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In Beyond Good and Evil, Nietzsche accuses past philosophers of lacking critical sense and blindly accepting dogmatic premises in their consideration of morality. Specifically, he accuses them of founding grand metaphysical systems upon the faith that the good man is the opposite of the evil man, rather than just a different expression of the same basic impulses that find more direct expression in the evil man. The work moves into the realm "Beyond Good and Evil" in the sense of leaving behind the traditional morality which Nietzsche subjects to a destructive critique in favour of what he regards as an affirmative approach that fearlessly confronts the perspectival nature of knowledge and the perilous condition of the modern individual.
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First digital edition 2017 by Anna Ruggieri
CHAPTER I. PREJUDICES OF PHILOSOPHERS
CHAPTER II. THE FREE SPIRIT
CHAPTER III. THE RELIGIOUS MOOD
CHAPTER IV. APOPHTHEGMS AND INTERLUDES
CHAPTER V. THE NATURAL HISTORY OF MORALS
CHAPTER VI. WE SCHOLARS
CHAPTER VII. OUR VIRTUES
CHAPTER VIII. PEOPLES AND COUNTRIES
CHAPTER IX. WHAT IS NOBLE?
SUPPOSING that Truth is a woman—what then? Is there notground for suspecting that all philosophers, in so far as they havebeen dogmatists, have failed to understand women—that theterrible seriousness and clumsy importunity with whichthey haveusually paid their addresses to Truth, have been unskilled andunseemly methods for winning a woman? Certainly she has neverallowed herself to be won; and at present every kind of dogmastands with sad and discouraged mien—IF, indeed, it standsatall! For there are scoffers who maintain that it has fallen, thatall dogma lies on the ground—nay more, that it is at its lastgasp. But to speak seriously, there are good grounds for hopingthat all dogmatizing in philosophy, whatever solemn, whateverconclusive and decided airs it has assumed, may have been only anoble puerilism and tyronism; and probably the time is at hand whenit will be once and again understood WHAT has actually sufficed forthe basis of such imposing and absolute philosophicaledifices asthe dogmatists have hitherto reared: perhaps some popularsuperstition of immemorial time (such as the soul-superstition,which, in the form of subject- and ego-superstition, has not yetceased doing mischief): perhaps some play upon words, adeception onthe part of grammar, or an audacious generalization of veryrestricted, very personal, very human—all-too-human facts.The philosophy of the dogmatists, it is to be hoped, was only apromise for thousands of years afterwards, as was astrologyin stillearlier times, in the service of which probably more labour, gold,acuteness, and patience have been spent than on any actual sciencehitherto: we owe to it, and to its "super-terrestrial" pretensionsin Asia and Egypt, the grand style of architecture. It seems thatin order to inscribe themselves upon the heart of humanity witheverlasting claims, all great things have first to wander about theearth as enormous and awe-inspiring caricatures: dogmaticphilosophy has been a caricature of this kind—for instance,the Vedanta doctrine in Asia, and Platonism in Europe. Let us notbe ungrateful to it, although it must certainly be confessed thatthe worst, the most tiresome, and the most dangerous of errorshitherto has been a dogmatist error—namely, Plato's inventionof Pure Spirit and the Good in Itself. But now when it has beensurmounted, when Europe, rid of this nightmare, can again drawbreath freely and at least enjoy a healthier—sleep, we, WHOSEDUTY IS WAKEFULNESS ITSELF, are the heirs of all thestrength whichthe struggle against this error has fostered. It amounted to thevery inversion of truth, and the denial of thePERSPECTIVE—the fundamental condition—of life, to speakof Spirit and the Good as Plato spoke of them; indeed one mightask, asa physician: "How did such a malady attack that finestproduct of antiquity, Plato? Had the wicked Socrates reallycorrupted him? Was Socrates after all a corrupter of youths, anddeserved his hemlock?" But the struggle against Plato, or—tospeak plainer,and for the "people"—the struggle against theecclesiastical oppression of millenniums of Christianity (FORCHRISTIANITY IS PLATONISM FOR THE "PEOPLE"), produced in Europe amagnificent tension of soul, such as had not existed anywherepreviously; with such a tensely strained bow one can now aim at thefurthest goals. As a matter of fact, the European feels thistension as a state of distress, and twice attempts have been madein grand style to unbend the bow: once by means of Jesuitism, andthe second timeby means of democraticenlightenment—which,with the aid of liberty of the press andnewspaper-reading, might, in fact, bring it about that the spiritwould not so easily find itself in "distress"! (The Germansinvented gunpowder—all credit to them! but they again madethings square—they invented printing.) But we, who areneither Jesuits, nor democrats, nor even sufficiently Germans, weGOOD EUROPEANS, and free, VERY free spirits—we have it still,all the distress of spirit and all the tension of its bow!Andperhaps also the arrow, the duty, and, who knows? THE GOAL TO AIMAT....
