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Nietzsche's Top 15 Aphorisms, for Your Next Existential Crisis
Nietzsche loved aphorisms, and here we have collected 15 of his greatest hits.
Nietzsche would have loved twitter. Not because it lets the masses communicate, not because he loved technology, but because of his writing style. Nietzsche loved aphorisms, and here we have collected 15 of his greatest hits. Some that you know, and some that should know. Taken as a whole, they can help give you an idea of his overall philosophy.
What does not kill me, makes me stronger. (Twilight of the Idols, 1888)
For Nietzsche, psychological growth is one of the most important things there is. Experiences do not have to be pleasurable to be good for us. Often it is suffering which gives meaning to our lives. By gaining experiences, good or bad, we grow as people, so long as we survive them, of course.
He who fights with monsters might take care lest he also become a monster. And when you gaze long into an abyss the abyss also gazes into you. (Beyond Good and Evil, Aphorism 146)
Looking to fight evil? Careful, you might do something horrible yourself. Dealing with toxic people? Careful, the toxic people might poison you. Trying to make a philosophy that rejects nationalism and mass movements by using the style of old religious texts? Careful, the Nazis might declare you a prophet.
What is done out of love always takes place beyond good and evil. (Beyond Good and Evil, Aphorism 153)
Nietzsche found our understanding of "good" and "evil" to be flawed, showing here that what we value severely influences what we would, or could, consider an evil action. People will often do things with the motivation of "love" that they would never do otherwise. It is the high value placed on what they love that fouls up our ability to critique them.
There is always some madness in love. But there is also always some reason in madness.
(Thus spoke Zarathustra Part I, Chapter 7,)
Similar to the above, to an outside observer a person in love might appear mad. However, the person in love is acting quite rationally from their perspective, one defined by infatuation. Always consider the other perspective.
Man does not strive for happiness; only the Englishman does that.
(Twilight of the Idols, Maxims and Arrows, 12,)
Nietzsche was no fan of Utilitarianism, which was English in origin. To him, the search for pleasure over pain would led to a dull life without meaning. For him, the key driver in human motivation was the search for meaning, even if it made us unhappy.
Some are born posthumously. (The Antichrist)
Nietzsche had a habit of saying that few people would be able to understand his books. His intro to the Antichrist reflects this belief. Writing, as he was, for some future audience that could view his works and hope to understand them. This would be his, "birth".
The secret for harvesting from existence the greatest fruitfulness and the greatest enjoyment is: to live dangerously! Build your cities on the slopes of Vesuvius! (The Gay Science)
This one, again, relates to the idea that a dull life is undesirable no matter what the utilitarian calculus says. You can't say a house on the side of Vesuvius wouldn't be interesting.
If a temple is to be erected, a temple must be destroyed. (On the Genealogy of Morality Essay 2, Section 24)
Nietzsche desired the creation of a new system of values. However, he understood that this would require the rejection of the old values that had dominated Europe since the fall of Rome. This fact concerned, but didn't deter him.
Foreground: Pillars of the 20th century Consumerism and Tourism temple. Background: Ruins of the fifth century BC Parthenon temple in Athens, Greece. (Milos Bicanski/Getty Images)
The very word "Christianity" is a misunderstanding — in truth, there was only one Christian, and he died on the cross. (The Antichrist, Sec. 39)
For all of his objections to Christianity, and he had many, Nietzsche often spoke highly of Jesus. Nietzsche blamed most of what he disliked in Christianity on St. Paul, while praising Christ for creating his own moral evaluations, a step towards the Ubermensch.
There are no facts, only interpretations. (The Portable Nietzsche)
Nietzsche was a perspectivist. He held that there were no objective metaphysical truths, but rather a large series of subjective schemes were truths or values can be made. Not all perspectives are equal in this view, but none have a monopoly on fact. This worldview would later influence noted sociologist Max Weber.
The surest way to corrupt a youth is to tell them to hold in higher esteem those who think alike than those who think differently. (The Dawn, 297)
Nietzsche hated "the herd". He was often writing against the ideas and ways of the masses in favor of the free thinker who has risen above them. This statement is a clear example of this worldview.
