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

611: Boredom and play. -- Need compels us to perform work with the proceeds of which the need is assuaged; need continually recurs and we are thus accustomed to working. In the intervals, however, during which our needs have been assuaged and are as it were sleeping, we are overtaken by boredom. What is this? It is our habituation to work as such, which now asserts itself as a new, additional need; and the more strongly habituated we are to working, perhaps even the more we have suffered need, the stronger this new need will be. To elude boredom man either works harder than is required to satisfy his other needs or he invents play, that is to say work designed to assuage no other need than the need for work as such. He who has become tired of play, and who has no fresh needs that require him to work, is sometimes overtaken by a longing for a third condition which stands in the same relation to play as floating does to dancing and dancing to walking -- for a state of serene agitation: it is the artist's and philosopher's vision of happiness.  (p.193)


Nietzsche, Boredom, Idleness, Play


Nietzsche Citations

Links to Reference


Hollingdale, R. J.



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