Beyond Good and Evil HTML version

Chapter III. The Religious Mood
45. The human soul and its limits, the range of man's inner experiences hitherto attained,
the heights, depths, and distances of these experiences, the entire history of the soul UP
TO THE PRESENT TIME, and its still unexhausted possibilities: this is the preordained
hunting-domain for a born psychologist and lover of a "big hunt". But how often must he
say despairingly to himself: "A single individual! alas, only a single individual! and this
great forest, this virgin forest!" So he would like to have some hundreds of hunting
assistants, and fine trained hounds, that he could send into the history of the human soul,
to drive HIS game together. In vain: again and again he experiences, profoundly and
bitterly, how difficult it is to find assistants and dogs for all the things that directly excite
his curiosity. The evil of sending scholars into new and dangerous hunting- domains,
where courage, sagacity, and subtlety in every sense are required, is that they are no
longer serviceable just when the "BIG hunt," and also the great danger commences,--it is
precisely then that they lose their keen eye and nose. In order, for instance, to divine and
determine what sort of history the problem of KNOWLEDGE AND CONSCIENCE has
hitherto had in the souls of homines religiosi, a person would perhaps himself have to
possess as profound, as bruised, as immense an experience as the intellectual conscience
of Pascal; and then he would still require that wide-spread heaven of clear, wicked
spirituality, which, from above, would be able to oversee, arrange, and effectively
formulize this mass of dangerous and painful experiences.--But who could do me this
service! And who would have time to wait for such servants!--they evidently appear too
rarely, they are so improbable at all times! Eventually one must do everything ONESELF
in order to know something; which means that one has MUCH to do!--But a curiosity
like mine is once for all the most agreeable of vices--pardon me! I mean to say that the
love of truth has its reward in heaven, and already upon earth.
46. Faith, such as early Christianity desired, and not infrequently achieved in the midst of
a skeptical and southernly free-spirited world, which had centuries of struggle between
philosophical schools behind it and in it, counting besides the education in tolerance
which the Imperium Romanum gave--this faith is NOT that sincere, austere slave-faith by
which perhaps a Luther or a Cromwell, or some other northern barbarian of the spirit
remained attached to his God and Christianity, it is much rather the faith of Pascal, which
resembles in a terrible manner a continuous suicide of reason--a tough, long-lived, worm-
like reason, which is not to be slain at once and with a single blow. The Christian faith
from the beginning, is sacrifice the sacrifice of all freedom, all pride, all self-confidence
of spirit, it is at the same time subjection, self-derision, and self-mutilation. There is
cruelty and religious Phoenicianism in this faith, which is adapted to a tender, many-
sided, and very fastidious conscience, it takes for granted that the subjection of the spirit
is indescribably PAINFUL, that all the past and all the habits of such a spirit resist the
absurdissimum, in the form of which "faith" comes to it. Modern men, with their
obtuseness as regards all Christian nomenclature, have no longer the sense for the terribly
superlative conception which was implied to an antique taste by the paradox of the
formula, "God on the Cross". Hitherto there had never and nowhere been such boldness
in inversion, nor anything at once so dreadful, questioning, and questionable as this