WHO IS TO BE MASTER OF THE WORLD?
An Introduction to the Philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche
by Anthony M. Ludovici
THE TRANSVALUATION OF ALL VALUES
In the two preceding lectures, I attempted to deal with Nietzsche's newness -- his originality, -- first in regard to the question of modern European morality, secondly in regard to his ideal of man. Much that you heard must have seemed new, even to outlandishness -- even to eccentricity -- to you. Now, however, I am approaching a side of his philosophy, the "Transvaluation of all Values," which promises, already by its very title, to transcend even the foregoing in novelty and originality.
In fact, it is not without great diffidence that one can venture to treat of this subject at all in a lecture. The views I have to lay before you will, at first, seem topsy-turvy.
One has to get acclimatised, even to new and strange thought.
But, so radically will these thoughts probably subvert your most deeply-cherished beliefs, that to hear them for the first time may mean to be shocked, to be offended, or even to be wounded, and there where you are most vulnerable.
In my last lecture, you heard what Nietzsche said of new music, new words, new effects of colour; you heard that he declares them hostile to the senses; "We hear new music badly," he says. Need I point the moral?
What you are going to hear under the title, "Transvaluation of all Values," will be new music to you; not alone new music, but the instrument upon which it will be played, will be strange also.
Nietzsche was a new human instrument. A costly one whose sad end was proof enough of his fragility. No one who has studied his works deeply, can doubt that Nietzsche's breakdown was anything more than the snap of an organisation which was too highly strung for the conditions in which it lived.
He was a new instrument; he had eyes and ears for subtleties which most eyes and ears are too coarse for, nowadays. The music he gives us is new music; let us therefore be prepared to "hear it badly," remembering, however, to seek the fault in the proper quarter.
With this warning, I hope to secure you from that indignation and impatience which may blind you to the true merits of the views I now wish to present to you. The way I present them, I know to be full of shortcomings; but let this fact serve but as a further reason urging you to turn to his works themselves, for a better knowledge of their message.
No better opening could be chosen for this paper however, than that made by Nietzsche, himself, in the first book of the Transvaluation. Perhaps only too well aware of the reception his doctrine would meet with, he there writes in the following strain: --
"This book belongs to the select few. Perhaps even none of them yet live. They may be those who understand my Zarathustra: . . . It is only the day after to-morrow that belongs to me. Some are born posthumously:
"The conditions under which a person understands me, and then necessarily understands, -- I know them only too accurately. He must be honest in intellectual matters even to sternness, in order even to endure my seriousness, my passion. . . . He must have become indifferent, he must never ask whether truth is profitable or becomes a calamity to him. A predilection of robustness for questions for which, at present, no one has the courage; the courage for the forbidden; the predetermination for the labyrinth. New ears for new music. New eyes for the most distant. A new conscience for truths which have hitherto remained dumb. . . . Well then! Those alone are my readers, my right readers, my predetermined readers: of what account are the rest?" (C.W., pp. 239, 240).
A thinker who writes in this way expects to be misinterpreted; indeed he deliberately courts misinterpretation. For he knows that it is one thing to understand, and something quite different to endure what one understands. "Every deep thinker," he tells us, "is more afraid of being understood than of being misunderstood. The latter perhaps wounds his vanity; but the former wounds his heart, his sympathy, which always says: -- 'Ah, would you also have as hard a time as I have?'" (G.E., p. 258).
We may ask what it was that gave Nietzsche a hard time. True, he led a lonely life, -- the life of an ascetic; he was also an invalid, and, to a certain extent an out-cast against whom almost every hand was raised; but if we look into these facts concerning him, we find that they are rather the symptoms than the cause of his unhappiness. The cause of this unhappiness was in reality Nietzsche himself -- the particular way in which he was constituted. His only alternative was to live alone, it was a foregone conclusion that he would be an invalid, and his contemporaries were compelled to raise their hands against him; simply because Nietzsche had no company, could find no health and possessed no real contemporaries in a world into which he had come, perhaps two or three centuries before his time.
Nietzsche was wretched because he was ill-adapted to his environment, he was an anchorite because he never succeeded in finding the friend, the equal, who could be company for him, -- in the language of the biologist who could make him feel in harmony with his surroundings.
At the end of a very beautiful poem, entitled "From Lofty Mountains," he tells us that this actually was the case.
"O noon of life! A second youthful land!
Fair summer station!
O restless bliss in watchful expectation: --
For friends I wait -- both day and night attend, --
For the new friends! Oh, come! The time's at hand!
* * * * * * *
"This song is o'er, -- the longings' sweet refrain
Ceased with good reason:
By charmer's spell, the friend at the right season,
The noonday friend -- but why should I explain --
It was at noon when one was changed to twain. . . .
"We celebrate, now sure of conquering might,
The grandest lustra: --
The guest of guests arrived, friend Zarathustra!
The world now smiles, rent is the veil of night --
And marriage comes for darkness and for light." . . . (G.E., pp. 267, 268).
Could any lines be more irresistibly poignant? After having sought the friend year in, year out, Zarathustra -- his own creation, is the only guest he can tolerate at his table!
Elsewhere, Nietzsche tries to explain the nature of his sufferings, and we see perhaps more clearly still, that our view of the case is only too probable.
He tells us he suffered from man.
"Ye do not yet suffer enough!" he declares, apostrophising "Higher men." "For ye suffer from yourselves, ye have never suffered from man. Ye would lie, did ye say otherwise! None of you suffereth from what I have suffered" (Z., "Of Higher Man," 6).
Nietzsche, by virtue of the very ill-adaptedness which was his bane, was practically in the position of a spectator at a play. He saw man as a looker-on sees all things, that is to say, he saw most of the game.
But what time have we nowadays to think of man?
We think we propitiate the imaginary spirit of our race, from time to time, when we fling some of our victuals to the cripples, the good-for-nothings and the diseased that throng our neighbourhood; but mankind in general? -- man as a species? Who has time to think of this question? Who has even a wish to think of this question?
In the midst of all our bustle and hurry! our greed for comfort, our desire, ever to be on the safe side, Nietzsche arises like a warning figure of destiny and bids us look ahead. An artist with a very distinct taste of his own, his object is not so much to impose his taste upon us, as to make us feel sure that we are exercising our taste.
He leaves us in no doubt as to what we are; gives us a dazzling picture of what we might be, and exhorts us to accept his ideal or make another of our own.
With passionate emphasis he cries: -- the "Earth hath a skin, and that skin hath diseases. One of these diseases, for example, is called 'man.'" (Z., "Of Great Events").
For this passion, for this emphasis, Nietzsche has been scorned. We, of modern Europe, have given up talking in this way. Even in our arguments, the hypersensitive and the lovers of peace and smug ease, whisper to us, not on any account to be personal. Indeed, so suspicious have we become of him whose heart is in his convictions or his ideas, and who therefore speaks with vehemence, that we have grown milder, even than the mildest man in history -- the Founder of Christianity. Christ certainly said: "Whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also," but when in the presence of his most rancorous enemies, he, too, did not refrain from venting his passion; as witness his attack on the money-changers.
