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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PHASES OF INDIVIDUAL CULTURE.  The strength and weakness of mental productiveness depend far less on inherited talents than on the accompanying amount of elasticity.  Most educated young people of thirty turn round at this solstice of their lives and are afterwards disinclined for new mental turnings.  Therefore, for the salvation of a constantly increasing culture, a new generation is immediately necessary, which will not do very much either, for in order to come up with the father's culture the son must exhaust almost all the inherited energy which the father himself possessed at that stage of life when his son was born; with the little addition he gets further on (for as here the road is being traversed for the second time progress is a little quicker; in order to learn that which the father knew, the son does not consume quite so much strength).  Men of great elasticity, like Goethe, for instance, get through almost more than four generations in succession would be capable of; but then they advance too quickly, so that the rest of mankind only comes up with them in the next century, and even then perhaps not completely, because the exclusiveness of culture and the consecutiveness of development have been weakened by the frequent interruptions.  Men catch up more quickly with the ordinary phases of intellectual culture which has been acquired in the course of history.  Nowadays they begin to acquire culture as religiously inclined children, and perhaps about their tenth year these sentiments attain to their highest point, and are then changed into weakened forms (pantheism), whilst they draw near to science; they entirely pass by God, immortality, and such like things, but are overcome by the witchcraft of a metaphysical philosophy.  Eventually they find even this unworthy of belief; art, on the contrary, seems to vouchsafe more and more, so that for a time metaphysics is metamorphosed and continues to exist either as a transition to art or as an artistically transfiguring temperament.  But the scientific sense grows more imperious and conducts man to natural sciences and history, and particularly to the severest methods of knowledge, whilst art has always a milder and less exacting meaning.  All this usually happens within the first thirty years of a man's life.  It is the recapitulation of a pensum, for which humanity had laboured perhaps thirty thousand years.  
 

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