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   104. SELF DEFENCE   Next Section

SELF DEFENCE.  If self-defence is allowed to pass as moral, then almost all manifestations of the so called immoral egoism must also stand; men injure, rob, or kill in order to preserve or defend themselves, to prevent personal injury, they lie where cunning and dissimulation are the right means of self preservation.  Intentional injury, when our existence or safety (preservation of our comfort) is concerned, is conceded to be moral; the State itself injures, according to this point of view, when it punishes.  In unintentional injury, of course, there can be nothing immoral, that is ruled by chance.  Is there, then, a kind of intentional injury where our existence or the preservation of our comfort is not concerned?  Is there an injuring out of pure malice, for instance in cruelty?  If one does not know how much an action hurts, it is no deed of malice; thus the child is not malicious towards the animal, not evil; he examines and destroys it like a toy.  But do we ever know entirely how an action hurts another?  As far as our nervous system extends we protect ourselves from pain; if it extended farther, to our fellow men, namely, we should do no one an injury (except in such cases as we injure ourselves, where we cut ourselves for the sake of cure, tire and exert ourselves for the sake of health).  We conclude by analogy that something hurts somebody, and through memory and the strength of imagination we may suffer from it ourselves.  But still what a difference there is between toothache and the pain (pity) that the sight of toothache calls forth!  Therefore, in injury out of so called malice the degree of pain produced is always unknown to us; but inasmuch as there is pleasure in the action (the feeling of one's own power, one's own strong excitement), the action is committed, in order to preserve the comfort of the individual, and is regarded, therefore, from a similar point of view as defence and falsehood in necessity.  No life without pleasure; the struggle for pleasure is the struggle for life.  Whether the individual so fights this fight that men call him good, or so that they call him evil, is determined by the measure and the constitution of his intellect.  
 

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