Nietzsche is nothing if not vehement in his appeal to us, and in England, above all, therefore, we are inclined to purse our lips. Even such an authority in criticism, as Professor Saintsbury, cannot help taking exception to Nietzsche's "reckless, uncontrolled, uncontrollable flux and reflux of mood and temper," (A History of Criticism, Vol. III. p. 586) and the learned critic more than once alludes, with grave expressions of fear and commiseration to a taint of dementedness (Ibid., pp. 584, 585, 586), which, in his opinion, most certainly peeps out of the pages of the German philosopher's works. How very easy such criticism is; how simple it is to point to madness in a man's work, when we have been told that he died insane! (On this point see Raoul Richter: Friedrich Nietzsche, Sein Leben und sein Werk, pp. 79-86).
To be philosophical at all, the prerequisite, hitherto, has been tediousness, longwindedness, dryness, -- anemia! In men whose writings savour of these things, in our Kants, our J. S. Mills, our Sidgwicks, we have faith.
Now Nietzsche is a man who wrote with his blood, who made philosophy as palpitatingly interesting as the most thrilling romance, who himself said, he had no particular wish to be read at present, whose ambition was to create "things on which time might vainly try its teeth," (C.W., p. 221) and who, as we have already seen, endeavoured to "say in ten sentences what everyone else says in a whole book, -- what everyone else does not say in a whole book" (Ibid.).
At this man, the orthodox and lovers of tradition, with Professor Pringle Pattison in the van, immediately foam with indignation; he is new music to them, he is not tedious; -- they are at sea! And these people who worship dry land, dry books and dry ideas, insist on it, that they must be bored when reading philosophy, otherwise the self-castigating element in their studies, which is their measure of the latter's depth, is felt to be entirely wanting.
"Do not forget," says Nietzsche, "the higher we soar, the smaller we appear to those who cannot fly" (D.D., p. 386).
This is not an aphorism for the sake of an aphorism, it is a thought expressing the experience of his whole life.
His eyes were constantly upon his fellows; mankind becomes self-conscious, -- blushes even, when reading his works. The steady, critical gaze is sometimes too piercing; -- hence, perhaps, the hatred he has roused and the opposition he has provoked.
"Towards my goal I struggle, mine own way I go, I shall overleap those who hesitate and delay. Let my way be their destruction" (Z., "Int. Speech," 9).
"I am a railing alongside the stream; whoever is able to seize me, may seize me. Your crutch however I am not" (Z., "Of the Pale Criminal").
Nietzsche was a critic, above all. Even Professor Saintsbury admires him in a lukewarm fashion in this capacity. Nietzsche bids us look around. He criticises the whole of modern culture, and the keynote of his indictment is, that we are all decadent. We have seen that the survival of the fittest does not by any means signify the survival of the more desirable or even tolerable, if we give to these words anything like their ordinary meanings. Given the necessary conditions, and the survival of the fittest might signify the survival of the meanest, most abject and most contemptible type, according to our present notions.
We create our conditions by means of our values of Good and Evil. Now are the conditions we have created leading to a goal which would answer to our present acceptation of what is dignified or worthy of our inheritance? Is it our taste that the man of the future be nobler, better-constituted, and stronger than he is at present, or that he be mean, deformed -- ignoble?
Nietzsche assures us that decadence is the only possible, ultimate end of our present values. In fact he already sees decadence in a hundred different manifestations about us to-day, and he implores us to alter our values, before it is too late. "It is time for man to mark out his goal. It is time for man to plant the germ of his highest hope.
"His soil is still rich enough for that purpose" (Z., "Int. Speech," 5).
"Not only the reason of millenniums -- but also their madness breaketh out in us. Dangerous it is to be an heir" (Z., "Of the Giving Virtue," 2).
But, how, you may ask, are we to determine new values? As we saw in my first paper, Nietzsche gives us the key. He says, not the prevalence of a certain moral principle is of importance in estimating its worth; but its origin. Let that be our rule throughout our investigation of the values which reign to-day, and it will be seen, how few may be retained, if our taste happen to coincide with Nietzsche's.
Morality, in all its forms is merely a means to self-enhancement and to power. This life is will to power. But, if we grant this, as we saw in the first paper, we also grant by implication, that not only the actually powerful, but also the impotent, the oppressed, the ill-constituted, the defeated, will struggle for power too. What did we say would be the result, suppose each of these classes moralise? Would not the powerful, the happy, the healthy, the well-constituted, probably posit health, power, strength, well-constitutedness as "good"; and is it not also likely that the impotent, the weak, the diseased and the ill-constituted would regard exactly those attributes as evil -- as their evil?
Life means struggle, battle -- war. Where it ceases to be that, its standard falls (G.E., p. 235 et seq.); it degenerates. The attacks that life survives, as a rule, leave it stronger. Even, to-day, we carry on a sort of bloodless war with the weapons which our professions or trades place in our hands.
But fight entails exertion and fatigue; to the weak, the ill-constituted and the defeated, however, it is unbearable fatigue, insufferable exertion. What will they, therefore, probably regard as an ideal of blessedness? With their pale hands on their panting breasts, will they not cry for peace, love, love for one's neighbour; yes, even love for one's enemy? Will they not say: peace is good, love is good, love for one's neighbour is good; yes, even love for one's enemy is good? Is not this morality distinctly redolent of the weary of the fight, of the wounded of the fight, of the incapable of the fight? Will not health, happiness, power, prosperity, be regarded by them with revengeful eyes?
Let this suffice as introduction. Let it suffice to show the sound psychological basis upon which Nietzsche builds his two moralities: the master- and the slave-morality, and let us be prepared for the somewhat heterodox conclusions which an admission of these views carries with it.
For, however eager we may be to follow Nietzsche, we may find ourselves so mercilessly assailed by his doctrines, and called upon at every turn to relinquish so many of our most cherished ideals, that we must not be surprised to find ourselves hesitating at first, even to listen -- even to see clearly -- even to think fairly.
"Verily, I have taken from you an hundred words and the dearest playthings of your virtue; and now ye are angry with me as children are.
"They played on the seashore, -- then came a wave and swept all their toys away into the depths: now they cry.
"But the same wave shall bring them new play-things and spread before them new coloured shells.
"Thus they will be comforted; and like them, ye also, my friends, shall have your comfort and new-coloured shells.
"Thus Spake Zarathustra." (Z., "Of the Virtuous")
* * * * * * *
Nietzsche did not allow his mother ever to peep into one of his books. The old lady died without having read a line of her son's philosophical writings (Das Nietzsche Archiv, Seine Freunde und Feinde, by E. Foerster-Nietzsche, p. 18). Was he going to let his mother have as hard a time of it as he had? Apparently not. He left his mother with her illusions concerning life. She had fulfilled her task on earth; her life was an already accomplished one when he began to write; why should he disturb her calm serenity? Why embitter her against her world seeing that she had but her autumn to spend in it?
Nietzsche does not appeal to those whose life-task is accomplished. He quite well realises that few men have the courage, even if they had the conviction, to turn upon their past selves, and recant all they have said and done. It is vain to expect it of them -- more particularly in a world which still obstinately regards any revulsion of feeling or change of opinion as a sign of weakness. (In this respect see Professor Saintsbury's concluding words in his remarks upon Nietzsche, p. 586, Vol. III., History of Criticism.)
