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40 Belief-Shaking Remarks From a Ruthless Nonconformist


If there’s one thing Friedrich Nietzsche did well, it’s obliterate feel-good beliefs people have about themselves. He has been criticized for being a misanthrope, a subvert, a cynic and a pessimist, but I think these assessments are off the mark. I believe he only wanted human beings to be more honest with themselves.

He did have a remarkable gift for aphorism — he once declared, “It is my ambition to say in ten sentences what others say in a whole book.” A hundred years after his death, Nietzsche retains his disturbing talent for turning a person’s worldview upside-down with one jarring remark.

Even today his words remain controversial. They hit nerves. Most of his views are completely at odds with the status quo.

Here are 40 unsympathetic statements from the man himself. Many you’ll agree with. Others you will resist, but these are the ones to pay the most attention to — your beliefs are being challenged. It’s either an opportunity to grow, or to insist that you already know better. If any of them hit a nerve in you, ask yourself why.


1. People who have given us their complete confidence believe that they have a right to ours. The inference is false, a gift confers no rights.

2. He that humbleth himself wishes to be exalted.

3. The surest way to corrupt a youth is to instruct him to hold in higher esteem those who think alike than those who think differently.

4. There are no facts, only interpretations.

5. Morality is but the herd-instinct in the individual.

6. No one talks more passionately about his rights than he who in the depths of his soul doubts whether he has any.

7. Without music, life would be a mistake.

8. Anyone who has declared someone else to be an idiot, a bad apple, is annoyed when it turns out in the end that he isn’t.

9. In large states public education will always be mediocre, for the same reason that in large kitchens the cooking is usually bad.

10. The man of knowledge must be able not only to love his enemies but also to hate his friends.

11. A casual stroll through the lunatic asylum shows that faith does not prove anything.

12. We often refuse to accept an idea merely because the way in which it has been expressed is unsympathetic to us.

13. No victor believes in chance.

14. Convictions are more dangerous foes of truth than lies.

15. Talking much about oneself can also be a means to conceal oneself.

16. It is not a lack of love, but a lack of friendship that makes unhappy marriages.

17. The essence of all beautiful art, all great art, is gratitude.

18. The future influences the present just as much as the past.

19. The most common lie is that which one tells himself; lying to others is relatively an exception.

20. I counsel you, my friends: Distrust all in whom the impulse to punish is powerful.

21. Rejoicing in our joy, not suffering over our suffering, is what makes someone a friend.

22. God is a thought who makes crooked all that is straight.

23. Success has always been a great liar.

24. Nothing on earth consumes a man more quickly than the passion of resentment.

25. What do you regard as most humane? To spare someone shame.

26. Whatever is done for love always occurs beyond good and evil.

27. When a hundred men stand together, each of them loses his mind and gets another one.

28. When one has a great deal to put into it a day has a hundred pockets.

29. Whoever despises himself nonetheless respects himself as one who despises.

30. All things are subject to interpretation. Whichever interpretation prevails at a given time is a function of power and not truth.

31. What is good? All that heightens the feeling of power, the will to power, power itself. What is bad? All that is born of weakness. What is happiness? The feeling that power is growing, that resistance is overcome.

32. Fear is the mother of morality.

33. A politician divides mankind into two classes: tools and enemies.

34. Everyone who has ever built anywhere a new heaven first found the power thereto in his own hell.

35. There is more wisdom in your body than in your deepest philosophy.

36. The mother of excess is not joy but joylessness.

37. The Kingdom of Heaven is a condition of the heart — not something that comes upon the earth or after death.

38. What is the mark of liberation? No longer being ashamed in front of oneself.

39. Glance into the world just as though time were gone: and everything crooked will become straight to you.

40. We should consider every day lost on which we have not danced at least once.


More of Nietzsche’s genius here.


Tim March 26, 2010 at 12:33 am

I back up the idea of feasting on challenging ideas.

If your philosophy or beliefs don’t stand after reading, pondering, and questioning these challenges then they weren’t that strong in the first place.

Thanks for Nietsche highlight.

David March 26, 2010 at 1:17 am

Makes me think… Maybe strong isn’t such a good quality for beliefs after all. Maybe we’re better off if they are able to be dislodged without so much as a blink.

Olivia March 27, 2010 at 1:51 pm

I don’t know what you mean! Clearly beliefs that stand up to challenge are the most valuable!

Josh March 27, 2010 at 2:08 pm

I strive to find a happy medium. I hold strong beliefs about many things. What I try to do is to make myself flexible enough that I don’t need those beliefs to remain true to continue to be who I am. I think it would be sad if any belief could be blown away with the wind. In my opinion, that just makes for either a very empty or a very gullible existence.
On the other hand I think it would be sad if one belief were such an integral part of a person that the removal of it would destroy them.
If my beliefs are challenged and defeated, I look for new beliefs. If my beliefs are challenged and survive, I continue to hold on to them.

David March 28, 2010 at 12:13 am

Stronger is not necessarily better when it comes to beliefs. If a belief is strong, it only means you are emotionally attached to it, it doesn’t mean it’s right or even sensible. This is an impediment to learning and growing. Imagine if your beliefs withstood the “test of time” from age 10 to 30. You’d be an extremely naive 30 year old.

Irun June 7, 2010 at 7:01 am

I think beliefs can be strong because they’re good for some particular situation, time, era, geography, person, people, etc. When those things change, that strong belief may not fit anymore but the believers may be too stubborn, or proud, or scared, or just lazy to acknowledge that and change their beliefs.
And I think that’s the source of many humanity’s problems.

Shelby August 21, 2011 at 1:31 pm

Not necessarily. Who’s to say what is more valuable? If you are at least able to think about your beliefs from the opposing point of view, then at least you are able to determine weather those beliefs are worth trusting or not. Otherwise, you’re nothing but ignorant and stubborn.
And if you’re able to disprove a belief for yourself, then that should be valuable to you.

Lindsey December 9, 2011 at 12:50 pm

Any fool can claim their beliefs stand up to challenge and scrutiny simply because they don’t change. I call that stubborn, not strong. There are those who stubbornly stick to their beliefs out of fear of finding they are wrong, and those who welcome being challenged out of a love for learning and bettering ones self.

helene April 1, 2013 at 2:59 am

“A belief is not merely an idea the mind possesses; it is an idea that possesses the mind.”
Robert Oxton Bolt

“I think it’s better to have ideas. You can change an idea. Changing a belief is trickier. Life should be malleable and progressive, working from idea to idea permits that. Beliefs anchor you to certain points and limit growth. New ideas can’t generate. Life becomes stagnant.”
Chris Rock

Henry August 18, 2010 at 12:51 am

Beliefs are bad. Friedrich Nietzsche says himself that faith proves nothing. I choose to only believe what is necessary to make all my intuitive actions rational. Anything else is overkill and a nuisance should it be proven wrong at some point in the future.

If I may add a non-conformist quote of my own:
“All pain is inflicted by one who is defending a belief.”

critta February 22, 2011 at 7:56 am

No, Henry it is simpler than your statement: all pain is inflicted by someone in pain. they don’t need to hold a belief, just a perceived wound.

A belief is neither bad nor good. As with all things(including pain), its what we do with it that matters. Life isn’t that complicated. It’s our over thinking of it that makes it appear like it is.

korbin August 25, 2011 at 2:02 am

i believe that you have narrowed your belief possibilities to what “you believe” is rational, not what could actually be rational. so you have just taken a whole realm of thought and belief out of the picture due to nothing else but your prior belief that it is irrational.
on top of it, u stating that beliefs are bad is your own belief. we all believe something and you do not limit your beliefs, you may limit the range of what you could believe, but you still hold just as many beliefs as the next person. You believing that you shouldn’t believe is a belief if u haven’t noticed

Connor January 26, 2012 at 3:37 pm

Belief is neither bad, nor is it wrong. Blind and simplistic devotion to an idea and leaving no room for discussion, flexibility or change; that is both bad and wrong.
A person must have belief, it is what keeps humanity going but what has advanced humanity through era’s has been the ability to change/alter beliefs until they are more beneficial.

Peter April 23, 2012 at 10:52 am

Indeed Henry, I often question why I am still experiencing such great emotion pain years after my wife had left me. I would like to say my belief is in loving her and I still do after all these years. But really is it the fact that I am still holding onto this belief that inflicts all this pain? I am now an old man, and nothing has changed since Kate left some 40 years ago. If I had stopped to defend this belief of mine the moment she walked out the door, I don’t think I would be typing this right now.

My point is that even though great pain can be inflicted upon an individual for defending a certain belief, it’s a matter of his or her own choice. Many people throughout the years had told me to let go and move on but I refused to because I made a promise to my lovely Kate the day we met that I will always and only love her. Nobody will ever understand the value she holds for me and the reason why I am still holding onto a lost course. Nobody is to judge anybody else’s belief for you cannot fully put yourself into another’s shoe.

And I think this is Nietzsche’s point: just be more honest to yourself even though it’s not exactly nice. I can tell you I am no doubt a non-conformist when it comes to the stupid modern notion of love. Who is to tell me who to love and who to forget? Curse you f-ing society, you bunch of mindless conforming maggots.

Oli November 15, 2011 at 5:14 pm

I definitely agree, David. The most dogmatic human beliefs have to be those based on something other than discovery by facts. We can imagine some people holding onto their beliefs even when there’s great evidence to support a counter argument. I cannot imagine a scientist or philosopher trying to hold onto a belief because it’s convenient or useful; show a good reason not to believe something to a reasonable person and they won’t believe it!!

Gary Hardenbrook December 7, 2013 at 10:31 am

The most tragic among us are those who hide behind beliefs such that they miss the wonder of what has come to be.

Jack November 29, 2011 at 4:59 pm

Strong beliefs are fine, I think there are some beliefs that can’t possibly fail. But this does remind me of a passage in Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance when Pirsig talks about a concept he calls “value rigidity,” you should check it out if you haven’t.

Jack December 7, 2011 at 2:19 am

Whats the relationship between a strong belief and a long lasting belief?

Is the belief strong only because it is long lasting?

Is the belief long lasting only because it’s strong?

tmaxPA January 12, 2012 at 11:05 am

Choose one, but stick with it. Since beliefs aren’t physical things, the term ‘strong’ is only a metaphor. Either you mean ‘strong’ as equivalent to ‘long lasting’, or you don’t. It “is” neither, ontologically. As Nietzsche accurately points out, it is a perspective, not a fact, either way.

PhiloAnon December 16, 2012 at 4:41 pm

Ontology – you keep using that word; I do not think it means what you think it means

Cat Phillips February 22, 2012 at 1:03 am
Cat Phillips February 22, 2012 at 1:08 am

“Makes me think… Maybe strong isn’t such a good quality for beliefs after all. Maybe we’re better off if they are able to be dislodged without so much as a blink.”
See #8 here: http://www.globalone.tv/profiles/blogs/the-9-epiphanies-that-shifted-

Cat February 22, 2012 at 2:34 am

Never mind. Just realized you wrote those, too. Good stuff.

Luke May 19, 2012 at 10:32 am

Haha that’s not a bad way to think about it. Socrates himself claimed the world of ideas were always in “flux”, or constantly changing. While only few things were definate, or “form”. He claimed, after debunking every philosophy of everyone he met- politicians to religious authorities to beggars- using geometric logic, that a man was only truly smart once he admitted he knew nothing.

Sarah Jackson October 24, 2012 at 2:34 am

strongly agree with you baby :)

ministerj April 1, 2010 at 9:42 am

a man without faith in God is a man with one destination….hell. regardless of his belief.

Char (PSI Tutor:Mentor) April 1, 2010 at 4:02 pm

~phew, I’m a woman

Aaron April 1, 2010 at 6:05 pm

Hahaha, Love it. Too bad I’m a man and apparently going to hell. :(

timigaguy November 15, 2011 at 12:00 am

what if my belief is that what u believe in is what will happen?

Nick April 1, 2010 at 6:05 pm

Re. ministerj: I understand that this is a blog, but with all do respect, that statement is rather meaningless. It begs the question of what faith is in the first place, and that question typically leads us down this road:
The idea of “faith in God” throughout western religion has been all too convoluted with asserting that “God” exists. If by faith in God you mean a commitment to the continual search for the unfiltered truth of reality, then I think most would agree with you: giving that up will end only one way–abandonment of self. If by faith in God you mean asserting that there is a unified entity with a will, a law, and all the other typical personifications appended to western “God,” that won’t end you up in hell at all. It might even do the opposite.

Nick April 1, 2010 at 6:08 pm

sorry, “…and all the other typical personifications appended to western “God,” [GIVING THAT UP] won’t end you up in hell at all. It might even do the opposite.”

Silas Blue Forster March 20, 2011 at 4:38 pm

Response to Nick and other things as well as ministerj, who could benefit from learning a few thing even from the World:

“Hell” when looked at as a state of mind, being the inverse of “The Kingdom of Heaven,” is by Nietzsche’s logic a possibility. If you can find a logical peace of mind you can find a logical discord, insanity, which would be a mindset in which one would experience “Hell.” So this “place” is not only a Christian idea (I am going to expand upon this, though Jon has already made the point sighting Greek Mythology).

Christianity is not the only religion with a place of punishment and pain. Christianity just differs from most religious thought in that it associates a destination with the state of being. Though I want to recognize a false term and correct it by showing that ALL Abrahamic traditions, the traditions of Islam, Judaism, and Christianity, recognize Hell. Though it isn’t just these “Western” traditions (Western being in quotations as this tradition began in the Middle East, so it should not be limited by this attribute) that have hell.

To achieve enlightenment you most recognize suffering and the truths of Buddhism or you will continue to suffer, “Hell,” for Buddhists and Hindus. Almost every Shamanistic or local religion associates their concept of a spiritual world with negative, “Hell,” and positive, “Heaven,” attributes and an afterlife. The afterlife can even be looked at in a factual sense as the aftereffects of an individual’s life which effect other people in both positive and negative ways and continue to do so even after their death. These responses show how Nietzche’s thoughts live on after him, as they are his thoughts/spirit/marks on the Earth.

In ministerj’s belief Nick and everyone without faith in his God is going to Hell, and from a fact based standpoint ministerj already is in hell, because he cannot see fact but only faith. Though both views are limited in the eyes of Nietzsche because they are using their interpretations as facts to discredit one another, which relates directly to concept # 4.

As in stated in # 11 faith is not proof, but there can be no disproof, so one’s faith can exist and should not interfere with logic as long as one strives to seek truth and do what they feel is right based on a personal morality, similar to concept # 5.

The point I am trying to defend and would love to just state but cannot, because too often people discredit the obvious is…ministerj can say people are going to Hell just as Nick can seek to disprove him. Though faith cannot be argued with, as it is an opinion and choice that every individual has the right to, so he has his. While Nick can be discredited by new information and other observation but may choose to put “faith,” which would be ironic as he is trying to be logical, in his ideas as a “truth” and choose to be right in his mind disproving ministerj. Nothing is untrue until it is disproved but even that can be disproved, making the former a proof again until it is disproved and so on forever…so no one really knows anything. Neither do I. Humans do however seek to understand their own feelings and to “prove” them as “truths” because humans like to be “right.”

Jack December 7, 2011 at 2:20 am

just stand back and admire his sense of duty

David April 1, 2010 at 6:19 pm

^^ This is the misunderstanding of all misunderstandings.

Ellie April 5, 2010 at 11:35 am

Well first of all, Christianity is the only belief I know of that believes in hell, so there isnt much of a threat there. Now, if every religion throughout history had a hell, then maybe I’d think there was something to that statement.

But as it stands, I’d much rather go to hell then go to heaven. Who wants to live with the goody goodies who followed the bible to a t, right down to selling their children into marriage, stoning women who got pregnant outside of wedlock, performed abortions when they thought their wife had performed an infidelity (Numbers 5:11-28), etc? All of which, one must do and believe in for Jesus said only those who uphold all the laws will get into the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 5:17-20).

Plus, if hell does exist, there are a lot of awesome people there. I’d much rather kick it with them then kick it with fanatics.

Sonny May 11, 2010 at 4:58 pm

Wow. I couldn’t have said it better myself.

Jon July 21, 2010 at 4:13 pm

Well, there are many ancient religions that believe in a form of “hell” (start with ancient Greeks and go backward and forward chronologically as you wish). Generally speaking, hell throughout the human experience is expressed as a place but most likely is a state of being. It always deals with “not doing what you were supposed to do” and then “facing your past mistakes(judgment)”. It’s a brilliant concept from a philosophical and humanistic perspective, but many people believe in a more tangible hell. There is much disagreement in Christianity as to where/what hell truly is, but many mainstream Christian denominations agree now that it is more of a state of being and less fire/brimstone/torture by little horned men. As to the comment “Plus, if hell does exist, there are a lot of awesome people there. I’d much rather kick it with them then kick it with fanatics”… I’d say that they most certainly are good people, only (given this popular viewpoint of hell) they realize that they failed to reach their potential for happiness because of their disobedience to correct principles that they knew to be true (I’d research “cognitive dissonance” to see what I mean: all of us know that some things we do in life will eventually lead to a form of suffering). In summation: we all go through hell in life. The trick is to life according to our actual moral beliefs and then review/alter them for the better as needed. I won’t argue which moral beliefs are “right”, so no worries, everyone! :)

jess September 9, 2010 at 7:38 am

Don’t forget vengeance and washing your feet in the blood of the so called wicked (psalms 58:10), or the children, who by the way have done nothing, being dashed to pieces and the women ravished(raped) and being thrust through by swords (Isaiah 13:15-16).
oh yeah, isn’t only 144,000 (rev. 7:3-4, rev. 9:3-4, rev. 14:1, 14:3-4) taking that escalator ride anyway. I think your odds of making it to the top in the end are worse than winning the lottery.
One powerball please.
But hey, maybe it was a typo. ya know, there were two stories of creation in there (Genesis 1:27, man and women created together. Genesis 2:21-22, man first, women next), so maybe there might be another end of days story floating around where more than 144,000 make it to the vacation spot.
Either way, if you hold on to that, hope you brought some SPF 100.

Jordan September 12, 2010 at 9:32 pm

Well, if you read the passage Numbers 5:11-28 (which I did after reading this post), you’ll notice that there is no abortion performed in it. And the whole ceremony is performed willingly by the woman. The woman has to agree to the oath before they can perform it. So, there is no abortion, it’s just saying that after the ceremony The Lord will make her infertile due to her lying in front of the priest and in God’s home (the church). Oh, and it says nothing about the woman being pregnant in this passage, just that she wasn’t faithful to her husband.

haso December 10, 2011 at 12:22 am

Sonny: Wow. I couldn’t have said it better myself.

Do not underestimate your power to convince, unless of course you have tried and failed “too many times before”.

Here is the first sign of trouble:
Well first of all, Christianity is the only belief I know of that believes in hell, so there isnt much of a threat there.

Meaning Ellie does not know that there is a Hell in Islam, and that this has gone unanalyzed and un-bashed.

I was born a muslim, and like many people on this blog, I seek only unfiltered truth about reality and life.

Joshua October 9, 2012 at 12:14 pm

Okay, first off ellie and jess, I get that you probably hate God, and think all Christians are hypocrits and have probably read some choice verses in the bible that you looked up on some athiest website, I get that. However, it is abundantly clear that you both have a huge misunderstanding of the Christian faith, and what Christ said. You are saying that the only way a Christian can get to heaven is if he/she follows the mosaic law perfectly… But doesn’t Paul say in Galatians “If righteousness comes through the law then Christ died for no reason.”? So lets get to Matthew 5:17-20 because that was your big “selling point” here it is “17 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. 18 For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. 19 Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20 For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” To even understand this passage you need to understand the context Jesus is speaking to a huge crowd of hebrew men and women, who, through their entire life have heard that only those who follow the law are holy, and God only forgives those who follow the law. So he comes before this group of people and says “I have not come to abolish the law, but to fulfill it.” That statement would have been huge to the crowd he was speaking to, Jesus basically just said “I have come to live out the law perfectly, becuase I am the messiah.” Then he goes on to say “whoever keeps the least of these will be least in the kingdom of heaven and whoever keeps the greatest will be called great.” now, that is an intro to the statutes or laws he is about to present which is the sermon on the mount, he is not talking about the law he is talking about the things that he is fixing to say, but we’ll get to that in a second. His next statement is the one I want to focus on, and it completely destroys what you claimed about Christianity. Jesus then says “unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and pharisees, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.” Let me explain the gravity of that statement to you, Jesus just told a bunch of hebrew men and women that unless they are more righteous than the most “righteous” people they have to offer, they will not get to heaven. This is HUGE, let me explain, the pharisees had the first 5 books of the bible memorized.. I’m not talking about a couple verses I’m talking word, for word. Do you know what the first 5 books are? The Torah, the Torah contains the whole of the mosaic law. So just to get this straight, a pharisee had the entire Law memorized and their entire life was dedicated to following it… If righteousness came through the law, then they were varsity. But Christ just told a bunch of hebrew men and women that unless they’re more righteous than that… they won’t even make it to heaven. Jesus is basically saying, yeah, that’s the best you have to offer, and they can’t even make it. Then he gets to the sermon on the mount, and just breaks down the law for the crowd. He says “You’ve heard it said ‘do not murder’ but I say to you if anyone is angry with their brother he is liable to the same judgement.” And then again “you’ve heard it said ‘do not commit adultery’ but I say to you if you look at another women lustfully you’re guilty of the same sin.” You see, he sets sin at a higher plain that you with your misunderstanding did, Jesus took it a step further than you, he said we sin not by our actions but by our thoughs, our hearts, our desires. Jesus preaches that the law is a mirror that we look at to see how broken we are. He never taught that righteousness came through the law. In fact in Isaiah 64 God says “All of your righteousness is as filthy rags before me” And the actual hebrew translation of filthy rags in this verse actually means menstral rags.. yeah.. So God just said that all of our righteousness (our best times, the pharisees), when brought before him and offered to him, that he basically looks at that as a bloody tampon. So this is where Christianity comes into play, that Christ lived a perfect life, never sinned, fulfilled the law, and died on a cross. Which your precious law says “cursed is anyone who hangs on a tree” So Christ took our curse upon himself, God took the debt, from Christ’s blood. Not just so that we didn’t get what we deserve, but that we would get what Christ deserves, that we get his righteousness, and God see’s us as just, we have been justified to God by Christ on the Cross. I mean I get that you hate God, and Christians but at least know what we believe before you hate us, hate us for what we actually believe not for what you think we believe. And good luck hating something that you don’t think exists.

tuplang July 31, 2010 at 7:03 am

thank you minister.

your contribution has been noted and we will regard it as it suits us. this is the way your god has made us. meditate on that.

but now hurry back to your prayers and your idol. it grows cold without your gaze.

SirDanes January 20, 2011 at 8:14 pm


Gary September 9, 2010 at 2:24 pm

haha…what a tool!

Nitya August 31, 2011 at 4:54 pm

Glad this only applies to a man. Had me worried for a minute.

Alan Vallis November 25, 2011 at 12:51 pm

What absolute nonsense. It’s astonishing to me how many “men of the cloth” don’t seem ever to have read their own book of rules.

Nowhere in the original christian teachings does it actually say that anyone will go to hell. The references translated as such in the KJ bible are mistakenly translated from the Hebrew sheol or Greek haides and actually meant “pit”, “grave”, or “death” in the original scriptures.

Russos1 December 13, 2011 at 8:43 pm

Ok, look. Go does not exist.

The end.

