Beyond Good and Evil

By Friedrich Nietzsche

Page 104

and super-imposed, rather
than actually built: this is owing to its origin. A German who would
embolden himself to assert: "Two souls, alas, dwell in my breast," would
make a bad guess at the truth, or, more correctly, he would come far
short of the truth about the number of souls. As a people made up of
the most extraordinary mixing and mingling of races, perhaps even with a
preponderance of the pre-Aryan element as the "people of the centre" in
every sense of the term, the Germans are more intangible, more ample,
more contradictory, more unknown, more incalculable, more surprising,
and even more terrifying than other peoples are to themselves:--they
escape DEFINITION, and are thereby alone the despair of the French. It
IS characteristic of the Germans that the question: "What is German?"
never dies out among them. Kotzebue certainly knew his Germans well
enough: "We are known," they cried jubilantly to him--but Sand also
thought he knew them. Jean Paul knew what he was doing when he declared
himself incensed at Fichte's lying but patriotic flatteries and
exaggerations,--but it is probable that Goethe thought differently about
Germans from Jean Paul, even though he acknowledged him to be right with
regard to Fichte. It is a question what Goethe really thought about the
Germans?--But about many things around him he never spoke explicitly,
and all his life he knew how to keep an astute silence--probably he
had good reason for it. It is certain that it was not the "Wars of
Independence" that made him look up more joyfully, any more than it was
the French Revolution,--the event on account of which he RECONSTRUCTED
his "Faust," and indeed the whole problem of "man," was the appearance
of Napoleon. There are words of Goethe in which he condemns with
impatient severity, as from a foreign land, that which Germans take a
pride in, he once defined the famous German turn of mind as "Indulgence
towards its own and others' weaknesses." Was he wrong? it is
characteristic of Germans that one is seldom entirely wrong about them.
The German soul has passages and galleries in it, there are caves,
hiding-places, and dungeons therein, its disorder has much of the charm
of the mysterious, the German is well acquainted with the bypaths to
chaos. And as everything loves its symbol, so the German loves the
clouds and all that is obscure, evolving, crepuscular, damp, and
shrouded, it seems to him that everything uncertain, undeveloped,
self-displacing, and growing is "deep". The German himself does not
EXIST, he is BECOMING, he is "developing himself". "Development" is
therefore the essentially German discovery and

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_ .
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--We think more leniently of our forebears than they themselves thought of themselves; we mourn over the errors which were to them constitutional; but we do not mourn over their evil.
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