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Typos — p. 25: Geneaology [= Genealogy]; p. 39: uphold- it [= upholding it]; p. 40, n. 2: 1 G. E., p. 80. [= 2 G. E., p. 80.]

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Chapter II
Nietzsche the Amoralist

From a casual study of Nietzsche's life it might be gathered that he had little time for private meditation or for any lonely brooding over problems foreign to his school and university studies. Indeed, from the very moment when it was decided that he should become a scholar, to the day when the University of Leipzig granted him his doctor's degree without examination, his existence seems to have been so wholly occupied by strenuous application to the duties which his aspirations imposed upon him that, even if he had had the will to do so, it would seem that he could not have had the leisure to become engaged in any serious thought outside his regular work. Nevertheless, if we inquire into the matter more deeply, we find to our astonishment, that during the whole of that arduous period — from his thirteenth to this twenty-fourth year — his imagination did not once cease from playing

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around problems of the highest import, quite unrelated to his school and university subjects.
        In the introduction to The Geneaology of Morals, he writes as follows:— ". . . while but a boy of thirteen the problem of the origin of evil haunted me: to it I dedicated, in an age when we have in heart half-play, half-God, my first literary child-play, my first philosophical composition; and, as regards my solution of the problem therein, well, I gave, as is but fair, God the honour, and made him Father of evil." 1 And then he continues: "A little historical and philological schooling, together with an inborn and delicate sense regarding psychological questions, changed my problem in a very short time into that other one: under what circumstances and conditions did man invent the valuations good and evil? And what is their own specific value?"
        This problem, as stated here, seems stupendous enough; in fact, it would be difficult, in the whole realm of human thought, to discover a question of greater moment and intricacy; and yet we shall see that Nietzsche was just as much born to attack and solve it as Cardinal Newman seems, from the Apologia pro Vita Sua,

        1 See also D.D. Aph. 81.

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to have been born to the Roman Catholic Church.
        If we reflect a moment, we find that "good" and "evil" are certainly words that exercise a tremendous power in the world. To attach the word "good" to any thing or deed is to give it the hall-mark of desirability: on the other hand, to attach the word "evil" to it is tantamount to proscribing it from existence. Even in the old English proverb, "Give a dog a bad name and hang him," we have a suggestion of the enormous force which has been compressed into the two monosyllables "good" and "bad," and before we seriously take up the problem, it were well to ponder a while over the really profound significance of these two words.
        Nietzsche, as we have already observed, was never in any doubt as to their importance: his life passion was the desire to solve the meaning, the origin, and the intrinsic value of the two terms; and he did not rest until he had achieved his end.
        Let us now examine what morality — what "good" and "evil" — means to almost everybody to-day. In the minds of nearly all those people who are neither students nor actual teachers of philosophy, there is a superstition that "good"

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is a perfectly definite and absolute value, and that "evil" is known unto all. Few seem to doubt that the meaning of these words has been fixed once and for ever. The ordinary European lives, reads, and sleeps, year in, year out, under the delusion that all is quite clear in regard to right and wrong. Such a person is, of course, somewhat abashed when you tell him that a certain people in the East practise infanticide and call it good or that a certain people in the West always separate at meals and eat apart and call this good. He usually gets over the difficulty, however, by saying that they know no better, and when at last he is hard pressed, and is bound to admit that views of good and bad, sometimes the reverse of his own, actually do preserve and unite people in strange lands, he takes refuge in the hope that all differences may one day be broken down and that the problem will thus be solved.
        No such facile shelving of the question, however, could satisfy Nietzsche. From the very outset he freed himself from all national and even racial prejudices, and could see no particular reason why the kind of morality now prevailing in Europe, or countries like Europe, must necessarily and ultimately overcome and supplant

