Friedrich Nietzsche Quotes 1–30 of 402 Quotes

Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche (15 October 1844 – 25 August 1900) was a German philosopher, whose critiques of contemporary culture, religion, and philosophy centered on a basic question regarding the foundation of values and morality.

Below are 30 of 402 sourced Friedrich Nietzsche quotes. Sources and related information appear under each quote. Use the 'Cite this quote' link to get citation references.

“I am utterly amazed, utterly enchanted! I have a precursor, and what a precursor! I hardly knew Spinoza: that I should have turned to him just now, was inspired by "instinct." Not only is his overtendency like mine—namely to make all knowledge the most powerful affect — but in five main points of his doctrine I recognize myself; this most unusual and loneliest thinker is closest to me precisely in these matters: he denies the freedom of the will, teleology, the moral world-order, the unegoistic, and evil. Even though the divergencies are admittedly tremendous, they are due more to the difference in time, culture, and science. In summa: my lonesomeness, which, as on very high mountains, often made it hard for me to breathe and make my blood rush out, is now at least a twosomeness. Strange! Incidentally, I am not at all as well as I had hoped. Exceptional weather here too! Eternal change of atmospheric conditions! — that will yet drive me out of Europe! I must have clear skies for months, else I get nowhere. Already six severe attacks of two or three days each. With affectionate love, Your friend.”

— Friedrich Nietzsche

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Quote source: Postcard to Franz Overbeck, Sils-Maria (30 July 1881), as translated by Walter Kaufmann in The Portable Nietzsche (1954)

“Here the ways of men part: if you wish to strive for peace of soul and pleasure, then believe; if you wish to be a devotee of truth, then inquire.”

— Friedrich Nietzsche

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Quote source: Letter to Elisabeth Nietzsche, Bonn, 1865-06-11. Quoted in Walter Kaufmann, The Faith of a Heretic (opening epigram).

“There are no facts, only interpretations.”

— Friedrich Nietzsche

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More on this quote: Notebooks (Summer 1886 – Fall 1887)
  • As translated in The Portable Nietzsche (1954) by Walter Kaufmann, p. 458

“In Germany there is much complaining about my "eccentricities." But since it is not known where my center is, it won't be easy to find out where or when I have thus far been "eccentric." That I was a philologist, for example, meant that I was outside my center (which fortunately does not mean that I was a poor philologist). Likewise, I now regard my having been a Wagnerian as eccentric. It was a highly dangerous experiment; now that I know it did not ruin me, I also know what significance it had for me — it was the most severe test of my character.”

— Friedrich Nietzsche

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Quote source: Letter to Carl Fuchs (14 December 1887)

“I now myself live, in every detail, striving for wisdom, while I formerly merely worshipped and idolized the wise.”

— Friedrich Nietzsche

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Quote source: Letter to Mathilde Mayer, July 16, 1878, cited in Karl Jaspers, Nietzsche (Baltimore: 1997), p. 46

“So far no one had had enough courage and intelligence to reveal me to my dear Germans. My problems are new, my psychological horizon frighteningly comprehensive, my language bold and clear; there may well be no books written in German which are richer in ideas and more independent than mine.”

— Friedrich Nietzsche

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Quote source: Letter to Carl Fuchs (14 December 1887)

“I've seen proof, black on white, that Herr Dr. Förster has not yet severed his connection with the anti-Semitic movement. … Since then I've had difficulty coming up with any of the tenderness and protectiveness I've so long felt toward you. The separation between us is thereby decided in really the most absurd way. Have you grasped nothing of the reason why I am in the world? … Now it has gone so far that I have to defend myself hand and foot against people who confuse me with these anti-Semitic canaille; after my own sister, my former sister, and after Widemann more recently have given the impetus to this most dire of all confusions. After I read the name Zarathustra in the anti-Semitic Correspondence my forbearance came to an end. I am now in a position of emergency defense against your spouse's Party. These accursed anti-Semite deformities shall not sully my ideal!!”

— Friedrich Nietzsche

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Quote source: Draft for a letter to his sister Elisabeth Förster-Nietzsche (December 1887).

