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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THE AGE OF COMPARISON.  The less men are fettered by tradition, the greater becomes the inward activity of their motives; the greater, again, in proportion thereto, the outward restlessness, the confused flux of mankind, the polyphony of strivings.  For whom is there still an absolute; compulsion to bind himself and his descendants to one place?  For whom is there still anything strictly compulsory?  As all styles of arts are imitated simultaneously, so also are all grades and kinds of morality, of customs, of cultures.  Such an age obtains its importance because in it the various views of the world, customs, and cultures can be compared and experienced simultaneously, which was formerly not possible with the always localised sway of every culture, corresponding to the rooting of all artistic styles in place and time.  An increased aesthetic feeling will now at last decide amongst so many forms presenting themselves for comparison; it will allow the greater number, that is to say all those rejected by it, to die out.  In the same way a selection amongst the forms and customs of the higher moralities is taking place, of which the aim can be nothing else than the downfall of the lower moralities.  It is the age of comparison!  That is its pride, but more justly also its grief.  Let us not be afraid of this grief!  Rather will we comprehend as adequately as possible the task our age sets us: posterity will bless us for doing so, a posterity which knows itself to be as much above the terminated original national cultures as above the culture of comparison, but which looks back with gratitude on both kinds of culture as upon antiquities worthy of veneration.  
 

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