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Beyond Good and Evil

Preface
SUPPOSING that Truth is a woman--what then? Is there not ground for suspecting that
all philosophers, in so far as they have been dogmatists, have failed to understand
women--that the terrible seriousness and clumsy importunity with which they have
usually paid their addresses to Truth, have been unskilled and unseemly methods for
winning a woman? Certainly she has never allowed herself to be won; and at present
every kind of dogma stands with sad and discouraged mien--IF, indeed, it stands at all!
For there are scoffers who maintain that it has fallen, that all dogma lies on the ground--
nay more, that it is at its last gasp. But to speak seriously, there are good grounds for
hoping that all dogmatizing in philosophy, whatever solemn, whatever conclusive and
decided airs it has assumed, may have been only a noble puerilism and tyronism; and
probably the time is at hand when it will be once and again understood WHAT has
actually sufficed for the basis of such imposing and absolute philosophical edifices as the
dogmatists have hitherto reared: perhaps some popular superstition of immemorial time
(such as the soul-superstition, which, in the form of subject- and ego-superstition, has not
yet ceased doing mischief): perhaps some play upon words, a deception on the part of
grammar, or an audacious generalization of very restricted, very personal, very human--
all-too-human facts. The philosophy of the dogmatists, it is to be hoped, was only a
promise for thousands of years afterwards, as was astrology in still earlier times, in the
service of which probably more labour, gold, acuteness, and patience have been spent
than on any actual science hitherto: we owe to it, and to its "super- terrestrial" pretensions
in Asia and Egypt, the grand style of architecture. It seems that in order to inscribe
themselves upon the heart of humanity with everlasting claims, all great things have first
to wander about the earth as enormous and awe- inspiring caricatures: dogmatic
philosophy has been a caricature of this kind--for instance, the Vedanta doctrine in Asia,
and Platonism in Europe. Let us not be ungrateful to it, although it must certainly be
confessed that the worst, the most tiresome, and the most dangerous of errors hitherto has
been a dogmatist error--namely, Plato's invention of Pure Spirit and the Good in Itself.
But now when it has been surmounted, when Europe, rid of this nightmare, can again
draw breath freely and at least enjoy a healthier--sleep, we, WHOSE DUTY IS
WAKEFULNESS ITSELF, are the heirs of all the strength which the struggle against this
error has fostered. It amounted to the very inversion of truth, and the denial of the
PERSPECTIVE--the fundamental condition--of life, to speak of Spirit and the Good as
Plato spoke of them; indeed one might ask, as a physician: "How did such a malady
attack that finest product of antiquity, Plato? Had the wicked Socrates really corrupted
him? Was Socrates after all a corrupter of youths, and deserved his hemlock?" But the
struggle against Plato, or--to speak plainer, and for the "people"--the struggle against the
ecclesiastical oppression of millenniums of Christianity (FOR CHRISTIANITY IS
PLATONISM FOR THE "PEOPLE"), produced in Europe a magnificent tension of soul,
such as had not existed anywhere previously; with such a tensely strained bow one can
now aim at the furthest goals. As a matter of fact, the European feels this tension as a
state of distress, and twice attempts have been made in grand style to unbend the bow:
once by means of Jesuitism, and the second time by means of democratic enlightenment--
 
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