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When you look long into an abyss, the abyss looks into you. Options
Daemon
Posted: Saturday, May 2, 2009 12:00:00 AM
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When you look long into an abyss, the abyss looks into you.

Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900)
twain
Posted: Saturday, May 2, 2009 9:09:11 AM

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does it means that if you fight evil, you should take care that you do not become evil yourself?Think
Aleta
Posted: Saturday, May 2, 2009 11:25:26 AM
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Perhaps it means that if you are sufficiently attracted to 'something' in the first place to become aware of it, that 'something' has a magnetic or mesmerizing hold on you, regardless of whether it is positive or negative, good or evil. You could be in possession of minute particles of that element inside of you, which then become instantly magnetized by, or attracted to the stronger dominant force.
fred
Posted: Saturday, May 2, 2009 12:33:59 PM

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Is the abyss evil?

What is evil?

"Supposin' I was to go to work and learn how to... to read writin'. Well, how'd I know that the feller that... that wrote the writin' was a writin' the writin' right? See it could be that he wrote the writin' all wrong. Here I'd be just a readin' wrong writin', don't ya see? You probably been doin' it your whole life, just a readin' wrong writin' and not even knowin‘ it." Festus
Epiphileon
Posted: Saturday, May 2, 2009 5:22:26 PM

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I always thought it had to do with madness.

Question authority. How do you know, that you know, what you know?
fred
Posted: Saturday, May 2, 2009 7:23:29 PM

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What is "you" and what is the "abyss".
Are they separate entities, are they one and/in the same, and/or are they connected somehow?

It could be his observation was incomplete.

"Supposin' I was to go to work and learn how to... to read writin'. Well, how'd I know that the feller that... that wrote the writin' was a writin' the writin' right? See it could be that he wrote the writin' all wrong. Here I'd be just a readin' wrong writin', don't ya see? You probably been doin' it your whole life, just a readin' wrong writin' and not even knowin‘ it." Festus
Demosth
Posted: Saturday, May 2, 2009 8:15:58 PM

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Aleta wrote:
Perhaps it means that if you are sufficiently attracted to 'something' in the first place to become aware of it, that 'something' has a magnetic or mesmerizing hold on you, regardless of whether it is positive or negative, good or evil. You could be in possession of minute particles of that element inside of you, which then become instantly magnetized by, or attracted to the stronger dominant force.


I agree with your description.


I think it means that by trying to understand something, you may become consumed by it; it changes you, and you may be forced to second guess yourself, your way of thinking, and your understanding of the world based on what you've discovered. I think he is referring to social behavior, where we see people mimic one another in what appears to be an attempt to understand or attract the other person. I also think that he accurately used the word "abyss" to describe the uncertainty and potential danger involved in such situations.
fred
Posted: Sunday, May 3, 2009 1:01:52 PM

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Demosth wrote:
Aleta wrote:
Perhaps it means that if you are sufficiently attracted to 'something' in the first place to become aware of it, that 'something' has a magnetic or mesmerizing hold on you, regardless of whether it is positive or negative, good or evil. You could be in possession of minute particles of that element inside of you, which then become instantly magnetized by, or attracted to the stronger dominant force.


I agree with your description.


I think it means that by trying to understand something, you may become consumed by it; it changes you, and you may be forced to second guess yourself, your way of thinking, and your understanding of the world based on what you've discovered. I think he is referring to social behavior, where we see people mimic one another in what appears to be an attempt to understand or attract the other person. I also think that he accurately used the word "abyss" to describe the uncertainty and potential danger involved in such situations.


Are you saying the "You" in the quote has it's foundation on certainty. Probably not and that should completely change your concept of the quote.



"Supposin' I was to go to work and learn how to... to read writin'. Well, how'd I know that the feller that... that wrote the writin' was a writin' the writin' right? See it could be that he wrote the writin' all wrong. Here I'd be just a readin' wrong writin', don't ya see? You probably been doin' it your whole life, just a readin' wrong writin' and not even knowin‘ it." Festus
Demosth
Posted: Monday, May 4, 2009 2:53:07 PM

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fred wrote:
Are you saying the "You" in the quote has it's foundation on certainty. Probably not and that should completely change your concept of the quote.