Sils Maria Upper Engadine, JUNE, 1885.
1. The Will to Truth, which is to tempt us to many a hazardousenterprise, the famous Truthfulness of which all philosophers havehitherto spoken with respect, what questions has this Will to Truthnot laid before us! What strange, perplexing, questionablequestions! It is already a long story; yet it seems as if it werehardly commenced.Is it any wonder if we at last grow distrustful,lose patience, and turn impatiently away? That this Sphinx teachesus at last to ask questions ourselves? WHO is it really that putsquestions to us here? WHAT really is this "Will to Truth" in us? Infactwe made a long halt at the question as to the origin of thisWill—until at last we came to an absolute standstill before ayet more fundamental question. We inquired about the VALUE of thisWill. Granted that we want the truth: WHY NOT RATHER untruth?Anduncertainty? Even ignorance? The problem of the value of truthpresented itself before us—or was it we who presentedourselves before the problem? Which of us is the Oedipus here?Which the Sphinx? It would seem to be a rendezvous of questions andnotes ofinterrogation. And could it be believed that it at lastseems to us as if the problem had never been propounded before, asif we were the first to discern it, get a sight of it, and RISKRAISING it? For there is risk in raising it, perhaps there is nogreater risk.
2. "HOW COULD anything originate out of its opposite? Forexample, truth out of error? or the Will to Truth out of the willto deception? or the generous deed out of selfishness? or the puresun-bright vision of the wise man out of covetousness?Such genesisis impossible; whoever dreams of it is a fool, nay, worse than afool; things of the highest value must have a different origin, anorigin of THEIR own—in this transitory, seductive, illusory,paltry world, in this turmoil of delusion and cupidity, they cannothave their source. But rather in the lap of Being, in theintransitory, in the concealed God, in the'Thing-in-itself—THERE must be their source, and nowhereelse!"—This mode of reasoning discloses the typical prejudiceby which metaphysicians of all times can be recognized, this modeof valuation is at the back of all their logical procedure; throughthis "belief" of theirs, they exert themselves for their"knowledge," for something that is in the end solemnly christened"the Truth." Thefundamental belief of metaphysicians is THE BELIEFIN ANTITHESES OF VALUES. It never occurred even to the wariest ofthem to doubt here on the very threshold (where doubt, however, wasmost necessary); though they had made a solemn vow, "DE OMNIBUSDUBITANDUM." For it may be doubted, firstly, whether antithesesexist at all; and secondly, whether the popular valuations andantitheses of value upon which metaphysicians have set their seal,are not perhaps merely superficial estimates, merely provisionalperspectives, besides being probably made from some corner, perhapsfrom below—"frog perspectives," as it were, to borrow anexpression current among painters. In spite of all the value whichmay belong to the true, the positive, and the unselfish, it mightbe possible that a higher and more fundamental value for lifegenerally should be assigned to pretence, to the will to delusion,to selfishness, and cupidity. It might even be possible that WHATconstitutes the value of those good and respected things, consistsprecisely in their being insidiously related, knotted, andcrocheted to these evil and apparently opposed things—perhapseven in being essentially identical with them. Perhaps! But whowishes toconcern himself with such dangerous "Perhapses"! For thatinvestigation one must await the advent of a new order ofphilosophers, such as will have other tastes and inclinations, thereverse of those hitherto prevalent—philosophers of thedangerous "Perhaps" in every sense of the term. And to speak in allseriousness, I see such new philosophers beginning to appear.