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all others. He therefore attacked the question with a perfectly open mind, and asked himself whether he quite understood the part the terms "good" and "evil" have played in human history.
        Is morality — its justification in our midst and its mode of action — comprehended at all? — He replies to this question so daringly and so uprightly, that at first his clearness may only bewilder us.
        These terms "good" and "evil," he tells us, are merely a means to the acquisition of power. And, indeed, in the very resistance we offer when he attempts to criticise our notions of morality, we tacitly acknowledge that in this morality our strength does actually reside. "No greater power on earth was found by Zarathustra than good and evil" 1 "No people could live without first valuing; if a people will maintain itself, however, it must not value as its neighbour valueth." 2
        In the last sentence we have seized Nietzsche's clue to the whole question. If you would maintain yourself, you cannot and must not value as your neighbour values. Good and evil, then, are not permanent absolute values; they are transient, relative values, serving an end which

        1 Z., p. 67.
        2 Z., p. 65.

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can be explained in terms of biology and anthropology.
        But now let us halt a moment, for the sake of clearness, and let us inquire precisely how Nietzsche himself was led to this conclusion.
        In the summer of 1864, when he was in his twentieth year, he was given some home work to do which he was expected to have ready by the end of the holidays. It was to consist of a Latin thesis upon some optional subject, and he chose "Theognis, the Aristocratic Poet of Megara."
        While preparing the work he was struck with the author's use of the words "good" and "bad" as synonymous with aristocratic and plebeian, and it was this valuable hint which first set him on the right track. Theognis and his friends, being desirous of making their power prevail, were naturally compelled to regard any force which assailed that power as bad — "bad," in the sense of "dangerous to their order of power"; and thus it came to pass that Theognis, as an aristocrat in the heat of a struggle between an oligarchy and a democracy, spoke of the democratic values as "bad" and of those of his own party as "good."
        The writing of this essay had other consequences which I shall only be able to refer to

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in the next chapter; but at present let it suffice to say that, in recognising the arbitrary use made by Theognis of the epithets good and bad in designating the oligarchy and the democracy respectively, Nietzsche was first induced to look upon morality merely as a weapon in the struggle for power, and he thus freed himself from all the usual bias which belongs to the absolutist's standpoint. Hence his claim to the surname "amoralist," and his use of the phrase "Beyond Good and Evil," as the title of one of his greatest works.
        Let us, however, remember that although Nietzsche did undoubtedly take up a position beyond good and evil, in order to free himself temporarily from the gyves of all tradition, still this attitude was no more than a momentary one, and he ultimately became as rigid a moralist as the most exacting could desire. It was a new morality, however, or perhaps a forgotten one, which he ultimately preached, and with the view of preparing the ground for it he was in a measure obliged to destroy old idols. "He who hath to be a creator in good and evil," says Zarathustra, "verily, he hath first to be a destroyer, and to break values to pieces." 1

        1 Z., p. 138.

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        Assuming the position of the relativist, then, Nietzsche observed that, all morality, all use of the words "good" and "evil," is only an artifice for acquiring power. Turning to the animal kingdom, he went in search of support for his views, and very soon discovered that, in biology at least, no fact was at variance with his general hypothesis.
        In nature every species of organic being behaves as if its kind alone ought ultimately to prevail on earth, and, whether it try to effect this end by open aggression or cowardly dissimulation, the motive in both cases is the same. The lion's good is the antelope's evil. If the antelope believed the lion's good to be its good, it would go and present itself without further ado before the lion's jaws. If the lion believed the antelope's good to be its good it would adopt vegetarianism forthwith and eschew its carnivorous habits for the rest of its days. Again, no parasite could share the notions of good and evil entertained by its victim, neither could the victims share the notions of good and evil entertained by the parasite. Everywhere, then, those modes of conduct are adopted and perpetuated by a species, which most conduce to the prevalence and extension of their particular

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kind, and that species which fails to discover the class of conduct best calculated to preserve and strengthen it gets overcome in the war of conduct which constitutes the incessant struggle for power.
        Now, applying the knowledge to man, what did Nietzsche find? He found there was also a war being waged between the different modes of conduct which now prevail among men, and that what one man sets up as good is called evil by another and vice versâ. But of this he soon became convinced, that whenever and wherever good and evil had been set up as absolute values, they had been thus elevated to power with the view of preserving and multiplying one specific type of man.
        All moralities, therefore, were but so many Trades Union banners flying above the, heads of different classes of men, woven and upheld by them for their own needs and aspirations.
        So far, so good. But then, if that were so, the character of a morality must be determined by the class of men among" whom it came into being.
        We shall see that Nietzsche did not hesitate to accept this conclusion, and that if for a moment he declared: "No one knoweth yet what

