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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The Food of the Modern Man He has learned to digest many things; nay almost everything; it is his ambition to do so.  He would however be really of a higher order if he did not understand this so well: homo pamphagus is not the finest type of the human race.  We live between a past which had a more wayward and deranged taste than we and a future which will possibly have a more select taste—we live too much midway.  


Tragedy and Music Men of essentially warlike disposition such for example as the ancient Greeks in the time of Aeschylus are difficult to rouse and when pity once triumphs over their hardness they are seized as by a kind of giddiness or a "demoniacal power"—they feel themselves overpowered and thrilled by a religious horror.  After this they become sceptical about their condition; but as long as they are in it they enjoy the charm of being as it were outside themselves and the delight of the marvellous mixed with the bitterest gall of suffering: this is the proper kind of drink for fighting men—something rare dangerous and bitter—sweet which does not often fall to one's lot.  Tragedy appeals to souls who feel pity in this way to those fierce and warlike souls which are difficult to overcome whether by fear or pity but which lose nothing by being softened from time to time.  Of what use however is tragedy to those who are as open to the "sympathetic affections "as the sails of a ship to the wind!  When at the time of Plato the Athenians had become more softened and sensitive Oh, how far they were still removed from the gushing emotions of the inhabitants of our modern towns and villages!  And yet even then the philosophers were beginning to complain of the injurious nature of tragedy.  An epoch full of danger such as that now beginning in which bravery and manliness are rising in value will perhaps again harden souls to such an extent that they will once more stand in need of tragic poets: but in the meantime these are somewhat superfluous to put it mildly.  For music too a better age may be approaching (it will certainly be a more evil age!)  when artists will have to make their music appeal to strongly individual beings beings which will have become hard and which will be dominated by the gloomy earnestness of their own passion; but of what use is music to the little souls of the present age which is fast passing away souls that are too unsteady ill-developed half—personal inquisitive and covetous of everything?  


The Flatterers of Work In the glorification of "work "and the never—ceasing talk about the "blessing of labour" I see the same secret arriere pensee as I do in the praise bestowed on impersonal acts of a general interest viz.  a fear of everything individual.  For at the sight of work—that is to say severe toil from morning till night—we have the feeling that it is the best police viz.  that it holds everyone in check and effectively hinders the development of reason of greed and of desire for independence.  For work uses up an extraordinary proportion of nervous force withdrawing it from reflection meditation dreams cares love and hatred; it dangles unimportant aims before the eyes of the worker and affords easy and regular gratification.  Thus it happens that a society where work is continually being performed will enjoy greater security and it is security which is now venerated as the supreme deity.  And now horror of horrors!  it is the "workman "himself who has become dangerous; the whole world is swarming with "dangerous individuals" and behind them follows the danger of dangers—the individuum!  


The Moral Fashion of a Commercial Community Behind the principle of the present moral fashion: "Moral actions are actions performed out of sympathy for others" I see the social instinct of fear which thus assumes an intellectual disguise: this instinct sets forth as its supreme most important and most immediate principle that life shall be relieved of all the dangerous characteristics which it possessed in former times and that everyone must help with all his strength towards the attainment of this end.  It is for that reason that only those actions which keep in view the general security and the feeling of security of society are called "good".  How little joy must men now have in themselves when such a tyranny of fear prescribes their supreme moral law if they make no objection when commanded to turn their eyes from themselves and to look aside from themselves!  And yet at the same time they have lynx eyes for all distress and suffering elsewhere!  Are we not then with this gigantic intention of ours of smoothing down every sharp edge and corner in life utilising the best means of turning mankind into sand!  Small soft round infinite sand!  Is that your ideal you harbingers of the "sympathetic affections "?  In the meantime even the question remains unanswered whether we are of more use to other people in running immediately and continually to his help—which for the most part can only be done in a very superficial way as otherwise it would become a tyrannical meddling and changing—or by transforming ourselves into something which other people can look upon with pleasure-something for example which may be compared to a beautiful quiet and secluded garden protected by high walls against storms and the dust of the roads but likewise with a hospitable gate.  


