Beyond Good and Evil HTML version

Chapter VII. Our Virtues
214. OUR Virtues?--It is probable that we, too, have still our virtues, although naturally
they are not those sincere and massive virtues on account of which we hold our
grandfathers in esteem and also at a little distance from us. We Europeans of the day after
tomorrow, we firstlings of the twentieth century--with all our dangerous curiosity, our
multifariousness and art of disguising, our mellow and seemingly sweetened cruelty in
sense and spirit--we shall presumably, IF we must have virtues, have those only which
have come to agreement with our most secret and heartfelt inclinations, with our most
ardent requirements: well, then, let us look for them in our labyrinths!--where, as we
know, so many things lose themselves, so many things get quite lost! And is there
anything finer than to SEARCH for one's own virtues? Is it not almost to BELIEVE in
one's own virtues? But this "believing in one's own virtues"--is it not practically the same
as what was formerly called one's "good conscience," that long, respectable pigtail of an
idea, which our grandfathers used to hang behind their heads, and often enough also
behind their understandings? It seems, therefore, that however little we may imagine
ourselves to be old-fashioned and grandfatherly respectable in other respects, in one thing
we are nevertheless the worthy grandchildren of our grandfathers, we last Europeans with
good consciences: we also still wear their pigtail.--Ah! if you only knew how soon, so
very soon--it will be different!
215. As in the stellar firmament there are sometimes two suns which determine the path
of one planet, and in certain cases suns of different colours shine around a single planet,
now with red light, now with green, and then simultaneously illumine and flood it with
motley colours: so we modern men, owing to the complicated mechanism of our
"firmament," are determined by DIFFERENT moralities; our actions shine alternately in
different colours, and are seldom unequivocal--and there are often cases, also, in which
our actions are MOTLEY-COLOURED.
216. To love one's enemies? I think that has been well learnt: it takes place thousands of
times at present on a large and small scale; indeed, at times the higher and sublimer thing
takes place:--we learn to DESPISE when we love, and precisely when we love best; all of
it, however, unconsciously, without noise, without ostentation, with the shame and
secrecy of goodness, which forbids the utterance of the pompous word and the formula of
virtue. Morality as attitude--is opposed to our taste nowadays. This is ALSO an advance,
as it was an advance in our fathers that religion as an attitude finally became opposed to
their taste, including the enmity and Voltairean bitterness against religion (and all that
formerly belonged to freethinker- pantomime). It is the music in our conscience, the
dance in our spirit, to which Puritan litanies, moral sermons, and goody- goodness won't
217. Let us be careful in dealing with those who attach great importance to being credited
with moral tact and subtlety in moral discernment! They never forgive us if they have
once made a mistake BEFORE us (or even with REGARD to us)--they inevitably