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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FORWARD.  And thus forward upon the path of wisdom, with a firm step and good confidence!  However you may be situated, serve yourself as a source of experience!  Throw off the displeasure at your nature, forgive yourself your own individuality, for in any case you have in yourself a ladder with a hundred steps upon which you can mount to knowledge.  The age into which with grief you feel yourself thrown thinks you happy because of this good fortune; it calls out to you that you shall still have experiences which men of later ages will perhaps be obliged to forego.  Do not despise the fact of having been religious; consider fully how you have had a genuine access to art Can you not, with the help of these experiences, follow immense stretches of former humanity with a clearer understanding?  Is not that ground which sometimes displeases you so greatly, that ground of clouded thought, precisely the one upon which have grown many of the most glorious fruits of older civilisations?  You must have loved religion and art as you loved mother and nurse, otherwise you cannot be wise.  But you must be able to see beyond them, to outgrow them; if you remain under their ban you do not understand them.  You must also be familiar with history and that cautious play with the balances: "On the one hand on the other hand".  Go back, treading in the footsteps made by mankind in its great and painful journey through the desert of the past, and you will learn most surely whither it is that all later humanity never can or may go again.  And inasmuch as you wish with all your strength to see in advance how the knots of the future are tied, your own life acquires the value of an instrument and means of knowledge.  It is within your power to see that all you have experienced, trials, errors, faults, deceptions, passions, your love and your hope, shall be merged wholly in your aim.  This aim is to become a necessary chain of culture links yourself, and from this necessity to draw a conclusion as to the necessity in the progress of general culture.  When your sight has become strong enough to see to the bottom of the dark well of your nature and your knowledge, it is possible that in its mirror you may also behold the far away visions of future civilisations.  Do you think that such a life with such an aim is too wearisome, too empty of all that is agreeable?  Then you have still to learn that no honey is sweeter than that of knowledge, and that the overhanging clouds of trouble must be to you as an udder from which you shall draw milk for your refreshment.  And only when old age approaches will you rightly perceive how you listened to the voice of nature, that nature which rules the whole world through pleasure; the same life which has its zenith in age has also its zenith in wisdom, in that mild sunshine of a constant mental joyfulness; you meet them both, old age and wisdom, upon one ridge of life, it was thus intended by Nature.  Then it is time, and no cause for anger, that the mists of death approach.  Towards the light is your last movement; a joyful cry of knowledge is your last sound.  
 

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