A Collection of Wisdom

Friedrich Nietzsche

Nietzsche Parody


German-Swiss philosopher and scholar Friedrich (Wilhelm) Nietzsche (1844-1900) is one of the most unique, innovative, and influential philosophers of all time. Many of his ideas have had a profound impact on other philosophers, as well as on many psychologists, theologians, and writers.


Friedrich was born in Germany in 1844. He studied a variety of literature in his early life, and he also loved music and dancing. Friedrich was in the military briefly, but left due to an injury and illness. He later worked as professor of classic texts in Switzerland beginning in 1868. In 1870, during a brief stint as a medical helper in the Franco-Prussian war, he contracted illnesses that continuously affected him from that point on.

In 1872, Friedrich produced his first book, The Birth of Tragedy, and continued teaching as he came out with several other philosophical writings, including a collection of essays titled Thoughts Out of Season, and a book of aphorisms titled Human, All Too Human.

In 1879, he retired from teaching due to health problems, and turned exclusively to a writing career. He lived a rather odd and usually solitary life, and was often in great pain due to his illnesses. Friedrich released such books as Thus Spake Zarathustra, Beyond Good and Evil, The Genealogy of Morals, and Twilight of the Idols, the last of which was published in 1889. That same year, he suffered an extremely severe mental and physical breakdown, which he never recovered from.

Friedrich lived in severe mental disorder from that point on. He spent time in an asylum and later under the care of relatives. Friedrich died in 1900.


Throughout his life, Friedrich wrote about 14 books, some of which were published after his breakdown and after his death. Although his works were generally not popular or widely read before his breakdown, by the time of his death they were well known, and after his death they continued to increased in readership.

Friedrich’s ideas and writing style have had a major impact on many people, including writers such as Hermann Hesse, William Butler Yeats, Andre Gide, and George Bernard Shaw; as well as on psychologists such as Carl Jung, Sigmund Freud, and Alfred Adler.


Unfortunately, Friedrich has often been mistakenly linked to Nazism and Fascism. Much of this is due to various forgeries and changes to his writings that were made by his sister Elisabeth, and due to efforts by Nazi propagandists. Friedrich was actually emphatically against such things as nationalism. Additionally, his writings and behaviors were unquestionably against anti-Semitism.


The Will To Power, Self-Control, Self-Discipline, and the Ubermensch

In Friedrich’s time, most people felt that human nature was predominated by the general desire to experience pleasure and avoid pain. Friedrich, however, countered that many people often are often willing to experience pain and tension in order to achieve goals that make them feel competent and powerful, and that the desire for feeling competent and powerful is a central theme of human nature.

Based on that human need for personal power, Friedrich theorized a concept of human nature he termed the will to power. He felt that life is based on the inherent and natural tendency to feel powerful and grow and expand.

In his books, Friedrich wrote:

[Anything that] is a living and not dying body... must be a bodily will to power. It will strive to grow, spread, embrace, become dominate—not from any morality or immorality—but because it is living, and because life simply is will to power.

The will to power is just the will to live.

He who humbles himself wants to be exalted.

He who despises himself nevertheless esteems himself as a self-despiser.

Also note, however, that Friedrich did not feel that ruling others is necessarily part of the ideal of the will to power.

In his books, he wrote:

I have found strength where it usually has not been searched for—in simple, non-extreme, and pleasant people [who are] without the least desire to rule. And, at the other end, the desire to rule has often seemed to me an indication of inner weakness. They [those who must rule others] are scared of there own enslaved soul, and wrap it in a royal cloak…

In his theory of will to power, Friedrich also felt that people have a desire to gain power over their undisciplined behavior and tendencies. He theorized that self-control and self-discipline—although commonly labeled as moral or religious self-denial—is in reality a means of attaining a supreme form of power.

In his books, Friedrich developed the ideal of the ubermensch (overman), which he defined as a higher person (not through nature, but through development) who has discipline, acknowledges the chaos of the world and accepts / deals with it, develops control of his passions, and channels energy into a higher form of creative expression.

In his books, Friedrich wrote:

I teach you the ubermensch. Man is something that is to be surpassed/overcome. What have you done to surpass him?

…[The ubermensch]has organized the chaos of his passions, given style to his character, and is creative.

Some attend to their ideal with timid meekness, and want to deny it. They fear their higher self, because when it speaks, it speaks demandingly.

[A great man is] only an actor playing out his ideal.

The destiny of the higher man is to be a creator.

You shall become the person you are.

Whoever reaches his ideal transcends it eo ipso [by that very act].

He who cannot obey himself will be commanded. That is the nature of living creatures.

Let us stop thinking so much about punishing, criticizing, and improving others! ... Instead, let us rather raise ourselves that much higher. Let us color our own example with ever more vividness.

Help yourself; then everyone will help you.

