Early Greek Philosophy & Other Essays Collected Works, Volume Two

By Friedrich Nietzsche

Page 48

far that he at least believed in water. As
a mathematician and astronomer he had grown cold towards everything
mythical and allegorical, and even if he did not succeed in becoming
disillusioned as to the pure abstraction, Everything is one, and
although he left off at a physical expression he was nevertheless among
the Greeks of his time a surprising rarity. Perhaps the exceedingly
conspicuous _Orpheans_ possessed in a still higher degree than he the
faculty of conceiving abstractions and of thinking unplastically; only
they did not succeed in expressing these abstractions except in the
form of the allegory. Also Pherecydes of Syrus who is a contemporary
of Thales and akin to him in many physical conceptions hovers with
the expression of the latter in that middle region where Allegory is
wedded to Mythos, so that he dares, for example, to compare the earth
with a winged oak, which hangs in the air with spread pinions and which
Zeus bedecks, after the defeat of Kronos, with a magnificent robe of
honour, into which with his own hands Zeus embroiders lands, water
and rivers. In contrast with such gloomy allegorical philosophising
scarcely to be translated into the realm of the comprehensible, Thales'
are the works of a creative master who began to look into Nature's
depths without fantastic fabling. If as it is true he used Science
and the demonstrable but soon out-leapt them, then this likewise
is a typical characteristic of the philosophical genius. The Greek
word which designates the Sage belongs etymologically to _sapio,_ I
taste, _sapiens,_ the tasting one, _sisyphos,_ the man of the most
delicate taste; the peculiar art of the philosopher therefore consists,
according to the opinion of the people, in a delicate selective
judgment by taste, by discernment, by significant differentiation. He
is not prudent, if one calls _him_ prudent, who in his own affairs
finds out the good; Aristotle rightly says: "That which Thales and
Anaxagoras know, people will call unusual, astounding, difficult,
divine but--useless, since human possessions were of no concern to
those two." Through thus selecting and precipitating the unusual,
astounding, difficult, and divine, Philosophy marks the boundary-lines
dividing her from Science in the same way as she does it from Prudence
by the emphasising of the useless. Science without thus selecting,
without such delicate taste, pounces upon everything knowable, in the
blind covetousness to know all at any price; philosophical thinking
however is always on the track of the things worth knowing, on the
track of the great and most important discernments. Now the idea of
greatness is changeable, as well in the moral as in the æsthetic
realm, thus Philosophy

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Terve, ystävyys! Ens' aamurusko mun toiveheni korkeimman! Oi usein tuntui kuin loputon ois tie ja yö, ja elo inha, vailla maalia! Kaks kertaa elää tahdon, kun silmässäsi voiton ja huomenhohteen näin, sa rakkain jumalatar! VENEZIA.