“You have committed one of the greatest stupidities — for yourself and for me! Your association with an anti-Semitic chief expresses a foreignness to my whole way of life which fills me again and again with ire or melancholy. … It is a matter of honor with me to be absolutely clean and unequivocal in relation to anti-Semitism, namely, opposed to it, as I am in my writings. I have recently been persecuted with letters and Anti-Semitic Correspondence Sheets. My disgust with this party (which would like the benefit of my name only too well!) is as pronounced as possible, but the relation to Förster, as well as the aftereffects of my former publisher, the anti-Semitic Schmeitzner, always brings the adherents of this disagreeable party back to the idea that I must belong to them after all. … It arouses mistrust against my character, as if publicly I condemned something which I have favored secretly — and that I am unable to do anything against it, that the name of Zarathustra is used in every Anti-Semitic Correspondence Sheet'', has almost made me sick several times.”

— Friedrich Nietzsche

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Quote source: Objecting to his sister Elisabeth, about her marriage to the anti-semite Bernhard Förster, in a Christmas letter (1887) in Friedrich Nietzsche's Collected Letters, Vol. V, #479

“Everything the State says is a lie, and everything it has it has stolen.”

— Friedrich Nietzsche

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“I have somehow something like "influence" … In the Anti-Semitic Correspondence … my name is mentioned in almost every issue. Zarathustra … has charmed the anti-Semites; there is a special anti-Semitic interpretation of it that made me laugh very much.”

— Friedrich Nietzsche

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Quote source: As quoted in "Idea of Anti-Semitism Filled Nietzsche With Ire and Melancholy" in The New York Times (19 December 1987)

“Mathematics would certainly have not come into existence if one had known from the beginning that there was in nature no exactly straight line, no actual circle, no absolute magnitude.”

— Friedrich Nietzsche

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Quote source: As quoted in The Puzzle Instinct : The Meaning of Puzzles in Human Life‎ (2004) by Marcel Danesi, p. 71 from Human All-Too-Human

“Wer mit Ungeheuern kämpft, mag zusehn, dass er nicht dabei zum Ungeheuer wird. Und wenn du lange in einen Abgrund blickst, blickt der Abgrund auch in dich hinein.”

— Friedrich Nietzsche

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More on this quote: He who fights with monsters should look to it that he himself does not become a monster. And if you gaze long into an abyss, the abyss also gazes into you.
Beyond Good and Evil, Aphorism 146

“Ist das Leben nicht hundert Mal zu kurz, sich in ihm— zu langweilen?”

— Friedrich Nietzsche

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More on this quote: Is not life a hundred times too short for us— to bore ourselves?
Beyond Good and Evil, Chapter VII, 227

“Für jede hohe Welt muß man geboren sein; deutlicher gesagt, man muß für sie gezüchtet sein: ein Recht auf Philosophie -- das Wort im grossen Sinne genommen -- hat man nur Dank seiner Abkunft, die Vorfahren, das »Geblüt« entscheidet auch hier. Viele Geschlechter müssen der Entstehung des Philospohen vorgearbeitet haben; jede seiner Tungenden muß einzeln erworben, gepflegt, fortgeerbt, einverleibt worden sein...”

— Friedrich Nietzsche

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“One must be born to any superior world — to make it plainer, one must be bred for it. One has a right to philosophy (taking the word in its greatest sense) only by virtue of one's breeding; one's ancestors, one's "blood," decides this, too. Many generations must have worked on the origin of a philosopher; each one of his virtues must have been separately earned, cared for, passed on, and embodied.”

— Friedrich Nietzsche

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Quote source: Beyond Good and Evil, translated by Marianne Cowan [Henry Regnery Company, 1955, p. 139]; Jenseits von Gut und Böse [Philipp Reclam, Stuttgart, 1988, p. 130]

“wir vermeinen, daß Härte, Gewaltsamkeit, Sklaverie, Gefahr auf der Gasse und im Herzen, Verborgenheit, Stoicismus, Versucherkunst und Teufelei jeder Art, daß alles Böse, Furchtbare, Tyrannische, Raubthier- und Schlangenhafte am Menschen so gut zur Erhöhung der Species »Mensch« dient, als sein Gegensatz...”

— Friedrich Nietzsche

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“We imagine that hardness, violence, slavery, peril in the street and in the heart, concealment, Stoicism, temptation, and deviltry of every sort, everything evil, frightful, tyrannical, raptor- and snake-like in man, serves as well for the advancement of the species "man" as their opposite.”

