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

186: Cult of culture. -To great spirits there has been joined the repellent all-too-human aspects of their nature, their blindnesses, deformities, extravagances, so that their mighty influence, that can easily grow all too mighty, shall be kept within bounds by the mistrust these qualities inspire. For the system of all that which humanity has need of for its continued existence is so comprehensive, and lays claim to so many and such varying forces, that humanity as a whole would have to pay heavily for any onesided preference, whether it be science or the state or art or trade, to which these individuals would entice it. It has always been the greatest fatality for culture when men have been worshipped: in which sense one may even feel in accord with the Mosaic law which forbids us to have other gods beside God. -- Next to the cult of the genius and his force there must always be placed, as its complement and palliative, the cult of culture: which knows how to accord to the material, humble, base, misunderstood, weak, imperfect, onesided, incomplete, untrue, merely apparent, indeed to the evil and dreadful, a proper degree of understand¬ing and the admission that all this is necessary; for the harmonious endurance of all that is human, attained through astonishing labours and lucky accidents and as much the work of ants and cyclops as of genius, must not be lost to us again: how, then, could we dispense with the common, deep and often uncanny groundbass without which melody cannot be melody?  (p.259)


Nietzsche, Culture, Cult, Art, Science, Religion


Nietzsche Citations

Links to Reference


Hollingdale, R. J.



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