We Philologists Complete Works of Friedrich Nietzsche, Volume 8

By Friedrich Nietzsche

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sufficiently shown by
observing how few people have any real capacity for their professions
and callings, and how many square pegs there are in round holes: happy
and well chosen instances are quite exceptional, like happy marriages,
and even these latter are not brought about by reason. A man chooses his
calling before he is fitted to exercise his faculty of choice. He does
not know the number of different callings and professions that exist; he
does not know himself; and then he wastes his years of activity in this
calling, applies all his mind to it, and becomes experienced and
practical. When, afterwards, his understanding has become fully
developed, it is generally too late to start something new; for wisdom
on earth has almost always had something of the weakness of old age and
lack of vigour about it.

For the most part the task is to make good, and to set to rights as well
as possible, that which was bungled in the beginning. Many will come to
recognise that the latter part of their life shows a purpose or design
which has sprung from a primary discord: it is hard to live through it.
Towards the end of his life, however, the average man has become
accustomed to it--then he may make a mistake in regard to the life he
has lived, and praise his own stupidity: _bene navigavi cum naufragium
feci_ . he may even compose a song of thanksgiving to "Providence."


On inquiring into the origin of the philologist I find:

1. A young man cannot have the slightest conception of what the Greeks
and Romans were.

2. He does not know whether he is fitted to investigate into them;

3. And, in particular, he does not know to what extent, in view of the
knowledge he may actually possess, he is fitted to be a teacher. What
then enables him to decide is not the knowledge of himself or his
science; but

(_a_) Imitation.

(_b_) The convenience of carrying on the kind of work which he had
begun at school.

(_c_) His intention of earning a living.

In short, ninety-nine philologists out of a hundred _should_ not be
philologists at all.


The more strict religions require that men shall look upon their
activity simply as one means of carrying out a metaphysical scheme: an
unfortunate choice of calling may then be explained as a test of the
individual. Religions keep their eyes fixed only upon the salvation of
the individual . whether he

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