On the Genealogy of Morals
A Polemical Tract
[This document, which has been prepared by Ian Johnston of Malaspina University-College, Nanaimo, BC, is in the public domain and may be used by anyone, in whole or in part, without permission and without charge, provided the source is acknowledged. Editorial comments and translations in square brackets and italics are by Ian Johnston; comments in normal brackets are from Nietzsche's text. For comments, suggestions, corrections, and so on, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org]
[Table of Contents for Genealogy of Morals]
What Do Ascetic Ideals Mean?
Carefree, mocking, violent—that what Wisdom wants us to be. She is a woman. She always loves a man of war. Thus Spoke Zarathustra
What do ascetic ideals mean?—Among artists they mean nothing or too many different things; among philosophers and scholars they mean something like having a nose or an instinct for the most auspicious conditions of a higher spirituality; among women, at best, an additional seductive charm, a little morbidezza [small morbidity] on beautiful flesh, the angelic quality of a nice-looking, plump animal; among physiologically impaired and peevish people (that is, among the majority of mortals) they are an attempt to imagine themselves as "too good" for this world, a holy form of orgiastic excess, their chief tool in the fight with their enduring pain and boredom; among the clergy they are the foundation of their priestly faith, their best instrument of power, and also the most important of all permits for their power; finally among the saints they are a pretext for hibernation, their novissima gloriae cupido[most recent desire for glory], their repose in nothingness ("God"), their form of insanity. However, the fact that generally the ascetic ideal has meant so much to human beings is an expression of the basic fact of the human will, its horror vacui [horror of a vacuum]. It requires a goal—and it will sooner will nothingness than not will. Do you understand me? . . . Have you understood me? . . . "Not in the slightest, my dear sir!" All right, let's start from the beginning.
What do ascetic ideals mean? Or, to take a single example which I have been asked to consider often enough, what does it mean when, for instance, an artist, like Richard Wagner in his later years, pays homage to chastity? In a certain sense, of course, he always did this, but in an ascetic sense he did it for the first time at the end. What does this change in "sense" mean, this radical change in the sense? For that's what it was—with it Wagner leapt right over into his opposite. What does it mean when an artist leaps over into his opposite? . . .
If we are willing to pause momentarily at this question, we immediately encounter the memory of perhaps the best, strongest, most cheerful, and bravest period in Wagner's life—the time when he was innerly and deeply preoccupied with the idea of Luther's marriage. Who knows the circumstances which saw to it that today, instead of this wedding music, we have DieMeistersinger [Wagner's opera The Master Singers] And how much of the former work may perhaps echo in the latter? But there is no doubt that this "Luther's Wedding" would have involved the praise of chastity. Of course, it would also have contained a praise of sensuality—and that, it strikes me, would have been quite appropriate, very "Wagnerian."
For between chastity and sensuality there is no essential opposition. Every good marriage, every genuine affair of the heart transcends them both. In my view, Wagner would have done well if he had enabled his Germans to take this pleasant fact to heart once more, with the help of a lovely and brave comedy about Luther, for among the Germans there are always a lot of people who slander sensuality, and Luther's value is probably nowhere greater than precisely here: he had the courage of his own sensuality (at that time people called it, delicately enough, "evangelical freedom" . . .). But even if it were the case that there really were an antithesis between chastity and sensuousness, fortunately there is no need for it to be a tragic antithesis. At least this should be the case for all successful and cheerful mortals, who are far from considering their unstable equilibrium between "animal and angel" as, in itself, an argument against existence. The finest and brightest, like Goethe, like Hafiz, even saw that that made life more attractive. It's precisely "contradictions" like that which make life more enticing. . . .
On the other hand, it's easy enough to understand that once pigs who have had bad luck are persuaded to worship chastity—and there are such swine!—they see in chastity only their opposite, the opposite to unlucky pigs, and will worship that—and with such zealous tragic grunting! We can imagine it—that embarrassing and unnecessary antithesis, which Richard Wagner at the end of his life unquestioningly still wanted to set to music and produce on stage. What on earth for? That's a fair question. For why should he be concerned about pigs? Why should we?
In this matter there is, of course, another question we cannot circumvent: why Wagner was concerned about that manly (and also so unmanly) "simpleton from the country," that poor devil and nature boy Parsifal, whom he finally turned into a Catholic in such an embarrassing way. What? Was this Parsifal really meant to be taken seriously? For we could be tempted to assume the reverse, even to desire it—that the Wagnerian Parsifal was intended to be cheerful, as it were, a concluding piece and satyr drama, with which the tragic writer Wagner wanted to take his farewell, in an respectful manner worthy of him, from us, from himself, and, above all, from tragedy, that is, with an excess of the highest and most high-spirited parody of tragedy itself, of the entire dreadful earthy seriousness and earthy wailing of his earlier works, of the crudest form in the perversity of the ascetic ideal, conquered at last.
That would have been, as mentioned, worthy of a great tragedian, who, like every artist, first attains the final peak of greatness when he knows how to see himself and his art as beneath him, when knows how to laugh at himself. Is Parsifal Wagner's secret superior laughter at himself, the triumph of his achieving the ultimate and highest artistic freedom, his movement beyond art? As I've said, we might wish that. For what would Parsifal be if intended seriously? Do we need to see in it (as it was put to me) "the epitome of an insane hatred for knowledge, spirit, and sensuality"? A curse on the senses and the spirit in one breath of hatred? An apostasy and going back to sickly Christian and obscurantist ideals? And finally even a denial of the self, a cancellation of the self, from an artist who up to that point had directed all the power of his will to attain the reverse, namely, the highest spiritualization and sensuousness in his art? And not only in his art, but also in his life. We should remember how Wagner once so enthusiastically followed in the footsteps of the philosopher Feuerbach. Feuerbach's phrase about "healthy sensuality"—in Wagner's thirties and forties, as with many Germans (they called themselves the "young Germans"), that phrase rang out like a word of redemption.
Did Wagner finally learn something different? It appears, at least, that he finally wanted to teach something different. . . And not only on the stage with the Parsifal trombones. In the cloudy writings of his last years—as constricted as they are baffling—there are a hundred places which betray a secret wish and will, a despondent, uncertain, unacknowledged will to preach nothing but going back, conversion, denial, Christianity, medievalism, and to say to his followers "There's nothing here! Seek salvation somewhere else!" In one place he even calls out to the "Blood of the Redeemer" . . .
In a case like Wagner's, which is in many ways an embarrassing one, although the example is typical, my opinion is that it's certainly best to separate an artist far enough from his work, so that one does not take him with the same seriousness as one does his work. In the final analysis, he is only the precondition for his work, its maternal womb, the soil or, in some cases, the dung and manure out of which it grows—and thus, in most cases, something that we must forget about, if we want to enjoy the work itself. Our understanding of the origin of a work involves physiologists and vivisectionists of the spirit—never the aesthetic men, the artists, never!
In a deep, fundamental way (something terrifying for the spirit) the poet and composer of Parsifal could not escape living inside and descending into the conflicts of the medieval soul, a hostile distance from all spiritual loftiness, rigor, and discipline, a form of intellectual perversity (if you will forgive the expression), any more than a pregnant woman can escape the repellent and strange aspects of pregnancy—something which, as I have said, we must forget if we want to enjoy the child.
We should be on our guard against that confusion which arises from psychological contiguity (to use an English word), a confusion in which even an artist can too easily get caught up, as if he himself were what he can present, imagine, and express. In fact, the case is this: if that's what he was, he simply would not present, imagine, or express it. Homer would not have written a poem about Achilles or Goethe a poem about Faust if Homer had been Achilles or Goethe had been Faust. A complete and entire artist is forever separated from the "real," what actually is. On the other hand, one can comprehend how he can sometimes grow weary of this eternal "unreality" and falseness of his innermost existence to the point of desperation and how he then makes an attempt for once to reach over into what is forbidden precisely to him, into reality, in an attempt to be real. What success does he have? We can guess. . .
That is the typical mere wishfulness of the artist—the same mere wishfulness which fell over Wagner once he'd grown old and for which he had to pay such a high and fatal price (because of it he lost a valuable number of his friends). Finally, however, and quite apart from this mere wishfulness of his, who would not desire that Wagner—for his own sake—had taken his leave of us and his art in a different manner, not with a Parsifal, but more victoriously, more self-confidently, more like Wagner—less deceptive, less ambiguous about all his intentions, less like Schopenhauer, less nihilistic . . .
So what, then, do ascetic ideals mean? In the case of an artist, we know the answer immediately—nothing at all! . . . Or they mean so many things, that they amount to nothing at all! . . . So let's eliminate the artists right away. They do not stand independent of the world and against the world long enough for their evaluations and the changes in those evaluations to merit our interest for their own sake! They have in all ages been valets to a morality or philosophy or religion, quite apart from the fact that, often enough, they unfortunately have been the all-too-adaptable courtiers of groups of their followers and, above all, their patrons and fine-nosed flatterers of old or even newly arriving powers. At the very least, they always need a means of protection, a support, an already established authority. The artist never stands by himself—standing alone contravenes his deepest instincts.
Hence, for example, Richard Wagner took the philosopher Schopenhauer (once his time had come) as his point man, his protection. Who could have even imagined that he would have had the courage for an ascetic ideal without the support which Schopenhauer's philosophy offered, without the authority of Schopenhauer, which had become predominant in Europe in the 1860's? (And that's not even considering whether in the new Germany it would have been at all possible to be an artist without the milk of a pious, imperially pious way of thinking).
And so with this we come to the more serious question: what does it mean when a real philosopher pays homage to the ascetic ideal, a truly independent spirit like Schopenhauer, a man and a knight with an iron gaze, who was courageous enough to be himself, who knew how to stand alone and did not first wait for a point man and higher signs. Here let us consider right away the remarkable and for all kinds of people fascinating position of Schopenhauer on art, for that was apparently the reason Richard Wagner first moved over to Schopenhauer (persuaded to do that, as we know, by the poet Herwegh).
That shift was so great that it opened up a complete theoretical contrast between his earlier and his later aesthetic beliefs, between, for example, the earlier views expressed in "Opera and Drama" and the later views in the writings which he published from 1870 on. In particular, what is perhaps most surprising is that from this point on Wagner ruthlessly altered his judgment of the value and place of music itself. Why should it concern him that earlier he had used music as a means, a medium, a "woman," something which simply required a purpose, a man, in order to flourish—that is, drama! But suddenly he realized that with Schopenhauer's theory and innovation he could do more in majorem musicae gloriam [for the greater glory of music]—that is, through the sovereignty of music, as Schopenhauer had understood it: music set apart from all other arts, the inherently independent art, and not, like the other arts, offering copies of phenomena, but rather the voice of the will itself speaking out directly from the "abyss" as its most authentic, most primordial, most original revelation. With this extraordinary increase in the value of music, as this seemed to grow out of Schopenhauer's philosophy, the musician himself suddenly grew in value to an unheard-of extent: from now on he would be an oracle, a priest, even more than a priest, a kind of mouthpiece of the "essence" of things, a telephone from the world beyond us—in future he didn't speak only of music, this ventriloquist of God; he talked metaphysics. Is it any wonder finally one day he spoke about ascetic ideals? . . .
Schopenhauer used Kant's formulation of the aesthetic problem, although he certainly did not examine it with Kantian eyes. Kant thought he had honoured art when among the predicates of the Beautiful he gave priority to and set in the foreground those which constitute the honour of knowledge—impersonality and universal validity. This is not the place to explore whether or not this is for the most part a false idea. The only thing I wish to stress is that Kant, like all philosophers, instead of taking aim at the aesthetic problem from the experiences of the artist (the creator), thought about art and the Beautiful only from the point of view of the "looker on" and therefore without noticing it brought the "spectator" himself into the concept "beautiful." If only these philosophers of beauty were at least more knowledgeable about this "spectator"—that is, as a significant personal fact and experience, as a wealth of very particular, strong experiences, desires, surprises, and delight in the realm of the beautiful! But I fear the opposite has always been the case. And so from the very start we get from them definitions like that famous definition which Kant gives for the Beautiful, in which the lack of a finer sensitivity sits in the shape of a thick worm of fundamental error. "The Beautiful," Kant said, "is what pleases in a disinterested way." In a disinterested way! Let's compare this definition with that other one formulated by a true "spectator" and artist—Stendhal, who once called the Beautiful a promesse de bonheur [a promise of happiness]. Here the disinterestedness [désintéressement] which Kant made the single element in the aesthetic state is clearly rejected and deleted. Who's right, Kant or Stendhal?
Naturally if our aestheticians never get tired of weighing the issue in Kant's favour, claiming that under the magic spell of beauty people can look even at naked female statues "without interest," we can laugh a little at their expense. In relation to this delicate matter, the experiences of artists are "interesting," and Pygmalion was certainly not necessarily an "un-aesthetic" man. Let's think all the better of the innocence of our aestheticians, which is reflected in such arguments. For example, let's count it to Kant's honour that he knew how to lecture on the characteristic properties of the sense of touch with the naïveté of a country parson.
This point brings us back to Schopenhauer, who stood measurably closer to the arts than Kant but who nonetheless did not get away from the spell of the Kantian definition. How did that happen? The circumstance is sufficiently odd: he interpreted the word "disinterested" in the most personal manner from a single experience which must have been something routine with him. There are few things Schopenhauer talks about with as much confidence as he does about the effect of aesthetic contemplation. In connection with that, he states that it counteracts sexual "interest"—and thus acts like lupulin or camphor. He never got tired of extolling this emancipation from the "will" as the great advantage and use of the aesthetic state. Indeed, we could be tempted to ask whether his basic conception of "Will and idea," the notion that there could be a redemption from the "will" only through "representation," might have taken its origin from his universalizing his sexual experience. (With all questions concerning Schopenhauer's philosophy, incidentally, we should never fail to consider that it is the conception of a twenty-six-year-old young man, so that it involves not merely the specific details of Schopenhauer but also the specific details of that time of life).
If, for example, we listen to one of the most expressive passages from the countless ones he wrote to honour the aesthetic stance (World and Will and Idea, I, 231), we hear its tone, the suffering, the happiness, the gratitude uttered in words like these:
That is the painless state which Epicurus valued as the highest good and as the condition of the gods. For that moment, we are relieved of the contemptible drive of the will. We celebrate a holiday [den Sabbat] from the penal servitude to the will. The wheel of Ixion stands motionless.
What vehemence there is in these words! What a picture of torment and long weariness! What an almost pathological contrast between "that moment" and the usual "wheel of Ixion," the "penal servitude to the will," the "contemptible drive of the will"! But if we assumed that Schopenhauer was right a hundred times about himself, what would that provide by way of insight into the essence of the Beautiful? Schopenhauer wrote about one effect of the Beautiful—the way it calms the will. But is there only one regular effect? Stendhal, as mentioned, a no less sensual person, but with a natural constitution much happier than Schopenhauer's, emphasized another effect of the Beautiful: "the Beautiful promises happiness." To him the fact of the matter seemed to be that the will ("interest") was aroused by the Beautiful.
And could we not finally object about Schopenhauer himself that he was very wrong to think of himself as a Kantian in this matter, that he had completely failed to understand Kant's definition of the Beautiful in a Kantian manner, that even he found the Beautiful pleasing out of a certain "interest," even out of the strongest and most personal interest of all, that of a torture victim who escapes from his torture? . . . And to come back to that first question, "What does it mean when a philosopher renders homage to the ascetic ideal," we get here at least our first hint: he wants to escape his own torture
Let's be careful not to create gloomy images out of that word "torture." In this case there remains enough to draw a different conclusion, to offset the word—there even remains something to laugh about. For let's not underestimate the fact that Schopenhauer, who in fact treated sexuality as a personal enemy (including its instrument, woman, this "instrumentum diaboli" [tool of the devil]), needed enemies in order to maintain his good spirits, that he loved grim, caustic, black-green words, that he got angry for the sake of getting passionately angry, that he would have become ill, would have become a pessimist (and he wasn't a pessimist, no matter how much he wanted to be one) without his enemies, without Hegel, women, sensuousness, and the whole will for existence, for continued life. Had that been the case, Schopenhauer would not have continued—on that we can wager. He would have run off. But his enemies held him securely; his enemies always seduced him back to existence. Like the ancient cynics, his anger was his refreshment, his relaxation, payment, his remedy for disgust, his happiness. So much with respect to the most personal features in Schopenhauer.
