No Comment, Quotation — August 3, 2007, 12:00 am

Nietzsche on the Specific Gravity of Personal Morals

“The Hiker” speaks.— If you would like to see our European morality for once as it appears from a distance, in order to measure it against other moralities, past and future, then you have to proceed like a hiker who wants to know how high the towers in a town are: he leaves town for that purpose. “Thoughts about moral prejudices,” unless intended to be prejudices about prejudices, presuppose a position outside morality, some point beyond Good and Evil to which one has to rise, climb, or fly—and in the present case at least a point beyond our Good and Evil, a freedom from everything “European,” by which I mean the sum of the domineering value judgments that have become part of our flesh and blood. That one wants to go out there, up there, may be a minor craziness, a peculiar and unreasonable “you must”—for those of us who seek knowledge also have our idiosyncrasies of “unfree will”—: the question is whether one really can get up there. This may depend on many conditions, in the main the question is how light or heavy we are, the problem of our “specific gravity.” One has to be very light to drive one’s will to knowledge over such a distance and, as it were, beyond one’s time, to create for oneself eyes to survey millennia and, moreover, clear skies in these eyes! One must have liberated oneself from many things that oppress, inhibit, hold down, and make us heavy—we contemporary Europeans. The human being of such a Beyond who wants to behold the supreme measures of worth of his time must first of all “overcome” this time in himself—this is the test of his strength—and consequently not only his time but also his prior aversion and contradiction against this time, his suffering from this time, his untimeliness, his romanticism …-

Friedrich Nietzsche, Die fröhliche Wissenschaft (La gaya scienza) § 380 (2d ed. 1887) in: Werke in drei Bänden, vol. 2, p. 255 (K. Schlechta ed.) (S.H. transl.)

Share
Single Page

More from Scott Horton:

Conversation August 5, 2016, 12:08 pm

Lincoln’s Party

Sidney Blumenthal on the origins of the Republican Party, the fallout from Clinton’s emails, and his new biography of Abraham Lincoln

Conversation March 30, 2016, 3:44 pm

Burn Pits

Joseph Hickman discusses his new book, The Burn Pits, which tells the story of thousands of U.S. soldiers who, after returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, have developed rare cancers and respiratory diseases.

Context, No Comment August 28, 2015, 12:16 pm

Beltway Secrecy

In five easy lessons

Get access to 165 years of
Harper’s for only $45.99

United States Canada

CATEGORIES

THE CURRENT ISSUE

December 2016

Prose by Any Other Name

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

The New Red Scare

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Separated at Birth

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

The Priest in the Trees

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

The Lightness

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

With Child

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

view Table Content

FEATURED ON HARPERS.ORG

Article
With Child·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

"She glanced across the waiting room at a television playing a birth-control ad and laughed darkly. 'Jesus, Lord, it would be so nice if someone just pushed me down a flight of stairs.'"
Photograph (detail) by Lara Shipley
Article
Swat Team·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

"As we shall see, for the sort of people who write and edit the opinion pages of the Post, there was something deeply threatening about Sanders and his political views."
Illustration (detail) by John Ritter
Article
Escape from The Caliphate·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

"When Matti invited me on a tour of the neighborhood, I asked about security. 'The message has already been passed to ISIS that you’re here,' he said. 'But don’t worry. I guarantee I could bring even you in and out of the Islamic State.'"
Photograph (detail) by Alice Martins
Article
In This One·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

"She glanced across the waiting room at a television playing a birth-control ad and laughed darkly. 'Jesus, Lord, it would be so nice if someone just pushed me down a flight of stairs.'"
Illustration (detail) by Shonagh Rae
Article
“Don’t Touch My Medicare!”·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

"Medicare’s popularity, however, comes with almost no understanding of what the program is and how it works."
Illustration (detail) by Nate Kitch

Amount of sunscreen Bob Dole uses:

0

A study of wheat prices suggested that sunspots influence crop success.

Hundreds of Viagra pills were found in the office of the South Korean president, who is a woman; North Korean leader Kim Jong-un asked his country’s scientists to develop a cure for sexual dysfunction using snake extracts, mushrooms, and sea urchins.

Subscribe to the Weekly Review newsletter. Don’t worry, we won’t sell your email address!

HARPER’S FINEST

Who Goes Nazi?

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

By

"It is an interesting and somewhat macabre parlor game to play at a large gathering of one’s acquaintances: to speculate who in a showdown would go Nazi. By now, I think I know. I have gone through the experience many times—in Germany, in Austria, and in France. I have come to know the types: the born Nazis, the Nazis whom democracy itself has created, the certain-to-be fellow-travelers. And I also know those who never, under any conceivable circumstances, would become Nazis."

Subscribe Today