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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What is the supreme enjoyment for men who live in the state of war of those small continually endangered communities which are characterized by the strictest morality?  In other words for vigorous vindictive vicious suspicious souls who are prepared for what is most terrible and hardened by deprivations and morality?  The enjoyment of cruelty; and in these circumstances it is even accounted among the virtues of such a soul if it is inventive and insatiable in cruelty.  The community feels refreshed by cruel deeds and casts off for once the gloom of continual anxiety and caution.  Cruelty belongs to the most ancient festive joys of mankind.  Hence one supposes that the gods too feel refreshed and festive when one offers them the sight of cruelty; and so the idea creeps into the world that voluntary suffering torture one has chosen oneself has value and makes good sense.  Gradually custom shapes a communal practice in accordance with this idea: all extravagant well—being henceforth arouses some mistrust and all hard and painful states more and more confidence.  One supposes that the gods might look upon us ungraciously because of our happiness and graciously because of our suffering—not by any means with pity.  For pity is considered contemptible and unworthy of a strong and terrible soul.  Rather graciously because it delights them and puts them into good spirits; for those who are cruel enjoy the highest gratification of the feeling of power.  Thus the concept of the "most moral man" of the community comes to contain the virtue of frequent suffering deprivation a hard way of life and of cruel self-mortification—not to say this again and again as a means of self-discipline self-control and the desire for individual happiness but as a virtue that makes the community look good to the evil gods steaming up to them like a continual sacrifice of atonement upon some altar.  All those spiritual leaders of peoples who succeeded in stirring something in the inert but fertile mud of their customs had need not only of madness but also of voluntary torture to inspire belief—and most and first of all as always their faith in themselves.  The more their own spirit moved along new paths and was therefore tormented by pangs of conscience and anxieties the more cruelly they raged against their own flesh their own desires and their own health—as if they wanted to offer the deity some substitute gratification in case it should perhaps be embittered on account of customs one had neglected and fought against and new goals one had championed.  Let us not believe too quickly that now we have rid ourselves completely of such a logic of feeling.  Let the most heroic souls question themselves about this.  Every smallest step on the field of free thought and the individually formed life has always been fought for with spiritual and physical torments: not only moving forward no above all moving motion change have required innumerable martyrs all through the long path—seeking and foundation—laying millennia of which to be sure people are not thinking when they talk as usual about "world history" that ridiculously small segment of human existence.  And even in this so-called world history which is at bottom merely much ado about the latest news there is no really more important theme than the primordial tragedy of the martyrs who wanted to stir up the swamp.  Nothing has been bought more dearly than that little bit of human reason and of a feeling of freedom that now constitutes our pride.  Yet it is this very pride that now makes it almost impossible for us to empathise with those vast spans of time characterized by the "morality of customs" which antedate "world history" as the real and decisive main history that determined the character of humanity—when suffering was a virtue cruelty a virtue dissimulation a virtue revenge a virtue the slander of reason a virtue while well—being was a danger the craving for knowledge a danger peace a danger pity a danger being pitied an affront work an affront madness divine change immoral and pregnant with disaster.  Do you think that all this has changed and that humanity must thus have changed its character?  You who think you know men learn to know yourselves better!  

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