Well, the fact that he uses the word "you", to me, makes his statement subjective. The reader finds his own meaning based on his own knowledge about these words. Which is my reason for saying, "I think". It's just my interpretation; and of course, who can be really be certain? The quote is too vague to offer any definitive meaning. This quote, in itself, may be something of an "abyss".

In order to avoid stressing myself with needless confusion over what he could have meant, I've given my own meaning to his words. My opinion may be wrong, but since the quote doesn't offer any real insight toward its true meaning, we can only speculate.
fred
Posted: Monday, May 4, 2009 3:22:59 PM

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Demosth wrote:
fred wrote:
Are you saying the "You" in the quote has it's foundation on certainty. Probably not and that should completely change your concept of the quote.


Well, the fact that he uses the word "you", to me, makes his statement subjective. The reader finds his own meaning based on his own knowledge about these words. Which is my reason for saying, "I think". It's just my interpretation; and of course, who can be really be certain? The quote is too vague to offer any definitive meaning. This quote, in itself, may be something of an "abyss".

In order to avoid stressing myself with needless confusion over what he could have meant, I've given my own meaning to his words. My opinion may be wrong, but since the quote doesn't offer any real insight toward its true meaning, we can only speculate.


In General, do you think "YOU" has any foundation in certainty? Does the abyss have any threads of certainty?

"Supposin' I was to go to work and learn how to... to read writin'. Well, how'd I know that the feller that... that wrote the writin' was a writin' the writin' right? See it could be that he wrote the writin' all wrong. Here I'd be just a readin' wrong writin', don't ya see? You probably been doin' it your whole life, just a readin' wrong writin' and not even knowin‘ it." Festus
Demosth
Posted: Monday, May 4, 2009 4:03:28 PM

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fred wrote:
In General, do you think "YOU" has any foundation in certainty? Does the abyss have any threads of certainty?


Certainly not.

Everyone is merely living their lives and expressing themselves based on information they've collected since they were born. The only thing that gives us identity or personality is how we express ourselves; and what we express is coming from our memory of past experiences. You are a collection personal experience. The way you communicate, the way you dress, your interests, how you think -- these are all your own, but they've been developed throughout your life by outside influences. So, since the "you" we are discussing here is actually a changeable entity, there is really no basis for certainty. Which only takes me back to my original opinion.
fred
Posted: Monday, May 4, 2009 4:41:11 PM

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Demosth wrote:
fred wrote:
In General, do you think "YOU" has any foundation in certainty? Does the abyss have any threads of certainty?


Certainly not.

Everyone is merely living their lives and expressing themselves based on information they've collected since they were born. The only thing that gives us identity or personality is how we express ourselves; and what we express is coming from our memory of past experiences. You are a collection personal experience. The way you communicate, the way you dress, your interests, how you think -- these are all your own, but they've been developed throughout your life by outside influences. So, since the "you" we are discussing here is actually a changeable entity, there is really no basis for certainty. Which only takes me back to my original opinion.


How then is the "abyss" any different from "you"?

"Supposin' I was to go to work and learn how to... to read writin'. Well, how'd I know that the feller that... that wrote the writin' was a writin' the writin' right? See it could be that he wrote the writin' all wrong. Here I'd be just a readin' wrong writin', don't ya see? You probably been doin' it your whole life, just a readin' wrong writin' and not even knowin‘ it." Festus
Demosth
Posted: Monday, May 4, 2009 4:59:35 PM

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fred wrote:
How then is the "abyss" any different from "you"?


Good point.

