Typos p. 175: heirarchy [= hierarchy]; p. 183: inconsistences [= inconsistencies]; p. 183: eschatalogical [= eschatological]
My Main Divergence from Nietzsche
For the reasons stated in the chapter on The White Man's Philosophy above, I regard Socrates as the greatest transvaluer of all time, the man who, out of resentment and inferiority feelings, was responsible for the fundamental demonetization of the old healthy values regarding man, and for the successful establishment of new principles which excluded biological considerations from judgments affecting human nature, which created a new and imaginary centre of gravity in man the soul, and which relegated the body to an inferior and despised rank.
My view is that the moment the old healthy biological attitude towards man, which regarded his visible aspects as essential factors in forming an estimate of him, was contradicted and invalidated by Socrates, every sort of degeneracy, and of apology for degeneracy, became possible. Every sort of nobility was made difficult of achievement, if not impossible. For nobility, like every other order of rank in the human heirarchy, is inconceivable without bodily components of a certain quality. So that Socrates, at one stroke, tried to make not only health but also nobility a thing of the past.
With the denigration of the visible, the body, in short, and the exaltation of the invisible, the soul,
Now it was Socrates and those of his followers who were besotted by years of their master's debating points in other words, it was a none too respectable group of homosexual Greeks of the late fifth century and early fourth century B.C. who popularized and successfully "got across" the doctrine of the supreme importance of man's invisible side and of the despicableness of the body, the flesh and the world, as compared with the high and unique value of the soul and the world of souls. And Socrates, as I have shown, led in the performance of this feat of transvaluation, owing to his resentment, or, to what Dr. Adler would have called, his inferiority feelings. For, as the ugliest man of his Age in a city of beauty, among beauty lovers, many of whom were beautiful, and all of whom believed in the equation "good-looking = good"
But, although Nietzsche perceived much that was degenerate in Socrates and emphasises his passion for
On the contrary, Nietzsche never tires of repeating that it was the Jews who were the great transvaluers, the great fertilizers of other peoples in the matter of ideas and values.
For instance, in Beyond Good and Evil (Aphorism 248) he maintains erroneously, to my way of thinking that whereas the Greeks were a feminine race who suffered fertilization in ideas and who bore fruit after being fertilized, the Jews were a virile race which preferred to fertilize. But I submit that this is to underrate the Greeks and their influence; for they have fertilized the whole of the White Man's world with their philosophic views ever since 500 B.C.! It also amounts to misrepresenting the Jews who, in whatever feat of fertilization they may have performed through Christianity, borrowed heavily from the Greeks and especially from Socrates.
Again, in Beyond Good and Evil (Aphorism 195) Nietzsche declares that "the Jews performed the miraculous feat of turning values upside down . . . . Their prophets welded into one the notions 'rich', 'godless' 'evil', 'violent', and 'sensual', and were the first to stamp the word 'world' with the idea of reproach."
He speaks of this topsyturvification as imparting a new and dangerous charm to life "for two thousand years."
In The Genealogy of Morals (Aphorism 8) he again speaks of the transvaluation of all values as Israel's work.
In the Antichrist (Aphorism 44) he speaks of Christianity as the final masterpiece of the Jews and identifies the Christian with the Jew.
These passages make it dear that when Nietzsche speaks of the first "Transvaluation of Values" he means that which was effected by Christianity, and he holds the Jew responsible for both.
I have shown, however, that all the principal positions established by Christianity had been fought for and won by Socrates and his followers four hundred years before Jesus.
What is the meaning of this disparity between the view of Christianity, as stated in the first chapter of this essay, and Nietzsche's view?
There are various explanations.
In the first place, we should remember that the power of tradition and of long schooling at a traditional school, even with so independent and original a thinker as Nietzsche, is frequently overwhelming, and that the traditional view of Socrates as held by all European scholars is incompatible with the view of him which I advance.
I have always encountered in Greek scholars a profound veneration for Socrates, as a man and an innovator. This feeling, handed down from teacher to pupil for generations in all European Universities is quite capable, in itself, of having prevented even a
Furthermore, it is an easy pitfall for a Greek scholar, biased in favour of the Greeks and, therefore, against the religion whose early Fathers vilified them, to make the mistake of supposing that an opposition shown by the Fathers of the Church to Hellenic culture must imply an anticipated opposition of Hellenic culture to the thought of the Church.
Truth to tell, there is that opposition in Hellenic culture. But it is pre-Socratic.
Nietzsche was, besides, a great lover of Greek culture and a deep admirer of the Greeks, and in spite of the suspicions he could not, as an acute thinker, help harbouring about Socrates and his period, he hesitated to lay the scene both of the tragic regenerate values, and the decadent transvalued values, on Greek soil.
Thus, in seeking the origins of Christianity, he was more prone to light on the supposed resentment and vengeful feelings of a race like the Jews which had suffered contempt, than upon similar reactions in a despised and perverted Greek thinker.