On the other hand, with him there is still something typical—and here we finally come up against our problem once more. As long as there have been philosophers on earth and wherever there have been philosophers (from India to England, to name two opposite poles of talent in philosophy) there unquestionably have existed a genuine philosophical irritability with and rancour against sensuousness. Schopenhauer is only the most eloquent eruption of these and, if you have an ear for it, the most captivating and delightful. In addition, there exist a real philosophical bias and affection favouring the whole ascetic ideal. No one should fool himself about that. As mentioned, both belong to the philosophical type: if both are missing in a philosopher then he is always only a so-called philosopher—that we know for certain.
What does that mean? For we must first interpret this, something which stands there inherently and eternally stupid, like every "thing in itself." Every animal, including also la bête philosophe [the philosophical beast] instinctively strives for the optimal beneficial conditions in which it can let out all its power and attain the strongest feeling of its strength. Every animal in the same instinctual way and with a refined sense of smell that "is loftier than all reason" dislikes any kind of trouble maker or barrier which lies or which could lie in its way to these optimal conditions (I'm not speaking about its path to "happiness" but about its way to power, to action, to its most powerful deeds, and, in most cases, really about its way to unhappiness). Thus, the philosopher dislikes marriage as well as what might persuade him into it—marriage is a barrier and a disaster along his route to the optimal. What great philosopher up to now has been married? Heraclitus, Plato, Descartes, Spinoza, Leitniz, Kant, Schopenhauer—none of these got married. What's more, we cannot even imagine them married. A married philosopher belongs in a comedy, that's my principle. And Socrates, the exception, the malicious Socrates, it appears, got married ironically to demonstrate this very principle.
Every philosopher would speak as once Buddha spoke when someone told him of the birth his son, "Rahula has been born to me. A shackle has been forged for me." (Rahula here means "a little demon"). To every "free spirit" there must come a reflective hour, provided that previously he has had a one without thought, of the sort that came then to Buddha—"Life in a house," he thought to himself, "is narrow and confined, a polluted place. Freedom consists of abandoning houses;" because he thought this way, he left the house.
Ascetic ideals indicate so many bridges to independence that a philosopher cannot, without an inner rejoicing and applause, listen to the history of all those decisive people who one day said no to all lack of freedom and went off to some desert or other, even given the fact that such people were strong donkeys and entirely different from a powerful spirit.
So what, then, does the ascetic ideal mean as far as a philosopher is concerned? My answer is—you will have guessed it long ago—the philosopher smiles when he sees an optimal set of conditions for the loftiest and boldest spirituality. In so doing, he does not deny "existence"; rather that's how he affirms his existence and only his existence, and does this perhaps to such a degree that he stays close to the wicked desire perat mundus, fiat philosphia, fiat phiosophus, fiam! [let the world perish, but let philosophy exist, let the philosopher exist, let me exist]
You see that these philosophers are not unprejudiced witnesses to and judges of the value of ascetic ideals! They think about themselves—what concern to them is "the saint"! In this matter they think about what is most immediately indispensable to them: freedom from compulsion, disturbance, fuss, business, duties, worries—a bright light in the head, the dance, the leap and flight of ideas; a good air—thin, clear, free, dry—like the air at high altitudes, with which everything in animal being grows more spiritual and acquires wings; calm in all basement areas; all dogs nicely tied up in chains; no hostile barking or shaggy rancour; no gnawing worm of wounded ambition; with modest and humble inner organs busy as windmills but at a distance; heart strange, distant, looking to the future, posthumous—all in all, so far as the ascetic ideal is concerned, they think of the cheerful asceticism of some deified and independent animal, which wanders above life rather than resting in it.
We know what the three great catchphrases of the ascetic idea are: poverty, humility, and chastity. If we now look closely at the lives of all great, prolific, inventive spirits we'll always rediscover all three there to a certain degree. Not at all (this is self-evident) as if it were something to do with their "virtues"—what does this kind of man have to do with creating virtues?—but as the most appropriate and most natural conditions of their best existence, their most beautiful fecundity. It is indeed entirely possible that their dominating spirituality at first had to set aside an unbridled pride or the reins of a wanton sensuality or that they perhaps had difficulty enough maintaining their will for the "desert" against an inclination for luxury, for something very exquisite, as well as a lavish liberality of heart and hand. But their spirituality did it, precisely because it was the dominating instinct, which achieves its own demands in relation to all the other instincts and continues to do so. If it did not, then it would no longer dominate. Hence, this has nothing to do with "virtue."
Besides, the desert of which I just spoke, into which the strong, independent spirits withdraw and isolate themselves—oh, how different it seems from the desert educated people dream about. For in some circumstances these educated people are themselves this desert. And certainly no actor of the spirit could simply endure it—for them it is not nearly romantic enough or Syrian, not nearly enough of a theatrical desert! It's true there's no lack of camels there—but that's the only similarity between them. Perhaps a voluntary obscurity, a detour away from one's self, a timidity about noise, admiration, newspapers, influence; a small official position, a daily routine, something which hides more than it bring to light, contact now and then with harmless, cheerful wildlife and poultry whose sight is relaxing, a mountain for company, not a dead one but one with eyes (that means with lakes); in some circumstances even a room in a full, nondescript inn, where one is sure to be confused for someone else and can talk to anyone with impunity—that's what a desert is here. Oh, it's lonely enough, believe me! When Heraclitus withdrew into the courtyard and colonnades of the immense temple of Artemis, that was a worthier "desert," I admit. Why do we lack such temples? (Perhaps we don't lack them. I've just remembered my most beautiful room for study, the Piazza San Marco, in the spring, naturally, as well as in the morning, between ten and twelve o'clock).
But what Heraclitus was getting away from is still the same thing we go out of our way to escape: the noise and the democratic chatter of the Ephesians, their politics, their news about the "empire" (you understand I mean the Persians), their daily market junk—for we philosophers need peace and quiet from one thing above all—from anything to do with "today." We honour what is still, cold, noble, distant, past, in general everything at the sight of which the soul does not have to defend itself or tie itself up, something a person can speak to without having to speak loudly. Let us hear only the sound which a spirit makes when it speaks. Every spirit has its own sound and loves its own sound.
The man over there, for example, must be a real agitator (I mean a hollow head, a hollow pot [Hohlkopf, Hohltopf])—no matter what goes into him, it all comes back out of him dull and thick, weighed down with the echo from a huge emptiness. That man over there rarely speaks in anything other than a hoarse voice. Has he perhaps imagined himself hoarse? That might be possible—ask the physiologists—but whoever thinks in words thinks as a speaker and not as a thinker (it reveals that fundamentally he doesn't think of things or think factually, but only in relation to things, that he really is thinking of himself and his listeners). A third man speaks with an insistent familiarity—he steps in too close to our bodies, he breathes over us—instinctively we shut our mouths, even though he is speaking to us through a book. The sound of his style tells us why we do that—that he has no time, that he has little faith in himself, that he'll not be speaking any more today or ever. But a spirit which is sure of itself, speaks quietly. He's looking for seclusion. He lets people wait for him.
We can recognize a philosopher by the following: he walks away from three glittering and garish things—fame, princes, and women. That doesn't mean that they might not come to him. He shrinks from light which is too bright. Hence he shies away from his time and its "day." In that he's like a shadow: the lower the sun sinks, the bigger he becomes. So far as his humility is concerned, he endures a certain dependence and obscurity, as he endures the darkness. More than that, he fears being disturbed by lightning and recoils from the unprotected and totally isolated and abandoned tree on which any bad weather can discharge its mood or any mood discharge its bad weather. His "maternal" instinct, the secret love for what is growing in him, directs him to places where his need to think of himself is removed, in the same sense that the maternal instinct in women has up to now generally kept her in a dependent situation.
Ultimately they demand little enough, these philosophers. Their motto is "Whoever owns things is owned"—not, as I must say again and again, from virtue, from an admirable desire for modest living and simplicity, but because their highest master demands that of them, demands astutely and unrelentingly. He cares for only one thing and for that gathers up and holds everything—time, power, love, and interest. This sort of man doesn't like to be disturbed by hostile things or by friendships, and he easily forgets or scoffs. To him martyrdom seems something in bad taste—"to suffer for the truth" he leaves to the ambitious and the stage heroes of the spirit and anyone else who has time enough for it (they themselves—the philosophers—have to do something for the truth). They use big words sparingly. It's said that they resist using even the word "truth"—it sounds boastful . . . Finally, as far as "chastity" concerns philosophers, this sort of spirit apparently keeps its fertility in something other than children; perhaps he keeps the continuity of his name elsewhere, its small immortality (among philosophers in ancient India people spoke with more presumption, "What's the point of offspring to the man whose soul is the world?"). There's no sense of chastity there out of some ascetic scruple or other or hatred of the senses—just as it has little to do with chastity when an athlete or jockey abstains from women. It's more a matter of their dominating instinct, at least during its great pregnant periods.
Every artist knows how damaging the effects of sexual intercourse are to states of great spiritual tension and preparation. The most powerful and most instinctual artists don't acquire this knowledge primarily by experience, by bad experience—it's that "maternal instinct" of theirs which makes the decision ruthlessly to benefit the developing work among all the other stores and supplies of energy, of animal vitality. The greater power then uses up the lesser.
Now let's apply this interpretation to the above mentioned case of Schopenhauer: the sight of the beautiful evidently worked in his case as the stimulus for the release of the main power in his nature (the power of reflection and the deep look), so that this then exploded and suddenly became master of his consciousness. In the process, we should in no way rule out the possibility that that characteristic sweetness and abundance typical of the aesthetic condition could originate precisely from the ingredient "sensuality" (just as from the same source is derived that "idealism" characteristic of sexually mature young girls)—so that thus, with the entry of the aesthetic condition, sensuality is not shoved out, as Schopenhauer believed, but is transformed and does not enter the consciousness any more as sexual stimulation. (I will come back to this point of view at another time, in connection with the even more delicate problems of the physiology of aesthetics, a problem untouched up to this point, so unanalyzed).
A certain asceticism, as we have seen, a hard and cheerful renunciation in the best wills, belongs to those conditions favourable to the highest spirituality and is also among its most natural consequences. So, of course, it's no wonder that philosophers in particular never treat the ascetic ideal without some bias. A serious historical review demonstrates that the tie between the ascetic ideal and philosophy is even much narrower and stronger. We could say it was in the leading reins of this ideal that philosophy in general learned to take its first small steps on earth—alas, still so awkwardly, alas, still with such a morose expression, alas, so read to fall over and lie on its belly, this small, tentative, clumsy, loving infant with crooked legs!
At the start, with philosophy things played themselves out as with all good things: for a long time it had no courage for itself—it always looked around to see if anyone would come to its assistance and yet was afraid of all those who gazed at it. Just make a list of the individual desires and virtues of the philosopher—his desire to doubt, his desire to deny, his desire to wait (the "ephectic" desire), his desire to analyze, his desire to research, to seek out, to take chances, his desire to compare and weigh evenly, his will for neutrality and objectivity, his will to that "sine ira et studio" [without anger and partiality]—can you not understand that all of them went against the demands of morality and conscience (to say nothing at all about reason in general, which even Luther liked to call Mrs. Clever, the Clever Whore) and that if a philosopher had come to an awareness of himself, he would have necessarily felt that he was the living manifestation of "nitimur in vetitum" [we search for what's forbidden] and thus taken care not to "feel himself," not to become conscious of himself? . . .
As I've said, the case is the same with all the good things of which we are nowadays so proud. Measured by the standards of the ancient Greeks, our entire modern being, insofar as it is not weakness but power and consciousness of power, looks like sheer hubris and godlessness; for the very opposite of those things we honour today had for the longest period conscience on their side and god to guard over them. Our entire attitude to nature today, our violation of nature, with the help of machines and the unimaginable inventiveness of our technicians and engineers, is hubris; our attitude to God is hubris—I'm referring to our attitude to that alleged spider spinning out purposes and morality behind the fabric of the huge safety net of causality—we could say with Charles the Bold in his struggle with Ludwig XI, "Je combats l'universealle araignée" [I am fighting the universal spider]; our attitude to ourselves is hubris, for we experiment with ourselves in a manner we would not permit with any animal and happily and inquisitively slit the souls of living bodies open. What do we now care about the "salvation" of the soul? We cure ourselves later. Illness teaches us things—we don't doubt that—it's even more instructive than health. The person who makes us ill appears to us nowadays to be more important even than medical people and "saviours." We violate ourselves now, no doubt about it, we nut crackers of the soul, we questioning and questionable people, as if life were nothing else but cracking nuts. And in so doing, we necessarily become every day constantly more questionable, more worthy of asking questions, and in the process perhaps also worthier—to live? . . .
All good things were once bad things; every original sin becomes an original virtue. For example, marriage for a long time seemed to be a sin against the rights of the community. Once people paid a fine for being so presumptuous as to arrogate a woman to themselves (that involves, for instance, the jus primae noctis [the right of the first night], even today in Cambodia the privilege of the priests, these guardians of "good ancient customs"). The gentle, favourable, yielding, sympathetic feelings—which over time grew so valuable that they are almost "value in itself"—for the longest period were countered by self-contempt. People were ashamed of being mild, just as today they are ashamed of being hard (compare Beyond Good and Evil, p. 232). Subjugation under the law—how the noble races throughout the earth had to fight their conscience to renounce the vendetta and to concede the power of the law over them! For a long time the "law" was a vetitum [something prohibited], a sacrilege, an innovation—it appeared with force and as force, something to which people submitted only with a feeling of shame for their conduct. Every one of the smallest steps on earth in earlier days was fought for with spiritual and physical torture. This whole historical point, "that not only moving forward, no, but all walking, moving, and changing necessarily involved countless martyrs," nowadays sounds so strange to us.
In The Dawn, pp. 17 ff. I brought out this point. "Nothing has come at a higher price," it says there on p. 19, "than the small amount of human reason and feeling of freedom, which we are now so proud of. But because of this pride it is now almost impossible to sense how that huge stretch of time of the 'morality of custom,' which comes before 'world history,' is the really decisive and important history which established the character of humanity, where people recognized suffering as a virtue, cruelty as a virtue, pretence as a virtue, revenge as a virtue, the denial of reason as a virtue and, by contrast, well being as a danger, the desire for knowledge as a danger, peace as a danger, sympathy as a danger, being pitied as a disgrace, work as a disgrace, insanity as divinity, change as untraditional and inherently pregnant with ruin."
The same book, on page 39, explains the system of values, the pressure of a system of values, which the most ancient race of contemplative men had to live under, a race that, when it was not feared, was widely despised! Contemplation first appeared on earth in a disguised shape, with an ambiguous appearance, with an evil heart, and often with a worried head. There's no doubt about that. The inactive, brooding, unwarlike elements in the instincts of contemplative people for a long time fostered mistrust around them, against which the only way to cope was to arose an emphatic fear of the self. The ancient Brahmins, for example, understood that! The most ancient philosophers knew how to earn meaning for their existence and their appearance, some security and background, because of which people learned to fear them. To look at the matter more closely, this happened because of an even more fundamental need, that is, the need to win fear and respect for themselves. For they discovered inside them that all judgments of value had been reversed; they had to beat down all kinds of suspicions about and resistance to "the philosopher inside them." As men of dreadful times, they achieved this with dreadful means: cruelty against themselves, inventive self-denial—that was the major instrument of these power-hungry hermits and new thinkers, who found it necessary first to overthrow the gods and traditions inside themselves, in order to be able to believe in their innovation.
I recall the famous story of King Vishvamitra, who, through a thousand years of self-torments, acquired such a feeling of power and faith in his own capabilities that he committed himself to building a new heaven, that weird symbol of the oldest and most recent history of philosophers on earth. Everyone who at some time or another has built a "new heaven," found the power to do that first in his own hell. . . Let's condense this whole fact into a short formula: the philosophical spirit always had to begin by disguising himself, wrapping himself in a cocoon of the previously established forms of the contemplative man, as priest, magician, prophet, generally as a religious man, in order to make any kind of life at all possible. The ascetic ideal for a long time served the philosopher as a form in which he could appear, as a condition for his existence. He had to play the role, in order to be able to be a philosopher. And he had to believe in what he was doing, in order to play that role.