Nietzsche appeals to the young; to those who have their lives before them. His speech on marriage in Thus Spake Zarathustra is perhaps the finest thing on the subject in the whole of the world's literature. He elevates marriage, not virtually, but actually, to the most sacred place among human institutions. He regards the married couple as pledges for the future of humanity.
The words of St Paul on the subject, which I do not like even to quote here, revolt him. (Seeing that St Paul, with the words referred to, was speaking to men [the Corinthians] who were undeniably base and depraved, perhaps it is unfair to regard his attitude as the essentially Christian attitude towards marriage. The reader is therefore begged to refer to the Rituals Romanum, and more particularly to the Church of England Book of Common Prayer.) To him, marriage is not a last shift, a faute-de-mieux, this view of it fills him with disgust (C.W., pp. 336, 337); for it overlooks the main object of the institution, which is the pledge for the future of the human race.
He says rather: --
"Thou art young and wishes for child and marriage. But I ask thee: art thou a man who darest to wish for a child?
"Art thou the victorious one, the self-subduer, the commander of thy senses, the master of thy virtues? Thus I ask thee.
"I would that thy victory and freedom were longing for a child. Thou shalt build living monuments unto thy victory and liberation.
"Thou shalt build beyond thyself. But first thou must be built thyself square in body and soul.
"Thou shalt not only have descendants, but these shall also be thy ascent! Therefore the garden of marriage may help thee!
"Thirst unto the creator, an arrow and longing for Superman: say, my brother, is that thy will unto marriage?
"Holy I call such a will and such a marriage" (Z., "Of Child and Marriage").
In what religion can similar words be found concerning the holy estate of matrimony?
Nietzsche appeals to the young and tells them the nature of modern decadence. He points to it everywhere, and through them hopes to overcome it. He writes in the Antichrist: --
"The problem I here put, is not what is to replace mankind in the chain of beings (man is an end), but what type of man we are to cultivate, we are to will, as the more valuable, the worthy of life, the more certain of the future.
"This more valuable type has often enough existed already; but as a happy accident, as an exception, never as willed. It has rather just been the most feared, it has hitherto been almost the terror, the reverse has been willed, cultivated, attained; the domestic animal, the herding animal, the sickly animal man -- the Christian" (C.W., p. 242).
Nietzsche sees two lines of life, the ascending and the descending. After a conscientious investigation of life in the civilised world, he arrives at the inevitable conclusion, that the descending line is almost the rule, and he makes no effort at concealment concerning his belief as to the causes which are at work effecting this state of affairs.
He tells us the morality of the weak, the ill-constituted and the slaves, is gaining ascendency over other and nobler moralities.
Our conditions are determined by our values, Nietzsche strikes at these. He assures us that our values are precisely what we must alter. If man is to be a being worthy of respect at all in time to come, if he is not to be a semi-sick, listless animal, grunting and sweating under a weary life, as under a disease, then we must alter our ideals; if we will have another kind of man, if our taste is a man who is health, who is happiness and strength, and whose aspect will not make us entertain doubts as to the inestimable worth of life; then this revolution, this arresting of the decadent current of to-day, this "ascent" (in Nietzsche's sense), is only to be achieved by a Transvaluation of all values: by a Transvaluation of all modern values.
The envisaging of this "topsyturvification," as Professor Saintsbury calls it, presupposes at least a certain knowledge of our present values, and this leads us to the question, par excellence, which Nietzsche answered with most force, most novelty, and most courage. What are our present values? The reply is: they are Christian values. However stoutly we may repudiate any active participation in Christian forms and pieties, however conscientiously we may disclaim all allegiance to the religion of pity; the fact nevertheless remains, that in our morality, in our appreciation of life, the principles we adopt are Christian principles.
Our concept of "good" to-day, is not the concept of good with which we fought our way from the beast, it is a concept of good which has come to us from some law-giver who, like all law-givers, desired to create a certain type of man.
This "good" has to be taught as something brand new to little boys, who at first, in spite of heredity, and before they have the poison of a guilty conscience implanted in them, are refractory to it. It is the Christian concept of good. Let us therefore turn to Christianity.
Before embarking upon this trying undertaking, however, it would be well to bear in mind what Nietzsche's position precisely was towards religions in general.
I suppose, no careful reader of his works has ever doubted, for one instant, that Nietzsche was a profoundly religious man; for to do so would be to mistake the whole trend of his thoughts. Indeed, taking religiousness to mean that attitude of reverence and awe before the inexorability and beauty of Nature, which is the salient characteristic of such ancient religions as that of the Sun-worshippers, Nietzsche's gift and feeling for it might even be regarded as exceptional, and one has only to recall his magnificent poem entitled "Before Sunrise," in Thus Spake Zarathustra, in order to be convinced of the fact.
In addition to this, however, everywhere in his works we find the usefulness of religions extolled as a measure of discipline (G.E., p. 80), as a step to higher intellectuality (Ibid., p. 81), as a means to invaluable contentedness (Ibid., p. 81. G.M., pp. 169, 170, 171, 172, 173), and, in one place, we even find that man rebuked who can love any but a religious woman; while the gift of reverence, which may be regarded as a factor in the development of all higher religions, is, according to Nietzsche, a sine-qua-non of the aristocratic sum of qualities.
We cannot therefore say that Nietzsche is anti-religious. As a matter of fact, he is very far from being so. But, loyal in everything to his aim, which is the excellence of man, he divides religions, like moralities, into classes according to the ideals they bid men strive after.
Not the legends, nor the questionable promises, nor the prodigious wonders of religions, are held to be of importance by him; -- but as we might easily have guessed: their moralities. The morality of a religion is that part of it which stamps its whole character, because it is precisely that part of it which has as its object the creation of a certain type of man. The hopes, the little fairy stories upon which the warrant for its hopes are based, and the value of the claim which religious founders usually make, to having had their teaching revealed to them supernaturally: -- all these things may be as preposterous and as absurd as can be imagined, Nietzsche pays no heed to them, and moves not a finger to expose them. What does concern him, however, is the kind of man who tends to become paramount under the auspices, and owing to the morality, of a given religion.
If the type be a desirable or a tolerable one, then, whatever be the absurdities of the religions rearing it, it is applauded for its taste. If the reverse be the case, however, no grandeur of rites, nor any exploitation of logic, can justify the religion in Nietzsche's eyes.
Now, turning to Christianity, let us ask ourselves what trait it has, which, to an inquirer indifferent as to the issue, and partial only to facts, might be regarded as the most salient trait, as the very nose of the faith which all believers follow?
Is it not the positing of a beyond in contradistinction to a "here" to a "this earth" -- to life? The denial, the calumny and the backbiting of this world together with the eulogy, the great promises of, and the conditions of admittance to, a world to come, every fair critic must surely regard as the Leitmotif of the Gospels and other books of the New Testament.
"Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him." It cannot be said that the sentiment of this text is exceptional in the New Testament. And again: "He that loveth life, shall lose it: and he that hateth life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal." Nobody, I presume, will deny that this thought is the very kernel of Christianity.
