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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The Heirs to the Wealth of Morality.  Even in the domain of morals there is an inherited wealth, which is owned by the gentle, the good tempered, the compassionate, the indulgent.  They have inherited from their forefathers their gentle mode of action, but not common sense (the source of that mode of action).  The pleasant thing about this wealth is that one must always bestow and communicate a portion of it, if its presence is to be felt at all.  Thus this wealth unconsciously aims at bridging the gulf between the morally rich and the morally poor, and, what is its best and most remarkable feature, not for the sake of a future mean between rich and poor, but for the sake of a universal prosperity and superfluity.  Such may be the prevailing view of inherited moral wealth, but it seems to me that this view is maintained more in majorem gloriam of morality than in honour of truth.  Experience at least establishes a maxim which must serve, if not as a refutation, at any rate as an important check upon that generalisation.  Without the most exquisite intelligence, says experience, without the most refined capacity for choice and a strong propensity to observe the mean, the morally rich will become spendthrifts of morality.  For by abandoning themselves without restraint to their compassionate, gentle, conciliatory, harmonising instincts, they make all about them more careless, more covetous, and more sentimental.  The children of these highly moral spendthrifts easily and (sad to relate) at best become pleasant but futile wasters.  

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