PHILOSOPHICAL nihilist is convinced that all that happens is
meaningless and in vain; and that there ought not to be anything meaningless
and in vain. But whence this: there ought not to be, From where does one get
this "meaning," this standard?- At bottom, the nihilist thinks
that the sight of such a bleak, useless existence makes a philosopher feel
dissatisfied, bleak, desperate. Such an insight goes against our finer
sensibility as philosophers. It amounts to the absurd valuation: to have any
right to be, the character of existence would have to give the philosopher
Now it is easy to see that pleasure and displeasure can only be means in
the course of events: the question remains whether we are at all able to see
the "meaning," the "aim," whether the question of
meaninglessness or its opposite is not insoluble for us.-
40 (March-June 1888)
The concept of decadence.-Waste, decay, elimination need not be
condemned: they are necessary consequences of life, of the growth of life.
The phenomenon of decadence is as necessary as any increase and advance of
life: one is in no position to abolish it. Reason demands, on the contrary,
that we do justice to it.
It is a disgrace for all socialist systematizers that they suppose there
could be circumstances-social combinations-in which vice, disease,
prostitution, distress would no longer grow.-But that means condemning
life.-A society is not free to remain young. And even at the height of its
strength it has to form refuse and waste materials. The more energetically
and boldly it advances, the richer it will be in failures and deformities,
the closer to decline.-Age is not abolished by means of institutions.
Neither is disease. Nor vice.