And what are we to suppose this loathing of the world meant? How are we to explain it?
The healthy child romps, the kitten plays delightfully. Who can watch a healthy child or a kitten at play, and still maintain that they should hate life in this world?
They both say yea unto life most heartily!
"Unto the pure all things are pure. . . . But, I tell you," says Nietzsche, "unto the swine, all things are swine!"
"Therefore the enthusiasts and hypocrites, whose very heart hangeth down, preach: 'The world itself is a filthy monster!'
"For they are all of an unclean mind; in particular those who have neither quiet nor rest; unless it be that they see the world from the back, -- those back-worldsmen!" (Z., "Of Old and New Tables," 14).
In what class of mind do thoughts of bitterness and resentment against the world originate? (For an interesting suggestion concerning the answer to this question, see Gibbon's Decline and Fall (Edit. Methuen & Co., 1896), Vol. II. p. 68.)
Once they have originated, they spread, of course, like a plague; for we have only to glance around us to-day in order to see how few are really constituted to say yea unto life, innocently, heartily and consummately, as the healthy child does. It is, therefore, merely complicating the problem, to try and support the mistrust of life and of this world by pointing to those who, rightly or wrongly, now share it. The only question we can put in the hope of obtaining enlightenments is: what kind of mind first gave rise to the mistrust? St John and Schopenhauer, Buddha and St Paul: what influence is at work to make these men deny life? That is our problem.
When we hear: "The wretched alone are the good, the poor, the impotent, the lowly alone are the good; only the sufferers, the needy, the sick, the ugly are pious; only they are godly; them alone blessedness awaits; -- but ye, the proud and potent, ye are for aye and evermore the wicked, the cruel, the lustful, the insatiable, the godless; ye will also be, to all eternity, the unblessed, the cursed and the damned!" (G.M., p. 29). When we read:
"Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
"Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.
"Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth (!).
"Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God."
When we read these sentiments, how many sensitive listeners among us can help pricking their ears for a sound of the hoarse croak of impotence which is to follow them? What fine listener amongst us does not detect the Will to Power of the unfortunate, the weak, and the ill-constituted, behind these words? Does this interpretation require to be substantiated?
Who is likely to say: "It is God that avengeth me. . . . the Lord avenge me!" Let us ask ourselves honestly and uprightly, who it is who leaves his vengeance to a God or to a future time and must posit a hell for his enemies? A certain kind of man must have done it, once upon a time, in order to still a rankling hate. Was it the man who had power to chastise his enemy? Was it the conqueror or successful warrior in any walk of life?
If we have earnestly asked ourselves these questions, we are nearing enlightenment, we are beginning to perceive what type of man sought to preserve himself and even universalise his kind by means of Christian values.
God had taken many shapes in the minds of men.
But before he could be reduced to the mellifluous lower-middle-class deity which St Paul describes in the following passage, something must have happened to him; what was it? Nietzsche's answer is, that a type of men had appropriated and denned him, who, being in a low and mean position in life, perforce gave him those attributes which tended to honour and even to canonise their condition.
St Paul said to the Corinthians: --
". . . Hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world?
"For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.
". . . Not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called:
"But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; (!)
"And base things [this really means -- the low-born things] of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are."
Is it not perfectly legitimate to inquire to what class of minds such words appealed, and what part of the community they were supposed to endow with power? Nietzsche thinks the question very pertinent, and he replies, that only the oppressed, the weak, the ill-constituted, or the slaves of any community could have felt the need of such words. These sentiments of St Paul are values involving the morality of two thousand years. What kind of values are they? Are they the values of a noble, an ascendant, a healthy morality, or those of a slave, a decadent, an unhealthy morality?
It is clear that no noble or powerful class invented them; no such class could have had any use for them. They appeal to those who are burning with resentment, to those who are impotent, crippled, diseased, or in any way physiologically botched, and who are tired and sick of the sight of the mighty, the happy, the well-constituted; that is to say, of all those on whom the future welfare of mankind depends. (Olshausen observes: "The ancient Christians were for the most part slaves and men of low station; the whole history of the expansion of the church is in reality a progressive victory of the ignorant over the learned, the lowly over the lofty, until the emperor himself laid down his crown before the cross of Christ." [Quoted by Henry Alford, D.D., one time Dean of Canterbury See his Greek Testament, Vol. II. p. 481.])
The resenting ones on earth, wrestling with their weakness, or disease, playfully, as with a friend, were also parched, as all humanity is, with the thirst for power. They also wished to universalise their kind. In their way stood the values of the noble, strong and well constituted. How could they make their concept of good and evil universal? That was their problem, and on its solution depended the attainment to power of the whole race.
The natural function of the strong is to discharge their strength. Not passive inactivity, but aggressive activity is their business.
"To demand of strength that it should not manifest itself as strength, that it should not be a will to overpower, to subdue, to become master of, that it should not be a thirst for enemies, resistance, and triumphs, is as absurd as to demand of weakness that it should manifest itself as strength" (G.M., p. 44).
But how did the weak, the ill-constituted, and the physiologically botched regard the matter? To them the natural discharge of strength on the part of their superiors in body or mind, was an intolerable persecution which threatened to jeopardise the universalisation of their class.
A discharge of strength on the part of a weak man, amounts to an affectation, it is an effort upon which he must concentrate the whole of his attention, and, even so, he does not necessarily succeed in showing strength. What, therefore, was the very natural conclusion of the weak man? Is it not clear, after indulging in introspection, that he must have held all manifestations of strength to be, not necessary, but voluntary? -- Even on the part of the strong? Must he not have thought that the strong are at liberty to behave like the weak if they choose, and that if they do not, since the difference is voluntary, therefore it must be their deliberate choice, their fault, -- their guilt? (Ibid., pp. 45, 46).
It only remained to teach the strong this Machiavellian doctrine, and the position of the weak would become secure.
Nietzsche then proceeds to show us that the weak believing the strong free to be weak, if they chose, not only tried to cry "shame" to them for their strength, but, themselves, began to regard weakness as voluntary. Their weakness seemed to them, at last, a performance, not the inevitable outcome of their constitutions, but an act of choice and discernment, for which their taste, their principles were responsible, and the chasm between weakness and virtue was thus spanned; for the inability to retaliate, to mingle actively with their fellows, to have any contact with evil, to be impatient, proud and unjust, thereby became a thing self-willed, self-chosen, a deed, a desert (G.M., pp.45, 46).
For this deliberate and virtuous choice of weakness, for their exaltation of their great asset -- pity, they were chosen by their God to confound the things which were mighty. "Free will" was the necessary belief and instrument of these early weaklings, as it was the necessary belief of all tamers of the animal -- man.
To Nietzsche, as we are now beginning to perceive, Christianity is the embodiment of all slave values. In all its principles, he sees protection, shelters, means to power, for the impotent, the sickly and the oppressed.
But in thus classifying Christianity as a religion based upon slave-values, Nietzsche once more opens that much-debated question, which Gibbon refers to with such a show of deprecation in the famous fifteenth chapter of the Decline and Fall; -- the question whether the first Christians were mean and ignorant. For, if it can be proved that they were, then Nietzsche's contention concerning Christianity although it does not rely on this evidence alone, may, at least, be said to be partly justified.