Facts and Truth

In general, Friedrich believed that most or all facts / truth are constructs created by people. He also felt that the closest thing we have to genuine facts / truth is often missed by most people.

In his books, Friedrich wrote:

There are no facts, only interpretations.

All things are subject to interpretation; and whichever interpretation prevails at a given time is a result of power and not truth.

Every word is a prejudice.

More depends on what things are called than on what they are.

It matters little whether a thing is true, as long as it is effective.

Actually, all our senses have become rather obscured, because we always analyze after the reason—what it means, and no longer what it is… More and more, what is symbolic substitutes for what exists…

It is unlikely that a [distinct] duality of cause and effect ever exists; in truth, we are met by a continuous flow, and from it we extract two pieces, just like we perceive motion only as isolated points, and then conclude it without ever actually seeing it.

As important as it may be know the actual motives that caused human conduct up until now, it may be of even greater significance to know the made-up and imaginary motives that people attributed their conduct to.

Belief in truth begins with doubt of all truths in which one used to believe.

More Than Reasoning

In some of his writings, Friedrich also indicated that he felt that the world and mankind is not as based as on reasoning as much as people often say it is.

In his books, he wrote:

The misunderstanding of passion and reason: …[as if reason] existed as an independent being, and not instead as a condition of the relations between different passions and desires; and as if every passion did not have within itself its own quantity of reason.

... Mankind would rather see gestures than listen to reasons.


Related to his views on facts, truth, and reasoning, Friedrich also generally felt that people’s opinions are sometimes gotten in an almost arbitrary manner, or in a way that is not based on objectively observing experiences of the world.

In his books, Friedrich wrote:

One often contradicts an opinion when what was really unpleasing was the tone it was conveyed in.

One often remains faithful to a cause only because its [the cause’s] opponents do not cease to be dull.

If you can cause people to assert themselves in favor of something publicly, you have also usually caused them to assert themselves in favor of it inwardly; they want to be regarded as consistent.

Sometimes in the process of conversation, the sound of our own voice confuses [/ embarrasses] us and misleads us into making assertions that in no way match our opinions.

It is hard enough to remember my opinions without also remembering my reasons for them!

Public opinion—private laziness.

The struggle of opinions is not what has made history so violent; instead, [it was] the struggle of belief in opinions—that is, the struggle of convictions… Passions form opinions; mental indolence allows them to become convictions.


Based on Friedrich’s theories of facts, truth, and opinions, he believed that people are open to being manipulated or influenced in certain ways.

In his book, Friedrich wrote:

People will always obey, as long as they can become intoxicated into doing so.

It is not true that “every man has his price.” But for every one, there is bait [that exists] which he cannot resist biting. To win over certain people to something, it is only necessary to give it a shine of humaneness, nobleness, caring, self-sacrificing—and thus there is nothing you cannot get them to bite. To their souls, these are the icing… other kinds of souls have others.

People are deceived so much because they are always seeking a deceiver; that is to say, a wine to stimulate their senses. If they can have that, they are quite satisfied with bad bread.

One can entice brave people into doing something by representing it as being more dangerous than it is.

Good and Evil

In general, Friedrich argued that the ideas of good and evil are artificial constructs created by people, often to promote their own self-interests. He felt that labels of good and evil are temporary, and subject to being changed.

In his books, Friedrich wrote:

There are no moral phenomena; [there are] only moral interpretations of phenomena.

Morality is the herd-instinct in the individual.

History deals almost exclusively with wicked men who later become recognized as good men.

Anyone who has overthrown an existing law of custom has always at first been labeled a bad man. But when, as it has happened, the law could not afterwards be reinstated and this fact was accepted, the implication gradually changed.

Order and Chaos

In his book The Birth of a Tragedy, Friedrich analyzed Greek culture and used two Greeks gods symbolically to theorize the existence of two human drives. He termed one drive Apollonian—the drive for order; and the other Dionysian—the drive for the chaotic. In his philosophical career, Friedrich leaned towards the viewpoint that in reality, the order sought by the Apollonian drive is an illusion created in order to deal with the universe’s true chaotic nature.

In his books, Friedrich wrote:

Whoever observes within himself as into vast space, and has galaxies in himself, also knows how strange all galaxies are. They lead into the chaos and maze of existence.

We have arranged for ourselves a world that we can live in, through the acceptance of bodies, lines, surfaces, causes and effects, motion and rest, form and content. Without these things we believe in, no one now would be able to deal with life. But by no means does this constitute a proof. Life is no argument. Among the conditions of life, error might be one.

It is unlikely that a [distinct] duality of cause and effect ever exists; in truth, we are met by a continuous flow, and from it we extract two pieces, just like we perceive motion only as isolated points, and then conclude it without ever actually seeing it.

Man conceives the existence of other things according to the analogy of his own existence… an illogical transmission.

