Friedrich Nietzsche, The Gay Science.  Die fröhliche Wissenschaft.

First published in 1882.

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The Herd’s Sting of Conscience.

In the longest and remotest ages of the human race there was quite a different sting of conscience from that of the present day.  At present one only feels responsible for what one intends and for what one does, and we have our pride in ourselves.  All our professors of jurisprudence start with this sentiment of individual independence and pleasure, as if the source of right had taken its rise here from the beginning.  But throughout the longest period in the life of mankind there was nothing more terrible to a person than to feel himself independent.  To be alone, to feel independent, neither to obey nor to rule, to represent an individual that was no pleasure to a person then, but a punishment; he was condemned "to be an individual".  Freedom of thought was regarded as discomfort personified.  While we feel law and regulation as constraint and loss, people formerly regarded egoism as a painful thing, and a veritable evil.  For a person to be himself, to value himself according to his own measure and weight that was then quite distasteful.  The inclination to such a thing would have been regarded as madness; for all miseries and terrors were associated with being alone.  At that time the "free will" had bad conscience in close proximity to it; and the less independently a person acted, the more the herd instinct, and not his personal character, expressed itself in his conduct, so much the more moral did he esteem himself.  All that did injury to the herd, whether the individual had intended it or not, then caused him a sting of conscience and his neighbour likewise, indeed the whole herd!  It is in this respect that we have most changed our mode of thinking.  
 

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