Friedrich Nietzsche is one of modern history’s most famous philosophers. He’s also one of the most misunderstood (perhaps because of his use of irony and sarcasm).

While his writings like Thus Spoke Zarathustra and Beyond Good and Evil are not the easiest books to read, there is some profound wisdom in his work that can help us in our own lives. This is especially true when it comes to ideas of purpose, suffering, truth, and faith.

Sometimes reading quotes and aphorisms can help you understand Nietzsche’s philosophy more clearly. These short pieces of writing take the core message of his work without the more difficult text that surrounds them.

An image of Friedrich Nietzsche

Nietzsche even said that his “ambition [was] to say in ten sentences what others say in a whole book.” So I don’t think he’s minding us taking short phrases and quotes from his work where they’re helpful.

Much of what Nietzsche wrote has woven itself into our culture, and his work is quoted every day without people realising that the words they’re saying are from the German philosopher. Phrases like “What doesn’t kill me makes me stronger” and “He who has a why to live for can bear almost any how.” are commonly used to this day.

So, to help us understand the philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche and get as much value from his work as possible, below are some of his most profound quotes and aphorisms.

Friedrich Nietzsche Quotes page break 1

Friedrich Nietzsche’s Greatest Quotes:

  1. “Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster. And if you gaze long enough into an abyss, the abyss will gaze back into you.”

  2. “He who cannot obey himself will be commanded.”

  3. “Beware that, when fighting monsters, you yourself do not become a monster… for when you gaze long into the abyss. The abyss gazes also into you.”

  4. “There are two different types of people in the world, those who want to know, and those who want to believe.”

  5. “A thought, even a possibility, can shatter and transform us.”

  6. “All things are subject to interpretation. Whichever interpretation prevails at a given time is a function of power and not truth.”

  7. “My formula for greatness in a human being is amor fati: that one wants nothing to be different, not forward, not backward, not in all eternity.”

  8. “We often contradict an opinion for no other reason than that we do not like the tone in which it is expressed.”

  9. “The higher we soar the smaller we appear to those who cannot fly.”

  10. “My formula for happiness: a Yes, a No, a straight line, a goal.”

  11. “They muddy the water, to make it seem deep.”

  12. “One repays a teacher badly if one always remains nothing but a pupil.”

  13. “The free man is a warrior.”

  14. “A thinker sees his own actions as experiments and questions–as attempts to find out something. Success and failure are for him answers above all.”

  15. “The snake which cannot cast its skin has to die. As well the minds which are prevented from changing their opinions; they cease to be mind.”

  16. “He who has a why to live for can bear almost any how.”

  17. “Most people are far too much occupied with themselves to be malicious.”

  18. “Sometimes people don’t want to hear the truth because they don’t want their illusions destroyed.”

  19. “There is more wisdom in your body than in your deepest philosophy.”

  20. “Life is continually shedding something that wants to die.”

  21. “I’m not upset that you lied to me, I’m upset that from now on I can’t believe you.”

  22. “All great things must first wear terrifying and monstrous masks in order to inscribe themselves on the hearts of humanity.”

  23. “And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music.”

  24. “Danger alone acquaints us with our own resources, our virtues, our armor and weapons, our spirit, and forces us to be strong.”

  25. “One must still have chaos in oneself to be able to give birth to a dancing star.”

  26. “Happiness is the feeling that power increases — that resistance is being overcome.”

  27. “Faith: not wanting to know what the truth is.”

  28. “To live is to suffer, to survive is to find some meaning in the suffering.”

  29. “The lonely one offers his hand too quickly to whomever he encounters.”

  30. “It is not a lack of love, but a lack of friendship that makes unhappy marriages.”

  31. “Disobedience — that is the nobility of slaves.”

  32. “There is not enough love and goodness in the world to permit giving any of it away to imaginary beings.”

  33. “There is always some madness in love. But there is also always some reason in madness.”

  34. “Nothing on earth consumes a man more quickly than the passion of resentment.”

  35. “We have art in order not to die of the truth.”

  36. “Perhaps I know best why it is man alone who laughs; he alone suffers so deeply that he had to invent laughter.”

  37. “The secret for harvesting from existence the greatest fruitfulness and the greatest enjoyment is: to live dangerously!”

  38. “The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. But no price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself.”

  39. “You have your way. I have my way. As for the right way, the correct way, and the only way, it does not exist.”

  40. “A good writer possesses not only his own spirit but also the spirit of his friends.”

  41. “That every will must consider every other will its equal — would be a principle hostile to life, an agent of the dissolution and destruction of man, an attempt to assassinate the future of man, a sign of weariness, a secret path to nothingness.”

  42. “In the end things must be as they are and have always been — the great things remain for the great, the abysses for the profound, the delicacies and thrills for the refined, and, to sum up shortly, everything rare for the rare.”

  43. “Silence is worse; all truths that are kept silent become poisonous.”

  44. “In heaven, all the interesting people are missing.”

  45. “Man is the cruelest animal.”

  46. “Thoughts are the shadows of our feelings — always darker, emptier and simpler.”

  47. “At times one remains faithful to a cause only because its opponents do not cease to be insipid.”

  48. “Everything good, fine, or great men do is first of all an argument against the skeptic inside them.”

  49. “People are always angry at anyone who chooses very individual standards for his life; because of the extraordinary treatment which that man grants to himself, they feel degraded, like ordinary beings.”

  50. “Cynicism is the only form in which base souls approach honesty.”

  51. “One must be a sea, to receive a polluted stream without becoming impure.”

  52. “The man of knowledge must be able not only to love his enemies but also to hate his friends.”

  53. “The visionary lies to himself, the liar only to others.”

  54. “I have often laughed at the weaklings who thought themselves good because they had no claws.”

  55. “Ascetic ideals reveal so many bridges to independence that a philosopher is bound to rejoice and clap his hands when he hears the story of all those resolute men who one day said No to all servitude and went into some desert.”

  56. “Hope, in reality, is the worst of all evils because it prolongs the torments of man.”

  57. “Whoever does not have two-thirds of his day for himself, is a slave, whatever he may be: a statesman, a businessman, an official, or a scholar.”

  58. “The surest way to corrupt a youth is to instruct him to hold in higher esteem those who think alike than those who think differently.”

  59. “The sick are the greatest danger for the healthy; it is not from the strongest that harm comes to the strong, but from the weakest.”

  60. “In individuals, insanity is rare; but in groups, parties, nations and epochs, it is the rule.”

  61. “No one can construct for you the bridge upon which precisely you must cross the stream of life, no one but you yourself alone.”

  62. “The advantage of a bad memory is that one enjoys several times the same good things for the first time.”

  63. “God is dead. God remains dead. And we have killed him. How shall we comfort ourselves, the murderers of all murderers? What was holiest and mightiest of all that the world has yet owned has bled to death under our knives: who will wipe this blood off us? What water is there for us to clean ourselves? What festivals of atonement, what sacred games shall we have to invent? Is not the greatness of this deed too great for us? Must we ourselves not become gods simply to appear worthy of it?”

  64. “Doubt as sin. — Christianity has done its utmost to close the circle and declared even doubt to be sin. One is supposed to be cast into belief without reason, by a miracle, and from then on to swim in it as in the brightest and least ambiguous of elements: even a glance towards land, even the thought that one perhaps exists for something else as well as swimming, even the slightest impulse of our amphibious nature — is sin! And notice that all this means that the foundation of belief and all reflection on its origin is likewise excluded as sinful. What is wanted are blindness and intoxication and an eternal song over the waves in which reason has drowned.”

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