Nick February 4, 2012 at 1:24 pm

And you know this how? What, in your specific research, made you decide this?
I don’t care that you don’t believe in God.. I just think it’s silly that you don’t and you probably don’t even know why.. I bet your boyfriend said he was atheist last week so you wanna be cool in his eyes. Even if there is no God religion teaches morals that society literally needs to survive.. The end

*sigh* December 17, 2012 at 11:02 am

“There are no facts, only interpretations.”

mic dundee September 13, 2010 at 7:55 am

This is kinda lame. Many of these statements are common since. Many are false, and some are silly. Why don’t people discover how the world is on there own. why see the world through others quotes. Make your own!

Jack December 7, 2011 at 2:24 am


Pedram December 17, 2011 at 2:26 pm

I’ve found lots of answers to these challenges in islamic thoughts

katie May 22, 2012 at 5:49 pm

I like your hair

Mike March 26, 2010 at 12:47 am

“No victor believes in chance”

Man, I love that one. Reminds me of a quote I like – “The harder I work, the luckier I get”.

Fun list of thoughts to go through!

David March 26, 2010 at 1:18 am

That’s a great one. I suppose luck is a quality identified only in hindsight.

Balam July 26, 2010 at 2:27 am

Although it’s kind of silly to make a judgment on a quote because of lack of context, i.e. what was the surrounding text where the quote was pulled from… my interpretation comes from a different angle.

Nietzsche might have meant that:
1. He/she is deluded in thinking that they are in control
2. They want all the glory to shine upon themselves

Take a look at Nietzsche’s other quote “Success has always been a great liar.” This might give you an indication that he thought that “success” and perhaps “victory” are not quite what they seem.

Furthermore, this also reminds me of the movie The Matrix when Neo goes to see the Oracle and she tells him the bad news that he will have to decide between Morpheus’ life or his own and says:

“Oh, don’t worry about it… As soon as you step outside that door, you’ll start feeling better. You’ll remember you don’t believe in any of this fate crap… you’re in control of your own life… remember?”

As it turns out, at the end of the movie trilogy, the Oracle (fate) is proven right and the Architect (control) is proven wrong.

It is also interesting that in Hinduism control or the world, for that matter, is only an illusion called Maya.

Lastly, this seemly simple quote addresses, but does not solve, the age old question which was omnipresent in the ancient Greek ethos called “Fate.”

Fyrehed September 14, 2010 at 6:07 pm

I was thinking the success comment was more of a remark about the wonders of failure. When you succeed, there really isn’t anything gained or learned, though it feels like it. You haven’t grown or found a new limit. It’s not so much about being in control of your life (you are, but freedom is never a constant, it’s always being tugged and pushed at by others’ freedoms and choices, just as yours do to them) but rather about the assumption that you’ve already maximized your potential. Not that success is a bad thing, it’s awesome for the more mundane goals, but it teaches nothing and hardly inspires. If you’re already successful, ‘the best’, why even bother trying anymore. Failure ignites the greatest thoughts and discoveries, and is often key to finding different points of view and a greater knowledge of self. But we don’t celebrate failures, we treat them as shameful acts when they’re more like revelations, epiphanies. Success is a liar because it isn’t all that successful; it’s stagnant, not emergent.

Sloan August 26, 2011 at 6:06 pm

Successful people don’t believe in luck because in retrospect it’s obvious that it was their own hard work, talent, or chosen-ness that resulted in their success.

It’s not necessarily a character flaw though, because to believe that you played no part in your own success would make everybody feel like a fraud.

On the other hand, some gratitude and humility can come from realizing that it’s not all about you. That’s probably even better than a sense of control.

Jack December 7, 2011 at 2:28 am

sloan, beyond better or worse

Garrett April 14, 2013 at 12:42 pm

Luck, or if you want to call it happenstance, is most definitely real. While I was born a white, heterosexual, able-bodied male in the heart of the US Empire, someone else was born a victim of incredible violence in the Congo. The “no victor believes in chance” is straight out of right wing, boot-straps nonsense.

John March 26, 2010 at 1:35 am

David my good man, once again, you blow me away with another excellent post. This quote in particular struck me:

“The surest way to corrupt a youth is to instruct him to hold in higher esteem those who think alike than those who think differently.”

If this is the case, people have attempted to corrupt me all my life. But I did not listen. I kept my mind intact all these years. I know who I am now and who I want to become.

In truth, all of these quotes are amazing. I can’t thank you enough for sharing this wisdom.

P.S. On a totally unrelated note, I think I’ve just had an epiphany moment. It couldn’t have come at a better time.

David March 26, 2010 at 5:36 am

I don’t think the corruption is intentional. But it’s shocking how we all learn to value those who agree with us more highly than those who don’t. I don’t know about you but it didn’t occur to me that I do that until I read those words.

Avi March 26, 2010 at 1:53 am

“There are no facts, only interpretations.” I don’t understand. This is a nonsense statement, because…there are facts.

David March 26, 2010 at 5:50 am

There are facts? Is that your interpretation? :)

A fact is only a belief that somebody calls a fact. You can believe it, if you want, and call it a fact too, but that’s only your interpretation. You can never escape your own subjective viewpoint of the world.

Josh March 26, 2010 at 1:41 pm

No, that’s not quite right. There ARE facts. There are certain truths about the world that can’t be disputed. Now there lies some truth in saying that there can be different interpretations of what certain facts mean. Just for example, Newton suggested laws of gravitation based on observations of his surroundings. (facts) Now those laws were generally accepted for a long, long time. Then Einstein came along with his theory of relativity and changed what people understood about gravitation. Since Einstein, others have come along and further refined the laws that appear to govern the happenings of the universe. The point that I’m trying to make is that the facts didn’t change. The way that people interpreted those facts is what changed. I don’t believe that an object that is dropped from my hand will fall to the ground just because I have faith in gravity, I believe that dropped objects fall because all evidence points to that conclusion across the globe.
Now, I know I’m oversimplifying this argument but I hope that I’m making my point. There is an objective reality out there that doesn’t depend on any one person’s interpretation of it. Explanations of why that reality is the way it is ARE subject to different interpretations however and that is why our knowledge continues to grow over time. Even though reality doesn’t change, our understanding of reality does.

George March 26, 2010 at 2:34 pm

How can we be sure of this objective reality though when all we have is our perception of it? We may have faith in the idea that there is an knowable,objective reality outside of our own consciouness but how can we be sure of it, and if it does exist we are only getting an interpretation of it from the messages we receive from our senses which are then interpreted by our brain. How do you feel about quantum mechanics and the superposition of states if “There is an objective reality out there that doesn’t depend on any one person’s interpretation of it”? where it seems that the way we interpret data changes what we see.

David March 26, 2010 at 6:47 pm

I’m with George. Of course there are many interpretations. :)

One can’t call anything a fact without interpreting it as such.

We can suppose there are objective immutable facts beyond out perceptions, but that is only an interpretation of what can only ever be a subjective experience. The whole idea of objectivity is just an interpretation of reality. It’s a thought.

Chris F. March 26, 2010 at 7:33 pm

Hi Josh. I’m really enjoying what you have to say.

You said, “No, that’s not quite right. There ARE facts. There are certain truths about the world that can’t be disputed.”

I think you may be right. Could you please share a few examples? I’d be interested in discussing something concrete as opposed to the “concept of facts”.

Phil E. Drifter March 31, 2010 at 6:29 am

“There are certain truths about the world that can’t be disputed.” Can you give an example? Don’t even try to say ‘2+2=4’ because that is simply your interpretation of math being factually concrete. There was no math in the universe until mankind created it.

Remco August 13, 2010 at 6:45 am

Actually another fact is that Galileo came along with his theory of relativity. But I’m not sure it changed what people understood about gravitation, immediately.

Fyrehed September 14, 2010 at 6:20 pm

1. There are no laws, only tendencies. All the scientific and mathematical laws we have ‘discovered’ or ‘invented’ concerning the universe can, will, and have been ‘broken’. Not everything has always been and nothing will always be. There is no fixed point in time and space that is and forever will be indisputable; i.e. a fact.

2. Nietzsche is firm on one thing concerning human thought and language: all of it is grounded in metaphor. Everything is what it is and not just because we have a name for it. We can only understand the world in relation to ourselves, and language will never encompass the full truth or ‘fact’ of anything. Because we understand everything through the use of analogy everything is only an interpretation, a perception. The more we learn, the more we discover how ignorant we really are, and how much we can never know. This isn’t a bad thing. It’s actually quite marvelous…

haso December 10, 2011 at 2:08 am

Here is a reply to Chris F.
Its pretty simple actually. It is a fact that I have read your reply to Josh’s comment. That is a simple fact. It happened. I read it.

Aden August 13, 2010 at 8:02 pm

That sounds like a fact, David. No, wait. It can’t be a fact because nothing is a fact, but if it isn’t a fact that nothing is a fact, then there ARE facts! …whoa

David August 13, 2010 at 9:02 pm

You’re calling it a fact, not me.

But that’s beside the point. All he means is that we forget that all facts are only interpretations that have been anointed with the title “fact” because the evidence appears overwhelming.

What constitutes overwhelming evidence to you may not necessarily be overwhelming to somebody else. You can’t deny that each of us subscribe to a different set of facts, and therefore they are not immutable, not indisputable.

Some people have seen Elvis’ ghost… FOR A FACT!

Of course there are facts. Humans do deal in facts, and I don’t avoid the word. But we cannot forget that they are ultimately only interpretations we’ve grown to take for granted.

Red November 16, 2011 at 2:23 pm

“you’re calling it a fact, not me.”
“Of course there are facts. Humans do deal in facts, and I don’t avoid the word. But we cannot forget that they are ultimately only interpretations we’ve grown to take for granted.”

i dont think we take it for granted, more of we cannot deny it is the truth and we cannot challenge it nor change it. also you contridicted yourself of saying you didnt call it a fact when you yourself stated your a fact since you are human, are you not? what is the definition of fact.

Fact (noun): something that actually exists; reality; truth.

EX: gravatational pull, as long as there is gravatational pull, anything that falls from anywhere is going down. if there isnt a gravatational pull. EX: space. things would not go down because nothing is “pulling” the object to it. btw to be able to use gravatational pull, you have to be in the vacinity of it to be in effect, and because the planet EARTH we live in has a gravatational pull and we are in the vacinity of it, any object that drops will get pulled down. (T/F)

then again, we could challenge the dictionary. how could you understand anything of what im typing if you didnt interpret it? how do you know the definition of it. you cant, you know why? the forefathers made the dictionary, the meaning, the definition and it is like the law. we cannot change it. the discovery of an object is soley (righteously) named by the person that discovered it. EX: if you discover a planet the scientists havent discovered yet, you can name it “pooptopia” if you so choose. they cant challenge you because YOU discovered it not them of course it has to get documented. unless they kill you, somehow take all the credit, or change the documents whichever comes first. they can pick the name for it.

Baugher December 4, 2011 at 5:45 pm

FACT This Post exists!!

Matt February 16, 2012 at 2:34 pm

So in response to Red, how can you claim such knowledge on the word “fact” and then give incorrect information? (I’ll point it out in a minute) It’s based on your interpretation of a certain fact that makes it a fact to you. Your idea of “space” as simple an area devoid of gravitational pull unless there is a proximity to a specific body of matter, is WRONG. How far do our human system of numbers and decimals go? ALL MATTER HAS A GRAVITATIONAL FIELD. An apple sitting on the desk has a gravitational field. The desk has a gravitational field. Push the apple off. It fell straight down, right? Wrong. You may think that only large bodies have gravity because that’s all you can see. INTERPRET if you will. In actuality, based on our supposed “facts” that we as humans have come up with in our short existence in this universe (which can’t be disproved. Is it a fact our modern race is only thousands of years old? Did we exist in another place and time?) the apple fell towards the desk and the desk moved towards the apple but far less than the former. Based on our FACTS as humans about gravitational fields, whether its measurable by our species or not, both the apple, the desk, and even the planet get moved any time that anything moves. How did the first stars form? Dust pulled in by gravitational fields. Each individual atom had a pull on another atom and it all connected at some point. The length of time it would take for that much matter to accumulate at such slow rates is personally unfathomable. However, our perception of gravity leaves it this conclusion. Is it fact? Can it be proved or disproved? No. We can look at data and attempt to connect similarities and patterns on how things SHOULD happen but not all things happen exactly the same every single time. If you want to get extremely technical about it, theoretically we could mathematically detect and account for all known interferences and outliers in any given situation but we simply aren’t anywhere near that. The problem with that is our idea of math. Is math a fact? T/F According to who? The gorgamalks? No, it’s according to humans. Our interpretations of the data in our known universe lead us to quantify and symbolically anoint things with these things called numbers. These numbers make it so we can process things. Come up with another system that can be used and we could also call it fact. The real issue is that it doesn’t make it irrefutable and impossible to discredit, therefore it is not a fact.

Back to your “facts”, the word “down” used in your idea of gravitation is improper. Where is down? Towards our planet of Earth? Why isn’t towards the sun, “down”? Why isn’t towards the center of the universe, “down”? You interpret a direction, give it a symbolic title with language, and declare it fact. “Down” is “down”. Says who? You? Try again.

I already disproved your idea of having to be in the vicinity of things for gravity to work but if you want to change the idea of your word used, “vicinity” to include anything and everything in existence, that would be fine with me.

We have and will continue to change definitions of words. Who are these “forefathers”? Their “dictionary” that they “made” is not the “law.” It is a preset group of interpretations to what we call words that we try to adhere by, lest our form of communication stops becoming uniform across each individual life form that uses it. The “dictionary” is an interpretation of our ideas on language. Just because we say the word “cow” means “that animal in the pasture that provides milk and beef,” does not mean that we haven’t adapted the word “cow” to mean “a fat ugly person,” in certain cases. The word “cow” is a symbolic idea bestowed upon an agreed upon object, or idea in the latter sense of the word. It is a metaphor for what IS. Cow is cow. I can only say that because we have named it, “cow”. What was it before our language? This form of communication is nothing more than our way of being able to relate.

Your idea with the planet is pretty close to the mark. However, despite being killed or having credit taken, you have still discovered ‘pooptopia’. They can challenge you but then again, what you did still happened. The fact that you discovered a planet is only considered fact to you, the pioneer. When you die, you die. The idea of it being a fact only to you is still there if it’ in relative cognitive motion within any other being on the planet. This idea of “facts” being even in existence on a philosophical level, is just…not a fact. It’s an idea. :)

Drew Tkac March 27, 2010 at 11:49 am

Einstein also said:

“If the facts don’t fit the theory, change the facts.”

Jessica March 28, 2010 at 7:31 am

I think Einstein had it right. After all (and I know this argument is old and dusty) it used to be “fact” that the world was flat. It used to be a “fact” that the entire universe revolved around our little planet. These weren’t silly or stupid or ignorant people who came up with those ideas. They were people like us. We’re no smarter, we just have more Information. That doesn’t necessarily mean we have facts. We just have a certain way that we perceive things that’s comfortable for almost everyone.

There are a lot of Facts that were never actually true.

I don’t think we’ll ever have enough time, information, or real understanding of the forces at work in the universe to know the Ultimate Truth (if there is such a thing?). I think that moves into Divine territory; whatever you believe to be the meaning of life, existence, creation and “all that.”

One of my favorite ideas of all time is, “We don’t know what we don’t know.”
.-= Jessica´s last blog ..Photo Friday: Make a Wish =-.

Drew Tkac March 28, 2010 at 12:03 pm

I read a great article a few months ago that grouped knowledge into three categories: 1) shit you know your know, 2) shit you know your don’t know and 3) shit you don’t know that you don’t know. Categories 1 and 2 comprised about 1% of all knowledge, category 3 comprised 99%. The most dangerous people have a very large category 3. The most employable people have a large category 2. So it’s OK not to know something but its best to know you don’t know it.

Phil E. Drifter March 31, 2010 at 6:33 am

“These weren’t silly or stupid or ignorant people who came up with those ideas. They were people like us.”

Speak for yourself. They WERE silly AND stupid AND ignorant because they were creating ‘facts’ without research. The Pope condemned Galileo (whom I was born exactly 413 years after) for supporting a heliocentric universe over the geocentric one which his faith required. Galileo spent the rest of his life under house arrest for refusing to recant his beliefs.

Any ‘facts’ we arrive at are simply *our interpretation* of facts. Remember when it was discovered that eating eggs every day would raise your cholesterol? And then later we found that eating eggs every day *wouldn’t* raise your cholesterol.

David April 11, 2010 at 4:49 pm

A philosophy professor I once had knew Einstein at Princeton. He said he asked Einstein, “What is the most important question science can answer?” Einstein replied, “Science cannot answer any question, it can only ask.”

Dr. G April 11, 2010 at 6:11 pm

Well, not directly related to the topic, just feel reminded of another famous Einstein quote:
“If I had 60 minutes to solve a problem and my life depended on it, I’d spend 55 minutes determining the right question to ask. Once I got the right question, I could easily answer it in 5 minutes.”

Molly March 30, 2010 at 11:23 pm

My name is Molly. I’m Pretty sure that that is a fact… I do agree with these quotes, but the fact one doesn’t seem completely correct.. At least to me. All of his quotes are his interpretations. Saying “There are no facts, only interpretations.” is a bit odd because he is saying that there are no facts as if that were a fact. At least that is my interpretation. :)

David March 31, 2010 at 12:55 am

Well you could also say that “There are no facts, only interpretations” is only Nietzsche stating his interpretation, because what else can we do but state our interpretations? He didn’t say it was a fact, you did :)

That remark is by far the most controversial one of the 40. Most of the comments here are part of a debate surrounding it. Looking at all the arguments, I can see both sides — I think most probably could — which only reinforces the idea that we’re only ever dealing with interpretations. You may interpret it differently. ;)

tierra May 30, 2010 at 3:09 am

its not nonsense. facts are basically evidence of what there is, and people interpret whats around them into facts. thats the best way i can explain that if it even makes sense…

David May 30, 2010 at 6:55 pm

Well put Tierra. I’ve used hundreds of words to try and explain what you nailed down in one sentence.

Tierra May 31, 2010 at 3:15 pm

awsome thanks :)

Ellen March 26, 2010 at 1:56 am

“The Kingdom of Heaven is a condition of the heart”


David March 26, 2010 at 5:54 am

I think that was the biggest misrepresentation Christianity made –that Heaven is a place, and the living can’t reach it. It was always meant to refer to an enlightened living state.

Chris F. March 26, 2010 at 10:34 am

I’m not a big fan of the Bible. I agree with Thomas Jefferson when he said reading it is like “pick[ing] diamonds from dunghills.”

That said, Jesus has a lot of cool stuff to say about the “Kingdom of God”. I love this “translation” of Luke 17:20-21 by Stephen Mitchell (brackets added by me):
“And someone asked him [Jesus], ‘When will the kingdom of God come?
And he said, ‘The kingdom of God will not come if you watch for it. Nor will anyone [including the church] be able to say, ‘It is here’ or ‘It is there.’ For the kingdom of God is within you.”

The mystic poet Kabir said it this way:
“I laugh when I hear that the fish in the water is thirsty.
You don’t grasp the fact that what is most alive of all is inside your own house; and so you walk from one holy city to the next with a confused look!
Kabir will tell you the truth: go wherever you like, to Calcutta or Tibet; if you can’t find where your soul is hidden, for you the world will never be real.”

Sorry to be so lengthy!

David March 26, 2010 at 6:53 pm

I think there are a lot of diamonds in that dungheap! The Bible has been a victim of deliberate misinterpretation at the hands of power-seeking institutions over the years, so I think so much of the wisdom has been lost. Religious conviction only obscures the message. Behind all that you can get a pretty good sense of the message, and you might find it’s the same thing Kabir, Rumi, Buddha and Lao Tsu talked about.

Eric | Eden Journal March 26, 2010 at 6:10 am

David, thanks for pulling together this list. This is one of those posts where the comments may be more fun to read than the post itself. I really likes seeing people reactions to these and to see what lines are their favorites.

For me it’s, “It is not a lack of love, but a lack of friendship that makes unhappy marriages.”

While I’d prefer to word it in the positive, that Friendship, not love, makes for a happy marriage, I find that to be very true in the relationship with my wife. We often comment that we are best friends, and that friendship keeps us close.
.-= Eric | Eden Journal´s last blog ..Embrace Lame Mutant Powers with a New Perspective =-.

David March 26, 2010 at 6:56 pm

I love reading the reactions too, especially to such challenging statements. It is interesting how different quotes catch different people’s minds.

Lisis March 26, 2010 at 6:28 am

Awesomeness, David. THIS is what I call a non-conformist… a free-thinker, much like the object of his affection, Lou Salome. Brilliant choices, all of them. I think 32 and 33 are rather appropriate right now, at least in the US.

Well, now you have the topics for your next 40 posts. I would LOVE for you to elaborate on each of these! In your case, you should say in a book what most say in ten sentences. ;)

David March 26, 2010 at 8:06 pm

Haha… I don’t know about each of them, but I could definitely take a closer look at a few. No shortage of post ideas here, just time to write them.

angelo December 6, 2011 at 8:29 am

actually, nietzsche didnt want himself to be associated with the word “freethinker”. nor does he like them.

Chris March 26, 2010 at 9:58 am

Hi David. #2 (He that humbleth himself wishes to be exalted.) resonated with me. How can I really know if I’m being genuine (in any area of my life) or not?

I mean, I want to be “good”; I want to “do the right thing”; I want to develop and improve myself; I want to be happy. But, there is a paradox….

The philosopher, Alan Watts talks about the word “Te” from the title of the Taoist masterpiece the “Tao Te Ching”. “Te” roughly means “virtue” and is conceptualized by Taoism in this sense:

“True virtue, not ‘virtue’, therefore virtue.” Expanding that, “true virtue” does not think of itself as being virtuous (does not force virtue), therefore it is a real, wholehearted expression of virtue.

Similarly, “true humility” has no thought (no motive) of being humble, therefore it is a real, – genuine – expression of humility.

I’m not sure if I’m making any sense….

Christopher Dugan March 26, 2010 at 7:13 pm

Taken to an extreme:

When a man sacrifices himself for a loved one, he does not consider it a sacrifice. The loved one’s death would kill him just as surely, but slower and more painfull.

Altruism is selfishness in disguise and vice versa.

Chris F. March 26, 2010 at 8:12 pm

I agree. You’ve been reading Dawkins, right?

It does seem that the deeper motivation for everything we do comes from selfishness and, therefore, is “disingenuous”. Even things we call expressions of love and selflessness are always done for a reason and that reason is always to (somehow) benefit us (or our genes).

What I was trying to ask was, is it possible to have a 100% genuine experience, independent of the desire to somehow benefit our “self”? If so, how?

Char (PSI Tutor:Mentor) March 26, 2010 at 10:44 pm

Completely disagree that our base selves are selfish. There is a growing body of evolutionary support for altruism~ and not the “there’s something in it for me way”.

Christopher Dugan March 26, 2010 at 10:52 pm

I haven’t read Dawkins, though I’ve watched some of his talks online. It apears I’ve mislead you and David to an extreme in using the word “selfishness.” I meant not that altruistic acts are always done out of self-interest, but that one results in the other.

Rather, in this vastly interconnected and feedback driven existence (as I observe it) they are one and the same; empowering another empowers the self and empowering oneself empowers those around you (and humanity as a whole, one person at a time).

My thought process here is similar to what David expressed in his two-part post “There is No Good and Evil, Just Smart and Dumb.” Both altruistic and selfish intent have the same end result, the only qualitative difference being skill in execution.

Nietzsche was pointing out a paradox, not a contradiction. Thus moral judgments against selfishness are as unnecessary as any other; they only serve to cause shame, disempower and dehumanize.

Jack r June 2, 2012 at 10:02 pm

Unconditional love

Leake September 15, 2012 at 10:22 pm

Donating blood is thought to be the purest example of altruism outside of a blood-letting meritocracy….

