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

479: Wealth as the origin of a nobility of birth . -- Wealth necessarily engenders an aristocracy of race, for it permits one to select the fairest women, pay the best teachers, grants to a man cleanliness, time for physical exercises, and above all freedom from deadening physical labour. To this extent it creates all the conditions for the production over a few generations of a noble and fair demeanour, even noble and fair behaviour, in men: greater freedom of feeling, the absence of the wretched and petty, of abase¬ment before breadgivers, of penny-pinching. -- It is precisely these nega¬tive qualities that are the richest gifts of happiness for a young man; a very poor man usually destroys himself through nobility of disposition, it takes him nowhere and gains him nothing, his race is not capable of life. ¬ What must also be considered, however, is that wealth exercises almost the same effects whether one has 300 or 30,000 talers a year to spend: there is no essential progression in favouring circumstances. But to have less, as a boy to beg and abase oneself, is dreadful: although for those who seek their happiness in the glitter of the court, in subordination to the powerful and influential, or desire to be heads of the church, it may well be the right starting-point. ( -- It teaches one to steal stooping into the casements of favour.)  (p.177)


Nietzsche, Social Class, Wealth, Nobility, Happiness, Freedom


Nietzsche Citations

Links to Reference


Hollingdale, R. J.



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