Excerpts from Nietzsche’s “On the Advantage and Disadvantage of a History for Life”

Listen, I’m no philosopher (although I have friends and family who are), but this was a very interesting read!  I gather that this is one of Nietzsche’s earlier essays, and I caught onto it after reading Michael Pollan’s The Botany of Desire (more about that later), which quoted the essay.  The quote was so interesting that I picked up a copy from the library and dove in.

(That quote, by the way, was “Man may well ask the animal: why do you not speak to me of your happiness but only look at me? The animal does want to answer and say: because I always immediately forget what I wanted to say–but then it already forgot this answer and remained silent: so that man could only wonder.”)

“That the great moments in the struggle of individuals form a chain, that in them the high points of humanity are linked throughout millenia, that what is highest in such a moment of the distant past be for me still alive, bright and great…”

“Too often we stop at knowing the good without doing it because we also know the better without being able to do it.”

“In how unnatural, artificial, in any case unworthy a condition must the most sincere of all the sciences, the honest naked goddess philosophy, find herself in an age which suffers from general eduction!”

“Few serve truth in truth because only few have the pure will to be just, and of those again very few have the strength to be just.”

“But the world must go forward, that ideal condition cannot be achieved by dreaming, we must fight and struggle to achieve it, and only through cheerfulness is there a way to redemption, the redemption from this misleading owlish seriousness.”

“Greatness is not to depend on success…”

“As in an earthquake cities collapse and become deserted and man erects his house on volcanic ground only hastily and trembling with fear, so life collapses into itself and becomes feeble and discouraged when the concept-quake which science provokes takes from man the foundation of his security and calm, the belief in the enduring and eternal.”

“This is a parable for each one of us: he must organize the chaos within himself by reflecting on his genuine needs.”


NB: Hehehehehehe I love the “concept quake of science.”  I’m gonna use that more often.


6 thoughts on “Excerpts from Nietzsche’s “On the Advantage and Disadvantage of a History for Life”

  1. All things are subject to interpretation whichever interpretation prevails at a given time is a function of power and not truth…

    Enjoyed the post my friend. Wishing you well. Alex

  2. Those are some interesting quotes! I like the one about knowing that there is better than good sometimes stops us from doing the good we can do, which is unfortunate. The concept-quake of science does often leave us adrift in our sea of what we thought we knew. That’s why I like questions, they are enduring and eternal. Answers are sometimes ephemeral but . . . oh, the questions we will always have with us! Thanks for giving me a new way to think about some things in my life!

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