David March 26, 2010 at 8:11 pm

I think Christopher is on the right track. The way I see it, we cannot be anything but self-serving, but some would argue that the most satisfying way to serve ourselves is to serve others. The word “selfishness” is a loaded one.

I don’t know anybody who doesn’t wish to be exalted, and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with it. But society tells us we’re wrong to seek it. I suspect religious doctrine behind it.

Chris F. March 26, 2010 at 8:24 pm

“The way I see it, we cannot be anything but self-serving…” Can we absolutely know that that is true? Is there no other possibility? (I’m not trying to say I have an answer here… I don’t.)

Just who would we be without the need to be self-serving and could we live that way?

Didn’t understand the connection to your second paragraph.

Char (PSI Tutor:Mentor) March 26, 2010 at 11:21 pm

“Is there no other possibility?”~ sure for my truth it’s the state of bodhisattva
.-= Char (PSI Tutor:Mentor)´s last blog ..Item #3~ Boxing Kangaroo Australia T-Shirt =-.

John January 9, 2011 at 11:45 am

Hi Chris,

I think that you’re asking excellent (and very difficult) questions.

I want to offer up my own interpretation of what’s going on: you want to do the right thing, right? You WANT to be altruistic. That want, or desire, has to be subject to questioning. Why do you want this? Ultimately, the way I see things, wants spring forth from “selfish” desires. so what you’re trying to do is be selfless while being self-full. you see what i mean?

back when i read the diamond sutra, the only part that ever really made sense to me was when the buddha said to Subhuti, “Moreover, Subhuti, when bodhisattvas give a gift, the should not be attached to a thing. When they give a gift, they should not be attached to anything at all. They should not be attached to a sound, a smell, a taste, a touch, or a dharma when they give a gift. Thus, Subhuti, fearless bodhisattvas should give a gift without being attached to the perception of an object.”

To me, that means that altruism is to be given without regard for what will come of it. don’t expect a “thank you.” don’t even do it FOR the “thank you.” you perform altruism for the sake of performing altruism without any thoughts of how it will benefit you, or make you happy. that’s true altruism.

i think David is right. when we do something we want, it’s done out of selfishness. when you can do things that don’t spring forth from desire, then you can perform altruism.

as for whether or not it’s possible, i have no idea. as for whether or not it’s even relevant, i have no idea either lol.

i hope that was clear.. all the best to you

David March 26, 2010 at 8:42 pm

Since I only believe in interpretations, the I would say no we can’t absolutely know it is true. I don’t know how we can be expected to step out from beyond our own minds to see that something is true for everyone else too.

tuplang July 31, 2010 at 8:21 am

Makes perfect sense to me.

I’ve always had a problem with “karma”. It occurred to me that if I’m doing something good or avoiding doing something bad just to make sure my karma wasn’t adversely affected then surely karma itself gets canceled out as a result. It seems that the only reason I’m being virtuous or humble or whatever is to get myself some good karma points and that, in itself, is pretty er… well, lousy of me.

I believe it is called enlightened self interest. I’m not sure.

As a result, any of us aware of karma and who act upon the awareness of karma are automatically disqualified from the game. We cannot possibly act in any innocence anymore. All our intentions and actions are now somewhat tainted and we’re sent off the field to wait on the benches for the next incarnation.

So I ask myself: “why then karma?” and it occurs to me that karma is just sin turned on it’s side and decorated with a picture of a daisy.

Instead of the vengeful, judging god-monster we now have the vengeful, judging universe/cosmos-monster.

Meet the new boss….same as the old boss.

Again, interpretation not fact.

Jerry September 10, 2010 at 4:43 am

I believe Karma’s purpose is to provide a safety zone for the mind. The more you do “evil” things (acts that go against your moral code) the more your mind will be “numbed” from doing such things.

Brenda (betaphi) March 26, 2010 at 10:10 am

THIS, from a man who hates quotes, I love. ‘Aphorism’ does sound better. Had a little trouble with number 4 — the sun, the moon, the earth feel like more than interpretations. Wondered a bit what ‘crooked and straight’ meant to him in 22 & 39. Never thought of humility as a wish to be exalted and yet it probably is. My dear little dad prized humility above all things and many exalted him for it.

I would love to know the backstory on how you arrive at some of these topics, especially this one. Good stuff, DC.
.-= Brenda (betaphi)´s last blog ..You Were Loved =-.

David March 26, 2010 at 8:18 pm

Did he hate quotes? He certainly loved aphorisms. I love quotes. Especially from quote-haters.

22 and 39 really struck me. I grew up with a cloudly idea of a religious God and suddenly everything became clear and sensible when I decided to dismiss the idea altogether. I think his “crooked” refers to views that don’t add up, don’t appear consistent with themselves.
.-= David´s last blog ..40 Belief-Shaking Remarks From a Ruthless Nonconformist =-.

Terry and Tony March 26, 2010 at 10:25 am

It’s a pity that words that “hit nerves” are mostly considered controversial, because we feel it is just these kinds of words that get people thinking about being more honest with themselves, and get them to start to work on self-improvement.
.-= Terry and Tony´s last blog ..Plastic People =-.

David March 26, 2010 at 8:22 pm

Yes. The real test is what you do when something you hear or read hits a nerve — ask what it says about the world, or what it says about your take of it?

Alletron March 26, 2010 at 12:38 pm

If there’s one thing Friedrich Nietzsche did well, it was growing that killer ‘stache!

David March 26, 2010 at 8:24 pm

No doubt! That thing is seriously subversive.

Cheryl Paris March 26, 2010 at 1:36 pm

Hello David,

Great job for putting this together. I am glad to have read it.

I agree to this one “Success has always been a great liar.”

Bye for now,
.-= Cheryl Paris´s last blog ..How We Grew With An Acorn- N is for… =-.

David March 26, 2010 at 8:26 pm

Hi Cheryl. That one took me a while, but I think it’s right on the mark. Recently I read a post by Tim Ferriss about how he decided to stop using certain meaningless and misleading works, including “success.”

Rosa March 26, 2010 at 1:43 pm

This is an awesome list David, the guy can really shake things up! I agree with Lisis, you should elaborate on them =)

David March 26, 2010 at 8:26 pm

I will pick a few and get to work :)

Patty - Why Not Start Now? March 26, 2010 at 2:32 pm

Excellent, David. He was one of a kind. My favorite Nietzsche quote:

“Freedom is the will to be responsible to ourselves.”

And as much as I love his words, I still have trouble remembering how to spell his name.
.-= Patty – Why Not Start Now?´s last blog ..Eight Black Shoes =-.

David March 26, 2010 at 8:29 pm

Ah that’s a great one. Never saw it before. Completely true in my experience. I’ve never felt more trapped than when I’ve refused to be responsible.

Even after researching and writing this post I still have to slow down to get the spelling right. Just remember “E-T-Z-S” and the rest works itself out.

matt March 26, 2010 at 3:23 pm


David March 26, 2010 at 8:29 pm


Shannon March 26, 2010 at 5:44 pm

F.N. always was one for stirring the pot. Shame the poor fellow died mad as a hatter. Of course, it takes real genius to go insane, so called “normal” people are too invested with the boring minutiae of the daily grind to enter into the deep questioning thoughts that can make a mind wend its way towards madness.

I do disagree with there being no facts. A human cannot breathe water. That is a fact and I defy anyone who does not believe it to stick his head in a swimming pool and take in a nice deep breath. Fire burns. This too is a fact. Grasp a flaming, red hot piece of oak in your hand and you can interpret the blackening of your skin any way you wish but it is still a burn.

Some things are facts. Not everything is as profound as the philosophers would have us believe.

David March 26, 2010 at 8:34 pm

The “there are no facts” seems to be the most challenging of these aphorisms so far.

I used to believe there are facts, but I don’t see it that way anymore.

I discussed my view of objective facts in How to Be Right All The Time if you want to know why I agree with him.

Tom F March 28, 2010 at 2:08 pm

David, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed this entire page, comments included. However corny it may seem, here’s my own aphorism for your problem with facts.

A fact is a belief, and a belief is no fact.

I hope I’ve made sense,

Jessica March 28, 2010 at 7:39 am

I challenge that! (In a friendly way :D ) Just because we don’t know how to grasp a flaming piece of wood without burning ourselves yet doesn’t mean we can’t.

Actually…aren’t there people who walk on coals? Not that I would try, because I don’t know how to do it. I wouldn’t try to pilot a cruise ship either, until I learned.

I don’t think things have to be profound or complicated. I take a more Zen approach. I think it’s so startlingly simple that we just can’t grasp it all the time.
.-= Jessica´s last blog ..Photo Friday: Make a Wish =-.

dan June 14, 2010 at 9:40 pm

Shannon wrote: “Of course, it takes real genius to go insane…”

that and syphilis…

Ashley March 26, 2010 at 6:05 pm

David, I stumbled upon this page, and this just struck me as so true, and well, what I was struggling to piece together in my head: “What is the mark of liberation? No longer being ashamed in front of oneself.”
I suppose I was becoming disillusioned with the world, something that happens often with me. Sometimes I will bounce back, and suddenly seem to see the beauty and well, point (or rather, that maybe there doesn’t need to be a point) to life, but the disillusionment always comes back. Maybe you can relate?
Anyway, this page just shook me out of my state and made it sink in–maybe–no, life doesn’t need one point. Life doesn’t need a single meaning. Because it just is. And it’s up to each person to see that–or not.
Thank you.

David March 26, 2010 at 8:38 pm

In my view life has no intrinsic purpose and you just have to pick one. It can have plenty of meaning, but it all comes from you. So that makes your role a pretty important one :)

Char (PSI Tutor:Mentor) March 26, 2010 at 7:24 pm

25~ a beautiful expression of love

39 had me smiling
.-= Char (PSI Tutor:Mentor)´s last blog ..Studies on Track Chat~ FREE WiziQ class, 29th March, 2010 =-.

David March 26, 2010 at 8:39 pm

I love those two especially.

Sunny March 26, 2010 at 8:40 pm

I started out picking things that I liked and things I just kind of skimmed over, getting excited at the ones that stuck out to me, but I went back and sat down to really read them and they’re all very good. I’d been a small fan of Nietzsche but there’s a lot of good quotes here I hadn’t seen before, and as always, an amazing post from you =].

also! I actually came upon this through stumbleupon which excited me even more, because I love Raptitude and I love stumbleupon and to have them collide when I was behind on blogs was great
.-= Sunny´s last blog ..My friend in Lady Gaga’s video! =-.

David March 26, 2010 at 10:08 pm

Once in a while I hit the Stumble button and one of my own articles comes up. It’s a strange but lovely feeling.
.-= David´s last blog ..40 Belief-Shaking Remarks From a Ruthless Nonconformist =-.

Maisie March 27, 2010 at 11:54 am

Hello! I stumbled upon this page last night and have been reading a lot here since. This is a beautiful website. I think it’s going to help me a lot. Here’s a thought:

22. God is a thought who makes crooked all that is straight.

39. Glance into the world just as though time were gone: and everything crooked will become straight to you.

I love Nietzsche, but the whole God is dead bit doesn’t convince me at all. Maybe it’s all the Saint Augustine I read but in my opinion, #22 and #39 are contradictory. Part of my concept of God (completely influenced by Augustine) is that everything is timelessly contained within time. Time is only a perception thing to do our immediate connection to the world. So everything that happens in time has happened eternally and unchangably.
Part of an idea many people share about God includes “glancing at the world as though time were gone.” Not so much gone I guess, but I think thinking of the world as timelessly existing is getting at the same sort of thing Nietzsche is here. I think doing this is one of the biggest keys to having any sort of vision of God, or the Good to be platonic about it, or whatever you want to call it. I just call it God, I feel I might as well.

I’m so happy I found this site. Nothing like a bit of philosophical argument in the morning!

David March 27, 2010 at 11:38 pm

Hi Maisie, welcome to Raptitude.

The statements involving God are really tricky because that particular word has vastly different meanings to different people, not to mention the emotional attachments people form over it, one way or the other. If you wiki “God is dead” you get a rather interesting discussion about what it is supposed to mean.

I feel a very powerful peace when I view the moment as if time doesn’t exist — one I might associate with God if I used that word freely.

Drew Tkac March 27, 2010 at 12:39 pm

There are no facts, only interpretations. This is a good one.

I am an engineer, I work with engineers, and I went to college with engineers. When I bring up this quote it sure stirs up a shit storm.

I agree with David that the best I can offer is “this is how I see it” and this is no different. So this is how I see it.

It is easy to handle the concept of others viewpoints and not considering them facts, so the facts that are the issue here are science facts. A science fact is simply something that has been tested enough times to say it has the highest probably that it will happen again given the same initial conditions to cause it.

But the key word is probability. In his time Einstein could not accept the concept of quantum mechanics. He said that god does not play dice with the universe. Even Einstein could not accept the randomness of matter and the universe. But now quantum mechanics is the generally accepted THEORY of how the universe operates.

I am not an expert on quantum physics, but the bases of it is probability. The underlying quote is, “Anything with non zero probability given infinite time will happen.” So anything is possible and all so called facts are really just theories with high probabilities of occurring.

There is a non zero probability that the sun will not rise tomorrow, that if I stick my hand in a fire i will not get burnt, and that if I step off the edge of a building that I will not fall. Anything we want to call a fact is actually anything that has a 100% probability of occurring. Nothing like that exists in this universe.

Niels Bohr and the other fathers of quantum physics put forth this concept 90 years ago. Einstein could not handle it. Can we?

Josh March 27, 2010 at 1:12 pm

It sounds like you’re talking more about the ability of science to make predictions than your are talking about the ability of science to collect factual information about the world around us.
I love what you’ve posted here, it is very eloquent and I believe that it represents what science is all about. Or at least what science should be about. In order to make those probability based predictions about some future event science relies on a collection of observations made in the past. You said “A science fact is simply something that has been tested enough times to say it has the highest probably [sic] that it will happen again given the same initial conditions to cause it.” Now say all you want about what it is possible to predict based on those tests, but you can’t deny the tests themselves.
What about historical facts? Those observations and experiments that have already occurred and are the basis of the “scientific facts” are not in dispute. You man not be able to say that dropping a lit match in a bucket of water will always extinguish that match, but you can certainly say that we dropped 100 lit matches in 100 buckets of water and 100 out of 100 times the match was extinguished. Using the facts recorded in those experiments you can devise a theory that water will extinguish fire. Now, that THEORY (your emphasis) might not be able to predict with 100 percent accuracy what will happen when a lit match interacts with a bucket of water but even so that theory doesn’t discard the hundred tests that came before it. Those tests are what I am calling facts. Recorded events that happened. You might not be able to predict the future, but you can certainly recall the past. (unless of course the world was created five seconds ago and all of what we think are memories are just a part of that fabrication.)

Drew Tkac March 27, 2010 at 5:53 pm

Thank you Josh for your thoughtful reply. You make a good point regarding historical “fact.”

I understand that I may be cutting this very fine here, but the observation that the match was extinguished is an observation subject to each observers interpretation. When we ask a bit more of our observers, such as when was the flame extinguished, we would get different answers from our observers. The observations could then be grouped and statistically analyzed and a probability curve created. The result would be a Gaussian distribution with some value representing the highest probability that the flame went out in so many milliseconds.

But we can say that all of the observers agreed that the flame was completely out within so many seconds. This is rather indisputable.

Perhaps I am missing Nietzsche point. Upon a bit more research I think the word “fact” that Nietzsche is using here is more closely related to truth, in a philosophical sense. Here is a link to wiki’s article on truth:

The definition of truth/fact seems to be a extensive discussion of its own. But beware, searching for the definition of “quality” drove the protagonist in “Zen and The Art of Motorcycle Maintenance” to a breakdown. This may have the same results to unprepared travelers.

Christopher Dugan March 27, 2010 at 2:22 pm

Here’s a different tack Drew, springing from observation of how the brain’s structure seems formed of connections between neurons, varying in redundancy.

In the same way, all knowledge is formed of inferred correlations with varying probabilities of veracity. The strength of a given belief is related to its percieved probability of veracity based on repeated past perceptions (redundancy) and that of any supporting correlations that interconnect with it. The operating principle being that the more a given result repeats, the more likely it is to continue to repeat.

Learning is a function of reassessing or recalibrating these probabilities in relation to one another and forming new connections. The scientific method merely adds a third step to learning: severing any correlation that fails to acurately predict perception even once, in order to promote a more accurate model.

Therefore, knowledge works thus: Percieve > Correlate (Predict) > Percieve > Correct > Correlate… ad infinitum. It is a process rather than a state of being, and cannot occur without feedback. Our language decieves us.

I disagree on one important point, however. The probability that the sun will not rise tomorrow is not non-zero, it is undefined. I have no perceptions of the sun not rising, or correlations to support the prediction, by which to infer such a probability; it is unknowable until I do.

Christopher Dugan March 27, 2010 at 3:00 pm

Whoops, quick clarification:

“The probability that the sun will not rise tomorrow is not non-zero, it is undefined [or worse, imaginary!].”

Jessica March 28, 2010 at 7:41 am

Thanks for breaking down quantum physics into one sentence. That was awesome :D
.-= Jessica´s last blog ..Photo Friday: Make a Wish =-.

Chris F. March 27, 2010 at 5:36 pm

I have a question about “facts”: I agree that all the information we receive from the outside, objective world is (or appears to be) processed by our subjective selves and, therefore, can only be interpretations (not “facts”). Furthermore, all science can really do is express probabilities: not 100% prove nor disprove something.

However, dovetailing with David’s last post on developing a mindfulness habit, I’m wondering if the direct experience of “opening a door or sitting down” — in the fully experiencing of it — couldn’t be considered a type of “truth” or even “subjective fact”? It seems there is a special quality there: if not a “fact”, what would you call it?

Char (PSI Tutor:Mentor) March 27, 2010 at 6:09 pm

^Chris F~
“There is a growing body of evolutionary support for altruism~ and not the “there’s something in it for me way”.

My response was to the intention behind apparent selfless acts of a person. “The key point to remember is that biological altruism cannot be equated with altruism in the everyday vernacular sense. Biological altruism is defined in terms of fitness consequences, not motivating intentions.”


As the way I see it is that humans are more than genes, that self is a state of being other than genes, then I choose too to believe that we are not at base, selfish.
.-= Char (PSI Tutor:Mentor)´s last blog ..Studies on Track Chat~ FREE WiziQ class, 29th March, 2010 =-.

Chris F. April 3, 2010 at 11:52 am

Hi Char. Thanks! I really enjoyed the Stanford article. It stretched my mind a bit. I also agree that “humans are more than genes”.

I think we’re gonna have to “agree to disagree” regarding altruism, though…. What the Stanford authors call “real altruism” you claim to be our “base” (core). While you may be right, I think it’s _much_ more likely an emergent characteristic: Can bacteria demonstrate “real altruism”, can tuna? (Those are the kind of places we came-from.) No, evolution is, if anything, exceptionally energy-efficient: individuals (genes), in a natural setting with limited resources, who “give away energy” without benefit will not survive.

Isn’t it MORE impressive that we have to work and struggle against our DNA-programmed selfishness to demonstrate “real altruism” rather than it being inborn? If you look into your base/core (e.g. a la Ramana/”Who am I?”), if you project that there _should_ be “true altruism” there, you _may_ be only seeing at what you’re projecting, what you expect to see.

Char (PSI Tutor:Mentor) April 3, 2010 at 6:22 pm

That’s assuming that it is a universal struggle Chris.

Looking at prehistoric art, reading archeological and evolutionary anthro papers this past week, all I’m seeing are lots of sharing caring communities (within and inter) who revered nature and women and man’s ability to produce little ones. Not saying there was no selfish behaviours at this time, but the norm displayed on the cave walls and artifacts left behind indicate there was not much of a struggle with it.

(Well, now that there is a re-analysis of the first interpretations by predominantly male archeologists etc who ignored many female aspects of what they were looking at; and when bonobos started to be looked at not just the common chimp)

Even the papers I’ve seen up to the Bronze age with the Minoan do not demonstrate selfishness as the norm.

And let’s not forget the bonobos~ sharing of food is the core of their socialisation, including interactions with other groups that want to feed off the same tree.

Overall, I see very little empirical evidence to support my cognition being similar to that of bacteria or tuna. Choice for one. Sex for pleasure and not procreation for another.

btw: I “may be right” ~:-) Chris, I so am not interested in being right during our discussion.

Chris March 28, 2010 at 2:20 pm

Hi David. Just wanted to drop a line in saying that Nietzsche is one of my favorite philosophers, and to thank you for putting this list together. Then, of course, I found the comments, and had to spend a half hour reading through them! I might have to look at the comments more often from now on. Some excellent, civil back-and-forth on the nature of facts/reality there, and you and your readers have given me some things to think about.

Looking forward to your next post.
.-= Chris´s last blog ..Eighty-six =-.

David March 28, 2010 at 2:59 pm

Hi Chris,

This post has spurred quite a discussion. I guess it’s a testament to Nietzsche’s polarizing ideas.

Vanessa March 28, 2010 at 9:31 pm

“22. God is a thought who makes crooked all that is straight.”

I don’t necessarily agree with this one. I honestly think everything is always crooked whether God is in the picture or not, and just accepting that it’s crooked makes it straight.

David March 28, 2010 at 10:57 pm

That is a murky one. I suspect it is a reference to the institutionally imposed notion of a God that is loving yet angry, forgiving yet vengeful, omnipotent yet fallible — I think he’s addressing the inconsistencies in the common religious conception of God.

When I was younger I tossed out all thoughts of a God like that and suddenly the world made sense.

anon March 30, 2010 at 12:16 pm

This discussion reminds me of another Nietzsche quote I read on the subway in Montreal: “A strong belief proves but the strength, not the truth, of what one believes.”

David March 30, 2010 at 6:02 pm

Ah, that might be the best one yet :)

Montreal is a very conscious city.
.-= David´s last blog ..This is Your Life’s Work =-.

James March 30, 2010 at 7:49 pm

I believe comment 25 is a bit out of context. It makes it seem that Nietzsche is saying that sparing someone shame is humane, when in fact he says just the opposite. To Nietzsche pity, feeling sorry for someone, was not humane because it enabled someone to hide from the truth. It caused more harm than good.

David March 30, 2010 at 9:42 pm

Hi James. One problem with quotes is that they must be removed from their context. I have tried not to use aphorisms here that mean something different when considered without their original context. Nietzsche was known for the deliberate use of aphorism, none of which should require additional context to communicate the point.

In any case though, sparing someone shame is not pity.

Feeling sorry for someone is suffering for their suffering. It is a self-defeating emotion and I’m not surprised to hear Nietzsche was not a fan of it. Pity, to my mind, does more to enforce shame than to alleviate it. You can spare someone shame by not creating situations in which they lose face. Dale Carnegie wrote compellingly about the benefits of never causing others to lose face in How to Win Friends and Influence People.

Char (PSI Tutor:Mentor) March 30, 2010 at 8:39 pm

^re. 25~ compassion is not pity

Char (PSI Tutor:Mentor) March 30, 2010 at 8:41 pm

^re. 25~ compassion is not pity.

And who gets to decide what truth is?

Azhak Hussam March 31, 2010 at 2:17 am

For the past 30 years of my life F.N was and still my companion, every day I have to read couple pages of his work, debate them,agree,disagree think and then try to sleep.
the time it takes me to fall asleep are the prize,the dream.
falling asleep was and is the end of the joy.
I will try soon to post what I think of what I think of what I read in this beautiful blog.
I really thank you David and all of the participants for this great site which I found by stumble !!!

