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The Dawn of Day
By FRIEDRICH NIETZSCHE, J. M. Kennedy
Dover Publications, Inc.Copyright © 2007 Dover Publications, Inc.
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SUBSEQUENT JUDGMENT.—All things that endure for a long time are little by little so greatly permeated by reason that their origin in unreason becomes improbable. Does not almost every exact statement of an origin strike us as paradoxical and sacrilegious ? Indeed, does not the true historian constantly contradict?
PREJUDICE OF THE LEARNED.—Savants are quite correct in maintaining the proposition that men in all ages believed that they knew what was good and evil, praiseworthy and blamable. But it is a prejudice of the learned to say that we now know it better than any other age.
A TIME FOR EVERYTHING.—When man assigned a sex to all things, he did not believe that he was merely playing; but he thought, on the contrary, that he had acquired a profound insight:—it was only at a much later period, and then only partly, that he acknowledged the enormity of his error. In the same way, man has attributed a moral relationship to everything that exists, throwing the cloak of ethical significance over the world's shoulders. One day all that will be of just as much value, and no more, as the amount of belief existing to-day in the masculinity or femininity of the sun.
AGAINST THE FANCIFUL DISHARMONY OF THE SPHERES.—We must once more sweep out of the world all this false grandeur, for it is contrary to the justice that all things about us may claim. And for this reason we must not see or wish the world to be more disharmonic than it is!
BE THANKFUL!—The most important result of the past efforts of humanity is that we need no longer go about in continual fear of wild beasts, barbarians, gods, and our own dreams.
THE JUGGLER AND HIS COUNTERPART.—That which is wonderful in science is contrary to that which is wonderful in the art of the juggler. For the latter would wish to make us believe that we see a very simple causality, where, in reality, an exceedingly complex causality is in operation. Science, on the other hand, forces us to give up our belief in the simple causality exactly where everything looks so easily comprehensible and we are merely the victims of appearances. The simplest things are very "complicated"— we can never be sufficiently astonished at them!
RECONCEIVING OUR FEELING OF SPACE.—IS it real or imaginary things which have built up the greater proportion of man's happiness? It is certain, at all events, that the extent of the distance between the highest point of happiness and the lowest point of unhappiness has been established only with the help of imaginary things. As a consequence, this kind of a conception of space is always, under the influence of science, becoming smaller and smaller: in the same way as science has taught us, and is still teaching us, to look upon the earth as small—yea, to look upon the entire solar system as a mere point.
TRANSFIGURATION.—Perplexed sufferers, confused dreamers, the hysterically ecstatic—here we have the three classes into which Raphael divided mankind. We no longer consider the world in this light—and Raphael himself dare not do so: his own eyes would show him a new transfiguration.
CONCEPTION OF THE MORALITY OF CUSTOM.—In comparison with the mode of life which prevailed among men for thousands of years, we men of the present day are living in a very immoral age: the power of custom has been weakened to a remarkable degree, and the sense of morality is so refined and elevated that we might almost describe it as volatilised. That is why we late comers experience such difficulty in obtaining a fundamental conception of the origin of morality: and even if we do obtain it, our words of explanation stick in our throats, so coarse would they sound if we uttered them ! or to so great an extent would they seem to be a slander upon morality! Thus, for example, the fundamental clause: morality is nothing else (and, above all, nothing more) than obedience to customs, of whatsoever nature they may be. But customs are simply the traditional way of acting and valuing. Where there is no tradition there is no morality; and the less life is governed by tradition, the narrower the circle of morality. The free man is immoral, because it is his will to depend upon himself and not upon tradition : in all the primitive states of humanity "evil" is equivalent to "individual," "free," "arbitrary," "unaccustomed," "unforeseen," "incalculable." In such primitive conditions, always measured by this standard, any action performed—not because tradition commands it, but for other reasons (e.g. on account of its individual utility), even for the same reasons as had been formerly established by custom—is termed immoral, and is felt to be so even by the very man who performs it, for it has not been done out of obedience to the tradition.
