It ends:

recognise untruth as a condition of life: that, to be sure, means to resist customary value-sentiments in a dangerous fashion; and a philosophy which ventures to do so places itself, by that act alone, beyond good and evil.

What is meant by "customary" here, adhering to today's customs, or to one's habits (those are the two relevant different senses of that word in English)?

And resist them in what way: dangerous for what reason? Because they may cause harm, because they are unjustified, etc.?

  • 1
    I read it (out of context) as saying that philosophy is about truth, not about sentiment and personal/social/cultural preferences and habits. and in pursuit of truth must ignore questions of good and evil. It seems an uncontentious idea, but this may not be what he meant.
    – user20253
    Feb 2, 2019 at 11:31

1 Answer 1


Customary meaning what every ethical philosophy has done. Even systems of thought like Pyrrhonism or Cyncism focused entirely on freedom from collective assumptions and social control, still have their own sense of 'good', and they take it not just seriously, but ponderously so. They survived on the basis of their moral core, and concentrated it over time. It seems unavoidable. But he thinks its usefulness has been exhausted.

Nietzsche seems to have been acknowledging the problem with post-modern thinking. The acceptance that any system of thought that wants to work is going to have to accept real falsehoods, paradoxes and inconsistencies and deal with them in subtle ways opens the door to absolute relativism and the utter abandonment of philosophical perspective.

It is hard to walk the line between what Nietzsche thinks of as courageous, challenging thinking, and utter nihilism, which can only take one backward and away from all challenges. That would ultimately be (or perhaps, by now has already been, depending on how you look at recent currents) harm.

In other works, there is an importance to maintaining 'taste' and associated refinement without letting it be a 'morality' that will base a social conscience, coalesce a 'herd' and run your life for you. This is something not very natural to humans.

  • what are we talking about taste in, actions or persons?
    – user35983
    Feb 2, 2019 at 13:38
  • a little stodgy, and i'd dearly like a reply to my comment, but i may as well accept your answer
    – user35983
    Feb 2, 2019 at 14:46
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    Neither if the above. Ideas. And stop whining.
    – user9166
    Feb 3, 2019 at 2:24
  • i spend a lot of time asking psychologists and artists about nietzsche!
    – user35983
    Feb 3, 2019 at 11:48

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