There exists in the world a single path along which no one can go except you: whither does it lead? Do not ask, go along it. (Untimely Meditations, Schopenhauer as educator,” § 3.1)
Nietzsche's philosophy is an existentialist philosophy. It can not merely be studied, it must be lived. The same can be said for your life.
Plato is boring. (Twilight of the Idols, What I Owe to the Ancients)
Truer words have never been spoken.
There are two great European narcotics, alcohol and Christianity. (The Antichrist)
Avoiding your life by turning to the beyond, as in Christianity, or by killing the pain with booze are big no-no's for Nietzsche. Avoiding your pain with either of these tools prevents growth as they both, in their own way, tell you that everything is alright as it is.
Become who you are! (Thus Spoke Zarathustra, “The Honey Sacrifice”)
Nietzsche's philosophy, summed up here in one sentence, may sound foreign to anyone who cannot entertain the concept of destiny. But as a classical philologist, Nietzsche was intimately familiar with the Ancient Greek system of Gods and Goddesses as a way of understanding the relationship between nature and human action. To Nietzsche, the Christian system fights against our animal passions which the the Greeks understood as an essential part of human nature. Thus becoming who one "really is" means throwing off the shackles that prevent humanity from its full potential. A dangerous proposition, to be sure.
How would the ability to genetically customize children change society? Sci-fi author Eugene Clark explores the future on our horizon in Volume I of the "Genetic Pressure" series.
- A new sci-fi book series called "Genetic Pressure" explores the scientific and moral implications of a world with a burgeoning designer baby industry.
- It's currently illegal to implant genetically edited human embryos in most nations, but designer babies may someday become widespread.
- While gene-editing technology could help humans eliminate genetic diseases, some in the scientific community fear it may also usher in a new era of eugenics.
Tribalism and discrimination<p>One question the "Genetic Pressure" series explores: What would tribalism and discrimination look like in a world with designer babies? As designer babies grow up, they could be noticeably different from other people, potentially being smarter, more attractive and healthier. This could breed resentment between the groups—as it does in the series.</p><p>"[Designer babies] slowly find that 'everyone else,' and even their own parents, becomes less and less tolerable," author Eugene Clark told Big Think. "Meanwhile, everyone else slowly feels threatened by the designer babies."</p><p>For example, one character in the series who was born a designer baby faces discrimination and harassment from "normal people"—they call her "soulless" and say she was "made in a factory," a "consumer product." </p><p>Would such divisions emerge in the real world? The answer may depend on who's able to afford designer baby services. If it's only the ultra-wealthy, then it's easy to imagine how being a designer baby could be seen by society as a kind of hyper-privilege, which designer babies would have to reckon with. </p><p>Even if people from all socioeconomic backgrounds can someday afford designer babies, people born designer babies may struggle with tough existential questions: Can they ever take full credit for things they achieve, or were they born with an unfair advantage? To what extent should they spend their lives helping the less fortunate? </p>
Sexuality dilemmas<p>Sexuality presents another set of thorny questions. If a designer baby industry someday allows people to optimize humans for attractiveness, designer babies could grow up to find themselves surrounded by ultra-attractive people. That may not sound like a big problem.</p><p>But consider that, if designer babies someday become the standard way to have children, there'd necessarily be a years-long gap in which only some people are having designer babies. Meanwhile, the rest of society would be having children the old-fashioned way. So, in terms of attractiveness, society could see increasingly apparent disparities in physical appearances between the two groups. "Normal people" could begin to seem increasingly ugly.</p><p>But ultra-attractive people who were born designer babies could face problems, too. One could be the loss of body image. </p><p>When designer babies grow up in the "Genetic Pressure" series, men look like all the other men, and women look like all the other women. This homogeneity of physical appearance occurs because parents of designer babies start following trends, all choosing similar traits for their children: tall, athletic build, olive skin, etc. </p><p>Sure, facial traits remain relatively unique, but everyone's more or less equally attractive. And this causes strange changes to sexual preferences.</p><p>"In a society of sexual equals, they start looking for other differentiators," he said, noting that violet-colored eyes become a rare trait that genetically engineered humans find especially attractive in the series.</p><p>But what about sexual relationships between genetically engineered humans and "normal" people? In the "Genetic Pressure" series, many "normal" people want to have kids with (or at least have sex with) genetically engineered humans. But a minority of engineered humans oppose breeding with "normal" people, and this leads to an ideology that considers engineered humans to be racially supreme. </p>