The characteristically detached stance of philosophers, something which denied the world, was hostile to life, had no faith in the senses, and was free of sensuality, which was maintained right up to the most recent times and thus became valued as the essence of the philosophical attitude—that is above all a necessary consequence of the conditions under which, in general, philosophy arose and survived. In fact, for the longest time on earth philosophy would not have been at all possible without an ascetic cover and costume, without an ascetic misunderstanding of the self. To put the matter explicitly: up to the most recent times the ascetic priest has provided the repellent and dark caterpillar form which was the only one in which philosophy could live and creep around. . .
Has that really changed? Is that colourful and dangerous winged creature, that "spirit" which this caterpillar hid within itself, at last really been released and allowed out into the light, thanks to a sunnier, warmer, brighter world? Nowadays do we have sufficient pride, daring, bravery, self-certainty, spiritual will, desire to assume responsibility, and freedom of the will so that from now on "the philosopher" is possible on earth? . . .
Only now that we have taken a look at the ascetic priest can we seriously get at our problem of what ascetic ideals mean—only now does it become serious. From this point on we confront the actual representative of seriousness. "What does all seriousness mean?"—this even more fundamental question perhaps lies already on our lips, a question for physiologists, naturally, but nonetheless one will we still evade for the moment. In this ideal, the ascetic priest preserves, not merely his faith, but also his will, his power, his interest. His right to existence stands and falls with that ideal. No wonder that here we run into a fearful opponent (given, of course, that we were people antagonistic to that ideal)—an opponent of the sort who fights against those who deny the ideal . . .
On the other hand, it is from the outset improbable that such an interesting stance to our problem will be particularly beneficial. The ascetic priest will hardly in himself prove the most successful defender of his ideal, for the same reason that a woman habitually fails when it's a matter of defending "woman as such," to say nothing of his being able to provide the most objective assessment of and judgment about the controversy we are dealing with here. Rather than having to fear that he will refute us—this much is clear enough—we'll have to help him defend himself against us. . .
The idea being contested at this point is the value of our lives in the eyes of ascetic priests: this same life (together with what belongs to it, "nature," "the world," the collective sphere of being and transience) they set up in relation to an existence of a totally different kind, a relationship characterized by opposition and mutual exclusion, except where life somehow turns against itself, denies itself. In the case of an ascetic life, living counts as a bridge over to that other existence. The ascetic treats life as an incorrect road, where we must finally go backwards, right to the place where it begins, or as a misconception which man refutes by his actions—or should refute. For he demands that people go with him. Where he can, he enforces his evaluation of existence. What's the meaning of that?
Such a monstrous way of assessing value does not stand inscribed in human history as something exceptional and curious. It is one of the most widespread and enduring extant facts. If we read from a distant star, the block capital script of our earthly existence might perhaps lead one to conclude that the earth is the inherently ascetic star, a corner for discontented, arrogant, and repellent creatures, incapable of ridding themselves of a deep dissatisfaction with themselves, with the earth, with all living, creatures who inflict harm on themselves for the pleasure of inflicting harm—evidently their single pleasure. We should consider how regularly, how commonly, how in almost all ages the ascetic priest makes an appearance. He does not belong to one single race. He flourishes everywhere. He grows from all levels of society. And it's not the case that he breeds and replants his way of assessing value somehow through biological inheritance—the opposite is much closer to the truth—generally speaking, a deep instinct forbids him from reproducing. There must be a high-order necessity which makes this species hostile to life always grow again and flourish. Life itself must have some interest in not having such a type of self-contradiction die out.
For an ascetic life is such a self-contradiction. Here a resentment without equal is in control, something with an insatiable instinct and will to power, which wants to become master, not over something in life but over life itself, over its deepest, strongest, most basic conditions. Here an attempt is being made to use one's power to block up the sources of that power. Here one directs one's gaze, with a green malice, against one's inherent physiological health, particularly against its means of expression—beauty and joy—while one experiences and seeks for a feeling of pleasure in mistrust, atrophy, pain, accident, ugliness, voluntary loss, self-denial, self-flagellation, self-sacrifice. All this is paradoxical to the highest degree. Here we stand in front of a dichotomy which essentially wants to be a dichotomy, which enjoys itself in the midst of this suffering and gets even more self-aware and more triumphant in proportion to the decrease in its own pre-requisite, the physiological capacity for life. "Triumph in the ultimate agony"—under this supreme sign the ascetic ideal has always fought. Inside this riddle of seduction, in this picture of delight and torment it sees its highest light, its salvation, its final victory. Crux, nux, lux [cross, nut, light]—for the ascetic ideal these are all one thing.
Given that such a living desire for contradiction and hostility to nature is used to practice philosophy, on what will it discharge its most inner arbitrary power? It will do that on something it perceives, with the greatest certainty, as something real. It will seek out error precisely where the essential instinct for life has established its most unconditional truth. For example, it will demote physical life to an illusion, as the ascetics of the Vedanta philosophy did. Similarly they will treat pain, the multiplicity of things, the whole ideational opposition between "subject" and " object" as error, nothing but error! To deny faith in their own ego, to deny their own "reality"—what a triumph—and not just over the senses, over appearances, but a much loftier triumph, an overpowering of and act of cruelty against reason: a process in which the highest peak of delight occurs when the ascetic self-contempt and the self-mockery of reason proclaims: "There is a kingdom of truth and being, but reason is expressly excluded from it." (By the way, even in the Kantian idea of the "intelligible character of things" there is still something of this old greedy ascetic dichotomy, which loves to turn reason against reason: for the "intelligible character" with Kant means a sort of composition of things about which the intellect understands just enough to know that it is wholly and completely unintelligible to the intellect).
But, as people who seek knowledge, the last thing we should do is be ungrateful for such determined reversals of customary perspectives and evaluations with which the spirit has for so long raged against itself, with such apparent wickedness and futility. To use this for once to see differently, the will to see things differently, is no small discipline and preparation of the intellect for its coming "objectivity," and not in the sense of "disinterested contemplation" (which is conceptual nonsense), but as the capability of having power over one's positive and negative arguments and to raise them and dispose of them so that one knows how to make the various perspectives and interpretations of emotions useful for knowledge.
From now on, my philosophical gentlemen, let us protect ourselves better from the dangerous old conceptual fantasy which posits a "pure, will-less, painless, timeless subject of cognition," let's guard ourselves against the tentacles of such contradictory ideas as "pure reason," "absolute spirituality," "knowledge in itself"—those things which demand that we imagine an eye which simply can't be imagined, an eye without any direction at all, in which the active and interpretative forces are supposed to stop or be absent—the very things through which seeing first becomes seeing something. Hence these things always demand from the eye something conceptually empty and absurd. The only seeing we have is seeing from a perspective; the only knowledge we have is knowledge from a perspective. The more emotional affects we allow to be expressed in words concerning something, the more eyes, different eyes, we know how to train on the same thing, the more complete our "idea" of this thing, our "objectivity," will be. But to eliminate the will in general, to suspend all our emotions without exception—even if we were capable of that—what would that be? Wouldn't we call that castrating the intellect?
But let's go back. The sort of self-contradiction which seems to be present in ascetic people, "life opposing life," is—this much is clear—physiologically (and not only physiologically) considered—simply absurd. It can only be apparent. It must be some kind of temporary expression, an interpretation, formula, make up, a psychological misunderstanding of something whose real nature could not be understood for a long time, could not for a long time be described—a mere word, caught in an old gap in human understanding. So let me counter that briefly with the facts of the matter: the ascetic ideal arises out of the instinct for protection and salvation in a degenerating life seeking to keep itself going by any means and struggling for its existence. It indicates a partial physiological inhibition and exhaustion, against which those deepest instincts for living which still remain intact continuously fight on with new methods and innovations. The ascetic ideal is one such method. The facts are thus precisely the opposite of what those who honour this ideal claim—life is struggling in that ideal and by means of that ideal with death and against death: the ascetic ideal is a manoeuvre for the preservation of life.
To the extent that this ideal, as history teaches us, could prevail over men and become powerful, particularly wherever civilization and the taming of humans manifested themselves, it expresses an important fact: the pathological nature of the earlier form of human beings, at least those human beings who'd been tamed, and the physiological struggle of men against death (more precisely, against weariness with life, against exhaustion, against desire for the "end"). The ascetic priest is the incarnation of the desire for another state of being, a life somewhere else—indeed, the highest stage of this desire, its characteristic zeal and passion. But the very power of this desire is the chain which binds him here. That's what turns him into a tool which has to work to create more favourable conditions for living here and for living as a human being. With this very power he keeps the whole herd of failures, discontents, delinquents, unfortunates, all sorts of people who inherently suffer, focused on existence, because instinctively he goes ahead of them as their herdsman. You understand already what I mean: this ascetic priest, this apparent enemy of living, this man who denies—he belongs with all the great conserving and affirming forces of life. . .
To what can we ascribe this pathology? For the human being is more ill, less certain, more changeable, more insecure than any other animal—there's no doubt about that. He is the sick animal. Where does that come from? To be sure, he has also dared more, innovated more, defied more, and demanded more from fate than all the other animals combined. He is the great experimenter with himself, unhappy and dissatisfied, who struggles for ultimate mastery with animals, nature, and gods—still unconquered, always a man of the future, who never gets any rest from his own inner powers, so that his future relentlessly burrows like a thorn into the flesh of his present. Why should such a brave and rich animal also not be the animal in most danger, the one which, of all sick animals, suffers the most lengthy and intense illness? . . .
Human beings, often enough, get fed up: there are entire epidemics of this process of getting fed up (for example, around 1348, at the time of the dance of death). But even this disgust, this exhaustion, this dissatisfaction with himself—all this comes out of him so powerfully that it immediately becomes a new chain. The No which he speaks to life brings to light, as if through a magic spell, an abundance of more tender Yeses. Even when he injures himself, this master of destruction and self-destruction, it is the wound itself which later forces him to live on.
The more normal this pathology is among human beings—and we cannot deny its normality—the higher we should esteem the rare cases of spiritual and physical power, humanity's strokes of luck, and the more strongly successful people should protect themselves from the most poisonous air, the atmosphere of illness. Do people do that? . . . Sick people are the greatest danger for healthy people. For strong people disaster does not come from the strongest, but from the weakest. Are we aware of that? . . . If we consider the big picture, we shouldn't want any diminution of the fear we have of human beings, for this fear compels the strong people to be strong and, in some circumstances, terrible. That fear sustains the successful types of people. What we should fear, what has a disastrous effect unlike any other, would not be a great fear of humanity but a great loathing for humanity or, for the same reasons, a great pity for mankind. If these both these were one day to mate, then something most weird would at once appear in the world, the "ultimate will" of man, his will to nothingness, nihilism.
As a matter of fact, a great deal of preparation has gone on for this union. Whoever possesses, not only a nose to smell with, but also eyes and ears, senses almost everywhere, no matter where he steps nowadays, an atmosphere something like that of an insane asylum or hospital. I'm speaking, as usual, of people's cultural surroundings, of every kind of "Europe" there is right here on this earth. The invalids are the great danger to humanity—not the evil men, not the "predatory animals." Those people who are, from the outset, failures, oppressed, broken—they are the ones, the weakest, who most undermine life among human beings, who in the most perilous way poison and question our trust in life, in humanity, in ourselves. Where can we escape that downcast glance with which people carry their deep sorrow, that reversed gaze of the man originally born to fail which betrays how such a man speaks to himself, that gaze which is a sigh. "I wish I could be someone else!"—that's what this glance sighs. "But there is no hope here. I am who I am. How could I detach myself from myself? And yet I've had enough of myself!" . . .
On such a ground of contempt for oneself, a truly swampy ground, grows every weed, every poisonous growth—all of them so small, so hidden, so dishonest, so sweet. Here the worms of angry and resentful feelings swarm; here the air stinks of secrets and duplicity; here are constantly spun the nets of the most malicious conspiracies—those who are suffering and plotting against successful and victorious people; here the appearance of the victor is despised. And what dishonesty not to acknowledge this hatred as hatred! What an extravagance of large words and attitudes, what an art of "decent" slander! These failures—what noble eloquence flows from their lips! How much sugary, slimy, humble resignation swims in their eyes! What do they really want? At least to make a show of justice, love, wisdom, superiority—that's the ambition of these "lowest" people, these invalids!
And how clever such an ambition makes people! For let's admire the skilful counterfeiting with which people here imitate the trademarks of virtue, even its resounding tinkle, the golden sound of virtue. They've now taken a lease on virtue entirely for themselves, these weak and hopeless invalids—there's no doubt about that. "We alone are the good men, the just men"—that's how they speak: "We alone are the homines bonae voluntatis [men of good will]." They wander around among us like personifications of reproach, like warnings to us, as if health, success, strength, pride, and a feeling of power were inherently depraved things, for which people must atone some day, atone bitterly. How they thirst to be hangmen! Among them there are plenty of people disguised as judges seeking revenge. They always have the word "Justice" in their mouths, like poisonous saliva, with their mouths always pursed, constantly ready to spit at anything which does not look discontented and goes on its way in good spirits.
Among them there is no lack of that most disgusting species of vain people, the lying monsters who aim to present themselves as "beautiful souls," and carry off to market their ruined sensuality, wrapped up in verse and other swaddling clothes, as "purity of heart"—the species of self-gratifying moral masturbators. The desire of sick people to present some form or other of superiority, their instinct for secret paths leading to a tyranny over the healthy—where can we not find it, this very will to power of the weakest people! The sick woman, in particular: no one outdoes her in refined ways to rule others, to exert pressure, to tyrannize. For that purpose, the sick woman spares nothing living or dead. She digs up again the most deeply buried things (the Bogos say "The woman is a hyena").
Take a look into the background of every family, every corporation, every community—everywhere you see the struggle of the sick against the healthy, a quiet struggle, for the most part, with a little poison powder, with needling, with deceitful expressions of long suffering, but now and then also with that sick man's Pharisaic tactic of loud gestures, whose favourite role is "noble indignation." It likes to make itself heard all the way into the consecrated rooms of science, that hoarse, booming indignation of the pathologically ill hound, the biting insincerity and rage of such "noble" Pharisees (once again I remind readers who have ears of Eugene Duhring, that apostle of revenge from Berlin, who in today's Germany makes the most indecent and most revolting use of moralistic gibberish—Duhring, the pre-eminent moral braggart we have nowadays, even among those like him, the anti-Semites). They are all men of resentment, these physiologically impaired and worm-eaten men, a totally quivering earthly kingdom of subterranean revenge, inexhaustible, insatiable in its outbursts against the fortunate, and equally in its masquerades of revenge, its pretexts for revenge. When would they attain their ultimate, most refined, most sublime triumph of revenge? Undoubtedly, if they could succeed in pushing their own wretchedness, all misery in general, into the consciences of the fortunate, so that the latter one day might begin to be ashamed of their good fortune and perhaps would say to themselves, "It's a shameful to be fortunate. There's too much misery!" . . .
But there could be no greater and more fateful misunderstanding than if, through this process, the fortunate, the successful, the powerful in body and spirit should start to doubt their right to happiness. Away with this "twisted world"! Away with this disgraceful softening of feelings! That the invalids do not make the healthy sick—and that would be such a softening—that should surely be ruling point of view on earth. But that would require above everything that the healthy remain separated from the sick, protected even from the gaze of sick people, so that they don't confuse themselves with the ill. Or would it perhaps be their assignment to attend on the sick or be their doctors? . . . But they could not misjudge or negate their work more seriously—something higher should never demean itself by becoming the tool of something lower. The pathos of distance should keep the work of the two groups forever separate! Their right to exist, the privilege of a bell with a perfect ring in comparison to one that is cracked and off key, is a thousand times greater. They alone are guarantors of the future; they alone stand as pledge for humanity's future. Whatever they can do, whatever they should do—the sick can never be able to do and should not do. But if they are to be able to do what they should do, how can they have the freedom to make themselves the doctor, the consoler, the "person who cures" the invalids? . . .
And therefore let's have fresh air! fresh air! In any case, let's keep away from the neighbourhood of all cultural insane asylums and hospitals! And for that let's have good companionship, our companionship! Or loneliness, if that's necessary! But by all means let's stay away from the foul stink of inner rotting and of muck from sick worms! In that way, my friends, we can defend ourselves, at least for a little while, against the two nastiest scourges which may be lying in wait precisely for us—against a great disgust with humanity and against a great pity for humanity.