Unfortunately, this question, deeply interesting though it undoubtedly is, involves a discussion of so many authors' works, that to treat it even with scant justice, would mean to allot it more space than is here occupied by the whole of these four lectures, taken together. When this is borne in mind, and when we also remember that the solution of the question exacts a somewhat profound knowledge of the first two centuries of our era; and that, even then, a certain "cloud" of uncertainty will still be found to "hang" over the first age of the church, concealing those facts which are of the most vital importance to the point at issue; it will be seen, that the task of the investigator, is not only very far from being an easy one, but also that it is beset with peculiar and inevitable disappointments, thanks to the freedom with which the various authorities refute and contradict one another in the course of establishing their own particular beliefs. Now I make no claim to having investigated this matter adequately, neither do I pretend to possess that knowledge of ancient history, which would justify me in deciding arbitrarily either against or for Nietzsche's contention; I have therefore placed myself entirely in the hands of those English, German and French authorities who seemed to me to have made a conscientious inquiry into the points which are at issue.
In stating the result of my modest researches, my object, therefore, will be not so much to establish Nietzsche's contention, as to show you, that if he is sinning at all in making it, he is at least sinning in very good company.
To begin with, therefore, let it be said at once, that for Nietzsche's contention that Christian values are those of a slave, decadent, or resentment-morality, the evidence from various quarters is exceedingly strong.
Albeit, no attempt shall be made here to present the argument in its favour as strongly as possible, because there seems to be no need to attach such wonderful importance to it, and for reasons which will be given later. In any case, though, the attitude of some well-known authorities may prove interesting, and to these it will now be our business to turn.
Remembering that men of letters and of high society in Rome, of the second century, either did not know Christianity, or knew it exceedingly badly, and, therefore, that in spite of Tacitus, Suetonius, Juvenal, the younger Pliny, Plutarch, Lucian, Hadrian and Marcus Aurelius, our information is comparatively scanty on the subject, and in any case but for the famous letter of the younger Pliny, not very important; if we turn to the results of modern research, we shall find many serious attempts at grappling with our problem.
Taking Gibbon first, how many, who have read his fifteenth chapter of the Decline and Fall, have found any reason to doubt what his attitude really was regarding the question? Beneath his irony we do indeed read dislike, and his sneers rather make us halt with surprise, seeing that he set out with the view of making "a candid but rational inquiry." But setting aside the tone in which he writes, a tone which, as Mr Bury points out, would have been altered by force of circumstances, had he been writing in our own time, in which "a wide diffusion of unobtrusive scepticism among educated people . . . seems to render offensive warfare superfluous" (Introduction to Gibbon's Decline and Fall (Methuen & Co., 1896), Vol. I), does anyone suppose that his attitude towards the single question of the alleged low status of early Christians would have altered? We shall see that the opinion of other writers, and even, of Mr Bury himself, do not justify our assuming this. Allowing, therefore, as fully as we can, for the peculiar influences and deficiencies of the time in which he wrote, we still cannot entirely overlook, in an historian like Gibbon, the value to Nietzsche's contention, of such passages as those, in which he refers to the "humble and obscure followers of Christ" (Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire (Methuen & Co., 1896), Vol. II. pp. 81 and 82. See also Milman, The History of Christianity, Vol. I. p. 419, and Vol. II. p. 156), or to the "pusillanimous sentiments of the new sect" (Ibid., p. 39), or in which he explains the readiness of early Christians to believe in a beyond or a back-world, in words very similar to Nietzsche's (Ibid., pp. 23, 56, 68).
Turning to Merivale we certainly meet with a valiant attempt to elevate the status of primitive Christians; but the best even he can do for them, is to raise them to the rank of a certain "middle class" (History of the Romans under the Empire), of which he gives us but the vaguest description.
Hermann Schiller, writing a retrospect of the years preceding 117 A.D., brings Nietzsche's contention considerable support. He says the proofs upon which the belief is based that members of the higher and more cultivated circles of Roman Society lent an ear to Christianity, are still exceedingly unreliable, and even the Christianity of men and women attached to the imperial family may be held to be as little proved, as a persecution of Christians, as Christians, through Domitian, may be said to be proved. "Still," he continues, "even if it could be demonstrated, beyond a doubt, that members of the higher classes did belong to the new religion, the fact would not be of great value, since it could only be established in regard to very isolated and exceptional cases" (Geschichte der Römischen Kaiserzeit, Erster Band, 2 Teil. pp. 577, 578).
He then proceeds to go into other evidence, for which there is no room here, but which is all in perfect harmony with Nietzsche's views.
Duruy brings overwhelming facts in support of Nietzsche's side. He speaks of the Mosaic God -- the implacable and jealous master of a privileged race, being turned by Jesus into the universal God of the poor and the afflicted. He also describes the early Christians at Rome, as "converts made among the poor," (Ibid., Vol. IV. p. 504) as people "living in hovels" (Ibid.) he speaks of their clothes as consisting mainly of rags (Histoire des Romains, Vol. V. p. 223) -- of their sect, as being despised and therefore treated mostly with indifference by the higher classes (Ibid., Vol. IV. p. 506), of Christianity as spreading in the mob which is inaccessible to philosophers (Ibid., p. 512).
In a retrospect of the years preceding 180 A.D. he says: "For a long time the Faith had spread only among the lowest classes of the population, where it brought consolation for all the wretchedness, and that virtue -- charity, which Christ and St Paul had taught from the first. It condemned riches, which seemed to it 'a fruit of iniquity or an inheritance of injustice,' and it showed love to poverty and suffering, which it regarded as the means of redeeming terrestrial life. . . . How sweet to the disinherited must the gospel of equality before God have seemed, or the redemption of souls by the Eternal Son who had been insulted, scoffed at, scourged, and finally crucified like a slave. Christ's passion appeared to them merely a page out of their own history, and the Good Tidings seemed to have been directed more particularly at the small and the lowly" (Ibid., Vol. V. pp. 778, 779).
There are yet other passages in Duruy, which might be adduced as further supporting Nietzsche; but there is no room to quote all, and we shall be obliged to return to him, in regard to the relation of women to Christianity.
Dr Hertzberg, in his History of the Roman Empire, speaks in very much the same terms as Schiller and Duruy (Geschichte des Römischen Kaiserreiches. Erstes Buch., pp. 454, 455, 456), while Lecky, Bury, Stewart Jones and Professor Lindsay, severally say interesting things in more or less perfect agreement with those already mentioned; but I shall only find occasion to quote them in the course of the discussion.
Most authors also seem to agree with regard to another question relative to the point at issue, and that is the attitude of women to the early Church. Indeed, from all accounts, women seem to have shown rather a weakness for Christianity, and the importance of this element cannot be overrated. As Mr Bury observes: "Christianity cherished the amiable affections, and was particularly suited to be understood and embraced by women and children, who, according to Aristotle, are creatures of passion, as opposed to men who are capable of living by reason" (History of the Later Roman Empire. J.B. Bury, M.A., Vol. I. p. 18).