Fundamental Basis of a Culture of Traders We have now an opportunity of watching the manifold growth of the culture of a society of which commerce is the soul just as personal rivalry was the soul of culture among the ancient Greeks and war conquest and law among the ancient Romans.  The tradesman is able to value everything without producing it and to value it according to the requirements of the consumer rather than his own personal needs.  "How many and what class of people will consume this?  "Is his question of questions.  Hence he instinctively and incessantly employs this mode of evaluation and applies it to everything including the productions of art and science and of thinkers, scholars, artists, statesmen, nations, political parties and even entire ages: with respect to everything produced or created he inquires into the supply and demand in order to estimate for himself the value of a thing.  This when once it has been made the principle of an entire culture worked out to its most minute and subtle details and imposed upon every kind of will and knowledge this is what you men of the coming century will be proud of—if the prophets of the commercial classes are right in putting that century into your possession!  Yet I have little belief in these prophets.  Credat Judaeus Apella—to speak with Horace.  


The Criticism of our Ancestors Why should we now endure the truth even about the most recent past?  Because there is now always a new generation which feels itself in contradiction to the past and enjoys in this criticism the first fruits of its sense of power.  In former times the new generation on the contrary wished to base itself on the old and began to feel conscious of its power not only in accepting the opinions of its ancestors but if possible taking them even more seriously.  To criticise ancestral authority was in former times a vice; but at the present time our idealists begin by making it their starting point.  


To learn Solitude O you poor fellows in the great centres of the world's politics you young and talented men who urged on by ambition think it your duty to propound your opinion of every event of the day—for something is always happening—who by thus making a noise and raising a cloud of dust mistake yourselves for the rolling chariot of history; who because you always listen always suit the moment when you can put in your word or two thereby lose all real productiveness.  Whatever may be your desire to accomplish great deeds the deep silence of pregnancy never comes to you!  The event of the day sweeps you along like straws before the wind whilst you lie under the illusion that you are chasing the event—poor fellows!  If a man wishes to act the hero on the stage he must not think of forming part of the chorus; he should not even know how the chorus is made up.  


Daily Wear and Tear These young men are lacking neither in character nor talent nor zeal but they have never had sufficient time to choose their own path; they have on the contrary been habituated from the most tender age to have their path pointed out to them.  At the time when they were ripe enough to be sent into the "desert" something else was done with them.  They were turned to account estranged from themselves and brought up in such a way that they became accustomed to be worn out by their daily toil.  This was imposed on them as a duty and now they cannot do without it; they would not wish it to be otherwise.  The only thing that cannot be refused to these poor beasts of burden is their "holidays "— such is the name they give to this ideal of leisure in an overworked century; "holidays" in which they may for once be idle, idiotic and childish to their heart's content.  


As little State as possible!  All political and economic matters are not of such great value that they ought to be dealt with by the most talented minds: such a waste of intellect is at bottom worse than any state of distress.  These matters are and ever will be the province of smaller minds and others than the smaller minds should not be at the service of this workshop: it would be better to let the machinery work itself to pieces again!  Yet as matters stand at the present time when not only do all people believe that they must know all about it day by day but wish likewise to be always busy about it and in so doing neglect their own work.  it is a great and ridiculous mistake.  The price that has to be paid for the "public safety "is far too high and what is maddest of all we effect the very opposite of "public safety" a fact which our own dear century has undertaken to prove as if this had never been proved before!  To make society secure against thieves and fire and to render it thoroughly fit for all kinds of trade and traffic and to transform the State in a good and evil sense into a kind of Providence—these aims are low mediocre and not by any means indispensable; and we should not seek to attain them by the aid of the highest means and instruments which exist—means which we should reserve precisely for our highest and rarest aims!  Our age, however much it may chatter about economy is in fact wasteful: it wastes spirit the most precious thing of all.  


