Genealogy of morals third essay summary

Nietzsche’s Genealogy of Morals

In point of fact, the position is that even if he conceived he were such an object, he would certainly not represent, conceive, express it. With what success? The success will be guessed—it is the typical velleity of the artist; the same velleity to which Wagner fell a victim in his old age, and for which he had to pay so dearly and so fatally he lost thereby his most valuable friends.

But after all, quite apart from this velleity, who would not wish emphatically for Wagner's own sake that he had taken farewell of us and of his art in a different manner, not with a Parsifal , but in more victorious, more self-confident, more Wagnerian style—a style less misleading, a style less ambiguous with regard to his whole meaning, less Schopenhauerian, less Nihilistic? What, then, is the meaning of ascetic ideals?

In the case of an artist we are getting to understand their meaning: Nothing at all.

Indeed, what is the use of them? Our artists have for a long time past not taken up a sufficiently independent attitude, either in the world or against it, to warrant their valuations and the changes in these valuations exciting interest. At all times they have played the valet of some morality, philosophy, or religion, quite apart from the fact that unfortunately they have often enough been the inordinately supple courtiers of their clients and patrons, and the inquisitive toadies of the powers that are existing, or even of the new powers to come. So, for example, did Richard Wagner take, "when the time had come," the philosopher Schopenhauer for his covering man in front, for his rampart.

Who would consider it even thinkable, that he would have had the courage for an ascetic ideal, without the support afforded him by the philosophy of Schopenhauer, without the authority of Schopenhauer, which dominated Europe in the seventies? This is without consideration of the question whether an artist without the milk [1] of an orthodoxy would have been possible at all.

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This brings us to the more serious question: What is the meaning of a real philosopher paying homage to the ascetic ideal, a really self-dependent intellect like Schopenhauer, a man and knight with a glance of bronze, who has the courage to be himself, who knows how to stand alone without first waiting for men who cover him in front, and the nods of his superiors?

Let us now consider at once the remarkable attitude of Schopenhauer towards art , an attitude which has even a fascination for certain types. For that is obviously the reason why Richard Wagner all at once went over to Schopenhauer persuaded thereto, as one knows, by a poet, Herwegh , went over so completely that there ensued the cleavage of a complete theoretic contradiction between his earlier and his later aesthetic faiths—the earlier, for example, being expressed in Opera and Drama , the later in the writings which he published from onwards. What did he care if up to that time he had made of music a means, a medium, a "woman," that in order to thrive needed an end, a man—that is, the drama?

He suddenly realised that more could be effected by the novelty of the Schopenhauerian theory in majorem musicae gloriam —that is to say, by means of the sovereignty of music, as Schopenhauer understood it; music abstracted from and opposed to all the other arts, music as the independent art-in-itself, not like the other arts, affording reflections of the phenomenal world, but rather the language of the will itself, speaking straight out of the "abyss" as its most personal, original, and direct manifestation. This extraordinary rise in the value of music a rise which seemed to grow out of the Schopenhauerian philosophy was at once accompanied by an unprecedented rise in the estimation in which the musician himself was held: he became now an oracle, a priest, nay, more than a priest, a kind of mouthpiece for the "intrinsic essence of things," a telephone from the other world—from henceforward he talked not only music, did this ventriloquist of God, he talked metaphysic; what wonder that one day he eventually talked ascetic ideals!

Schopenhauer has made use of the Kantian treatment of the aesthetic problem—though he certainly did not regard it with the Kantian eyes. This is not the place to discuss whether this was not a complete mistake; all that I wish to emphasise is that Kant, just like other philosophers, instead of envisaging the aesthetic problem from the standpoint of the experiences of the artist the creator , has only considered art and beauty from the standpoint of the spectator, and has thereby imperceptibly imported the spectator himself into the idea of the "beautiful"!

But if only the philosophers of the beautiful had sufficient knowledge of this "spectator"! But, as I feared, the contrary was always the case. And so we get from our philosophers, from the very beginning, definitions on which the lack of a subtler personal experience squats like a fat worm of crass error, as it does on Kant's famous definition of the beautiful. Compare this definition with this other one, made by a real "spectator" and "artist"—by Stendhal , who once called the beautiful une promesse de bonheur. Who is right, Kant or Stendhal? And here we come back to Schopenhauer, who stood in much closer neighbourhood to the arts than did Kant, and yet never escaped outside the pale of the Kantian definition; how was that?

The circumstance is marvellous enough: he interprets the expression, "without interest," in the most personal fashion, out of an experience which must in his case have been part and parcel of his regular routine. On few subjects does Schopenhauer speak with such certainty as on the working of aesthetic contemplation: he says of it that it simply counteracts sexual interest, like lupulin and camphor; he never gets tired of glorifying this escape from the "Life-will" as the great advantage and utility of the aesthetic state. In fact, one is tempted to ask if his fundamental conception of Will and Idea, the thought that there can only exist freedom from the "will" by means of "idea," did not originate in a generalisation from this sexual experience.

