Twilight of the Idols

by

Friedrich Nietzsche

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The Hammer  Symbol Icon

The hammer symbolizes the central project of Twilight of the Idols: to challenge and destroy the idols of the past that people worship, but which, according to Nietzsche, are destructive to society and human life. The hammer appears in the subtitle of Twilight of the Idols (the book’s full title is Twilight of the Idols or How to Philosophize with a Hammer), and Nietzsche references the hammer a number of times throughout the work. The first time Nietzsche references the hammer is in the foreword, when he declares war on society’s antiquated idols, vowing to “pose questions here with a hammer,” interrogating ideas and moral values that society considers fundamentally true until “there are no more ancient idols in existence.” Nietzsche believes that the idols (or ideals) that philosophers and moralists have preached and placed on a pedestal have made society nihilistic, decadent, and weak. He believes that the only way we can return society to a state of strength, intellectual integrity, and vitality is to stop aspiring to moral ideals and instead live life in accordance with nature and human instinct. Thus, it’s significant that Nietzsche evokes a tool (or weapon) like a hammer to illustrate his project of debunking idols, for it evokes physicality, strength and violence—he’s effectively arguing that humanity must strike back against theoretical, unattainable ideals with brute, physical force.

The Hammer Quotes in Twilight of the Idols

The Twilight of the Idols quotes below all refer to the symbol of The Hammer . For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
History and the Decline of Civilization  Theme Icon
).
Foreword Quotes

Another form of recovery, in certain cases even more suited to me, is to sound out idols. …There are more idols in the world than there are realities: that is my ‘evil eye’ for this world, that is also my ‘evil ear’. … For once to pose questions here with a hammer and perhaps to receive for answer that famous hollow sound which speaks of inflated bowels—what a delight for one who has ears behind his ears—for an old psychologist and pied piper like me, in presence of whom precisely that which would like to stay silent has to become audible

Related Characters: Friedrich Nietzsche (speaker)
Related Symbols: The Hammer
Page Number: 31
Explanation and Analysis:
The Hammer Speaks Quotes

And if your hardness will not flash and cut and cut to pieces: how can you one day—create with me?

Related Characters: Friedrich Nietzsche (speaker)
Related Symbols: The Hammer
Page Number: 122
Explanation and Analysis:
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The Hammer Symbol Timeline in Twilight of the Idols

The timeline below shows where the symbol The Hammer appears in Twilight of the Idols. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Foreword
History and the Decline of Civilization  Theme Icon
The Will to Power   Theme Icon
The Ideal vs. The Real  Theme Icon
Christianity and the “Revaluation of All Values”  Theme Icon
Nietzsche promises to “pose questions here with a hammer,” and he hopes his questions will stimulate his dampened, disillusioned audience. He ends the preface... (full context)
The Hammer Speaks
History and the Decline of Civilization  Theme Icon
The Will to Power   Theme Icon
The Ideal vs. The Real  Theme Icon
Christianity and the “Revaluation of All Values”  Theme Icon
...coal why it’s so soft—after all, diamonds and coal are closely related. Speaking as the hammer, Nietzsche asks his audience why they are “so soft.” Why have they abandoned faith and... (full context)