3. Having kept a sharp eye on philosophers, and having readbetween their lines long enough, I now say to myself that thegreater part of conscious thinking must be counted among theinstinctive functions, and it is so even in the case ofphilosophical thinking; one has here to learn anew, as one learnedanew about heredity and "innateness." As little as the act of birthcomes into consideration in the whole process and procedure ofheredity, just aslittle is "being-conscious" OPPOSED to theinstinctive in any decisive sense; the greater part of theconscious thinking of a philosopher is secretly influenced by hisinstincts, and forced into definite channels. And behind all logicand its seeming sovereignty of movement, there are valuations, orto speak more plainly, physiological demands, for the maintenanceof a definite mode of life For example, that the certain is worthmore than the uncertain, that illusion is less valuable than"truth" such valuations, in spite of their regulative importancefor US, might notwithstanding be only superficial valuations,special kinds ofniaiserie, such as may be necessary for themaintenance of beings such as ourselves. Supposing, in effect, thatman is not just the "measure of things."
4. The falseness of an opinion is not for us any objection toit: it is here, perhaps, that our new language sounds moststrangely. The question is, how far an opinion is life-furthering,life-preserving, species-preserving, perhapsspecies-rearing, and weare fundamentally inclined to maintain that the falsest opinions(to which the synthetic judgments a priori belong), are the mostindispensable to us, that without a recognition of logicalfictions, without a comparison of reality with the purely IMAGINEDworld of the absolute and immutable, without a constantcounterfeiting of the world by means of numbers, man could notlive—that the renunciation of false opinions would be arenunciation of life, a negation of life. TO RECOGNISE UNTRUTH AS ACONDITION OF LIFE; that is certainly to impugn the traditionalideas of value in a dangerous manner, and a philosophy whichventures to do so, has thereby alone placed itself beyond good andevil.
5. That which causes philosophers to beregardedhalf-distrustfully and half-mockingly, is not theoft-repeated discovery how innocent they are—how often andeasily they make mistakes and lose their way, in short, howchildish and childlike they are,—but that there is not enoughhonest dealing with them, whereas they all raise a loud andvirtuous outcry when the problem of truthfulness is even hinted atin the remotest manner. They all pose as though their real opinionshad been discovered and attained through the self-evolving of acold, pure, divinelyindifferent dialectic (in contrast to all sortsof mystics, who, fairer and foolisher, talk of "inspiration"),whereas, in fact, a prejudiced proposition, idea, or "suggestion,"which is generally their heart's desire abstracted and refined, isdefended bythem with arguments sought out after the event. They areall advocates who do not wish to be regarded as such, generallyastute defenders, also, of their prejudices, which they dub"truths,"—and VERY far from having the conscience whichbravely admits this to itself, very far from having the good tasteof the courage which goes so far as to let this be understood,perhaps to warn friend or foe, or in cheerful confidence andself-ridicule. Thespectacle of the Tartuffery of old Kant, equallystiff and decent, with which he entices us into the dialecticby-ways that lead (more correctly mislead) to his "categoricalimperative"—makes us fastidious ones smile, we who find nosmall amusement in spying out the subtle tricks of old moralistsand ethical preachers.Or, still more so, the hocus-pocus inmathematical form, by means of which Spinoza has, as it were, cladhis philosophy in mail and mask—in fact, the "love of HISwisdom," to translate the term fairly and squarely—in orderthereby to strike terror at onceinto the heart of the assailant whoshould dare to cast a glance on that invincible maiden, that PallasAthene:—how much of personal timidity and vulnerability doesthis masquerade of a sickly recluse betray!
6. It has gradually become clear to me what every greatphilosophy up till now has consisted of—namely, theconfession of its originator, and a species of involuntary andunconscious auto-biography; and moreover that the moral (orimmoral) purpose in every philosophy has constituted the true vitalgerm out of which the entire plant has always grown. Indeed, tounderstand how the abstrusest metaphysical assertions of aphilosopher have been arrived at, it is always well (and wise) tofirst ask oneself: "What morality do they (or does he) aim at?"Accordingly, I do not believe that an "impulse to knowledge" is thefather of philosophy; but that another impulse, here as elsewhere,has only made use of knowledge (and mistaken knowledge!) as aninstrument. But whoever considers the fundamental impulses of manwith a view to determining how far they may have here acted asINSPIRING GENII (or as demons and cobolds), will find that theyhave all practiced philosophy at one time or another, and that eachone of them would have been only too glad to look upon itself asthe ultimate end of existence and the legitimate LORD over all theother impulses. For every impulse is imperious, and as SUCH,attempts to philosophize. To be sure, in the case of scholars, inthe case of really scientific men, it may beotherwise—"better," if you will; there there may really besuch a thing as an "impulse to knowledge," some kind of small,independent clock-work, which, when well wound up, works awayindustriously to that end, WITHOUT the rest of the scholarlyimpulses taking any material part therein. The actual "interests"of the scholar, therefore, are generally in quite anotherdirection—in the family, perhaps, or in money-making, or inpolitics; it is, in fact, almost indifferent at what point ofresearch his little machine is placed, and whether the hopefulyoung worker becomes a good philologist, a mushroom specialist, ora chemist; he is not CHARACTERISED by becoming this or that. In thephilosopher, on the contrary, there is absolutely nothingimpersonal; and above all, his morality furnishes a decided anddecisive testimony as to WHO HE IS,—that is to say, in whatorder the deepest impulses of his nature stand to each other.