Wars The great wars of our own day are the outcome of historical study.  


Governing Some people govern because of their passion for governing; others in order that they may not be governed—the latter choose it as the lesser of two evils.  


Rough and Ready Consistency People say of a man with great respect "He is a character "— that is when he exhibits a rough and ready consistency when it is evident even to the dullest eye.  Yet whenever a more subtle and profound intellect sets itself up and shows consistency in a higher manner the spectators deny the existence of any character.  That is why cunning statesmen usually act their comedy under the cloak of a kind of rough and ready consistency.  


The Old and the Young " There is something immoral about Parliaments"—so many people still think—"for in them views even against the Government may be expressed.  "—"We should always adopt that view of a subject which our gracious Lord commands"—this is the eleventh commandment in many an honest old head especially in Northern Germany.  We laugh at it as an out—of—date fashion but in former times it was the moral law itself.  Perhaps we shall again someday laugh at that which is now considered as moral by a generation brought up under a parliamentary regime namely the policy of placing one's party before one's own wisdom and of answering every question concerning the public welfare in such a way as to fill the sails of the party with a favourable gust of wind.  "We must take that view of a subject which the position of our party calls for "— such would be the canon.  In the service of such morals we may now behold every kind of sacrifice even martyrdom and conquest over one's self.  


The State as a Production of Anarchists In countries inhabited by tractable men there are always a few backsliders and intractable people.  For the present the latter have joined the Socialists more than any other party.  If it should happen that these people once come to have the making of the laws they may be relied upon to impose iron chains upon themselves and to practise a dreadful discipline—they know themselves!  And they will endure these harsh laws with the knowledge that they themselves have imposed them—the feeling of power and of this particular power will be too recent among them and too attractive for them not to suffer anything for its sake.  


Beggars Beggars ought to be suppressed; because we get angry both when we help them and when we do not.  


Business Men Your business is your greatest prejudice it binds you to your locality your society and your tastes.  Diligent in business but lazy in thought satisfied with your paltriness and with the cloak of duty concealing this contentment: thus you live and thus you like your children to be.  


A Possible Future Is it impossible for us to imagine a social state in which the criminal will publicly denounce himself and dictate his own punishment in the proud feeling that he is thus honouring the law which he himself has made that he is exercising his power the power of a lawmaker in thus punishing himself?  He may offend for once but by his own voluntary punishment he raises himself above his offence and not only expiates it by his frankness greatness and calmness but adds to it a public benefit.  Such would be the criminal of a possible future a criminal who would it is true presuppose a future legislation based upon this fundamental idea: "I yield in great things as well as in small only to the law which I myself have made".  How many experiments must yet be made!  How many futures have yet to dawn upon mankind!  


Stimulants and Food Nations are deceived so often because they are always looking for a deceiver i e.  a stimulating wine for their senses.  When they can only have this wine they are glad to put up even with inferior bread.  Intoxication is to them more than nutriment—this is the bait with which they always let themselves be caught!  What to them are men chosen from among themselves—although they may be the most expert specialists—as compared with the brilliant conquerors or ancient and magnificent princely houses!  In order that he may inspire them with faith the demagogue must at least exhibit to them a prospect of conquest and splendour.  People will always obey and even do more than obey provided that they can become intoxicated in doing so.  We may not even offer them repose and pleasure without this laurel crown and its maddening influence.  This vulgar taste which ascribes greater importance to intoxication than nutrition did not by any means originate in the lower ranks of the population: it was on the contrary transplanted there and on this backward soil it grows in great abundance whilst its real origin must be sought amongst the highest intellects where it flourished for thousands of years.  The people is the last virgin soil upon which this brilliant weed can grow.  Well then is it really to the people that we should entrust politics in order that they may thereby have their daily intoxication?  


