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   26. REACTION AS PROGRESS   Next Section

REACTION AS PROGRESS.  Now and again there appear rugged, powerful, impetuous, but nevertheless backward lagging minds which conjure up once more a past phase of mankind; they serve to prove that the new tendencies against which they are working are not yet sufficiently strong, that they still lack something, otherwise they would show better opposition to those exorcisers.  Thus, for example, Luther's Reformation bears witness to the fact that in his century all the movements of the freedom of the spirit were still uncertain, tender, and youthful; science could not yet lift up its head.  Indeed the whole Renaissance seems like an early spring which is almost snowed under again.  But in this century also, Schopenhauer's Metaphysics showed that even now the scientific spirit is not yet strong enough; thus the whole mediaeval Christian view of the world and human feeling could celebrate its resurrection in Schopenhauer's doctrine, in spite of the long achieved destruction of all Christian dogmas.  There is much science in his doctrine, but it does not dominate it: it is rather the old well known "metaphysical requirement" that does so.  It is certainly one of the greatest and quite invaluable advantages which we gain from Schopenhauer, that he occasionally forces our sensations back into older, mightier modes of contemplating the world and man, to which no other path would so easily lead us.  The gain to history and justice is very great, I do not think that anyone would so easily succeed now in doing justice to Christianity and its Asiatic relations without Schopenhauer's assistance, which is specially impossible from the basis of still existing Christianity.  Only after this great success of justice, only after we have corrected so essential a point as the historical mode of contemplation which the age of enlightenment brought with it, may we again bear onward the banner of enlightenment, the banner with the three names, Petrarch, Erasmus, Voltaire.  We have turned reaction into progress.  

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