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is good and what is evil!" the next minute he was asking himself this searching question: "Is our morality — that is to say, the particular table of values which is gradually modifying us — compatible with an ideal worthy of man's inheritance and past?"
        If Nietzsche has been called dangerous, pernicious and immoral, it is because people have deliberately overlooked this last question of his. No thinker who states and honestly sets out to answer this question, as Nietzsche did, deserves to be slandered, as he has been slandered, by prejudiced and interested people intent on misunderstanding only in order that they may fling mud more freely.
        Nietzsche cast his critical eye very seriously around him, and the sight of the modern world led him to ask these admittedly pertinent questions: "Is that which we have for centuries held for good and evil, really good and evil? Does our table of ethical principles seem to be favouring the multiplication of a desirable type?"
        In answering these two inquiries, Nietzsche unfortunately stormed the most formidable strongholds of modern society — Christianity and Democracy; and perhaps this accounts for the

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fact that his fight was so uneven and so hopeless. The strength of modern Europe, if indeed there be any strength in her, lies precisely on the side of Christianity and Democracy, the grandmother and the mother of what is called "progress," "modernity"; and in assailing these, Nietzsche must have known that he was engaging in a hand-to-hand struggle with stony-hearted adversaries unaccustomed to giving quarter and unscrupulous in their methods.
        Nietzsche clearly saw that if all moral codes are but weapons protecting and helping to universalise distinct species of men, then the Christian religion with its ethical principles could he no exception to the rule. It must have been created at some time and in some place by one who had the interests of a certain type of man at heart, and who desired to make that type paramount. Now if that were really so, the next question that occurred to Nietzsche's mercilessly logical mind was this: "Is the Christian religion, with its morality, tending to preserve and multiply a desirable type of man?"
        To this last question Nietzsche replies most emphatically "No!"
        But, before going into the reasons of this flat negative, let us first pause to consider the age and

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the circumstances in which our author wrote and thought.
        Long before Nietzsche had reached his prime David Strauss had published his Life of Jesus; in 1863, when Nietzsche was still in his teens, Renan published his Vie de Jésus, and in the meantime Charles Darwin had given his Origin of Species to the world. These books had been read by a Europe that had already studied Hume and Lamarck, Kant and Schopenhauer, and in all directions a fine ear could not help hearing the falling timbers of Christian dogma.
        In the midst of this general work of destruction it was almost impossible for Nietzsche to remain unmoved or indifferent, and very soon he found that he too was drawn into the general stream of European thought; but only to prove how completely he was independent of it, and in every way superior to it.
        He contemplated the work of the destroyers for some time with amused interest; and then it suddenly occurred to him to inquire whether these zealous and well-meaning housebreakers were really doing any lasting good, or whether all their efforts were not perhaps a little misguided. True, they were pulling the embellishments from the walls and were casting the most cherished

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idols of the Christian Faith into the dust. But the walls themselves, the actual design of the edifice, remained untouched and as strong as ever. A few broken stones, a few complaints from the priestly archaeologists who wished to preserve them, and then all the noise subsided! Europe remained as it was before — that is to say, still in possession of a stronghold of Christianity, merely divested of its superfluous ornament.
        Nietzsche soon perceived that, in spite of all the rubbish and refuse which such people as Kant, Schopenhauer, Strauss, Renan and others had made of Christian dogma, the essential core of Christianity, the vital organ of its body — its morality — had so far remained absolutely intact. Nay, he saw that it was actually being plastered up and restored by scholars and men of science who vowed that they could proffer reasonable, rationalistic, and logical grounds in support of it.
        Just as Christian dogma and metaphysics had been rationalised and philosophically proved by the scholars of the Middle Ages, and even as late as Leibnitz; so, now, Christian morality was being presented in a purely philosophical garb by the intellects of Europe.
        Having relinquished the dogma as no longer tenable, all scholars and men of science were try-

