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Home > Dictionary of Science Quotations > Scientist Names Index N > Friedrich Nietzsche Quotes

Friedrich Nietzsche
(15 Oct 1884 - 25 Aug 1900)

German philosopher who denounced religion and promoted a doctrine of the "super man." His works include Thus Spake Zarathustra (1891).

Science Quotes by Friedrich Nietzsche (20 quotes)

Error has made man so deep, sensitive, and inventive that he has put forth such blossoms as religions and arts. Pure knowledge could not have been capable of it.
— Friedrich Nietzsche
Human, All-To-Human, Vol. 1, 44-45. (1878), 140. In Willard Huntington Wright, What Nietzsche Taught? (1917), 78.
Science quotes on:  |  Art (80)  |  Blossom (5)  |  Capability (27)  |  Deep (17)  |  Error (152)  |  Inventive (3)  |  Knowledge (679)  |  Pure (14)  |  Religion (120)  |  Sensitive (5)

Kein Sieger glaubt an den Zufall.
No victor believes in chance.
— Friedrich Nietzsche
The Gay Science (1882), book 3, no. 258, trans. W. Kaufmann (1974), 217.
Science quotes on:  |  Belief (139)  |  Chance (77)  |  Victor (3)

And do you know what 'the world' is to me? Shall I,show it to you in my mirror? This world: a monster of energy, without beginning, without end; a firm, iron magnitude of force that does not grow bigger or smaller, that does not expend itself but only transforms itself; as a whole, of unalterable size, a household without expenses or losses, but likewise without increase or income; enclosed by 'nothingness' as by a boundary; not by something blurry or wasted, not something endlessly extended, but set in a definite space as a definite force, and not a space that might be 'empty' here or there, but rather as force throughout, as a play of forces and waves of forces, at the same time one and many, increasing here and at the same time decreasing there; a sea of forces flowing and rushing together, eternally changing, eternally flooding back, with tremendous years of recurrence, with an ebb and a flood of its forms; out of the simplest forms striving toward the most complex, out of the stillest, most rigid, coldest forms toward the hottest, most turbulent, most self-contradictory, and then again returning home to the simple out of this abundance, out of the play of contradictions back to the joy of concord, still affirming itself in this uniformity of its courses and its years, blessing itself as that which must return eternally, as a becoming that knows no satiety, no disgust, no weariness: this, my Dionysian world of the eternally self-creating, the eternally self-destroying, this mystery world of the twofold voluptuous delight, my 'beyond good and evil,' without goal, unless the joy of the circle itself is a goal; without will, unless a ring feels good will toward itself-do you want a name for this world? A solution for all its riddles? A light for you, too, you best-concealed, strongest, most intrepid, most midnightly men?—This world is the will to power—and nothing besides! And you yourselves are also this will to power—and nothing besides!
— Friedrich Nietzsche
The Will to Power (Notes written 1883-1888), book 4, no. 1067. Trans. W. Kaufmann and R. J. Hollingdale and ed. W. Kaufmann (1968), 549-50.
Science quotes on:  |  Beginning (71)  |  End (51)  |  Energy (103)  |  Force (75)  |  Goal (36)  |  Mirror (10)  |  Monster (8)  |  Riddle (8)  |  Transformation (27)  |  World (231)

Formerly one sought the feeling of the grandeur of man by pointing to his divine origin: this has now become a forbidden way, for at its portal stands the ape, together with other gruesome beasts, grinning knowingly as if to say: no further in this direction! One therefore now tries the opposite direction: the way mankind is going shall serve as proof of his grandeur and kinship with God. Alas this, too, is vain! At the end of this way stands the funeral urn of the last man and gravedigger (with the inscription 'nihil humani a me alienum puto'). However high mankind may have evolved—and perhaps at the end it will stand even lower than at the beginning!— it cannot pass over into a higher order, as little as the ant and the earwig can at the end of its 'earthly course' rise up to kinship with God and eternal life. The becoming drags the has-been along behind it: why should an exception to this eternal spectacle be made on behalf of some little star or for any little species upon it! Away with such sentimentalities!
— Friedrich Nietzsche
Daybreak: Thoughts on the Prejudices of Morality (1881), trans. R. J. Hollingdale (1982), 32.
Science quotes on:  |  Ant (10)  |  Ape (26)  |  Evolution (342)  |  Feeling (47)  |  Forbidden (6)  |  Funeral (2)  |  Grandeur (11)  |  Inscription (7)  |  Mankind (111)  |  Origin (36)  |  Vanity (8)

