Key Quotes from The AntiChrist by Friedrich Nietzsche

Though many things can be (and have been) said about Nietzsche’s polemic work, The Antichrist, this post is merely about some of the more coherent quotes, explanations, and thoughts contained within the work. As is commonly known, Nietzsche’s writing style was not crisp, clean, and precise like the styles of various analytical philosophers in contemporary times. Rather, Nietzsche wrote like he thought: like a madman. 

“What is good? All that enhances the feeling of power, the Will to Power, and power itself in man. What is bad? All that proceeds from weakness. What is happiness? The feeling that power is increasing, that resistance has been overcome. Not contentment, but more power; not peace at any price, but war; not virtue, but efficiency. The weak and the botched shall perish; first principle of our humanity. And they ought even to be helped to perish. What is more harmful than any vice? Practical sympathy with all the botched and the weak – Christianity.” -Section 2

“Mankind does not represent a development towards a better, stronger or higher type, in the sense in which this is supposed to occur today. “Progress” is merely a modern idea – that is to say, a false idea…The process of evolution does not by any means imply elevation, enhancement and increasing strength.” -Section 4

“We must not deck out and adorn Christianity; it has waged a deadly war upon this higher type of man, it has set a ban upon all the fundamental instincts of this type, and has distilled evil and the devil himself out of these instincts; the strong man as the typical pariah, the villain. Christianity has sided with everything weak, low, and botched; it has made an ideal out of antagonism towards all the self-preservative instincts of strong life; it has corrupted even the reason of the strongest intellects, by teaching that the highest values of intellectuality are sinful, misleading and full of temptations.” -Section 5

“I call an animal, a species, an individual corrupt, when it loses its instincts, when it selects and prefers that which is detrimental to it…Life itself, to my mind, is nothing more nor less than the instinct of growth, of permanence, of accumulating forces, of power; where the will to power is lacking, degeneration sets in. My contention is that all the highest values of mankind lack this will – that the values of declines and of nihilism are exercising the sovereign power under the cover of the holiest names.” -Section 6

“Christianity is called the religion of pity…its action is depressing. A man loses power when he pities. By means of pity the drain on strength which suffering itself already introduces into the world is multiplied a thousandfold. Through pity, suffering itself becomes infectious; in certain circumstances it may lead to a total loss of life and vital energy, which is absurdly out of proportion to the magnitude of the cause (the case of the death of the Nazarene)…On the whole, pity thwarts the law of development which is the law of selection. It preserves that which is ripe for death, it fights in favour of the disinherited and the condemned of life…People have dared to call pity a virtue (-in every noble culture it is considered as a weakness)…this depressing and infectious instinct thwarts those instincts which aim at the preservation and enhancement of the value of life: by multiplying misery quite as much as by preserving all that is miserable, it is the principal agent in promoting decadence.” -Section 7

“Faith: that is to say, to shut one’s eyes once and for all, in order not to suffer at the sight of incurable falsity…They endow their distorted vision with a good conscience, – they claim that no other point of view is any longer of value, once theirs has been made sacrosanct with the names “God,” “Salvation,” “Eternity.” -Section 9

“they regard “beautiful feelings” themselves as arguments, the “heaving beast” as the bellows of divinity, and conviction as the criterion of truth.” -Section 12

“In Christianity, neither morality nor religion comes in touch at all with reality. Nothing but imaginary causes (God, the soul, the ego, spirit, free will – or even non-free will); nothing but imaginary effects (sin, salvation, grace, punishment, forgiveness of sins). Imaginary beings are supposed to have intercourse (God, spirits, souls)…an imaginary psychology (nothing but misunderstandings of self, interpretations of pleasant or unpleasant general feelings…an imaginary teleology (the Kingdom of God, the Last Judgment, Everlasting Life), – This purely fictitious world distinguishes itself very unfavourably from the world of dreams: the latter reflects reality, whereas the former falsifies, depreciates and denies it. Once the concept “nature” was taken to mean the opposite of the concept God, the word “natural” had to acquire the meaning of abominable, – the whole of that fictitious world takes its root in the hatred of nature (- reality! -), it is the expression of profound discomfiture in the presence of reality…but this explains everything. What is the only kind of man who has reasons for wriggling out of reality by lies? The man who suffers from reality.” -Section 15

