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   37. NEVERTHELESS   Next Section

NEVERTHELESS.  However it may be with reckoning and counter reckoning, in the present condition of philosophy the awakening of moral observation is necessary.  Humanity can no longer be spared the cruel sight of the psychological dissecting table with its knives and forceps.  For here rules that science which inquires into the origin and history of the so called moral sentiments, and which, in its progress, has to draw up and solve complicated sociological problems: the older philosophy knows the latter one not at all, and has always avoided the examination of the origin and history of moral sentiments on any feeble pretext.  With what consequences it is now very easy to see, after it has been shown by many examples how the mistakes of the greatest philosophers generally have their starting point in a wrong explanation of certain human actions and sensations, just as on the ground of an erroneous analysis for instance, that of the so called unselfish actions a false ethic is built up; then, to harmonise with this again, religion and mythological confusion are brought in to assist, and finally the shades of these dismal spirits fall also over physics and the general mode of regarding the world.  If it is certain, however, that superficiality in psychological observation has laid, and still lays, the most dangerous snares for human judgments and conclusions, then there is need now of that endurance of work which does not grow weary of piling stone upon stone, pebble on pebble; there is need of courage not to be ashamed of such humble work and to turn a deaf ear to scorn.  And this is also true, numberless single observations on the human and all too human have first been discovered, and given utterance to, in circles of society which were accustomed to offer sacrifice therewith to a clever desire to please, and not to scientific knowledge, and the odour of that old home of the moral maxim, a very seductive odour, has attached itself almost inseparably to the whole species, so that on its account the scientific man involuntarily betrays a Certain distrust of this species and its earnestness.  But it is sufficient to point to the consequences, for already it begins to be seen what results of a serious kind spring from the ground of psychological observation.  What, after all, is the principal axiom to which the boldest and coldest thinker, the author of the book On the Origin of Moral Sensations has attained by means of his incisive and decisive analyses of human actions?  "The moral man” he says, "is no nearer to the intelligible (metaphysical) world than is the physical man”.  This theory, hardened and sharpened under the hammer blow of historical knowledge, may some time or other, perhaps in some future period, serve as the axe which is applied to the root of the "metaphysical need" of man, whether more as a blessing than a curse to the general welfare it is not easy to say, but in any case as a theory with the most important consequences, at once fruitful and terrible, and looking into the world with that Janus face which all great knowledge possesses.  

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