Friedrich Nietzsche, The Gay Science.  Die fröhliche Wissenschaft.

First published in 1882.

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Why we Seem to be Epicureans.

We are cautious, we modern men, with regard to final convictions, our distrust lies in wait for the enchantments and tricks of conscience involved in every strong belief, in every absolute Yea and Nay: how is this explained?  Perhaps one may see in it a good deal of the caution of the "burnt child” of the disillusioned idealist; but one may also see in it another and better element, the joyful curiosity of a former lingerer in a corner, who has been brought to despair by his nook, and now luxuriates and revels in its antithesis, in the un bounded, in the "open air in itself”.  Thus there is developed an almost Epicurean inclination for knowledge, which does not readily lose sight of the questionable character of things; likewise also a repugnance to pompous moral phrases and attitudes, a taste that repudiates all coarse, square contrasts, and is proudly conscious of its habitual reserve.  For this too constitutes our pride, this easy tightening of the reins in our headlong impulse after certainty, this self-control of the rider in his most furious riding: for now, as of old, we have mad fiery steeds under us, and if we delay, it is certainly least of all the danger which causes us to delay.  
 

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