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 VALUE OF THE MIDDLE OF THE ROAD.  It is possible that the production of genius is reserved to a limited period of mankind's history.  For we must not expect from the future everything that very defined conditions were able to produce; for instance, not the astounding effects of religious feeling.  This has had its day, and much that is very good can never grow again, because it could grow out of that alone.  There will never again be a horizon of life and culture that is bounded by religion.  Perhaps even the type of the saint is only possible with that certain narrowness of intellect, which apparently has completely disappeared.  And thus the greatest height of intelligence has perhaps been reserved for a single age; it appeared and appears, for we are still in that age when an extraordinary, long accumulated energy of will concentrates itself, as an exceptional case, upon intellectual aims.  That height will no longer exist when this wildness and energy cease to be cultivated.  Mankind probably approaches nearer to its actual aim in the middle of its road, in the middle time of its existence than at the end.  It may be that powers with which, for instance, art is a condition, die out altogether; the pleasure in lying, in the undefined, the symbolical, in intoxication, in ecstasy might fall into disrepute.  For certainly, when life is ordered in the perfect State, the present will provide no more motive for poetry, and it would only be those persons who had remained behind who would ask for poetical unreality.  These, then, would assuredly look longingly backwards to the times of the imperfect State, of half barbaric society, to our times.  
 

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