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ing with redoubled vigour to bolster up Christian ethics with elaborate text-books and learned treatises. There were some who accepted it all as if it were innate in human nature, and attributed it to a "moral sense"; there were others — good-natured biologists — who were likewise desirous of leaving it whole, and who declared with conviction that it was the natural outcome of the feelings of pleasure and pain; and there were yet others who assumed that it must have been evolved quite automatically out of expediency and non-expediency.
        Not one of these would-be rationalists, however, halted at the Christian terms "good" and "bad" themselves, in order to ask himself whether, like all the other notions of good and evil prevailing elsewhere under the shelter of other religions, these, the Christian notions, might not have been invented at some particular time by a certain kind of man, simply with the view of preserving and universalising his specific type. Breathless from their efforts at getting rid of the dogma, they did not dream that perhaps the most important part of the work still remained to be done.
        Nietzsche went to the very foundation of the Christian edifice. He pointed to its morality and said: if we are going to measure the value of this

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religion, let us cease our petty quarrels concerning the truth or falsehood of such stories as the loss of the Gadarene swine, or the miracle of the loaves and fishes, and let us throw the whole of Christian morality into the scales and appraise its precise worth as a system of ethics. Nietzsche would have scorned to quarrel with the Church, as Huxley did; for much more important issues were at stake. The worth of a religion is measured by its morality; because by its morality it moulds and rears men and reveals the type of man who ultimately wishes to prevail by means of it.
        With the metaphysics and the dogma of Christianity in ruins all around him, therefore, Nietzsche took a step very far in advance of the rationalistic iconoclasts of his age. He attacked Christian morals, and declared them to be, like all other morals, merely a weapon in the hands of a certain type of man, with which that type struggled for power.
        But bold as this step was, it constituted but the first of a series, the next of which was to discover the type which had laid the foundations of the Christian ideal. If it could be proved that these Christian values had been created by a noble species with the object of perpetuating that species, then Christianity would come forth from

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the inquiry vindicated to the hilt, and fill the damage done to its dogma would not have deterred Nietzsche from standing by it and uphold- it to his very last breath. Alas! Things turned out somewhat differently and Nietzsche was not by any means the least pained by the result. Pursuing the inquiry with his usual unflinching and uncompromising honesty, and avoiding no conclusion however unpleasant or fatal, Nietzsche, the scion of a profoundly religions house, the lover of order and tradition, with the blood of generations of earnest believers in his veins, finally found himself compelled to renounce and even to condemn, root and branch, the faith which had been the strength and hope of his forebears.
        Before turning to the next chapter, where I shall explain how he came to regard this step as inevitable, it should be said concerning Nietzsche's philosophy in general, that it is essentially and through and through religious and almost prophetic in spirit. No careful reader of his works can doubt that Nietzsche was a deeply religious man. A glance at Thus Spake Zarathustra alone would convince any one of this; while in his constant references to religion throughout his works, as "a step to higher intellectuality," 1 as "a

        1 G. E., p. 81.

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means to invaluable contentedness," 1 as "a measure of discipline," 2 as a powerful social factor, 3 a more substantial confirmation of the fact is to be found.
        It is well to bear in mind, however, throughout our study of Nietzsche, that he had a higher type always in view; that he was also well aware that this type could only he attained by the strict observance of a new morality, and that if he opposed other forms of morality — more particularly the Christian form — it was because he earnestly believed that they were rearing" an undesirable and even despicable kind of man.
        "Verily men have made for themselves all their good and evil. Verily they did not take it: they did not find it: it did not come down as a voice from heaven." 4
        "Behold, the good and just! Whom do they hate most? Him who breaketh up their tables of values; the breaker, the law-breaker: he, however, is the creator." 5
        "Verily a muddy stream is man. One must be at least a sea to be able to absorb a muddy stream without becoming unclean."
        "Behold, I teach you Superman: he is that sea; in him your great contempt can sink." 6

        1 G. E., p. 81.
        1 G. E., p. 80.
        3 G. M., 3rd Essay., Aph. 15.
        4 Z., p. 67.
        5 Z., p. 20.
        6 Z., p. 8.



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