Nietzsche on Pity

Daybreak 133

When we help someone in danger or feel pain and discomfort with others whom we may not even like we thoughtfully ascribe this as pity. The truth is that we do so in order to alleviate the feeling of our impotence, perhaps our cowardice or dishonour if we didn't act. It is this suffering of our own we get rid of when we perform acts of pity. But there is seldom only one motive- pleasure arises out of the fact that we aren't in anothers position- that we can help only if we want to- if we can achieve some satisfaction in performing the act etc. All of these constitute pity. Pity isn't the source of moral actions. Men without pity lack the susceptible imagination for fear, the subtle capacity to scent danger- their vanity isn't offended if something happens that they could have prevented- their cautiousness of pride tells them not to involve themselves needlessly in the things of others- each should play their own cards. They are mostly more accustomed to enduring pain than are men of pity and if they have suffered it doesn't seem so unfair to them that others should. Being soft-hearted is painful to them just as being indifferent is painful to men of pity. To call them evil is only a moral fashion which is having its day.