Early Greek Philosophy & Other Essays Collected Works, Volume Two

By Friedrich Nietzsche

Page 50

of the sojourning in
sublime contemplations. The thought and its form are milestones on
the path towards the highest wisdom. With such a lapidarian emphasis
Anaximander once said: "Whence things originated, thither, according
to necessity, they must return and perish; for they must pay penalty
and be judged for their injustices according to the order of time."
Enigmatical utterance of a true pessimist, oracular inscription on the
boundary-stone of Greek philosophy, how shall we explain thee?

The only serious moralist of our century in the Parergis (Vol. ii.,
chap. 12, "Additional Remarks on The Doctrine about the Suffering in
the World, Appendix of Corresponding Passages") urges on us a similar
contemplation: "The right standard by which to judge every human
being is that he really is a being who ought not to exist at all,
but who is expiating his existence by manifold forms of suffering
and death:--What can one expect from such a being? Are we not all
sinners condemned to death? We expiate our birth firstly by our
life and secondly by our death." He who in the physiognomy of our
universal human lot reads this doctrine and already recognises the
fundamental bad quality of every human life, in the fact that none
can stand a very close and careful contemplation--although our time,
accustomed to the biographical epidemic, seems to think otherwise and
more loftily about the dignity of man; he who, like Schopenhauer, on
"the heights of the Indian breezes" has heard the sacred word about
the moral value of existence, will be kept with difficulty from
making an extremely anthropomorphic metaphor and from generalizing
that melancholy doctrine--at first only limited to human life--and
applying it by transmission to the general character of all existence.
It may not be very logical, it is however at any rate very human and
moreover quite in harmony with the philosophical leaping described
above, now with Anaximander to consider all Becoming as a punishable
emancipation from eternal "Being," as a wrong that is to be atoned
for by destruction. Everything that has once come into existence also
perishes, whether we think of human life or of water or of heat and
cold; everywhere where definite qualities are to be noticed, we are
allowed to prophesy the extinction of these qualities--according to
the all-embracing proof of experience. Thus a being that possesses
definite qualities and consists of them, can never be the origin and
principle of things; the veritable _ens,_ the "Existent," Anaximander
concluded, cannot possess any definite qualities, otherwise, like
all other things, it would necessarily have originated and perished.
In order that Becoming may not cease, the Primordial-being must be
indefinite.

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