Human, All Too Human

18

Basic questions of metaphysics. Once the ontogeny of thought is written, the following sentence by an excellent logician will be seen in a new light: "The original general law of the knowing subject consists in the inner necessity of knowing each object in itself, in its own being, as an object identical with itself, that is, self-existing and fundamentally always the same and unchangeable, in short, as a substance." 21 This law, too, which is here called "original," also evolved. Some day the gradual origin of this tendency in lower organisms will be shown, how the dull mole's eyes of these organizations at first see everything as identical; how then, when the various stimuli of pleasure and unpleasure become more noticeable, different substances are gradually distinguished, but each one with One attribute, that is, with one single relationship to such an organism.
The first stage of logic is judgment, whose essence consists, as the best logicians have determined, in belief. All belief is based on the feeling of pleasure or pain in relation to the feeling subject. A new, third feeling as the result of two preceding feelings is judgment in its lowest form.
Initially, we organic beings have no interest in a thing, other than in its relationship to us with regard to pleasure and pain. Between those moments in which we become aware of this relationship (i.e., the states of sensation) lie those states of quiet, of non-sensation. Then we find the world and every thing in it without interest; we notice no change in it (just as even now, a person who is intensely interested in something will not notice that someone is passing by him). To a plant, all things are normally quiet, eternal, each thing identical to itself. From the period of low organisms, man has inherited the belief that there are identical things (only experience which has been educated by the highest science contradicts this tenet). From the beginning, the first belief of all organic beings may be that the whole rest of the world is One and unmoved.
In that first stage of logic, the thought of causality is furthest removed. Even now, we believe fundamentally that all feelings and actions are acts of free will; when the feeling individual considers himself, he takes each feeling, each change, to be something isolated, that is, something unconditioned, without a context. It rises up out of us, with no connection to anything earlier or later. We are hungry, but do not think initially that the organism wants to be kept alive. Rather, that feeling seems to assert itself without reason or purpose; it isolates itself and takes itself to be arbitrary. Thus the belief in freedom of the will is an initial error of all organic beings, as old as the existence in them of stirrings of logic. Belief in unconditioned substances and identical things is likewise an old, original error of all that is organic. To the extent that all metaphysics has dealt primarily with substance and freedom of the will, however, one may characterize it as that science which deals with the basic errors of man--but as if they were basic truths.

21. From Afrikan Spir, Denken and Wirklichkeit (Thought and Reality) (Leipzig, 1873), which Nietzsche read in Basel in the year of its publication.

Friedrich NietzscheHuman, All Too Human: Section One: Of First and Last Things - Aphorism #1810778 years, 4 months ago 

19

The number. The laws of numbers were invented on the basis of the initially prevailing error that there are various identical things (but actually there is nothing identical) or at least that there are things (but there is no "thing"). The assumption of multiplicity always presumes that there is something, which occurs repeatedly. But this is just where error rules; even here, we invent entities, unities, that do not exist.
Our feelings of space and time are false, for if they are tested rigorously, they lead to logical contradictions. Whenever we establish something scientifically, we are inevitably always reckoning with some incorrect quantities; but because these quantities are at least constant (as is, for example, our feeling of time and space), the results of science do acquire a perfect strictness and certainty in their relationship to each other. One can continue to build upon them--up to that final analysis, where the mistaken basic assumptions, those constant errors, come into contradiction with the results, for example, in atomic theory. There we still feel ourselves forced to assume a "thing" or a material "substratum" that is moved, while the entire scientific procedure has pursued the task of dissolving everything thing-like (material) into movements. Here, too, our feeling distinguishes that which is moving from that which is moved, and we do not come out of this circle, because the belief in things has been tied up with our essential nature from time immemorial.22
When Kant says "Reason does not create its laws from nature, but dictates them to her,"23 this is perfectly true in respect to the concept of nature which we are obliged to apply to her (Nature = world as idea, that is, as error), but which is the summation of a number of errors of reason.
To a world that is not our idea, the laws of numbers are completely inapplicable: they are valid only in the human world.

