Friedrich Nietzsche, The Gay Science.  Die fröhliche Wissenschaft.

First published in 1882.

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Previous Section   301. Illusion of the Contemplative.   Next Section

Illusion of the Contemplative.  Higher men are distinguished from lower, by seeing and hearing immensely more, and in a thoughtful manner and it is precisely this that distinguishes man from the animal, and the higher animal from the lower.  The world always becomes fuller for him grows up to the full stature of humanity; there are always more interesting fishing hooks, thrown out to him; the number of his stimuli is continually on the increase, and similarly the varieties of his pleasure and pain, the higher man becomes always at the same time happier and unhappier.  An illusion, however, is his constant accompaniment all along: he thinks he is placed as a spectator and auditor before the great pantomime and concert of life; he calls his nature a contemplative nature, and thereby overlooks the fact that he himself is also a real creator, and continuous poet of life, that he no doubt differs greatly from the actor in this drama, the so called practical man, but differs still more from a mere onlooker or spectator before the stage.  There is certainly vis contemplativa, and re examination of his work peculiar to him as poet, but at the same time, and first and foremost, he has the vis creativa, which the practical man or doer lacks, whatever appearance and current belief may say to the contrary.  It is we, who think and feel, that actually and unceasingly make something which did not before exist: the whole eternally increasing world of valuations, colours, weights, perspectives, gradations, affirmations and negations.  This composition of ours is continually learnt, practised, and translated into flesh and actuality, and even into the commonplace, by the so called practical men (our actors, as we have said).  Whatever has value in the world does not have value in itself, by its nature - nature is always value-less : but it was given a value at some time as a present - and it was we who gave this present!  We only have created the world which is of any account to man!  But it is precisely this knowledge that we lack, and when we get hold of it for a moment we have forgotten it the next: we misunderstand our highest power, we contemplative men, and estimate ourselves at too low a rate, we are neither as proud nor as happy as we might be.  

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