In the preface of Human, All Too Human Nietzsche talks about control over one's For and Against. He mentions this after stating that the free spirit is able to become a master over virtues and uses virtues as tools. What is this "For" and "Against" and why are they capitalized?(in the Project Gutenberg translation the terms are translated as Yes and No).

He further talks about this again, when he writes, in the same section:

"also the quantum of stupidity that resides in antitheses of values and the whole intellectual loss which every For, every Against costs us. You shall learn to grasp the necessary injustice in every For and Against, injustice as in­separable from life, "

What does he mean by the intellectual costs these For and Against cost us?

Here is the Project Gutenberg link, in the preface Section 6: http://www.gutenberg.org/files/38145/38145-h/38145-h.htm

And here the link for the Cambridge Text where the quote is from, page 40 section 6 preface : http://cnqzu.com/library/Philosophy/neoreaction/Friedrich%20Nietzsche/Friedrich_Nietzsche%20-%20Human_All_Too_Human_A_Book_for_Free_Spirits_%281996%29.pdf

Any answers, comments and insights are appreciated. Thanks in Advance.

1 Answer 1


The original German reads: "Du solltest Gewalt über dein Für und Wider bekommen". The capitalization in German is required, so in English it is an interpretation of the translator. 'das Für und Wider abwägen' is German idiom for weighing the pros and cons.

Basically the text says: you should master your pros and cons; meaning, you should not stick to just one position (pro/for), but learn that each position is just a perspective. You should try out different perspectives (pro and con, for and against).

His argument is: every perspective is necessarily limited and therefore unjust. So if you stick to just one perspective (for or against something), it will cost you an intellectual loss, as you're missing out on what the other perspectives have to offer.

Also note that the text is between quotes. Nietzsche is staging an internal discussion by a free spirit, so it may not be necessarily represent his opinion (perspective), although it this case it seems to be.

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