(1885-1886) Toward an Outline

1. Nihilism stands at the door: whence comes this uncanniest of all guests? Point of departure: it is an error to consider “social distress” or “physiological degeneration” or, worse, corruption, as the cause of nihilism. Ours is the most decent and compassionate age. Distress, whether of the soul, body, or intellect, cannot of itself give birth to nihilism (i. e., the radical repudiation of value, meaning, and desirability) . Such distress always permits a variety of interpretations. Rather: it is in one particular interpretation, the Christian-moral one, that nihilism is rooted.

2. The end of Christianity–at the hands of its own morality (which cannot be replaced), which turns against the Christian God (the sense of truthfulness, developed highly by Christianity, is nauseated by the falseness and mendaciousness of all Christian interpretations of the world and of history; rebound from “God is truth” to the fanatical faith “All is false”; Buddhism of action).

3. Skepticism regarding morality is what is decisive. The end of the moral interpretation of the world, which no longer has any sanction after it has tried to escape into some beyond, leads to nihilism. “Everything lacks meaning” (the untenability of one interpretation of the world, upon which a tremendous amount of energy has been lavished, awakens the suspicion that all interpretations of the world are false) . Buddhistic tendency, yearning for Nothing. (Indian Buddhism is not the culmination of a thoroughly moralistic development; its nihilism is therefore full of morality that is not overcome: existence as punishment, existence construed as error, error thus as a punishment–a moral valuation.) Philosophical attempts to overcome the “moral God” (Hegel, pantheism) . Overcoming popular ideals: the sage; the saint; the poet. The antagonism of “true” and “beautiful” and “good”.

4. Against “meaninglessness ” on the one hand, against moral value judgments on the other: to what extent has all science and philosophy so far been influenced by moral judgments? and won’t this net us the hostility of science? Or an anti-scientific mentality? Critique of Spinozism. Residues of Christian value judgments are found everywhere in socialistic and positivistic systems. A critique of Christian morality is still lacking.

5. The nihilistic consequences of contemporary natural science (together with its attempts to escape into some beyond) . The industry of its pursuit eventually leads to self-disintegration, opposition, an antiscientific mentality. Since Copernicus man has been rolling from the center toward X.*

6. The nihilistic consequences of the ways of thinking in politics and economics, where all “principles” are practically histrionic: the air of mediocrity, wretchedness, dishonesty, etc. Nationalism. Anarchism, etc. Punishment. The redeeming class and human being are lacking–the justifiers.

7. The nihilistic consequences of historiography and of the “practical historians,” i. e., the romantics. The position of art: its position in the modern world absolutely lacking in originality. Its decline into gloom. Goethe’s allegedly Olympian stance.

8. Art and the preparation of nihilism: romanticism (the conclusion of Wagner’s Nibelungen).

The Will to Power


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