When discussing my views of Socrates with classical
1 See my MAN'S DESCENT FROM THE GODS (London, 1921).
2 Vol. XLI.
One Nazi scholar even went so far as to say, "But don't you see what your theory involves? It involves the debasement of one of the greatest glories of Aryan thought, in order to rescue from debasement a people like the Jews!"
He implied that Nietzsche was right and that I was wrong.
And yet the evidence is all in favour of my claim. Four hundred years before the Jewish-Christian transvaluation, every essential principle which made it possible had been established by Socrates!
But, in this matter, I am justified in charging Nietzsche with confusion and a lack of consistency. I am able even to show that tentatively he actually occupied my position with regard to Socrates he was, indeed, too clear-headed not to have done so. But he occupied it with evident misgiving and a lack of certainty.
For instance, he refers again and again, and quite rightly, to Socrates as a decadent (See The Twilight of the Idols); but, except for the Greek philosopher's mania for dialectics and his attack on instinct, nowhere shows in what way his decadence was transmitted ideologically, in the stupendous manner I claim, to posterity. He sees that Socrates "vanquished noble taste", and that from Socrates onwards "the moral bias", the "outcome of a pathological condition",
This is all the more extraordinary, seeing that he got so near. Was he perhaps too strongly wedded to his parti pris about the Jews as the first transvaluers? Can it be possible that, while he thought he saw the abundant motivation for resentment in them, he failed to see it in Socrates? Or was he reluctant to abandon his view of the role played by the Jews in the first transvaluation because of his reverence for the Greeks as a whole? In any case, to me, as an independent thinker, only initiated into Greek thought and the mysteries of the Greek language comparatively late in life, Nietzsche's love of the Greeks and their culture seems a grossly exaggerated and over-wrought passion in him.
The staggering feature about Nietzsche's attitude to Socrates, however, is this, that he too, comparatively late in life, apparently showed himself ready to accept the view I advance. And as I have found Nietzsche scholars who were unaware of this, it shows how very tentatively he set about revealing this new point of view, so alien to the traditional standpoint.
Thus, in June, 1885, a little over three years before his ultimate breakdown, he wrote, but only in the form of a question: "Did wicked Socrates really corrupt Plato, and was Socrates after all really a corruptor of youth and deserved the hemlock?"
Here we see the lover of the Greeks, the classical scholar side of him, that side which had been taught to regard Socrates as a martyr to truth and to
1 THE TWILIGHT OF THE IDOLS.
But there follows an even more striking passage, a passage which, although unique in the whole of the Nietzsche opus, constitutes the most complete vindication of my view of Socrates. For Nietzsche says:
"Christianity is Platonism for the mob." 1
Thus, after all, he admits it! He sees Christianity is really Socrates for the mob, and, in saying this, gravely impugns all his previous utterances about the Jews, both as the first transvaluers of values, as fertilizers in the realm of ideas, and as the founders of Christianity.
It was impossible for Nietzsche's brilliant intellect to miss this conclusion, especially as he had had. all the facts before him much longer than I have ever had. As, however, he recognizes that the ugliness of Socrates was "terrifying" 2 and that with him Greek philosophy became obsessed with morality, 3 it is all the more strange that he should not, from the first, have perceived the truth as I state it, and that, having seen it, he should have allowed it to take up such a small space in his writings.
So that whilst my difference with Nietzsche is, on the whole, composed, by his latest utterances, however brief they may be, I can at least claim that, in my treatment of the problem of Socrates, I have been more consistent, and have all along been in a better position historically, than he was. For, although the dialectical method of Socrates and his attack on instinct are important, they are not, as Nietzsche himself seems to
1 BEYOND GOOD AND EVIL. Preface. See also THE TWILIGHT OF THE IDOLS, last chapter, section 2, where he describes Plato as "pre-existently Christian."
2 THE TWILIGHT OF THE IDOLS, Aphorism 9.
3 Ibid. Aphorism 10.
There are many inconsistences and contradictions in Nietzsche, but this I consider the gravest of all, because it, occurs within the same period of his thought the third period, which is rightly considered the most important.
As regards the question how the Jews of Palestine including both Jesus and St. Paul, and the Jews of Alexandria became imbued with Socraticism that is another story. Suffice it is to say that there were numerous channels through which Greek philosophy was able, during the four hundred years following the death of Socrates, to spread over the whole of the Near and Middle East, and that it did spread to these areas is abundantly demonstrated. Even the eschatalogical views of the Jews became modified by it, and on account of this alone, apart from other facts, Nietzsche's contention that the Greeks were a feminine and fertilized race (ideologically), whilst the Jews were a virile and fertilising race, can hardly be sustained.
1 See THE BIRTH OF TRAGEDY, p. 117.