David March 31, 2010 at 3:47 pm

Three cheers for StumbleUpon! Thanks for stopping by Ashak.

Aussiedude March 31, 2010 at 6:00 am

A few people asked which is better to be solid in your beliefs or fluid and easily swayed.

What is better is to have doubt. Certainty is arrogance. But that doesn’t mean you can’t have assumptions based on what you’ve observed thus far.

For instance: Gravity! .. Certain? Maybe. We don’t know. All we know is that so far every time you drop that blasted apple it falls. And as far as we can see, gravity applies through the entire universe.

The keywords though in that was “so far”. Maybe gravity might one day change?

Also, it is seeming more and more apparent to scientists now that the further in you get to the smallest parts of matter, gravity doesn’t seem to apply, or does so in a different way.

So even something as “certain” as gravity, is something we can and should have doubt in. But that doesn’t mean we should go jumping of bridges to test it.

‘least that’s my thoughts on it all!

David March 31, 2010 at 3:52 pm

Yes, gravity is still mysterious. It was originally interpreted to be an attractive force between two objects of mass, a model which seemed to fit quite nicely. And then Einstein turned it upside down by describing it as the curvature of space-time. Later on Einstein’s interpretation was shown to be incompatible with quantum mechanics. We can’t *know*, only believe.

Yisca March 31, 2010 at 8:39 am

My philosophy professor once said that Existentialism is more of a mood than a philosophy. I thought that was a good one, but I do have a deep resonance with what Neitzche has to offer.

David March 31, 2010 at 3:53 pm

That’s an interesting take. I think moods fluctuate a little to quickly to determine our philosophies.

J April 1, 2010 at 11:41 am

These comments = intellectual masturbation

Char (PSI Tutor:Mentor) April 1, 2010 at 4:10 pm

J~ are you interpreting masturbation as “bad”…?

Otherwise, can’t speak for the others, but me likes the comparison to a bunch of happy bonobo.

Derek April 30, 2010 at 11:38 pm

J~ are you interpreting masturbation as “bad”…?

Thanks, had a good laugh due to that blunt response. For some reason, I imagine them cheering for Palin.

Great read by the way, the comments included. As to the quotes, My favorites are 12, 20, and especially 34.

Everyone who has ever built anywhere a new heaven first found the power thereto in his own hell.

I’ll spare you the lengthy details of why I like it so much. I think I’m going to read some of this man’s works. I feel I’ve missed out on a good deal of interesting perspective.

David May 1, 2010 at 1:02 am

12 is my favorite, I think.
.-= David´s last blog ..Insight Is Not Enough =-.

David April 1, 2010 at 6:34 pm

That’s what the internet is for.

Sorry to interrupt your purposeful StumbleUpon session with our pointless talk.

Jojirius April 2, 2010 at 1:15 am

1. People who have given us their complete confidence believe that they have a right to ours. The inference is false, a gift confers no rights.

-From the get-go, each aphorism stands alone. The fact that an inference can be, in an absolute system, false, is contradicted by the “there are no facts” statement. INFERENCE: Nietzsche is not trying via logic to convince us of anything. He merely wishes to inspire thought that is not normally thought. Allow me to get back on topic. I am now back on topic. REFUTATION: Giving someone a gift may not bestow rights on the giver, but the circumstances surrounding the giving often do make a relationship closer, and the expectation from a closer relationship of being mutually open is not only perfectly reasonable, but productive. While I understand Nietzsche’s point that trust cannot be expected, it is certainly not harmful to conduct life as if it is, for otherwise we are presented with an excuse to be closed to certain friends we would otherwise be open to, though we’d also be more secure from potential clumsy/cruel people.

2. He that humbleth himself wishes to be exalted.

-He that humbleth himself, eh? ANALYSIS: “himself” is the key term. DISCLAIMER: Fortunately, this phrase is not a blanket statement smiting humble people so much as people who actively “humble” themselves, do it consciously, and promote their own humility.

3. The surest way to corrupt a youth is to instruct him to hold in higher esteem those who think alike than those who think differently.

-Instructing a youth, as phrased, to hold those in agreement in no higher esteem than those who think differently, would appear to be the antithesis. ASSUMPTION: that doing so does not corrupt said youth. CONCLUSION: youth told what to believe, is fundamentally corrupt by his definition. Balance of appreciation in our world might be optimal, but teaching our youth what to believe is just brainwashing them with more generosity toward “different” people. We still need a body of bandwagoners and agreers for the disagreers to stand out.

4. There are no facts, only interpretations.

-Highly controversial, though it does not need to be. PROBLEM: Individual definition for facts. DEFINITION: My own perceived reality. RESULTS: I believe facts exist, as I have defined them as my own perceived reality. I believe facts change as I perceive reality differently, but for any given time frame, they are absolute. EXAMPLE: Currently I believe we are all discolored cheesecake. Therefore, all human beings are discolored cheesecake. That is a fact. In the next instant I am forced to change my fact, but there is no one who can prove to me that in that time frame human beings were not all discolored cheesecake. FUNDAMENTAL THEORY: While this generates meaningful discussion, Nietzsche did not intend to convince so much as he meant us to think. When we get into semantics, like “oh I know how to not burn myself while holding a stick,” or “gravity has been re-defined since its introduction as a theory” we are just being stubborn. Definitions for facts also differ. Hence, moot point for some, not so moot for others. Semi-moot.

5. Morality is but the herd-instinct in the individual.

-ERROR: Cannot interpret aphorism/quote. Require administrative explanation. Define: herd-instinct, morality. Explain relationship between two. Explain why Nietzsche believed this was a “non-conformist” statement.

6. No one talks more passionately about his rights than he who in the depths of his soul doubts whether he has any.

-SECOND REACTION: This statement is actually very sad. It is true that on some level, initially, Martin Luther King Jr. and Gandhi had to be extraordinarily insecure. This is why most people do not become civil rights leaders. They overcame their insecurities, and not only spoke for themselves, but also the population they represented. True bravery, but it is not because they faced any outside force. It is because they overcame their own doubts as to whether they did or did not deserve rights. Incredible insight. Apologies for my first reaction.

7. Without music, life would be a mistake.

-SUMMARY: Nietzsche liked music. Whether or not bias is intended, it is very much there, and at any rate, art comes in many forms. What I consider art includes Impressionist paintings, Post-Modern Sculpture, and Molecular Biology. Some people prefer music.

8. Anyone who has declared someone else to be an idiot, a bad apple, is annoyed when it turns out in the end that he isn’t.



9. In large states public education will always be mediocre, for the same reason that in large kitchens the cooking is usually bad.

-SOLUTION: Any large state can be treated as small states, just as large-scale loans have been converted into micro-loans in poor countries, with a higher success rate and less overall risk. Nietzsche’s wording, if quoted correctly, implies a lack of a solution, but I certainly believe our world can solve this problem.

10. The man of knowledge must be able not only to love his enemies but also to hate his friends.

However very true. A wealth of knowledge creates a man or woman with little room for bias, and they must do what they feel is best, which may not coincide with human emotions, which are of course imperfect.

11. A casual stroll through the lunatic asylum shows that faith does not prove anything.

-REVELATION: Nietzsche is definitely not religious. Faith of course does not prove. That is not the point. Though at the same time, I am not blind to his point.

12. We often refuse to accept an idea merely because the way in which it has been expressed is unsympathetic to us.

-PSYCHOANALYSIS: Nietzsche was bitter when he said/wrote this. I wish I could have been there for him. This statement, however, should be conventional wisdom. Where I live, everyone knows this fact. Anyone who doesn’t, gets told in short order.

13. No victor believes in chance.

-EVIDENCE: Hitler decided to rely not on his general’s calculations, and instead on his own ego and inflated feeling of importance. He believed himself close to God, so he abandoned logic in favor of chance. He also committed suicide.

14. Convictions are more dangerous foes of truth than lies.

-REFLECTION: My friends and I often forget this. Jumping to conclusions without evidence, a.k.a. “conviction”, is certainly very dangerous. Our heads are bruised from the low ceiling of “reality,” and many opportunities have been missed. Friends have been lost. Relationships have fractured. Mercy has been abandoned. As this aphorism has hurt me the most, I value it the most.

15. Talking much about oneself can also be a means to conceal oneself.

-One of the more correct and useless quotations, because of word usage “can”. Very non-definitive. You could say, non-specific. SYNONYM: vague.

16. It is not a lack of love, but a lack of friendship that makes unhappy marriages.

-EMOTICON RESPONSE: O.O I should take notes, as I have not yet married.

17. The essence of all beautiful art, all great art, is gratitude.

-DECISION: It is 2:00 AM for me, as a fact. You may have noticed my first responses were the longest. Melatonin and adenosine seem to be causing drowsiness. If post is responded to, another 15 or so aphorisms will be looked at in somewhat depth.

-ANNOUNCEMENT: Do not take me too seriously. Relative to the total number of aphorisms, I am less than 1/3 of them in years of age.

David April 2, 2010 at 3:10 am

Hah! This is excellent. Insightful and proper, but with a sense of humor. Best comment ever :)

You asked about number 5

5. Morality is but the herd-instinct in the individual.

-ERROR: Cannot interpret aphorism/quote. Require administrative explanation. Define: herd-instinct, morality. Explain relationship between two. Explain why Nietzsche believed this was a “non-conformist” statement.

Nah I’m not going to define those words because that’s when this kind of talk gets really dry and boring — when we start pulling out our dictionaries. We can sort it out without strict definitions.

My take is that he meant that a person’s concept of right and wrong is based on what everyone else does, rather than some internal compass or God’s will or anything other than pure conformity. “Herd-instinct” refers the compulsion to seek security in doing as others do.

Nonconformist was my word for Nietzsche, I don’t know if he called himself that.

Char (PSI Tutor:Mentor) April 2, 2010 at 1:42 am

^ luv it~ I would like to understand philosophy better and your method of expression is certainly one that helps’


Daniel April 2, 2010 at 2:00 am

4. There are no facts, only interpretations.
22. God is a thought who makes crooked all that is straight.
12. We often refuse to accept an idea merely because the way in which it has been expressed is unsympathetic to us.

-Is everything we read from Nietzsche an interpretation? Would he refuse to accept someone telling him:
“God is a thought who makes straight all that is crooked.” After all…we all interpret things differently.
We are all the same sadly… in this way.
If deductive reasoning can make two conflicting believes true, deductive reasoning is false.

14. Convictions are more dangerous foes of truth than lies.

– I have to agree with this. Can this be considered a conviction of a sort? It seems worthy of it.

Daniel April 2, 2010 at 2:06 am

haha fuck me beliefs* :|

Dionysus April 3, 2010 at 7:03 pm

I knew this was going to be a cut-and-paste blog from the introduction, I mean your summary of Nietzche’s justly famous quote about saying in ten sentences what others say in a book misses the clever end of the thought when he adds “to say what others do not say in a book…”

He also had a word for lazy blog writers and others who would seemingly slander his name by speed-reading through his works-

“The worst readers are those who behave like plundering troops: they take away a few things they can use, dirty and confound the remainder, and revile the whole.”

David April 3, 2010 at 8:02 pm

Your comment makes it clear who the worst readers are.

Char (PSI Tutor:Mentor) April 3, 2010 at 11:38 pm


a cut and paste here and there (with commentary whilst on a working holiday!), does not a blogfull maketh

Jojirius April 3, 2010 at 11:17 pm

Even if you are trying to say that Mr. David omitted something he should not have, there’s no need to treat “cut-and-paste” blogs as slanderous. Or scandalous, or anything else associated with negativity and paparazzi! Mr. Nieztche certainly also had a word for poor readers, but if you truly wanted Mr. David to take it to heart, you could have worded it more tastefully, such as replacing the word “lazy” with “omnipotent”, and replacing the word “slander” with “honor”.

Ignoring that, since what’s done is done, would Mr. Nieztche prefer his ideas to be perpetuated or for people to pick on details and use internet coverage to attack others?

Allow me to cut and paste this: “I counsel you, my friends: Distrust all in whom the impulse to punish is powerful.”

Your words are far more punishing than they are helpful, and even in quoting Nietzche, who was himself quite the vicious character, you ignore the point of the blog: to inspire thought. While I too prefer perfection, David-san never boasted his perfect quotation ability, or if he did it was in white text.

To end on a lighter note, O god of wine…drink less prior to posting. And O he who is the beloved in Hebrew nomenclature, try not to let anger get to your head. Mr. Winey God has a point about wanting your posts to be perfect, no matter how dull and crude of a point it is.

Kevin April 4, 2010 at 7:06 pm

Stumbled upon this ages ago, spent the last many minutes reading through all the comments and even though i had an immense amount of comments running through my head as i read, i cant for the life of me remember half of them. Thank you david for posting this, i think its an extremely insightful look into a realm of thought few people venture into in their life, however i did read one comment by josh, and another by char that i feel i have to comment on. Firstly Josh, while i respect your view on what constitues a fact, and with no intention of dismissing yours as untrue, i would like to offer my belief on the now famous quote in this blog, “there are no facts, only interpretations.” The way i see it, everything, even historical facts if you will, CAN (not are) be seen as interpretations, you could sit here and say that you dropped a match into water and it extinguished, but for a blind man, he might not have the same interpretation, to him he never saw the match or it being extinguished, he only heard something, also i think that even though some may consider this a childish point, i think it has value, that while i cannot disprove that lets say a match was extinguished, someone else cannot prove it was. And even if they provided eyewitness acounts, or there was stuff written about it, it could be false, i have already talked about it too long, but i will add one last point about this quote, i remember when i was younger, about 8 years old, and i read a book and in this book was the theory that you could not prove that a train was moving along the earth, it could be that the train is still and everything else including the earth, lamposts and people, and moving underneath it, i could not wrap my head around that thought then, as it seemed to bizarre, but i have since changed that tune, that to me is an example of how i have changed my view from the fact that the train was moving, to the fact that it might be something else entirely, or even my brain simply showing me a different picture. Also i wanted to comment on Chars posts about altruism, i would like to add my insight which is that, in my view, there is no such thing as a selfless good deed, i am not saying this is correct, it is my opinion, if i can be proven wrong then ill gladly change my opinion, but i believe that even if you do something say you give money to help someone else, even if you needed the money yourself, you would feel good about helping someone else, and the reason i believe there are no real selfless good deeds, is that i believe we are programmed so that the very act of helping others is recognised as a good thing by our minds, and i believe this as i always try to help people wherever i can, and even if i use my own time and resources that i had earmarked for something else, when you’ve helped someone, no matter if you hear those two little words (thank you) or not, you have a sense of accomplishment and purpose about you that lifts your mood inexplicably, or at least that is my take, i would love to hear feedback on it to see if others feel this aswell.
Finally i would like to just say if i offended anyone with these comments it was not on purpose, and if i have i will say sorry now in advance, sorry.

Sean April 4, 2010 at 8:11 pm

I like Nietzsche.

Char (PSI Tutor:Mentor) April 4, 2010 at 10:30 pm

Hi Kevin~ I do not agree that it is socialisation alone that can instill a person with a sense of altruism. I agree, that detaching oneself from internal rewards can be difficult~ though I do not impossible.

Following are some quotes from an article, and I included a link above to non-primate critters exhibits of altruistic behaviours from the biological definition (if you are a Creationist, my apologies for only including an evolutionary perspective and I will source some materials).

Selfless Chimps

“Chimpanzees and such young infants [18 months] both show that some level of altruism may be innate and not just a factor of education,” said developmental and comparative psychologist Felix Warneken at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology at Leipzig, Germany. “People say we become altruistic because our parents teach us so, but that young children are originally selfish. This suggests maybe culture is not the only source of altruism.”

Paper available here: http://www.eva.mpg.de/psycho/pdf/Publications_2006_PDF/Altruistic_Helping_in_Human_06.pdf
(free download)

“”There is a biological predisposition to altruistic tendencies that we share with our common ancestor, and culture cultivates rather than implants the roots of altruism in the human psyche from primordial forms to more mature ones,” Warneken told LiveScience.”

One of his papers available here:
(free download)

A recent blog post of his:

“We should stop listening to ideologues who tout their dog-eat-dog view of nature as a prescription for society, and start taking the latest evidence about the human primate into account.”


For me, accepting the idea that we only do things because I am inherently selfish, can be a cop-out excuse to do nothing and to lose hope in humankind.

Kevin April 5, 2010 at 3:25 am

Hey Char, very good point the last one, and even though i haven’t looked at the articles yet, i look forward to reading them later today, but i of course am not sure of this, but to me it sounds like i might not have described my point of view as best as i could, the way i see it, if we choose to say that we only do things because we are inherently selfish, that is indeed not a good saying to live by, however what i do believe is that even the most selfless acts bring great pleasure at least in my experience to the one who performs them. The meaning of the word selfless is always going to be a tricky one to define, as the very notion of the word would in my case automatically turn me to the thought that the selfless person did something for someone else, and gained nothing, but depending on how i define selfishness, i can actually see your point, and if you describe altruism as merely doing something of which you recieve no direct benefit over at least physical, while someone else does, then i believe that you are right, however what i cant seem to forget is that whenever i have tried being selfless, i find myself pleased with myself for helping others, which i count as a reward, although i do not necessarily think that makes you selfish. Thanks for replying though, its always interesting to get someone elses take on an opinion as otherwise we would never evolve mentally :). In fact i just “realised” now that i think you are probably right concerning that some level of altruism is innate, and ever conscious in us, however i think in the society we live in, where so much relies on money, and good grades, and getting jobs, and climbing the ladder etc, many people find it hard if they ever manage or even attempt, to act consciously on an altruistic scale.

Char (PSI Tutor:Mentor) April 5, 2010 at 4:17 am

Kevin~ that selfless state you are trying to achieve,

The Buddha called ego detachment;

Jesus referred to as “giving up of the self”;

Rumi called the “jihad” (holy war) as “the killing of the ego and the abandonment of personal wishes”;

Catherine of Siena is noted to have said “No matter what your state in life it is essential to kill this selfish-love;

Native American’s aspire to with drumming, “The practice of drum healing is all about detachment. It is to be present with all that there is. It is going to that inner place to effect change in our consciousness and physicality.

And Carlos Castaneda termed, Stalking the Ego

there are many others…

The perennial philosophy…

John April 6, 2010 at 10:16 pm

Char, the ideas you bring up here I think strike to the heart of the discussion. As humans, though, can we truly become ‘selfless’? Is it possible to completely eliminate self? It seems that the only way to exhibit true altruism is to completely lack an ego, a self. Though perhaps not impossible, following this assumption, most if not all humans can’t and never will be truly selfless. To be selfless is just that, to lack a self.

Pip April 5, 2010 at 12:41 am

It’s not about about having strong beliefs. You can have them or not. It’s the idea that you see it from the other sides. Every situation has a left or right or a million debates. If you believe in something you should stand for it but also understand its opposition.

Jonathan Barrett April 6, 2010 at 4:30 am

For me, my most empowering act of “self liberation” is being somewhat skeptical of everything…To question EVERYTHING, the world, even myself. Slowly but surely the facade I was putting up began falling away to the point that people no longer recognized me..I found something amazing in the fact that the people who I thought were my GOOD friends were really not, and what I thought was “cool” wasn’t just “not cool”; it didn’t even exist! . A core reasoning emerged from this transformation and I am left with good friends and significant matters to attend to…I am satisfied

Dena April 9, 2010 at 11:31 am

Hey David,

Great post! I just want to let you know that I featured it in my weekly Friday Carousel of links here: http://evolutionyou.net/blog/carousel-040910/. I think that my readers will really enjoy this.

Have a great weekend!

In love & light,
.-= Dena´s last blog ..Carousel — 04.09.10 =-.

Dr. G April 10, 2010 at 8:32 pm

Very nice 40 famous phrases, Dave; thank you! Since you are a passionate reader, here’s another must have for your bookshelf: “And Nietzsche Wept” by Irvind D. Yalom, emeritus of Stanford University and my favorite author on psychology.
“Freud’s mentor, Josef Breuer, attempts to cure Friedrich Nietzsche of suicidal despair in the clinics, cemeteries, and coffeehouses of 19th-century Vienna” An entertainining, but at the same time thought-provoking read.

juni April 12, 2010 at 1:53 pm

I love ethis amazing tool of knowledge “the internet

Humans take fact way to serious including me . Until I read this page my mind kinda opened up to the word fact. we as a people can over analyze everything. especially when it comes down to the heavens, and science.

But “facts” of the past have changed, we have evolved our minds acceptance of knowledge to be one way and the proof, collaborations and studies make the “fact” another thing

our observation of a flat land became our observation of that being completely impossible.

Science took thousands of years to become what it is now and we are at a time where science is basically working together

Technology has given us the ability to look beyond belief and find “fact”

Science is not this amazing thing in the sky, science is the sky science is mathematics, we are all scientist. we all observe and attempt to learn and understand our enviorment.

Science is a misguided diluted word

I believe science was the 1st religion . As a people we believed in the sun god we believed in our enviorment. We believed in what we saw. As humans we are too creative for our own good and manipulated these objects of the heavens and nature into the things we will praise believe and live for to understand.

We just didn’t have the history, technology, and “facts” of the world to put everything together

We are at a time of great advantages a time of being able to go beyond belief, a time where we can even go against “fact”

Numbers are infinite that means science can go on forever . It can only grow and change. we can only get smarter from here . The question is once we have this universal sense of understanding what’s its purpose?

If there is any word we must go beyond its greed and ego.

We are a young race of intelligent animals we can only learn from our past we can learn from our mistakes if we truly want to make a change in this world we are going to have to be able to change the world beyond our death

Steve D April 13, 2010 at 7:18 pm

Just a comment on the global evil that is organised religeon – The need to believe in ANY form of religeon is a fundamental weakness of the human mind – if you need to believe in something to get you by, then believe in yourself. Free your mind.

David April 13, 2010 at 7:46 pm

I would go further than that and say that attachment is the fundamental weakness of the human mind.

Religion and the feelings of security associated with it is just one thing people are attached to. Very few of us (maybe none of us) are attached to nothing.

An inclination is not always a “need.”

Dr. G April 14, 2010 at 1:29 am

As much as I support believing in oneself, and as much I have my troubles with the catholic church, I can also only agree that we should not forget that religion adds a lot of stability to many people’s life.
I also remember a serious discussion I once had with a catholic priest about the church, and he said: “I do not know any organization that takes better care of the misery in this world.” I couldn’t argue with that.

David April 14, 2010 at 2:10 am

That’s a good point. Existence is difficult, and attachment to a religion does provide a feeling of belonging and meaning, which might keep some from despair.

I don’t think I understand what you mean by your second paragraph though.

Steve D April 14, 2010 at 8:19 pm

There is no doult that a lot of good work is done by some forms of religion to help those in need but there is usually a price to pay in the form of subtle (and not so subtle) brain washing. If it was possible to quantify the amout of good over evil that has happend in the name of religion since any first existed, I think the results would be an overwhelming argument for those of sound mind to abandon this nonsense and help those who have not yet seen the light. Apart from climate change, nuclear proliferation, viruses and over population, religion is the single biggest threat to mankind and always will be untill its complete eradication. False idols?…just say no.

Phil April 14, 2010 at 10:15 pm

Hey David I absolutely love your site. This post is very cool especially many of the comments. Laughed at this..

4. There are no facts, only interpretations.

He says it as if it were a fact. LOL

P.S. Glad to see you enjoying NZ

David April 15, 2010 at 12:58 am

Thanks Phil.

You could also say he says it as if it’s an opinion.

I think people are taking it a little too plainly. I think he means “facts are not beyond doubt, as they are all interpretations.”

I was speaking to a German friend last night and she was convinced that German works could never be perfectly translated to English, even if the translator is very good. So we may be splitting hairs for no reason.

