Beyond Good and Evil eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 184 pages of information about Beyond Good and Evil.
to be born to a high station, or, more definitely, they have to be bred for it:  a person has only a right to philosophy—­taking the word in its higher significance—­in virtue of his descent; the ancestors, the “blood,” decide here also.  Many generations must have prepared the way for the coming of the philosopher; each of his virtues must have been separately acquired, nurtured, transmitted, and embodied; not only the bold, easy, delicate course and current of his thoughts, but above all the readiness for great responsibilities, the majesty of ruling glance and contemning look, the feeling of separation from the multitude with their duties and virtues, the kindly patronage and defense of whatever is misunderstood and calumniated, be it God or devil, the delight and practice of supreme justice, the art of commanding, the amplitude of will, the lingering eye which rarely admires, rarely looks up, rarely loves. . . .

CHAPTER VII

OUR VIRTUES

214.  Our Virtues?—­It is probable that we, too, have still our virtues, although naturally they are not those sincere and massive virtues on account of which we hold our grandfathers in esteem and also at a little distance from us.  We Europeans of the day after tomorrow, we firstlings of the twentieth century—­with all our dangerous curiosity, our multifariousness and art of disguising, our mellow and seemingly sweetened cruelty in sense and spirit—­we shall presumably, if we must have virtues, have those only which have come to agreement with our most secret and heartfelt inclinations, with our most ardent requirements:  well, then, let us look for them in our labyrinths!—­where, as we know, so many things lose themselves, so many things get quite lost!  And is there anything finer than to search for one’s own virtues?  Is it not almost to believe in one’s own virtues?  But this “believing in one’s own virtues”—­is it not practically the same as what was formerly called one’s “good conscience,” that long, respectable pigtail of an idea, which our grandfathers used to hang behind their heads, and often enough also behind their understandings?  It seems, therefore, that however little we may imagine ourselves to be old-fashioned and grandfatherly respectable in other respects, in one thing we are nevertheless the worthy grandchildren of our grandfathers, we last Europeans with good consciences:  we also still wear their pigtail.—­Ah! if you only knew how soon, so very soon—­it will be different!

215.  As in the stellar firmament there are sometimes two suns which determine the path of one planet, and in certain cases suns of different colours shine around a single planet, now with red light, now with green, and then simultaneously illumine and flood it with motley colours:  so we modern men, owing to the complicated mechanism of our “firmament,” are determined by different moralities; our actions shine alternately in different colours, and are seldom unequivocal—­and there are often cases, also, in which our actions are motley-coloured.

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Beyond Good and Evil from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.