The Twilight of the Idols - The Antichrist

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Among Germans I am immediately understood when I say, that philosophy is ruined by the blood of theologians. The Protestant minister is the grand-father of German philosophy, Protestantism itself is the latter's peccatum originale. Definition of Protestantism: the partial paralysis of Christianity—and of reason.... One needs only to pronounce the words "Tbingen Seminary," in order to understand what German philosophy really is at bottom,[Pg 136] theology in disguise.... The Swabians are the best liars in Germany, they lie innocently.... Whence came all the rejoicing with which the appearance of Kant was greeted by the scholastic world of Germany, three-quarters of which consist of clergymen's and schoolmasters' sons? Whence came the German conviction, which finds an echo even now, that Kant inaugurated a change for the better? The theologian's instinct in the German scholar divined what had once again been made possible.... A back-staircase leading into the old ideal was discovered, the concept "true world," the concept morality as the essence of the world (—those two most vicious errors that have ever existed!), were, thanks to a subtle and wily scepticism, once again, if not demonstrable, at least no longer refutable.... Reason, the prerogative of reason, does not extend so far.... Out of reality they had made "appearance"; and an absolutely false world—that of being—had been declared to be reality. Kant's success is merely a theologian's success. Like Luther, and like Leibniz, Kant was one brake the more upon the already squeaky wheel of German uprightness.


One word more against Kant as a moralist. A virtue must be our invention, our most personal defence and need: in every other sense it is merely a danger. That which does not constitute a condition of our life, is merely harmful to it: to possess a virtue merely because one happens to respect the concept "virtue," as Kant would have us do, is pernicious. "Virtue," "Duty," "Goodness in itself,"[Pg 137] goodness stamped with the character of impersonality and universal validity—these things are mere mental hallucinations, in which decline the final devitalisation of life and Knigsbergian Chinadom find expression. The most fundamental laws of preservation and growth, demand precisely the reverse, namely:—that each should discover his own virtue, his own Categorical Imperative. A nation goes to the dogs when it confounds its concept of duty with the general concept of duty. Nothing is more profoundly, more thoroughly pernicious, than every impersonal feeling of duty, than every sacrifice to the Moloch of abstraction.—Fancy no one's having thought Kant's Categorical Imperative dangerous to life! ... The instinct of the theologist alone took it under its wing!—An action stimulated by the instinct of life, is proved to be a proper action by the happiness that accompanies it: and that nihilist with the bowels of a Christian dogmatist regarded happiness as an objection .... What is there that destroys a man more speedily than to work, think, feel, as an automaton of "duty," without internal promptings, without a profound personal predilection, without joy? This is the recipe par excellence of decadence and even of idiocy.... Kant became an idiot—And he was the contemporary of Goethe! This fatal spider was regarded as the German philosopher,—is still regarded as such!... I refrain from saying what I think of the Germans.... Did Kant not see in the French Revolution the transition of the State from the inorganic to the organic form? Did he not ask himself whether there was a single event on record which could be explained[Pg 138] otherwise than as a moral faculty of mankind; so that by means of it, "mankind's tendency towards good," might be proved once and for all? Kant's reply: "that is the Revolution." Instinct at fault in anything and everything, hostility to nature as an instinct, German decadence made into philosophy—that is Kant!


Except for a few sceptics, the respectable type in the history of philosophy, the rest do not know the very first pre-requisite of intellectual uprightness. They all behave like females, do these great enthusiasts and animal prodigies,—they regard "beautiful feelings" themselves as arguments, the "heaving breast" as the bellows of divinity, and conviction as the criterion of truth. In the end, even Kant, with "Teutonic" innocence, tried to dress this lack of intellectual conscience up in a scientific garb by means of the concept "practical reason." He deliberately invented a kind of reason which at times would allow one to dispense with reason, that is to say when "morality," when the sublime command "thou shalt," makes itself heard. When one remembers that in almost all nations the philosopher is only a further development of the priestly type, this heirloom of priesthood, this fraud towards one's self, no longer surprises one. When a man has a holy life-task, as for instance to improve, save, or deliver mankind, when a man bears God in his breast, and is the mouthpiece of imperatives from another world,—with such a mission he stands beyond the pale of all merely reasonable valuations. He is even sanctified by such a taste,[Pg 139] and is already the type of a higher order! What does a priest care about science! He stands too high for that!—And until now the priest has ruled!—He it was who determined the concept "true and false."


Do not let us undervalue the fact that we ourselves, we free spirits, are already a "transvaluation of all values," an incarnate declaration of war against all the old concepts "true" and "untrue" and of a triumph over them. The most valuable standpoints are always the last to be found: but the most valuable standpoints are the methods. AH the methods and the first principles of our modern scientific procedure, had for years to encounter the profoundest contempt: association with them meant exclusion from the society of decent people—one was regarded as an "enemy of God," as a scoffer at truth and as "one possessed." With one's scientific nature, one belonged to the Chandala. We have had the whole feeling of mankind against us; hitherto their notion of that which ought to be truth, of that which ought to serve the purpose of truth: every "thou shalt," has been directed against us.... Our objects, our practices, our calm, cautious distrustful manner—everything about us seemed to them absolutely despicable and beneath contempt After all, it might be asked with some justice, whether the thing which kept mankind blindfold so long, were not an sthetic taste: what they demanded of truth was a picturesque effect, and from the man of science what they expected was that he should make a forcible appeal to their[Pg 140] senses. It was our modesty which ran counter to their taste so long ... And oh! how well they guessed this, did these divine turkey-cocks!—


We have altered our standpoint. In every respect we have become more modest We no longer derive man from the "spirit," and from the "godhead"; we have thrust him back among the beasts. We regard him as the strongest animal, because he is the craftiest: one of the results thereof is his intellectuality. On the other hand we guard against the vain pretension, which even here would fain assert itself: that man is the great arrire pense of organic evolution! He is by no means the crown of creation, beside him, every other creature stands at the same stage of perfection.... And even in asserting this we go a little too far; for, relatively speaking, man is the most botched and diseased of animals, and he has wandered furthest from his instincts. Be all this as it may, he is certainly the most interesting! As regards animals, Descartes was the first, with really admirable daring, to venture the thought that the beast was machina, and the whole of our physiology is endeavouring to prove this proposition. Moreover, logically we do not set man apart, as Descartes did: the extent to which man is understood to-day goes only so far as he has been understood mechanistically. Formerly man was given "free will," as his dowry from a higher sphere; nowadays we have robbed him even of will, in view of the fact that no such faculty is any longer known. The only purpose served by the old word[Pg 141] "will," is to designate a result, a sort of individual reaction which necessarily follows upon a host of partly discordant and partly harmonious stimuli:—the will no longer "effects" or "moves" anything.... Formerly people thought that man's consciousness, his "spirit," was a proof of his lofty origin, of his divinity. With the idea of perfecting man, he was conjured to draw his senses inside himself, after the manner of the tortoise, to cut off all relations with terrestrial things, and to divest himself of his mortal shell. Then the most important thing about him, the "pure spirit," would remain over. Even concerning these things we have improved our standpoint Consciousness, "spirit," now seems to us rather a symptom of relative imperfection in the organism, as an experiment, a groping, a misapprehension, an affliction which absorbs an unnecessary quantity of nervous energy. We deny that anything can be done perfectly so long as it is done consciously. "Pure spirit" is a piece of "pure stupidity": if we discount the nervous system, the senses and the "mortal shell," we have miscalculated—that it is all!...

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