Dr. G April 17, 2010 at 7:02 am

Interesting aspects regarding a possible change of meaning after translation. I am German and the original German sentence makes perfect sense to me. To the best of my knowledge, Nietzsche uses the German term “Tatsachen” which (according to leo.org) can be translated into “fact”, “actuality”, or “certainty”. With my poor knowledge of English, I would still say that “facts” mot probably suits best.

David April 17, 2010 at 3:25 pm

Ah! Thanks Dr G.

bryan April 27, 2010 at 4:30 pm

This guy is a fucking idiot. He proves it with each retarded sentance he spews.

Drew Tkac April 27, 2010 at 9:49 pm

Thank you Bryan for an insightful and meaningful comment. I’m sure you searched the depths of your knowledge and reflected on your vast philosophical experiences to explore the meaning of each Nietzsche statements. Your Harvard journalism professor must be very proud of you!

I have no problem with criticism. I enjoy an argument or a discussion with differing opinions. I feel it is mind expanding to explore a subject or comment from other peoples perspective.

Bryan, the only reason I am even spending more than a few seconds responding to such a infantile statement is to point out a big problem with the direction of modern society.

Somewhere in the past few decades it has become fashionable to be stupid while intelligence, insight and depth has become a pejorative. Bryan, it’s not just you. There is a entire sub culture that starts at the top with ex-president Bush and goes all the way down through the octo-mom and ends with home schooling your kids that proliferate ignorance.

Normally I would not care. But sadly stupid people get one vote in electing our government officials. Ignorant people are more likely to be persuaded by the propaganda of the modern news and religious zealots. They lack the experience of critical thought necessary to examine all of the issues. It is very difficult, in our age of so much information, to sort through what makes sense and what is simply an agenda from big business to promote their cause.

I hope I have offended you. I have taken offense to many things that people have said about me. It’s the criticisms that hit a nerve and hurt the most that require close self examination to find out what we are protecting inside. You can either look at yourself or you could call me the same name you called Nietzsche and continue the spiral of ignorance.

Char (PSI Tutor:Mentor) April 27, 2010 at 11:07 pm

^ yeah~ what he said ~:-)

Char (PSI Tutor:Mentor) April 27, 2010 at 11:07 pm

^ yeah~ what Drew KTac said ~:-)
.-= Char (PSI Tutor:Mentor)´s last blog ..Critical Reflection #9~ Learning about Rubrics! =-.

Dr. G April 28, 2010 at 12:50 am


dj July 13, 2010 at 2:12 am

Drew, you seem to be a tool of the left. You just tried to sound smarter by using more words with your insult of bryan. The result was the same; an insult. While bryan’s insult was to a dead person, your insult was more vicious and covered over half of the country. Personally, I prefer the home schooled children because of Nietzsche remark no. 9. Where you schooled in government classrooms? Why do you connet bryan with the right?

Trish Scott April 28, 2010 at 12:38 pm

I LOVE this list. Guess, bryan, I’m just another fucking idiot. Thankfully I don’t much care what you think :).

Thanks David – I’ll be passing it on.
.-= Trish Scott´s last blog ..About Wildlife Direct =-.

ryan April 28, 2010 at 3:18 pm

My fav quote is about how when a hundred men stand together, they all lose their minds and get a new one.
No truer a description of pack mentality has ever been uttered.
.-= ryan´s last blog ..Your State of Being Affects Your Singing =-.

Nate May 2, 2010 at 10:51 pm

Ah, just stumbled in with StumbleUpon. My old foe, Nietzsche.

I actually took the time to read the whole premise and then all 40 quotes. I really don’t know why anyone would think these are great or brilliant or whatever they’re supposed to be. There are so many of them that can be simply exposed for the bs they are. And some of them are just plain stupid like “without music, life would be a mistake.” What does that mean? Humans are the only living beings who are really capable of either making or appreciating music. Don’t get me wrong, I know music “soothes the savage beast,” but come on, the only music that exists in nature is bird song. And who’s “mistake” would it be? Certainly not God’s, right? It is really just silly. Might as well quote Frank Zappa: “Music is the best.”

Also, this really is quite the pairing:

4. There are no facts, only interpretations.

5. Morality is but the herd-instinct in the individual.

5 is discredited by 4 before we even begin, but what cracks me up about Nietzsche is his tendency to point out how things are just arbitrary labels and yet he slaps a label on something and calls it a fact. Morality is just herd-instict. Right. So, okay, even if you accept this premise, what exactly IS herd-instinct and how does it apply to human beings? Labeling it herd-instinct does not discredit it, although I get the feeling he was trying to dehumanize it and make it seem like a beastial concept which perhaps are below us. But, then, of course, he likes to favorably compare highly-evolved men with predators like the lion. Makes a lot of sense.

Anybody who’s well-read knows morality comes from a good upbringing with nurturing and support. A baby learns through absorption a sense of self and rights which cause him to be happy and successful in life and, in turn, pass on this script to other people. The way cybernetics works is a loop: the image you project onto others returns the sort of response you expect and reinforces your beliefs. Thus, people who feel happy and deserving are generally treated well, become successful and have very happy families. Morality comes from the sense of self and rights one has absorbed through childhood, as that sense of self and rights is naturally projected onto others. Obviously, Nietzsche did not have a happy childhood.

And his arguments are rhetoric and hogwash.

I could go on, but why bother. Nietzsche freaks never accept any counter arguments.

David May 3, 2010 at 2:22 am

Well I don’t necessarily disagree with you. I don’t agree with all of these aphorisms. All I said was that they are provocative. Evidently, they are.

I could go on, but why bother. Nietzsche freaks never accept any counter arguments.

Why bother? Yes, good question.

Drew Tkac May 3, 2010 at 10:24 am

I like the Nietzsche insight and I enjoy comments from his critics.

From your writing it sounds like you, Nate, enjoy absolutes and literal interpretation. Saying that Nietzsche freaks never accept any counter arguments is a huge absolute statement. I bristle when words like “never” and “always” are used.

I think Nietzsche’s work, like the Bible should, not be taken literally but use as a parable.

His statements about music, for instance, is really a statements of the human emotion and is also referenced in other works of art. My favorite line from “Dead Poets Society” where John Keating said, “We don’t read and write poetry because it’s cute. We read and write poetry because we are members of the human race. And the human race is filled with passion. And medicine, law, business, engineering, these are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, love, these are what we stay alive for.

Shakespeare’s “wine, women and song” and “sex, drugs and rock and roll are further references to the same emotion and passion for art and creativity.

As far as 5 being discredited by 4, Nate you are the one that is interpreting 5 as fact not Nietzsche. I think Nietzsche would be the first to say his statements are just his interpretations and not facts.

I think Zappa had some great insight into the state of the Political State. He said, “To me, absurdity is the only reality.” Sounds like his way of saying this is how I see life, but you may see it differently.

Anyway that’s my two cents, your mileage may vary.

Nate May 3, 2010 at 11:22 am

I realize N would be the first to admit his statements are just his interpretations and not facts, however, the point was (and always is when discussing N) that he presented his ideas as if they were more factual than anyone else’s. That is why he presented them. There was a great article online I read once that really explained his fault of logic in general in a really well-turned phrase. Something like:

Nietzsche’s philosophy of value suffers from the same fault as all forms of egoism. The rational egoist admires the exercise of individual will, especially when it goes against the flow of conventional moral opinion. But since the individual will can as readily be exercised in AFFIRMING conventional morality, his admiration is groundless and his preference for the unconventional is also groundless. This is because rational egoism can only give an account of instrumental value, yet requires some account of intrinsic value as well.

It’s interesting how he refused to get into straight up logical argumentation and preferred, instead, to use a combination of prose and rhetoric to get his message across. He claims this is due to the fallibility of language to express absolute truths and yet here he was trying to express absolute truths. I believe instinctively he knew his ideas could not stand up to logical scrutiny, so when I read his work, it strikes me as an emotional guy screaming, “CAN YA FEELZ ME?!”

But, if you don’t like absolutes, you should stay away from Nietzsche. He plays a little game where he wiggles one hand to distract you while with the other hand he pulls a card from his sleeve.

Drew Tkac May 3, 2010 at 1:01 pm

Who said this is about logic. Its about the human condition, emotions and passion. That is any thing but logical.

Its like using logic to argue with a religious zealot. It can’t be done. The zealot is coming from belief and emotions and the other from logic. Just because it is not logical does not mean it is useless, just different. Unless you want to be Spock.

Chris July 12, 2010 at 7:56 am

Birds and humans aren’t the only things capable of creating music. Ever been to the beach?

Nate May 3, 2010 at 10:04 am

Sorry if I came on strong there. This is due to my several dealings in the past with hypersensitive, stubborn and extremely immature Nietzsche lovers online. Philosophy forums, Youtube, hell even on a forum dedicated to only Nietzsche they tend to hurl insults at one another and proclaim their understanding as superior. I suppose such a philosophy is bound to have such a result.

I shouldn’t let it color my opinion of all fans of his work, but unfortunately it has. I have yet to meet a really level-headed human being who truly embraces N’s message. Like N, I find a great many of them simply are looking to justify something that makes them feel “good,” although I use the term loosely. It seems more like emotional self-defense.

Your response indicates to me you are an exception, though. :)

Yes, N is provocative in the same way any faulty logic is provocative in a rhetorical context.

BTW, thanks for actually reading and not deleting my post!


Drew Tkac May 3, 2010 at 2:49 pm

Well Nate I think this is the point where we will need to agree to disagree. If any one is to convince me of matters of the human spirit there should be more to it than logic.

Nice match.

David May 3, 2010 at 3:44 pm

I have met a lot of teenage Nietzsche-dorks too, but I don’t think they make a up a majority of people who find some meaning in his work.

I agree with Drew about logic. It is much beloved by philosophy undergrads but it is not the only way for a human to understand something. Intuition cannot be shared, so it cannot be discussed objectively. This makes it impossible to teach and easy for academics to disregard.
.-= David´s last blog ..Aliens Exist, and We Should Avoid Them if We Want to Live =-.

Nate May 4, 2010 at 3:13 pm

Intuition and emotions are part of life, but of course, I would trust my own over someone else’s. If someone is going to sway me otherwise, I would be careful that it was logical and not an emotional argument (“They took our jobs!”).

David May 4, 2010 at 5:22 pm

I agree, and that is how I try to make decisions in my life. I tend to think of emotions as a way of biasing us towards a particular action (usually one that has to do with maintaining security or some other primal motive.) So I search my motivations for an emotional bias, and try to avoid acting on it.

I think Nietzsche’s words trigger emotional responses in people, and if you stop to ask why, you can learn something about yourself or your worldview. They don’t have to be logically “sound” to be of value. They can even be contradictory, like #4 and any other aphorism.

I think number 4 is brilliant. Most people reject it flat out (an emotional reaction) but if you look for how it might be true, you can see everything in a new light. It contradicts in a logical sense, but language can convey meaning beyond logic.

sir jorge May 30, 2010 at 5:24 pm

some of them are good, some of them are actually kind of weak, but I loved them none the less
.-= sir jorge´s last blog ..A Look At Mark Gonzales =-.

Joshua June 7, 2010 at 2:16 am

Well, after reading (I’m proud to say) through the entire length of these comments, the only thing of which I’m convinced is that, David, if you don’t currently teach at a University, you definitely should. And if you decide to, let me know where.
That said, I’m a fan of:

11. A casual stroll through the lunatic asylum shows that faith does not prove anything.

I’ve heard more than one religious fanatic remark “you must have faith”. I wish I’d read some of this man’s work earlier.

Fantastic group of aphorisms. Thanks David.

David June 7, 2010 at 6:58 am

Careful now, that kind of stuff goes to my head. I’ve never attended a university class. I’ll get to it one day.

Joshua June 7, 2010 at 11:13 am

Ha. I understand completely, I’m the same way (goes to my head, that is). I’m only 19 myself, poised and ready to start sophomore year this fall. And, I’m still convinced you would make an excellent professor of philosophy. Hit the books!

Sasa June 12, 2010 at 1:17 pm

Alas, no Youtube in Nietzsche’s day or I would immediately search for a video of that man shaking his booty ;P

David June 12, 2010 at 7:28 pm

Intriguing mental image

Colin July 10, 2010 at 11:25 am

“Rejoicing in our joy, not suffering over our suffering, is what makes someone a friend.”

That one was my favorite one. When the someone you know is happy and their happiness in turn makes you happy, you know you have a real friend.

Delta July 11, 2010 at 10:44 am

“1. People who have given us their complete confidence believe that they have a right to ours. The inference is false, a gift confers no rights.”

This is interesting in that it encapsulates the basic functioning of any “confidence scam” (like a pigeon drop, etc.) People actually can be convinced into giving up money & possessions on the spot if a stranger just walks up and acts like they’re revealing personal information to them.

While #1 might be taken as good advice, it’s not universally descriptive — most people have a natural, intuitive bias in the opposite direction (that confidence does require returned confidence).

Riskboy July 11, 2010 at 6:51 pm

Love this post, found it through stumbleupon,

number 10. “The man of knowledge must be able not only to love his enemies but also to hate his friends.”

got me thinking, my interpretation is that a wise man must know right from wrong and be able to choose right over loyalty. A man who loves and is loyal to his friend will always choose to side with a friend even when his friend is wrong (as is with the Gang or Bro mentality). Bringing into mind the saying “A true friend is not one who bails you out, but the guy sitting next to you in prison saying, ‘Dude, we really screwed up last night’ “.

With that being said, Nietzsche’s interpretation of a man of knowledge is someone who will sometimes have to go against the laws of social interaction and break a friend’s heart for the better good. which explains why, “With more knowledge comes more sorrow”

Which make a good hypothesis as to why intelligent people (“Brighter minds”) have few friends, and the dumbest people in the planet are the happiest.

Riskboy July 11, 2010 at 6:51 pm

Love this post, found it through stumbleupon,

number 10. “The man of knowledge must be able not only to love his enemies but also to hate his friends.”

got me thinking, my interpretation is that a wise man must know right from wrong and be able to choose right over loyalty. A man who loves and is loyal to his friend will always choose to side with a friend even when his friend is wrong (as is with the Gang or Bro mentality). Bringing into mind the saying “A true friend is not one who bails you out, but the guy sitting next to you in prison saying, ‘Dude, we really screwed up last night’ “.

With that being said, Nietzsche’s interpretation of a man of knowledge is someone who will sometimes have to go against the laws of social interaction and break a friend’s heart for the better good. which explains why, “With more knowledge comes more sorrow”

Which could make a good hypothesis as to why intelligent people (“Brighter minds”) have few friends, and the dumbest people in the planet are the happiest.

Apodyopsis July 11, 2010 at 11:50 pm

“There are no facts, only interpretations.”

I disagree. It seems that everybody who is in accordance with this quote hides behind the word “interpretation.” You interpret this interpretation blah blah blah. Come ooooon. Believing this is like saying you can never be wrong about anything, because you could just interpret your way out of it. You just get lost in this circular logic where nothing is real. That is definitely NOT being nonconformist. It’s taking the easy way out.

I think the biggest problem here is that people who also disagree with this quote have been using science to explain themselves. That is the mistake. How about using mathematics. 2 + 2 will always be four (literally forever). I don’t care how you want to interpret it. (Don’t bother arguing saying that it is only my interpretation of the equation. I do not buy it. There are absolutes. Maybe not in science, but math never lies).

Or we can use the past. The past cannot change (if it could we would be living in a paradox). There is only one interpretation, and it is what happened. Say you got an 80% on a philosophy exam (ironic huh?). You cannot magically interpret your way to an “A.” You got what you got. That is a fact.

I know it’s blunt.

Riskboy July 12, 2010 at 10:40 am

“There are no facts, only interpretations.”

I tend to agree with this, because reality is only a perception given by our brains. Fact means reality and something can only be a fact if everyone agrees that it is real. But its hard if not impossible to have all people on the planet to agree about one thing, because everybody has their own interpretations.

“math never lies”
this it not true, Math does lie, as much as a photograph can lie. In order to get correct results you have to modify your Math to fit the research. Basic Mathematics does not work everywhere, this meaning that 1 + 1 = 2 is only true based on what you are working on. In computer mathematics in Binary calculations 1 + 1 = 0 (carry 1), rendering the former answer wrong.

Which comes to show that what we call facts are just interpretations, which is why once in a while something we call a fact will sometimes to our amazement change if someone gives a better “interpretation”.

“The past cannot change”

I don’t know how you define the past but to me, the past is based on information passed on from older generations, and since each new generation receives slightly altered information , there perception of the past is different from older generations, which makes the past change as time goes on.

And the way i see it we might actually be living in a paradox. What we experience and believe at a given time in space is what we call true, but in time we make more discoveries that contradict our previous interpretations. i would write a long post about this but to give a simple example; Most Religions are an example of a Paradox.
They are aware of this problem, and what is the solution? FAITH – having complete confidence in something that you can neither explain or understand.

Apodyopsis July 18, 2010 at 1:06 am

I think you are misinterpreting (ha) what I am saying here, and using semantics in your argument against what I am saying.

Math does not lie. I can’t for a very simple reason. It was man made, and it is constant. (Baring in mind I have NO knowledge of binary calculations) Just because you input an equation into a system, say 1 + 1, and it doesn’t give you two, in no way proves that 1 + 1 doesn’t equal 2. Let us say I asked (random name) Jason what 3 + 3 is and he says 7. That doesn’t prove anything. Like I said, I have no knowledge of how a computer does it’s math, but it clearly uses the information differently than to simply answer the equation.

As for the past. The past is not information passed down. The past is what actually happened outside your perception of it. You can believe what ever you want, but JFK got shot. It happened regardless of what was passed down to you about it. That is a fact. If you want to say that the world interpreted what happen to him as being shot, fine. Doesn’t change anything (because it cannot be changed no matter how you, or anybody interprets it).

It is not possible to live in a paradox. That is the reason the past cannot change. To illustrate this, let us pretend that the past can change. You go back in time 5 years and kill yourself. Now what? Do you die in the future and now do not exist to go back in time and kill yourself? It doesn’t make sense and that is why this situation cannot happen!

The religion thing has quite irrelevant. You can believe in a paradox if you so choose. You can even find yourself in a paradox-like situation, but you cannot actually live in one. That is the nature of a paradox. It cannot actually happen. They are THOUGHT experiments.

Riskboy July 18, 2010 at 3:20 am

I will skip the math part, as using math in this argument is a meaningless endeavour in which we will never reach a conclusion..

If you read my previous post i did not say “the past is information passed down”, i stated its “based” on information passed down, we know JFK was assassinated, we all know that today, but a millennia from now, people might be saying “he committed suicide”, example, Queen Cleopatra VII of Egypt died 30 BC, today people believe she committed suicide by a bite from a cobra, some say she drank poison, while others say she was killed (poisoned), recently others believe Augustus killed her. The alteration of information about her death over the years changed her past as we perceive it today.

The past is based on memories and without those memories the past does not exist. It goes back to the saying “If a tree falls in the forest and there is no one around, does it make a sound?” – yes it does make a sound but because nobody heard it, the sound was a void in space, a null if you will..

If nobody in the future remembers or has information about JFK’s death, then him being shot becomes void information. In the future they could find out that JFK was a president and he was killed (but not how), but if somebody said he was ‘shot’ and didn’t have proof, this could be a theory not a fact, another could come up with a convincing theory that JFK was stabbed to death, and it could be turned into a “fact” as you call it.

David July 13, 2010 at 9:04 am

To leap from interpretation to fact you must presume that there is an objective common ground that you can access directly without error or bias. You can’t access anything except your own perceptions.

There is a lot of interesting discussion about this quote in the comments. It’s been more controversial than any other.

Apodyopsis July 18, 2010 at 1:33 am

To make an argument of this nature you must presume that facts only exist within ourselves, and what we observe. To believe that would be an utter mistake. This is the very difference between a fact and an interpretation or a perception. Facts are greater than what we see and observe. They are present even when we don’t know about them (they are that objective common ground with no error and bias). What you mean to say is that you can’t interpret anything except your own perceptions.

David July 31, 2010 at 6:33 pm


Facts are greater than what we see and observe. They are present even when we don’t know about them (they are that objective common ground with no error and bias).

^^^ These are just your beliefs.

Jake August 11, 2010 at 10:16 pm

This argument is among the most comical in philosophy to me. My response:

My perception limits my understanding, but my understanding does not limit truth. Only humanity is conceited enough to say that “if I cannot perceive and understand it, then it cannot be absolute.”

I agree with Apodyopsis. Human record contains no facts, true, only interpretations. But the universe would exist just fine without us.

Then again, that is just my belief I suppose. You could be right, and humanity could be the foundation and center of the universe, just as it has claimed ownership to for thousands of years. I prefer to ‘believe’ that the universe is grounded on something a little more solid. :-)

travis July 12, 2010 at 9:30 pm

this man was completely enlightened..
these are some of the greatest quotes ever spoken..

sir jorge July 30, 2010 at 7:37 pm

got to admit, the guy makes sense

Susi July 30, 2010 at 10:14 pm

I like what I see here, more food for thought to share and care.

Carolyn Holt July 31, 2010 at 6:24 pm
David July 31, 2010 at 6:26 pm

Loved these. Thanks ;)

Gabriel August 1, 2010 at 12:32 am

“35. There is more wisdom in your body than in your deepest philosophy.”


Chad August 12, 2010 at 2:49 am

To think or have an opinion for even one moment is simply guessing. The amount of options to guess is infinite, but with any query, it would be ignorant to choose just one answer. If interpretations are truly infinite, then we all must be wrong 100% of the time. What is known as a fact is just society agreeing on one interpretation for a specific amount of time. Facts can change, it just takes one person to convince others that his/her interpretation is more acceptable. But to agree with anybody for even one moment makes you wrong. To be right, you must accept that you will never be right. But just saying that and believing that for a moment makes me wrong.

Ahh to question reality just makes it that much more enjoyable! I’m glad to find this post, good stuff!

Vivek Ghai August 19, 2010 at 10:34 pm

In my humble opinion, Maths is the purest form of [provable] logic.

Jas August 21, 2010 at 9:25 am

Are we humans?

C November 4, 2012 at 1:49 pm

No, we are people.

Kyle September 8, 2010 at 3:58 pm

“There are no facts, only interpretations.”, sounds like he is stating a fact there and is defeating his own quote. Could my interpretation of his statement be wrong, maybe, but he seems to be saying regardless of anyone’s interpretations, this quote is a fact. Which would then defeat itself since it says there are no facts. Its fun to butcher quotes. These quotes all appear to be his statements of facts. For instance, “God is a thought who makes crooked all that is straight”, he is stating that as a fact when he hasn’t presented evidence to prove whether there is a God or not. I can certainly say that the observations he made were upon religion, which is man’s way of trying to get to God. All the laws, the rules, the regulations, and justifications based on the name of God. Here is an interesting thought I wish he would have considered. What if what he saw was a blame game that doesn’t present the true abilities and character of God. So a better way to say his statement is that “Religion is a thought that makes crooked all that is straight” In other words religion makes crooked the straight ways of God. To present my evidence of God is based merely on the fact of who was Jesus, did He raise from the dead, and if He did not where is His body? If it was stolen by His disciples, how did they get past Roman guards put there to protect it under penalty of death? If it was the wrong tomb, why not ask Joseph (the guy who donated the tomb) if they made a wrong turn? Or if you say He didn’t die and just past out, what would you say a spear having to have gone through the heart in order to hit a “water” sac that caused the whole blood and water gushing out? Or and don’t get me wrong, I am not saying what we know to be the religion of Christianity is right. I am saying that if Christ raised from the dead, then He was God’s way of getting to us and should be followed based on His teaching and not the teaching of man that started many of the religious organizations we see today. I am sure I will get a whole bunch of people coming up to rebuttal me. Probably asking, why bring up God in a Nietzsche debate. Well pretty much his whole quote, not mentioned above, “God is dead” is what brought on the debate. Be wary of teaching that were used by Nazis (whether in perversion of Nietzsche’s teaching or not). His concept of the uberman is what sparked that whole Arianism propaganda that lead to the slaughter of millions of people in the Holocaust. It is his thought on this that causes class and race division. Christ taught equality, which sadly, has been ignored in past and present by many who claim to follow Him. Hopefully those that truly follow Him will be able to better follow in His character and example and show it as a light on the world as He commanded instead of the BS we have seen in the past that is so easily thrown up in our faces every time when His named is mentioned as someone to follow. For example, the crusades. Again religious man misusing His name for own personal gain. Or the opposition to the Civil Rights movement; lets not forget Dr. King’s profession as a pastor and declaring that God created all men equal. Hopefully this rant has caused some interesting thoughts in each person’s mind. I look forward to anyone’s response and take on this. Oh by the way, don’t try to say the Nazis movement used Christianity in it, because when they looked upon Hitler as a messiah, it proved they were not even close to even being called a sect of Christianity since their main focus wasn’t on Christ.