God is dead. God remains dead. And we have killed him.
— Friedrich Nietzsche
The Gay Science (1882), book 3, no. 125, trans. W. Kaufmann (1974), 181.
Science quotes on:  |  Death (183)  |  God (234)  |  Kill (14)  |  Remain (18)

If the world may be thought of as a certain definite quantity of force and as a certain definite number of centers of force—and every other representation remains indefinite and therefore useless—it follows that, in the great dice game of existence, it must pass through calculable number of combinations. In infinite time, every possible combination would at some time or another be realized; more: it would be realized an infinite number of times. And since between every combination and its next recurrence all other possible combinations would have to take place, and each of these combination conditions of the entire sequence of combinations in the same series, a circular movement of absolutely identical series is thus demonstrated: the world as a circular movement that has already repeated itself infinitely often and plays its game in infinitum. This conception is not simply a mechanistic conception; for if it were that, it would not condition an infinite recurrence of identical cases, but a final state. Because the world has not reached this, mechanistic theory must be considered an imperfect and merely provisional hypothesis.
— Friedrich Nietzsche
The Will to Power (Notes written 1883-1888), book 4, no. 1066. Trans. W. Kaufmann and R. J. Hollingdale and ed. W. Kaufmann (1968), 549.
Science quotes on:  |  Calculation (41)  |  Combination (37)  |  Dice (8)  |  Existence (150)  |  Force (75)  |  Game (28)  |  Hypothesis (150)  |  Indefinite (2)  |  Infinite (39)  |  Provisional (2)  |  Time (170)  |  Useless (3)

It is perhaps just dawning on five or six minds that physics, too, is only an interpretation and exegesis of the world (to suit us, if I may say so!) and not a world-explanation.
— Friedrich Nietzsche
Beyond Good and Evil (1886). Trans. W. Kaufmann (ed.), Basic Writings of Nietzsche (1968), 211.
Science quotes on:  |  Interpretation (38)  |  Physics (156)  |  World (231)

Morality is the herd-instinct of the individual.
— Friedrich Nietzsche
The Joyful Wisdom (1882). Quoted in Willard Huntington Wright, What Nietzsche Taught (1915), 124.
Science quotes on:  |  Individual (59)  |  Morality (19)

One should not understand this compulsion to construct concepts, species, forms, purposes, laws ('a world of identical cases') as if they enabled us to fix the real world; but as a compulsion to arrange a world for ourselves in which our existence is made possible:—we thereby create a world which is calculable, simplified, comprehensible, etc., for us.
— Friedrich Nietzsche
The Will to Power (Notes written 1883-1888), book 3, no. 521. Trans. W. Kaufmann and R. J. Hollingdale and ed. W. Kaufmann (1968), 282.
Science quotes on:  |  Calculation (41)  |  Comprehension (30)  |  Compulsion (6)  |  Concept (38)  |  Construct (6)  |  Enable (10)  |  Existence (150)  |  Form (70)  |  Identical (9)  |  Law (273)  |  Purpose (66)  |  Real (28)  |  Simplicity (92)  |  Species (96)  |  Understanding (231)

One should not wrongly reify 'cause' and 'effect,' as the natural scientists do (and whoever, like them, now 'naturalizes' in his thinking), according to the prevailing mechanical doltishness which makes the cause press and push until it 'effects' its end; one should use 'cause' and 'effect' only as pure concepts, that is to say, as conventional fictions for the purpose of designation and communication—not for explanation.
— Friedrich Nietzsche
Beyond Good and Evil (1886). Trans. W. Kaufmann (ed.), Basic Writings of Nietzsche (1968), 219.
Science quotes on:  |  Cause And Effect (4)  |  Designation (4)  |  Fiction (9)