What is tradition? A higher authority, which is obeyed, not because it commands what is useful to us, but merely because it commands. And in what way can this feeling for tradition be distinguished from a general feeling of fear? It is the fear of a higher intelligence which commands, the fear of an incomprehensible power, of something that is more than personal—there is superstition. in this fear. In primitive times the domain of morality included education and hygienics, marriage, medicine, agriculture, war, speech and silence, the relationship between man and man, and between man and the gods— morality required that a man should observe her prescriptions without thinking of himself as individual. Everything, therefore, was originally custom, and whoever wished to raise himself above it, had first of all to make himself a kind of lawgiver and medicine-man, a sort of demi-god—in other words, he had to create customs, a dangerous and fearful thing to do !—Who is the most moral man? On the one hand, he who most frequently obeys the law: e.g. he who, like the Brahmins, carries a consciousness of the law about with him wherever he may go, and introduces it into the smallest divisions of time, continually exercising his mind in finding opportunities for obeying the law. On the other hand, he who obeys the law in the most difficult cases. The most moral man is he who makes the greatest sacrifices to morality; but what are the greatest sacrifices ? In answering this question several different kinds of morality will be developed : but the distinction between the morality of the most frequent obedience and the morality of the most difficult obedience is of the greatest importance. Let us not be deceived as to the motives of that moral law which requires, as an indication of morality, obedience to custom in the most difficult cases! Self-conquest is required, not by reason of its useful consequences for the individual; but that custom and tradition may appear to be dominant, in spite of all individual counter desires and advantages. The individual shall sacrifice himself —so demands the morality of custom.
On the other hand, those moralists who, like the followers of Socrates, recommend self- control and sobriety to the individual as his greatest possible advantage and the key to his greatest personal happiness, are exceptions—and if we ourselves do not think so, this is simply due to our having been brought up under their influence. They all take a new path, and thereby bring down upon themselves the utmost disapproval of all the representatives of the morality of custom. They sever their connection with the community, as immoralists, and are, in the fullest sense of the word, evil ones. In the same way, every Christian who "sought, above all things, his own salvation," must have seemed evil to a virtuous Roman of the old school. Wherever a community exists, and consequently also a morality of custom, the feeling prevails that any punishment for the violation of a custom is inflicted, above all, on the community: this punishment is a supernatural punishment, the manifestations and limits of which are so difficult to understand, and are investigated with such superstitious fear. The community can compel any one member of it to make good, either to an individual or to the community itself, any ill consequences which may have followed upon such a member's action. It can also call down a sort of vengeance upon the head of the individual by endeavouring to show that, as the result of his action, a storm of divine anger has burst over the community,—but, above all, it regards the guilt of the individual more particularly as its own guilt, and bears the punishment of the isolated individual as its own punishment—"Morals," they bewail in their innermost heart, "morals have grown lax, if such deeds as these are possible." And every individual action, every individual mode of thinking, causes dread. It is impossible to determine how much the more select, rare, and original minds must have suffered in the course of time by being considered as evil and dangerous, yea, because they even looked upon themselves as such. Under the dominating influence of the morality of custom, originality of every kind came to acquire a bad conscience; and even now the sky of the best minds seems to be more overcast by this thought than it need be.
COUNTER-MOTION BETWEEN THE SENSE OF MORALITY AND THE SENSE OF CAUSALITY.—As the sense of causality increases, so does the extent of the domain of morality decrease: for every time one has been able to grasp the necessary effects, and to conceive them as distinct from all incidentals and chance possibilities (post hoc), one has, at the same time, destroyed an enormous number of imaginary causalities, which had hitherto been believed in as the basis of morals—the real world is much smaller than the world of our imagination—and each time also one casts away a certain amount of one's anxiousness and coercion, and some of our reverence for the authority of custom is lost: morality in general undergoes a diminution. He who, on the other hand, wishes to increase it must know how to prevent results from becoming controllable.
MORALS AND MEDICINES OF THE PEOPLE.—Every one is continuously occupied in bringing more or less influence to bear upon the morals which prevail in a community: most of the people bring forward example after example to show the alleged relationship between cause and effect, guilt and punishment, thus upholding it as well founded and adding to the belief in it. A few make new observations upon the actions and their consequences, drawing conclusions therefrom and laying down laws ; a smaller number raise objections and allow belief in these things to become weakened.—But they are all alike in the crude and unscientific manner in which they set about their work : if it is a question of objections to a law or examples or observations of it, or of its proof, confirmation, expression or refutation, we always find the material and method entirely valueless, as valueless as the material and form of all popular medicine. Popular medicines and popular morals are closely related, and should not be considered and valued, as is still customary, in so different a way: both are most dangerous and make- believe sciences.
CONSEQUENCE AS ADJUVANT CAUSE.—Formerly the consequences of an action were considered, not as the result of that action, but a voluntary adjuvant—i.e. on the part of God. Can a greater confusion be imagined? Entirely different practices and means have to be brought into use for actions and effects!
