Friedrich Nietzsche, The Gay Science.  Die fröhliche Wissenschaft.

First published in 1882.

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Why we are not Idealists.

Formerly philosophers were afraid of the senses: have we, perhaps, been far too forgetful of this fear?  We are at present all of us sensualists, we representatives of the present and of the future in philosophy, not according to theory, however, but in praxis, in practice.  Those former philosophers, on the contrary, thought that the senses lured them out of their world, the cold realm of "ideas" to a dangerous southern island, where they were afraid that their philosopher-virtues would melt away like snow in the sun.  "Wax in the ears/ was then almost a condition of philosophising; a genuine philosopher no longer listened to life, in so far as life is music, he denied the music of life it is an old philosophical superstition that all music is Sirens music.  Now we should be inclined at the present day to judge precisely in the opposite manner (which in itself might be just as false), and to regard ideas, with their cold, anaemic appearance, and not even in spite of this appearance, as worse seducers than the senses.  They have always lived on the "blood" of the philosopher, they always consumed his senses, and indeed, if you will believe me, his "heart" as well.  Those old philosophers were heartless: philosophising was always a species of vampirism.  At the sight of such figures even as Spinoza, do you not feel a profoundly enigmatical and disquieting sort of impression?  Do you not see the drama which is here performed, the constantly increasing pallor, the spiritualisation always more ideally displayed?  Do you not imagine some long-concealed blood-sucker in the background, which makes its beginning with the senses, and in the end retains or leaves behind nothing but bones and their rattling?  I mean categories, formulae, and words (for you will pardon me in saying that what remains of Spinoza, amor intellectualis dei, is rattling and nothing more!  What is amor, what is deus, when they have lost every drop of blood?)  In sum: all philosophical idealism has hitherto been something like a disease, where it has not been, as in the case of Plato, the prudence of superabundant and dangerous healthfulness, the fear of overpowerful senses, the prudence of a prudent Socratic.  Perhaps we moderns are merely not healthy enough to be in need of Plato’s idealism?  And we are not afraid of the senses because –.  
 

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