This is a summary/commentary on Nietzsche's Beyond Good and Evil.


§1 question value of will to truth, & value of truth. why not untruth instead? uncertainty? ignorance?

§2 “Whatever value might be attributed to truth, truthfulness and selflessness, it could be possible that appearance, the will to deception, and craven self-interest should be accorded a higher and more fundamental value for all life.” Perhaps.

§3 physiology, instincts Þ us to value truth and logic (rather than it being a conscious decision) – needed for preservation of beings like us.

§4 false judgements are sometimes useful/ indispensable. e.g. using/ accepting ‘fictions of logic’; numbers; comparing/ judging world against invented ideal.

renouncing all false judgements would be detrimental to progress/ life (!?)

\ untruth is condition of life (!?)

§5 philosophers act as if they discover and arrive at their genuine convictions through self-development of cold, pure reasoning. really, they take a whim, conjecture, fervent wish and defend it with reasons after the fact.

“sly spokesmen for prejudices that they christen as ‘truths’”

§6 a philosopher’s philosophy is a “confession of faith”, never impersonal – his morals bear decided and decisive witness to who he is – meaning, the order of rank his innermost drives of his nature stand w.r.t. each other.

§9 a philosophy “always creates the world in its own image” – philosophy is “the most spiritual will to power”.

§10 “will to truth” = preferring “a handful of ‘certainty’ to an entire wagonload of pretty possibilities”.

nihilism = desperation, brave posturing, rather “an assured nothing than an uncertain something”.

stronger, livelier thinkers, who still have a thirst for life: take sides against appearance (?) c.f. real/ apparent world, speak about ‘perspective’ (surely, = appearance ?!), trusting senses as much as visual evidence that says “the earth stands still” Þ re-appropriating part of old faith, perhaps ‘the old God’, ideas that made life a little better, more cheerful

§11 belief in the truth of judgements (including false ones) is what is important – false judgements believed true for purpose of preserving beings of our type.

§14 physics is an interpretation and arrangement of the world, not an explanation.

§16 rejection of Descartes’s ‘immediate certainty’ of “I think”.

§17 a thought comes when ‘it’ wants, not when ‘I’ want. not an active/ directed/ deliberative process.

§19 in every act of will there is a commandeering thought. what is called ‘freedom of the will’ is essentially the emotion of superiority w.r.t. something that must obey. A person who wills, commands something inside himself that obeys, or that he believes to obey (+ has inner certainty it will be obeyed). but we are the one who commands and the one who obeys. – feel the compulsion after act of willing. we feel that will has causal role – not clear it does. feel pleasure/ feeling of power (‘freedom of the will’) when $ accomplished/ successful act of willing and prior command. – feels his will alone overcame any resistances. pleasure as commander, combined with pleasure from aspect ‘wills’ that carry out task. we have various aspects, drives. ‘souls’ – commander successfully ruling them (or feeling that this is so).

§20 our language affects how we ‘see the world’. our grammar Þ unconscious domination and direction Þ particular philosophical positions favourable.

c.f. a community whose language is such that the concept of the subject is limited Þ ‘see the world’ differently Þ different philosophical paths.

§21 ‘freedom of the will’ in the superlative metaphysical sense – being a causa sui – is like pulling yourself up by the hair!

in science, ‘cause’ and ‘effect’ are conventional fictions for purpose of description and communication, not explanation. $ no law. we invented causation, numbers, laws of nature, free will, purpose then projected and inscribed this onto the world.

really, $ strong wills & weak wills [– ‘will’ understood in N’s §19 sense, presumably]

§22 laws of nature are only interpretation. c.f. someone else could view same nature and not conclude $ dominant laws, but no laws but at every moment aspects of nature exercising power.

§24 science aims at simplicity. we like simplicity. but why should simple be true? – superficial! invented, falsified world! ignorance! (though may make life more joyous) \ “will to know” founded on will to not know, to untruth.

like constrained to talk in opposites, when $ degrees and subtle shades of gradation.

§25 why bother suffering “for the sake of truth”?

§30 people not equal [not the same?]. “What helps feed or nourish the higher type of man must be almost poisonous to a very different and lesser type. The virtues of a base man could indicate vices and weaknesses in a philosopher.”

