Beyond Good and Evil HTML version

Chapter I. Prejudices Of Philosophers
1. The Will to Truth, which is to tempt us to many a hazardous enterprise, the famous
Truthfulness of which all philosophers have hitherto spoken with respect, what questions
has this Will to Truth not laid before us! What strange, perplexing, questionable
questions! It is already a long story; yet it seems as if it were hardly commenced. Is it any
wonder if we at last grow distrustful, lose patience, and turn impatiently away? That this
Sphinx teaches us at last to ask questions ourselves? WHO is it really that puts questions
to us here? WHAT really is this "Will to Truth" in us? In fact we made a long halt at the
question as to the origin of this Will--until at last we came to an absolute standstill before
a yet more fundamental question. We inquired about the VALUE of this Will. Granted
that we want the truth: WHY NOT RATHER untruth? And uncertainty? Even ignorance?
The problem of the value of truth presented itself before us--or was it we who presented
ourselves before the problem? Which of us is the Oedipus here? Which the Sphinx? It
would seem to be a rendezvous of questions and notes of interrogation. And could it be
believed that it at last seems to us as if the problem had never been propounded before, as
if we were the first to discern it, get a sight of it, and RISK RAISING it? For there is risk
in raising it, perhaps there is no greater risk.
2. "HOW COULD anything originate out of its opposite? For example, truth out of error?
or the Will to Truth out of the will to deception? or the generous deed out of selfishness?
or the pure sun-bright vision of the wise man out of covetousness? Such genesis is
impossible; whoever dreams of it is a fool, nay, worse than a fool; things of the highest
value must have a different origin, an origin of THEIR own--in this transitory, seductive,
illusory, paltry world, in this turmoil of delusion and cupidity, they cannot have their
source. But rather in the lap of Being, in the intransitory, in the concealed God, in the
'Thing-in-itself-- THERE must be their source, and nowhere else!"--This mode of
reasoning discloses the typical prejudice by which metaphysicians of all times can be
recognized, this mode of valuation is at the back of all their logical procedure; through
this "belief" of theirs, they exert themselves for their "knowledge," for something that is
in the end solemnly christened "the Truth." The fundamental belief of metaphysicians is
THE BELIEF IN ANTITHESES OF VALUES. It never occurred even to the wariest of
them to doubt here on the very threshold (where doubt, however, was most necessary);
though they had made a solemn vow, "DE OMNIBUS DUBITANDUM." For it may be
doubted, firstly, whether antitheses exist at all; and secondly, whether the popular
valuations and antitheses of value upon which metaphysicians have set their seal, are not
perhaps merely superficial estimates, merely provisional perspectives, besides being
probably made from some corner, perhaps from below--"frog perspectives," as it were, to
borrow an expression current among painters. In spite of all the value which may belong
to the true, the positive, and the unselfish, it might be possible that a higher and more
fundamental value for life generally should be assigned to pretence, to the will to
delusion, to selfishness, and cupidity. It might even be possible that WHAT constitutes
the value of those good and respected things, consists precisely in their being insidiously
related, knotted, and crocheted to these evil and apparently opposed things--perhaps even
in being essentially identical with them. Perhaps! But who wishes to concern himself