If you've gasped the full profundity of this (and I require that you grasp deeply right here and understand profoundly), of the extent to which it simply cannot be the task of healthy people to attend to the sick, to make sick people well, then there's one more necessary matter you understand—the necessity for doctors and nurses who are themselves ill.
Now we understand the meaning of the ascetic priest—we're holding it in both hands. We need to look on the ascetic priest as the preordained healer, shepherd, and advocate of the sick herd. In that way we can, for the first time, understand his immense historical mission. Ruling over suffering people is his kingdom. His instinct instructs him to do that, and in that he has his very own art, his mastery, his sort of success. He must be sick himself. He must be fundamentally related to the sick and those who go astray, in order to understand them, in order to be understood by them. But he must also be strong, master over himself even more than over others, that is, undamaged in his will to power, so that he inspires confidence and fear from the invalids, so that he can be their support, resistance, protection, compulsion, discipline, tyrant, and god.
He has to defend his herd, but against whom? Against the healthy people undoubtedly, but also against their envy of the healthy. He has to be the natural opponent and critic of all rough, stormy, unchecked, hard, violent, predatory health and power. The priest is the first form of the more refined animal which despises more easily than it hates. He will not be spared having to conduct wars with predatory animals, wars of cunning (of the "spirit") rather than of force, as is obvious. For that purpose, in certain circumstances it will be necessary for him to develop himself into a new type of beast of prey, or at least to represent himself as such a beast, with a new animal ferocity in which the polar bear, the sleek, cold, and patient tiger, and, not least of all, the fox seem to be combined in a unity which attracts as well as inspires fear. If need compels him to do this, he will walk even in the midst of the other predatory animals with the seriousness of a bear, venerable, clever, cold, and with a duplicitous superiority, as the herald and oracle of more mysterious forces, determined to sow this ground, where he can, with suffering, conflict, self-contradiction, and only too sure of his art, to become the master over the suffering at all times.
There's no doubt he brings with him ointments and balm. But in order to be a doctor, he first has to inflict wounds. Then, while he eases the pain caused by the wound, at the same time he poisons the wound—for that is, above all, what he knows how to do, this magician and animal trainer, around whom everything healthy necessarily becomes ill and everything sick necessarily becomes tame. In fact, he defends his sick herd well enough, this strange shepherd—he protects them against themselves, against the smouldering wickedness, scheming, and maliciousness in the herd itself, against all those addictions and illnesses characteristic of their dealings with each other. He fights shrewdly, hard, and secretly against the anarchy and self-dissolution which start up all the time within the herd, in which the most dangerously explosive stuff, resentment, is constantly piling and piling up. To detonate this explosive material in such a way that it does not blow up the herd and its shepherd, that is his essential work of art and also his most important function.
If we want to sum up the value of the priestly existence in the shortest slogan, we could at once put it like this: the priest is the person who alters the direction of resentment. For every suffering person instinctively seeks a cause for his suffering, or, more precisely, an agent, or, even more precisely, a guilty agent capable of suffering—in short, he seeks some living person on whom he can, on some pretext or other, unload his feelings, either in fact or in effigy. For the discharge of feelings is the most important way a suffering man seeks relief (that is, some anaesthetic)—it's his instinctively desired narcotic against all sorts of torments. In my view, only here can we find the true physiological cause of resentment, revenge, and things related to them, in a longing for some anaesthetic against pain through one's emotions.
People usually look for this cause, most incorrectly, in my view, in the defensive striking back, a merely reactive protective measure, a "reflex movement" in the event of some sudden damage and threat, of the sort a decapitated frog still makes in order to get rid of corrosive acid. But the difference is fundamental: in one case, people want to prevent suffering further damage; in the other case, people want to deaden a tormenting, secret pain which is becoming unendurable by means of a more violent emotion of some kind and, for the moment at least, to drive it from their consciousness. For that they need some emotional affect, as unruly an emotional affect as possible, and, in order to stimulate that, they need the best pretext available. "Someone or other must be guilty of the fact that I am bad." This sort of conclusion is characteristic of all sick people—all the more so if the real cause of their sense that they are bad, the physiological cause, remains hidden (it can lie somewhere in an illness of the nervus sympathicus [sympathetic nerves], or in an excessive secretion of gall or in a lack of potassium sulphate and phosphate in the blood, or in some pressure in the lower abdomen, which blocks the circulation, or in a degeneration of the ovaries, and so on).
Suffering people all have a horrible willingness and capacity for inventing pretexts for painful emotional feelings. They already enjoy their suspicions, their brooding over bad actions and apparent damage. They ransack the entrails of their past and present, looking for dark and dubious stories, in which they are free to feast on an agonizing suspicion and to get intoxicated on their own poisonous anger. They rip open the oldest wounds, they bleed themselves to death from long-healed scars. They turn friends, wives, children, and anyone else who is closest to them into criminals. "I am suffering. Someone or other must be to blame for that"—that how every sick sheep thinks. But his shepherd, the ascetic priest, says to him: "That's right, my sheep! Someone must be to blame for that. But you yourself are this very person. You yourself are the only one to blame. You alone are to blame for yourself!" . . . That is clever enough, and false enough. But one thing at least is attained by that, as I have said, the direction of resentment has been changed.
By now you will have guessed what, according to my ideas, the healing artistic instinct for life at least has attempted with the ascetic priest and why he had to use a temporary tyranny of paradoxical and illogical ideas like "guilt," "sins," "sinfulness," "degeneration," "damnation" to make sick people to a certain extent harmless, to enable the incurable to destroy themselves by their own actions, to redirect the resentment of the mildly ill sternly back onto themselves ("there's one thing necessary"—), and to utilize the bad instincts of all suffering people to serve the purpose of self-discipline, self-monitoring, self-conquest. As is obvious, this kind of "medication," a merely emotional medication, has nothing to do with a real cure for an illness, in a physiological sense. We should never assert that the instinct for life has any sort of chance or intention to heal itself in this way. A kind of pressure to come together and organize the invalids on one side (the word "church" is the popular name for this), some form of temporary guarantee for the more healthy successful people, the ones more completely fulfilled, on another side—and in the process the creation of rift between the healthy and sick—for a long time that's all there was. And that was a lot! It was a great deal!. . .
In this essay, as you see, I proceed on an assumption which, so far as the readers I require are concerned, I do not have to prove—that the "sinfulness" of human beings is not a matter of fact, but is much rather only the interpretation of a factual condition, that is, of a bad psychological mood, with the latter seen from a moral-religious perspective, something which is no longer binding on us. The fact that someone feels himself "guilty" or "sinful" does not in itself yet demonstrate that he is justified in feeling like that, just as the mere fact that someone feels healthy does not mean that he is healthy. People should remember the famous witch trials. At that time the most perspicacious and philanthropic judges had no doubt that they were dealing with guilt. The "witches" themselves had no doubts about that point. Nonetheless, there was no guilt. To express that assumption in broader terms: I consider that "spiritual pain" itself is not, in general, a fact, but only an interpretation (a causal interpretation) of facts which up to that point have not been precisely formulated, and thus something that is still completely up in the air and scientifically empty—basically a fat word set in place of a spindly question mark. To put the matter crudely, when someone cannot cope with a "spiritual pain," that has nothing to do with his "soul"; it's more likely something to do with his belly (speaking crudely, as I said: but in saying that I'm not expressing the slightest wish to be crudely heard or crudely understood.. . .)
A strong and successful man digests his experiences (his actions, including his evil actions) as he digests his meals, even when he has to swallow down some hard mouthfuls. If he is "unable to finish with" an experience, this kind of indigestion is just as much a physiological matter as the other one—and in many cases, in fact, only one of the consequences of that other one. With such an view, a person can, just between ourselves, still remain the strongest opponent of materialism.
But is he really a doctor, this ascetic priest? We already understand the extent to which he can hardly be permitted to call himself a doctor, no matter how much he likes feeling that he is a "saviour" and allowing himself to be honoured as a "saviour." But he fights only against suffering itself, the unhappiness of the suffering person, not against its cause, not against the essential sickness. This must constitute our most fundamental objection to priestly medication. But if for once we look at things from the perspective which only the priest adopts and understands, then it will not be easy for us to limit our amazement at all the things he has noticed, looked for, and found by seeing things in that manner. The alleviation of suffering, every kind of "consolation"—that manifests itself as his particular genius. He has understood his task as consoler with so much innovation and has selected the means for that so spontaneously and so fearlessly! We might call Christianity, in particular, a huge treasure house of clever forms of consolation—there are so many pleasant, soothing, and narcotizing things piled up in it, and for this purpose it takes so many dangerous and audacious chances. It shows such sophistication, so much Southern European refinement, especially when it guesses what kind of emotional stimulant can overcome, at least for a while, the deep depression, leaden exhaustion, and black sorrow of the physiologically impaired.
For, generally speaking, with all great religions, the main issue concerns the fight against a certain endemic exhaustion and heaviness. We can from the outset assume as probable that from time to time, in particular places on the earth, a feeling of physiological inhibition must master wide masses of people, but, because of a lack of knowledge about physiology, it does not enter people's consciousness as something physiological, so they look for and attempt to find its "cause" and remedy only in psychology and morality (this, in fact, is my most general formula for whatever is commonly called a "religion"). Such a feeling of inhibition can have a varied ancestry; for instance, it can be the result of cross-breeding between very different races (or between classes—for classes also always express differences in origin and race: nineteenth-century European "Weltschmerz" [pain at the state of the world] and "pessimism" are essentially the consequence of an irrational, sudden mixing of the classes), or it can be caused by incorrect emigration—a race caught in a climate for which its powers of adaptation are not sufficient (the case of the Indians in India); or by the influence of the age and tiredness of the race (Parisian pessimism from 1850 on); or by an incorrect diet (the alcoholism of the Middle Ages, the inanity of vegetarians, who, of course, have on their side the authority of Squire Christopher in Shakespeare); or by degeneration in the blood, malaria, syphilis and things like that (German depression after the Thirty Years' War, which spread bad diseases in an epidemic through half of Germany, and thus prepared the ground for German servility, German timidity).
In such a case, a war in the grand style against the feeling of unhappiness will always be attempted. Let's briefly go over its most important practices and forms. (Here I leave quite out of account, as seems reasonable, the typical war of the philosophers against this feeling of unhappiness, which always has a habit of appearing at the same time—that war is interesting enough, but too absurd, with too little practical significance, full of cobwebs and loafing around—as, for example, when pain is to be shown an error, on the naïve assumption that the pain must disappear as soon as it is recognized as a error—but, lo and behold, something prevents it from disappearing. . .)
First, people fight that domineering unhappiness with means which, in general, set our feeling for life at their lowest point. Where possible, there is generally no more willing, no more desire; they stay away from everything which creates an emotional affect, which makes "blood" (no salt in the diet, the hygiene of the fakir); they don't love; they don't hate—equanimity—they don't take revenge, they don't get wealthy, they don't work; they beg; where possible, no women, or as few women as possible; with respect to spiritual matters, Pascal's principle "Il faut s'abêtir" [it's necessary to turn oneself into an animal]. The result, expressed in moral-psychological terms, is "selflessness," "sanctification"; expressed in physiological terms: hypnotizing—the attempt to attain for human beings something approaching what winter hibernation is for some kinds of animals and what summer sleep is for many plants in hot climates, the minimum consumption and processing of material stuff which can still sustain life but which does not actually enter consciousness. For this purpose an astonishing amount of human energy has been expended. Has it all gone for nothing?
We should not entertain the slightest doubts that, with a rigorous training like this, such sportsmen of "holiness," which almost all populations have in abundance at all times, in fact found a real release from what they were fighting against. With the help of their systemic methods for hypnosis, in countless cases they were released from that deep physiological depression. That's the reason their methodology belongs with the most universal ethnological facts. For the same reason we have no authority for considering such an intentional starving of one's desires and of one's physical well being, in itself, symptoms of insanity (the way a clumsy kind of roast-beef-eating "free spirit" and Squire Christopher like to do). It's much more the case that it opens or can open the way to all sorts of spiritual disruptions, to "inner light," for example, as with Hesychasts on Mount Athos, to hallucinating sounds and shapes, to sensual outpourings and ecstasies of sensuality (the history of St. Theresa). It's obvious that the interpretation which has been given for conditions of this sort by those afflicted with them has always been as effusively false as possible.
People should not fail to catch the tone of totally convincing gratitude ringing out even in the will to such a form of interpretation. They always value the highest state, redemption itself, that finally attained collective hypnosis and quietness, as an inherent mystery, which cannot be adequately expressed even by the highest symbols, as a rest and return home to the basis of things, as an emancipation from all delusions, as "knowledge," as "truth," as "being," as the removal of all goals, all wishes, all acts, and thus as a place beyond good and evil. "Good and evil," says the Buddhist, "are both fetters: the perfect one became master over both."; "what's done and what's not done," says the man who believes in the Vedanta, "give him no pain; as a wise man he shakes good and evil off himself; his kingdom suffers no more from any deed; good and evil—he has transcended both"—an entirely Indian conception, whether Brahman or Buddhist.
(Neither in the Indian nor in the Christian way of thinking is this "redemption" considered attainable through virtue, through moral improvement—no matter how high a value they place on virtue as a form of hypnotism. People should note this point—it corresponds, incidentally, to the plain facts. That on this point they kept to the truth might perhaps be considered the best piece of realism in the three largest religions, which, apart from this, are so fundamentally concerned with moralizing. "The man who knows has no duties" . . . "Redemption does not come about through an increase in virtue, for it consists of unity with Brahma, who is incapable of any increase in perfection; even less does it come through a lessening of one's faults, for the Brahma, unity with whom creates redemption, is eternally pure"—these passages from the commentary of Shankara are cited by the first real scholar of Indian philosophy in Europe, my friend Paul Deussen).
So we want to honour "redemption" in the great religions; however, it will be a little difficult for us to remain serious about the way these people, who've grown too weary of life even to dream, value deep sleep—that is, deep sleep as an access to the Brahma, as an achieved unio mystica[mysterious union] with God. On this subject, the oldest and most venerable "Scripture" states: "When he is soundly and completely asleep and is in a state of perfect calm, so that he is not seeing any more dream images, at that moment, dear ones, united with his Being, he has gone into himself. Now that he has been embraced by a form of his knowing self, he has no consciousness any more of what is outer or inner. Over this bridge comes neither night nor day, nor old age, nor death, nor suffering, nor good works, nor evil works." Similarly the believers in the most profound of the three great religions say, "In deep sleep the soul lifts itself up out of the body, goes into the highest light, and moves out in its own form: there it is the highest spirit itself which wanders around, while it jokes and plays and enjoys itself, whether with women or with carriages or with friends; there it no longer thinks back to its bodily appendages, to which the prana (the breath of life) is harnessed like a draught animal to a cart."
Nevertheless, we need to keep in mind here, as in the case of "redemption," that no matter how great the splendour of oriental exaggeration, what this states is basically the same evaluation which was made by that clear, cool, Greek-cool, but suffering Epicurus: the hypnotic feeling of nothingness, the silence of the deepest sleep, in short, the loss of suffering—something which suffering and fundamentally disgruntled people have to consider their highest good, their value of values, and which they must appraise as positive and experience as the positive in itself. (With the same logic of feeling, in all pessimistic religions nothingness is called God).
But against this condition of depression, a different and certainly easier training is tried far more often than such a hypnotic collective deadening of the sensibilities, of the ability to experience pain, for this method requires rare powers, above all, courage, contempt for opinion, and "intellectual stoicism." This different training is mechanical activity. There's no doubt whatsoever that this can significantly alleviate a suffering existence. Today we call this activity, somewhat dishonestly, "the blessings of work." The relief comes from the fact that the interest of the suffering person is basically diverted from his suffering, that some action and then another action are always entering his consciousness, thus leaving little space for suffering. For it's narrow, this room of human consciousness!
Mechanical activity and what's associated with it—like absolute regularity, meticulous and mindless obedience, a style of life set once and for all, filling in time, a certain allowance for, indeed, training in, "impersonality," in forgetting oneself, in "incuria sui[no care for oneself]"— how fundamentally, how delicately the ascetic priest knew how to use them in the struggle with suffering! Especially when it involved the suffering people of the lower classes, working slaves, or prisoners (or women, most of whom are simultaneously both—working slaves and prisoners) what was needed was a little more than the minor art of changing names, of re-christening, so as to make those people in future see a favour, some relative good fortune, in things they hated. The slave's discontent with his lot, in any case, was not invented by the priests.
