Beyond Good and Evil by Friedrich Nietzsche - HTML preview

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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- which, with the aid of liberty of the press and newspaper-reading, might, in fact, bring it about that the spirit would not so easily find itself in "distress"! (The Germans invented gunpowder--all  credit  to  them!  but  they  again   made   things   square--they  invented printing.) But we, who are neither Jesuits, nor democrats, nor even sufficiently Germans, we GOOD EUROPEANS, and free, VERY free spirits--we have it still, all the distress of spirit  and  all  the  tension  of  its  bow!  And  perhaps  also  the  arrow,  the  duty,  and,  who knows? THE GOAL TO AIM AT. . . .

Sils Maria Upper Engadine, JUNE, 1885.