Friedrich Nietzsche, Miscellaneous Maxims and opinions (Vermischte Meinungen und Sprüche).

Miscellaneous Maxims and Opinions, the first supplement to Human, All Too Human, first published in 1879.  A second supplement, The Wanderer and his Shadow (Der Wanderer und sein Schatten) followed in 1880.


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Previous Section   226. THE TRAGI-COMEDY OF REGENSBURG   Next Section

The Tragi-Comedy of Regensburg.  Here and there we see with terrible clearness the harlequinade of Fortune, how she fastens the rope, on which she wills that succeeding centuries should dance, on to a few days, one place, the condition and opinions of one brain.  Thus the fate of modern German history lies in the days of that disputation at Regensburg: the peaceful settlement of ecclesiastical and moral affairs, without religious wars or a counter-reformation, and also the unity of the German nation, seemed assured: the deep, gentle spirit of Contarini hovered for one moment over the theological squabble, victorious, as representative of the riper Italian piety, reflecting the morning glory of intellectual freedom.  But Luther's hard head, full of suspicions and strange misgivings, showed resistance.  Because justification by grace appeared to him his greatest motto and discovery, he did not believe the phrase in the mouth of Italians; whereas, in point of fact, as is well known, they had invented it much earlier and spread it throughout Italy in deep silence.  In this apparent agreement Luther saw the tricks of the devil, and hindered the work of peace as well as he could, thereby advancing to a great extent the aims of the Empire's foes.  And now, in order to have a still stronger idea of the dreadful farcicality of it all, let us add that none of the principles about which men then disputed in Regensburg — neither that of original sin, nor that of redemption by proxy, nor that of justification by faith — is in any way true or even has any connection with truth: that they are now all recognised as incapable of being discussed.  Yet on this account the world was set on fire — that is to say, by opinions which correspond to no things or realities; whereas as regards purely philological questions — as, for instance, that of the sacramental words in the Eucharist — discussion at any rate is permitted, because in this case the truth can be said.  But "where nothing is, even truth has lost her right”.  — Lastly, it only remains to be said that it is true these principles give rise to sources of power so mighty that without them all the mills of the modern world could not be driven with such force.  And it is primarily a matter of force, only secondarily of truth (and perhaps not even secondarily) — is it not so, my dear up-to-date friends?  

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