WHAT IS THE MEANING OF ASCETIC IDEALS?
"Careless, mocking, forceful—so does wisdom wish us: she is a woman, and never loves any one but a warrior."
- Thus Spake Zarathustra.
What is the meaning of ascetic ideals? In artists, nothing, or too much; in philosophers and scholars, a kind of "flair" and instinct for the conditions most favourable to advanced intellectualism; in women, at best an additional seductive fascination, a little morbidezza on a fine piece of flesh, the angelhood of a fat, pretty animal; in physiological failures and whiners (in the majority of mortals), an attempt to pose as "too good" for this world, a holy form of debauchery, their chief weapon in the battle with lingering pain and ennui; in priests, the actual priestly faith, their best engine of power, and also the supreme authority for power; in saints, finally a pretext for hibernation, their novissima gloriae cupido, their peace in nothingness ("God"), their form of madness.
But in the very fact that the ascetic ideal has meant so much to man, lies expressed the fundamental feature of man's will, his horror vacui: he needs a goal—and he will sooner will nothingness than not will at all.—Am I not understood?—Have I not been understood?—"Certainly not, sir?"—Well, let us begin at the beginning.
What is the meaning of ascetic ideals? Or, to take an individual case in regard to which I have often been consulted, what is the meaning, for example, of an artist like Richard Wagner paying homage to chastity in his old age? He had always done so, of course, in a certain sense, but it was not till quite the end, that he did so in an ascetic sense. What is the meaning of this "change of attitude," this radical revolution in his attitude—for that was what it was? Wagner veered thereby straight round into his own opposite. What is the meaning of an artist veering round into his own opposite? At this point (granted that we do not mind stopping a little over this question), we immediately call to mind the best, strongest, gayest, and boldest period, that there perhaps ever was in Wagner's life: that was the period when he was genuinely and deeply occupied with the idea of "Luther's Wedding." Who knows what chance is responsible for our now having the Meistersingers instead of this wedding music? And how much in the latter is perhaps just an echo of the former? But there is no doubt but that the theme would have dealt with the praise of chastity. And certainly it would also have dealt with the praise of sensuality, and even so, it would seem quite in order, and even so, it would have been equally Wagnerian. For there is no necessary antithesis between chastity and sensuality: every good marriage, every authentic heart-felt love transcends this antithesis. Wagner would, it seems to me, have done well to have brought this pleasing reality home once again to his Germans, by means of a bold and graceful "Luther Comedy," for there were and are among the Germans many revilers of sensuality; and perhaps Luther's greatest merit lies just in the fact of his having had the courage of his sensuality (it used to be called, prettily enough, "evangelistic freedom"). But even in those cases where that antithesis between chastity and sensuality does exist, there has fortunately been for some time no necessity for it to be in any way a tragic antithesis. This should, at any rate, be the case with all beings who are sound in mind and body, who are far from reckoning their delicate balance between "animal" and "angel," as being on the face of it one of the principles opposed to existence—the most subtle and brilliant spirits, such as Goethe, such as Hafiz, have even seen in this a further charm of life. Such "conflicts" actually allure one to life. On the other hand, it is only too clear that when once these ruined swine are reduced to worshipping chastity—and there are such swine—they only see and worship in it the antithesis to themselves, the antithesis to ruined swine. Oh, what a tragic grunting and eagerness! You can just think of it—they worship that painful and superfluous contrast, which Richard Wagner in his latter days undoubtedly wished to set to music, and to place on the stage! "For what purpose, forsooth?"as we may reasonably ask. What did the swine matter to him; what do they matter to us?
At this point it is impossible to beg the further question of what he really had to do with that manly (ah, so unmanly) country bumpkin, that poor devil and natural, Parsifal, whom he eventually made a Catholic by such fraudulent devices. What? Was this Parsifal really meant seriously? One might be tempted to suppose the contrary, even to wish it—that the Wagnerian Parsifal was meant joyously, like a concluding play of a trilogy or satyric drama, in which Wagner the tragedian wished to take farewell of us, of himself, above all of tragedy, and to do so in a manner that should be quite fitting and worthy, that is, with an excess of the most extreme and flippant parody of the tragic itself, of the ghastly earthly seriousness and earthly woe of old—a parody of that most crude phase in the unnaturalness of the ascetic ideal, that had at length been overcome. That, as I have said, would have been quite worthy of a great tragedian; who like every artist first attains the supreme pinnacle of his greatness when he can look down into himself and his art, when he can laugh at himself. Is Wagner's Parsifal his secret laugh of superiority over himself, the triumph of that supreme artistic freedom and artistic transcendency which he has at length attained. We might, I repeat, wish it were so, for what can Parsifal, taken seriously, amount to? Is it really necessary to see in it (according to an expression once used against me) the product of an insane hate of knowledge, mind, and flesh? A curse on flesh and spirit in one breath of hate? An apostasy and reversion to the morbid Christian and obscurantist ideals? And finally a self-negation and self-elimination on the part of an artist, who till then had devoted all the strength of his will to the contrary, namely, the highest artistic expression of soul and body. And not only his art; of his life as well. Just remember with what enthusiasm Wagner followed in the footsteps of Feuerbach. Feuerbach's motto of "healthy sensuality" rang in the ears of Wagner during the thirties and forties of the century, as it did in the ears of many Germans (they dubbed themselves "Young Germans"), like the word of redemption. Did he eventually change his mind on the subject? For it seems at any rate that he eventually wished to change his teaching on that subject . . . and not only is that the case with the Parsifal trumpets on the stage: in the melancholy, cramped, and embarrassed lucubrations of his later years, there are a hundred places in which there are manifestations of a secret wish and will, a despondent, uncertain, unavowed will to preach actual retrogression, conversion, Christianity, mediaevalism, and to say to his disciples, "All is vanity! Seek salvation elsewhere!" Even the "blood of the Redeemer" is once invoked.
Let me speak out my mind in a case like this, which has many painful elements—and it is a typical case: it is certainly best to separate an artist from his work so completely that he cannot be taken as seriously as his work. He is after all merely the presupposition of his work, the womb, the soil, in certain cases the dung and manure, on which and out of which it grows—and consequently, in most cases, something that must be forgotten if the work itself is to be enjoyed. The insight into the origin of a work is a matter for psychologists and vivisectors, but never either in the present or the future for the aesthetes, the artists. The author and creator of Parsifal was as little spared the necessity of sinking and living himself into the terrible depths and foundations of mediaeval soul-contrasts, the necessity of a malignant abstraction from all intellectual elevation, severity, and discipline, the necessity of a kind of mental perversity (if the reader will pardon me such a word), as little as a pregnant woman is spared the horrors and marvels of pregnancy, which, as I have said, must be forgotten if the child is to be enjoyed. We must guard ourselves against the confusion, into which an artist himself would fall only too easily (to employ the English terminology) out of psychological "contiguity"; as though the artist' himself actually were the object which he is able to represent, imagine, and express. In point of fact, the position is that even if he conceived he were such an object, he would certainly not represent, conceive, express it. Homer would not have created an Achilles, nor Goethe a Faust, if Homer had been an Achilles or if Goethe had been a Faust. A complete and perfect artist is to all eternity separated from the "real," from the actual; on the other hand, it will be appreciated that he can at times get tired to the point of despair of this eternal "unreality" and falseness of his innermost being— and that he then sometimes attempts to trespass on to the most forbidden ground, on reality, and attempts to have real existence. With what success? The success will be guessed—it is the typical velleity of the artist; the same velleity to which Wagner fell a victim in his old age, and for which he had to pay so dearly and so fatally (he lost thereby his most valuable friends). But after all, quite apart from this velleity, who would not wish emphatically for Wagner's own sake that he had taken farewell of us and of his art in a different manner, not with a Parsifal, but in more victorious, more self-confident, more Wagnerian style—a style less misleading, a style less ambiguous with regard to his whole meaning, less Schopenhauerian, less Nihilistic? . .
What, then, is the meaning of ascetic ideals? In the case of an artist we are getting to understand their meaning: Nothing at all . . . or so much that it is as good as nothing at all. Indeed, what is the use of them? Our artists have for a long time past not taken up a sufficiently independent attitude, either in the world or against it, to warrant their valuations and the changes in these valuations exciting interest. At all times they have played the valet of some morality, philosophy, or religion, quite apart from the fact that unfortunately they have often enough been the inordinately supple courtiers of their clients and patrons, and the inquisitive toadies of the powers that are existing, or even of the new powers to come. To put it at the lowest, they always need a rampart, a support, an already constituted authority: artists never stand by themselves, standing alone is opposed to their deepest instincts. So, for example, did Richard Wagner take, "when the time had come," the philosopher Schopenhauer for his covering man in front, for his rampart. Who would consider it even thinkable, that he would have had the courage for an ascetic ideal, without the support afforded him by the philosophy of Schopenhauer, without the authority of Schopenhauer, which dominated Europe in the seventies? (This is without consideration of the question whether an artist without the milk of an orthodoxy would have been possible at all.) This brings us to the more serious question: What is the meaning of a real philosopher paying homage to the ascetic ideal, a really self-dependent intellect like Schopenhauer, a man and knight with a glance of bronze, who has the courage to be himself, who knows how to stand alone without first waiting for men who cover him in front, and the nods of his superiors? Let us now consider at once the remarkable attitude of Schopenhauer towards art, an attitude which has even a fascination for certain types. For that is obviously the reason why Richard Wagner all at once went over to Schopenhauer (persuaded thereto, as one knows, by a poet, Herwegh), went over so completely that there ensued the cleavage of a complete theoretic contradiction between his earlier and his later aesthetic faiths—the earlier, for example, being expressed in Opera and Drama, the later in the writings which he published from 1870 onwards. In particular, Wagner from that time onwards (and this is the volte-face which alienates us the most) had no scruples about changing his judgment concerning the value and position of music itself. What did he care if up to that time he had made of music a means, a medium, a "woman," that in order to thrive needed an end, a man—that is, the drama? He suddenly realised that more could be effected by the novelty of the Schopenhauerian theory in majorem musicae gloriam—that is to say, by means of the sovereignty of music, as Schopenhauer understood it; music abstracted from and opposed to all the other arts, music as the independent art-in-itself, not like the other arts, affording reflections of the phenomenal world, but rather the language of the will itself, speaking straight out of the "abyss" as its most personal, original, and direct manifestation. This extraordinary rise in the value of music (a rise which seemed to grow out of the Schopenhauerian philosophy) was at once accompanied by an unprecedented rise in the estimation in which the musician himself was held: he became now an oracle, a priest, nay, more than a priest, a kind of mouthpiece for the "intrinsic essence of things," a telephone from the other world—from henceforward he talked not only music, did this ventriloquist of God, he talked metaphysic; what wonder that one day he eventually talked ascetic ideals!
Schopenhauer has made use of the Kantian treatment of the aesthetic problem—though he certainly did not regard it with the Kantian eyes. Kant thought that he showed honour to art when he favoured and placed in the foreground those of the predicates of the beautiful, which constitute the honour of knowledge: impersonality and universality. This is not the place to discuss whether this was not a complete mistake; all that I wish to emphasise is that Kant, just like other philosophers, instead of envisaging the aesthetic problem from the standpoint of the experiences of the artist (the creator), has only considered art and beauty from the standpoint of the spectator, and has thereby imperceptibly imported the spectator himself into the idea of the "beautiful"! But if only the philosophers of the beautiful had sufficient knowledge of this "spectator"!—Knowledge of him as a great fact of personality, as a great experience, as a wealth of strong and most individual events, desires, surprises, and raptures in the sphere of beauty! But, as I feared, the contrary was always the case. And so we get from our philosophers, from the very beginning, definitions on which the lack of a subtler personal experience squats like a fat worm of crass error, as it does on Kant's famous definition of the beautiful. "That is beautiful," says Kant, "which pleases without interesting." Without interesting! Compare this definition with this other one, made by a real "spectator" and "artist"—by Stendhal, who once called the beautiful une promesse de bonheur. Here, at any rate, the one point which Kant makes prominent in the aesthetic position is repudiated and eliminated—le désinteressement. Who is right, Kant or Stendhal? When, forsooth, our aesthetes never get tired of throwing into the scales in Kant's favour the fact that under the magic of beauty men can look at even naked female statues "without interest," we can certainly laugh a little at their expense:—in regard to this ticklish point the experiences of artists are more "interesting," and at any rate Pygmalion was not necessarily an "unaesthetic man." Let us think all the better of the innocence of our aesthetes, reflected as it is in such arguments; let us, for instance, count to Kant's honour the country-parson naivete of his doctrine concerning the peculiar character of the sense of touch! And here we come back to Schopenhauer, who stood in much closer neighbourhood to the arts than did Kant, and yet never escaped outside the pale of the Kantian definition; how was that? The circumstance is marvellous enough: he interprets the expression, "without interest," in the most personal fashion, out of an experience which must in his case have been part and parcel of his regular routine. On few subjects does Schopenhauer speak with such certainty as on the working of aesthetic contemplation: he says of it that it simply counteracts sexual interest, like lupulin and camphor; he never gets tired of glorifying this escape from the "Life-will" as the great advantage and utility of the aesthetic state. In fact, one is tempted to ask if his fundamental conception of Will and Idea, the thought that there can only exist freedom from the "will" by means of "idea," did not originate in a generalisation from this sexual experience. (In all questions concerning the Schopenhauerian philosophy, one should, by the bye, never lose sight of the consideration that it is the conception of a youth of twenty-six, so that it participates not only in what is peculiar to Schopenhauer's life, but in what is peculiar to that special period of his life.) Let us listen, for instance, to one of the most expressive among the countless passages which he has written in honour of the aesthetic state (World as Will and Idea, i. 231); let us listen to the tone, the suffering, the happiness, the gratitude, with which such words are uttered: "This is the painless state which Epicurus praised as the highest good and as the state of the gods; we are during that moment freed from the vile pressure of the will, we celebrate the Sabbath of the will's hard labour, the wheel of Ixion stands still." What vehemence of language! What images of anguish and protracted revulsion! How almost pathological is that temporal antithesis between "that moment" and everything else, the "wheel of Ixion," "the hard labour of the will," "the vile pressure of the will." But granted that Schopenhauer was a hundred times right for himself personally, how does that help our insight into the nature of the beautiful? Schopenhauer has described one effect of the beautiful,—the calming of the will,—but is this effect really normal? As has been mentioned, Stendhal, an equally sensual but more happily constituted nature than Schopenhauer, gives prominence to another effect of the "beautiful." "The beautiful promises happiness." To him it is just the excitement of the will (the "interest") by the beauty that seems the essential fact. And does not Schopenhauer ultimately lay himself open to the objection, that he is quite wrong in regarding himself as a Kantian on this point, that he has absolutely failed to understand in a Kantian sense the Kantian definition of the beautiful—that the beautiful pleased him as well by means of an interest, by means, in fact, of the strongest and most personal interest of all, that of the victim of torture who escapes from his torture?—And to come back again to our first question, "What is the meaning of a philosopher paying homage to ascetic ideals?" We get now, at any rate, a first hint; he wishes to escape from a torture.