High Politics Whatever may be the influence in high politics of utilitarianism and the vanity of individuals and nations the sharpest spur which urges them onwards is their need for the feeling of power—a need which rises not only in the souls of princes and rulers but also gushes forth from time to time from inexhaustible sources in the people.  The time comes again and again when the masses are ready to stake their lives and their fortunes their consciences and their virtue in order that they may secure that highest of all enjoyments and rule as a victorious tyrannical and arbitrary nation over other nations (or at all events think that they do).  On occasions such as these feelings of prodigality sacrifice hope confidence extraordinary audacity and enthusiasm will burst forth so abundantly that a sovereign who is ambitious or far—sighted will be able to seize the opportunity for making war counting upon the good conscience of his people to hide his injustice.  Great conquerors have always given utterance to the pathetic language of virtue; they have always been surrounded by crowds of people who felt themselves as it were in a state of exaltation and would listen to none but the most elevated oratory.  The strange madness of moral judgments!  When man experiences the sensation of power he feels and calls himself good; and at exactly the same time the others who have to endure his power call him evil!  Hesiod in his fable of the epochs of man has twice in succession depicted the same epoch that of the heroes of Homer and has thus made two epochs out of one: to those who lived under the terrible iron heel of those adventurous despots or had heard their ancestors speak of them the epoch appeared to be evil; but the descendants of those chivalric races worshipped it as the "good old times" and as an almost ideally blissful age.  The poet could thus not help doing what he did—his audience probably included the descendants of both races.  


Former German Culture When the Germans began to interest other European nations which is not so very long ago it was owing to a culture which they no longer possess today and which they have indeed shaken off with a blind ardour as if it had been some disease; and yet they have not been able to replace it by anything better than political and national lunacy.  They have in this way succeeded in becoming even more interesting to other nations than they were formerly through their culture: and may that satisfy them!  It is nevertheless undeniable that this German culture has fooled Europeans and that it did not deserve the interest shown in it and much less the imitation and emulation displayed by other nations in trying to rival it.  Let us look back for a moment upon Schiller Wilhelm von Humboldt Schleiermacher Hegel and Schelling; let us read their correspondence and mingle for a time with the large circle of their followers: what have they in common what characteristics have they that fill us as we are now partly with a feeling of nausea and partly with pitiful and touching emotions?  First and foremost the passion for appearing at all costs to be morally exalted and then the desire for giving utterance to brilliant feeble and inconsequential remarks together with their fixed purpose of looking upon—everything (characters passions times customs) as beautiful—"beautiful" alas in accordance with a bad and vague taste which nevertheless pretended to be of Hellenic origin.  We behold in these people a weak good-natured and glistening idealism which above all wished to exhibit noble attitudes and noble voices something at once presumptuous and inoffensive and animated by a cordial aversion to "cold "or "dry "reality—as also to anatomy complete passions and every kind of philosophical continence and scepticism but especially towards the knowledge of nature in so far as it was impossible to use it as religious symbolism.  Goethe in his own characteristic fashion observed from afar these movements of German culture: placing himself beyond their influence gently remonstrating silent more and more confirmed in his own better course.  A little later and Schopenhauer also was an observer of these movements—a great deal of the world and devilry of the world had again been revealed to him and he spoke of it both roughly and enthusiastically for there is a certain beauty in this devilry!  And what was it then that really seduced the foreigners and prevented them from viewing this movement as did Goethe and Schopenhauer or better from ignoring it altogether?  It was that faint lustre that inexplicable starlight which formed a mysterious halo around this culture.  The foreigners said to themselves: "This is all very, very remote from us; our sight hearing understanding enjoyment and powers of evaluations are lost here but in spite of that there may be some stars!  There may be something in it!  Is it possible that the Germans have quietly discovered some corner of heaven and settled there?  We must try to come nearer to these Germans;" So they did begin to come nearer to the Germans while not so very long afterwards the Germans put themselves to some trouble to get rid of this starlight halo: they knew only too well that they had not been in heaven but only in a cloud!  

Friedrich Nietzsche, "Ecce Homo" Ebook

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