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   24. THE POSSIBILITY OF PROGRESS   Next Section

THE POSSIBILITY OF PROGRESS.  When a scholar of the ancient culture forswears the company of men who believe in progress, he does quite right.  For the greatness and goodness of ancient culture lie behind it, and historical education compels one to admit that they can never be fresh again; an unbearable stupidity or an equally insufferable fanaticism would be necessary to deny this.  But men can consciously resolve to develop themselves towards a new culture; whilst formerly they only developed unconsciously and by chance, they can now create better conditions for the rise of human beings, for their nourishment, education and instruction; they can administer the earth economically as a whole, and can generally weigh and restrain the powers of man.  This new, conscious culture kills the old, which, regarded as a whole, has led an unconscious animal and plant life; it also kills distrust in progress,-progress is possible.  I must say that it is over hasty and almost nonsensical to believe that progress must necessarily follow; but how could one deny that it is possible?  On the other hand, progress in the sense and on the path of the old culture is not even thinkable.  Even if romantic fantasy has also constantly used the word "progress" to denote its aims (for instance, circumscribed primitive national cultures), it borrows the picture of it in any case from the past; its thoughts and ideas on this subject are entirely without originality.  
 

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