Friedrich Nietzsche, The Wanderer and His Shadow (Der Wanderer und sein Schatten).

The Wanderer and his Shadow, the second supplement to Human, All Too Human, first published in 1880.


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Previous Section   213. THE FANATIC OF DISTRUST AND HIS SURETY   Next Section

The Fanatic of Distrust and his Surety.  The Elder: You wish to make the tremendous venture and instruct mankind in the great things?  What is your surety?  Pyrrho: It is this: I intend to warn men against myself; I intend to confess all the defects of my character quite openly, and reveal to the world my hasty conclusions, my contradictions, and my foolish blunders.  "Do not listen to me” I will say to them, "until I have become equal to the meanest among you, nay am even less than he.  Struggle against truth as long as you can, from your disgust with her advocate.  I shall be your seducer and betrayer if you find in me the slightest glimmering of respectability and dignity”.  The Elder: You promise too much; you cannot bear this burden.  Pyrrho: Then I will tell men even that, and say that I am too weak, and cannot keep my promise.  The greater my unworthiness, the more will they mistrust the truth, when it passes through my lips.  The Elder: You propose to teach distrust of truth?  Pyrrho: Yes; distrust as it never was yet on earth, distrust of anything and everything.  This is the only road to truth.  The right eye must not trust the left eye, and for some time light must be called darkness: this is the path that you must tread.  Do not imagine that it will lead you to fruit trees and fair pastures.  You will find on this road little hard grains— these are truths.  For years and years you will have to swallow handfuls of lies, so as not to die of hunger, although you know that they are lies.  But those grains will be sown and planted, and perhaps, perhaps someday will come the harvest.  No one may promise that day, unless he be a fanatic.  The Elder: Friend, friend!  Your words too are those of a fanatic!  Pyrrho: You are right!  I will be distrustful of all words.  The Elder: Then you will have to be silent.  Pyrrho: I shall tell men that I have to be silent, and that they are to mistrust my silence.  The Elder: So you draw back from your undertaking?  Pyrrho: On the contrary — you have shown me the door through which I must pass.  The Elder: I don't know whether we yet completely understand each other?  Pyrrho: Probably not.  The Elder: If only you understand yourself!  (Pyrrho turns round and laughs.)  The Elder: Ah, friend!  Silence and laughter is that now your whole philosophy?  Pyrrho: There might be a worse.  

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