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

280: More respect for those who know! - Given the present competitive nature of selling, the public is necessarily the judge of the product of work: but the public has no particular specialist knowledge and judges according to the appearance of quality. As a consequence, the art of producing an appearance (and perhaps that of developing taste) is bound to be enhanced, and the quality of the product to decline, under the dominance of the competitive market. Consequently, if we are to continue to be reasonable we shall at some time have to put an end to this competitive market and replace it with a different principle. Only the skilled producer of the product ought to be the judge of the product, and the public ought to rely on their faith in him and his integrity. Therefore, no anonymous work! At the very least a knowledgeable expert in the product would have to be at hand as guarantor and place his name upon it if the name of its originator was unavailable or without significance. The cheapness of a product is another way of deceiving the layman, inasmuch as it is only durability that can determine whether or not a thing is cheap; but that is hard to assess, and for the layman impossible.  (p.378)


Nietzsche, Trade, Competition, Expertise, Knowledge, Art, Artistic Labour


Nietzsche Citations

Links to Reference


Hollingdale, R. J.



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