Our treasure lies in the beehives of our knowledge. We are perpetually on our way thither, being by nature winged insects and honey gatherers of the mind. The only thing that lies close to our heart is the desire to bring something home to the hive.
— Friedrich Nietzsche
The Genealogy of Morals (1887), as translated by Francis Golffing (1956), 149. In another translation, by Maudemarie Clark and Alan J. Swensen, it appears as: 'It has rightly been said: "where your treasure is, there will your heart be also"; our treasure is where the beehives of our knowledge stand. We are forever underway towards them, as born winged animals and honey-gathers of the spirit, concerned will all our heart about only one thing—"bringing home" something.'
Science quotes on:  |  Honey (4)  |  Insect (38)  |  Knowledge (679)  |  Mind (272)  |  Treasure (16)

Profundity of thought belongs to youth, clarity of thought to old age.
— Friedrich Nietzsche
Human, All-To-Human, Vol. 2, Miscellaneous Maxims and Opinions (1879), 140. In Willard Huntington Wright, What Nietzsche Taught? (1917), 78.
Science quotes on:  |  Age (60)  |  Clarity (24)  |  Old (23)  |  Old Age (17)  |  Profundity (2)  |  Thought (170)  |  Youth (32)

Science … has no consideration for ultimate purposes, any more than Nature has, but just as the latter occasionally achieves things of the greatest suitableness without intending to do so, so also true science, as the imitator of nature in ideas, will occasionally and in many ways further the usefulness and welfare of man,—but also without intending to do so.
— Friedrich Nietzsche
Human, All Too Human (1878), Vol. 1, 58. Quoted in Willard Huntington Wright, What Nietzsche Taught (1915), 57.
Science quotes on:  |  Imitator (2)  |  Intention (20)  |  Nature (534)  |  Science (875)  |  Usefulness (54)  |  Welfare (9)

Since Copernicus, man seems to have got himself on an inclined plane—now he is slipping faster and faster away from the center into—what? into nothingness? into a 'penetrating sense of his nothingness?' ... all science, natural as well as unnatural—which is what I call the self-critique of knowledge—has at present the object of dissuading man from his former respect for himself, as if this had been but a piece of bizarre conceit.
— Friedrich Nietzsche
On the Genealogy of Morals (1887), trans. W. Kaufmann and R. J. Hollingdale (1969), 155-6.
Science quotes on:  |  Bizarre (2)  |  Conceit (5)  |  Nicolaus Copernicus (30)  |  Science (875)

Species do not grow more perfect: the weaker dominate the strong, again and again— the reason being that they are the great majority, and they are also cleverer. Darwin forgot the mind (—that is English!): the weak possess more mind. ... To acquire mind, one must need mind—one loses it when one no longer needs it.
[Criticism of Darwin's Origin of Species.]
— Friedrich Nietzsche
The Twilight of the Idols (1888), translated by R. J. Hollingdale, Twilight of the Idols and the Anti Christ (1990), 67. Also see alternate translations.
Science quotes on:  |  Cleverness (6)  |  Charles Darwin (216)  |  Evolution (342)  |  Intellect (99)  |  Majority (17)  |  Origin Of Species (36)  |  Perfection (43)  |  Species (96)  |  Survival (32)  |  Weak (10)

Species do not evolve towards perfection: the weak always prevail over the strong—simply because they are the majority, and because they are also the more crafty. Darwin forgot the intellect (that is English!), the weak have more intellect. In order to acquire intellect, one must be in need of it. One loses it when one no longer needs it.
[Criticism of Darwin's Origin of Species.]
— Friedrich Nietzsche
The Twilight of the Idols (1888) collected in Twilight of the Idols, with The Antichrist and Ecce Homo, translated by Anthony M. Ludovici (2007), 56. Also see alternate translations.
Science quotes on:  |  Crafty (2)  |  Charles Darwin (216)  |  Evolution (342)  |  Intellect (99)  |  Majority (17)  |  Origin Of Species (36)  |  Species (96)  |  Survival (32)  |  Weak (10)