— Friedrich Nietzsche

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Quote source: Beyond Good and Evil, translated by Marianne Cowan [Henry Regnery Company, 1955, p. 50]; Jenseits von Gut und Böse [Philipp Reclam, Stuttgart, 1988, p. 130]

“Man verdirbt einen Jüngling am sichersten, wenn man ihn anleitet, den Gleichdenkenden höher zu achten, als den Andersdenkenden.”

— Friedrich Nietzsche

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More on this quote: 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.
The Dawn, Sec. 297

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“Freier Wille ohne Fatum ist ebenso wenig denkbar, wie Geist ohne Reelles, Gutes ohne Böses.”

— Friedrich Nietzsche

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More on this quote: Free will without fate is no more conceivable than spirit without matter, good without evil.
 • "Fatum und Geschichte," April 1862

“Sobald es aber möglich wäre, durch einen starken Willen die ganze Weltvergangenheit umzustürzen, sofort träten wir in die Reihe der unabhängigen Götter, und Weltgeschichte hieße dann für uns nichts als ein träumerisches Selbstentrücktsein; der Vorhang fällt, und der Mensch findet sich wieder, wie ein Kind mit Welten spielend, wie ein Kind, das beim Morgenglühen aufwacht und sich lachend die furchtbaren Träume von der Stirn streicht.”

— Friedrich Nietzsche

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More on this quote: As soon as it becomes possible, by dint of a strong will, to overthrow the entire past of the world, then, in a single moment, we will join the ranks of independent gods. World history for us will then be nothing but a dreamlike otherworldly being. The curtain falls, and man once more finds himself a child playing with whole worlds—a child, awoken by the first glow of morning, who laughingly wipes the frightful dreams from his brow.
 • "Fatum und Geschichte," April 1862

“The modern scientific counterpart to belief in God is the belief in the universe as an organism: this disgusts me. This is to make what is quite rare and extremely derivative, the organic, which we perceive only on the surface of the earth, into something essential, universal, and eternal! This is still an anthropomorphizing of nature!”

— Friedrich Nietzsche

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Quote source: KSA 9,11 [201]

“Is Wagner a human being at all? Is he not rather a disease? He contaminates everything he touches - he has made music sick.”

— Friedrich Nietzsche

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Quote source: Der Fall Wagner (1888)

“May I really say it! All truths are bloody truths to me—take a look at my previous writings.”

— Friedrich Nietzsche

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Quote source: Notebooks (Summer 1880) 4[271]

“Nochmals gesagt, heute ist es mir ein unmögliches Buch, - ich heisse es schlecht geschrieben, schwerfällig, peinlich, bilderwüthig und bilderwirrig, gefühlsam, hier und da verzuckert bis zum Femininischen, ungleich im Tempo, ohne Willen zur logischen Sauberkeit, sehr überzeugt und deshalb des Beweisens sich überhebend, misstrauisch selbst gegen die Schicklichkeit des Beweisens, als Buch für Eingeweihte, als "Musik" für Solche, die auf Musik getauft, die auf gemeinsame und seltene Kunst-Erfahrungen hin von Anfang der Dinge an verbunden sind, als Erkennungszeichen für Blutsverwandte in artibus, - ein hochmüthiges und schwärmerisches Buch, das sich gegen das profanum vulgus der "Gebildeten" von vornherein noch mehr als gegen das "Volk" abschliesst, welches aber, wie seine Wirkung bewies und beweist, sich gut genug auch darauf verstehen muss, sich seine Mitschwärmer zu suchen und sie auf neue Schleichwege und Tanzplätze zu locken.”

— Friedrich Nietzsche

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More on this quote: The Birth of Tragedy (1872):
The Birth of Tragedy Out of the Spirit of Music (1873), later expanded as The Birth of Tragedy, Or: Hellenism and Pessimism (1886), Shaun Whiteside translation, Penguin Classics (1993) To say it once again: today I find it an impossible book — badly written, clumsy and embarrassing, its images frenzied and confused, sentimental, in some places saccharine-sweet to the point of effeminacy, uneven in pace, lacking in any desire for logical purity, so sure of its convictions that it is above any need for proof, and even suspicious of the propriety of proof, a book for initiates, 'music' for those who have been baptized in the name of music and who are related from the first by their common and rare experiences of art, a shibboleth for first cousins in artibus [in the arts] an arrogant and fanatical book that wished from the start to exclude the profanum vulgus [the profane mass] of the 'educated' even more than the 'people'; but a book which, as its impact has shown and continues to show, has a strange knack of seeking out its fellow-revellers and enticing them on to new secret paths and dancing-places.
• "Attempt at a Self-Criticism", p. 5

“Oh wie ferne war mir damals gerade dieser ganze Resignationismus!”