Let us beware of making dismal faces at the word "torture"—there is certainly in this case enough to deduct, enough to discount—there is even something to laugh at. For we must certainly not underestimate the fact that Schopenhauer, who in practice treated sexuality as a personal enemy (including its tool, woman, that "instrumentum diaboli"), needed enemies to keep him in a good humour; that he loved grim, bitter, blackish-green words; that he raged for the sake of raging, out of passion; that he would have grown ill, would have become a pessimist (for he was not a pessimist, however much he wished to be), without his enemies, without Hegel, woman, sensuality, and the whole "will for existence" "keeping on." Without them Schopenhauer would not have "kept on," that is a safe wager; he would have run away: but his enemies held him fast, his enemies always enticed him back again to existence, his wrath was just as theirs was to the ancient Cynics, his balm, his recreation, his recompense, his remedium against disgust, his happiness. So much with regard to what is most personal in the case of Schopenhauer; on the other hand, there is still much which is typical in him—and only now we come back to our problem. It is an accepted and indisputable fact, so long as there are philosophers in the world, and wherever philosophers have existed (from India to England, to take the opposite poles of philosophic ability), that there exists a real irritation and rancour on the part of philosophers towards sensuality. Schopenhauer is merely the most eloquent, and if one has the ear for it, also the most fascinating and enchanting outburst. There similarly exists a real philosophic bias and affection for the whole ascetic ideal; there should be no illusions on this score. Both these feelings, as has been said, belong to the type; if a philosopher lacks both of them, then he is—you may be certain of it—never anything but a "pseudo." What does this mean? For this state of affairs must first be interpreted: in itself it stands there stupid to all eternity, like any "Thing-in-itself." Every animal, including la bete philosophe, strives instinctively after an optimum of favourable conditions, under which he can let his whole strength have play, and achieves his maximum consciousness of power; with equal instinctiveness, and with a fine perceptive flair which is superior to any reason, every animal shudders mortally at every kind of disturbance and hindrance which obstructs or could obstruct his way to that optimum (it is not his way to happiness of which I am talking, but his way to power, to action, the most powerful action, and in point of fact in many cases his way to unhappiness). Similarly, the philosopher shudders mortally at marriage, together with all that could persuade him to it—marriage as a fatal hindrance on the way to the optimum. Up to the present what great philosophers have been married? Heracleitus, Plato, Descartes, Spinoza, Leibnitz, Kant, Schopenhauer—they were not married, and, further, one cannot imagine them as married. A married philosopher belongs to comedy, that is my rule; as for that exception of a Socrates—the malicious Socrates married himself, it seems, ironice, just to prove this very rule. Every philosopher would say, as Buddha said, when the birth of a son was announced to him: "Rahoula has been born to me, a fetter has been forged for me" (Rahoula means here "a little demon"); there must come an hour of reflection to every "free spirit" (granted that he has had previously an hour of thoughtlessness), just as one came once to the same Buddha: "Narrowly cramped," he reflected, "is life in the house; it is a place of uncleanness; freedom is found in leaving the house." Because he thought like this, he left the house. So many bridges to independence are shown in the ascetic ideal, that the philosopher cannot refrain from exultation and clapping of hands when he hears the history of all those resolute ones, who on one day uttered a nay to all servitude and went into some desert; even granting that they were only strong asses, and the absolute opposite of strong minds. What, then, does the ascetic ideal mean in a philosopher? This is my answer—it will have been guessed long ago: when he sees this ideal the philosopher smiles because he sees therein an optimum of the conditions of the highest and boldest intellectuality; he does not thereby deny '"existence," he rather affirms thereby his existence and only his existence, and this perhaps to the point of not being far off the blasphemous wish, pereat mundus, fiat philosophia, fiat philosophus, fiam! . . .
These philosophers, you see, are by no means uncorrupted witnesses and judges of the value of the ascetic ideal. They think of themselves—what is the "saint" to them? They think of that which to them personally is most indispensable; of freedom from compulsion, disturbance, noise; freedom from business, duties, cares; of a clear head; of the dance, spring, and flight of thoughts; of good air—rare, clear, free, dry, as is the air on the heights, in which every animal creature becomes more intellectual and gains wings; they think of peace in every cellar; all the hounds neatly chained; no baying of enmity and uncouth rancour; no remorse of wounded ambition; quiet and submissive internal organs, busy as mills, but unnoticed; the heart alien, transcendent, future, posthumous—to summarise, they mean by the ascetic ideal the joyous asceticism of a deified and newly fledged animal, sweeping over life rather than resting. We know what are the three great catch-words of the ascetic ideal: poverty, humility, chastity; and now just look closely at the life of all the great fruitful inventive spirits—you will always find again and again these three qualities up to a certain extent. Not for a minute, as is self-evident, as though, perchance, they were part of their virtues—what has this type of man to do with virtues—but as the most essential and natural conditions of their best existence, their finest fruitfulness. In this connection it is quite possible that their predominant intellectualism had first to curb an unruly and irritable pride, or an insolent sensualism, or that it had all its work cut out to maintain its wish for the "desert" against perhaps an inclination to luxury and dilettantism, or similarly against an extravagant liberality of heart and hand. But their intellect did effect all this, simply because it was the dominant instinct, which carried through its orders in the case of all the other instincts. It effects it still: if it ceased to do so, it would simply not be dominant. But there is not one iota of "virtue" in all this. Further, the desert, of which I just spoke, in which the strong, independent, and well-equipped spirits retreat into their hermitage—oh, how different is it from the cultured classes' dream of a desert! In certain cases, in fact, the cultured classes themselves are the desert. And it is certain that all the actors of the intellect would not endure this desert for a minute. It is nothing like romantic and Syrian enough for them, nothing like enough of a stage desert! Here as well there are plenty of asses, but at this point the resemblance ceases. But a desert nowadays is something like this—perhaps a deliberate obscurity; a getting-out-of the way of one's self; a fear of noise, admiration, papers, influence; a little office, a daily task, something that hides rather than brings to light; sometimes associating with harmless, cheerful beasts and fowls, the sight of which refreshes; a mountain for company, but not a dead one, one with eyes (that is, with lakes); in certain cases even a room in a crowded hotel where one can reckon on not being recognised, and on being able to talk with impunity to every one: here is the desert—oh, it is lonely enough, believe me! I grant that when Heracleitus retreated to the courts and cloisters of the colossal temple of Artemis, that "wilderness" was worthier; why do we lack such temples? (perchance we do not lack them: I just think of my splendid study in the Piazza di San Marco, in spring, of course, and in the morning, between ten and twelve). But that which Heracleitus shunned is still just what we too avoid nowadays: the noise and democratic babble of the Ephesians, their politics, their news from the "empire" (I mean, of course, Persia), their market-trade in "the things of to-day"—for there is one thing from which we philosophers especially need a rest—from the things of "to-day." We honour the silent, the cold, the noble, the far, the past, everything, in fact, at the sight of which the soul is not bound to brace itself up and defend itself—something with which one can speak without speaking aloud. Just listen now to the tone a spirit has when it speaks; every spirit has its own tone and loves its own tone. That thing yonder, for instance, is bound to be an agitator, that is, a hollow head, a hollow mug: whatever may go into him, everything comes back from him dull and thick, heavy with the echo of the great void. That spirit yonder nearly always speaks hoarse: has he, perchance, thought himself hoarse? It may be so—ask the physiologists—but he who thinks in words, thinks as a speaker and not as a thinker (it shows that he does not think of objects or think objectively, but only of his relations with objects—that, in point of fact, he only thinks of himself and his audience). This third one speaks aggressively, he comes too near our body, his breath blows on us—we shut our mouth involuntarily, although he speaks to us through a book: the tone of his style supplies the reason—he has no time, he has small faith in himself, he finds expression now or never. But a spirit who is sure of himself speaks softly; he seeks secrecy, he lets himself be awaited. A philosopher is recognised by the fact that he shuns three brilliant and noisy things— fame, princes, and women: which is not to say that they do not come to him. He shuns every glaring light: therefore he shuns his time and its "daylight." Therein he is as a shadow; the deeper sinks the sun, the greater grows the shadow. As for his humility, he endures, as he endures darkness, a certain dependence and obscurity: further, he is afraid of the shock of lightning, he shudders at the insecurity of a tree which is too isolated and too exposed, on which every storm vents its temper, every temper its storm. His "maternal" instinct, his secret love for that which grows in him, guides him into states where he is relieved from the necessity of taking care of himself, in the same way in which the "mother" instinct in woman has thoroughly maintained up to the present woman's dependent position. After all, they demand little enough, do these philosophers, their favourite motto is, "He who possesses is possessed." All this is not, as I must say again and again, to be attributed to a virtue, to a meritorious wish for moderation and simplicity: but because their supreme lord so demands of them, demands wisely and inexorably; their lord who is eager only for one thing, for which alone he musters, and for which alone he hoards everything—time, strength, love, interest. This kind of man likes not to be disturbed by enmity, he likes not to be disturbed by friendship, it is a type which forgets or despises easily. It strikes him as bad form to play the martyr, "to suffer for truth"—he leaves all that to the ambitious and to the stage-heroes of the intellect, and to all those, in fact, who have time enough for such luxuries (they themselves, the philosophers, have something to do for truth). They make a sparing use of big words; they are said to be adverse to the word "truth" itself: it has a "high falutin'" ring. Finally, as far as the chastity of philosophers is concerned, the fruitfulness of this type of mind is manifestly in another sphere than that of children; perchance in some other sphere, too, they have the survival of their name, their little immortality (philosophers in ancient India would express themselves with still greater boldness: "Of what use is posterity to him whose soul is the world?"). In this attitude there is not a trace of chastity, by reason of any ascetic scruple or hatred of the flesh, any more than it is chastity for an athlete or a jockey to abstain from women; it is rather the will of the dominant instinct, at any rate, during the period of their advanced philosophic pregnancy. Every artist knows the harm done by sexual intercourse on occasions of great mental strain and preparation; as far as the strongest artists and those with the surest instincts are concerned, this is not necessarily a case of experience—hard experience—but it is simply their "maternal" instinct which, in order to benefit the growing work, disposes recklessly (beyond all its normal stocks and supplies) of the vigour of its animal life; the greater power then absorbs the lesser. Let us now apply this interpretation to gauge correctly the case of Schopenhauer, which we have already mentioned: in his case, the sight of the beautiful acted manifestly like a resolving irritant on the chief power of his nature (the power of contemplation and of intense penetration); so that this strength exploded and became suddenly master of his consciousness. But this by no means excludes the possibility of that particular sweetness and fulness, which is peculiar to the aesthetic state, springing directly from the ingredient of sensuality (just as that "idealism" which is peculiar to girls at puberty originates in the same source)—it may be, consequently, that sensuality is not removed by the approach of the aesthetic state, as Schopenhauer believed, but merely becomes transfigured, and ceases to enter into the consciousness as sexual excitement. (I shall return once again to this point in connection with the more delicate problems of the physiology of the æesthetic, a subject which up to the present has been singularly untouched and unelucidated.)
A certain asceticism, a grimly gay whole-hearted renunciation, is, as we have seen, one of the most favourable conditions for the highest intellectualism, and, consequently, for the most natural corollaries of such intellectualism: we shall therefore be proof against any surprise at the philosophers in particular always treating the ascetic ideal with a certain amount of predilection. A serious historical investigation shows the bond between the ascetic ideal and philosophy to be still much tighter and still much stronger. It may be said that it was only in the leading strings of this ideal that philosophy really learnt to make its first steps and baby paces—alas how clumsily, alas how crossly, alas how ready to tumble down and lie on its stomach was this shy little darling of a brat with its bandy legs! The early history of philosophy is like that of all good things;—for a long time they had not the courage to be themselves, they kept always looking round to see if no one would come to their help; further, they were afraid of all who looked at them. Just enumerate in order the particular tendencies and virtues of the philosopher—his tendency to doubt, his tendency to deny, his tendency to wait (to be "ephectic"), his tendency to analyse, search, explore, dare, his tendency to compare and to equalise, his will to be neutral and objective, his will for everything which is "sine ira et studio": has it yet been realised that for quite a lengthy period these tendencies went counter to the first claims of morality and conscience? (To say nothing at all of Reason, which even Luther chose to call Frau Klüglin the sly whore.) Has it been yet appreciated that a philosopher, in the event of his arriving at self-consciousness, must needs feel himself an incarnate "nitimur in vetitum,"—and consequently guard himself against "his own sensations," against self-consciousness? It is, I repeat, just the same with all good things, on which we now pride ourselves; even judged by the standard of the ancient Greeks, our whole modern life, in so far as it is not weakness, but power and the consciousness of power, appears pure "Hybris" and godlessness: for the things which are the very reverse of those which we honour to-day, have had for a long time conscience on their side, and God as their guardian. "Hybris" is our whole attitude to nature nowadays, our violation of nature with the help of machinery, and all the unscrupulous ingenuity of our scientists and engineers. "Hybris" is our attitude to God, that is, to some alleged teleological and ethical spider behind the meshes of the great trap of the causal web. Like Charles the Bold in his war with Louis the Eleventh, we may say, "je combats l'universelle araignée"; "Hybris" is our attitude to ourselves—for we experiment with ourselves in a way that we would not allow with any animal, and with pleasure and curiosity open our soul in our living body: what matters now to us the "salvation" of the soul? We heal ourselves afterwards: being ill is instructive, we doubt it not, even more instructive than being well—inoculators of disease seem to us to-day even more necessary than any medicine-men and "saviours." There is no doubt we do violence to ourselves nowadays, we crackers of the soul's kernel, we incarnate riddles, who are ever asking riddles, as though life were naught else than the cracking of a nut; and even thereby must we necessarily become day by day more and more worthy to be asked questions and worthy to ask them, even thereby do we perchance also become worthier to—live?
. . . All good things were once bad things; from every original sin has grown an original virtue. Marriage, for example, seemed for a long time a sin against the rights of the community; a man formerly paid a fine for the insolence of claiming one woman to himself (to this phase belongs, for instance, the jus primae noctis to-day still in Cambodia the privilege of the priest, that guardian of the "good old customs").
The soft, benevolent, yielding, sympathetic feelings—eventually valued so highly that they almost became "intrinsic values," were for a very long time actually despised by their possessors: gentleness was then a subject for shame, just as hardness is now (compare Beyond Good and Evil, Aph. 260). The submission to law: oh, with what qualms of conscience was it that the noble races throughout the world renounced the vendetta and gave the law power over themselves! Law was long a vetitum, a blasphemy, an innovation; it was introduced with force like a force, to which men only submitted with a sense of personal shame. Every tiny step forward in the world was formerly made at the cost of mental and physical torture. Nowadays the whole of this point of view—"that not only stepping forward, nay, stepping at all, movement, change, all needed their countless martyrs," rings in our ears quite strangely. I have put it forward in the Dawn of Day, Aph. 18. "Nothing is purchased more dearly," says the same book a little later, "than the modicum of human reason and freedom which is now our pride. But that pride is the reason why it is now almost impossible for us to feel in sympathy with those immense periods of the 'Morality of Custom,' which lie at the beginning of the 'world's history,' constituting as they do the real decisive historical principle which has fixed the character of humanity; those periods, I repeat, when throughout the world suffering passed for virtue, cruelty for virtue, deceit for virtue, revenge for virtue, repudiation of the reason for virtue; and when, conversely, well-being passed current for danger, the desire for knowledge for danger, pity for danger, peace for danger, being pitied for shame, work for shame, madness for divinity, and change for immorality and incarnate corruption!"
There is in the same book, Aph. 12, an explanation of the burden of unpopularity under which the earliest race of contemplative men had to live—despised almost as widely as they were first feared! Contemplation first appeared on earth in a disguised shape, in an ambiguous form, with an evil heart and often with an uneasy head: there is no doubt about it. The inactive, brooding, unwarlike element in the instincts of contemplative men long invested them with a cloud of suspicion: the only way to combat this was to excite a definite fear. And the old Brahmans, for example, knew to a nicety how to do this! The oldest philosophers were well versed in giving to their very existence and appearance, meaning, firmness, background, by reason whereof men learnt to fear them; considered more precisely, they did this from an even more fundamental need, the need of inspiring in themselves fear and self-reverence. For they found even in their own souls all the valuations turned against themselves; they had to fight down every kind of suspicion and antagonism against "the philosophic element in themselves." Being men of a terrible age, they did this with terrible means: cruelty to themselves, ingenious self-mortification—this was the chief method of these ambitious hermits and intellectual revolutionaries, who were obliged to force down the gods and the traditions of their own soul, so as to enable themselves to believe in their own revolution. I remember the famous story of the King Vicvamitra, who, as the result of a thousand years of self-martyrdom, reached such a consciousness of power and such a confidence in himself that he undertook to build a new heaven: the sinister symbol of the oldest and newest history of philosophy in the whole world. Every one who has ever built anywhere a "new heaven" first found the power thereto in his own hell. . . . Let us compress the facts into a short formula. The philosophic spirit had, in order to be possible to any extent at all, to masquerade and disguise itself as one of the previously fixed types of the contemplative man, to disguise itself as priest, wizard, soothsayer, as a religious man generally: the ascetic ideal has for a long time served the philosopher as a superficial form, as a condition which enabled him to exist. . . . To be able to be a philosopher he had to exemplify the ideal; to exemplify it, he was bound to believe in it. The peculiarly etherealised abstraction of philosophers, with their negation of the world, their enmity to life, their disbelief in the senses, which has been maintained up to the most recent time, and has almost thereby come to be accepted as the ideal philosophic attitude—this abstraction is the result of those enforced conditions under which philosophy came into existence, and continued to exist; inasmuch as for quite a very long time philosophy would have been absolutely impossible in the world without an ascetic cloak and dress, without an ascetic self-misunderstanding. Expressed plainly and palpably, the ascetic priest has taken the repulsive and sinister form of the caterpillar, beneath which and behind which alone philosophy could live and slink about. . . .
