Nietzsche’s questionnaire

Nietzsche concludes book III (268-275) of The Gay Science by posing 8 questions to himself & answering them. I found, answering them as if they were philosophically incentivized Rorschach blotches, quite revealing.
I prepared this post yesterday, it was my father’s birthday, so I sent him the questions to answer, to find out something about himself; no better day to have something of yourself revealed to you on the day you were born, right? I wish more people considered such a gift for me.

Here are the questions with my answers, I encourage you to share your own answers in the comments, & make this post more interactive, which is my intention—indulge me, for Nietzsche’s sake.

What makes one heroic? Not being tempted by convenience.

In what do you believe? That the content of character improves with the impartial harvesting of ideas, for ideas sake.

What does your conscience say? First let me wake it…it sleeps so heavily…it says… just a moment…”YOU ARE HUMAN & STILL NOT ENTIRELY AWARE OF IT. WHY?

Where are your greatest dangers? In the guilt that I deserve for the correction of other people’s ongoing errors, committed blindly.

What do you love in others? That they are capable of persuading themselves unexpectedly.

Whom do you call bad? Those who are courted by a single emotion or idea & make a passion & persona out of it.

What do you consider most humane? To listen without the urge to reply.

What is the seal of liberation? To not be ashamed to be seen with your Self.

15 thoughts on “Nietzsche’s questionnaire

  1. Here are my (mostly unedited) responses….

    What makes one heroic? Doing the thing that no one wants to do, but that everyone knows needs doing.

    In what do you believe? Belief. And not much else.

    What does your conscience say? Either, “Oops!” or, “Sorry.”

    Where are your greatest dangers? In believing my own various bullshits.

    What do you love in others? A lack of bullshit.

    Whom do you call bad? Those who come to believe their own bullshit (which, by the way, is different from simply believing one’s own bullshit from the start).

    What do you consider most humane? Helping others see their bullshit for what it is (not that I can personally claim to have ever done this…).

    What is the seal of liberation? ‘Holding on to nothing’, or more accurately, ‘Not holding on to anything’, or possibly, ‘Not holding on to any thing’ (‘thing’ being the very tricky and key word here).

    ~

    I am curious too as to the use of the term, “seal” here—could be as in “seal of approval” or “official seal” or could be as in a “wax seal”. Sometimes things are sealed so as not to be opened…

    Is this whereby one can judge the authenticity of the liberation?

    It has been quite a while since I have read Nietzsche. I imagine the distinction is clearer in context.

    Also, it is hard for me to read the word, “liberation” in anything but a Buddhist sense so I’m certain this has colored my responses.

    1. These are great Johnny, thanks for joining in. I honestly didn’t edit my answers, that’s why I mention that answering them as you’d respond to a Rorschach splodge was interesting.
      I think your answers are pertinent to the current climate of deception. I wonder if your answers would change under different political & social circumstances?
      I suppose a need for honesty is an ongoing behaviour always worth keeping in check.

      Nietzsche’s answers to all these questions aren’t cryptic, not in the least puzzling. That is why I thought it interesting to answer them & see if other people would answer them too. I think it’s a really odd way to conclude a section of a book of ideas (I won’t say philosophy if only because of Rick Roderick saying Nietzsche is less a philosopher than a man interested in ideas, which is not a put down).
      Book III is tough in places as Nietzsche uses the aphorism & while many are revealing some have me scratching my head. So for this to be the ending I thought it sort of, innocent, even,

      As to “seal of liberation” maybe his answer might help you (actually mine an Nietzsche’s answer is similar here, the only answer I gave that is). His answer is: “No longer being ashamed in front of oneself.” Mine: to not be ashamed to be seen with yourself. Was actually a line I wrote in a poem quite sometime before I read this by Nietzsche, so it just seemed fitting.
      Unfortunately Walter Kaufmann offers no footnote on how he translated “seal.” Maybe time to get your German dictionary out. Haha.

  2. Actually there are other things that Nietzsche said that I like more than these questions. Such as:
    “There is no lack of courtesy in using a stone to knock on a door when there is no bell; that is how beggars feel and all who suffer some sort of distress; but nobody agrees with them.”

    Still, I enjoy Nietzsche’s own answers, and I avoid answering the same questions myself, because I’ll only come across as trying to sound clever. I’m afraid I can offer you nothing on “seal.” To the best of my knowledge the semantics of that word in that context have never been picked at, and I doubt if I’m the best nit to pick ’em. Etymologically it comes from the same root as ‘sigil’, but it also has the connotation of something which binds shut.

    I might, at some stage, attempt one or two of those questions, but not here, not now. The invitation seems at this moment too much like a prompt to take part in a competition, which is a hell of a bad thing for decent philosophy!

    1. Yes there are many things Nietzsche said that I like more than these questions, (“The mistrustful speak emphatically; the mistrustful also make others emphatic.” is one of many I have underlined & am working to commit to memory) but that misses the point of why I did this. It is how peculiar I find, ending Book III, with its heavy use of the aphorism, by having these 8 questions, which Nietzsche in no way answers cryptically. Pity, is where Nietzsche’s greatest danger lies. Just pity.

      I think you’d avoid coming across as clever (but why this worries you I don’t know) if you didn’t think but responded, like you were shown a Rorschach ink blot. I didn’t edit my answers or think too long, they were actually jotted as marginalia in my copy of the book.

      I really didn’t mean for this to appear competitive. I suppose competition is bad for philosophy as it has always seemed (to me) to be a concatenation of ideas which have to work together for the benefit of the whole subject.
      I am not a philosopher & never claim to be, I just like entertaining ideas because it is a human thing to do. I have always invited people to challenge whatever I write & always listen.
      You’re right about me putting these here as a prompt though, I found they gave me a connection to Nietzsche;s ideas, which are having quite an influence on me.
      I read Thus Spake… & Ecce Homo & they didn’t do much for me, but The Gay Science is a joy, it’s full of intensity.

  3. I do admire your answers Daniel, and with the ones that describe oneself indirectly through an opinion about others, I can see where you’re coming from with your inner Buddha. Thought-provoking, and no way I’m revealing my own childlike inner self. 🙂

  4. As posted on my blog… (i did answer them without much thought. actually jotted down my first thought that came across, which makes me wonder if they are sensible)

    What makes one heroic? Saving yourself from doubt.

    In what do you believe? Myself. My ability to contradict the obvious and assert i am nothing.

    What does your conscience say? To pardon, is the first act of grace.

    Where are your greatest dangers? My ability to listen and hear with my eyes.

    What do you love in others? A sense of humor.

    Whom do you call bad? The unmistakable persistence of a man caught in a game of chance.

    What do you consider most humane? The ability to live.

    What is the seal of liberation? Saying goodbye despite having just said hello.


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