"Christianity," says Duruy, "has always been particularly tenderly disposed towards women. And this is only just, seeing that they are still its most powerful adherents. Their fertile imagination, their delicate nature, so virginal still in the spouse and the mother, were captivated by a Faith which commanded charity and love. . . . By virtue of their nervous constitutions, women are predisposed to exalted states of mind; many yielded thereto, and these had visions or prophetic lapses" (Histoire des Romains, Vol. VI. p. 119).
Hertzberg speaks in similar language, and Lecky says: "The Christian teacher was early noted for his unrivalled skill in playing on the chords of a woman's heart. The graphic title of 'Earpicker of Ladies,' which was given to a seductive pontiff of a somewhat later period, might have been applied to many in the days of the persecution" (History of European Morals, Vol. I. p. 418).
The social aspect of Christianity, in its influence upon women, must also not be overlooked. As Hertzberg says, it considerably elevated them socially, and therefore would very naturally meet with particular support from their sex.
In point of fact, though, a discussion upon this subject will be found to be very little to the purpose. What would it matter after all, even if overwhelming evidence could be brought from the other side, proving to the hilt, that aristocrats and men of culture constituted at least a reasonable proportion of the primitive church, let us say, in Rome?
We know the decadent philosophy, which, even before the republic fell, had been introduced into Italy by Carneades, and which prepared the transition that was very soon to take place, from the tempestuous liberty of that age, to the flat servitude of the empire. (See Pressens: Histoire des trois premiers siecles de l'Eglise, Vol. I. p. 228.)
Scepticism and Epicureanism were gaining their converts long before the birth of the Man who was ultimately to draw the famous retort: "What is truth?" from Pontius Pilate, and in this retort itself, we are able to form some idea of the cynicism of the average cultivated Roman, at the time when Jesus of Nazareth was preaching His gospel.
Are we going to compare the Roman élite of the early empire, even with the illustrious patricians from which Caesar sprang? Even admitting that aristocrats of the debased type described by Duruy and Milman, in their respective comments on the court of Constantine, were proselytes of the church, what, after all, does such a fact prove? Is it supposed, for a moment, that it elevates the status of the Christian values?
We know "the world had grown grey independently of Christianity, and if it had not grown grey, Christianity would hardly have been possible -- would not have had much meaning; it met the need of the world at the time . . ." (History of the Later Roman Empire, Vol. I. p. 4), we know that "it aspired to a type of character and [was] actuated by hopes and motives wholly inconsistent with that proud martial ardour by which the triumphs of Rome had been won, and by which alone, her impending ruin could be averted" (History of European Morals, Vol. I. p. 413).
"It exalted the feminine un-Roman side of man's nature, the side that naturally loves pleasure and shrinks from pain, and [above all] feels quick sympathy; -- in fact, the Epicurean side" (History of the Later Roman Empire, Vol. I. p. 8).
Putting it briefly, we know it was decadent (in the accepted sense of that word) and appealed to a decadent people. Almost all historians are unanimous in attributing the dissolution of the Roman world, partly to its influence; and we know, or we have understood from what has gone before, in this paper, that Nietzsche makes no distinction between the slave and the decadent type. It is therefore of very little moment what the early church consisted of, whether of slaves or of nobles; for, apart from the fact that, owing to the influx of provincials, the intermarriage of freedmen with their superiors, and the consequent mixing of the races, the nobles must have become exceedingly corrupt; we further know, that the ideals and hopes, even of the haute volée of Rome, were growing ever more and more degenerate during the second and third centuries of the Christian era.
In the heart of this decaying society, Christianity shot her firmest roots; the noble values succumbed, stifled by the overwhelming numbers of those who shared the other, the baser kind. It was the triumph of the poor in spirit. It was the Will to Power of the degenerate, the sick and the generally impossible.
If, however, this is all exaggeration, calumny, and overstatement, how can we account for the fact, that "one of the earliest results of Christianity in the [Roman] empire was the promulgation of laws ensuring the protection of the feeble and the helpless?" (Professor T. M. Lindsay in the Encyclopaedia Britannica, Article, "Christianity" (Ninth Edition), p. 697). How can we explain the circumstance that, "the condition of slaves was also greatly ameliorated by the new spirit of Christianity (Pressens: Histoire des trois premiers siecles. Vol. II. pp. 274-277) which was then working in society" (Prof. Lindsay, Encyclopaedia Britannica); or that "the silent revolution which Christianity wrought in social morality is to be traced . . . above all, in the establishment of buildings for the reception of strangers, alms-houses for the poor, hospitals and orphan-houses for the sick and the forsaken?" (Ibid).
These people would have power, they would propagate their species and survive as well as the high, the healthy and the happy; how could they do so? How could they get the powerful, the believers in healthy and well-constituted life, to allow them to do so?
Everything was against them. Even the law of Nature seemed to be that they should perish. What did they do? Danger lends cunning. We have seen what they did. They made the astutest attempt that was ever made to turn all things topsy-turvy. Theirs was the first Transvaluation of all Values. If with Professor Saintsbury, we are going to speak of topsyturvification: theirs was the first topsyturvification. But we prefer Herbert Spencer's expression: "Inversion of thought and sentiment."
Indeed it would even be unwise to ignore the passage in his works in which he finds cause to make use of this expression so reminiscent of Nietzsche's own phrase: "the world upside-down." It throws light upon our subject, and it shows, moreover, how near even Spencer himself was, to the discovery of two moralities, -- of a slave- and a master-morality, although at the time when he comes nearest to it, he is only speaking of the Restraints on Free Competition.
In the second volume of his Ethics, he says: "Among those who compete with one another in the same occupation, there must in all cases be some who are the more capable and a larger number who are the less capable. In strict equity, the more capable are justified in taking full advantage of their greater capabilities, and where beyond their own sustentation, they have to provide for the sustentation of their families, and the meeting of further claims, the sanction of strict equity suffices them. Usually, society immediately benefits by the putting-out of their highest powers, and it also receives a future benefit by the efficient fostering of its best members and their offspring.
"In such cases then -- and they are the cases which the mass of society, constituted chiefly of manual workers, presents us with -- justice needs to be but little qualified by beneficence. This proposition is indeed denied, and the opposite proposition affirmed, by hosts of workers in our own day. Among the trades-unionists and among leading socialists, as also among those of the rank and file, there is now the conviction, expressed in a way implying indignant repudiation of any other conviction, that the individual has no right to inconvenience his brother worker by subjecting him to any stress of competition. A man who undertakes to do work by the piece at lower rates than would else be paid, and is enabled by diligence long-continued to earn a sum nearly double that which he would have received as wages, is condemned as 'unprincipled'!
It is actually held that he has no right thus to take advantage of his superior powers and his greater energy; even though he is prompted to do this by the responsibilities a large family entails, and by a desire to bring up his children well; so completely have the 'advanced' among us inverted the old ideas of duty and merit."
