Friedrich Nietzsche, Human All Too Human (Menschliches, Allzumenschliches), subtitled A Book for Free Spirits (Ein Buch für freie Geister).

First published in 1878.   A second part, Assorted Opinions and Maxims (Vermischte Meinungen und Sprüche), was published in 1879, and a third part, The Wanderer and his Shadow (Der Wanderer und sein Schatten), followed in 1880.

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Previous Section   103. THE HARMLESSNESS OF MALICE   Next Section

THE HARMLESSNESS OF MALICE.  The aim of malice is not the suffering of others in itself, but our own enjoyment; for instance, as the feeling of revenge, or stronger nervous excitement.  All teasing, even, shows the pleasure it gives to exercise our power on others and bring it to an enjoyable feeling of preponderance.  Is it immoral to taste pleasure at the expense of another's pain?  Is malicious joy devilish, as Schopenhauer says?  We give ourselves pleasure in nature by breaking off twigs, loosening stones, fighting with wild animals, and do this in order to become thereby conscious of our strength.  Is the knowledge, therefore, that another suffers through us, the same thing concerning which we otherwise feel irresponsible, supposed to make us immoral?  But if we did not know this we would not thereby have the enjoyment of our own superiority, which can only manifest itself by the suffering of others, for instance, in teasing.  All pleasure per se is neither good nor evil; whence should come the decision that in order to have pleasure ourselves we may not cause displeasure to others?  From the point of view of usefulness alone, that is, out of consideration for the consequences, for possible displeasure, when the injured one or the replacing State gives the expectation of resentment and revenge: this only can have been the original reason for denying ourselves such actions.  Pity aims just as little at the pleasure of others as malice at the pain of others per se.  For it contains at least two (perhaps many more) elements of a personal pleasure, and is so far self gratification; in the first place as the pleasure of emotion, which is the kind of pity that exists in tragedy, and then, when it impels to action, as the pleasure of satisfaction in the exercise of power.  If, besides this, a suffering person is very dear to us, we lift a sorrow from ourselves by the exercise of sympathetic actions.  Except by a few philosophers, pity has always been placed very low in the scale of moral feelings, and rightly so.  
 

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