Twilight of the Idols: Aphorism #25


“Zufriedenheit schützt selbst vor Erkältung. Hat je sich ein Weib, das sich gut bekleidet wusste, erkältet? – Ich setze den Fall, das es kaum bekleidet war.”

Translation: “Satisfaction protects even against colds. Has a woman who knew how to dress well ever caught a cold? – I suppose the case that she was scarcely dressed.”

Legend/Key of German to English alternative interpretations:

  • Zufriedenheit: satisfaction, contentment
  • schützt: protects, guards
  • selbst: even, itself
  • Erkältung: cold, colds (referring to the illness)
  • Weib: woman (a somewhat outdated or derogatory term)
  • gut: well, properly
  • bekleidet: dressed, clothed
  • erkältet: caught a cold, became chilled
  • setze: suppose, assume
  • Fall: case, instance
  • kaum: scarcely, hardly

Critical Analysis: In this passage, Nietzsche seems to be making a metaphorical connection between satisfaction and physical immunity, asserting that contentment or self-assurance can act as a shield against physical ailments like a cold. The example of a well-dressed woman, even if scarcely dressed, not catching a cold, might be a playful expression of the idea that confidence, satisfaction, and the knowledge of oneself can provide protection against external challenges. This could be seen as a broader philosophical statement about the power of self-assurance and satisfaction in life. The use of the term “Weib” reflects Nietzsche’s often controversial language choices, which may carry specific connotations within the context of his era.


The word “Weib” in German is an older term for a woman, but its usage has become more pejorative and outdated. It can be seen as diminishing or objectifying, similar to calling a woman a “wench” or “dame” in English. These translations might capture some of the controversy surrounding the term, as they can also carry negative or dismissive connotations.

As for references to being well-clothed in literature, the idea has appeared in various works and often symbolizes status, self-awareness, or propriety.

In Nietzsche’s works, clothing is not a central theme, but he often uses metaphors and analogies involving attire to make broader philosophical points. For example, he talks about philosophical concepts as garments that can be worn and discarded, hinting at the idea of change and adaptation.

Shakespeare’s famous line “Clothes oft proclaim the man” from “Hamlet” is an expression of the idea that outward appearance, including clothing, can reveal a person’s character or status. This concept has been explored in various forms throughout literature, often tying clothing to identity, social standing, or personal attributes.


Nietzsche’s use of clothing as a metaphor has been a tool to explain philosophical concepts, changes, or shifts in thinking. Similarly, Thomas Carlyle’s work “Sartor Resartus” deeply explores the metaphor of clothing, but in a more comprehensive and central way. While Nietzsche may use the garment metaphor more sporadically to make specific points, Carlyle’s “Sartor Resartus” is built around the idea that societal institutions and beliefs are like garments that can be changed. It delves into how these “clothes” shape human identity and society. Both thinkers use the metaphor to symbolize impermanence and adaptability but apply it in different scopes and contexts.

Regarding studies on clothes and self-confidence or health, the field of psychology has indeed shown interest in this area. While specifics can vary, some studies have suggested that clothing can have an impact on a person’s confidence and self-perception. The term “enclothed cognition” has been used to describe the systematic influence that clothes have on the wearer’s psychological processes. Researchers Adam Hajo and Adam D. Galinsky conducted a study on this phenomenon, showing that wearing specific types of clothing could influence a person’s performance and confidence levels in certain tasks. The idea that clothing can affect mental states connects with a broader understanding of how external appearance and self-perception are interwoven. However, direct connections between clothing and health might be more tenuous and require a more nuanced understanding of psychology, self-perception, and social dynamics.