Friedrich Nietzsche, The Gay Science.  Die fröhliche Wissenschaft.

First published in 1882.

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Noble and common.

To common natures all noble, magnanimous sentiments appear inexpedient, and on that account first and foremost, as incredible: they blink with their eyes when they hear of such matters, and seem inclined to say, "there will, no doubt, be some advantage therefrom, one cannot see through all walls;" they are jealous of the noble person, as if he sought advantage by underhand means.  When they are all too plainly convinced of the absence of selfish intentions and gains, the noble person is regarded by them as a kind of fool: they despise him in his gladness, and laugh at his shining eyes.  "How can a person rejoice at being at a disadvantage, how can a person with open eyes want to meet with disadvantage!  It must be a disease of the reason with which the noble affection is associated"; so they think, and they look down on this; just as they sneer at the joy which the lunatic derives from his fixed idea.  The common nature is distinguished by the fact that it keeps its advantage steadily in view, and that this thought of the end and advantage is even stronger than its strongest impulse: not to be tempted to inexpedient activities by its impulses that is its wisdom and inspiration.  In comparison with the common nature the higher nature is more irrational: for the noble, magnanimous, and self-sacrificing person succumbs in fact to his impulses, and in his best moments his reason lapses altogether.  An animal, which at the risk of life protects its young, or in the mating season follows the female even unto its death, does not think of the risk and the death; its reason pauses likewise, because its delight in its young, or in the female, and the fear of being deprived of this delight, dominate it exclusively; it becomes stupider than at other times, like the noble and magnanimous person.  He possesses feelings of pleasure and pain of such intensity that the intellect must either be silent before them, or yield itself to their service: his heart then overrules his head, and one henceforth speaks of "passions."  (Here and there to be sure, the antithesis to this, and as it were the "reverse of passion," presents itself; for example in Fontenelle, to whom someone once laid the hand on the heart with the words, "What you have there, my dearest friend, is brain also.")  It is the unreason, or perverse reason of passion, which the common man despises in the noble individual, especially when it concentrates upon objects whose value appears to him to be altogether fantastic and arbitrary.  He is offended at him who succumbs to the passion of the belly, but he understands the allurement which here plays the tyrant; but he does not understand, for example, how a person out of love of knowledge can stake his health and honour on the game.  The taste of the higher nature is for exceptional things, for things which usually do not interest people and seem to have no sweetness; the higher nature has a uncommon standard of value.  Yet it generally believes that it's idiosyncrasies do not reflect an uncommon standard of value and it rather maintains its values and non-values as being universally valid and thus becomes incomprehensible and impracticable.  It is very rarely that a higher nature has sufficient reason as to understand and deal with everyday men as such; for the most part it believes in its passion as if it were the concealed passion of every one, and precisely in this belief it is full of ardour and eloquence.  If then such exceptional men do not perceive themselves as exceptions, how can they ever understand the common natures and estimate average men fairly!  Thus it is that they also speak of the folly, inexpediency and fantasy of mankind, full of astonishment at the madness of the world, and that it will not recognise the "one thing needful for it."  This is the eternal injustice of noble natures.  
 

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