Perhaps he is describing self-analysis. Though he does say, "When you look long into an abyss." which really leads us to believe it could be anything -- internal or external. He could be talking about analyzing your own "personal demons". Really, any of the comments in this thread could be accurate. I just liked what Aleta wrote because it was similar to my own interpretation.
WritersWill
Posted: Sunday, January 30, 2011 6:48:21 PM
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it means that evil is not only looked upon from the outside but from within your own being.
dlux3
Posted: Sunday, January 30, 2011 7:11:57 PM

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That is one man who would know.

Perhaps he pondered life too long, losing his health and eventually his sanity. His thoughts on christianity as decadent run very close to the mark in my opinion, with it's intent to keep the population subjugated while it's top order do very much what they please. That goes for religion in general for mine.




The price of liberty is eternal vigilance.
Babezy
Posted: Sunday, January 30, 2011 9:30:00 PM

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Daemon wrote:
<script>add2all('quote')</script><img align=left width="100" height="126" src="http://img.tfd.com/IOD/nietzsche.jpg">When you look long into an abyss, the abyss looks into you.<br><br><a


So stay off the scale.

This is not a novel to be tossed aside lightly. It should be thrown with great force. --Dorothy Parker
Babezy
Posted: Sunday, January 30, 2011 9:30:49 PM

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When you look long into an abyss, the abyss looks into you.

So stay off the scale.

[That looks better.]

This is not a novel to be tossed aside lightly. It should be thrown with great force. --Dorothy Parker
excaelis
Posted: Sunday, January 30, 2011 9:36:28 PM

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Ask not what your abyss can do for you, ask what you can do for your abyss.

Also I agree with Babezy ( as I so often do ). If you're worried about the size of your abyss don't wear horizontal stripes or spandex.

Sanity is not statistical
HWNN1961
Posted: Sunday, January 30, 2011 9:40:56 PM

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If the abyss fits, wear it.

"Be without fear in the face of your enemies. Be brave and upright that God may love thee. Speak the truth always, even if it leads to your death. Safeguard the helpless, and do no wrong". (Knight's Oath, Kingdom of Heaven)
Jimbob
Posted: Saturday, June 9, 2012 7:50:00 PM

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abyss
1. (Earth Sciences / Physical Geography) a very deep or unfathomable gorge or chasm

The West Coast, the sun is shining the weather is sweet for a drive and long walk. A gravel road with sign’s (date, date), it used to be here, it used to be here, on approaching the Glacier ravine (Te Moeka o Tuawe) “Although retreating throughout most of the last 100 years, it has been advancing since 1985. In 2006 the average rate of advance was about a metre a week”. Strangely warm and cold, but definitely becoming colder if ice could get any colder. When you look long into the hollow turbulent Cavern, the abyss with say binoculars, the abyss also looks into you, to close for comfort, take a chance ? but there are warning signs ! hmm...all good...hmm

abyss
2. anything that appears to be endless or immeasurably deep, such as time, despair, or shame

Dead Letters to Nietzsche: Or, The Necromantic Art of Reading Philosophy by Joanne Faulkner
This is why he warns the reader of the dangerous questions and perhapses at the beginning of beyond Good and Evil, and also writes the short and enigmatic aphorism in that same book: “Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster. And when you look long into an abyss, the abyss also looks into you”
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Hi again, interesting word abyss means a lot, managed to find some info on Nietzsche aphorism although not the actual original book itself (it’s their but in a hurry). Are we drawn into the abyss, psychology, by an inquisitive curiosity although accompanied with a precautionary fear for which is not known or even beyond comprehension. As lovely as strawberry fields are there are also nightmares. So you see Kitty “secrets are deep, secrets are dark that is the nature of secrets”.