7. How malicious philosophers can be! I know of nothing morestinging than the joke Epicurus took theliberty of making on Platoand the Platonists; he called them Dionysiokolakes. In its originalsense, and on the face of it, the word signifies "Flatterers ofDionysius"—consequently, tyrants' accessories andlick-spittles; besides this, however, it is asmuch as to say, "Theyare all ACTORS, there is nothing genuine about them" (forDionysiokolax was a popular name for an actor). And the latter isreally the malignant reproach that Epicurus cast upon Plato: he wasannoyed by the grandiose manner, the miseen scene style of whichPlato and his scholars were masters—of which Epicurus was nota master! He, the old school-teacher of Samos, who sat concealed inhis little garden atAthens, and wrote three hundred books, perhapsout of rage and ambitious envy ofPlato, who knows! Greece took ahundred years to find out who the garden-god Epicurus really was.Did she ever find out?
8. There is a point in every philosophy at which the"conviction" of the philosopher appears on the scene; or, to put itin the words of an ancient mystery:
Adventavit asinus, Pulcher et fortissimus.
9. You desire to LIVE "according to Nature"? Oh, you nobleStoics, what fraud of words! Imagine to yourselves a being likeNature, boundlessly extravagant, boundlessly indifferent,withoutpurpose or consideration, without pity or justice, at oncefruitful and barren and uncertain: imagine to yourselvesINDIFFERENCE as a power—how COULD you live in accordance withsuch indifference? To live—is not that just endeavouring tobe otherwise thanthis Nature? Is not living valuing, preferring,being unjust, being limited, endeavouring to be different? Andgranted that your imperative, "living according to Nature," meansactually the same as "living according to life"—how could youdo DIFFERENTLY? Why should you make a principle out of what youyourselves are, and must be? In reality, however, it is quiteotherwise with you: while you pretend to read with rapture thecanon of your law in Nature, you want something quite the contrary,you extraordinary stage-players and self-deluders! In your prideyou wish to dictate your morals and ideals to Nature, to Natureherself, and to incorporate them therein; you insist that it shallbe Nature "according to the Stoa," and would like everything to bemade after your own image, as a vast, eternal glorification andgeneralism of Stoicism! With all your love for truth, you haveforced yourselves so long, so persistently, and with such hypnoticrigidity to see Nature FALSELY, that is to say, Stoically, that youareno longer able to see it otherwise—and to crown all, someunfathomable superciliousness gives you the Bedlamite hope thatBECAUSE you are able to tyrannize over yourselves—Stoicism isself-tyranny—Nature will also allow herself to be tyrannizedover: is not the Stoic a PART of Nature?... But this is an old andeverlasting story: what happened in old times with the Stoics stillhappens today, as soon as ever a philosophy begins to believe initself. It always creates the world in its own image; it cannotdootherwise; philosophy is this tyrannical impulse itself, the mostspiritual Will to Power, the will to "creation of the world," thewill to the causa prima.
