Thursday, May 3, 2018

Nietzsche on What Preserves the Species

Friedrich Nietzsche believed that evil is as vital for human flourishing as good. The fear of the evil prevents men from becoming complacent and lazy; it inspires them to develop better ideas and undertake powerful actions to subdue the forces of evil. When men are confronted by a great evil they have to fight with every means that is available to them—either they subdue the evil force or their society dies. The death of a weak society is a good thing because it frees up the space and resources for a better society to emerge.

Here’s an interesting passage from Nietzsche’s The Gay Science (which I think is his finest work):
The strongest and most evil spirits have so far done the most to advance humanity: again and again they relumed the passions that were going to sleep—all ordered society puts the passions to sleep—and they reawakened again and again the sense of comparison, of contradiction, of the pleasure in what is new, daring, untried; they compelled men to pit opinion against opinion, model against model. Usually by force of arms, by toppling boundary markers, by violating pieties—but also by means of new religions and moralities. In every teacher and preacher of what is new we encounter the same "wickedness" that makes conquerors notorious, even if its expression is subtler and it does not immediately set the muscles in motion, and therefore also does not make one that notorious. What is new, however, is always evil, being that which wants to conquer and overthrow the old boundary markers and the old pieties; and only what is old is good. The good men are in all ages those who dig the old thoughts, digging deep and getting them to bear fruit—the farmers of the spirit. But eventually all land is exploited, and the ploughshare of evil must come again and again. 
The Gay Science, by Friedrich Nietzsche; Translation by Walter Kaufmann

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