DavidScott
Posted: Saturday, June 9, 2012 8:46:29 PM
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I think that each of you has, if not the complete understanding of the meaning, a full and important interpretation of it.
To my thinking, the comment is an admonition NOT to let philosophy, or an obsession with looking too deeply into matters we cannot ever fully understand, become this "Thing," this grave and possibly horrific topic or, even more specifically, some undiscovered and vast, vast beyond comprehension and possibly most ancient and omniscient consciosusness, whether it it something contained within ourselves, or something external, and eventually awoken by the fact of our attention...truth, and horror, and great depths of things beyond our comprehension, can eventually ook back at us, be it our consciousnessness of it's immensity, our madness realized, or some great abyss without end which we cause ourselve to fall into forever because we sought depths we can never understand.
FounDit
Posted: Sunday, June 10, 2012 11:44:08 AM

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Thanks to Jimbob,

Quote: Dead Letters to Nietzsche: Or, The Necromantic Art of Reading Philosophy by Joanne Faulkner
This is why he warns the reader of the dangerous questions and perhapses at the beginning of beyond Good and Evil, and also writes the short and enigmatic aphorism in that same book: “Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster. And when you look long into an abyss, the abyss also looks into you”

To me, the quote at the end is saying a very simple thing, but in two different wordings. In fighting monsters, one can become a monster. This is the abyss that finds a place within the fighter.

This is, or should be, a simple concept to grasp since all humans are capable of great kindness, and at the same time, great inhumanity as well.


We should look to the past to learn from it, not destroy our future because of it — FounDit
HWNN1961
Posted: Sunday, June 10, 2012 9:14:48 PM

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I take it this way:


The abyss is a void. You fill it up with your own imaginings. So you are really looking into yourself.


"Be without fear in the face of your enemies. Be brave and upright that God may love thee. Speak the truth always, even if it leads to your death. Safeguard the helpless, and do no wrong". (Knight's Oath, Kingdom of Heaven)
Bianco Celesti
Posted: Monday, March 17, 2014 5:36:47 PM

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Actually it means, that if you fight evil, you should take care that you do not become evil yourself. This is actually the explanation for the line before this quote in Nietzsche's essay. The abyss looks back at you means that when you begin to know somthing that is fundamentally different from yourself, you take a piece of it with you and it changes you and vice versa. For example, in history, many people called heroes began to fight something evil and in the end they became evil themselves, it's like the cure was far more worse than the virus.
Yeah, i know it's not a perfect explanation, but it's a start....
awmurawski
Posted: Tuesday, January 8, 2019 3:00:41 AM
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I realize this is an old posting. But perhaps someone will come across this reply.

My opinion on the meaning of the following epigram from Beyond Good And Evil: "Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster. And when you look long into an abyss, the abyss also looks into you."

The meaning of the first sentence is self-evident.

I believe the second sentence means that when we look at the victims of monsters, there is a temptation to feel pity, and as a result, to glorify victimhood. Sound familiar? With regard to both sentences, post-modernist identity politics are an excellent, contemporary example (as of January 2019).

Here are the definitions of abyss (Abgrund) and pity (Mitleid) in The Nietzsche Dictionary (2014) by Bunham:
BEGIN QUOTE
abyss
Literally, ‘that which has no end, limit or (especially) bottom’. Thus the ‘abyss of being’ or ‘abyss of things’ (BT21, PTA10) to describe the lack of anything fixed and thing-like in the Dionysian conception of the real, which is thought of as underlying the realm of apparent things (and see also Z2.1). ‘Grund’ in German also means ‘ground’ in the sense of ‘reason’ (as in ‘what are your grounds for claiming that?’); therefore ‘Abgrund’ can mean a lack of justification, legitimacy or sense. Thus also ‘abyss of reason’ (1870.7.123) especially in connection with Kant. N often associates the abyss with the Sphinx, who killed herself by throwing herself from a high place after Oedipus successfully answered the riddle (1881.13.22, BVN-1885, 599, 1885.2.13). The idea seems to be that certain questions, or certain paths of philosophical enquiry, are themselves abysses because they cause one to leave any solid intellectual or moral footing behind, and thus represent some kind of danger (e.g. the ‘abyss of savagery’ described in ‘Homer’s Contest’, GSVorspiel27, BGE289, the abyss of ‘scientific conscience’ at GM3.23, and see EHClever4). The idea of eternal recurrence is an ‘abyss-deep thought’ (Z3.3, 3.13.1), representing a danger of self-destruction; likewise, the thought of the death of God is such an abyss (Z4.13.2), or the temptation to pity and thus to the abandonment of one’s ideals (Z3.2.1).

