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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ERROR ABOUT LIFE NECESSARY FOR LIFE.  Every belief in the value and worthiness of life is based on vitiated thought; it is only possible through the fact that sympathy for the general life and suffering of mankind is very weakly developed in the individual.  Even the rarer people who think outside themselves do not contemplate this general life, but only a limited part of it.  If one understands how to direct one's attention chiefly to the exceptions, I mean to the highly gifted and the rich souls, if one regards the production of these as the aim of the whole world development and rejoices in its operation, then one may believe in the value of life, because one thereby overlooks the other men one consequently thinks fallaciously.  So too, when one directs one's attention to all mankind, but only considers one species of impulses in them, the less egoistical ones, and excuses them with regard to the other instincts, one may then again entertain hopes of mankind in general and believe so far in the value of life, consequently in this case also through fallaciousness of thought.  Let one however behave in this or that manner: with such behaviour one is an exception amongst men.  Now, most people bear life without any considerable grumbling, and consequently believe in the value of existence, but precisely because each one is solely self seeking and self affirming, and does not step out of himself like those exceptions; everything extra personal is imperceptible to them, or at most seems only a faint shadow.  Therefore on this alone is based the value of life for the ordinary everyday man, that he regards himself as more important than the world.  The great lack of imagination from which he suffers is the reason why he cannot enter into the feelings of other beings, and therefore sympathises as little as possible with their fate and suffering.  He, on the other hand, who really could sympathise therewith, would have to despair of the value of life; were he to succeed in comprehending and feeling in himself the general consciousness of mankind, he would collapse with a curse on existence; for mankind as a whole has no goals, consequently man, in considering his whole course, cannot find in it his comfort and support, but his despair.  If, in all that he does, he considers the final aimlessness of man, his own activity assumes in his eyes the character of wastefulness.  But to feel one's self just as much wasted as humanity (and not only as an individual) as we see the single blossom of nature wasted, is a feeling above all other feelings.  But who is capable of it?  Assuredly only a poet, and poets always know how to console themselves.  
 

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