The Twilight of the Idols - The Antichrist Complete Works, Volume Sixteen

By Friedrich Nietzsche

Page 82

was our _modesty_ which ran
counter to their taste so long ... And oh! how well they guessed this,
did these divine turkey-cocks!--


14

We have altered our standpoint. In every respect we have become
more modest We no longer derive man from the "spirit," and from the
"godhead"; we have thrust him back among the beasts. We regard him as
the strongest animal, because he is the craftiest: one of the results
thereof is his intellectuality. On the other hand we guard against the
vain pretension, which even here would fain assert itself: that man is
the great _arrière pensée_ of organic evolution! He is by no means the
crown of creation, beside him, every other creature stands at the same
stage of perfection.... And even in asserting this we go a little too
far; for, relatively speaking, man is the most botched and diseased
of animals, and he has wandered furthest from his instincts. Be all
this as it may, he is certainly the most _interesting!_ As regards
animals, Descartes was the first, with really admirable daring, to
venture the thought that the beast was _machina,_ and the whole of
our physiology is endeavouring to prove this proposition. Moreover,
logically we do not set man apart, as Descartes did: the extent
to which man is understood to-day goes only so far as he has been
understood mechanistically. Formerly man was given "free will," as his
dowry from a higher sphere; nowadays we have robbed him even of will,
in view of the fact that no such faculty is any longer known. The only
purpose served by the old word "will," is to designate a result, a
sort of individual reaction which necessarily follows upon a host of
partly discordant and partly harmonious stimuli:--the will no longer
"effects" or "moves" anything.... Formerly people thought that man's
consciousness, his "spirit," was a proof of his lofty origin, of his
divinity. With the idea of perfecting man, he was conjured to draw his
senses inside himself, after the manner of the tortoise, to cut off all
relations with terrestrial things, and to divest himself of his mortal
shell. Then the most important thing about him, the "pure spirit,"
would remain over. Even concerning these things we have improved our
standpoint Consciousness, "spirit," now seems to us rather a symptom of
relative imperfection in the organism, as an experiment, a groping, a
misapprehension, an affliction which absorbs an unnecessary quantity of
nervous energy. We deny that anything can be done perfectly so long as
it is done consciously. "Pure spirit" is a piece of "pure stupidity":
if we discount the nervous

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