Philosophical Europe ||| The Political Progress ||| European Witness ||| EU News
European Forum ||| Special Homages: Meister Eckhart / David Copperfield
Friedrich Nietzsche, The European Nihilism
From: Nietzsche, The Will to Power, I. The European Nihilism, II. History of European Nihilism
36 (Nov. 1887-March 1888)
THE 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 pleasure.-
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.
Cf. Nietzsche, Nationalism is Mediocrity (at the margin of Denis de Rougemont). * Morgenthau, The German Character * David Turner, Byzantium : The 'alternative' history of Europe