§32 in ‘prehistoric’ age, action’s value derived from its consequences – not action itself, nor intention. e.g. actions of children reflecting on parents. Þ people taking origin, not consequences, of action as decisive for the value of the action. But intention is too narrow, not entire origin of action, so should not be given such focus. decisive value is what is unintentional about action (?) – conscious intention is surface and skin, sign and symptom (needs interpreting, means nothing by itself)

§34 “It is no more than a moral prejudice that the truth is worth more than appearance… life could not exist except on the basis of perspectival valuations and appearances” – if somehow we could get rid of ‘world of appearances’, your “truth” would disappear too.

are ‘true’ and ‘false’ even opposed? perhaps $ levels of appearance, lighter and darker shades/ tones of appearance. perhaps the world that is relevant to us is a fiction.

§36 will to power

§39 “Happiness and virtue are not arguments” – do not indicate truth. But nor are unhappy and evil counter-arguments. something can be true but harmful; evil, cunning might be better Þ truth.

§41 we have to test ourselves to see if destined for independence & command/ greatness – & not sidestep tests – only we can judge tests

§43 philosophers not dogmatists – their truth is not a truth for everyone

§44 ‘philosophers of the future’ will be model free spirits

idea that all human misery is caused by traditional social structures (Marx?) stands truth on its head.

harshness, violence, slavery, danger in the heart, devilry Þ enhance humanity, just as much as their opposites

§46 Xn faith: when not simple, “a protracted suicide of reason”; sacrifice of freedom, pride, confidence of spirit; enslavement, self-derision, self-mutilation

§47 ‘religious neurosis’ linked to solitude, fasting, sexual abstinence, sporadic devotion to sensuality, spasms of repentance, negations of the world and will

§53 God ‘the Father’, ‘Judge’, ‘Reward-giver’ has been refuted. people Þ atheism, because God fails to communicate effectively. “the religious instinct is indeed growing vigorously – but that it rejects any specifically theistic gratification with profound distrust.”

§54 against Descartes: perhaps “I” is a synthesis that only gets produced through thought, rather than the subject “I” being the cause of thoughts

§55 religious cruelty, directed towards themselves: people used to make sacrifices to their gods of what they loved best e.g. humans, their first-born, harvest; then sacrificed their instincts to their gods Þ stricter moral code, asceticism; then sacrifice God for nothingness! – ultimate cruelty to rid themselves of all hope & comfort – final paradoxical cruelty (nihilism)

§56 “the ideal of the most high-spirited, vital, world-affirming individual, who has learned not just to accept and go along with what was and what is, but who wants it again just as it was and is through eternity” – makes it & himself necessary – god as a vicious circle?

§57 perhaps one day, concept of God will be as important as a child’s toy seems to an old man

§60 “To love humanity for the sake of God” – bizarre that need ulterior higher motive!

§61 religion useful for those destined for command as another means of overcoming resistances and being able to rule, handing consciences of ruled to their rulers

for common people (who serve), gives sense of contentment, glorifies their obedience, justifies everything common and lowly, making them bearable to themselves

§62 Xnty: gave comfort to suffering, courage to oppressed & despairing, supporting, but also ¯ strong, ¯ individual hopes, twisted the ‘highest’ values

§67 “It is barbaric to love one thing alone, since this one love will be pursued at the expense of all others. This includes love of God.”

§73 “Precisely by attaining an ideal, we surpass it.” [because it shouldn’t be possible to attain our ideals?]

§107 “Whenever you reach a decision, close your ears to even the best objections: this is the sign of a strong character. Which means: an occasional will to stupidity.”

§108 “There are absolutely no moral phenomena, only a moral interpretation of the phenomena.”

§109 “Often enough the criminal is no match for his deed: he cheapens and slanders it.”

§110 criminals – “the beautiful horror of the deed”

§116 having courage to reconceive our evils as what is best in us Þ greatness

§124 “If someone rejoices while burning at the stake it is not because he has triumphed over his pain, but rather over not feeling any pain when he expected to.”

§129 “… the devil… [is] the oldest friend of knowledge”

§136 good conversation: “one looks for a midwife for his thoughts – the other, for someone he can help”

§138 we invent and create the people we deal with

§143 we tend to think that the best actions are those that are most difficult. Þ much morality

§149 what an age considers evil is often an after-effect of something that used to be considered good

§169 “Talking frequently about yourself can also be a way of hiding.”

