Beyond Good and Evil

By Friedrich Nietzsche

Page 25

and deceptive. Later on, when the young soul, tortured by
continual disillusions, finally turns suspiciously against itself--still
ardent and savage even in its suspicion and remorse of conscience: how
it upbraids itself, how impatiently it tears itself, how it revenges
itself for its long self-blinding, as though it had been a voluntary
blindness! In this transition one punishes oneself by distrust of one's
sentiments; one tortures one's enthusiasm with doubt, one feels even the
good conscience to be a danger, as if it were the self-concealment and
lassitude of a more refined uprightness; and above all, one espouses
upon principle the cause AGAINST "youth."--A decade later, and one
comprehends that all this was also still--youth!

32. Throughout the longest period of human history--one calls it the
prehistoric period--the value or non-value of an action was inferred
from its CONSEQUENCES; the action in itself was not taken into
consideration, any more than its origin; but pretty much as in China at
present, where the distinction or disgrace of a child redounds to
its parents, the retro-operating power of success or failure was what
induced men to think well or ill of an action. Let us call this period
the PRE-MORAL period of mankind; the imperative, "Know thyself!" was
then still unknown.--In the last ten thousand years, on the other hand,
on certain large portions of the earth, one has gradually got so far,
that one no longer lets the consequences of an action, but its origin,
decide with regard to its worth: a great achievement as a whole, an
important refinement of vision and of criterion, the unconscious effect
of the supremacy of aristocratic values and of the belief in "origin,"
the mark of a period which may be designated in the narrower sense as
the MORAL one: the first attempt at self-knowledge is thereby
made. Instead of the consequences, the origin--what an inversion
of perspective! And assuredly an inversion effected only after long
struggle and wavering! To be sure, an ominous new superstition, a
peculiar narrowness of interpretation, attained supremacy precisely
thereby: the origin of an action was interpreted in the most definite
sense possible, as origin out of an INTENTION; people were agreed in the
belief that the value of an action lay in the value of its intention.
The intention as the sole origin and antecedent history of an action:
under the influence of this prejudice moral praise and blame have been
bestowed, and men have judged and even philosophized almost up to the
present day.--Is it not possible, however, that the necessity may now
have arisen of again making up our minds with regard to

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