There's this question on Philosophy SE. Nobody there has yet been able to come up with a "good" source/reference. (The thus-far apparently oldest reference, provided in a comment, is this.) This seems like something you are quite good at and might enjoy solving.

So, despite numerous attributions, is there any reason to believe that Nietzsche ever said, wrote, stated, or uttered:

The world is beautiful, but has a disease called man.

either literally or literally translated?

PS: I know that cross-posting is sometimes frowned upon. Let me know (or just put "on hold") if moderators think this is not appropriate.

  • 7
    I think this is an acceptable cross-post. There is no reason to believe that the expertise at Philosophy.SE is especially well suited to verify an attribution, and we do tackle these questions often here.
    – user5582
    Commented Jan 4, 2014 at 20:40

1 Answer 1


The quote seems to be a paraphrase coming from Nietzche's Zur Genealogie der Moral:

But thereby he introduced that most grave and sinister illness, from which mankind has not yet recovered, the suffering of man from the disease called man

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This was published in 1887.

In German:

Mit ihm aber war die grösste und unheimlichste Erkrankung eingeleitet, von welcher die Menschheit bis heute nicht genesen ist, das Leiden des Menschen am Menschen, an sich

which google translates a bit differently (probably more politically correctly):

But with him the biggest and scariest disease was initiated, of which humanity is still not recuperated, the suffering of the people on the people, per se.

According to Google N-Gram viewer, the above is the earliest usage of the idiom "disease called man".

Otherwise, you found another great source on our Philosophy site, where you also cite another book of his Also sprach Zarathustra:

in Thus Spake Zarathustra (section 40, "Great Events"), in the discourse with the fire-dog, Nietzsche has Zarathustra say the following:

Die Erde, sagte er, hat eine Haut; und diese Haut hat Krankheiten. Eine dieser Krankheiten heisst zum Beispiel: "Mensch." [The earth, said he, hath a skin; and this skin hath diseases. One of these diseases, for example, is called "man."]

This book was published earlier still, 1883, but uses a slightly different version of the idiom "disease called man".

  • 2
    That's no closer (and IMO less close) to the wanted quote than is the passage from Zarathustra which was referenced in the question on Philosophy.SE , i.e. The earth, said he, hath a skin; and this skin hath diseases. One of these diseases, for example, is called "man."
    – ChrisW
    Commented Jan 5, 2014 at 0:45
  • 1
    Yeah, I think the first part of the quote "the world is beautiful" is just as important in tracking this down.
    – user5582
    Commented Jan 5, 2014 at 1:08
  • As I understand this answer, you found no evidence that Nietzsche said "The world is beautiful but...". Is that correct?
    – user5582
    Commented Jan 8, 2014 at 0:00
  • 1
    "the world is beautiful" is very likely not Nietzsche. It's a common sentence. "A disease called man" instead is. The complete sentence is attributed to Nietzsche in all references I can find, but not in his books. Keep in mind, his books are in German...
    – Sklivvz
    Commented Jan 8, 2014 at 21:19

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