“God degenerated into the contradiction of life, instead of being its transfiguration and eternal Yea! With God war is declared on life, nature, and the will to life! God is the formula for every calumny of this world and for every lie concerning a beyond!” -Section 18

“Love is the state in which man sees things most widely different from what they are. The force of illusion reaches its zenith here…When a man is in love he endures more than at other times; he submits to everything. The thing was to discover a religion in which it was possible to love: by this means the worst in life is overcome – it is no longer even seen.” -Section 23

“In his case, the word “devil” was a blessing: man had an almighty and terrible enemy, – he had no reason to be ashamed of suffering at the hands of such an enemy.” –Section 23

“Sins are indispensable: they are the actual weapons of power, the priest lives upon sins, it is necessary for him that people should “sin.”…“God forgiveth him that repenteth” – in plain English: him that submitteth himself to the priest.” –Section 26

“this man was a political criminal in so far as political criminals were possible in a community so absurdly non-political. This brought him to the cross: the proof of this is the inscription found thereon. He died for his sins – and no matter how often the contrary has been asserted there is absolutely nothing to show that he died for the sins of others.” –Section 27

“If perchance my ears have not deceived me, it seems that among Christians there is such a thing as kind of criterion of truth, which is called “the proof of power.” “Faith saveth; therefore it is true.” – It might be objected here that it is precisely salvation which is not proved but only promised; salvation is bound up with the condition of “faith,” – one shall be saved, because one has faith…But how prove that that which the priest promises to the faithful really will take place, to wit…The assumed “proof of power” is at bottom once again only a belief in the fact that the effect which faith promises will not fail to take place. In a formula: “I believe that faith saveth; consequently it is true.”…Let us be indulgent enough to assume, however, that salvation is proved by faith (– not only desired, and not merely promised by the somewhat suspicious lips of a priest): could salvation – or, in technical terminology, happiness – ever be a proof of truth? So little is it that, when pleasurable sensations make their influence felt in replying to the question “what is true,” they furnish almost the contradiction of truth, or at any rate they make it in the highest degree suspicious. The proof through “happiness,” is a proof of happiness – and nothing else; why in the world should we take it for granted that true judgments cause more pleasure than false ones, and that in accordance with a pre-established harmony, they necessarily bring pleasant feelings in their wake? – The experience of all strict and profound minds teaches the reverse. Every inch of truth has been conquered only after a struggle, almost everything to which our heart, our love and our trust in life cleaves, has had to be sacrificed for it. Greatness of soul is necessary for this: the service of truth is the hardest of all services. – What then is meant by honesty in things intellectual? It means that a man is severe towards his own heart, that he scorns “beautiful feelings,” and that the makes a matter of conscience out of every Yea and Nay! – – – Faith saveth: consequently it lies…” –Section 50

“The movement of Christianity…was from first to last, a general accumulation of the ruck and scum of all sorts and kinds (– and these, by means of Christianity, aspire to power). It does not express the downfall of a race, it is rather a conglomerate assembly of all the decadent elements from everywhere which seek each other and crowd together. [Christianity] appealed to all the disinherited forms of life, it had its allies everywhere. Christianity is built upon the rancor of the sick; its instinct is directed against the sound, against healthy. Everything well-constituted, proud, high-spirited, and beautiful is offensive to its ears and eyes…“And God hath chosen the weak things of the world, and things which are despised”…Everything that suffers, everything that hangs on a cross, is divine…All of us hang on the cross, consequently we are divine…We alone are divine…Christianity was a victory; a nobler type of character perished through it, – Christianity has been humanity’s greatest misfortune hitherto.” –Section 52

“The notion that martyrs prove anything at all in favour of a thing, is so exceedingly doubtful, that I would fain deny that there has ever yet existed a martyr who had anything to do with truth. In the very manner in which a martyr flings his little parcel of truth at the head of the world, such a low degree of intellectual honesty and such obtuseness in regard to the question “truth” makes itself felt, that one never requires to refute a martyr…Incidentally, the deaths of martyrs have been a great misfortune in the history of the world: they led people astray…The conclusion which all idiots, women and common people come to, that there must be something in a cause for which someone lays down his life…- this conclusion put a tremendous check upon all investigation, upon the spirit of investigation and of caution. Martyrs have harmed the cause of truth…Even to this day it only requires the crude fact of persecution, in order to create an honourable name for any obscure sect who does not matter in the least…An error which becomes honourable, is simply an error that possesses one seductive charm the more…” –Section 53

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