10. The eagerness and subtlety, I should even say craftiness,with which the problem of "the realand the apparent world" is dealtwith at present throughout Europe, furnishes food for thought andattention; and he who hears only a "Will to Truth" in thebackground, and nothing else, cannot certainly boast of thesharpest ears. In rare and isolated cases, it may really havehappened that such a Will to Truth—a certain extravagant andadventurous pluck, a metaphysician's ambition of the forlornhope—has participated therein: that which in the end alwaysprefers a handful of "certainty" to a whole cartload of beautifulpossibilities; there may even be puritanical fanatics ofconscience, who prefer to put their last trust in a sure nothing,rather than in an uncertain something. But that is Nihilism, andthe sign of a despairing, mortally wearied soul, notwithstandingthe courageous bearing such a virtue may display. It seems,however, to be otherwise with stronger and livelier thinkers whoare still eager for life. In that they side AGAINST appearance, andspeak superciliously of "perspective," in that theyrank thecredibility oftheir own bodies about as low as the credibility ofthe ocular evidence that "the earth stands still," and thus,apparently, allowing with complacency their securest possession toescape (for what does one at present believe in more firmly than inone's body?),—who knows if they are not really trying to winback something which was formerly an even securer possession,something of the old domain of the faith of former times, perhapsthe "immortal soul," perhaps "the old God," in short, ideas bywhich they could live better, that is to say, more vigorously andmore joyously, than by "modern ideas"? There is DISTRUST of thesemodern ideas in this mode of looking at things, a disbelief in allthat has been constructed yesterday and today; there is perhapssome slight admixture of satiety and scorn, which can no longerendure the BRIC-A-BRAC of ideas of the most varied origin, such asso-called Positivism at present throws on the market; a disgust ofthe more refined taste at the village-fair motleyness andpatchiness of all these reality-philosophasters, in whom there isnothing either new or true, except this motleyness. Therein itseems to me that we should agree with those skeptical anti-realistsand knowledge-microscopists of the present day; their instinct,which repels them from MODERN reality, is unrefuted... what dotheir retrograde by-paths concern us! The main thing about them isNOT that they wish to go "back," but that they wish to get AWAYtherefrom. A little MORE strength, swing, courage, and artisticpower, and they would be OFF—and not back!
11. It seems to me that there is everywhere an attempt atpresent to divert attention from the actual influence which Kantexercised on German philosophy, and especially to ignore prudentlythe value which he set upon himself. Kant was first and foremostproud of his Table of Categories; with it in his hand he said:"This is the most difficult thing that could ever be undertaken onbehalf of metaphysics." Let us only understand this "could be"! Hewas proud of having DISCOVERED a new faculty in man, the faculty ofsynthetic judgment a priori. Granting that he deceived himself inthis matter; the development and rapid flourishing of Germanphilosophy depended nevertheless on his pride, andon the eagerrivalry of the younger generation to discover if possiblesomething—at all events "new faculties"—of which to bestill prouder!—But let us reflect for a moment—it ishigh time to do so. "How are synthetic judgments a prioriPOSSIBLE?" Kant asks himself—and what is really his answer?"BY MEANS OF A MEANS (faculty)"—but unfortunately not in fivewords, but so circumstantially, imposingly, and with such displayof German profundity and verbal flourishes, that one altogetherloses sight of the comical niaiserie allemande involved in such ananswer. People were beside themselves with delight over this newfaculty, and the jubilation reached its climax when Kant furtherdiscovered a moral faculty in man—for at that time Germanswere still moral, not yet dabbling in the "Politics of hard fact."Then came the honeymoon of German philosophy. All the youngtheologians of the Tubingen institution went immediately into thegroves—all seeking for "faculties." And what did they notfind—in that innocent, rich,and still youthful period of theGerman spirit, to which Romanticism, the malicious fairy, piped andsang, when one could not yet distinguish between "finding" and"inventing"! Above all a faculty for the "transcendental";Schelling christened it, intellectual intuition, and therebygratified the most earnest longings of the naturally pious-inclinedGermans. One can do no greater wrong to the whole of this exuberantand eccentric movement (which was really youthfulness,notwithstanding that it disguised itself so boldly, in hoary andsenile conceptions), than totake it seriously, or even treat itwith moral indignation. Enough, however—the world grew older,and the dream vanished. A time came when people rubbed theirforeheads, and they still rub them today. People had been dreaming,and first and foremost—old Kant. "By means of a means(faculty)"—he had said, or at least meant to say. But, isthat—an answer? An explanation? Or is it not rather merely arepetition of the question? How does opium induce sleep? "By meansof a means (faculty)," namely the virtus dormitiva, replies thedoctor in Moliere,
Quia est in eo virtus dormitiva, Cujus estnatura sensus assoupire.
