Thoughts Out of Season, Part II

By Friedrich Nietzsche

Page 81

their search
after truth, with its single question "What is the real _worth_ of
life?" Empedocles lived when Greek culture was full to overflowing
with the joy of life, and all ages may take profit from his words;
especially as no other great philosopher of that great time ventured
to contradict them. Empedocles is only the clearest voice among
them--they all say the same thing, if a man will but open his ears. A
modern thinker is always in the throes of an unfulfilled desire; he
is looking for life,--warm, red life,--that he may pass judgment on
it: at any rate he will think it necessary to be a living man
himself, before he can believe in his power of judging. And this is
the title of the modern philosophers to sit among the great aiders of
Life (or rather of the will to live), and the reason why they can
look from their own out-wearied time and aspire to a truer culture,
and a clearer explanation. Their yearning is, however, their danger;
the reformer in them struggles with the critical philosopher. And
whichever way the victory incline, it also implies a defeat. How was
Schopenhauer to escape this danger?

We like to consider the great man as the noble child of his age, who
feels its defects more strongly and intimately than the smaller men:
and therefore the struggle of the great man _against_ his age is
apparently nothing but a mad fight to the death with himself. Only
apparently, however: he only fights the elements in his time that
hinder his own greatness, in other words his own freedom and
sincerity. And so, at bottom, he is only an enemy to that element
which is not truly himself, the irreconcilable antagonism of the
temporal and eternal in him. The supposed "child of his age" proves
to be but a step-child. From boyhood Schopenhauer strove with his
time, a false and unworthy mother to him, and as soon as he had
banished her, he could bring back his being to its native health and
purity. For this very reason we can use his writings as mirrors of
his time; it is no fault of the mirror if everything contemporary
appear in it stricken by a ravaging disease, pale and thin, with
tired looks and hollow eyes,--the step-child's sorrow made visible.
The yearning for natural strength, for a healthy and simple humanity,
was a yearning for himself: and as soon as he had conquered his time
within him, he was face to face with his own genius. The secret of
nature's being and his own lay open,

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