Herd Instinct. Whenever we encounter a morality, we also encounter valuations and an order of rank of human impulses and actions. These valuations and orders of rank are always expressions of the needs of a community and a herd: whatever benefits it most–and second most, and third most–that is also considered the first standard for the value of all individuals. Morality trains the individual to be a function of the herd and to ascribe value to himself only as a function. The conditions for the preservation of different communities were very different; hence there were very different moralities. Considering essential changes in the forms of future herds and communities, states, and societies, we can prophesy that there will yet be very divergent moralities. Morality is herd instinct in the individual.
To those who wish to preach morals. I do not wish to promote any morality, but to those who do I give this advise: If you wish to deprive the best things and states of all honor and worth, then go on talking about them as you have been doing. Place them at the head of your morality and talk from morning until night of the happiness of virtue, the composure of the soul, of justice and immanent retribution. The way you go about it, all these good things will eventually have popularity and the clamor of the streets on their side; but at the same time all the gold that was on them will have been worn off by so much handling, and all the gold inside will have turned to lead. Truly, you are masters of alchemy in reverse: the devaluation of what is most valuable. Why don’t you make the experiment of trying another prescription to keep from attaining the opposite goal of your goal as you have done hitherto? Deny these good things, withdraw the mob’s acclaim from them as well as their easy currency; make them once again concealed secrets of solitary souls; say that morality is something forbidden. That way you might win over for these things the kind of people who alone matter: I mean those who are heroic. But to that end there has to be a quality that inspires fear and not, as hitherto, nausea. Hasn’t the time come to say of morality what Master Eckhart said: “I ask God to rid me of God.”
How morality is scarcely dispensable. A naked human being is generally a shameful sight. I am speaking of us Europeans (and not even of female Europeans!). Suppose that, owing to some magicians malice, the most cheerful company at table suddenly saw itself disrobed and undressed; I believe that not only their cheerfulness would vanish and that the strongest appetite would be discouraged–it seems that we Europeans simply cannot dispense with that masquerade which one calls clothes.
Now consider the way “moral man” is dressed up, how he is veiled behind moral formulas and concepts of decency–the way our actions are benevolently concealed by the concepts of duty, virtue, sense of community, honorableness, self-denial–should the reasons for all this not be equally good? I am not suggesting that all this is meant to mask human malice and villainy–the wild animal in us; my idea is, on the contrary, that it is precisely as tame animals that we are a shameful sight and in need of the moral disguise, that the “inner man” in Europe is not by a long shot bad enough to show himself without shame (or to be beautiful). The European disguises himself with morality because he has become a sick, sickly, crippled animal that has good reasons for being “tame”; for he is almost an abortion, scarce half made up, weak, awkward.
It is not the ferocity of the best of prey that requires a moral disguise but the herd animal with its profound mediocrity, timidity, and boredom with itself. With morality the European dresses up–let us confess it!–to nobler, more important, more respectable, “divine”.
One thing is needful. “Giving style” to one’s character—a great and rare art! It is practiced by those who survey everything that their nature offers in the way of strengths and weaknesses, and then fit them all into an artistic plan, until each thing appears as art and reason, and even the wakness charms the eye. Here a great mass of second nature has been added, there a piece of first nature has been removed—in both cases, through long practice and daily work. Here the ugliness that resists removal has been hidden, there it has been reinterpreted into the sublime. Much that is vague and resists formation has been saved up and used for views from afar—it is meant to signal in the direction of the distant and the immeasurable. Finally, when the work is complete, it becomes clear how it was the compulsion of a single taste that was ruling and forming, in things both great and small. Whether the taste was a good or bad one means less than one thinks—it is enough that it is one taste!
It will be the strong domineering natures who, in such compulsion, in such a constraint and completion under their own laws, will savor their most refined joy. The passion of their formidable wills is relieved by the contemplation of all stylized nature, all conquered nature in a position of service; if they have to build palaces and lay out gardens, it also goes against their grain to set nature free. —In contrast, it is the weak characters, lacking power over themselves, who hate the constraint of style; they feel that if this grievous compulsion were imposed on them, they would have to be debased by it; they become slaves as soon as they serve, they hate service. Such spirits, who can be the spirits of first rank, are always out to fashion or explain themselves and their surroundings as free nature—wild, arbitrary, fantastic, disordered, and surprising. And this is good for them to do, for only thus can they do themselves good!