But such replies belong to the realm of comedy, and it is hightime to replace the Kantian question, "How are synthetic judgmentsa PRIORI possible?" by another question, "Why is belief in suchjudgments necessary?"—in effect, it is high time that weshould understand that such judgments must be believed to be true,for the sake of the preservation of creatures like ourselves;though they still might naturally be false judgments! Or, moreplainly spoken, and roughly and readily—synthetic judgments apriori should not "be possible" at all; we have no right to them;in our mouths they are nothing but false judgments. Only, ofcourse, the belief in their truth is necessary, as plausible beliefand ocular evidence belonging to the perspective view of life. Andfinally, to call to mind the enormous influence which "Germanphilosophy"—I hope you understand its right to invertedcommas (goosefeet)?—has exercised throughout the whole ofEurope, there is no doubt that a certain VIRTUS DORMITIVA had ashare in it; thanks to German philosophy, it was a delight to thenoble idlers, the virtuous, the mystics, the artiste, thethree-fourths Christians, and the political obscurantists of allnations, to find an antidote to the still overwhelming sensualismwhich overflowed from the last century into this, inshort—"sensus assoupire."...
12. As regards materialistic atomism, it is one of thebest-refuted theories that have been advanced, and in Europe thereis now perhaps no one in the learned world so unscholarly as toattach serious signification to it, except for convenient everydayuse (as an abbreviation ofthe means of expression)—thankschiefly to the Pole Boscovich: he and the Pole Copernicus havehitherto been the greatest and most successful opponents of ocularevidence. For while Copernicus has persuaded us to believe,contrary to all the senses, that the earth does NOT stand fast,Boscovich has taught us to abjure the belief in the last thing that"stood fast" of the earth—the belief in "substance," in"matter," in the earth-residuum, and particle-atom: it is thegreatest triumph over the senses that has hitherto been gained onearth. One must, however, go still further, and also declare war,relentless war to the knife, against the "atomistic requirements"which still lead a dangerous after-life in places where no onesuspects them, like the more celebrated "metaphysicalrequirements": one must also above all give the finishing stroke tothat other and more portentous atomism which Christianity hastaught best and longest, the SOUL-ATOMISM. Let it be permitted todesignate by this expression the belief which regards the soul assomething indestructible, eternal, indivisible, as a monad, as anatomon: this belief ought to be expelled from science! Betweenourselves, it is not at all necessary to get rid of "the soul"thereby, and thus renounce one of the oldest and most veneratedhypotheses—as happens frequently to the clumsiness ofnaturalists, who can hardly touch on the soul without immediatelylosing it.But the way is open for new acceptations and refinementsof the soul-hypothesis; and such conceptions as "mortal soul," and"soul of subjective multiplicity," and "soul as social structure ofthe instincts and passions," want henceforth to have legitimaterights in science. In that the NEW psychologist is about to put anend to the superstitions which have hitherto flourished with almosttropical luxuriance around the idea of the soul, he is really, asit were, thrusting himself into a new desert and a newdistrust—it is possible that the older psychologists had amerrier and more comfortable time of it;eventually, however, hefinds that precisely thereby he is also condemned toINVENT—and, who knows? perhaps to DISCOVER the new.
13. Psychologists should bethink themselves before putting downthe instinct of self-preservation as the cardinal instinct of anorganic being. A living thing seeks above all to DISCHARGE itsstrength—life itself is WILL TO POWER; self-preservation isonly one of the indirect and most frequent RESULTS thereof. Inshort, here, as everywhere else, let us beware of SUPERFLUOUSteleological principles!—one of which is the instinct ofself-preservation (we owe it to Spinoza's inconsistency). It isthus, in effect, that method ordains, which must be essentiallyeconomy of principles.
14. It is perhaps just dawning on five or six minds that naturalphilosophy is only a world-exposition and world-arrangement(according to us, if I may say so!) and NOT a world-explanation;but in so far as it is based on belief in the senses, it isregarded as more, and for a long time to come must be regarded asmore—namely, as an explanation. It has eyes and fingers ofits own, it has ocular evidence and palpableness of its own: thisoperates fascinatingly, persuasively, and CONVINCINGLY upon an agewith fundamentally plebeian tastes—in fact, it followsinstinctively the canon of truth of eternal popular sensualism.What is clear, what is "explained"? Only that which can be seen andfelt—one must pursue every problem thus far. Obversely,however, the charm of the Platonic mode of thought, which was anARISTOCRATIC mode, consisted precisely in RESISTANCE to obvioussense-evidence—perhaps among men who enjoyed even strongerand more fastidious senses than our contemporaries, but who knewhow to find a higher triumph in remaining masters of them: and thisby means of pale, cold, grey conceptional networks which they threwover the motley whirl of the senses—the mob of the senses, asPlato said. In this overcoming of the world, and interpreting ofthe world in the manner of Plato, there was an ENJOYMENTdifferentfrom that which the physicists of today offer us—andlikewise the Darwinists and anti-teleologists among thephysiological workers, with their principle of the "smallestpossible effort," and the greatest possible blunder. "Where thereis nothing more to see or to grasp, there is also nothing more formen to do"—that is certainly an imperative different from thePlatonic one, but it may notwithstanding be the right imperativefor a hardy, laborious race of machinists and bridge-builders ofthe future, who have nothing but ROUGH work to perform.
