Early Greek Philosophy & Other Essays Collected Works, Volume Two

By Friedrich Nietzsche

Page 96

with the new Culture.

The Socratic scepticism is a weapon against the hitherto prevailing
culture and knowledge.




ON TRUTH AND FALSITY IN THEIR ULTRAMORAL SENSE


(1873)


In some remote corner of the universe, effused into innumerable
solar-systems, there was once a star upon which clever animals invented
cognition. It was the haughtiest, most mendacious moment in the history
of this world, but yet only a moment. After Nature had taken breath
awhile the star congealed and the clever animals had to die.--Someone
might write a fable after this style, and yet he would not have
illustrated sufficiently, how wretched,; shadow-like, transitory,
purposeless and fanciful the human intellect appears in Nature. There
were eternities during which this intellect did not exist, and when it
has once more passed away there will be nothing to show that it has
existed. For this intellect is not concerned with any further mission
transcending the sphere of human life. No, it is purely human and none
but its owner and procreator regards it so pathetically as to suppose
that the world revolves around it. If, however, we and the gnat could
understand each other we should learn that even the gnat swims through
the air with the same pathos, and feels within itself the flying centre
of the world. Nothing in Nature is so bad or so insignificant that it
will not, at the smallest puff of that force cognition, immediately
swell up like a balloon, and just as a mere porter wants to have his
admirer, so the very proudest man, the philosopher, imagines he sees
from all sides the eyes of the universe telescopically directed upon
his actions and thoughts.

It is remarkable that this is accomplished by the intellect, which
after all has been given to the most unfortunate, the most delicate,
the most transient beings only as an expedient, in order to detain them
for a moment in existence, from which without that extra-gift they
would have every cause to flee as swiftly as Lessing's son.[1] That
haughtiness connected with cognition and sensation, spreading blinding
fogs before the eyes and over the senses of men, deceives itself
therefore as to the value of existence owing to the fact that it bears
within itself the most flattering evaluation of cognition. Its most
general effect is deception; but even its most particular effects have
something of deception in their nature.

The intellect, as a means for the preservation of the individual,
develops its chief power in dissimulation; for it is by dissimulation
that the feebler, and less robust individuals preserve themselves,
since it has been denied them to fight the battle of existence
with horns

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Oh, those Greeks! They knew how _to live:_ for that purpose it is necessary to keep bravely to the surface, the fold and the skin; to worship appearance, to believe in forms, tones, and words, in the whole Olympus of appearance! Those Greeks were superficial--_from profundity!_ And are we not coming back precisely to this point, we dare-devils of the spirit, who have scaled the highest and most dangerous peak of contemporary thought, and have looked around us from it, have _looked down_ from it? Are we not precisely in this respect--Greeks? Worshippers of forms, of tones, and of words? And precisely on that account--artists? RUTA, near GENOA _Autumn,_ 1886.
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.
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