Friedrich Nietzsche, Daybreak:  Reflections on Moral Prejudice. Morgenröte: Gedanken über die moralischen Vorurteile (also could be translated as The Dawn).

Written and published in 1881.

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How must we act?  Why must we act?  Concerning the most fundamental and immediate needs of the individual it is easy to answer these questions but as we enter into the more important and more subtle domains of action the more the problem becomes uncertain and the more arbitrary its solution.  An arbitrary decision however is precisely what must be avoided here-thus commands the authority of morals: an obscure fear and awe must guide man in those very actions where the objectives and means are not immediately obvious.  This authority of morals undermines our thinking faculty in regard to those things where it might be dangerous to think wrongly—at least, that is the way that morality usually justifies itself to its accusers.  Wrong in this case means dangerous; but dangerous to whom?  It is not the danger to the actor of the action which the supporters of authoritative morals have in mind but their own danger; their loss of power and influence that might result if the right to act according to one’s own greater or lesser reason—however wilfully and foolishly—were accorded to all men.  They on their part make unhesitating use of their own right to arbitrariness and folly—they even issue commands in cases where it is hardly possible or at all events very difficult to answer the questions "How am I to act, why must I act"?  Furthermore, if the reason of mankind grows with such extraordinary slowness that it is often possible to deny its growth during the whole course of humanity, what is more to blame for this than the solemn presence—even omnipresence—of moral commands which do not even permit the question of how and why to be asked at all?  Have we not been educated precisely in such a way as to make us feel pathetically and thus to obscure our vision at the very time when our reason should be able to see as clearly and calmly as possible—i.  e.  on all higher and more important questions?  

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