For one thing is needful: that human beings attain satisfaction with themselves—be it through this or that poetry and art—for only then can one stand to look at human beings! Those who are dissatisfied with themselves are constantly ready to take revenge for this; the rest of us will be their victims, if only by always having to stand the ugly sight of them. For the sight of the ugly makes one bad and somber.
The heaviest weight. What if one day or one night a demon slinked after you into your loneliest loneliness and said to you: “This life, as you live it now and as you have lived it, you will have to live once more and countless times more. And there will be nothing new about it, but every pain and every pleasure, and every thought and sigh, and everything unspeakably small and great in your life must come back to you, and all in the same series and sequence—and likewise this spider and this moonlight between the trees, and likewise this moment and I myself. The eternal hourglass of existence is turned over again and again—and you with it, you mote of dust!”
Wouldn’t you throw yourself down and gnash your teeth and damn the demon who spoke this way? Or have you ever experienced a prodigious moment in which you would answer him: “You are a god and I have never heard anything more godlike!” If that thought took control of you, it would change you as you are, and maybe shatter you. the question in each and every thing, “Do you will this once more and countless times more?” would lie as the heaviest weight upon your acts! Or how benevolent would you have to become toward yourself and toward life in order to long for nothing more ardently than for this ultimate eternal sanction and seal?
THE MADMAN AND THE DEATH OF GOD
Have you ever heard of the madman who on a bright morning lighted a lantern and ran to the market-place calling out unceasingly: “I seek God! I seek God!”—As there were many people standing about who did not believe in God, he caused a great deal of amusement. Why! is he lost? said one. Has he strayed away like a child? said another. Or does he keep himself hidden? Is he afraid of us? Has he taken a sea-voyage? Has he emigrated?—the people cried out laughingly, all in a hubbub. The insane man jumped into their midst and transfixed them with his glances. “Where is God gone?” he called out. “I mean to tell you! We have killed him,—you and I! We are all his murderers! But how have we done it? How were we able to drink up the sea? Who gave us the sponge to wipe away the whole horizon? What did we do when we loosened this earth from its sun? Whither does it now move? Whither do we move? Away from all suns? Do we not dash on unceasingly? Backwards, sideways, forwards, in all directions? Is there still an above and below? Do we not stray, as through infinite nothingness? Does not empty space breathe upon us? Has it not become colder? Does not night come on continually, darker and darker? Shall we not have to light lanterns in the morning? Do we not hear the noise of the grave-diggers who are burying God? Do we not smell the divine putrefaction?—for even Gods putrefy! God is dead! God remains dead! And we have killed him! How shall we console ourselves, the most murderous of all murderers? The holiest and the mightiest that the world has hitherto possessed, has bled to death under our knife,—who will wipe the blood from us? With what water could we cleanse ourselves? What lustrums, what sacred games shall we have to devise? Is not the magnitude of this deed too great for us? Shall we not ourselves have to become Gods, merely to seem worthy of it? There never was a greater event,—and on account of it, all who are born after us belong to a higher history than any history hitherto!”—Here the madman was silent and looked again at his hearers; they also were silent and looked at him in surprise. At last he threw his lantern on the ground, so that it broke in pieces and was extinguished. “I come too early,” he then said, “I am not yet at the right time. This prodigious event is still on its way, and is traveling,—it has not yet reached men’s ears. Lightning and thunder need time, the light of the stars needs time, deeds need time, even after they are done, to be seen and heard. This deed is as yet further from them than the furthest star,—and yet they have done it!—It is further stated that the madman made his way into different churches on the same day, and there intoned his Requiem aeternam deo. When led out and called to account, he always gave the reply: “What are these churches now, if they are not the tombs and monuments of God?”—. . .