What sort of values are Nietzsche's? They are not, according to some, moral ones, or at least Christian ones. Do they all share in any (other) quality?

To be more specific: how can we tell some value is life affirming, aside from living with those values? I mean, I can tell when I'm happy or sad, and often know why that is -- often just forgetfulness, wise or otherwise. But is that enough, values that promote happiness with ourselves? If so, that raises the question what sort of happiness, and whose.

Some examples might help.

Suppose I suffer some misfortune due to someone feigning friendship. I don't think Nietzsche would encourage anyone to think their deception -- even fakeness -- was wrong. And yet Nietzsche was a very critical person, and surely blaming oneself (I should have known, or I was weak to suffer this misfortune) is just as confused.

What about people, in general, that profit from other people's misfortune, be that just schadenfreude or something more ruthless even exploitative? On the one hand, it is redolent of the devout Christian, to curse ones luck. But there is something decadent or parasitical about it, that I still find unsettling...

  • there is i think a germ of a good question here, but only a germ as yet. i'll think and edit
    – user38026
    Commented Oct 8, 2019 at 22:40
  • i'll try and add some examples... any help appreciated
    – user38026
    Commented Oct 8, 2019 at 22:52
  • Nietzsche was very critical on everybody other than himself...and a lot of philosophers take him at his own evaluation... Commented Oct 11, 2019 at 10:08

2 Answers 2


According to Leo Strauss (born 1899), who confessed to have believed everything he read and understood in Nietzsche, until age thirty, Nietzsche was absolutely in favor of decency, and was himself the most scrupulous upholder of the standards of ordinary decency. Suggesting he was against deception and fakeness of a crude kind.

"Every higher man knows himself as an adventurer." "...each according to what he is, in order that he achieve what is highest out of his own domain." Will to Power

What he was against is the armed-legal and educational-propagandized discouragement of allowing each one to strive according to their own powers to their highest and most proper possibility. He saw a tendency towards what an ancient book of Plato's time brings out when it gives the example of forcing the good looking to sleep with the ugly before they take an attractive partner. For the sake of fairness. He opposed the treating of genius and the extraordinary as another form of abnormality. Goethe was able to hallucinate, for example, in a manner that was under some conscious control. In an ordinary person this would be understood as mental illness and medicated away. One would, as it were, and in reality, go to the doctor of one's own accord, as Nietzsche foretold it, to rid oneself of abnormalities. Universal leveling for the sake of the good of the people in general.

"There are again two methods of removing the causes of faction: the one, by destroying the liberty which is essential to its existence; the other, by giving to every citizen the same opinions, the same passions, and the same interests." Federalist 10


A few quick thoughts. You definitely have to evaluate values by experimenting with them in life; there’s no shortcut to determining or deciding on them for yourself (deciding on them in-themselves, as I will try to show below, may not even be possible in some cases...)

More technically maybe: we can tell if a value is life affirming by measuring the forces involved in its expression. Nietzsche offers lots of metaphors here: tapping an idol with a tuning fork to determine its internal content; smelling it (he is perhaps the only philosopher to say begin with the nose!); and I might add here: immersion, as though in a dream, and then waking up (he sometimes characterized his overall effort in these terms, and in particular I might point you to Daybreak for more on this.)

A quick synthesis might suggest indeed that experiential content is necessary for the “evaluation” of a value, which can only be done in the first person (even if maybe a “first person” who has all the names in history.) There are some values whose value cannot be determined; and Nietzsche calls this something like the height of metaphysical subtlety: that is that the value of life is beyond our evaluation. A kind of transcendental limit, lived immanently, forecloses us from deciding on the one-real; Life as such is beyond our immanent value schemes. (So there is maybe a strange kinship with Kant at one of the poles of Nietzsche-thought...)

  • thanks Joseph. issue may be i'm just not creative (hm) enough to generate values on the fly. i'd r appreciate some quotes on 'forces' to try and get me started, but thanks +1
    – user38026
    Commented Oct 8, 2019 at 22:58
  • perhaps the issue about 'creativity' is that Nietzsche's overman is unable to say you have wronged me only i have wronged you. that takes "creativity": if i have done you no wrong (Christ) only vice versa (Caesar). perhaps impossible?
    – user38026
    Commented Oct 9, 2019 at 21:32

You must log in to answer this question.