Nietzsche on the Passions

In detail,  the  following must  be distinguished:

1.  the  dominating  passion,  which  even  brings  with  it  the supremest  form  of  health;  here  the  co-ordination  of  the  inner systems  and  their  operation  in  the  service  of  one  end  is  best achieved-but this  is  almost  the  definition  of health!

2.  the  antagonism  of  the  passions;  two,  three,  a  multiplicity of  “souls  in  one  breast”: very  unhealthy,  inner  ruin,  disintegration,  betraying and  increasing and  inner conflict  and  anarchism -unless one  passion  at  last  becomes master.  Return  to  health-

3.  juxtaposition  without  antagonism  or  collaboration:  often periodic,  and  then,  as  soon  as  an  order  has  been  established,  also healthy.  The  most  interesting  men,  the  chameleons,  belong  here; they  are  not  in  contradiction with  themselves,  they  are  happy  and secure,  but  they  do  not  develop—their  differing  states  lie  juxtaposed,  even  if  they  are  separated  sevenfold.  They  change,  they do  not  become.

Will To Power 778

#1 is Nietzsche’s old saw about how to be maximally awesome, and so not terribly interesting. #2 is a variation on his critique of modern mentality, phrased especially well (with a Goethe quote). But #3 is something I haven’t seen elsewhere, sort of a mercurial Rameau’s Nephew type without the psychology or self-awareness. They aren’t really chameleons though, are they? Just naturally prodigal or adaptable? (It depends on when and where the states show themselves.)

One thought on “Nietzsche on the Passions

  1. In one of the books that I have recently been reading about authoritarian countries — I think it was Daniel Kalder’s “Strange Telescopes,” but it might have been Nien Cheng’s “Life and Death in Shanghai” — there was a reference to this adaptable and self-preserving type of man, who shifts his views to accommodate the prevailing winds without being aware that he is doing it, and without worrying about any contradictions: The present is all. There is change in these people but, as Nietzsche indicates, there is no process of becoming. In Flaubert’s famous formulation, “To be stupid, selfish, and have good health are three requirements for happiness, though if stupidity is lacking, all is lost,” I think what he means by “stupid” is “lacking in self-awareness” (compare a line of dialogue from Ron Shelton’s film “Bull Durham” — “The world is made for people who aren’t cursed with self-awareness”). Such men and women are always useful to those in power, and they are more likely to be survivors than many of us.

Leave a Reply