22. Besides Democritus, Nietzsche also mentions the work of Empedocles (5th c. B.C.) and Anaxagoras (500-428 B.C.) in connection with these problems (cf. Philosophy in the Tragic Age of the Greeks, par. 14 ).
23. Kant, Prolegomena, par. 36.

Friedrich NietzscheHuman, All Too Human: Section One: Of First and Last Things - Aphorism #1912328 years, 4 months ago 

20

A few rungs down. One level of education, itself a very high one, has been reached when man gets beyond superstitious and religious concepts and fears and, for example, no longer believes in the heavenly angels or original sin, and has stopped talking about the soul's salvation. Once he is at this level of liberation, he must still make a last intense effort to overcome metaphysics. Then, however, a retrograde movement is necessary: he must understand both the historical and the psychological justification in metaphysical ideas. He must recognize how mankind's greatest advancement came from them and how, if one did not take this retrograde step, one would rob himself of mankind's finest accomplishments to date.
With regard to philosophical metaphysics, I now see a number of people who have arrived at the negative goal (that all positive metaphysics is an error), but only a few who climb back down a few rungs. For one should look out over the last rung of the ladder, but not want to stand on it. Those who are most enlightened can go only as far as to free themselves of metaphysics and look back on it with superiority, while here, as in the hippodrome, it is necessary to take a turn at the end of the track.

Friedrich NietzscheHuman, All Too Human: Section One: Of First and Last Things - Aphorism #2011518 years, 4 months ago 

21

Presumed triumph of skepticism. Let us accept for the moment the skeptical starting point: assuming there were no other, metaphysical world and that we could not use any metaphysical explanations of the only world known to us, how would we then look upon men and things? One can imagine this; it is useful to do so, even if one were to reject the question of whether Kant and Schopenhauer proved anything metaphysical scientifically. For according to historical probability, it is quite likely that men at some time will become skeptical about this whole subject. So one must ask the question: how will human society take shape under the influence of such an attitude? Perhaps the scientific proof of any metaphysical world is itself so difficult that mankind can no longer keep from distrusting it. And if one is distrustful of metaphysics, then we have, generally speaking, the same consequences as if metaphysics had been directly refuted and one were no longer permitted to believe in it. The historical question about mankind's unmetaphysical views remains the same in either case.

Friedrich NietzscheHuman, All Too Human: Section One: Of First and Last Things - Aphorism #218528 years, 4 months ago 

22

Disbelief in the "monumentum aere perennius." 24 One crucial disadvantage about the end of metaphysical views is that the individual looks his own short life span too squarely in the eye and feels no strong incentives to build on enduring institutions, designed for the ages. He wants to pick the fruit from the tree he has planted himself, and therefore no longer likes to plant those trees which require regular care over centuries, trees that are destined to overshade long successions of generations. For metaphysical views lead one to believe that they offer the conclusive foundation upon which all future generations are henceforth obliged to settle and build. The individual is furthering his salvation when he endows a church, for example, or a monastery; he thinks it will be credited to him and repaid in his soul's eternal afterlife; it is work on the eternal salvation of his soul.
Can science, too, awaken such a belief in its results? To be sure, its truest allies must be doubt and distrust. Nevertheless, the sum of indisputable truths, which outlast all storms of skepticism and all disintegration, can in time become so large (in the dietetics of health, for example), that one can decide on that basis to found "eternal" works. In the meanwhile, the contrast between our excited ephemeral existence and the long-winded quiet of metaphysical ages is still too strong, because the two ages are still too close to each other; the individual runs through too many inner and outer evolutions himself to dare to set himself up permanently, once and for all, for even the span of his own life. When a wholly modern man intends, for example, to build a house, he has a feeling as if he were walling himself up alive in a mausoleum.

24.. "a monument more enduring than brass" from Horace, Odes 3.30. 1.

Friedrich NietzscheHuman, All Too Human: Section One: Of First and Last Things - Aphorism #2211148 years, 4 months ago