Study Guide

Friedrich Nietzsche Quotes

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Madness is rare in individuals—but in groups, parties, nations, and ages it is the rule. [From Beyond Good & Evil]

Let me put this in words that even you commoners can understand: it's not often that you find someone who will voluntarily mutilate himself or herself for no particular reason. But let's say that all of your friends decide to have their earlobes removed, then you might start thinking that having your earlobe removed is no big deal. You might even start thinking that it's a good idea.

What I'm saying in this quote is that yes, you probably would jump off a cliff if the rest of your fellow sheeple were doing it. It's hard to have a handle on reality, or even to begin to know what reality is, when so much of what you do has been conditioned by what everyone else is doing. And let me just say—what everyone else is doing is pretty often a bad idea.

You can put me down on the list of people totally against groupthink.

As is well known, the priests are the most evil enemies—but why? Because they are the most impotent. [From On the Genealogy of Morals]

As is well known, I'm not too big on Christianity. It takes people's perfectly normal desire to dominate others and perverts it into new and twisted forms. Think about it: only in the Christian religion would power-hungry priests torture people to death in order to make sure that these very people had "genuinely" converted (it was for their own good, y'know?). At least that maniacal atheist dictator Stalin was honest about his motivations for murdering people: he was a paranoid lunatic who thought that they were trying to usurp him.

My point here is that theoretically, priests shouldn't be out for power at all—but come on, are you going to tell me that the Church isn't out for power? Isn't power built right into the Church, whatever it says to the contrary? It's because the priests have to pretend they're not out for power that they get so warped. We're talking some truly nasty hypocrisy here.

There are no facts, only interpretations. [From The Will to Power]

People are always misinterpreting this one. Listen, I'm not saying that there's no such thing as truth—that would be a stupid thing to say, not to mention self-defeating. What I'm saying is that whenever we make a judgment about something, be it the quality of the latest Neutral Milk Hotel release (seriously, Jeff Mangum: are you ever going to drop that next album?) or whether or not vegetarianism is the moral way to eat, it's going to be filtered through and affected by our own individual perspectives.

A Hindu will be more likely to see eating meat as immoral than a rancher from Wyoming, and a hipster is probably more apt to have strongly formed opinions about In the Aeroplane Over the Sea than, say, a runway model. (A thousand apologies if you're a vegetarian rancher who loves listening to surrealist folk in between modeling gigs.)

Honestly, this should be one of the least controversial things I've ever said.

After Buddha was dead, his shadow was still shown for centuries in a cave—a tremendous, gruesome shadow. God is dead; but given the way of men, there may still be caves for thousands of years in which his shadow will be shown. —And we—we still have to vanquish his shadow, too. [from The Gay Science]

Atheism is inevitable, people. As science and philosophy continue to reveal new things about nature and about ourselves, belief in God (at least a specific, Christian God) will become increasingly outdated and unnecessary... not to mention costly—need I remind you of the Crusades? But you don't have to take my word for it—you can see the writing on the wall yourselves. Just look at the recent growth of those who claim no religion in the good ol' US of A.

Here's the thing: like it or not, Christianity has played a fundamental role in shaping the values of Western civilization, and those values are going to be a lot tougher for people to give up than religious belief. Even most atheists will say we shouldn't "throw out the baby with the bathwater," but the problem with that is that it's all bathwater. Christianity and traditionally Christian values go hand-in-hand, and if we're honest atheists, we'll realize that the time has come to create new values.

Anyway, that's my 2 cents.

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