Regulating designer babies<p>On a policy level, there are many open questions about how governments might legislate a world with designer babies. But it's not totally new territory, considering the West's dark history of eugenics experiments.</p><p>In the 20th century, the U.S. conducted multiple eugenics programs, including immigration restrictions based on genetic inferiority and forced sterilizations. In 1927, for example, the Supreme Court ruled that forcibly sterilizing the mentally handicapped didn't violate the Constitution. Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendall Holmes wrote, "… three generations of imbeciles are enough." </p><p>After the Holocaust, eugenics programs became increasingly taboo and regulated in the U.S. (though some states continued forced sterilizations <a href="https://www.uvm.edu/~lkaelber/eugenics/" target="_blank">into the 1970s</a>). In recent years, some policymakers and scientists have expressed concerns about how gene-editing technologies could reanimate the eugenics nightmares of the 20th century. </p><p>Currently, the U.S. doesn't explicitly ban human germline genetic editing on the federal level, but a combination of laws effectively render it <a href="https://academic.oup.com/jlb/advance-article/doi/10.1093/jlb/lsaa006/5841599#204481018" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">illegal to implant a genetically modified embryo</a>. Part of the reason is that scientists still aren't sure of the unintended consequences of new gene-editing technologies. </p><p>But there are also concerns that these technologies could usher in a new era of eugenics. After all, the function of a designer baby industry, like the one in the "Genetic Pressure" series, wouldn't necessarily be limited to eliminating genetic diseases; it could also work to increase the occurrence of "desirable" traits. </p><p>If the industry did that, it'd effectively signal that the <em>opposites of those traits are undesirable. </em>As the International Bioethics Committee <a href="https://academic.oup.com/jlb/advance-article/doi/10.1093/jlb/lsaa006/5841599#204481018" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">wrote</a>, this would "jeopardize the inherent and therefore equal dignity of all human beings and renew eugenics, disguised as the fulfillment of the wish for a better, improved life."</p><p><em>"Genetic Pressure Volume I: Baby Steps"</em><em> by Eugene Clark is <a href="http://bigth.ink/38VhJn3" target="_blank">available now.</a></em></p>
Meteorologists propose a stunning new explanation for the mysterious events in the Bermuda Triangle.
One of life's great mysteries, the Bermuda Triangle might have finally found an explanation. This strange region, that lies in the North Atlantic Ocean between Bermuda, Miami and San Juan, Puerto Rico, has been the presumed cause of dozens and dozens of mind-boggling disappearances of ships and planes.
A unique exoplanet without clouds or haze was found by astrophysicists from Harvard and Smithsonian.
- Astronomers from Harvard and Smithsonian find a very rare "hot Jupiter" exoplanet without clouds or haze.
- Such planets were formed differently from others and offer unique research opportunities.
- Only one other such exoplanet was found previously.
Munazza Alam – a graduate student at the Center for Astrophysics | Harvard & Smithsonian.
Credit: Jackie Faherty
Jupiter's Colorful Cloud Bands Studied by Spacecraft<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="8a72dfe5b407b584cf867852c36211dc"><iframe type="lazy-iframe" data-runner-src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/GzUzCesfVuw?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span>
Scientists discover burrows of giant predator worms that lived on the seafloor 20 million years ago.
- Scientists in Taiwan find the lair of giant predator worms that inhabited the seafloor 20 million years ago.
- The worm is possibly related to the modern bobbit worm (Eunice aphroditois).
- The creatures can reach several meters in length and famously ambush their pray.
A three-dimensional model of the feeding behavior of Bobbit worms and the proposed formation of Pennichnus formosae.
Credit: Scientific Reports
Beware the Bobbit Worm!<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="1f9918e77851242c91382369581d3aac"><iframe type="lazy-iframe" data-runner-src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/_As1pHhyDHY?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span>
The idea behind the law was simple: make it more difficult for online sex traffickers to find victims.