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   99. THE INNOCENT SIDE OF SO CALLED EVIL ACTIONS   Next Section

THE INNOCENT SIDE OF SO CALLED EVIL ACTIONS.  All "evil" actions are prompted by the instinct of preservation, or, more exactly, by the desire for pleasure and the avoidance of pain on the part of the individual; thus prompted, but not evil.  "To cause pain per se" does not exist, except in the brains of philosophers, neither does "to give pleasure per se" (pity in Schopenhauer's meaning).  In the social condition before the State we kill the creature, be it ape or man, who tries to take from us the fruit of a tree when we are hungry and approach the tree, as we should still do with animals in inhospitable countries.  The evil actions which now most rouse our indignation, are based upon the error that he who causes them has a free will, that he had the option, therefore, of not doing us this injury.  This belief in option arouses hatred, desire for revenge, spite, and the deterioration of the whole imagination, while we are much less angry with an animal because we consider it irresponsible.  To do injury, not from the instinct of preservation, but as requital is the consequence of a false judgment and therefore equally innocent.  The individual can in the condition which lies before the State, act sternly and cruelly towards other creatures for the purpose of terrifying, to establish his existence firmly by such terrifying proofs of his power.  Thus act the violent, the mighty, the original founders of States, who subdue the weaker to themselves.  They have the right to do so, such as the State still takes for itself; or rather, there is no right that can hinder this.  The ground for all morality can only be made ready when a stronger individual or a collective individual, for instance society or the State, subdues the single individuals, draws them out of their singleness, and forms them into an association.  Compulsion precedes morality, indeed morality itself is compulsion for a time, to which one submits for the avoidance of pain.  Later on it becomes custom, later still, free obedience, and finally almost instinct, then, like everything long accustomed and natural, it is connected with pleasure and is henceforth called virtue.  
 

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