— Friedrich Nietzsche

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More on this quote: The Birth of Tragedy (1872):
The Birth of Tragedy Out of the Spirit of Music (1873), later expanded as The Birth of Tragedy, Or: Hellenism and Pessimism (1886), Shaun Whiteside translation, Penguin Classics (1993) How far I was then from all that resignationism!
• "Attempt at a Self-criticism", p. 10

“Diesen Ernsthaften diene zur Belehrung, dass ich von der Kunst als der höchsten Aufgabe und der eigentlich metaphysischen Thätigkeit dieses Lebens im Sinne des Mannes überzeugt bin, dem ich hier, als meinem erhabenen Vorkämpfer auf dieser Bahn, diese Schrift gewidmet haben will.”

— Friedrich Nietzsche

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More on this quote: The Birth of Tragedy (1872):
The Birth of Tragedy Out of the Spirit of Music (1873), later expanded as The Birth of Tragedy, Or: Hellenism and Pessimism (1886), Shaun Whiteside translation, Penguin Classics (1993) Art is the supreme task and the truly metaphysical activity in this life...
• "Preface to Richard Wagner", p. 13

“Wie nun der Philosoph zur Wirklichkeit des Daseins, so verhält sich der künstlerisch erregbare Mensch zur Wirklichkeit des Traumes; er sieht genau und gern zu: denn aus diesen Bildern deutet er sich das Leben, an diesen Vorgängen übt er sich für das Leben. Nicht etwa nur die angenehmen und freundlichen Bilder sind es, die er mit jener Allverständigkeit an sich erfährt: auch das Ernste, Trübe, Traurige, Finstere, die plötzlichen Hemmungen, die Neckereien des Zufalls, die bänglichen Erwartungen, kurz die ganze "göttliche Komödie" des Lebens, mit dem Inferno, zieht an ihm vorbei, nicht nur wie ein Schattenspiel - denn er lebt und leidet mit in diesen Scenen - und doch auch nicht ohne jene flüchtige Empfindung des Scheins; und vielleicht erinnert sich Mancher, gleich mir, in den Gefährlichkeiten und Schrecken des Traumes sich mitunter ermuthigend und mit Erfolg zugerufen zu haben: "Es ist ein Traum! Ich will ihn weiter träumen!" Wie man mir auch von Personen erzählt hat, die die Causalität eines und desselben Traumes über drei und mehr aufeinanderfolgende Nächte hin fortzusetzen im Stande waren: Thatsachen, welche deutlich Zeugniss dafür abgeben, dass unser innerstes Wesen, der gemeinsame Untergrund von uns allen, mit tiefer Lust und freudiger Nothwendigkeit den Traum an sich erfährt.”

— Friedrich Nietzsche

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More on this quote: The Birth of Tragedy (1872):
The Birth of Tragedy Out of the Spirit of Music (1873), later expanded as The Birth of Tragedy, Or: Hellenism and Pessimism (1886), Shaun Whiteside translation, Penguin Classics (1993) Thus the man who is responsive to artistic stimuli reacts to the reality of dreams as does the philosopher to the reality of existence; he observes closely, and he enjoys his observation: for it is out of these images that he interprets life, out of these processes that he trains himself for life. It is not only pleasant and agreeable images that he experiences with such universal understanding: the serious, the gloomy, the sad and the profound, the sudden restraints, the mockeries of chance, fearful expectations, in short the whole 'divine comedy' of life, the Inferno included, passes before him, not only as a shadow-play — for he too lives and suffers through these scenes — and yet also not without that fleeting sense of illusion; and perhaps many, like myself, can remember calling out to themselves in encouragement, amid the perils and terrors of the dream, and with success: 'It is a dream! I want to dream on!' Just as I have often been told of people who have been able to continue one and the same dream over three and more successive nights: facts which clearly show that our innermost being, our common foundation, experiences dreams with profound pleasure and joyful necessity.
• p. 15

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