Quora answer: What is Nietzsche’s shell?

May 22 2014

I think the answer is in these words that come before the shell:

“But man himself only is hard to bear! The reason thereof is that he carrieth too many extraneous things on his shoulders. Like the camel kneeleth he down, and letteth himself be well laden.”
“Especially the strong load-bearing man in whom reverence resideth. Too many EXTRANEOUS heavy words and worths loadeth he upon himself–then seemeth life to him a desert!”
“And verily! Many a thing also that is OUR OWN is hard to bear! And many internal things in man are like the oyster–repulsive and slippery and hard to grasp.”

He is talking about the camel that is burdened by heavy words like Good and Evil to others which are extraneous injunctions.

But then he says that it is man who is hardest to bear for himself. Then he says that the internal things in man are slippery like the inside of the shell of the oyster.

So the metaphor is the oyster and he is saying that the shell of the oyster is what is hardest to bear, even harder than extraneous injunctions of others. But basically I think he is saying we have to come to find our own Good and Our own Evil and learn to say I and not be dependent on others to give us their Good and Evil but to express our own tastes, and this hardness of the shell which is difficult to bear then becomes the basis of our own will to power, i.e. to good to evil we ourselves have developed and chosen and acted upon.

It is a difficult but interesting passage. Thanks for bringing it to our attention.

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