For Work / Against Work
Debates on the centrality of work

Human, All Too Human: A Book for Free Spirits

by Nietzsche, Friedrich (1996)


This remarkable collection of almost 1,400 aphorisms was originally published in three instalments. The first (now Volume I) appeared in 1878, just before Nietzsche abandoned academic life, with a first supplement entitled The Assorted Opinions and Maxims following in 1879, and a second entitled The Wanderer and his Shadow a year later. In 1886 Nietzsche republished them together in a two-volume edition, with new prefaces to each volume. Both volumes are presented here in R. J. Hollingdale's distinguished translation (originally published in the series Cambridge Texts in German Philosophy) with a new introduction by Richard Schacht. In this wide-ranging work Nietzsche first employed his celebrated aphoristic style, so perfectly suited to his iconoclastic, penetrating and multi-faceted thought. Many themes of his later work make their initial appearance here, expressed with unforgettable liveliness and subtlety. Human, All Too Human well deserves its subtitle 'A Book for Free Spirits', and its original dedication to Voltaire, whose project of radical enlightenment here found a new champion.

Key Passage

282: Lamentation. -- It is perhaps the advantages of our age that bring with them a decline in and occasionally an undervaluation of the vita contem­plativa. But one has to admit to oneself that our age is poor in great moral­ists, that Pascal, Epictetus, Seneca and Plutarch are little read now, that work and industry—formerly adherents of the great goddess health—sometimes seem to rage like an epidemic. Because time for thinking and quietness in thinking are lacking, one no longer ponders deviant views: one contents oneself with hating them. With the tremendous acceleration of life mind and eye have become accustomed to seeing and judging par­tially or inaccurately, and everyone is like the traveller who gets to know a land and its people from a railway carriage. An independent and cau­tious attitude towards knowledge is disparaged almost as a kind of derangement, the free spirit is brought into disrepute, especially by scholars, who miss in his art of reflecting on things their own thorough­ness and antlike industry and would dearly love to banish him to a solitary corner of science: whereas he has the quite different and higher task of commanding from a lonely position the whole militia of scientific and learned men and showing them the paths to and goals of culture. -- Such a lament as has just been sung will probably one day have had its time and, when the genius of meditation makes a mighty reappearance, fall silent of its own volition. (p.131)


Nietzsche, Vita Contemplativa, Plutarch, Ancient Greece, Health, Science


Vita Activa, Nietzsche Citations

Links to Reference


Hollingdale, R. J.



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