This is why, when one looks into the abyss, the abyss looks back (BGE146) – that is to say, one’s response to the abyss is all important. Does one view the abyss with pride (Z4.13.4), are the abyss and one’s summit as one (Z3.1)? That is, can one view the recognition of the abyss and its affirmation as an achievement?
END QUOTE

But this doesn't provide the full answer as to what Nietzsche meant about looking into the abyss. The entry in this dictionary for "pity, compassion, sympathy" provides the rest of the answer.
BEGIN QUOTE
pity, compassion, sympathy
Usually Mitleid. This word is also frequently translated as ‘compassion’. Mitgefühl (usually ‘sympathy’) is sometimes used in this sense; likewise Erbarmen. N takes pity/compassion to be a key virtue espoused by Christianity (see for example Mt. 9.36, 2 Cor. 1.3–4, 1 Jn 3.17). It is also an important concept in Schopenhauer’s ethics: compassion in the sense of sharing another’s suffering is the recognition that our separation from one another as individuals is
only an appearance; it is therefore literally unegoistic (GMP5, AC7, and the figure of the Soothsayer at Z4.2).

N argues that pity is, in fact, immoral by its own definition. That is, the feeling of pity or an act associated with it is notunegoistic, and is very often based upon the petty feeling of power or superiority one gets with respect to the weak or needy, a cruel need to highlight another’s helplessness, a simplification of a unique suffering to a type, or upon a need to share one’s own suffering. N’s most sustained discussion is at D132–7. See also H3.50, D224,
GS13, GS338, Z2.3, BGE222. He further argues that pity is, in fact, counter-productive. This in one of three senses, which are often discussed together. Either the person pitied is a born sufferer (from the beginning broken, perhaps suffering from existence itself), in which case coming to his or her aid is prolonging that suffering. Or, for the sake of the growth of the human, the sufferer represents a diseased type that should be allowed to perish. That is, pity or compassion is protracting the period of human stagnation, creating perhaps a pathological sensitivity to pain, and perhaps even leading in this manner to nihilism. Finally, by doubling suffering, and initiating a cycle of petty feelings of power, pity is ‘infectious’ (AC7). For discussions see BGE62, GM3.14, AC7, TISkirmishes37. For all the above reasons, feeling pity for one’s friend is particularly delicate (Z1.14).

For the ‘free spirit’, pity remains a dangerous temptation, a seduction to deviation ‘from my path’ (GS338). For free spirits, pity is generally directed to ‘higher humans’ – those who have broken new ground or pursued new values, but who ultimately fell victim to environment, success or their own weaknesses. Z4 is a narrative of Zarathustra’s being tempted by pity for a string of such ‘higher men’ – satirical portraits of Wagner, Schopenhauer and Jesus among them – and allowing them briefly to distract him from his true ‘children’ (see also GS289, BGE269). The free spirit exhibits also a different kind of pity for the lost opportunities for the development of human beings per se (BGE225). N there distinguishes between Christian pity for the created being (here meaning a human type that has ceased its development), but a higher pity for the creator in whom suffering can be productive.

Pity, along with fear, is also part of Aristotle’s famous account of the function of tragedy: to evoke pity and fear and thereby purify them. N comments on Aristotle’s theory many times (e.g. BT22, H1.212, GS80, AC7, TIAncients5). The consistent objection is that Aristotle shows complete misunderstanding
of Greek tragedy – and thereby also of the nature of art more generally. Tragedy is, for N, the highest instance of aesthetic play and of affirmation.
END QUOTE
Bully_rus
Posted: Tuesday, January 8, 2019 10:49:32 AM
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Daemon wrote:
When you look long into an abyss, the abyss looks into you.

Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900)


Whether meaningful or not so, it’s called - dialog... It's nice to meet you, by the way.
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