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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VICTORY OF KNOWLEDGE OVER RADICAL EVIL.  It is of great advantage to him who desires to be wise to have witnessed for a time the spectacle of a thoroughly evil and degenerate man; it is false, like the contrary spectacle, but for whole long periods it held the mastery, and its roots have even extended and ramified themselves to us and our world.  In order to understand ourselves we must understand it; but then, in order to mount higher we must rise above it.  We recognise, then, that there exist no sins in the metaphysical sense; but, in the same sense, also no virtues; we recognise that the entire domain of ethical ideas is perpetually tottering, that there are higher and deeper conceptions of good and evil, of moral and immoral.  He who does not desire much more from things than a knowledge of them easily makes peace with his soul, and will make a mistake (or commit a sin, as the world calls it) at the most from ignorance, but hardly from covetousness.  He will no longer wish to excommunicate and exterminate desires; but his only, his wholly dominating ambition, to know as well as possible at all times, will make him cool and will soften all the savageness in his disposition.  Moreover, he has been freed from a number of tormenting conceptions, he has no more feeling at the mention of the words "punishments of hell”, "sinfulness”, "incapacity for good”, he recognises in them only the vanishing shadow pictures of false views of the world and of life.  
 

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