In all questions concerning the Schopenhauerian philosophy, one should, by the bye, never lose sight of the consideration that it is the conception of a youth of twenty-six, so that it participates not only in what is peculiar to Schopenhauer's life, but in what is peculiar to that special period of his life. Let us listen, for instance, to one of the most expressive among the countless passages which he has written in honour of the aesthetic state World as Will and Idea , i.

What images of anguish and protracted revulsion! How almost pathological is that temporal antithesis between "that moment" and everything else, the "wheel of Ixion," "the hard labour of the will," "the vile pressure of the will. Schopenhauer has described one effect of the beautiful,—the calming of the will,—but is this effect really normal? As has been mentioned, Stendhal, an equally sensual but more happily constituted nature than Schopenhauer, gives prominence to another effect of the "beautiful.

And does not Schopenhauer ultimately lay himself open to the objection, that he is quite wrong in regarding himself as a Kantian on this point, that he has absolutely failed to understand in a Kantian sense the Kantian definition of the beautiful—that the beautiful pleased him as well by means of an interest, by means, in fact, of the strongest and most personal interest of all, that of the victim of torture who escapes from his torture?

Let us beware of making dismal faces at the word "torture"—there is certainly in this case enough to deduct, enough to discount—there is even something to laugh at. For we must certainly not underestimate the fact that Schopenhauer, who in practice treated sexuality as a personal enemy including its tool, woman, that "instrumentum diaboli" , needed enemies to keep him in a good humour; that he loved grim, bitter, blackish-green words; that he raged for the sake of raging, out of passion; that he would have grown ill, would have become a pessimist for he was not a pessimist, however much he wished to be , without his enemies, without Hegel , woman, sensuality, and the whole "will for existence" "keeping on.

So much with regard to what is most personal in the case of Schopenhauer; on the other hand, there is still much which is typical in him—and only now we come back to our problem. Schopenhauer is merely the most eloquent, and if one has the ear for it, also the most fascinating and enchanting outburst.

There similarly exists a real philosophic bias and affection for the whole ascetic ideal; there should be no illusions on this score. Both these feelings, as has been said, belong to the type; if a philosopher lacks both of them, then he is—you may be certain of it—never anything but a "pseudo. For this state of affairs must first be interpreted: in itself it stands there stupid to all eternity, like any " Thing-in-itself.

Similarly, the philosopher shudders mortally at marriage , together with all that could persuade him to it—marriage as a fatal hindrance on the way to the optimum. Up to the present what great philosophers have been married?

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Heracleitus, Plato, Descartes, Spinoza, Leibnitz, Kant, Schopenhauer—they were not married, and, further, one cannot imagine them as married. Every philosopher would say, as Buddha said, when the birth of a son was announced to him: "Rahoula has been born to me, a fetter has been forged for me" Rahoula means here "a little demon" ; there must come an hour of reflection to every "free spirit" granted that he has had previously an hour of thoughtlessness , just as one came once to the same Buddha: "Narrowly cramped," he reflected, "is life in the house; it is a place of uncleanness; freedom is found in leaving the house.

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So many bridges to independence are shown in the ascetic ideal, that the philosopher cannot refrain from exultation and clapping of hands when he hears the history of all those resolute ones, who on one day uttered a nay to all servitude and went into some desert ; even granting that they were only strong asses, and the absolute opposite of strong minds. What, then, does the ascetic ideal mean in a philosopher? This is my answer—it will have been guessed long ago: when he sees this ideal the philosopher smiles because he sees therein an optimum of the conditions of the highest and boldest intellectuality; he does not thereby deny '"existence," he rather affirms thereby his existence and only his existence, and this perhaps to the point of not being far off the blasphemous wish, pereat mundus, fiat philosophia, fiat philosophus, fiam!

They think of themselves —what is the "saint" to them? They think of that which to them personally is most indispensable; of freedom from compulsion, disturbance, noise; freedom from business, duties, cares; of a clear head; of the dance, spring, and flight of thoughts; of good air—rare, clear, free, dry, as is the air on the heights, in which every animal creature becomes more intellectual and gains wings; they think of peace in every cellar; all the hounds neatly chained; no baying of enmity and uncouth rancour; no remorse of wounded ambition; quiet and submissive internal organs, busy as mills, but unnoticed; the heart alien, transcendent, future, posthumous—to summarise, they mean by the ascetic ideal the joyous asceticism of a deified and newly fledged animal, sweeping over life rather than resting.