TOWARDS THE NEW EDUCATION OF MANKIND. —Help us, all ye who are well- disposed and willing to assist, lend your aid in the endeavour to do away with that conception of punishment which has swept over the whole world! No weed more harmful than this ! It is not only to the consequences of our actions that this conception has been applied—and how horrible and senseless it is to confuse cause and effect with cause and punishment!—but worse has followed: the pure accidentality of events has been robbed of its innocence by this execrable manner of interpreting the conception of punishment. Yea, they have even pushed their folly to such extremes that they would have us look upon existence itself as a punishment—from which it would appear that the education of mankind had hitherto been confided to cranky gaolers and hangmen.
THE SIGNIFICATION OF MADNESS IN THE HISTORY OF MORALITY.—If, despite that formidable pressure of the "morality of custom," under which all human communities lived—thousands of years before our own era, and during our own era up to the present day (we ourselves are dwelling in the small world of exceptions, and, as it were, in an evil zone):—if, I say, in spite of all this, new and divergent ideas, valuations, and impulses have made their appearance time after time, this state of things has been brought about only with the assistance of a dreadful associate: it was insanity almost everywhere that paved the way for the new thought and cast off the spell of an old custom and superstition. Do ye understand why this had to be done through insanity? by something which is in both voice and appearance as horrifying and incalculable as the demoniac whims of wind and sea, and consequently calling for like dread and respect? by something bearing upon it the signs of entire lack of consciousness as clearly as the convulsions and foam of the epileptic, which appeared to typify the insane person as the mask and speaking-trumpet of some divine being? by something that inspired even the bearer of the new thought with awe and fear of himself, and that, suppressing all remorse, drove him on to become its prophet and martyr?—Well, in our own time, we continually hear the statement reiterated that genius is tinctured with madness instead of good sense. Men of earlier ages were far more inclined to believe that, wherever traces of insanity showed themselves, a certain proportion of genius and wisdom was likewise present—something "divine," as they whispered to one another. More than this, they expressed their opinions on the point with sufficient emphasis. "All the greatest benefits of Greece have sprung from madness," said Plato, setting on record the opinion of the entire ancient world. Let us take a step further: all those superior men, who felt themselves irresistibly urged on to throw off the yoke of some morality or other, had no other resource—if they were not really mad—than to feign madness, or actually to become insane. And this holds good for innovators in every department of life, and not only in religion and politics. Even the reformer of the poetic metre was forced to justify himself by means of madness. (Thus even down to gentler ages madness remained a kind of convention in poets, of which Solon, for instance, took advantage when urging the Athenians to reconquer Salamis.)—"How can one make one's self mad when one is not mad and dare not feign to be so?" Almost all the eminent men of antiquity have given themselves up to this dreadful mode of reasoning: a secret doctrine of artifices and dietetic jugglery grew up around this subject and was handed down from generation to generation, together with the feeling of the innocence, even sanctity, of such plans and meditations. The means of becoming a medicine-man among the Indians, a saint among Christians of the Middle Ages, an angecok among Greenlanders, a Pagee among Brazilians, are the same in essence: senseless fasting, continual abstention from sexual intercourse, isolation in a wilderness, ascending a mountain or a pillar, "sitting on an aged willow that looks out upon a lake," and thinking of absolutely nothing but what may give rise to ecstasy or mental derangements.
Who would dare to glance at the desert of the bitterest and most superfluous agonies of spirit, in which probably the most productive men of all ages have pined away? Who could listen to the sighs of those lonely and troubled minds: "O ye heavenly powers, grant me madness! Madness, that I at length may believe in myself! Vouchsafe delirium and convulsions, sudden flashes of light and periods of darkness; frighten me with such shivering and feverishness as no mortal ever experienced before, with clanging noises and haunting spectres; let me growl and whine and creep about like a beast, if only I can come to believe in myself! I am devoured by doubt. I have slain the law, and I now dread the law as a living person dreads a corpse. If I am not above the law, I am the most abandoned of wretches. Whence cometh this new spirit that dwelleth within me but from you? Prove to me, then, that I am one of you—nothing but madness will prove it to me." And only too often does such a fervour attain its object: at the very time when Christianity was giving the greatest proof of its fertility in the production of saints and martyrs, believing that it was thus proving itself, Jerusalem contained large lunatic asylums for shipwrecked saints, for those whose last spark of good sense had been quenched by the floods of insanity.
Excerpted from The Dawn of Day by FRIEDRICH NIETZSCHE, J. M. Kennedy. Copyright © 2007 Dover Publications, Inc.. Excerpted by permission of Dover Publications, Inc..
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