Beyond Good and Evil HTML version

Chapter IX. What Is Noble?
257. EVERY elevation of the type "man," has hitherto been the work of an aristocratic
society and so it will always be--a society believing in a long scale of gradations of rank
and differences of worth among human beings, and requiring slavery in some form or
other. Without the PATHOS OF DISTANCE, such as grows out of the incarnated
difference of classes, out of the constant out-looking and down-looking of the ruling caste
on subordinates and instruments, and out of their equally constant practice of obeying and
commanding, of keeping down and keeping at a distance--that other more mysterious
pathos could never have arisen, the longing for an ever new widening of distance within
the soul itself, the formation of ever higher, rarer, further, more extended, more
comprehensive states, in short, just the elevation of the type "man," the continued "self-
surmounting of man," to use a moral formula in a supermoral sense. To be sure, one must
not resign oneself to any humanitarian illusions about the history of the origin of an
aristocratic society (that is to say, of the preliminary condition for the elevation of the
type "man"): the truth is hard. Let us acknowledge unprejudicedly how every higher
civilization hitherto has ORIGINATED! Men with a still natural nature, barbarians in
every terrible sense of the word, men of prey, still in possession of unbroken strength of
will and desire for power, threw themselves upon weaker, more moral, more peaceful
races (perhaps trading or cattle-rearing communities), or upon old mellow civilizations in
which the final vital force was flickering out in brilliant fireworks of wit and depravity.
At the commencement, the noble caste was always the barbarian caste: their superiority
did not consist first of all in their physical, but in their psychical power--they were more
COMPLETE men (which at every point also implies the same as "more complete
258. Corruption--as the indication that anarchy threatens to break out among the instincts,
and that the foundation of the emotions, called "life," is convulsed--is something radically
different according to the organization in which it manifests itself. When, for instance, an
aristocracy like that of France at the beginning of the Revolution, flung away its
privileges with sublime disgust and sacrificed itself to an excess of its moral sentiments,
it was corruption:--it was really only the closing act of the corruption which had existed
for centuries, by virtue of which that aristocracy had abdicated step by step its lordly
prerogatives and lowered itself to a FUNCTION of royalty (in the end even to its
decoration and parade-dress). The essential thing, however, in a good and healthy
aristocracy is that it should not regard itself as a function either of the kingship or the
commonwealth, but as the SIGNIFICANCE and highest justification thereof--that it
should therefore accept with a good conscience the sacrifice of a legion of individuals,
who, FOR ITS SAKE, must be suppressed and reduced to imperfect men, to slaves and
instruments. Its fundamental belief must be precisely that society is NOT allowed to exist
for its own sake, but only as a foundation and scaffolding, by means of which a select
class of beings may be able to elevate themselves to their higher duties, and in general to
a higher EXISTENCE: like those sun- seeking climbing plants in Java--they are called
Sipo Matador,-- which encircle an oak so long and so often with their arms, until at last,