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   42. THE ORDER OF POSSESSIONS AND MORALITY   Next Section

THE ORDER OF POSSESSIONS AND MORALITY.  The once accepted hierarchy of possessions, according as this or the other is coveted by a lower, higher, or highest egoism, now decides what is moral or immoral.  To prefer a lesser good (for instance, the gratification of the senses) to a more highly valued good (for instance, health) is accounted immoral, and also to prefer luxury to liberty.  The hierarchy of possessions, however, is not fixed and equal at all times; if any one prefers vengeance to justice he is moral according to the standard of an earlier civilisation, but immoral according to the present one.  To be "immoral” therefore, denotes that an individual has not felt, or not felt sufficiently strongly, the higher, finer, spiritual motives which have come in with a new culture; it marks one who has remained behind, but only according to the difference of degrees.  The order of possessions itself is not raised and lowered according to a moral point of view; but each time that it is fixed it supplies the decision as to whether an action is moral or immoral.  
 

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