The errors of great men are venerable because they are more fruitful than the truths of little men.
— Friedrich Nietzsche
Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche and Walter Kaufmann (ed. & trans.), The Portable Nietzsche (1954), 30.
Science quotes on:  |  Error (152)  |  Fruitful (9)  |  Great (62)  |  Little (29)  |  Men (12)  |  Truth (450)  |  Venerable (2)

The species does not grow in perfection: the weak again and again get the upper hand of the strong,—and their large number and their greater cunning are the cause of it. Darwin forgot the intellect (that was English!); the weak have more intellect. ... One must need intellect in order to acquire it; one loses it when it is no longer necessary.
[Criticism of Darwin's Origin of Species.]
— Friedrich Nietzsche
The Twilight of the Idols (1888) collected in The Case of Wagner: Nietzsche Contra Wagner, The Twilight of the Idols, The Antichrist, translated by Thomas Common (1896), 177. Also see alternate translations.
Science quotes on:  |  Crafty (2)  |  Charles Darwin (216)  |  Evolution (342)  |  Intellect (99)  |  Majority (17)  |  Origin Of Species (36)  |  Species (96)  |  Survival (32)  |  Weak (10)

Whereas the man of action binds his life to reason and its concepts so that he will not be swept away and lost, the scientific investigator builds his hut right next to the tower of science so that he will be able to work on it and to find shelter for himself beneath those bulwarks which presently exist.
— Friedrich Nietzsche
On Truth and Lies in a Nonmoral Sense (1873). Collected in Keith Ansell-Pearson (ed.), and Duncan Large (ed.), The Nietzsche Reader (2006), 121.
Science quotes on:  |  Concept (38)  |  Progress (200)  |  Reason (173)  |  Scientist (237)  |  Shelter (5)

“Faith” as an imperative is a veto against science—in praxi, it means lies at any price.
— Friedrich Nietzsche
The Antichrist (1888) collected in Twilight of the Idols, with The Antichrist and Ecce Homo, translated by Anthony M. Ludovici (2007), 140.
Science quotes on:  |  Faith (73)  |  Lie (23)  |  Science (875)



Quotes by others about Friedrich Nietzsche (2)

Science is wonderful at destroying metaphysical answers, but incapable of providing substitute ones. Science takes away foundations without providing a replacement. Whether we want to be there or not, science has put us in the position of having to live without foundations. It was shocking when Nietzsche said this, but today it is commonplace; our historical position—and no end to it is in sight—is that of having to philosophise without 'foundations'.
In Hilary Putnam (ed.), The Many Faces of Realism: The Paul Carns Lectures (1987), 29. Excerpt 'Realism and Reasonableness', in Joseph Margolis and Jacques Catudal, The Quarrel between Invariance and Flux (2001), 122.
Science quotes on:  |  Enquiry (72)  |  Science (875)

The sense that the meaning of the universe had evaporated was what seemed to escape those who welcomed Darwin as a benefactor of mankind. Nietzsche considered that evolution presented a correct picture of the world, but that it was a disastrous picture. His philosophy was an attempt to produce a new world-picture which took Darwinism into account but was not nullified by it.
In Nietzsche: the Man and his Philosophy (1965), 90.
Science quotes on:  |  Charles Darwin (216)  |  Disaster (15)  |  Evaporation (3)  |  Mankind (111)  |  Philosophy (132)  |  Picture (25)  |  Universe (291)


Carl Sagan Thumbnail In science it often happens that scientists say, 'You know that's a really good argument; my position is mistaken,' and then they would actually change their minds and you never hear that old view from them again. They really do it. It doesn't happen as often as it should, because scientists are human and change is sometimes painful. But it happens every day. I cannot recall the last time something like that happened in politics or religion. (1987) -- Carl Sagan
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- 90 -
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