Thoughts Out of Season, Part II

By Friedrich Nietzsche

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has its source there. An
American may tell them what a centre of mighty forces a great thinker
can prove on this earth. "Beware when the great God lets loose a
thinker on this planet," says Emerson.[3] "Then all things are at
risk. It is as when a conflagration has broken out in a great city,
and no man knows what is safe, or where it will end. There is not a
piece of science, but its flank may be turned to-morrow; there is not
any literary reputation, not the so-called eternal names of fame,
that may not be revised and condemned.... The things which are dear
to men at this hour are so on account of the ideas which have emerged
on their mental horizon, and which cause the present order of things
as a tree bears its apples. A new degree of culture would instantly
revolutionise the entire system of human pursuits." If such thinkers
are dangerous, it is clear why our university thinkers are not
dangerous; for their thoughts bloom as peacefully in the shade of
tradition "as ever tree bore its apples." They do not frighten; they
carry away no gates of Gaza; and to all their little contemplations
one can make the answer of Diogenes when a certain philosopher was
praised: "What great result has he to show, who has so long practised
philosophy and yet has _hurt_ nobody?" Yes, the university philosophy
should have on its monument, "It has hurt nobody." But this is rather
the praise one gives to an old woman than to a goddess of truth; and
it is not surprising that those who know the goddess only as an old
woman are the less men for that, and are naturally neglected by the
real men of power.

[3] Essay on "Circles."

If this be the case in our time, the dignity of philosophy is trodden
in the mire; and she seems herself to have become ridiculous or
insignificant. All her true friends are bound to bear witness against
this transformation, at least to show that it is merely her false
servants in philosopher's clothing who are so. Or better, they must
prove by their own deed that the love of truth has itself awe and

Schopenhauer proved this and will continue to prove it, more and

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Text Comparison with On the Future of our Educational Institutions; Homer and Classical Philology Complete Works, Volume Three

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Finally, the author would wish his reader to be fully alive to the specific character of our present barbarism and of that which distinguishes us, as the barbarians of the nineteenth century, from other barbarians.
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_ with the spirit of its classical poets and artists? This is a dark and thorny sphere, into which one cannot even bear a light without dread; but even here we shall conceal nothing from ourselves; for sooner or later the whole of it will have to be reformed.
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"Everybody who is in earnest in this matter will have the same sort of experience as the recruit in the army who is compelled to learn walking after having walked almost all his life as a dilettante or empiricist.
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In regard to all ancient authors he is rather inclined to speak after the manner of the æsthete, Hermann Grimm, who, on one occasion, at the end of a tortuous essay on the Venus of Milo, asks himself: 'What does this goddess's form mean to me? Of what use are the thoughts she suggests to me? Orestes and OEdipus, Iphigenia and Antigone, what have they in common with my heart?'--No, my dear public school boy, the Venus of Milo does not concern you in any way, and concerns your teacher just as little--and that is the misfortune, that is the secret of the modern public school.
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I will not even consider whether I am strong enough for such a fight, whether I can offer sufficient resistance; it may even be an honourable death to fall to the accompaniment of the mocking laughter of such enemies, whose seriousness has frequently seemed to us to be something ridiculous.
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And, in serious matters of this kind, to hasten forward the progress of the education of the people means simply the postponement of this violent demolition, and the maintenance of that wholesome unconsciousness, that sound sleep, of the people, without which counter-action and remedy no culture, with the exhausting strain and excitement of its own actions, can make any headway.
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philosopher, "but I suspect that, owing to the way in which Latin and Greek are now taught in schools, the accurate grasp of these languages, the ability to speak and write them with ease, is lost, and that is something in which my own generation distinguished itself--a generation, indeed, whose few survivers have by this time grown old; whilst, on the other hand, the present teachers seem to impress their pupils with the genetic and historical importance of the subject to such an extent that, at best, their scholars ultimately turn into little Sanskritists, etymological spitfires, or reckless conjecturers; but not one of them can read his Plato or Tacitus with pleasure, as we old folk can.
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_ in a period when (to use the favourite popular word) so many 'self-understood' things came into being, but which are in themselves not 'self-understood' at all.
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that the many may in this way endeavour to escape the rigid and strict discipline of the few great leaders, so that the masses may be persuaded that they can easily find the path for themselves--following the guiding star of the State! "A new phenomenon! The State as the guiding star of culture! In the meantime one thing consoles me: this German spirit, which people are combating so much, and for which they have substituted a gaudily attired _locum tenens_, this spirit is brave: it will fight and redeem itself into a purer age; noble, as it is now, and victorious, as it one day will be, it will always preserve in its mind a certain pitiful toleration of the State, if the latter, hard-pressed in the hour of extremity, secures such a pseudo-culture as its associate.
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" The philosopher had particularly drawn his companion's attention to the strange corruption which must have entered into the heart of culture when the State thought itself capable of tyrannising over it and of attaining its ends through it; and further when the State, in conjunction with this culture, struggled against other hostile forces as well as against _the_ spirit which the philosopher ventured to call the "true German spirit.
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How steadfastly and faithfully must the few followers of that culture--which might almost be called sectarian--be ever on the alert! How they must strengthen and uphold one another! How adversely would any errors be criticised here, and how sympathetically excused! And thus, teacher, I ask you to pardon me, after you have laboured so earnestly to set me in the right path!" "You use a language which I do not care for, my friend," said the philosopher, "and one which reminds me of a diocesan conference.
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"False time!" said the philosopher again, "who told you to shoot stars! They can fall well enough without you! People should know what they want before they begin to handle weapons.
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I don't quite understand you, my friend: it must mean something when we arrange to meet after a long separation at such an out-of-the-way place and at such an unusual hour.
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It is by them that you can judge the educational strength of our universities, asking yourselves, in all seriousness, the question: What cause did you promote through them? The German power of invention, the noble German desire for knowledge, the qualifying of the German for diligence and self-sacrifice--splendid and beautiful things, which other nations envy you; yea, the finest and most magnificent things in the world, if only that true German spirit overspread them like a dark thundercloud, pregnant with the blessing of forthcoming rain.
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Such an undecided and imperfect state of public opinion is damaging to a science in that its hidden and open enemies can work with much better prospects of success.
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And then we meet with the weighty question: What lies before this period? Has Homer's personality, because it cannot be grasped, gradually faded away into an empty name? Or had all the Homeric poems been gathered together in a body, the nation naively representing itself by the figure of Homer? _Was the person created out of a conception, or the conception out of a person?_ This is the real "Homeric question," the central problem of the personality.
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The masses have never experienced more flattering treatment than in thus having the laurel of genius set upon their empty heads.
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The _Iliad_ is not a garland, but a bunch of flowers.