We know what are the three great catch-words of the ascetic ideal: poverty, humility, chastity; and now just look closely at the life of all the great fruitful inventive spirits—you will always find again and again these three qualities up to a certain extent. Not for a minute, as is self-evident, as though, perchance, they were part of their virtues—what has this type of man to do with virtues—but as the most essential and natural conditions of their best existence, their finest fruitfulness.

In this connection it is quite possible that their predominant intellectualism had first to curb an unruly and irritable pride, or an insolent sensualism, or that it had all its work cut out to maintain its wish for the "desert" against perhaps an inclination to luxury and dilettantism, or similarly against an extravagant liberality of heart and hand. It effects it still: if it ceased to do so, it would simply not be dominant. But there is not one iota of "virtue" in all this. Further, the desert , of which I just spoke, in which the strong, independent, and well-equipped spirits retreat into their hermitage—oh, how different is it from the cultured classes' dream of a desert!

In certain cases, in fact, the cultured classes themselves are the desert. And it is certain that all the actors of the intellect would not endure this desert for a minute. It is nothing like romantic and Syrian enough for them, nothing like enough of a stage desert! Here as well there are plenty of asses, but at this point the resemblance ceases. But a desert nowadays is something like this—perhaps a deliberate obscurity; a getting-out-of the way of one's self; a fear of noise, admiration, papers, influence; a little office, a daily task, something that hides rather than brings to light; sometimes associating with harmless, cheerful beasts and fowls, the sight of which refreshes; a mountain for company, but not a dead one, one with eyes that is, with lakes ; in certain cases even a room in a crowded hotel where one can reckon on not being recognised, and on being able to talk with impunity to every one: here is the desert—oh, it is lonely enough, believe me!

I grant that when Heracleitus retreated to the courts and cloisters of the colossal temple of Artemis, that "wilderness" was worthier; why do we lack such temples? Just listen now to the tone a spirit has when it speaks; every spirit has its own tone and loves its own tone.

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That thing yonder, for instance, is bound to be an agitator, that is, a hollow head, a hollow mug: whatever may go into him, everything comes back from him dull and thick, heavy with the echo of the great void. That spirit yonder nearly always speaks hoarse: has he, perchance, thought himself hoarse? It may be so—ask the physiologists—but he who thinks in words , thinks as a speaker and not as a thinker it shows that he does not think of objects or think objectively, but only of his relations with objects—that, in point of fact, he only thinks of himself and his audience.

This third one speaks aggressively, he comes too near our body, his breath blows on us—we shut our mouth involuntarily, although he speaks to us through a book: the tone of his style supplies the reason—he has no time, he has small faith in himself, he finds expression now or never.

But a spirit who is sure of himself speaks softly; he seeks secrecy, he lets himself be awaited.

Vai esat šeit pirmoreiz?

He shuns every glaring light: therefore he shuns his time and its "daylight. As for his humility, he endures, as he endures darkness, a certain dependence and obscurity: further, he is afraid of the shock of lightning, he shudders at the insecurity of a tree which is too isolated and too exposed, on which every storm vents its temper, every temper its storm.

His "maternal" instinct, his secret love for that which grows in him, guides him into states where he is relieved from the necessity of taking care of himself , in the same way in which the "mother" instinct in woman has thoroughly maintained up to the present woman's dependent position. After all, they demand little enough, do these philosophers, their favourite motto is, "He who possesses is possessed. This kind of man likes not to be disturbed by enmity, he likes not to be disturbed by friendship, it is a type which forgets or despises easily.

It strikes him as bad form to play the martyr, "to suffer for truth"—he leaves all that to the ambitious and to the stage-heroes of the intellect, and to all those, in fact, who have time enough for such luxuries they themselves, the philosophers, have something to do for truth. Finally, as far as the chastity of philosophers is concerned, the fruitfulness of this type of mind is manifestly in another sphere than that of children; perchance in some other sphere, too, they have the survival of their name, their little immortality philosophers in ancient India would express themselves with still greater boldness: "Of what use is posterity to him whose soul is the world?

In this attitude there is not a trace of chastity, by reason of any ascetic scruple or hatred of the flesh, any more than it is chastity for an athlete or a jockey to abstain from women; it is rather the will of the dominant instinct, at any rate, during the period of their advanced philosophic pregnancy.


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Every artist knows the harm done by sexual intercourse on occasions of great mental strain and preparation; as far as the strongest artists and those with the surest instincts are concerned, this is not necessarily a case of experience—hard experience—but it is simply their "maternal" instinct which, in order to benefit the growing work, disposes recklessly beyond all its normal stocks and supplies of the vigour of its animal life; the greater power then absorbs the lesser.