should one forfeit a modest right to the opposite of morality....
A sort of _heritage of morality_ is perhaps presupposed here: one
feels that one can be lavish with it and fling a great deal of it out
of the window without materially reducing one's means. One is never
tempted to admire "beautiful souls," one always knows one's self to be
their superior. The monsters of virtue should be met with inner scorn;
_dÃ©niaiser la vertu_--Oh, the joy of it!
One should revolve round one's self, have no desire to be "better" or
"anything else" at all than one is. One should be too interested to
omit throwing the tentacles or meshes of every morality out to things.
Concerning the psychology of _philosophers._ They should be
psychologists--this was possible only from the nineteenth century
onwards--and no longer little Jack Homers, who see three or four
feet in front of them, and are almost satisfied to burrow inside
themselves. We psychologists of the future are not very intent on
self-contemplation: we regard it almost as a sign of degeneration when
an instrument endeavours "to know itself": we are instruments of
knowledge and we would fain possess all the precision and ingenuousness
of an instrument--consequently we may not analyse or "know" ourselves.
The first sign of a great psychologist's self-preservative instinct:
he never goes in search of himself, he has no eye, no interest, no
inquisitiveness where he himself is concerned.... The great egoism
of our dominating will insists on our completely shutting our eyes to
ourselves, and on our appearing "impersonal," "disinterested"!--Oh to
what a ridiculous degree we are the reverse of this!
We are no Pascals, we are not particularly interested in the
"Salvation of the soul," in our own happiness, and in our own
virtue.--We have neither enough time nor enough curiosity to be so
concerned with ourselves. Regarded more deeply, the case is again
different, we thoroughly mistrust all men who thus contemplate their
own navels: because introspection seems to us a degenerate form of
the psychologist's genius, as a note of interrogation affixed to the
psychologist's instinct: just as a painter's eye is degenerate which is
actuated by the _will_ to see for the sake of seeing.
[Footnote 10: TRANSLATOR'S NOTE.--Goethe invariably inveighed against
the "gnoti seauton" of the Socratic school; he was of the opinion that
an animal which tries to see its inner self must be sick.]
2. A CRITICISM OF GREEK PHILOSOPHY.
The apparition of Greek philosophers since the time of Socrates is a
symptom of decadence; the anti-Hellenic instincts become paramount.
The "_Sophist_" is still quite Hellenic--as are also Anaxagoras,
Democritus, and the
_) At the present day no clear and consistent opinion seems to be held regarding Classical Philology.Page 1
With this contrast the so heartrending and dogmatic tradition follows in a _theory_, and consequently in the practice.Page 2
Schiller upbraided the philologists with having scattered Homer's laurel crown to the winds.Page 3
We now meet everywhere with the firm opinion that the question of Homer's personality is no longer timely, and that it is quite a different thing from the real "Homeric question.Page 4
The eyes of those critics were tirelessly on the lookout for discrepancies in the language and thoughts of the two poems; but at this time also a history of the Homeric.Page 5
From those times until the generation that produced Friedrich August Wolf we must take a jump over a long historical vacuum; but in our own age we find the argument left just as it was at the time when the power of controversy departed from antiquity, and it is a matter of indifference to us that Wolf accepted as certain tradition what antiquity itself had set up only as a hypothesis.Page 6
What was meant by "Homer" at that time? It is evident that that generation found itself unable to grasp a personality and the limits of its manifestations.Page 7
Such a conception justly made people suspicious.Page 8
This is the reaction, or, if you will, the superstition, which followed upon the most momentous discovery of historico-philological science, the discovery and appreciation of the _soul of the people_.Page 9
It was imagined that new shells were forming round a small kernel, so to speak, and that those pieces of popular poetry originated like avalanches, in the drift and flow of tradition.Page 10
On the other hand, again, an old tradition.Page 11
Where, however, a poet is unable to observe artistically with a single glance,.Page 12
Those, therefore, who look for the "original and perfect design" are looking for a mere phantom; for the dangerous path of oral tradition had reached its end just as the systematic arrangement appeared on the scene; the disfigurements which were caused on the way could not have affected the design, for this did not form part of the material handed down from generation to generation.Page 13
But I have also, I imagine, recalled two facts to those friends of antiquity who take such delight in accusing us philologists of lack of piety for great conceptions and an unproductive zeal for destruction.Page 14
Let us hear how a learned man of the first rank writes about Homer even so late as 1783: "Where does the good man live? Why did he remain so long incognito? Apropos, can't you get me a silhouette of him?" We demand _thanks_--not in our own name, for we are but atoms--but in the name of philology itself, which is indeed neither a Muse nor a Grace, but a messenger of the gods: and just as the Muses descended upon the dull and tormented Boeotian peasants, so Philology comes into a world full of gloomy colours and pictures, full of the deepest, most incurable woes; and speaks to men comfortingly of the beautiful and godlike figure of a distant, rosy, and happy fairyland.Page 15
Now, therefore, that I have enunciated my philological creed, I trust you will give me cause to hope that I shall no longer be a stranger among you: give me the assurance that in working with you towards this end I am worthily fulfilling the confidence with which the highest authorities of this community have honoured me.