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   97. PLEASURE IN TRADITIONAL CUSTOM   Next Section

PLEASURE IN TRADITIONAL CUSTOM.  An important species of pleasure, and therewith the source of morality, arises out of habit.  Man does what is habitual to him more easily, better, and therefore more willingly; he feels a pleasure therein, and knows from experience that the habitual has been tested, and is therefore useful; a custom that we can live with is proved to be wholesome and advantageous in contrast to all new and not yet tested experiments.  According to this, morality is the union of the pleasant and the useful; moreover, it requires no reflection.  As soon as man can use compulsion, he uses it to introduce and enforce his customs; for in his eyes they are proved as the wisdom of life.  In the same way a company of individuals compels each single one to adopt the same customs.  Here the inference is wrong; because we feel at ease with a morality, or at least because we are able to carry on existence with it, therefore this morality is necessary, for it seems to be the only possibility of feeling at ease; the ease of life seems to grow out of it alone.  This comprehension of the habitual as a necessity of existence is pursued even to the smallest details of custom, as insight into genuine causality is very small with lower peoples and civilisations, they take precaution with superstitious fear that everything should go in its same groove; even where custom is difficult, hard, and burdensome, it is preserved on account of its apparent highest usefulness.  It is not known that the same degree of well being can also exist with other customs, and that even higher degrees may be attained.  We become aware, however, that all customs, even the hardest, grow pleasanter and milder with time, and that the severest way of life may become a habit and therefore a pleasure.  
 

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