Early Greek Philosophy & Other Essays Collected Works, Volume Two

By Friedrich Nietzsche

Page 40

able to stop
at the right time, because that posterity in its uninstructed and
impetuous youth necessarily became entangled in those artfully woven
nets and ropes.

On the contrary, the Greek knew how to begin at the right time, and
this lesson, when one ought to begin philosophising, they teach more
distinctly than any other nation. For it should not be begun when
trouble comes as perhaps some presume who derive philosophy from
moroseness; no, but in good fortune, in mature manhood, out of the
midst of the fervent serenity of a brave and victorious man's estate.
The fact that the Greeks philosophised at that time throws light on
the nature of philosophy and her task as well as on the nature of the
Greeks themselves. Had they at that time been such commonsense and
precocious experts and gayards as the learned Philistine of our days
perhaps imagines, or had their life been only a state of voluptuous
soaring, chiming, breathing and feeling, as the unlearned visionary is
pleased to assume, then the spring of philosophy would not have come to
light among them. At the best there would have come forth a brook soon
trickling away in the sand or evaporating into fogs, but never that
broad river flowing forth with the proud beat of its waves, the river
which we know as Greek Philosophy.

True, it has been eagerly pointed out how much the Greeks could
find and learn abroad, in the Orient, and how many different things
they may easily have brought from there. Of course an odd spectacle
resulted, when certain scholars brought together the alleged masters
from the Orient and the possible disciples from Greece, and exhibited
Zarathustra near Heraclitus, the Hindoos near the Eleates, the
Egyptians near Empedocles, or even Anaxagoras among the Jews and
Pythagoras among the Chinese. In detail little has been determined;
but we should in no way object to the general idea, if people did not
burden us with the conclusion that therefore Philosophy had only been
imported into Greece and was not indigenous to the soil, yea, that
she, as something foreign, had possibly ruined rather than improved
the Greek. Nothing is more foolish than to swear by the fact that the
Greeks had an aboriginal culture; no, they rather absorbed all the
culture flourishing among other nations, and they advanced so far,
just because they understood how to hurl the spear further from the
very spot where another nation had let it rest. They were admirable
in the art of learning productively, and so, like them, we _ought_
to learn from our neighbours, with a view to

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Text Comparison with Thoughts out of Season, Part I

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