§177 “Perhaps nobody has ever been truthful enough about what “truthfulness” is.” ! [except N?]

§188 obedience, constraints, ‘un-freedom’, discipline, within guidelines (imposed by church or court or other presuppositions), arbitrariness, anti-reason Þ strength, curiosity, refining, subtlety.

tyranny of arbitrary laws Þ benefits in art, music, virtue, reason, masterly assurance

§191 people have used reason to try to justify/ aid their instinctive actions – self-deceit. philosophers & theologians have tried to prove reason & instincts independently Þ single goal: the Good, or “God”

§192 we are “used to lying” = we invent/ create/ twist much of our experiences, e.g. forcing new music to sound like something familiar, filling in gaps when not reading carefully, failing to recognise differences in two visual stimuli

§194 desiring possession/ ownership of another, their body, their desires

§199 average person has herd-instinct/ need to obey, wants someone to obey. herd-man promotes qualities useful to herd as virtues: public spirit, goodwill, consideration, moderation, modesty, lenience, pity

§201 useful/ praised actions (§199) not yet moral. feared, strong drives, potentially dangerous for community, denounced. anything raising individual above herd, frightening others, denounced Þ ‘evil’. modest, unobtrusive, equality, mediocrity Þ virtuous. fear, not utility Þ moral terms.

§202 socialism = only herd – no-one has special rights/ privileges (equal)

§203 democracy – mediocratization

socialist – their aim/ ideal: a “degeneration and diminution of humanity into the perfect herd animal”

§207 an objective man is a mirror, subordinating himself in front of anything wanting to be known

§208 “Scepticism is the most spiritual expression of… weak nerves or a sickly constitution. …they no longer have any sense of independence in decision-making, or the bold feeling of pleasure in willing, – they doubt whether there is “freedom of will,” even in their dreams.” [Note that N is sceptical in this sense.]

N appears to attribute the existence of sceptics (bizarrely) to breeding between classes and/or races. “It [scepticism] originates whenever races or classes that have been separated for a long time are suddenly and decisively interbred. The different standards and values, as it were, get passed down through the bloodline to the next generation where everything is in a state of restlessness, disorder, doubt, experimentation.” Better: scepticism w.r.t. ethics (relativism) results from our awareness of many competing ethical/ value systems/ frameworks Þ supposition that none are right, & lack of commitment to any one.

§210 I find this thought useful ≠ it is true; I like this work ≠ it is beautiful.

§211 the philosopher: “able to gaze with many eyes and consciences from the heights into every distance, from the depths up to every height, from the corner onto every expanse.”

his task is to create values. not to make existing values appear clear and obvious, but to command and legislate, saying “That is how it should be!”

§212 philosopher, as ‘person of tomorrow’, is enemy of ideal of today – applying vivisecting knife into chest of the virtues of the age Þ much virtue is out of date. capacity for long-term resolutions, being noble, ability to be different, stand alone, resilience, beyond good and evil, master of his virtues, abundance of will, part of ‘greatness’ in philosopher’s ideal. perhaps other ideals appropriate during other ages.

§213 a philosopher: “eagerness for great responsibilities, the sovereignty of his ruling gazes and downward gazes, the feeling of separation from the crowd with its duties and virtues, the genial protection and defence of anything misunderstood and slandered, whether it is god or devil, the pleasure and practice in great justice, the art of command, the expanse of the will, the slow eye that hardly ever admires, hardly ever looks up, hardly ever loves.”

§215 we are determined/ influenced by diversity of morals/ moral frameworks, like a planet’s motion being determined by two suns. “our actions shine with different colours in turn… we perform multi-coloured actions.” the ethical value/ the rightness of our actions is rarely unambiguous

§219 “Moral judgement and condemnation is the favourite revenge of the spiritually limited on those who are less so, as well as a type of compensation for having been slighted by nature” – they like standards that make them equal to people teeming with all qualities and privileges of spirit – equality before God

§220 self-sacrificing? but anyone who has made sacrifices knows that he wanted and got something in return – that he gave up here to have more there.

§221 “in a person who was made and determined for command, self-denial and modest retreat would not be a virtue but the waste of a virtue” – morality should ≠ unconditional and for everyone. “under a mask of benevolence”

§225 suffering Þ inventiveness, courage, strength, ­ man. pity those who pity, who ¯ man by ¯ suffering!

