Human All-Too-Human, Part 1

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The Future of Science.—To him who works and seeks in her, Science gives much pleasure,—to him who learns her facts, very little. But as all important truths of science must gradually become commonplace and everyday matters, even this small amount of pleasure ceases, just as we have long ceased to take pleasure in learning the admirable multiplication table. Now if Science goes on giving less pleasure in herself, and always takes more pleasure in throwing suspicion on the consolations of metaphysics, religion and art, that greatest of all sources of pleasure, to which mankind owes almost its whole humanity, becomes impoverished. Therefore a higher culture must give man a double brain, two brain-chambers, so[Pg 233] to speak, one to feel science and the other to feel non-science, which can lie side by side, without confusion, divisible, exclusive; this is a necessity of health. In one part lies the source of strength, in the other lies the regulator; it must be heated with illusions, onesidednesses, passions; and the malicious and dangerous consequences of over-heating must be averted by the help of conscious Science. If this necessity of the higher culture is not satisfied, the further course of human development can almost certainly be foretold: the interest in what is true ceases as it guarantees less pleasure; illusion, error, and imagination reconquer step by step the ancient territory, because they are united to pleasure; the ruin of science: the relapse into barbarism is the next result; mankind must begin to weave its web afresh after having, like Penelope, destroyed it during the night. But who will assure us that it will always find the necessary strength for this?


The Pleasure in Discernment.—Why is discernment, that essence of the searcher and the philosopher, connected with pleasure? Firstly, and above all, because thereby we become conscious of our strength, for the same reason that gymnastic exercises, even without spectators, are enjoyable. Secondly, because in the course of knowledge we surpass older ideas and their representatives, and become, or believe ourselves to be, conquerors. Thirdly, because even a very[Pg 234] little new knowledge exalts us above every one, and makes us feel we are the only ones who know the subject aright. These are the three most important reasons of the pleasure, but there are many others, according to the nature of the discerner. A not inconsiderable index of such is given, where no one would look for it, in a passage of my parenetic work on Schopenhauer,[2] with the arrangement of which every experienced servant of knowledge may be satisfied, even though he might wish to dispense with the ironical touch that seems to pervade those pages. For if it be true that for the making of a scholar "a number of very human impulses and desires must be thrown together," that the scholar is indeed a very noble but not a pure metal, and "consists of a confused blending of very different impulses and attractions," the same thing may be said equally of the making and nature of the artist, the philosopher and the moral genius—and whatever glorified great names there may be in that list. Everything human deserves ironical consideration with respect to its origin,—therefore irony is so superfluous in the world.


Fidelity As a Proof of Validity.—It is a perfect sign of a sound theory if during forty years its originator does not mistrust it; but I[Pg 235] maintain that there has never yet been a philosopher who has not eventually deprecated the philosophy of his youth. Perhaps, however, he has not spoken publicly of this change of opinion, for reasons of ambition, or, what is more probable in noble natures, out of delicate consideration for his adherents.


The Increase of What Is Interesting.—In the course of higher education everything becomes interesting to man, he knows how to find the instructive side of a thing quickly and to put his finger on the place where it can fill up a gap in his ideas, or where it may verify a thought. Through this boredom disappears more and more, and so does excessive excitability of temperament. Finally he moves among men like a botanist among plants, and looks upon himself as a phenomenon, which only greatly excites his discerning instinct.


The Superstition of the Simultaneous.—Simultaneous things hold together, it is said. A relative dies far away, and at the same time we dream about him,—Consequently! But countless relatives die and we do not dream about them. It is like shipwrecked people who make vows; afterwards, in the temples, we do not see the votive tablets of those who perished. A man dies, an owl hoots, a clock stops, all at one hour of the night,—must there not be some connection? Such an[Pg 236] intimacy with nature as this supposition implies is flattering to mankind. This species of superstition is found again in a refined form in historians and delineators of culture, who usually have a kind of hydrophobic horror of all that senseless mixture, in which individual and national life is so rich.


Action and Not Knowledge Exercised by Science.—The value of strictly pursuing science for a time does not lie precisely in its results, for these, in proportion to the ocean of what is worth knowing, are but an infinitesimally small drop. But it gives an additional energy, decisiveness, and toughness of endurance; it teaches how to attain an aim suitably. In so far it is very valuable, with a view to all that is done later on, to have once been a scientific man.


The Youthful Charm of Science.—The search for truth still retains the charm of being in strong contrast to gray and now tiresome error; but this charm is gradually disappearing. It is true we still live in the youthful age of science and are accustomed to follow truth as a lovely girl; but how will it be when one day she becomes an elderly, ill-tempered looking woman? In almost all sciences the fundamental knowledge is either found in earliest times or is still being sought; what a different attraction this exerts[Pg 237] compared to that time when everything essential has been found and there only remains for the seeker a scanty gleaning (which sensation may be learnt in several historical disciplines).


The Statue of Humanity.—The genius of culture fares as did Cellini when his statue of Perseus was being cast; the molten mass threatened to run short, but it had to suffice, so he flung in his plates and dishes, and whatever else his hands fell upon. In the same way genius flings in errors, vices, hopes, ravings, and other things of baser as well as of nobler metal, for the statue of humanity must emerge and be finished; what does it matter if commoner material is used here and there?


A Male Culture.—The Greek culture of the classic age is a male culture. As far as women are concerned, Pericles expresses everything in the funeral speech: "They are best when they are as little spoken of as possible amongst men." The erotic relation of men to youths was the necessary and sole preparation, to a degree unattainable to our comprehension, of all manly education (pretty much as for a long time all higher education of women was only attainable through love and marriage). All idealism of the strength of the Greek nature threw itself into that relation, and it is probable that never since have young men been treated so attentively, so lovingly,[Pg 238] so entirely with a view to their welfare (virtus) as in the fifth and sixth centuries B.C.—according to the beautiful saying of Hlderlin: "denn liebend giebt der Sterbliche vom Besten."[3] The higher the light in which this relation was regarded, the lower sank intercourse with woman; nothing else was taken into consideration than the production of children and lust; there was no intellectual intercourse, not even real love-making. If it be further remembered that women were even excluded from contests and spectacles of every description, there only remain the religious cults as their sole higher occupation. For although in the tragedies Electra and Antigone were represented, this was only tolerated in art, but not liked in real life,—just as now we cannot endure anything pathetic in life but like it in art. The women had no other mission than to produce beautiful, strong bodies, in which the father's character lived on as unbrokenly as possible, and therewith to counteract the increasing nerve-tension of such a highly developed culture. This kept the Greek culture young for a relatively long time; for in the Greek mothers the Greek genius always returned to nature.

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