…The concept of thing is a just reflex of the belief in the ego as cause. And to my dear mechanists and physicists, even your atom—how much error, how much simple psychology is still remaining in your atom!

More Friedrich Nietzsche Quotes

In every real man, there is a child that wants to play.

No man lies as boldly as the man who is angered.

We are like store windows where we are constantly arranging, hiding, or setting out in front the qualities that others attribute to us, in order to deceive ourselves.

There is one thing notable in all great deceivers—their belief in themselves.

Talking a lot about oneself can also be a way to conceal oneself.

We are so fond of being out in Nature because it has no opinions of us.

People that give us their complete confidence also believe that they have a right to ours. [However,] the conclusion is false. A gift allots no rights.

A sick man lives more carelessly when he is under medical supervision than when he is attending to his own health.

During peaceful circumstances, the militant man attacks himself.

Many are stubborn in their pursuit of the path they have chosen…

The same emotions are in man and in woman, but in different tempi [pace]. Therefore, men and women never cease to misunderstand each other.

Why does man not see things? He himself is standing in the way—he conceals things.

The best weapon against an enemy is another enemy.

He who would learn to fly one day must first learn to stand and walk and run and climb and dance; one cannot fly into flying.

Let us beware of saying that death is the opposite of life. The living being is only a species of the dead, and a very rare species at that.

And if you gaze for long into an abyss, the abyss also gazes into you.

If life had a final purpose, it would have been reached by now.

Original minds are not distinguished by being the first to see a new thing, but instead by seeing the old, familiar thing that is overlooked as something new.

When we have found ourselves, we must then occasionally learn how to lose and find ourselves again. To a thinker, it is a drawback to always be tied to one person… A person must be able to lose himself occasionally if he wants to learn something from things other than himself.

Simplicity in style is ever the sign of genius. It alone has the entitlement of expressing itself naturally and honestly.

Every really productive thing is offensive.

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

An excellent quotation may spoil whole pages, and even a whole book. It seems to warningly cry to the reader, “I am the precious stone, and around me is pale, worthless lead.”

Those who know they are deep strive for clarity. Those who want to appear deep to the crowd strive for obscurity—for the crowd will consider anything deep if it cannot see to the bottom: the crowd is so timid and afraid of going in the water.

The misfortune of penetrating and clear authors is that people consider them shallow, and thus do not devote effort to them. The good fortune of obscure writers is that the reader makes an effort to understand them, and gives them credit for his own determination.

People regard the obscure and unexplainable more seriously than the clear and explainable... Something that becomes clear ceases to concern us.

He who has a why to live can bear almost any how.

The badly paired [couple] are the most revengeful. They make everyone suffer due to the fact that they are not single anymore.

Whenever I climb, I am followed by a dog called “Ego.”

How is it that health is less contagious than disease—especially in matters of taste? Or are there epidemics of health?

It is my ambition to say in ten sentences what others say in a whole book.

Plato [the ancient Greek philosopher] was a bore.

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

Wisdom sets bounds even to knowledge.

The more abstract the truth is that you want to teach, the more thoroughly you must seduce the senses to accept it.

Most of the time in married life is taken up by talk.

Insanity in individuals is something rare—but in groups, parties, nations and eras, it is the rule.

There are no institutions that a man should value more than his own soul.

How can anyone glorify and revere an entire people? It is the individuals that count…

Self-admiration is healthy. Has a beautiful woman that knew she was well dressed ever caught a cold?

The desire to display more emotion than one feels taints style.

People that are very beautiful, very good, and very powerful, rarely ever learn the full truth about anything. In their presence, we involuntarily lie.

We ought to fear a man who hates himself, for we are at risk of becoming victims of his anger and revenge. Let us then try to lure him into self-love.

No thinker’s thoughts give me as much pleasure as my own. Of course, this does not prove anything in their favor; but [on the other hand,] I would be foolish to neglect fruits that are tasteful just because they grow on my own tree.

…The worst enemy you can meet will always be you yourself; you lie waiting for yourself in caves and woods.

Without myth, every culture would lose its healthy creative power.

Valuing history beyond a certain [excessive] point damages and degrades life.

Excessive virtue can bring a nation to ruin just as much as excessive vice [can].

Hearing what is said about us everyday, or even endeavoring to discover what people think, will ultimately destroy even the strongest man.

Our body is simply a social structure made of many souls.

The one-eyed man will have a stronger one eye; the blind man will have deeper inner sight, and will definitely hear better. To this extent, to me, the famous theory of survival of the fittest does not seem to be the only perspective that can be used to explain the progress of strengthening of a man or a race.

In the past, one desired to acquire fame and to be talked about. [But] that is not sufficient anymore, because the market has grown too big—nothing less than screaming will do.

...One must need to be strong—otherwise, one will never become strong.