15. To study physiology with a clear conscience, one must insiston the fact that the sense-organs are not phenomena in the sense ofthe idealistic philosophy; as such they certainly could not becauses! Sensualism, therefore, at least as regulative hypothesis,if not as heuristic principle. What? And others say even that theexternal world is the work of our organs? But then our body, as apart of this external world, would be the work of our organs! Butthen our organs themselves would be the work of our organs! Itseems to methat this is a complete REDUCTIO AD ABSURDUM, if theconception CAUSA SUI is something fundamentally absurd.Consequently, the external world is NOT the work of ourorgans—?
16. There are stillharmless self-observers who believe thatthere are "immediate certainties"; for instance, "I think," or asthe superstition of Schopenhauer puts it, "I will"; as thoughcognition here got hold of its object purely and simply as "thething in itself," without any falsification taking place either onthe part of the subject or the object. I would repeat it, however,a hundred times, that "immediate certainty," as well as "absoluteknowledge" and the "thing in itself," involve a CONTRADICTIO INADJECTO; we really ought to free ourselves from the misleadingsignificance of words! The people on their part may think thatcognition is knowing all about things, but the philosopher must sayto himself: "When I analyze the process that is expressed in thesentence, 'Ithink,' I find a whole series of daring assertions, theargumentative proof of which would be difficult, perhapsimpossible: for instance, that it isIwho think, that there mustnecessarily be something that thinks, that thinking is an activityand operation on the part of a being who is thought of as a cause,that there is an 'ego,' and finally, that it is already determinedwhat is to be designated by thinking—that I KNOW whatthinking is. For if I had not already decided within myself what itis, by what standard could I determine whether that which is justhappening is not perhaps 'willing' or 'feeling'? In short, theassertion 'I think,' assumes that I COMPARE my state at the presentmoment with other states of myself which I know, in order todetermine what it is; on account of this retrospective connectionwith further 'knowledge,' it has, at any rate, no immediatecertainty for me."—In place of the "immediate certainty" inwhich the people may believe in the special case, the philosopherthus findsa series of metaphysical questions presented to him,veritable conscience questions of the intellect, to wit: "Whencedid I get the notion of 'thinking'? Why do I believe in cause andeffect? What gives me the right to speak of an 'ego,' and even ofan 'ego' as cause, and finally of an 'ego' as cause of thought?" Hewho ventures to answer these metaphysical questions at once by anappeal to a sort of INTUITIVE perception, like the person who says,"I think, and know that this, at least, is true, actual,andcertain"—will encounter a smile and two notes ofinterrogation in a philosopher nowadays. "Sir," the philosopherwill perhaps give him to understand, "it is improbable that you arenot mistaken, but why should it be the truth?"
17. With regard to the superstitions of logicians, I shall nevertire of emphasizing a small, terse fact, which is unwillinglyrecognized by these credulous minds—namely, that a thoughtcomes when "it" wishes, and not when "I" wish; so that it is aPERVERSION of the facts of the case to say that the subject "I" isthe condition of the predicate "think." ONE thinks; but that this"one" is precisely the famous old "ego," is, to put it mildly, onlya supposition, an assertion, and assuredly not an "immediatecertainty." After all, one has even gone too far with this "onethinks"—even the "one" contains an INTERPRETATION of theprocess, and does not belong to the process itself. One infers hereaccording to the usual grammatical formula—"To think is anactivity; every activity requires anagency that is active;consequently"... It was pretty much on the same lines that theolder atomism sought, besides the operating "power," the materialparticle wherein it resides and out of which it operates—theatom. More rigorous minds, however, learntat last to getalongwithout this "earth-residuum," and perhaps some day we shallaccustom ourselves, even from the logician's point of view, to getalong without the little "one" (to which the worthy old "ego" hasrefined itself).
18. It is certainly notthe least charm of a theory that it isrefutable; it is precisely thereby that it attracts the more subtleminds. It seems that the hundred-times-refuted theory of the "freewill" owes its persistence to this charm alone; some one is alwaysappearing whofeels himself strong enough to refute it.
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