed here, in this first period, Nietzsche begins his
revision of moral notions. We cannot, he says, aim at the happi-
ness of others, singly or collectively, any more than at our own.
The good of the greatest number, as we now find them, is not the
ideal. The development of great commimities and states is not
the ideal. Why should the many be more valuable than one?
he in effect asks, quite in the spirit of Heraclitus, who said that
one man was in his eyes equal to ten thousand, if he was the best.
The aim of life, according to Nietzsche, is, I repeat, to produce
those perfect specimens of the race, who by philosophy and art
and heroic self -transcendence will redeem the race; and the aim
of society at any given moment is to find out and establish those
conditions that are favorable to the emergence of this higher breed
of men. This is the end, and there should be iron-hardness in
seeking it. We may have sympathy with men; we must;'" but
not to the extent of interfering with the conditions and arrange-
ments that are necessary to the attainment of the higher end.
To attempt to make the working-class or the business-class happy
29 Cf. Der Wffle zur Macht, 2d ed., p. 975: "Objektiv, hart, fest, streng
bleiben im Durchsetzen eines Gedankens — das bringen die Kiinstler noch am besten
zu Stande; wenn einer aber Menschen dazu nOthig hat (wie Lehrer, Staatsmanner
u. s. w.), da geht die Ruhe und KSlte u. Harte schnell davon. Man kann bei
Naturen wie CSsar u. Napoleon etwas ahnen von einem 'interesselosen' Arbeiten
an ihrem Marmor, mag dabei von Menschen geopfert werden, was nur moglich.
Auf dieser Bahn liegt die Zukimft der hSchsten Menschen, die grosste Verant-
vjortlichkeit tragen und nicht daran zerbrechen."
'""Die Weisheit wendet sich dem Gesamtbilde der Welt zu und sucht in
diesem das ewige Leiden mit sympathischer Liebesempfindung zu ergreifen."
AN INTRODUCTORY WORD ON NIETZSCHE 477
in the way each would like to be, to relieve the one of surplus labor
and allow the other to get and to spend as they choose, is against
the evolutionary law. They must endure, and we must endure.
The condition of things makes this necessary, the nature of the
world, where good is won by pain, and Prometheus, the fire-
bringer, the friend of man, suffers. Relief is only in freely accept-
ing the tragic view, willingly making sacrifice (if we don't willingly,
we may have to unwillingly), and feeling beyond us and above us
the heavens and infinite stars, a super-earthly and super-human
order of things.
In the tribute to Schopenhauer which I have so often quoted —
Schopenhauer, who with all his melancholy was to Nietzsche a
good and brave fighter — Nietzsche imagines a disciple of culture
saying, "I see something higher and more human above me than
I myself am; help me all to attain it, as I will help every one who
feels and suffers as I; in order that at last the man may arise who
is full and measureless in knowledge and love and vision and
power, and who with his whole being cleaves to nature and takes
his place in nature as judge and valuer of things." ^^ Plainly, it is
a self-confession. It lets us into the inner nature and soul of the
man. He changed in many ways; but from this central aspira-
tion or prayer, if I may call it so, he never wavered.'^
'1 Werke, II, 267. The translation of the latter part of this quotation is not
literal; the German is: "Damit endlich wieder der Mensch entstehe, welcher sich
voU und unendlich ftihlt im Erkennen vind Lieben, im Schauer und KOnnen, und
mit aller seiner Ganzheit an und in der Natur hangt, als Richter und Werthmes-
ser der Dinge."
Of. " Ich habe von Kindesbeinen an iiber die Existenzbedingungen des Weisen
nachgedacht" (X, 183, p. 987).
^ " Meine ' Unzeitgemassen ' bedeuten fiir meine Versprechungen; was sie filr
Andere sind, weiss ich nicht. Man glaube mir, dass ich langst nicht mehr leben
wUrde, wenn ich diesen Versprechungen nur um Einen Schritt breit ausgewichen
ware! Vielleicht kommt noch ein Mensch, der entdeckt, dass von 'Mensch.
allgem.' an ich nichts gethan habe, als mein Versprechen erflillen" (XIV, Svo ed.,
381-382, p. 265).