Here, as Spencer might have seen, we have an example of the Will to Power of the less capable, becoming victorious over the more capable, through a valuation. And what is this valuation? Why, that to the less capable, all that is more capable is "evil"; therefore they call the more capable man unprincipled! If he accepts this valuation, as he very often must, owing to being outnumbered, his greater capabilities are vanquished, and are cancelled from among the factors that may lead mankind a step farther forward. "Inversion of thought and sentiment"; that is what inferior- or slave-morality must accomplish before it can be victorious: that is the expedient of the incapable, the impotent and the poor in spirit, when they wish to make their kind paramount.
Every means, every artifice, every strategy, that presented itself to their imagination, they used to further their subterranean purpose. Not only must the strong, healthy and powerful, blush with shame for being what they are; but the happy among them must be taught, that happiness is almost a sin. They must be taught that "wretchedness is a selection and distinction from God, that the dogs which are liked most are whipped, that the misery of the weak, the oppressed and the diseased, may perhaps also be a preparation a trial, a schooling, perhaps even more -- something which at some time to come, will be requited and paid back with immense interest in gold, no! -- in happiness. This they call happiness" (G.M., p. 48).
"For whom the Lord loveth, He chasteneth," says the writer of the Epistle to the Hebrews. "As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten," is a sentiment to be found in Revelations.
Thus they deck out and adorn the inevitable wretchedness of their condition, and wish to wield power with this decoration. These listless ones suffering from life as from a crushing burden; what do they do? They posit a beyond, where their species alone will attain to honour, happiness and the like; where the lowly will become mighty, where the poor will be lying in the lap of comfort and smug ease, while their enemies, the rich, will be writhing in eternal agony "It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God This is one of their household sentiments. "These people who invented hell, that they might have a heaven upon earth" (Z., "The Convalescent One"), who invented the concept beautiful soul," that they might at least possess something beautiful "here below" (See G.M., p. 166) and with a thirst for power which their impotence only aggravated, stopped at nothing, no, not even at the attempt to monopolise virtue upon earth (G.M., p. 165), in order to gain their ends.
"God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty.
"And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are."
To those who can boast of the smallest "tincture of psychology," is it not clear, now, in what kind of mind these thoughts originated, or for what kind of minds they were expressed? Is it necessary to press the point?
"We must not embellish or deck out Christianity, it has waged a deadly war against the higher type of man, it has put in ban all fundamental instincts of this type, it has distilled evil, the evil one, out of these instincts: -- strong man as the typical reprobate, as 'out-cast man.' Christianity has taken the part of the weak, the low, the ill-constituted, it has made an ideal out of the antagonism to the preservative instincts of strong life; it has ruined the reason of the intellectually strongest natures, in that it taught men to regard the highest values of intellectuality as sinful, as misleading, as temptations" (C.W., p. 244).
We now clearly see, that it is not the hopes or the little comforts or the legends of Christianity, that Nietzsche wishes to combat. The nature of Professor Huxley's attack upon Christianity seemed futile to him; as he somewhere declares: "all its legends and metaphysical beliefs might be a thousand times more incredible than they are, and I would have nought to say. But it is the morality, -- the moralic acid -- underlying it all, which I regard as the great danger -- Christian ideals."
Christian values being of that type which he distinguishes as slave-morality, they represent the descending line of life, and with them, Nietzsche declares, man must perforce degenerate. Nietzsche regards these values as the means of handicapping the desirable type of man, in the race of life; they equalise the chances of the desirable and undesirable in this world, and, when Nietzsche points out that this is wrong, he does no more than Herbert Spencer did, when he said: "a society which takes for its maxim -- 'It shall be as well for you to be inferior as to be superior,' will inevitably degenerate and die away in long-drawn miseries" (Principles of Ethics, Vol II. p. 281; see also Principles of Biology, Vol. II. pp. 532, 533). The only point which is here at issue between Nietzsche and Spencer, lies in the meanings given to the terms "superior" and "inferior."
And it is precisely Christian morality and Christian ideals which we have not succeeded in ridding ourselves of. Although we may repudiate all religious views, it is the religion of pity and patient toleration which still reigns in our heart of hearts."
We have but to look around, in order to convince ourselves as to how many-too-many we are allowing to survive like parasites in our midst; how many-too-many we are allowing to propagate, who have no right to do so, how many-too-many we are cruelly keeping alive as monuments of misery, serving but to depress and embitter the rising generation. "Both sexes ought to refrain from marriage if they are in any marked degree inferior in body or mind," said Darwin; "but," he added, desperately, "such hopes are Utopian" (Descent of Man, 2nd Edit., Vol. II. p. 483).
"The sickly are the great danger of man: not the evil, not the 'beasts of prey.' They who are ill-shaped, prostrated and wrecked from birth, they, the weakest, are those who most undermine life among men: who most dangerously poison and question our confidence in life, in man, in ourselves" (G.M., p. 164).
And these, with our Christian morality, we maintain, and succour, to the detriment of all that is successful, well-constituted and promising; to the detriment of all that can stand as a pledge for the future of our race. It is a war between the sick and the sound. The sick elevated pity to the highest place among the virtues, and the sound allowed themselves to be duped, because virtue is tempting and is attended with great rewards hereafter.
And who, among you, to-day, who is clear-sighted enough, can doubt which class, the sick or the sound, is obtaining the victory? Nietzsche asks you, is it your taste that this state of things should be allowed to continue? Are you going to be instrumental in effecting the conquest of the sick over the sound? Does the type of man, who is tending to survive with Christian values, answer to your ideal of man, to your taste in manhood?
The problem of the value of pity and morality of pity is the serious problem Nietzsche set himself to solve. Are we to cling to this morality, which has been imposed upon us with such skill, such insidious subtlety and so much ostentation of all that it has appropriated as its own in virtue, value and highest hopes, and which under examination proves to have an origin so undeniably base?
Do we not see in this morality of the present day, precisely the hindrance of power, the cultivation of an evil odour about all that is mighty, healthy and happy? and therefore the multiplication of that kind of people who possess the other, the opposite qualities; dependence, lowliness, impotence, sickness and humility. The results of these principles are already showing themselves, wherever we choose to look, not in thousands, but in millions of cases.
"Man is the sick animal" par excellence, and he will continue getting ever more sick, in the forcing house of superterrestrial virtues and ideals which modern Europe has become.
"The more normal the sickliness is in man -- and we cannot deny this normality, -- the more highly those rare cases of spiritual and bodily capability, the lucky cases of man, should be honoured; and the more rigorously the well-constituted should be guarded against that worst air, sick-room air. Is that done? . . . All in all it is not the diminution of the fear of man which is desirable. For this fear compels the strong to be strong, nay, as the case may be, even terrible. Fear preserves the well-constituted type of man. That which really is to be feared, that which proves fatal beyond fatalities -- is not the great fear, but the great surfeit of man. . . . He who smells, not only with his nose, but with his eyes and ears as well, will, almost wherever he steps to-day, experience a sensation as of mad and sick-house air" (G.M., pp. 163, 164. Nietzsche here adds in parenthesis: "[I am, as is but fair, speaking here of the realm of human civilisation, -- every kind of Europe existing nowadays on earth].").
