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The struggle between good and evil, the essential wheel in the working of things

Friday, 30 Jan 2015

Nietzsche on Staff and Scrip, Dr John Dunn First posted on Sunday, 9 February 2014 at 21:15





Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche 1844 – 1900









I’m reading through Nietzsche’s Thus Spoke Zarathustra at the moment.

Why did Nietzsche choose Zarathustra to be the voice of his great work of social commentary and philosophy? Nietzsche’s answer was that ‘Zarathustra had been the first to see in the struggle between good and evil the essential wheel in the working of things’.

This I can understand. It is about an essential confrontation underlying all things that has been lost, or covered over, in the modern world.

But the overcoming of morality? This have I yet to thoroughly understand.

Thus spoke Nietzsche:

People have never asked me, as they should have done, what the name Zarathustra precisely means in my mouth, in the mouth of the first Immoralist; for what distinguishes that philosopher from all others in the past is the very fact that he was exactly the reverse of an immoralist. Zarathustra was the first to see in the struggle between good and evil the essential wheel in the working of things. The translation of morality into the metaphysical, as force, cause, end in itself, was HIS work. But the very question suggests its own answer. Zarathustra CREATED the most portentous error, MORALITY, consequently he should also be the first to PERCEIVE that error, not only because he has had longer and greater experience of the subject than any other thinker--all history is the experimental refutation of the theory of the so-called moral order of things:--the more important point is that Zarathustra was more truthful than any other thinker. In his teaching alone do we meet with truthfulness upheld as the highest virtue--i.e.:the reverse of the COWARDICE of the 'idealist' who flees from reality. Zarathustra had more courage in his body than any other thinker before or after him. To tell the truth and TO AIM STRAIGHT: that is the first Persian virtue. Am I understood?... The overcoming of morality through itself--through truthfulness, the overcoming of the moralist through his opposite--THROUGH ME--: that is what the name Zarathustra means in my mouth.
Quoted by ELIZABETH FORSTER-NIETZSCHE in her introduction to her brother’s THUS SPOKE ZARATHUSTRA: A BOOK FOR ALL AND NONE

Nietzsche Archives,

Weimar, December 1905.


Posted by John Dunn.







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