Nietzsche on Lies

Geneology of Morals - Third essay

The ways of the ascetic priest have all been innocent compared to the one we consider here. This sounds harsh; obviously it would sound more pleasant and be more ingratiating if I said: 'the ascetic priest has at all times made use of the enthusiasm that lies in all strong affects'. But why stroke the effeminate ears of our modern weaklings? Why should we give way even one step to their tartuffery of words? For us psychologists this would constitute a tartuffery in deed, quite apart from the fact that it would nauseate us. For if a psychologist today has good taste (others might say, integrity) it consists in resistance to the shamefully moralized way of speaking which has gradually made all modern judgments of men and things slimy.
Our educated people of today, our 'good people', don't tell lies- that is true; but that isn't to their credit! A real lie, a genuine, resolute, 'honest' lie (on whose value one should consult Plato) would be something far too severe and potent for them: it would demand of them what one may not demand of them, that they should open their eyes to themselves, that they should know how to distinguish 'true' and 'false' in themselves. This truth they wouldn't be able to deal with. Biographers destroyed the personal notes of Lord Byron, Schopenhauer and Beethoven. Moral: what prudent man would write a single honest word about himself today?- he would have to be a member of the Order of Holy Foolhardiness to do so.

 
Next
Index