for the pleasure of power was considered immoral;--not
one had the courage to regard virtue as a _result of immorality_ (as a
result of a will to power) in the service of a species (or of a race,
or of a _polis_); for the will to power was considered immoral.
In the whole of moral evolution, there is no sign of truth: all
the conceptual elements which come into play are fictions; all the
psychological tenets are false; all the forms of logic employed in this
department of prevarication are sophisms. The chief feature of all
moral philosophers is their total lack of intellectual cleanliness and
self-control: they regard "fine feelings" as arguments: their heaving
breasts seem to them the bellows of godliness.... Moral philosophy is
the most suspicious period in the history of the human intellect.
The first great example: in the name of morality and under its
patronage, a great wrong was committed, which as a matter of fact was
in every respect an act of decadence. Sufficient stress cannot be laid
upon this fact, that the great Greek philosophers not only represented
the decadence of _every kind of Greek ability_, but also made it
_contagious_.... This "virtue" made wholly abstract was the highest
form of seduction; to make oneself abstract means to turn one's back on
The moment is a very remarkable one: the Sophists are within sight
of the first _criticism of morality,_ the first _knowledge_ of
morality:--they classify the majority of moral valuations (in view
of their dependence upon local conditions) together;--they lead one
to understand that every form of morality is capable of being upheld
dialectically: that is to say, they guessed that all the fundamental
principles of a morality must be _sophistical_--a proposition which
was afterwards proved in the grandest possible style by the ancient
philosophers from Plato onwards (up to Kant);--they postulate the
primary truth that there is no such thing as a "moral _per se_," a
"good _per se_," and that it is madness to talk of "truth" in this
Wherever was _intellectual uprightness_ to be found in those days?
The Greek culture of the Sophists had grown out of all the Greek
instincts; it belongs to the culture of the age of Pericles as
necessarily as Plato does not: it has its predecessors in Heraclitus,
Democritus, and in the scientific types of the old philosophy; it
finds expression in the elevated culture of Thucydides, for instance.
And--it has ultimately shown itself to be right: every step in the
science of epistemology and morality has _confirmed the attitude_ of
the Sophists.... Our modern attitude of mind is, to
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