Jon September 9, 2010 at 2:36 am

I’m just going to go and say this. It’s been on my mind for a long time now and I don’t speak about it with much people for fear of misunderstanding. I work with my hands, I am a guitar builder and I like things to (in my general life) be as minimal as possible. I guess I’m fairly connected with nature and my natural surroundings, I really find solice in it. Well, I’m not religious and haven’t been for 10 years now. I’m not going to go into why I’m no longer a believer but I suppose it came about after science took hold of my imagination. Well, I do a lot of inner thinking since ten years have past and I have found that my morals come from within, almost in a sort of transcendent way. I guess I feel that I looked within to find how I should behave and act towards others. I sometimes think that Jesus found within himself the same thing. He worked with his bare hands, he lived a very minimal life (by choice or not I think he preferred it) and ultimatly had been “listening to himself” I suppose he was also connected with nature as well. In his time and age this could be thought of as maybe “god speaking through them” because it was just too hard to believe that a single carpenter could posess such self enlightment, his thoughts had to have come from “A god” or “a judge”. His ways made sense to his followers and were effective in dealing with life and lifes trials. He became a product, a son of what all at that time thought of as a man in the clouds. I think any man is capable of looking inward and plugging-in to his inner being. I don’t think a book or a daily ritual needs to mold how I live my life. As long as I remain pure in mind and use my intuition I’m good, how liberating was it to entually find out that there was no god, no “judge”, no “born-sinner”, and that I like all men posess this “godly” mentality and reasoning? I can only tell you it’s been the smartest I’ve ever done, I feel like I’m a better person than when I was religious. Either your crazy and are disalusioned (Nazis) or you are in touch and thought full(Ghandi) or somewhere in between. I think Nitzsche felt this way although he seemed a little too passionate about some things. I’d like to hear if any one else feels this way or not. Thanks for reading.

Josh September 9, 2010 at 3:19 pm

I continue to get e-mail relating to this topic every time somebody posts a new response. It has taken a great deal of self control to not personally respond to everything I’ve read. I feel like what I’ve already said will continue to be what I wanted to say but I would like to add this:
Facts vs. Interpretations: We may never know for sure why the darkness shot that guy, what we can be sure of is that we can’t be sure of anything…
but you just said…
and I’ll say it again, We can be perfectly sure that we can’t be sure of anything.

Katrina September 11, 2010 at 2:57 am

Fact: This got long and deep and almost out of hand.

Interpretation: It got convoluted pretty quickly.

Fact: People have a tendency to over-think things so much it goes from simple to complicated, back to simple, and straight to complicatedly-simple. (Like women)

Interpretation: Things would be much easier if people stopped trying to figure out the meaning of everything. It doesn’t matter. Enjoy the ride.

Fact: I’m totally doing this just to entertain my sense of humor.

Interpretation: Someone is going to find this stupid/annoying/pointless and try to talk some shit.

Fact: I don’t care! (followed by lots of loud manic laughter… then a conscious repeating of what I wrote here, ending with a shake of the head at the self.)

fivi September 12, 2010 at 12:08 am

nietsche was a big fan of music and dancing, huh?

http://www.fireviews.com spread the word for your creative content

Bryolvn2Q September 13, 2010 at 10:58 pm

Indeed it is all relative.

darrell September 15, 2010 at 11:19 pm

none of this matters

gre'nichgrendel September 19, 2010 at 3:26 pm

Whoa. “Stumble-upon” dropped me here and I have to say that was one of the most interesting comment threads I’ve waded through for a very long time. Oh, and I really liked the post, too. ;)
I’ll be back.

protoAmerican October 3, 2010 at 4:12 pm

One of my favorites, a simple truism if you will but well to remember: “but what convinces is not necessarily true–it is merely convincing”, and he adds, “a note for asses”.

meditationguru October 7, 2010 at 7:20 am

nice collection of quotes by Friedrich Nietzsche , bookmarked ur site , good, quality info.

Broughin It October 8, 2010 at 7:43 am

One of my personal favorite philosophers, remember when I first learned about him. Changed me forever.

Sam Hight October 21, 2010 at 3:50 pm

I find G.K. Chesterton far more illuminating than Friedrich Nietzsche.

Fyodor Lewis November 2, 2010 at 11:35 pm

I like a lot of what Nietzsche has to say. He certainly makes more sense to me than a infinitely skeptical agnostic. However, it is important to remember this one fact about Nietzsche:

He died completely insane.

dakota November 12, 2010 at 7:01 am

His mustach was to hide his intelligence, genius!

Daniel November 14, 2010 at 8:28 pm

#4 contradicts itself….

sabrina mantle November 16, 2010 at 9:29 am

Have never read his stuff before, now I see why he’s a heavy hitter!

Thorloth December 13, 2010 at 4:48 pm

So truth trumps belief? Our beliefs should conform to proof and scientific evaulation? Rationale is more important than feeling?

Fyrehed December 13, 2010 at 5:18 pm

Reason and emotion need not be in competition or conflict. Feelings and logic need to be in balance. Conviction to fiction isn’t going to get us anywhere but a repetition of the many horrors and atrocities the human race has already committed. If we truly want to discover this earth, the universe, ourselves and each other, we can’t allow ourselves to perpetuate ideologies that alienate us and cause us to hate and live without balance. We can overcome the mistakes of our ancestors as well as celebrate the rich ideas and arts they gave us.

Thorloth December 13, 2010 at 5:36 pm

Agreed, and the same goes for logic without feeling. Einstien said, “Science without religion is lame. Religion without science is blind.”

However, I believe my convictions that come from feelings are the greatest truths and are from God. So I wholeheartedly disagree with number 14 “Convictions are more dangerous foes of truth than lies.” I believe God is the greatest teacher and offers more about the world than any other source.

Whereas Nietzsche seems to believe in nothing. He has no convictions. “Convictions are more dangerous foes of truth than lies.” and “There are no facts, only interpretations.”

dan January 12, 2011 at 11:14 pm

“there are no facts, only interpretations.” is that a matter of fact, or merely an interpretation?

In fact, people interpret this quote differently, so to say whether it is true or not is impossible. at least thats the way i see it.

Nick January 21, 2011 at 9:53 pm


I feel like I’ll being giving the impression that I’m boasting to someone, but I promise I’m not when I say that the only reason this guy hasn’t changed my philosophies is because I think almost exactly the same as this guy. I’ve pondered most all of these ideals to their fullest extent, and I get some mixed feeling about that. On one hand, I’ve finally come to the conclusion that my philosophies DO stand out from those of my piers, but on the other hand I now know that someone else has already thought of them, and that makes me feel so much less special…

dan January 12, 2011 at 11:17 pm

I realize no one has posted in awhile but. this is awesome

Joe T January 31, 2011 at 10:22 am

“What is good? All that heightens the feeling of power, the will to power, power itself. What is bad? All that is born of weakness. What is happiness? The feeling that power is growing, that resistance is overcome.”

This seems pretty un-Nietzsche unless he’s being sarcastic. Objective weakness and strength are savage concepts and I’m sure Nietzsche knew that.

Mellisa Jonas February 6, 2011 at 12:43 pm

In every lie there is some truth. If people just lied there would be no sudction. Lies are designed to persaude u to believe. I do believe that success is a great liar. Alot of successful people got there by oppression. Take a look at the dictators and unjust judges. They were successful in oppression.

Zach Ibbotson February 22, 2011 at 12:47 am

Haha I find myself reading the comments and once I get done reading one persons view I think “wow that was a great point”. Then I read the counter argument or different “interpretation of the facts” and think the same thing. I’m just going to brag and say that’s something I truly admire about myself and that this blog/website/thingy is fantastic!

David February 22, 2011 at 6:29 am

Good for you for reading the counterpoints. Most people don’t bother.

nick February 24, 2011 at 9:20 am

I love the tittle Getting Better at Being Human. Perhaps a better one would be The Evolution of Man; More Human than Human.

Mark March 1, 2011 at 3:50 am

I personally love nietzsche, for many reasons, but primarily because he understood on a profound level that peoples beliefs needed to be challenged.

It has always amazed me that people are so quick to “go to arms” when people ask them questions about their faith which they simple have no answer for, like its some form of attrition. Many people in my opinion will simple become one of the flock to avoid almost certain opprobrium.

This is not to say that nietzsche himself was completely right, As he himself had some questionable alliances. But for me he simply wanted more people to follow their own path and seek their own inner voice.

Im not totally negating religion, I can appreciate someone believing in something. But its simply when that belief or hubris can overcome common sense, that it bears unnecessary suffering

Jeremiah Simpleton March 2, 2011 at 10:47 am

I read these and find a lot of hard truths, but also a lot about the man that wrote them. I wouldn’t be surprised if Nietzsche fought with insecurities, given the importance he places on words like “shame,” concepts of self-resentment, and a general mistrust that underlies most of these quotes.

David March 2, 2011 at 8:31 pm

Oh definitely. I don’t think he ever meant to say he was above all of that. In fact I think he was saying nobody is, no matter how “together” they appear.

Mr. Scott March 2, 2011 at 10:27 pm

Exceptional and timeless. Thank you for re-sharing this.

Max March 5, 2011 at 6:17 am

I think there have been some bad examples of demonstrating what ‘facts’ or ‘absolutes’ there are

The ones i understand are ones such as 3 x 3 = 9. or there are 3 sides to a triangle.

These are absolutes, as i understand it not even God could change this. Not because God doesn’t have the power to do so but because it is the way it ought to be in God’s creation.

In addition what I find strange is if Nietzsche didn’t believe there were such things as ‘facts’ (by my understanding, he meant absolutes) and he was an anti-conformist, it seems strange he has so much statements to make about the way things ought to be understood if everything just comes down to interpretations or subjectivity!

Max March 5, 2011 at 6:30 am

+ I take back the ‘In Gods Creation’ ( wrong choice of words)

Also think with the self interests thing there is something more into life than that. Otherwise it would be easier for nothing to exist than something because nothing would be complete into itself and wouldn’t need to generate self interests.. Though in order to understand that you must accept there are no isolated events and another rule i just can’t remember. (These are not my own ideas but just other ones I’ve read).

Joey March 10, 2011 at 1:04 am

How could “God is dead” not be on this list???
it’s probably Nietzsche’s most famous quote

David March 10, 2011 at 6:43 am

Because I didn’t think it was very meaningful without its original context.

Mary March 18, 2011 at 7:54 pm

Without music, life would be a mistake. I beleave this with my every bean of soul!!!!!

Shiyin April 7, 2011 at 8:10 am

Please state the source of each quote!

jel April 10, 2011 at 8:02 pm

these comments ARE the sweet nectar of the gods, this kinda shit will enable us to fly around like superman one day

Bob the Chef April 13, 2011 at 1:34 pm

Empathy is the multiplication of suffering. Isn’t that counter to what you think?

Sera May 12, 2011 at 12:41 am

Ooo… Provoking thoughts. It’s thoughts like this that catch you out of your daily repetition and snag that part of your brain which is seldom touched, and compels one to stop what he or she is doing, just to simply think.

Reading some of these over, the immediate reaction is “What? No. Not the way I know the world to be. Not true.” Followed shortly thereafter by the thought, “Hm… Yeah.. Well I guess if you think about it like that… I guess that could be true. Yeah, ok.”

“11. A casual stroll through the lunatic asylum shows that faith does not prove anything…
“14. Convictions are more dangerous foes of truth than lies.”

At first I was completely Thrown off by 11, until I thought about the use of the word “Prove”, which is very very true. Faith does not prove anything, and I think N means by the word “faith”, a deep hope something is real, or strong belief that something is true. Yet, at the same time, I think faith is a very useful tool on the road to discovery and success. If you don’t first believe you can succeed, will you ever try?

Love the post. Thanks for sharing. :)

Mark May 19, 2011 at 1:55 pm

Number 7 sounds like it came from a 13-year-old’s Myspace profile.

SameenQ May 26, 2011 at 5:13 am

Hello, I found this website recently and I love it so much, David is one smart man. I just started to read these very interesting comments and I really want to add something and hopefully someone will respond even though I’m months late. So here it goes, and sorry in advance for the long post…

Since a lot of people have been talking about the concepts of reality, existence, and God, these are my beliefs on these issues (somewhat). To understand what I’m about to say, you first have to for one minute erase everything from your mind, just clear it entirely, take all of your personal experiences, your interpretations, your strong held beliefs, your religion, and just lock them up in a box and put them away for a minute. Have a very open mind and read carefully.

So imagine yourself outside of your house, imagine the sunny blue sky with white smoky clothes and bright rays of sun that warm your face ever so slightly, imagine the vivid green grass that smells fresh with beautiful red flowers alongside it, imagine the crisp cool air that you breathe in slowly, imagine the birds chirping softly, your house is just behind you and these are the things you see. Set yourself there. Now imagine nature, imagine the light of the sun, the dim but bright light of the moon, the small light of the stars, the alternation of the day and night, imagine the deep vast blue oceans- how freshwater and saltwater don’t mix, how millions of species of creatures live inside it, imagine the rocky mountains, the volcanoes, the icy arctic, imagine land and trees, how different vegetables and fruit grow from it, how they come in such different colors and tastes, how one corn is covered with its leaves that you have to peel, how the pomegranate seeds are so safely embedded in a thick covering, how strawberries are so red, imagine the animals, how there are countless species, how soft and fluffy some are, how the mothers take care of their offspring, how they walk, how they run, how big the whale is, how small the fly is.

Now imagine humankind, how we breathe, how our hearts pump this blood, how so many different organs work together, how we bleed, how intricate the skin is, how it holds everything in, how our hands have lines, how we get indented wrinkles that mark our lives, how the brain functions (!), how complex the entire system is, how we have memory, how we can recall things, how we can recognize people, how we can memorize and study, how we learn, how we adapt, how our eyes can see, how our ears can hear, how our feet can walk, how they hold up our bodies, how our hands do every job, how we have thumbs, how we can taste different foods and enjoy them, how we come in different colors, how we speak different languages, how we speak at all, how we think critically, how we analyze, how we understand our existence, how we can feel cold, how we can feel hot, how we can feel temperate, how we have strength, how we have courage, how we have so many different emotions, how we love, how we care, how we have mates, how we can fall in love, how we marry, how our children melt our hearts, how a mother wakes in the middle of the night by one cry, how we reproduce, how a man fits into a woman to create new life with a genetic mixture, how we have genes, how we each have different fingerprints, how our bodies function so perfectly, how there is a balance, how we can heal, how we sleep, how we get refreshed, how we wake, how we work, how we live, how we die.

If you just look through these beautiful, wonderful, peaceful, heartwarming, things and truly ponder and reflect on them with wisdom and calmness, there is no way you can say there is not a Creator. These are just some of the signs for those who want to see. The next logical step would be to wonder why the Creator created me, what about all the bad things, and a million other questions, but you cannot logically deny the existence of a Creator if you even glance at these things. To answer the other million questions, I refer you to Islam. And I swear, it will have all the answers. Logical, rational, satisfying answers.

dommy July 13, 2011 at 4:48 pm

well i read all the way to the fourth one and thought hmm, you know what, he’s right. You should change this to 4 ruthless statements from a nonconformist.

no religion. i only read the bible July 15, 2011 at 11:52 pm

everything must come from “something” no matter how much people would like to argue there is no god they will never be able to prove he doesnt exist. just because you dont see it it doesnt mean it doesnt exist

if a tree falls down and no ones there to hear it does it make a sound?
YES it does. it just the matter of YOU being there to hear it or not.

now it comes to the matter of different religions…..to those christians who believe that whoever doesnt believe in the “christian god” or “jesus” there is a passage in romans (not sure where) that states that those who do not know of god will be excused from that sin…..so (in my opinion) those who follow a good life and believe in there faith will have a good afterlife no matter there religion. (yes this is in the new testament)

and i believe in such things because i was raised in a witchcraft household and i have been fortunate enough to witness paranormal things…which led me into believing in the bible.

Peter G July 20, 2011 at 7:49 am

It all does not matter as :There are no facts, only interpretations!

Betty July 20, 2011 at 1:46 pm

I have agreed with most of these and disagreed as well, but I don’t believe they are any type of belief shattering.

Erin Spencer July 31, 2011 at 10:20 pm

WOW!! Nietzsche is almost as smart as I am! Only thing left out of this list that belongs (not because he said it, but because it’s perceptually valid) is that only from lies can truth be found. I am not arrogant; I am not humble – I simply am.

Jay Grimm August 6, 2011 at 9:14 am

I love it! Inspiring and yet somewhat heated debate. I absolutely adore the looks I get when I explain that my “ideas” meld science, religion, astronomy, alien theories, and many other avenues together. No one has the absolute answers, it is impossible. The secret is interpreting life the way that makes you happy, and go wide eyed into the blue yonder, as a babe filled with wonder.

Manuel Cervantes August 9, 2011 at 12:14 am

Sorry, my english is bad, so in spanish:

Solía pensar que todo es interpretación y ¿qué no lo es?. Pero si por ejemplo digo que “voy al baño” y en efecto lo hago, tengo pruebas de eso, a eso se le llama un hecho ¿Es verdaderamente todo interpretación?, habría que dudar incluso de ese supuesto; sin embargo, sobre lo de las ideas firmes en religión, política, filosofía o lo que sea, tiene que ver con esa idea de poder (referente a uno mismo, en las supuestas “convicciones”), o de seguridad, con esa sensación, Nietzche logra verlo.

Sobre si es un “cínico”, creo que no hay mejor manera de describirlo, es asceta en el sentido griego.

bliss August 14, 2011 at 7:55 pm

Very intersting conversations here, I am glad to see that many people have deep understanding of the human mind…how much do you live up to them?

Colin August 18, 2011 at 10:56 am

“The surest way to corrupt a youth is to instruct him to hold in higher esteem those who think alike than those who think differently.”

That one was my favorite. :)

And some really great conversations on here. It’s pleasing to see so many deep thinkers. :)

WoundedWolf August 18, 2011 at 3:26 pm

I come to this conversation late. I have read close to two-thirds of the comments. I stopped at that point because I realized that I was making far too many assumptions about the message each contributor was trying to communicate. This was happening in part because there seems to be no consensus on the meaning of many of the words being used. One significant example would be the word “fact”. Many (most?) comments seem to assume that I know what it means and that it means the same thing to all of us. But without a common starting point, I’m lost. If a definition of the concept is provided then there can be discussion which refines the concept. The initial definition can be totally arbitrary just so I know what it is we are talking about. Then discussion can become the crucible through which the definition must pass. The other word that causes much of my confusion is “faith”. Again, any arbitrary definition will get the ball rolling. To me, the neat part of the process is that we must be careful and certain to define each word we use as a vehicle for discussion of the initial concept – which means, in turn, that the next layer of words used to define each prior level of terms must be equally carefully defined.
So, will someone give me an initial definition of “fact” and “faith”. If so, then I hope to be able to participate in this wonderfully complex conversation.
Or explain to me that I have completely missed the point of this on-going exchange. But please help me understand what you are saying to me by carefully defining the terms you use to shoot me down…

jake August 28, 2011 at 10:56 am

oh nietzsche…..

ZuZu Gold August 28, 2011 at 9:25 pm

follow your feelings.

Ian Angell August 30, 2011 at 1:21 pm

“what convinces is not necessarily true–it is merely convincing”

Will to Power 18

Nitya August 31, 2011 at 6:09 pm

Firstly, I despair at the dearth of contributions by females. I think the female voice needs to be heard.. I would like therefore, to try to redress the balance, by adding a couple of observations.
Comment 32, that fear is the mother of morality, rings particularly true. This was a great insight by someone living in those times. It is so relevant today when we witness the conflicting views held in our modern pluralistic society.
Secondly, to our contributers who insist that there is no ultimate truth out there, eg gravity, a creator etc. There is a right and a wrong answer! We just may not be completely aware of it yet. Either there is a god or there is not! No amount of wishful thinking is going to alter the actuality of the situation, no matter how it’s phrased.

Aaron R. September 1, 2011 at 5:31 am

Anyone who has declared someone else to be an idiot, a bad apple, a fool, is annoyed when it turns out in the end that he isn’t.

There is no spoon ha ha ha!

You all are right And you are all wrong, in someone else eyes mind or in their interpretations of this discussion! We are all born (by a spark, a miracle, an imagination of the creator, or just mother nature) with the chose in one belief or many but we all have sparks of life in us every and in every living thing and when the sparks go out we will find out if our beliefs were right or not! So rejoice in our joys while we are here and try not to suffer with the suffering but help left their sprites! Peace will not be in this world but in the next but try your best!

Cybergma September 6, 2011 at 8:27 pm

I know, absolutely, positively, that no one has the right to control, my thoughts, words or deeds, my mind, body or spirit, and I alone answer to a higher authority. Now that the Pandora’s box of freedom has been opened any attempt at control is futile.
While you may agree with some of my phylosophies of life, you will never be my twin, and have identical experiences, or thoughts. O2BME, There is only one of ME in the entire Universe. If you think about it, the odds of anyone ever in a Kzillion years seeing things the way I do, is impossible.

Dex September 9, 2011 at 8:06 am

You all realize that most everything he is saying is just another way of approaching things right? He didn’t say anything that wasn’t just more than another guy spouting opinions at people, and after all, what makes his commentary on life any more valid than anyone else’s? It seems like a lot of people are equating what he says with some deep truth but they’re just more opinions, which we already have plenty of on the internet. The comments he made lie in the subjective, hence unprovable, realm. I have heard severely intoxicated people give opinions that seemed reasonable; that doesn’t mean I’m going to elevate them to some sage status. He’s just another guy stabbing in the dark.

kerry r.brown November 19, 2011 at 1:53 am

The likely out come of spouting alot of words? “Road’s on ways to go come from word’s spoken to experience.” Yes we call down on us the demon we speak of. Word’s are magnets to threads for the tapestry
of exsistance’s. Which exsistance? Which word’s?.

Colden November 24, 2011 at 1:25 pm

This explains the true moral of people as if they had no moral at all accept the true understanding of ones life. Many people are brainwashed in todays world even the philosophers. The true focus in life is how poeple handle eachother instead of facing themselves first. Soon enough governments will be in power contolling many peoples fears and opinions, and soon were going to have to be challenged as a group of people as if we had no respect for eachother to begin with.

Hailey November 24, 2011 at 3:47 pm

Think this really captures the message of the article :D Persephone is such an amazing, non-conformist character.



