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Some Favorite Aphorisms from Nietzsche


"Knowledge for its own sake" -- that's the last snare of morality; with that one becomes completely entangled in it once more.

The attraction of knowledge would be small if one did not have to overcome so much shame on the way.

One takes an obscure and inexplicable thing more seriously than a clear and explicable one.... A matter that becomes clear ceases to concern us.

The more abstract the truth is that you would teach, the more you have to seduce the senses to it.

People who comprehend a thing to its very depths rarely stay faithful to it for ever. For they have brought its depths into the light of day: and in the depths there is always much that is unpleasant to see.

Half-knowledge is more victorious than whole knowledge: it understands things as being more simple than they are and this renders its opinions more easily intelligible and more convincing.

Love and sex

The degree and kind of a man's sexuality reach up into the ultimate pinnacle of his spirit.

A soul that knows it is loved but does not itself love betrays its sediment; what is at the bottom comes up.

Discovering that one is loved in return really ought to disenchant the lover with the beloved. "What? this person is modest enough to love even you? Or stupid enough? Or -- or ---"

Sensuality often hastens the growth of love so much that the roots remain weak and are easily torn up.

Whatever is done from love always occurs beyond good and evil.

Christianity gave Eros poison to drink: he did not die of it but degenerated -- into a vice.

From love of man one occasionally embraces someone at random (because one cannot embrace all); but one must not tell him this---

In the end one loves one's desire and not what is desired.

The best friend will probably acquire the best wife, because a good marriage is founded on the talent for friendship.

If we live together with another person too closely, what happens is similar to when we repeatedly handle a good engraving with our bare hands: one day all we have left is a piece of dirty paper. The soul of a human being too can finally become tattered by being handled continually; and that is how it finally appears to us--we never see the beauty of its original design again.

Love and hatred are not blind but dazzled by the fire they themselves bear with them.

It offends us beyond forgiving when we discover that where we were convinced we were loved we were in fact regarded only as a piece of household furniture and room decoration for the master of the house to exercise his vanity upon before his guests.


Under peaceful conditions a warlike man sets upon himself.

A man's maturity consists in having found again the seriousness one had as a child, at play.

What? A great man? I always see only the actor of his own ideal.

The will to overcome an affect is ultimately only the will of another, or of several other, affects.

Madness is rare in individuals -- but in groups, parties, nations, and ages it is the rule.

The thought of suicide is a powerful comfort: it helps one through many a dreadful night.

One is twice as glad to leap after a man who has fallen into the water when there are people present who dare not do so.

We often contradict an opinion for no other reason than that we do not like the tone in which it is expressed.

He who does not know how to put his thoughts on ice ought not to enter into the heat of battle.

There will be few who, when they are in want of matter for conversation, do not reveal the more secret affairs of their friends.

People who do not feel secure in society employ every opportunity afforded by the presence of someone to whom they are superior of publicly exhibiting this superiority at his expense before the company, for example by teasing.

Man is very well defended against himself, against being reconnoitred and besieged by himself, he is usually able to perceive of himself only his outer walls. The actual fortress is inaccessible, even invisible to him, unless his friends and enemies play the traitor and conduct him in by a secret path.

The mother of excess is not joy but joylessness.

The golden fleece of self-satisfaction protects against blows but not against pinpricks.

Good, Evil, and Morality

To be ashamed of one's immorality -- that is a step on the staircase at whose end one is also ashamed of one's morality.

There are no moral phenomena at all, but only a moral interpretation of phenomena--

A criminal is frequently no equal to his deed: he makes it smaller and slanders it.

The great epochs of our life come when we gain the courage to rechristen our evil as what is best in us.

We afterwards feel far more pangs of conscience over false praise than we do over false blame, probably merely because with too great praise we have compromised our judgment far worse than with too great, even unjust blame.

All moralists are bashful, because they know that as soon as people notice their inclinations they will be taken for spies and traitors. Then they are in general aware of being feeble in action; for in the midst of what they are doing their attention is largely distracted from it by the motives behind it.

Just as justice is so often a cloak for weakness, so fair thinking but weak men are sometimes led by ambition to dissimulation and deliberately behave unjustly and harshly so as to leave behind them an impression of strength.

An injustice we have perpetrated is much harder to bear than an injustice perpetrated against us...

One is best punished for one's virtues.

Holding and advocating opinions

Whether in conversation one generally acknowledges or denies that another is in the right is altogether a matter of what one is accustomed to: both make good sense.

Sometimes in the course of conversation the sound of our own voice disconcerts us and misleads us into making assertions which in no way correspond to our opinions.

When one contradicts another opinion and at the same time develops one's own, continual consideration of that other opinion usually disturbs the natural posture of one's own: it appears more deliberate, more rigorous, perhaps a little exaggerated.

...the just argument against a stupid head is a clenched fist.

One can persuade brave people to participate in an action by representing it as being more dangerous than it is.

Convictions are more dangerous enemies of truth than lies.

Not when it is dangerous to tell the truth does truth lack advocates, but when it is boring to do so.

If you can bring people to declare themselves in favour of something publicly you have usually also brought them to declare themselves in favour of it inwardly; they want to be regarded as consistent.

When our head feels too weak to answer the objections of our opponent our heart answers by casting suspicion on the motives behind his objections.

It is more comfortable to follow one's conscience than one's reason: for it offers an excuse and alleviation if what we undertake miscarries--which is why there are always so many conscientious people and so few reasonable ones.

Dealings with others

A sure means of irritating people and putting evil thoughts into their heads is to keep them waiting a long time. To have this happen makes one immoral.

It is much more pleasant to offend and later ask forgiveness than to be offended and forgive. He who does the former gives token of power and afterwards of quality of character. The latter, if he does not wish to be thought inhumane, has to forgive; pleasure in the humbling of the other is, on account of this constraint, slight.

Upon people one cannot endure one seeks in one's own mind to cast suspicion.

There is an innocence in admiration; it is found in those to whom it has never occurred that they, too, might be admired some day.

One has to repay good a ill -- but why precisely to the person who has done us good or ill?

One unlearns arrogance when one knows one is always among deserving people; being alone implants presumptuousness. Young people are arrogant, for they live in the society of their own kind, who are all nothing but like to seem much.

Natures full of sympathy and always ready to assist in misfortune are rarely at the same time willing to join in rejoicing: when others are fortunate they have nothing to do, are superfluous, feel they have lost their position of superiority and thus can easily exhibit displeasure.

The relatives of a suicide hold it against him that out of regard for their reputation he did not remain alive.

There are slavish souls who go so far in readiness to acknowledge favours done them that they choke themselves with the cord of gratitude.

To divine in advance how ordinary people will act one has to assume that, when they are in an unpleasant situation, they always seek to get out of it with the smallest expenditure of intelligence. imagine the joy of others and to rejoice at it is the highest privilege of the highest animals...


Whoever reaches his ideal transcends it eo ipso.

Whoever despises himself still respects himself as one who despises.

He who denies he possesses vanity usually possesses it in so brutal a form he instinctively shuts his eyes to it so as not to be obliged to despise himself.

Never to speak about oneself is a very noble piece of hypocrisy.

Talking much about oneself can also be a means to conceal oneself.

We are mistaken as to the degree to which we believe ourselves hated or feared: we ourselves may know very well the degree to which we differ from a person, tendency, party, but others know us only very superficially and therefore hate us only superficially. We often encounter goodwill that we find inexplicable; when we understand it, however, it offends us, because it shows we are not being taken with sufficient seriousness.

The vanity of others offends our taste only when it offends our vanity.