§228 what is right for someone absolutely cannot be right for someone else; expecting/ imposing a single morality for everyone is harmful to higher men. $ order of rank between people, & between moralities. utilitarian = mediocre

§229 pleasure in cruelty – in sight of another’s suffering, but also pleasure in making yourself suffer, self-directed cruelty (self-denial, self-mutilation, desensitisation, remorse)

§230 “To translate humanity back into nature… deaf to the lures of the old metaphysical bird catchers… “You are more! You are higher! You have a different origin!”” Should we (bother to) attempt this?

§231 Before launching into a series of rather misogynistic comments about women (§§232-9), “I will perhaps be more readily allowed to pronounce a few truths about the “woman an sich”: assuming that people now know from the outset the extent to which these are only – my truths. –” (statements I take to be true? beliefs I hold strongly? statements which really are true, true for me, but not necessarily true for you: truth being subjective?)

§248 “There are two types of genius: one that fundamentally begets and wants to beget, and another that is happy to be impregnated and give birth.”

§257 need pathos of distance, need subservient obedient lower caste/ slaves to look down on Þ ­ ‘higher’ man, ‘self-overcoming’ man. harsh, barbarous origins for such an aristocratic society framework

§258 a good, healthy aristocracy does not feel that it is a function of the kingdom or community, but that it is the meaning and highest justification of the kingdom/ community – \ accepts people pushed down, as slaves or tools for the sake of the aristocracy. society exists as framework for raising an exceptional type of being to its higher duty

§259 mutually refraining from injury, exploitation, violence is ‘good manners’ between individuals of similar force and value e.g. aristocracy. but made into general/ fundamental principle for all Þ negating life (limiting, ¯). life is essentially appropriating, overpowering, oppressing weaker, imposing your form, dominating = will to power.

§260 $ two types of morality that have dominated: master, & slave – often mixed and confused in complex cultures, mutual misunderstandings. “In fact, you sometimes find them sharply juxtaposed – inside the same person even, within a single soul.”

masters/ nobles: dominating, powerful (‘good’), conscious of difference between them and dominated, despise dominated (‘bad’), feeling that he determines/ creates value, may help unfortunate but out of abundance of power, severe. duties only towards own kind. Note, moral expressions applied to people first, later actions.

‘slaves’: oppressed, suffering – resent virtues of powerful Þ name ‘evil’, contemptible – characteristics beneficial to slaves are lauded – pity, humility, unthreatening, utility = ‘good’.

§268 “Using the same words is not enough to get people to understand each other: they have to use the same words for the same species of inner experiences too; ultimately, people have to have the same experience base.” – mean something different, though using same words – people within community understand each other better than others from different community, even if have same language. exceptional person will \ be difficult to understand c.f. ordinary, and will remain isolated

§272 Nobility: never considering debasing one’s duties into duties for everyone; considering privileges and exercising privileges as a duty.

§273 “Someone who strives for greatness will regard everyone he comes across as either a means or a delay and obstacle” Able to be most gracious when dominating.

§287 There are no actions that prove/ allow us to recognise a noble as being noble. Actions are always ambiguous. Works may reveal “a deep desire for nobility” but ≠ nobility. Rather, noble soul has faith/ ‘fundamental certainty’ about itself, reverence for itself.

§289 There seems something arbitrary or suspicious about stopping a philosophical investigation at any particular point – why stop here? why not dig deeper? “Every philosophy conceals a philosophy too: every opinion is also a hiding place, every word is also a mask.”

§293 The pity of someone strong, who can carry out a commitment, exercise power over others etc, is worth something. But pity of sufferer isn’t.

§295 I am “the last disciple and initiate of the god Dionysus… Dionysus is a philosopher… I have been told that you do not like believing in God and gods these days…” Dionysus: an explorer’s, discoverer’s heart, daring, genuine honesty, truthfulness, love of wisdom, not needing/ wanting praise, promotes values in humans: stronger, more evil, more profound, \ more beautiful

§296 “You [my written thoughts] have already lost your novelty, and I am afraid that some of you are ready to turn into truths: they already look so immortal, so pathetically decent and upright, so boring!” ‘truths’ appear = statements accepted as given, w/o question, obvious: treated as true.