Nikhil November 25, 2011 at 6:53 pm

Hi David – I’ve just recently discovered your blog – a lot of what you write has made me stop and think.

In this post, there’s definitely a few quotes that are challenging – the one that stood out the most for me was:

“We often refuse to accept an idea merely because the way in which it has been expressed is unsympathetic to us.”

This is perfect and sums up a lot of my observations on religious, spiritual, political and philosophical differences…

It also highlights to me why some salespeople are brilliant, and other’s face difficulties – because they either know how to present their pitch in a way that is sympathetic to their prospect, or they don’t.

The understanding of that one quote I reckon would have a lot of people’s lightbulbs go off!

Stephen November 26, 2011 at 1:35 am

So when you have faith in the works of something, is that relative to the faith that a belief is true? I mean I can calculate the likelihood that a quality chair will break or not using math, but how do you do that with faith? i.e. Faith is an excuse to the never ending argument for what’s life after death, that leads to the foundational point of all religions basis. Faith leads to false hope, leading to false truths. I mean seriously you have faith in the Christianity and God, and Hindu’s have faith in Brahman, so who’s right? Will faith be the arguing factor for proving beliefs to other or will it lead to the tolerances required to live in unity? At this rate, faith will be the downfall to humanity, because it derives from ignorance.

Craig Brenner November 27, 2011 at 12:14 am

I read a few comments and though I have not been into Mr. Nietzsche in the past, I must avow that the man himself is a bag of sardines that simply wants someone to pet it rather than eat it. Nietzsche is a wonder and he has a knack for writing a slogan or statement that negates its own worth. I like the guy and might read a few more quotes, but in truth; Mr. Nietzsche is like a boat full of cuban refugees that instead of wanting to sail to Miami are intent to turn the boat around when they get to the South Beach and return to Havana with a boat filled with more Cuban Refugees. Funny huh?

Simon November 27, 2011 at 9:25 pm

Marx would shit on Nietzsche anytime…the stupidest thing is not to have convictions. Nietzsche is just a misanthropic bourgeois with a super-ego. He rejects rationality, and here we see him, selling us unquestionable truths through his fucking aphorisms.

Peep November 28, 2011 at 9:13 pm

Faith and trust are synonymous and are both basic parts of human nature. Nobody knows for sure if there is a sentient God or not, or for that matter, any sort of God. Many horrible things have been done in the name of religion but the same goes for any type of faith. Faith isn’t about right or wrong but it is about trust and hope. You cannot get mad at someone because they choose to trust or hope in one thing or another. People are allowed to believe what they want. Faith will not be the downfall of humanity and it isn’t deriven from ignorance but from hope. Just because you believe that there is no god does not give you the excuse to try and shove it down others throats by telling them that they are wrong, because thats exactly what so many people criticize the Christian Church for. And just because Nietzsche said it does not mean he is correct. He is simply stating his opinions and using opinionated quotes from someone else to support your argument completely undermines being an individual which is a major thing that Nietzsche stood for.

Guy McCardle December 4, 2011 at 3:08 pm

Great list. Really makes you think. I look forward to reading the rest of the site. I have to disagree with the statement about facts, however. Facts are merely a reflection of the truth. Of course, we all have differing interpretations of them though. That’s what keeps life interesting. :)

You might want to check out my new skeptically themed website/podcast, The Inconvenient Truth.

steme iluminti December 12, 2011 at 11:57 pm

evil is differnce of happiness, if you dont have hope then you must have evil. when you put thos two together you get something that isn’t possible. you may have hope after evil but they weren’t meant to be together or that causes imbalences. once that is created then it never will be lost. hope will only be caused by imagination which isn’t explainable. imagination can lead to the most extreme differences…

Lukas December 16, 2011 at 7:08 am

I personally only have one true faith, that is based on no logic, or truth, or fact. I believe in people, and myself. I believe that, inherently, we are all good, kind people, and that everything we do is for a good reason. No one is “good” or “bad”, it is simply a matter of perspective, and of who we love.

reygood December 19, 2011 at 6:37 pm

It’s good to rationalize but facts are always obscured by our point of view. Truth can be absolute but our perception of truth is limited. Truth is like a cube stared by different people at different angle wearing different eye glasses. Some can see the four different faces, some only the two and some can only see a single face of the cube. No one can see the six faces of the cube at once. Human will always be limited by his six senses and mental capability. So… it’s better to respect each other’s beliefs and opinions.

Michelle December 22, 2011 at 8:22 am

I believed at 8 years old that Santa came to deliver presents on Christmas eve to every boy and girl on earth. At 16, I believed in love at first sight. At 21, I believed in the ability to create one’s own wealth through education and diligence in work. At 35, I believed that all the teens of this generation were lazy, uncaring and disconnected. At 42, I believe that the belief system is made up, amazingly, of many things: personal friendships, personal surroundings, a few things of the past that haven’t proven themselves worthless in today’s life, and most importantly, how well we know ourselves.

It’s not about organized religion, education, love or even life that creates a belief in anything but in how flexible you are about an idea expressed by someone else. Examine your belief system and ask yourself one question; if nobody had shared that idea with you, would you have thought of it all on your own accord? Probably not.
Merry Christmas

david December 30, 2011 at 4:00 pm

So according to no.4 the most famous statement for which Nietzsche is famous for “God is Dead” was but an interpreatation and not a fact – well that must make the the atheists happy.

Xiox January 8, 2012 at 2:02 am

Well it is true, everything in this world is an interpretation and eventually parodies itself over time, it doesn’t matter how much you know about something as rudimentary as the law of gravity, something is always missing, forever missing. We as a species do not understand ourselves any more about the cosmos, we haven’t even comprehended how the brain works entirely. Everything you have ever learned growing up has only been retaught entirely under a bias, and unfortunately it makes you wonder what part of history are you are really missing out on, what part is blatantly scratched. Take for instance, you study abroad in Russia, history books are written entirely different, in fact American history will do nothing but Glorify itself in every even its ever been in. If you read Russian history books it does the exact same, even. However, I would assume we already knew this right? heh heh…

Me January 24, 2012 at 6:32 pm

I’ve already questioned my own beliefs enough not to have them shaken by this. He makes some thought provoking points, some of which I agree with, but nothing I’ve not thought about before, though he can turn a phrase nicely. Ultimately though if you allow your beliefs to be shaken by the thoughts of one man, then you probably need to re-evaluate them.

diana February 9, 2012 at 6:45 am

Very much enjoyed reading about Nietzches philosphy. I going sit down and ponder them each on there own. Thank you for introducing him to me..Enjoying your site.Diana

it is good February 13, 2012 at 5:57 am

i like it

insertNameHere March 10, 2012 at 5:41 pm

None of you have the slightest idea of what ur talking about. In this, an age of enlightenment we must not look at the past for ways to change our future. We tried all that in the past and this is the future we made. Mankind is nothing but a virus and its up to our Young to realize how stupid we are and make a change for our future

Tyler March 24, 2012 at 8:08 pm

40 shook my beliefs so hard

Josh April 20, 2012 at 5:52 pm

I know that this conversation is two years old now but I’ve been meaning to add this comment for a while and just keep forgetting. It’s a video clip of Ricky Gervais from his standup routine “Out of England.”

Even if all of us are misinterpreting Nietzsche, there was somebody who misinterpreted Nietzsche far worse than we have here…


ron April 22, 2012 at 11:55 am

Faith not based on reality is a person who can believe anything. Existence- Exists that is a fundamental truth in rational thinking.

Dave Bohr April 24, 2012 at 6:42 am

Great read!!

Jason Kiesau April 30, 2012 at 6:10 am

Great post and it obviously sparked some great conversation.. in which I haven’t had time to read them all, but wish to. My first visit to this site, but I’ll be sure to return. Good stuff!

Fridrich Hláva, Slovenská republika July 7, 2012 at 9:25 am

Morality is herd instinct of an individual- THIS “wisdom” of Nietsche is a base of NAZI thinking!!!! With no moral You can do everything- comit a killing, a destruction- without conscience and so on- a group MUST have common rules- but have as well a tolerancies- this is the most difficult part- how to allow tolerances and not to destroy the whole building of the moral??

Jay Landar July 8, 2012 at 9:23 am

Fascinating quotes. It might be worth looking at when in his life he made those different comments and being selective about how much weight you give them.

Farid August 21, 2012 at 3:28 pm

“What is the mark of liberation? No longer being ashamed in front of oneself.”

Some words ring truer than others. This sentence is buzzing my ear off!!
Thanks David.

Max Ingram August 24, 2012 at 7:45 pm

#2 is actually from the new testament; LUKE 14:11: “every one that exalteth himself shall be humbled; but he that humbleth himself shall be exalted”

R September 9, 2012 at 2:52 pm

Actually, you may want to read #2 again. It addresses the motivation and intent behind one humbling oneself, not the supposed inevitable return illustrated in Luke (though the belief in this inevitable return likely contributes to the truth of #2)

It seems to me that what is being said with #2 is that when one humbles oneself (especially in the witness of others), when one swallows ones pride or accepts deprecation over a recognized fault or even just acts/speaks in the opposite direction of self-glorification, that it is actually out of a desire to indeed be glorified.

I think most people are aware that bragging and self-inflating is not always successful in inspiring others to agree. People are often turned off by self-glorification, especially when they feel it is unwarranted, but there is often a knee-jerk instinct to compliment and honor one who does not give oneself enough credit.

Thus, one who humbles oneself in public may in fact be motivated by the desire to be exalted by others. It is a statement that would be comparable to the parable in Luke 14, if the wedding guest entered the banquet room, looked at the clamor of guests to find honored seats, and said to themself “ah, if I – who knows I am not the least honored guest – heads for the least honorable spot, the host will surely be moved to upgrade me to a place more honored – and likely above what I deserve in rewardance of my humility.” Which, would then not be a true act of humility as it is seeking exaltation through the back door.

Sam September 5, 2012 at 11:31 pm

I like this post! Also 40 belief shaking remarks… (for the most part).

Reading the comments (and responses), I identify with the unpleasant irate people. I only speak when provoked to irateness: in general, when words like religion are used, I distance myself and stay quiet (so I don’t get irate).

The problem: taking issue with things: for example when one uses different definitions for some word, requiring that all previously validated logical statements involving that word become invalidated: it’s difficult to have discussions involving such words when the two parties understand them to be different things, and midway through the discussion when it turns out they’re not the same things (and it appears, at least, that the other party is conflating different definitions of the same word, perhaps). That is the time when the entire conversation has to be revisited by the person who recognizes that there is a difference in definition being used. (Perhaps the person, seeing how much reparsing and thought there is to do to reevaluate statements in an abnormal definitional context, chooses not to revisit the conversation…)

So the cynical proselytizing remarks you received about truth, knowledge, proof, and beliefs are such things; and the comments are expressing that the commenter believes their usage of these words is very different from your usage of these words. And perhaps they are, and if so then perhaps these are fundamental worldviews being encapsulated in these words, or perhaps they are miscommunications.

For example, respectively, truth, knowledge, proof, and belief make me think: “relative”, “collection of statements in contexts and their context”, “logical (eg, mathematical) derivations from (hopefully) trivial axioms”, and “validation of axioms, statements, or knowledge by an epistemology, or truth”.

Many times I have written irate comments too. But it takes quite a lot to express these things!

john September 26, 2012 at 4:30 pm

God is dead.

Jesse September 30, 2012 at 11:56 am

Not true at all, I only declare someone an idiot out of frustration, mostly based on their refusal or inability to be honest with themselves. Nothing makes me happier then to have this turned around and my judgment made in frustration proven to be wrong. His tone tells me Nietzche wishes he had been wrong about many of the points he made.

Religion is pointless, manipulation to control the weak. Give them the security they need to get out of bed by telling them they have purpose and meaning. It also has no impact on our daily lives. If there is a God, this life is pointless, our only purpose being abstinence from earthly pleasure in order to attain eternal happiness. If there is no God again, this life is pointless, albeit slightly more of a miracle, unless you realize time doesnt exist. Then life is inevitable. Why is so much more important then who though. I look at religion as a way to keep alive those who are needed to keep the world running and remain blissfully ignorant. Again I would love to be wrong, waking up in the morning and knowing everything will be ok because God loves you? Hell i’d pay for that lol.

autumn October 26, 2012 at 1:55 am

I can understand his perspective and why he holds these things to be true, but some of the quotations can be interpreted in more than one way.

“God is a thought who makes crooked all that is straight.”

I t feels like he means it in a negative way when he calls God a ‘thought’ and his use of the contrast between straight and crooked always on the surface looks like a bad thing. But to really make something ‘straight’, you have to have the patience to understand the complexity, or “crookedness” that lies behind the much more simple veneer. In referring to God as someone/something that creates complexity where it doesn’t have to exist, provides some insight into how a person perceives God.

It is true that God is complex, and the concepts of faith and belief in God are complex. Believing in God changes a person’s world because it changes the way a person thinks, sees, and perceives things. When someone develops a belief in God that person begins to see the world from a totally new vantage point. Every circumstance is now complex, there are so many factors one begins to take into account. What originally seemed cut and dry now is anything but that.

A lot of people get frustrated by it because they have to admit to themselves that they didn’t know as much as they believed they did. It pricks the ego, which is the catalyst for defiance when faced with choosing to accept the fact that human control is limited. It was always limited, but not having to see or acknowledge that truth is a great defense mechanism to keep you from having to feel afraid of such truth.

Without even being cognizant that one has been offended by the idea, that’s usually what occurs. And then if pride is too great one forfeits God and those complexities for the much simpler and straight forward way of life. That way of life, though, is a facade; its all surface. There is so much that exists beneath the surface of ordinary life, but one has to be willing to access it. It’s complex, but it is the most beautiful and wondrous thing.

Trae November 3, 2012 at 12:55 pm

I’m curious, if one believes there to be no truth, what are you expecting to find? Why do you find purpose in searching if you cannot reach an end?

Ryan November 26, 2012 at 1:34 pm

It is funny to think how reading something like this, or any other philisophical work, and it can seem life changing and seem like the real and absolute truth and the real way and order of the world, but in the end, its just someone’s opinion

Bengt Dirks December 8, 2012 at 1:04 pm

Very interesting points, though I don’t understand them all yet. My mind is still too young.

Ty March 10, 2013 at 2:43 pm

Nietzsche isn’t perfect, but has very strong and relevant points to bring up.

Here I use the word strong because. Its strong in a different way, in a challenging and unique way. Its hard to outright deny since it inherently shows denial is not the way for truth. It forces you to play a better hand than you would have without it. So perhaps its not strong, perhaps its wise.

rob z March 25, 2013 at 2:04 pm

cant believe everything he says. the man isnt perfect either

Yall actually believe this? April 21, 2013 at 1:50 pm

There are no facts, only interpretations.

Oh tell me then? Is that a statement of fact Friedrich?

Adam - Tropical Nomad June 23, 2013 at 3:24 am

#40 – Everybody should jump out of bed and into a Party Rock Shuffle :)

World Of Tanks Hack June 29, 2013 at 6:03 pm

This is the right web site for everyone who wants to understand
this topic. You understand so much its almost tough to
argue with you (not that I really would want to…HaHa). You certainly put a brand new spin on a subject that’s been written about for many years. Great stuff, just great!

Philip Wardlow July 6, 2013 at 5:29 pm

Living life like its supposed to be lived is a feeling that feels just right with no pretense of ego or fear behind it.

CLOT GOD August 7, 2013 at 6:01 am

Beliefs are nothing more than opinions.
And opinions are like assholes everyone’s got one, and everyone’s stinks.

Phil E. Drifter March 31, 2010 at 6:25 am

Nod it is only a fool who refuses to change their position after being confronted with new facts.

Stephen Browne March 31, 2010 at 8:40 am

There are no facts.

Justin March 31, 2010 at 7:45 pm

Or you’d be a very intelligent 10-year old. I agree with Josh. When you cannot logically hold a belief, you discard it. Wouldn’t discarding it beforehand be hasty and potentially wasteful? Of course there are various strains of logic that grow from various equally valid initial assumptions, so it is possible to arrive at a logical impasse, in which case most people make a decision based upon emotion; they go with the stronger belief. Strong beliefs are not necessarily an impediment to learning and growing (though I agree that they can be.) Most strong beliefs are a defense mechanism against insanity. An example of this is the belief in a physical realm.

Jon July 12, 2010 at 11:40 pm

Speaking of true religion/philosophy and true science (observation- and experiment-based) we can only conclude that they have one thing in common: truth. We should not fear, no matter how correct or not our beliefs may be, new evidence. I completely agree with Phil (Stephen: let’s call “facts” by the name of “observations”). In the case that observations refute our current beliefs we have a few options: 1) the evidence is incorrect in some way (be careful to choose solely this route of thinking), 2) in our cluster of beliefs there exists an explanation to be found, 3) we misunderstand our own belief concerning the subject (if you think about this one it does in fact differ from #2), or 4) we have erred in our belief.

Christian July 30, 2010 at 1:03 am

Or you were very wise at ten years old. (unlikely for almost everyone)

Christian July 30, 2010 at 1:04 am

Oops someone beat me to saying that, sorry.

Leavan September 12, 2010 at 12:50 pm

I am a few months late in this conversation, but I have found it completely intriguing. In my opinion, I feel there is a time and place for every belief one might adopt throughout their life. Knowing when to change it, let it be changed, is the art of growing. One can remain with the experience and the essence of the old beliefs while adopting new ones, which in turn, makes one wise.

stephen August 19, 2011 at 4:38 am

Or a really smart ten year old

Aaron R. September 1, 2011 at 3:27 am

Anyone who has declared someone else to be an idiot, a bad apple, a fool, is annoyed when it turns out in the end that he isn’t.

There is no spoon ha ha ha!

Bob August 19, 2011 at 9:10 am

Is that a fact?

Andy August 28, 2011 at 7:48 am

Brilliant answer!

Dave Moore March 2, 2011 at 2:25 pm

Exactly, Critta,

This pain of which you speak is manifest in judgment. If we were to pursue our desires while respecting, life and the innocent all would be well. To every call for action we have but three responses, “I love it,” “I hate it,” and “whatever.” When we choose hate the world sees our “pain.” But why do you choose to give energy to this pain? (rhetorical) And we continue to do so. Go figure. Let’s have that conversation. ThinkersAndSinkers.com

David January 12, 2012 at 5:48 pm

Mmm, nope I don’t think so. There is no reason the word strength must always refer to physical strength. Statements can be strong. Performances can be strong. Attachments can be strong. None are metaphorical.

Arjunan A August 31, 2011 at 11:26 pm

As human beings one has liberty to one’s believe and faith, no one has a right to prejudge them.

Ian August 22, 2011 at 10:48 pm

Yet everyone here has faith in Nietzche’s words and that he actually existed. Faith is trusting in something that you cannot see, or touch, or smell or any other means of scientific proof. You have faith every time you sit in a chair that it will hold. Everyone has faith in something, whether its faith that your chair will hold or faith that there is s sentient God. This entire process is driven by certain fundamental truths. If we take the position of the skeptics, this conversation is rather pointless as none of us could even prove we exist, therefore, Nietzche himself has faith or understood certain “fundamental truths”. If we follow this line of thought, he was making a circular argument: he has faith he exists yet says there is no such thing as faith.

Stephen November 26, 2011 at 1:36 am

So when you have faith in the works of something, is that relative to the faith that a belief is true? I mean I can calculate the likelihood that a quality chair will break or not using math, but how do you do that with faith? i.e. Faith is an excuse to the never ending argument for what’s life after death, that leads to the foundational point of all religions basis. Faith leads to false hope, leading to false truths. I mean seriously you have faith in the Christianity and God, and Hindu’s have faith in Brahman, so who’s right? Will faith be the arguing factor for proving beliefs to other or will it lead to the tolerances required to live in unity? At this rate, faith will be the downfall to humanity, because it derives from ignorance.

fershizzle December 13, 2011 at 12:01 am

hope is only imagination you created and once that it created, you can only bring it down with evil. evil is as much or more powerful b/c it takes you to the underworld instead of the heaven world

Russos1 December 13, 2011 at 8:49 pm

I agree completely with what you’re saying. Religion, hope, and faith is only believed in because no one knows what is right, and what is wrong. The unknown scares society so they make up their own reasons to make them feel secure. At this point in time we barely know anything about the universe, where we came from, what we are, and why we are here. So what exactly is the point in believing in something that is not real? There is none. No one person can change the world. No matter how many examples you can think of, no one has changed anything. We are still the ruthless mammals that we were back in B.C. era. I need to stop no, before I go too far..

Katie January 6, 2013 at 1:00 pm

Rather, everything is changing. Nothing is “the same” and we aren’t the same mammals that previous humans were. If you consider for a moment, that we are influenced by our environment, and adapt to it for better “survival” (interpreting “survival” to be based on the current circumstances of specific individuals) then you cannot reasonably believe that we are the same mammals as we were thousands of years ago. Our environment is completely different than that of people thousands of years ago. We may make similar choices based slightly similar circumstances, but neither the circumstances nor ourselves are the “same” as humans that lived thousands of years ago.
The only constant truth is that everything is continually changing, and nothing is ever the same.

You should read http://thoughtcatalog.com/2012/4-brilliant-remarks-from-historys-wisest-american/
your view of the world is an interesting reflection of your character.

Eric May 11, 2010 at 6:54 pm

You took an old testament statement and applied it in accordance to a new testament statement. In that religion, its widely accepted that the old testament laws do not apply, as they were then rewritten in the new testament to accomodate for after christ’s death and resurrection (therefore abolishing sacrificing,instituting a new path to the afterlife). As a student of anthropology, I thought I would point out the misunderstanding comments in your post. I will say that their would be some cool people to kick it with in hell and heaven, as the bible does not condemn by rooting out the ones who followed to a t or not. :P

Kyle September 9, 2010 at 11:40 am

It sound like you were approached by a Jehovah Witness, who by which are a cult deceived by the Watchtower. the 144,000 is a group of witnesses coming from the 12 tribes of Israel. It states in Revelation 7:9, which is further down in the verse you quoted “[ A Great Multitude from Every Nation ] After this I looked, and behold, [Rom 11:25 ] a great multitude that no one could number, [Revelation 5:9 ] from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, [Revelation 7:14; Revelation 3:4 ] clothed in white robes, with [Lev 23:40; John 12:13] palm branches in their hands”. So anyone can approach the throne of God through Christ which why that veil between man and God was ripped apart. Your Old Testament verses need to be put into context of when they were written. It was during a time of war and also refers to a coming judgment.

God used other pagan nation to ravage war again Babylon. The whole the children, who by the way have done nothing, being dashed to pieces and the women ravished(raped) and being thrust through by swords (Isaiah 13:15-16).
Is an observation of the Medes, a pagan culture that does not follow the decrees of God conquering the Babylonians and doing such despicable act to those people. Does not say that God or anyone should delight in what happened, just that it happened in that manner when the Babylonians were conquered.
17Behold, I will stir up the Medes against them, which shall not regard silver; and as for gold, they shall not delight in it.

18Their bows also shall dash the young men to pieces; and they shall have no pity on the fruit of the womb; their eyes shall not spare children.

19And Babylon, the glory of kingdoms, the beauty of the Chaldees’ excellency, shall be as when God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah.

20It shall never be inhabited, neither shall it be dwelt in from generation to generation: neither shall the Arabian pitch tent there; neither shall the shepherds make their fold there.

Now for Genesis 1:27
So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them

Genesis 2:21-22
21And the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof;

22And the rib, which the LORD God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man.

I don’t see a disconnect between the two. The first story of creation was the general overview and the second part was a more detailed explanation.