Has all that really changed? Has that flamboyant and dangerous winged creature, that "spirit" which that caterpillar concealed within itself, has it, I say, thanks to a sunnier, warmer, lighter world, really and finally flung off its hood and escaped into the light? Can we to-day point to enough pride, enough daring, enough courage, enough self-confidence, enough mental will, enough will for responsibility, enough freedom of the will, to enable the philosopher to be now in the world really—possible?
And now, after we have caught sight of the ascetic priest, let us tackle our problem. What is the meaning of the ascetic ideal? It now first becomes serious—vitally serious. We are now confronted with the real representatives of the serious. "What is the meaning of all seriousness?" This even more radical question is perchance already on the tip of our tongue: a question, fairly, for physiologists, but which we for the time being skip. In that ideal the ascetic priest finds not only his faith, but also his will, his power, his interest. His right to existence stands and falls with that ideal. What wonder that we here run up against a terrible opponent (on the supposition, of course, that we are the opponents of that ideal), an opponent fighting for his life against those who repudiate that ideal! ... On the other hand, it is from the outset improbable that such a biased attitude towards our problem will do him any particular good; the ascetic priest himself will scarcely prove the happiest champion of his own ideal (on the same principle on which a woman usually fails when she wishes to champion "woman")—let alone proving the most objective critic and judge of the controversy now raised. We shall therefore—so much is already obvious—rather have actually to help him to defend himself properly against ourselves, than we shall have to fear being too well beaten by him. The idea, which is the subject of this dispute, is the value of our life from the standpoint of the ascetic priests: this life, then (together with the whole of which it is a part, "Nature," "the world," the whole sphere of becoming and passing away), is placed by them in relation to an existence of quite another character, which it excludes and to which it is opposed, unless it deny its own self: in this case, the case of an ascetic life, life is taken as a bridge to another existence. The ascetic treats life as a maze, in which one must walk backwards till one comes to the place where it starts; or he treats it as an error which one may, nay must, refute by action: for he demands that he should be followed; he enforces, where he can, his valuation of existence. What does this mean? Such a monstrous valuation is not an exceptional case, or a curiosity recorded in human history: it is one of the most general and persistent facts that there are. The reading from the vantage of a distant star of the capital letters of our earthly life, would perchance lead to the conclusion that the earth was the especially ascetic planet, a den of discontented, arrogant, and repulsive creatures, who never got rid of a deep disgust of themselves, of the world, of all life, and did themselves as much hurt as possible out of pleasure in hurting—presumably their one and only pleasure. Let us consider how regularly, how universally, how practically at every single period the ascetic priest puts in his appearance: he belongs to no particular race; he thrives everywhere; he grows out of all classes. Not that he perhaps bred this valuation by heredity and propagated it—the contrary is the case. It must be a necessity of the first order which makes this species, hostile, as it is, to life, always grow again and always thrive again.—Life itself must certainly have an interest in the continuance of such a type of self-contradiction. For an ascetic life is a self-contradiction: here rules resentment without parallel, the resentment of an insatiate instinct and ambition, that would be master, not over some element in life, but over life itself, over life's deepest, strongest, innermost conditions; here is an attempt made to utilise power to dam the sources of power; here does the green eye of jealousy tum even against physiological well-being, especially against the expression of such well-being, beauty, joy, while a sense of pleasure is experienced and sought in abortion, in decay, in pain, in misfortune, in ugliness, in voluntary punishment, in the exercising, flagellation, and sacrifice of the self. All this is in the highest degree paradoxical: we are here confronted with a rift that wills itself to be a rift, which enjoys itself in this very suffering, and even becomes more and more certain of itself, more and more triumphant, in proportion as its own presupposition, physiological vitality, decreases. "The triumph just in the supreme agony": under this extravagant emblem did the ascetic ideal fight from of old; in this mystery of seduction, in this picture of rapture and torture, it recognised its brightest light, its salvation, its final victory. Crux, nux, lux—it has all these three in one.
Granted that such an incarnate will for contradiction and unnaturalness is induced to philosophise; on what will it vent its pet caprice? On that which has been felt with the greatest certainty to be true, to be real; it will look for error in those very places where the life instinct fixes truth with the greatest positiveness. It will, for instance, after the example of the ascetics of the Vedanta Philosophy, reduce matter to an illusion, and similarly treat pain, multiplicity, the whole logical contrast of "Subject" and "Object"—errors, nothing but errors! To renounce the belief in one's own ego, to deny to one's self one's own "reality"—what a triumph! and here already we have a much higher kind of triumph, which is not merely a triumph over the senses, over the palpable, but an infliction of violence and cruelty on reason; and this ecstasy culminates in the ascetic self-contempt, the ascetic scorn of one's own reason making this decree: there is a domain of truth and of life, but reason is specially excluded therefrom. . . . By the bye, even in the Kantian idea of "the intelligible character of things" there remains a trace of that schism, so dear to the heart of the ascetic, that schism which likes to turn reason against reason; in fact, "intelligible character" means in Kant a kind of quality in things of which the intellect comprehends so much, that for it, the intellect, it is absolutely incomprehensible. After all, let us, in our character of knowers, not be ungrateful towards such determined reversals of the ordinary perspectives and values, with which the mind had for too long raged against itself with an apparently futile sacrilege! In the same way the very seeing of another vista, the very wishing to see another vista, is no little training and preparation of the intellect for its eternal "Objectivity"—objectivity being understood not as "contemplation without interest" (for that is inconceivable and nonsensical), but as the ability to have the pros and cons in one's power and to switch them on and off, so as to get to know how to utilise, for the advancement of knowledge, the difference in the perspective and in the emotional interpretations. But let us, forsooth, my philosophic colleagues, henceforward guard ourselves more carefully against this mythology of dangerous ancient ideas, which has set up a "pure, will-less, painless, timeless subject of knowledge"; let us guard ourselves from the tentacles of such contradictory ideas as "pure reason," "absolute spirituality," "knowledge-in-itself":—in these theories an eye that cannot be thought of is required to think, an eye which ex hypothesi has no direction at all, an eye in which the active and interpreting functions are cramped, are absent; those functions, I say, by means of which "abstract" seeing first became seeing something; in these theories consequently the absurd and the nonsensical is always demanded of the eye. There is only a seeing from a perspective, only a "knowing" from a perspective, and the more emotions we express over a thing, the more eyes, different eyes, we train on the same thing, the more complete will be our "idea" of that thing, our "objectivity." But the elimination of the will altogether, the switching off of the emotions all and sundry, granted that we could do so, what! would not that be called intellectual castration?
But let us turn back. Such a self-contradiction, as apparently manifests itself among the ascetics, "Life turned against Life," is—so much is absolutely obvious—from the physiological and not now from the psychological standpoint, simply nonsense. It can only be an apparent contradiction; it must be a kind of provisional expression, an explanation, a formula, an adjustment, a psychological misunderstanding of something, whose real nature could not be understood for a long time, and whose real essence could not be described; a mere word jammed into an old gap of human knowledge. To put briefly the facts against its being real: the ascetic ideal springs from the prophylactic and self-preservative instincts which mark a decadent life, which seeks by every means in its power to maintain its position and fight for its existence; it points to a partial physiological depression and exhaustion, against which the most profound and intact life-instincts fight ceaselessly with new weapons and discoveries. The ascetic ideal is such a weapon: its position is consequently exactly the reverse of that which the worshippers of the ideal imagine—life struggles in it and through it with death and against death; the ascetic ideal is a dodge for the preservation of life. An important fact is brought out in the extent to which, as history teaches, this ideal could rule and exercise power over man, especially in all those places where the civilisation and taming of man was completed: that fact is, the diseased state of man up to the present, at any rate, of the man who has been tamed, the physiological struggle of man with death (more precisely, with the disgust with life, with exhaustion, with the wish for the "end"). The ascetic priest is the incarnate wish for an existence of another kind, an existence on another plane,—he is, in fact, the highest point of this wish, its official ecstasy and passion: but it is the very power of this wish which is the fetter that binds him here; it is just that which makes him into a tool that must labour to create more favourable conditions for earthly existence, for existence on the human plane—it is with this very power that he keeps the whole herd of failures, distortions, abortions, unfortunates, sufferers from themselves of every kind, fast to existence, while he as the herdsman goes instinctively on in front. You understand me already: this ascetic priest, this apparent enemy of life, this denier—he actually belongs to the really great conservative and affirmative forces of life. . . . What does it come from, this diseased state? For man is more diseased, more uncertain, more changeable, more unstable than any other animal, there is no doubt of it—he is the diseased animal: what does it spring from? Certainly he has also dared, innovated, braved more, challenged fate more than all the other animals put together; he, the great experimenter with himself, the unsatisfied, the insatiate, who struggles for the supreme mastery with beast, Nature, and gods, he, the as yet ever uncompelled, the ever future, who finds no more any rest from his own aggressive strength, goaded inexorably on by the spur of the future dug into the flesh of the present:—how should not so brave and rich an animal also be the most endangered, the animal with the longest and deepest sickness among all sick animals? . . . Man is sick of it, oft enough there are whole epidemics of this satiety (as about 1348, the time of the Dance of Death): but even this very nausea, this tiredness, this disgust with himself, all this is discharged from him with such force that it is immediately made into a new fetter. His "nay," which he utters to life, brings to light as though by magic an abundance of graceful "yeas"; even when he wounds himself, this master of destruction, of self-destruction, it is subsequently the wound itself that forces him to live.
The more normal is this sickliness in man—and we cannot dispute this normality—the higher honour should be paid to the rare cases of psychical and physical powerfulness, the windfalls of humanity, and the more strictly should the sound be guarded from that worst of air, the air of the sick-room. Is that done? The sick are the greatest danger for the healthy; it is not from the strongest that harm comes to the strong, but from the weakest. Is that known? Broadly considered, it is not for a minute the fear of man, whose diminution should be wished for; for this fear forces the strong to be strong, to be at times terrible—it preserves in its integrity the sound type of man. What is to be feared, what does work with a fatality found in no other fate, is not the great fear of, but the great nausea with, man; and equally so the great pity for man. Supposing that both these things were one day to espouse each other, then inevitably the maximum of monstrousness would immediately come into the world—the "last will" of man, his will for nothingness, Nihilism. And, in sooth, the way is well paved thereto. He who not only has his nose to smell with, but also has eyes and ears, he sniffs almost wherever he goes to-day an air something like that of a mad-house, the air of a hospital—I am speaking, as stands to reason, of the cultured areas of mankind, of every kind of "Europe" that there is in fact in the world. The sick are the great danger of man, not the evil, not the "beasts of prey." They who are from the outset botched, oppressed, broken, those are they, the weakest are they, who most undermine the life beneath the feet of man, who instil the most dangerous venom and scepticism into our trust in life, in man, in ourselves. Where shall we escape from it, from that covert look (from which we carry away a deep sadness), from that averted look of him who is misborn from the beginning, that look which betrays what such a man says to himself—that look which is a groan? "Would that I were something else," so groans this look, "but there is no hope. I am what I am: how could I get away from myself? And, verily—I am sick of myself!" On such a soil of self-contempt, a veritable swamp soil, grows that weed, that poisonous growth, and all so tiny, so hidden, so ignoble, so sugary. Here teem the worms of revenge and vindictiveness; here the air reeks of things secret and unmentionable; here is ever spun the net of the most malignant conspiracy—the conspiracy of the sufferers against the sound and the victorious; here is the sight of the victorious hated. And what lying so as not to acknowledge this hate as hate! What a show of big words and attitudes, what an art of "righteous" calumniation! These abortions! what a noble eloquence gushes from their lips! What an amount of sugary, slimy, humble submission oozes in their eyes! What do they really want? At any rate to represent righteousness, love, wisdom, superiority, that is the ambition of these "lowest ones," these sick ones! And how clever does such an ambition make them! You cannot, in fact, but admire the counterfeiter dexterity with which the stamp of virtue, even the ring, the golden ring of virtue, is here imitated. They have taken a lease of virtue absolutely for themselves, have these weaklings and wretched invalids, there is no doubt of it; "We alone are the good, the righteous," so do they speak, "we alone are the homines bonce voluntatis." They stalk about in our midst as living reproaches, as warnings to us—as though health, fitness, strength, pride, the sensation of power, were really vicious things in themselves, for which one would have some day to do penance, bitter penance. Oh, how they themselves are ready in their hearts to exact penance, how they thirst after being hangmen!
Among them is an abundance of revengeful ones disguised as judges, who ever mouth the word righteousness like a venomous spittle—with mouth, I say, always pursed, always ready to spit at everything, which does not wear a discontented look, but is of good cheer as it goes on its way. Among them, again, is that most loathsome species of the vain, the lying abortions, who make a point of representing "beautiful souls," and perchance of bringing to the market as "purity of heart" their distorted sensualism swathed in verses and other bandages; the species of "self-comforters" and masturbators of their own souls. The sick man's will to represent some form or other of superiority, his instinct for crooked paths, which lead to a tyranny over the healthy—where can it not be found, this will to power of the very weakest? The sick woman especially: no one surpasses her in refinements for ruling, oppressing, tyrannising. The sick woman, moreover, spares nothing living, nothing dead; she grubs up again the most buried things (the Bogos say, "Woman is a hyena"). Look into the background of every family, of every body, of every community: everywhere the fight of the sick against the healthy—a silent fight for the most part with minute poisoned powders, with pin-pricks, with spiteful grimaces of patience, but also at times with that diseased pharisaism of pure pantomime, which plays for the choice role of "righteous indignation." Right into the hallowed chambers of knowledge can it make itself heard, can this hoarse yelping of sick hounds, this, rabid lying and frenzy of such "noble" Pharisees (I remind readers, who have ears, once more of that Berlin apostle of revenge, Eugen Dühring, who makes most disreputable and revolting use in all present-day Germany of moral refuse; Dühring, the paramount moral blusterer that there is to-day, even among his own kind, the Anti-Semites). They are all men of resentment, are these physiological distortions and worm-riddled objects, a whole quivering kingdom of burrowing revenge, indefatigable and insatiable in its outbursts against the happy, and equally so in disguises for revenge, in pretexts for revenge: when will they really reach their final, fondest, most sublime triumph of revenge? At that time, doubtless, when they succeed in pushing their own misery, in fact, all misery, into the consciousness of the happy: so that the latter begin one day to be ashamed of their happiness, and perchance say to themselves when they meet, "It is a shame to be happy; there is too much misery!" . . . But there could not possibly be a greater and more fatal misunderstanding than that of the happy, the fit, the strong in body and soul, beginning in this way to doubt their right to happiness. Away with this "perverse world"! Away with this shameful soddenness of sentiment! Preventing the sick making the healthy sick—for that is what such a soddenness comes to—this ought to be our supreme object in the world—but for this it is above all essential that the healthy should remain separated from the sick, that they should even guard themselves from the look of the sick, that they should not even associate with the sick. Or may it, perchance, be their mission to be nurses or doctors? But they could not mistake and disown their mission more grossly—the higher must not degrade itself to be the tool of the lower, the pathos of distance must to all eternity keep their missions also separate. The right of the happy to existence, the right of bells with a full tone over the discordant cracked bells, is verily a thousand times greater: they alone are the sureties of the future, they alone are bound to man's future. What they can, what they must do, that can the sick never do, should never do! but if they are to be enabled to do what only they must do, how can they possibly be free to play the doctor, the comforter, the "Saviour" of the sick? . . . And therefore good air! good air! and away, at any rate, from the neighbourhood of all the madhouses and hospitals of civilisation! And therefore good company, our own company, or solitude, if it must be so! but away, at any rate, from the evil fumes of internal corruption and the secret worm-eaten state of the sick! that, forsooth, my friends, we may defend ourselves, at any rate for still a time, against the two worst plagues that could have been reserved for us—against the great nausea with man! against the great pity for man!