The noble, healthy and master values in morality have been stifled and well-nigh forgotten. The happy and healthy have actually been taught to say: "It is a disgrace to be happy! There is too much misery!" (G.M., p. 167).
Nietzsche protests against this ridiculous surrender on the part of those, only, who have a right to universalise their kind, and the multiplication of whose type would be a blessing to mankind. . . ." There could be no greater, no more fatal misunderstanding," he says, "than if thus the happy, the well-constituted, the mighty in body and soul were to begin to doubt their own right to happiness. Away with this world turned upside down!" he cries. "Away with this shameful effeminacy of sentiment! That the sick may not make the sound sick -- and this would be the meaning of such an effeminacy -- surely this should be the first point of view on earth" (Ibid).
Nietzsche will not have the higher made a tool of what is lower; the idea is repugnant to him; it is not his taste. He regards the right of the happy and well-constituted to exist, to be here on earth, as a thousand times greater than that of the wretched and the sick. For on the happy alone devolves the task of propagating worthy and promising men: they alone are under the obligation for the to-morrow and the day-after-morrow of mankind. "What they are able to do, they shall do, that the sick could never and should never do!" (G.M., p. 168).
This condemnation of Christian values, he would write on all walls. He says he has means wherewith he can make even the blind see (C.W., p. 354). From his standpoint Christianity is dwarfing, deforming and generally deteriorating man, mentally and physically. The type that is tending to survive by means of it, is contrary to his taste. He wishes this type, to be contrary to our taste. He says his warning comes only just in the nick of time; "the soil is still rich enough for that purpose. But one day that soil will be impoverished and tame, no high tree being any longer able to grow from it" (Z.,"Int. Speech," 5).
"There are days," says Nietzsche, "when I am visited by a feeling blacker than the blackest melancholy -- contempt of man. And, that I have no doubt with regard to what I despise, whom I despise, -- it is the man of to-day, the man with whom I am fatally contemporaneous. The man of to-day -- I suffocate from his impure breath. With respect to what is past, I am like all who perceive of a great tolerance, i.e. a generous self-overcoming. With a gloomy circumspection I go through the mad-house world of entire millenniums (it may be called 'Christianity,' 'Christian Faith,' 'Christian Church') -- I take care not to make mankind accountable for its insanities. But my feeling changes suddenly, and breaks out as soon as I enter the modern period, our period. Our age knows. . . . What was formerly, merely morbid, now has become unseemly, -- it is unseemly to be a Christian!" ( C.W., p. 295).
Unless we approach Nietzsche with prejudice, unless we read him superficially, and without keeping our eyes constantly upon his aim, we must realise that there is much more, under all this antagonism towards Christianity, than the mere bitterness of a factionary or the destructive lust of an iconoclast. Huxley attacked Christianity very thoroughly and not without some show of bitterness; but those among you who have read his Science and Christian Tradition, will remember not only that he claims to be aiming at the truth alone, but that his methods of attack is quite different from the one you have just heard.
Nietzsche saw grand and unexhausted possibilities in man, in man's past he thought he held the warrant for still expecting something great from man's future, and upon this warrant he built his hope of Superman. He attacks Christian values, because he holds them to be inimical to a higher development of man: there is no question with him of a petty dispute with the Church concerning the probability of the "Gadarene-Swine" story. His attack upon Christian values, as we know, has a loftier and more practical aim. He would see man have an ideal on earth. He would draw men's eyes downwards and give man a practical hope and aim.
"Remain faithful unto earth, my brethren, with the power of your virtue! Let your giving love and your knowledge serve the significance of earth! Thus I beg and conjure you.
"Let it not fly away from what is earthly and beat against eternal walls with its wings! Alas! so much virtue hath ever gone astray in flying!
"Like me lead back unto earth the virtue which has gone astray -- yea; back unto body and life: that it may give its significance unto earth, a human significance!" (Z., "Of the Giving Virtue," 2).
"Many sick folk were always among the makers of poetry and the god-maniacs; furiously they hate him who prosecuteth research and the youngest of virtues that is called honesty.
"Backward they ever gaze into the dark times: then, of course, illusion and belief were something else. Intoxication of reason was likeness unto God, and doubt was sin.
"Only too well I know these god-like ones; they wish to be believed in and that doubt should be sin" (Z., "Of Back-World Men").
As I told you in my last lecture, Nietzsche was not an iconoclast, from predilection. No bitterness or empty hate dictated his vituperations against the Church of his parents and forefathers. He knew too well what Christianity meant to the millions who profess it, to approach the task of uprooting it, with levity or even with haste. He broke the idols of his ancestors and contemporaries, because he wished to present the latter with an ideal more worthy of their inheritance, more compatible with their unexhausted powers, and, above all, more earthly and more practicable.
"He who must be a creator in good and evil," he says, "verily, he must first be a destroyer, and break values into pieces" (Z., "Of Self-overcoming").
In my last lecture you were given a description of the ideal Nietzsche had. The object of this lecture was to show you how he attempted to clear the ground for it. And it will be the business of the next paper to consider how he intends rearing his ideal on the land he has devastated.
Like a prophet, he stands at Man's cross-roads, the time he says is Man's great Mid-day.
"The present and past on earth -- alas! my friends, -- these are what I find most intolerable. And I should not know how to live, if I were not a prophet of what must come.
"A prophet, a willing one, a creator, a veritable future, and a bridge unto the future -- and alas! besides, as it were a cripple at that bridge. All these things is Zarathustra" (Z., "Of Salvation").
I cannot remind you too often, that he calls himself only "a prelude to better players," that he tells us emphatically that there are other ways than his, and that he would prefer us to find one of our own which is not his, than that we should have none at all, than that we should remain indifferent, or decadent, or Christians.
"Eagerly and with much crying, they drove their flocks over the wooden bridges, as if there were only a single bridge into the future! Verily, those herdsmen also were sheep!
"Petty intellects and comprehensive souls these herdsmen had: but, my brethren, what small territories hitherto have been even the most comprehensive souls!" (Z., "Of Priests").
With this I am at the conclusion of Nietzsche's condemnation of Christianity. It is always an unpleasant task to destroy -- even to announce the destroyer. A more pleasant task awaits me; that of communicating the constructive side of his moral philosophy to you.
At the noon of Life, he said he came; during the forenoon we had been irresponsible, he says he regards our past with toleration. But, now, we Know. It is unseemly, now, to blind ourselves to what lies before us. We are at the fateful crossways. Is this poet-philosopher estimating us too highly perhaps in supposing that the ideal he gives us, is really compatible with our strength, with our unexhausted powers? Is our answer to him, going to be, that we do not feel able to follow his lead?
"Oh, sky above me!" he sings. "Thou pure, thou high! Therein consisteth thy purity for me, that there are no eternal spiders of reason and spiders' webs of reason --
"That for me thou art a dancing ground for god-like chances, that for me thou art a god-like table for god-like dice and dice-players!
"But thou blushest? Spake I things unutterable? did I revile whilst intending to bless thee?
"Oh, sky above me. Thou bashful! Thou glowing! Oh, thou my happiness before sunrise! The day cometh! now therefore let us part!" (Z., "Before sunrise").
ANTHONY J. LUDOVICI