More like saying a person built the house, then the person begins explaining how the house was built. The foundation was laid down, the supports were built, the roof, etc.

Josh March 26, 2010 at 6:55 pm

That’s the great thing about our brains, we can’t be sure of an objective reality. There are many thought experiments that have been proposed over the years by many philosophers ranging from clever demons, to brains in vats, up to and including the Matrix. We don’t really have any way of being sure that what our brains are perceiving is an actual external reality.
The problem with that way of thinking though is that that is as far as you can go with it. Shannon made a great point in another reply here. (https://www.raptitude.com/2010/03/40-belief-shaking-remarks-from-a-ruthless-nonconformist/#comment-8674) It doesn’t matter whether or not reality is external to our minds. That fact is totally unknowable, unless of course you take the red pill and learn the truth about The Matrix. What I’m trying to say is that if you reduce everything to an inscrutable perception then you reduce everything in life to nothing at all. Hooray nihilism. That kind of thinking doesn’t get you anywhere. Accepting that your perceptions are shared and can be combined with the perceptions of others to increase the collective knowledge of mankind has, on the other hand, given us computers and the internet and the ability to debate the fundamental truths of the universe with complete strangers over vast distances.
For your second point, regarding quantum mechanics, I think that you may be thinking about quantum mechanics in an unusual way. See, quantum mechanics doesn’t apply to objects on a macroscopic scale. (With a few exceptions like plasma, or Bose-Einsteinian Condensates) The quantum part of “quantum mechanics” refers to the smallest possible portion of matter or “quanta.” The only time that our observations effect the results is when we are working on a quantum scale. You don’t effect the speed of a car passing you on the street just by looking at it. You do however effect either the speed or position of subatomic particles by trying to measure one or the other.
Sorry for the super long replies, I just finally have found something that I am passionate about and I love discussing it with people.
By the way, I love all the other quotes here, with the possible exception of #30.

David March 27, 2010 at 1:27 am

Great comment Josh, there is a lot to think about there. I disagree that that kind of thinking doesn’t get us anywhere though, depending on how you interpret (!) that statement.

We certainly can conceptualize an external, objective reality and identify the similarities in the realities each of us apparently perceives. We do it all the time and so much of civilization hinges on our ability to do it. But that does not make “There are no facts, only interpretations” necessarily false, or even useless.

It does not necessarily reduce everything to a nihilistic, inscrutable perception, because we can still employ science even while we acknowledge its objective “facts” as mere interpretations. There is no reason to toss out objectivity as a concept.

When we deal with the word “facts,” we become inclined to forget that they are only beliefs on a continuum of certainty. That is the sneaky lie that the word fact introduces — that it’s a different animal than a mere belief. A fact is a only belief that has been augmented by the additional belief that you could not be wrong. Does that make any sense?

Check out How to Be Right All The Time for more on this distinction.

juni April 12, 2010 at 1:13 pm

I loooove this whole page and just the knowledge that can be consummed here … Humans take fact way to serious including me . Until I read this page my mind kinda opened up to the word fact. we as a people can over analyze everything. especially when it comes down to the heavens, and science.

But “facts” of the past have changed, we have evolved our minds acceptance of knowledge to be one way and the proof, collaborations and studies make the “fact” another thing

our observation of a flat land became our observation of that being completely impossible.

Science took thousands of years to become what it is now and we are at a time where science is basically working together

Technology has given us the ability to look beyond belief and find “fact”

Science is not this amazing thing in the sky, science is the sky science is mathematics, we are all scientist. we all observe and attempt to learn and understand our enviorment.

Science is a misguided diluted word

I believe science was the 1st religion . As a people we believed in the sun god we believed in our enviorment. We believed in what we saw. As humans we are too creative for our own good and manipulated these objects of the heavens and nature into the things we will praise believe and live for to understand.

We just didn’t have the history, technology, and “facts” of the world to put everything together

We are at a time of great advantages a time of being able to go beyond belief, a time where we can even go against “fact”

Numbers are infinite that means science can go on forever . It can only grow and change. we can only get smarter from here . The question is once we have this universal sense of understanding what’s its purpose?

If there is any word we must go beyond its greed and ego.

We are a young race of intelligent animals we can only learn from our past we can learn from our mistakes if we truly want to make a change in this world we are going to have to be able to change the world beyond our death

Nick August 15, 2010 at 12:55 pm

Exactly, facts are only interpretations given in statement form, made for the sole purpose of allowing others like us to interpret for themselves whether they in turn believe the statement to be true or false. Because of how easily our beliefs adapt and fluctuate, how can any single statement be universally accepted by the entire population at any given point in time?

Josh March 27, 2010 at 10:47 am

Hi Chris, Dave, George. Thanks for the responses. I must say that I’m enjoying this very much as well.
Unfortunately I’ve reached the point where I realize that I’m trying to ice-skate uphill. At this point I feel that I could probably write enough to fill a whole other blog post so I’ll try to keep my scope limited to fit inside a reply.
Short and to the point: I was wrong. One apparently incontrovertible fact is that we can’t actually have any incontrovertible facts. How’s that for a paradox? While I’m on the topic of paradox, I’d like to recommend a book that has given me hours if not years of deep thoughts on the matter. The book is called “Labyrinths of Reason” it is written by William Poundstone. (Subtitled Paradox, puzzles, and the frailty of knowledge) If I’m going to be totally honest with myself and everyone else, I have to agree with what David said about beliefs and certainty. I believe with the highest degree of certainty that I can muster that there is an objective universe that is external to the subjective views of any beings inside that universe that may be experiencing it. Basically it’s the opposite of “I think therefore I am.” I am, therefore I think. That, of course, is a gross oversimplification. I believe that rocks and trees ARE but I don’t believe they can think. I do, however, think you can see what I’m trying to say.
Now back to the topic of a solid concrete “fact.” After long and careful consideration I’ve decided that I can’t really answer that question in a way that I feel is fair. As I stated in my second reply, I accept that all we have is our perceptions of reality and that to create an objective view based on those perceptions might really just be creating an illusion. I admit, that all I have is a very strong belief that we do live in an objective universe and that I merely believe that the way it seems is actually the way it is. Now with that being said I’m going to give some of the, in my opinion unfair, answers that I’ve come up with.
They all tend to be Meta Observations. For example I could say that one fact is that right now I’m sitting in a chair in front of a laptop and typing. Am I really though? It would be more accurate to say that right now I am experiencing the sensation that I am sitting in a chair. I am experiencing the sensation that I am looking at a laptop. I believe that I am typing because what I believe are my fingers are pushing against what I believe are keys on a laptop keyboard. Now those sensations are facts. But they are only facts to me. You reading this right now (are you really reading this?) can never be sure if I am actually experiencing this. Or for that matter if I actually exist at all. But let’s go a step further. (Reductio ad absurdum For The Win) What if in fact I am not actually perceiving this at all, and by extension that you are not experiencing the perception of reading this. Maybe there are no brains at all to receive these perceptions. What if in fact we are all just characters in the mind of somebody else? Are we all just part of some elaborate computer simulation, and all that we think we are experiencing through electronic impulses in our brains is simply a series of 1s and 0s traveling through a CPU? Maybe we’re a bunch of rocks on the beach.

I went ahead and read How to Be Right All the Time. It was a good post. Very thought provoking. I’d be lying, though, if I said that I didn’t take issue with some of your assertions. The way I interpret what you’ve written there it feels like you’ve said that anything that we believe that isn’t a direct result of personal experience is equivalent to blind faith. You used the example of the earth revolving around the sun. You could ask an astronaut how the earth looks from outside of our atmosphere. You can see pictures taken from satellite images. Now those pictures are just that, pictures. A picture may be worth a thousand words but it is not what it is showing. A photograph of a lion can’t eat a gazelle. The first hand account of the astronauts however is very compelling evidence. Though I suppose that they could be lying, or they were hallucinating, or that even they don’t actually exist and that we are hallucinating or being manipulated somehow. Again, I assert that by following that train of thought and saying “The way I see it” doesn’t make you right, it just makes everything meaningless. If I were to say, “The way I see it, I am the last remaining dodo bird”, then I would be wrong. Or maybe I shouldn’t say wrong. Maybe I should say, that you cannot know that it is true. In “Labyrinths of Reason” there is a section on knowledge and what it means to “know” something. The three necessary conditions are Belief, justification, and truth. First of all, I would have to believe that I in fact am a dodo bird and that there are no others. Secondly, that belief would have to be justified, let’s say for the sake of argument that I justify this because whenever I look in a mirror I see a dodo bird and when I look at my arms I see feathers and because I’ve never seen any other dodo birds. Thirdly, and in my opinion most importantly, it would actually have to be true that I am a dodo bird. Any casual observation by an outside source would quickly dismiss this no matter what I believe. I’d invoke at this point Aphorism #11 with regards to the asylum.
What I’m trying to say is that if you deny truth then you deny knowledge. Please feel free to disagree, and to post those disagreements here. I am enjoying this conversation very much.
Thanks again,
(P.S. so much for keeping it short.)

Chris F. March 27, 2010 at 5:09 pm

Hi Josh. There’s a lot of great stuff in your recent posts and I would like to write a very long response, but I’ll keep it to just one point:

You said, “Short and to the point: I was wrong.”

It’s impressive to me that you’re the type of person who is not only willing to consider that you might be “wrong” but is willing to admit that publicly. Personally, I absolutely love to find-out I am wrong. If people were more willing to follow your example, I think the world would be a quite different place.

Andrew May 31, 2010 at 3:37 pm

Welcome to Daoism, haha

Josh mentioned the paradox of the one real fact being that there are no facts, which I believe is one of the most important trains of thought anyone can take their mind down. But this isn’t a call for nihilism, but rather a call for honesty with yourself.

Nihilism is like any other system of belief – it claims that it is the one truth, even if it’s “truth” is that there are no truths and nothing matters. The real lesson that should be learned by acknowledging there are no permanent facts in our world isn’t that facts don’t matter, but rather that they matter because WE make them matter. If you say that there is no moral structure to the universe, does that mean morals don’t matter? No. It means that you must take responsibility for your morals, rather than claiming they are some universal rule that all things must follow – because even among human cultures that can be seen as false. If you say that the laws of physics are not permanent truths, does that mean they don’t matter? No. They are still the best way for us to explain and explore the world as WE perceive it, until we find something better which will allow us to perceive the world in a different light – and in doing so change our perception of it. And even with our current physics we have found that the laws we think run the universe are not always constant, are really more akin to probability, and can be broken by nature itself in the right circumstances.

The truth is what we make it, what we choose for ourselves, be it science or religion or basic perception of reality. And yes, there are basic truths we all accept because otherwise we would likely go mad (such as simple identification with other humans and the belief that you are yourself) but that does not change the fact that these are truths that YOU accept, not truths that you can objectively prove.

It is up to us to decide what we consider factual, not the universe…whatever it is.

alex March 7, 2012 at 2:57 pm

I truly appreciate you insight, but need to add that the acceptance of wrong or of its possibility is only but a step towards truth. Truth is a destination.

Philip July 9, 2012 at 5:40 pm

if there are no facts then there are no truths

David May 31, 2010 at 6:13 pm

Well put brother

Billy April 5, 2010 at 1:01 am

The underlying patterns of math exist in the objective universe without the need of a mind to perceive them. The Mandlebrot Set is a good example. It is a universe unto itself that arises from a simple recursive function. It wasn’t created by man. It was discovered.

Math is symbolic. Numbers and operators represent fundamental relationships that do exist in the world, independent of interpretation. These relationships do not need to be perceived by us to exist.

I can’t believe I feel like I’m going out on a limb here to say that yes, I would use ‘2+2=4’ as an example of indisputable truth. I can’t think of scenario where this statement would not be true.

Nick August 15, 2010 at 1:12 pm

I would like a concrete example as well. As I am sitting here, I think of all areas of knowledge I could delve into to find a example of fact. Starting with math, as Phil said it was created by mankind and was there, while in its development, influenced its fickle creators. Literature: Books and language are the embodiment of objectivism, which I belive is the exact opposite of fact. Science: Science in all forms, biology, chemistry, etc, is not nearly constant enough to even consider the conclusions it has made as fact. This is because if one where to live forever they would see multiple times a dramatic change in the philosophy of science, including changes in the laws which govern our modern day view of our world. History: similar to literature, history is created and continued by mankind and mankind only. Whether past, present, or future, our abilty to objectify things (also our ability to lie) will keep anything in the history books from becoming a concrete fact.

If anyone does manage to find an indisputable claim, you have my congratulations.

Aden August 14, 2010 at 9:54 pm

I’m not calling it a fact. I’m only pointing out that the assertion (or “interpretation” if you prefer that term) contradicts itself. Undoubtedly we all have different interpretations of the truth, but the truth is there.

tuplang July 31, 2010 at 7:46 am

Sorry Phil. But there was nothing silly about the Pope trying to thwart scientific discovery.

The Pope is a politician. Sure, he dresses like a mystic and spouts mystic stuff here and there but his job is 99% political. He is caretaker for a massive hive-mind known as the Roman Catholic Church and, at the time of Galileo, this hive-mind controlled most of the known world. It did this because it enjoyed the power that mystics can have over a populace that didn’t know any better and were too terrified to ask. God is an awfully big idea to come up against, don’t you think?

Now some smartypants upstart comes along and tells us that the Bible (the main program of belief) has a fundamental flaw and we are not the centre of the universe?? Man the barricades, boys, we’re in BIG trouble here.

Our lad, Galileo was dobbed in to the Roman Inquisition (read: thought police) and the story continues on it’s path.

These days we think that democracy is a pretty good idea despite the fact that it doesn’t really work and that a hell of a lot of people are still marginalized and demonized and left out of the game. We are all dealing with the new hive-idea of “everyone is equal” when that is obviously untrue. Take a look around. Don’t tell me that the poor and the disadvantaged chose that path.

But to state these ideas is to mark oneself as a bit of a heretic, a dissident. You will most likely be silenced and marginalized and put into a sort of “social house arrest” if you do not publicly recant.

The more things change, eh?

The pope is a politician.

(This is only my interpretation and should not be regarded as fact)

Chris F. March 26, 2010 at 7:50 pm

Hi David. In your opinion, how many of the religious (including parishioners and church leaders — past and present) do you think really “get” the deeper wisdom in their traditions?

IMHO, all the important stuff – the diamonds – are, like the Buddhist metaphor, “like fingers pointing at the moon: if you watch [get attached to] the finger, you can’t see the moon”.

So, I don’t know if all the misinterpretation is deliberate (specifically to power over, to control others). I think many are trying to do their best while believing that worshiping the fingers IS their salvation — they simply don’t see the moon.

David March 26, 2010 at 8:58 pm

Good question. I have no idea. Organized religion gets people emotionally attached to certain beliefs, which IMO contain misrepresentations of many parts of the teaching, including what Sin, Heaven, Hell, and God were originally meant to mean. So I think the more attached you are to an established doctrine, the more likely you are to find the views that really, honestly resonate with you on that deepest level of understanding.

I believe it’s a combination of deliberate misinformation and honest misunderstanding. Christian institutions of the middle ages held immense power over the populace, and tweaking the message in order to justify war and torture was just a no-brainer for any kingdom wishing to expand its influence. The teaching was all about transcending those things, but the average person just wouldn’t have been up to it — yet they didn’t let just anyone opt out of the church if they weren’t jiving with the message.

Ellen April 2, 2010 at 6:10 am

I don’t even see this as a necessarily religious statement, let alone a necessarily Christian one (maybe you guys don’t either and just wanted to have a religious discussion :) ).

Chris, in terms of picking diamonds from dunghills, I think that’s a bit unfair. Whilst there are large chunks of really terrible stuff – dunghills, I guess :P – there are other large chunks of really inspirational stuff. I think it’s more that Christians pick out the good stuff disproportionately that makes atheists focus on the bad stuff to try and make the representation fairer, but they tend to go too far the other way and then everyone is polarised and yeah :)

Chris F. April 3, 2010 at 11:22 am

Hi Ellen. Thanks so much for your thoughtful comment. I think you’re right about Christians and Atheists (BTW I’m neither) both “quote mining” to support their own beliefs.
That said, the problem with your argument is that (most all) Christians believe the Bible to be something more than just a book: i.e. that it came from some kind of “higher”, supernatural place.
It’s like in a court of law: If a witness is found to be lying on the stand, _ALL_ THEIR TESTIMONY IS THROWN-OUT. So, all someone really needs to do is show one (there are many, many) aspect of the Bible COULD NOT POSSIBLY have come from a “higher place”.
Let’s give a specific example: SLAVERY (humans owning other humans). Nowhere in the Bible (to my knowledge) is slavery ever forbidden. In fact there are many passages in support of slavery (e.g. you can beat slaves, but don’t “poke their eyes out”) and it appears Yahweh/Jesus expects us to keep slaves.
Jesus, for all his inspirational, loving words never speaks-out a single word against slavery (prove me wrong, if possible). Is that an oversight or just a sign of his times and civilization … and that he was no more God than any other human-being?

Ellen April 3, 2010 at 8:30 pm

Hey Chris! Thanks for replying :)

I guess I see it like this: the Bible was a book that represents the time it was written in. And I guess like a book that’s written now, it’s going to represent good and bad from a specific period of time. But just because there’s cultural stuff from that time that we see as bad now, that doesn’t necessarily negate other parts of it (help the poor, turn the other cheek etc.), it just means that everything you’ve got to take with a grain of salt (and of course, I don’t believe it’s divinely inspired).

I don’t think we actually disagree, I just thought that the whole dunghill/diamond thing was unfair :)

Also, just as an addendum, you can’t really expect Jesus to have spoken about everything wrong with society, can you?

Chris F. March 27, 2010 at 10:28 am

Hi Char. If possible, could you please give some references to the evolutionary support for “un-self-serving” altruism: where the altruistic individual or their genes (which may be physically located in relatives, i.e. children, cousins, etc.) aren’t benefited from the altruistic behavior?

Chris F. March 27, 2010 at 5:58 pm

I should have been clearer: The definition of “altruism” is “selfless concern for the welfare of others”. However, when used in evolutionary studies, it often doesn’t literally mean “altruism”, but rather “behavior that looks like altruism”.

As far as I have seen, the evolutionary studies have found that “behavior that looks like altruism” is always self-serving (or strongly suspected to be): maybe not to the individual, but the individual’s DNA via group-selection. I.e. “there’s no free-lunch” in evolution.

That’s why I’m _very_ interested if you have some different info.

Char (PSI Tutor:Mentor) March 29, 2010 at 7:29 pm

Hi Chris F~ not sure why I am not able to directly reply to your replies…? Anyways, my previous response is available if you scroll down.

Meanwhile ~ I just wanted to add, that the lack of evidence to support altruism as an evolutionary option is likely due to methodological bias~ the focus of studies has been on competition and aggression rather than cooperation and affiliation.

David March 27, 2010 at 1:30 am

Well said! A paradox, not a contradiction.

Char (PSI Tutor:Mentor) April 6, 2010 at 11:18 pm

Hi John~ well, you answered the question ~:-)
yes possible, though difficult

What if we as a species, instead of polarizing the action to an “always” situation, made it a social goal to act more altruistically rather than selfishly.

We know that this state is possible, sociobiologists and evolutionary anthropologists point to non-human communities which are predominantly low on aggression and high on altruism.

Paleo and Neolithic artifacts and engravings/drawings etc show us that this was the predominant norm in their times.

As to the idea that the majority can’t and never will, well our ancestors show this isn’t the case, and who knows what future humans maybe able to achieve.

Dr. G April 14, 2010 at 2:31 am

Sorry if I was not clear. Let me try again:
When I wanted to get married, it turned out as a serious issue that I did not attend the sacrament of confirmation. Usually, the catholic church would not allow me to get married without this sacrament.
I had a very intense discussion with a catholic priest, Father van den Bosch, about this topic.
I brought up my general concerns about religion in general and the catholic church in particular. To my surprise, Father van den Bosch accepted all my reasons. But he made a very good point by saying that he is not aware of any other organisation that is more effective than the church in e.g. supporting the poor and fighting hunger.
This discussion about 14 years ago is one of the two reasons why I am still a member of the catholic church.

David April 14, 2010 at 6:20 pm

I see, but is religion really necessary in order to organize efforts to help people?

Many charities and relief efforts are organized through the catholic church, but at the same time I’m not sure if any organization in history is responsible for causing as much suffering as it has. Crusades, inquisitions, residential schools, covering up sexual abuse… these are causes of intense suffering on a vast scale. Their stance against contraception alone is helping to create much of the poverty they are trying to fix with the other hand. I respect your choice of religious affiliation but I just don’t think the organization as a whole is doing more good than harm.
.-= David´s last blog ..Die on Purpose =-.

Nate May 3, 2010 at 2:06 pm

Not true, logic is involved here, obviously. When deciding on what a superior man should be and how he should behave, obviously that is something deduced by a kind of logic, it is simply a type that is not based on sound logic. If anyone’s going to try to convince me of something, it should be reasonable and use sound logic to form a solid argument. His particular way of “argument” was why people have said he’s no philosopher at all. Rhetoric. If we are going to throw logic out the window, it really is like trying to argue with a religious zealot!

Apodyopsis July 20, 2010 at 10:12 pm

It seems you are completely missing the point of what I am saying here. You are arguing that information and perception can change (although we are arguing about whether facts exist). I do not disagree with that, but if in 500 years they are saying that JFK got stabbed, then they would be wrong. This is because we know what happened. Regardless of what people say or believe, he was shot.

There is no such thing as a “fact” (the way it is in parentheses). Many people may say that information is fact when it is not true. Then they are just wrong. It doesn’t mean facts don’t exist.

Facts exist outside of perception. They are greater than what you yourself see and believe. Cleopatra died somehow. That is a fact. I challenge you (or anyone else that reads this) to prove that this fact does not exist (If you take this challenge do not split hairs on the definition of words and other such trivial arguments). If you can make me believe that Cleopatra is not dead, and therefore alive, I will concede to you. Back to the point, it does not matter in the slightest that we do not know how or why she died. It’s all hearsay.

As for the tree in the woods. I will use this to prove my point. Just because nobody was there to perceive or interpret the tree falling, it does not mean that it didn’t fall. There are facts that NOBODY knows (facts that we can’t know), and therefore aren’t left to interpretation. They can only be facts. That’s all that’s left. What happened happened and there is nobody to say otherwise. (See my response to David below for more on the matter)

P.S. the word “based” does nothing to change the meaning of what you said in terms of this argument. Regardless, I will apologize for misquoting you.

David August 11, 2010 at 10:37 pm

Human record contains no facts, true, only interpretations. But the universe would exist just fine without us.

Then again, that is just my belief I suppose. You could be right, and humanity could be the foundation and center of the universe, just as it has claimed ownership to for thousands of years. I prefer to ‘believe’ that the universe is grounded on something a little more solid.

I didn’t say that humanity is the foundation or center of the universe. If we are, that doesn’t make me right. I just don’t believe that the conventional conception of an objective universe is worth taking for granted. To do that presumes that we have a near-complete understanding of what we are seeing. This is normal — we are at least that conceited.

Why must it be one or the other, and why say it with certainty? That’s all I’m saying. You can never experience anything but your own perceptions, because you’ll never be anyone other than you. With me?

But you can still organize your interpretations and build a model in your mind of how everything works. That’s all everyone can ever really do, and each of us is going to end up with something slightly different. If all of those models are based on some “baseline” model that we’re all drawing from, then fine, but we will never be able to confirm that. You are only ever working with your interpretations.

Who says there is anything unsolid about a universe that doesn’t quite work the way we conventionally imagine it does? The thought is uncomfortable, maybe, but that doesn’t make it unsolid or unreal.

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