If you have understood in all their depths—and I demand that you should grasp them profoundly and understand them profoundly—the reasons for the impossibility of its being the business of the healthy to nurse the sick, to make the sick healthy, it follows that you have grasped this further necessity—the necessity of doctors and nurses who themselves are sick. And now we have and hold with both our hands the essence of the ascetic priest. The ascetic priest must be accepted by us as the predestined saviour, herdsman, and champion of the sick herd: thereby do we first understand his awful historic mission. The lordship over sufferers is his kingdom, to that points his instinct, in that he finds his own special art, his master-skill, his kind of happiness. He must himself be sick, he must be kith and kin to the sick and the abortions so as to understand them, so as to arrive at an understanding with them; but he must also be strong, even more master of himself than of others, impregnable, forsooth, in his will for power, so as to acquire the trust and the awe of the weak, so that he can be their hold, bulwark, prop, compulsion, overseer, tyrant, god. He has to protect them, protect his herds—against whom? Against the healthy, doubtless also against the envy towards the healthy. He must be the natural adversary and scorner of every rough, stormy, reinless, hard, violently-predatory health and power. The priest is the first form of the more delicate animal that scorns more easily than it hates. He will not be spared the waging of war with the beasts of prey, a war of guile (of "spirit") rather than of force, as is self-evident—he will in certain cases find it necessary to conjure up out of himself, or at any rate to represent practically a new type of the beast of prey—a new animal monstrosity in which the polar bear, the supple, cold, crouching panther, and, not least important, the fox, are joined together in a trinity as fascinating as it is fearsome. If necessity exacts it, then will he come on the scene with bearish seriousness, venerable, wise, cold, full of treacherous superiority, as the herald and mouthpiece of mysterious powers, sometimes going among even the other kind of beasts of prey, determined as he is to sow on their soil, wherever he can, suffering, discord, self-contradiction, and only too sure of his art, always to be lord of sufferers at all times. He brings with him, doubtless, salve and balsam; but before he can play the physician he must first wound; so, while he soothes the pain which the wound makes, he at the same time poisons the wound. Well versed is he in this above all things, is this wizard and wild beast tamer, in whose vicinity everything healthy must needs become ill, and everything ill must needs become tame. He protects, in sooth, his sick herd well enough, does this strange herdsman; he protects them also against themselves, against the sparks (even in the centre of the herd) of wickedness, knavery, malice, and all the other ills that the plaguey and the sick are heir to; he fights with cunning, hardness, and stealth against anarchy and against the ever imminent break-up inside the herd, where resentment, that most dangerous blasting-stuff and explosive, ever accumulates and accumulates. Getting rid of this blasting-stuff in such a way that it does not blow up the herd and the herdsman, that is his real feat, his supreme utility; if you wish to comprise in the shortest formula the value of the priestly life, it would be correct to say the priest is the diverter of the course of resentment. Every sufferer, in fact, searches instinctively for a cause of his suffering; to put it more exactly, a doer,—to put it still more precisely, a sentient responsible doer,—in brief, something living, on which, either actually or in effigy, he can on any pretext vent his emotions. For the venting of emotions is the sufferer's greatest attempt at alleviation, that is to say, stupefaction, his mechanically desired narcotic against pain of any kind. It is in this phenomenon alone that is found, according to my judgment, the real physiological cause of resentment, revenge, and their family is to be found—that is, in a demand for the deadening of pain through emotion: this cause is generally, but in my view very erroneously, looked for in the defensive parry of a bare protective principle of reaction, of a "reflex movement" in the case of any sudden hurt and danger, after the manner that a decapitated frog still moves in order to get away from a corrosive acid. But the difference is fundamental. In one case the object is to prevent being hurt any more; in the other case the object is to deaden a racking, insidious, nearly unbearable pain by a more violent emotion of any kind whatsoever, and at any rate for the time being to drive it out of the consciousness—for this purpose an emotion is needed, as wild an emotion as possible, and to excite that emotion some excuse or other is needed. "It must be somebody's fault that I feel bad"—this kind of reasoning is peculiar to all invalids, and is but the more pronounced, the more ignorant they remain of the real cause of their feeling bad, the physiological cause (the cause may lie in a disease of the nervous sympathicus, or in an excessive secretion of bile, or in a want of sulphate and phosphate of potash in the blood, or in pressure in the bowels which stops the circulation of the blood, or in degeneration of the ovaries, and so forth). All sufferers have an awful resourcefulness and ingenuity in finding excuses for painful emotions; they even enjoy their jealousy, their broodings over base actions and apparent injuries, they burrow through the intestines of their past and present in their search for obscure mysteries, wherein they will be at liberty to wallow in a torturing suspicion and get drunk on the venom of their own malice—they tear open the oldest wounds, they make themselves bleed from the scars which have long been healed, they make evil-doers out of friends, wife, child, and everything which is nearest to them. "I suffer: it must be somebody's fault"—so thinks every sick sheep. But his herdsman, the ascetic priest, says to him, "Quite so, my sheep, it must be the fault of some one; but thou thyself art that same one, it is all the fault of thyself alone—it is all the fault of thyself alone against thyself: that is bold enough, false enough, but one thing is at least attained; thereby, as I have said, the course of resentment is—diverted.
You can see now what the remedial instinct of life has at least tried to effect, according to my conception, through the ascetic priest, and the purpose for which he had to employ a temporary tyranny of such paradoxical and anomalous ideas as "guilt," "sin," "sinfulness," "corruption," "damnation." What was done was to make the sick harmless up to a certain point, to destroy the incurable by means of themselves, to turn the milder cases severely on to themselves, to give their resentment a backward direction ("man needs but one thing"), and to exploit similarly the bad instincts of all sufferers with a view to self-discipline, self-surveillance, self-mastery. It is obvious that there can be no question at all in the case of a "medication" of this kind, a mere emotional medication, of any real healing of the sick in the physiological sense; it cannot even for a moment be asserted that in this connection the instinct of life has taken healing as its goal and purpose. On the one hand, a kind of congestion and organisation of the sick (the word "Church" is the most popular name for it); on the other, a kind of provisional safeguarding of the comparatively healthy, the more perfect specimens, the cleavage of a rift between healthy and sick—for a long time that was all! and it was much! it was very much!
I am proceeding, as you see, in this essay, from an hypothesis which, as far as such readers as I want are concerned, does not require to be proved; the hypothesis that "sinfulness" in man is not an actual fact, but rather merely the interpretation of a fact, of a physiological discomfort,—a discomfort seen through a moral religious perspective which is no longer binding upon us. The fact, therefore, that any one feels "guilty," "sinful," is certainly not yet any proof that he is right in feeling so, any more than any one is healthy simply because he feels healthy. Remember the celebrated witch-ordeals: in those days the most acute and humane judges had no doubt but that in these cases they were confronted with guilt,—the "witches" themselves had no doubt on the point,—and yet the guilt was lacking. Let me elaborate this hypothesis: I do not for a minute accept the very "pain in the soul" as a real fact, but only as an explanation (a casual explanation) of facts that could not hitherto be precisely formulated; I regard it therefore as something as yet absolutely in the air and devoid of scientific cogency—just a nice fat word in the place of a lean note of interrogation. When any one fails to get rid of his "pain in the soul," the cause is, speaking crudely, to be found not in his "soul" but more probably in his stomach (speaking crudely, I repeat, but by no means wishing thereby that you should listen to me or understand me in a crude spirit). A strong and well-constituted man digests his experiences (deeds and misdeeds all included) just as he digests his meats, even when he has some tough morsels to swallow. If he fails to "relieve himself" of an experience, this kind of indigestion is quite as much physiological as the other indigestion—and indeed, in more ways than one, simply one of the results of the other. You can adopt such a theory, and yet entre nous be nevertheless the strongest opponent of all materialism.
But is he really a physician, this ascetic priest? We already understand why we are scarcely allowed to call him a physician, however much he likes to feel a "saviour" and let himself be worshipped as a saviour. It is only the actual suffering, the discomfort of the sufferer, which he combats, not its cause, not the actual state of sickness—this needs must constitute our most radical objection to priestly medication. But just once put yourself into that point of view, of which the priests have a monopoly, you will find it hard to exhaust your amazement, at what from that standpoint he has completely seen, sought, and found. The mitigation of suffering, every kind of "consoling"—all this manifests itself as his very genius: with what ingenuity has he interpreted his mission of consoler, with what aplomb and audacity has he chosen weapons necessary for the part. Christianity in particular should be dubbed a great treasure-chamber of ingenious consolations,—such a store of refreshing, soothing, deadening drugs has it accumulated within itself; so many of the most dangerous and daring expedients has it hazarded; with such subtlety, refinement. Oriental refinement, has it divined what emotional stimulants can conquer, at any rate for a time, the deep depression, the leaden fatigue, the black melancholy of physiological cripples—for, speaking generally, all religions are mainly concerned with fighting a certain fatigue and heaviness that has infected everything. You can regard it as prima facie probable that in certain places in the world there was almost bound to prevail from time to time among large masses of the population a sense of physiological depression, which, however, owing to their lack of physiological knowledge, did not appear to their consciousness as such, so that consequently its "cause" and its cure can only be sought and essayed in the science of moral psychology (this, in fact, is my most general formula for what is generally called a "religion"). Such a feeling of depression can have the most diverse origins; it may be the result of the crossing of too heterogeneous races (or of classes—genealogical and racial differences are also brought out in the classes: the European "Weltschmerz," the "Pessimism" of the nineteenth century, is really the result of an absurd and sudden class-mixture); it may be brought about by a mistaken emigration—a race falling into a climate for which its power of adaptation is insufficient (the case of the Indians in India); it may be the effect of old age and fatigue (the Parisian pessimism from 1850 onwards); it may be a wrong diet (the alcoholism of the Middle Ages, the nonsense of vegetarianism—which, however, have in their favour the authority of Sir Christopher in Shakespeare); it may be blood-deterioration, malaria, syphilis, and the like (German depression after the Thirty Years' War, which infected half Germany with evil diseases, and thereby paved the way for German servility, for German pusillanimity). In such a case there is invariably recourse to a war on a grand scale with the feeling of depression; let us inform ourselves briefly on its most important practices and phases (I leave on one side, as stands to reason, the actual philosophic war against the feeling of depression which is usually simultaneous—it is interesting enough, but too absurd, too practically negligible, too full of cobwebs, too much of a hole-and-corner affair, especially when pain is proved to be a mistake, on the naïf hypothesis that pain must needs vanish when the mistake underlying it is recognised—but behold! it does anything but vanish . . .). That dominant depression is primarily fought by weapons which reduce the consciousness of life itself to the lowest degree. Wherever possible, no more wishes, no more wants; shun everything which produces emotion, which produces "blood" (eating no salt, the fakir hygiene); no love; no hate; equanimity; no revenge; no getting rich; no work; begging! as far as possible, no woman, or as little woman as possible; as far as the intellect is concerned, Pascal's principle, "il faut s'abêtir." To put the result in ethical and psychological language, "self-annihilation," "sanctification"; to put it in physiological language, "hypnotism"—the attempt to find some approximate human equivalent for what hibernation is for certain animals, for what (aestivation is for many tropical plants, a minimum of assimilation and metabolism in which life just manages to subsist without really coming into the consciousness. An amazing amount of human energy has been devoted to this object—perhaps uselessly? There cannot be the slightest doubt but that such sportsmen of "saintliness," in whom at times nearly every nation has abounded, have really found a genuine relief from that which they have combated with such a rigorous training—in countless cases they really escaped by the help of their system of hypnotism away from deep physiological depression; their method is consequently counted among the most universal ethnological facts. Similarly it is improper to consider such a plan for starving the physical element and the desires, as in itself a symptom of insanity (as a clumsy species of roast-beef-eating "freethinkers" and Sir Christophers are fain to do); all the more certain is it that their method can and does pave the way to all kinds of mental disturbances, for instance, "inner lights" (as far as the case of Hesychasts of Mount Athos), auditory and visual hallucinations, voluptuous ecstasies and effervescences of sensualism (the history of St. Theresa). The explanation of such events given by the victims is always the acme of fanatical falsehood; this is self-evident. Note well, however, the tone of implicit gratitude that rings in the very will for an explanation of such a character. The supreme state, salvation itself, that final goal of universal hypnosis and peace, is always regarded by them as the mystery of mysteries, which even the most supreme symbols are inadequate to express; it is regarded as an entry and homecoming to the essence of things, as a liberation from all illusions, as "knowledge," as "truth," as "being," as an escape from every end, every wish, every action, as something even beyond Good and Evil.
"Good and Evil," quoth the Buddhists, "both are fetters. The perfect man is master of them both."
"The done and the undone," quoth the disciple of the Vedanta, "do him no hurt; the good and the evil he shakes from off him, sage that he is; his kingdom suffers no more from any act; good and evil, he goes beyond them both."—An absolutely Indian conception, as much Brahmanist as Buddhist. Neither in the Indian nor in the Christian doctrine is this "Redemption" regarded as attainable by means of virtue and moral improvement, however high they may place the value of the hypnotic efficiency of virtue: keep clear on this point—indeed it simply corresponds with the facts. The fact that they remained true on this point is perhaps to be regarded as the best specimen of realism in the three great religions, absolutely soaked as they are with morality, with this one exception. "For those who know, there is no duty." "Redemption is not attained by the acquisition of virtues; for redemption consists in being one with Brahman, who is incapable of acquiring any perfection; and equally little does it consist in the giving up of faults, for the Brahman, unity with whom is what constitutes redemption, is eternally pure" (these passages are from the Commentaries of the Cankara, quoted from the first real European expert of the Indian philosophy, my friend Paul Deussen). We wish, therefore, to pay honour to the idea of "redemption" in the great religions, but it is somewhat hard to remain serious in view of the appreciation meted out to the deep sleep by these exhausted pessimists who are too tired even to dream—to the deep sleep considered, that is, as already a fusing into Brahman, as the attainment of the unio mystica with God. "When he has completely gone to sleep," says on this point the oldest and most venerable "script," "and come to perfect rest, so that he sees no more any vision, then, oh dear one, is he united with Being, he has entered into his own self—encircled by the Self with its absolute knowledge, he has no more any consciousness of that which is without or of that which is within. Day and night cross not these bridges, nor age, nor death, nor suffering, nor good deeds, nor evil deeds." "In deep sleep," say similarly the believers in this deepest of the three great religions, "does the soul lift itself from out this body of ours, enters the supreme light and stands out therein in its true shape: therein is it the supreme spirit itself, which travels about, while it rests and plays and enjoys itself, whether with women, or chariots, or friends; there do its thoughts turn no more back to this appanage of a body, to which the 'prana' (the vital breath) is harnessed like a beast of burden to the cart." None the less we will take care to realise (as we did when discussing "redemption") that in spite of all its pomps of Oriental extravagance this simply expresses the same criticism on life as did the clear, cold, Greekly cold, but yet suffering Epicurus. The hypnotic sensation of nothingness, the peace of deepest sleep, anaesthesia in short—that is what passes with the sufferers and the absolutely depressed for, forsooth, their supreme good, their value of values; that is what must be treasured by them as something positive, be felt by them as the essence of the Positive (according to the same logic of the feelings, nothingness is in all pessimistic religions called God).
Such a hypnotic deadening of sensibility and susceptibility to pain, which presupposes somewhat rare powers, especially courage, contempt of opinion, intellectual stoicism, is less frequent than another and certainly easier training which is tried against states of depression. I mean mechancal activity. It is indisputable that a suffering existence can be thereby considerably alleviated. This fact is called to-day by the somewhat ignoble title of the "Blessing of work." The alleviation consists in the attention of the sufferer being absolutely diverted from suffering, in the incessant monopoly of the consciousness by action, so that consequently there is little room left for suffering—for narrow is it, this chamber of human consciousness! Mechanical activity and its corollaries, such as absolute regularity, punctilious unreasoning obedience, the chronic routine of life, the complete occupation of time, a certain liberty to be impersonal, nay, a training in "impersonality," self-forgetfulness, "incuria sui"