44

Do I need after all that, still expressly have to state that they will also be free, very free spirits, these philosophers of the future - although it’s also certain that they will not be merely free spirits but something more, higher, greater, and fundamentally different that does not wish to be misunderstood and confused with something else? But as I say this, I feel a duty almost as much to them as to us who are their heralds and precursors, we free spirits! - the duty to blow away an old stupid prejudice and misunderstanding about us both, something which for too long has made the idea "free spirit" as impenetrable as a fog. In all the countries of Europe and in America as well there is now something which drives people to misuse this name, a very narrow, confined, chained-up type of spirit which wants something rather like the opposite to what lies in our intentions and instincts - to say nothing of the fact that, so far as those emerging new philosophers are concerned, such spirits definitely must be closed windows and bolted doors. To put the matter briefly and seriously, they belong with the levellers, these falsely named "free spirits"- as eloquent and prolific writing slaves of democratic taste and its "modern ideas": collectively people without solitude, without their own solitude, coarse brave lads whose courage or respectable decency should not be denied. But they are simply unfree and ridiculously superficial, above all with their basic tendency to see in the forms of old societies up to now the cause for almost all human misery and failure, a process which turns the truth happily on its head! What they would like to strive for with all their powers is the universal, green, pasture-happiness of the herd, with security, absence of danger, comfort, an easing of life for everyone. The two songs and doctrines they sing most frequently are called "Equality of Rights" and "pity for all things that suffer"- and they assume that suffering itself is something we must do away with. We who are their opposites, we who have opened our eyes and consciences for the question where and how up to now the plant "Man" has grown most powerfully to the heights, we think that this has happened every time under the opposite conditions, that for that to happen the danger of his situation first had to grow enormously, his power of invention and pretence (his "spirit"-) had to develop under lengthy pressure and compulsion into something refined and audacious, his will for living had to intensify into an unconditional will for power: - we think that hardness, violence, slavery, danger in the alleys and in the hearts, seclusion, stoicism, the art of attempting, and devilry of all kinds, that everything evil, fearful, tyrannical, predatory, snake-like in human beings serves well for the ennobling of the species "Man," as much as its opposite does: - in fact, when we say only this much we have not said enough, and we find ourselves at any rate with our speaking and silence at a point at the other end of all modern ideology and things desired by the herd, perhaps as their exact opposites? Is it any wonder that we "free spirits" are not the most talkative spirits? That we do not want to give away every detail of what a spirit can free itself and in what direction it may then perhaps be driven? And so far as the meaning of the dangerous formula "beyond good and evil" is concerned, with which we at least protect ourselves from being confused with others, we are something quite different from "libres-penseurs," "liberi pensatori," "Freidenker," and whatever else all these good advocates of "modern ideas" love to call themselves.8 Having been at home in many countries of the spirit, or at least a guest, having slipped away again and again from the musty comfortable corners into which preference and prejudice, youth, descent, contingencies of men and books, or even exhaustion from wandering around seem to have banished us, full of malice against the enticement of dependency, which lies hidden in honours, or gold, or offices, or sensuous enthusiasm, thankful even for poverty and richly changing sickness, because they always free us from some rule or other and its "prejudice," thankful to god, devil, sheep, and worm in us, curious to a fault, researchers all the way to cruelty, with fingers spontaneously working for the unimaginable, with teeth and stomachs for the most indigestible things, ready for any job which demands astuteness and keen senses, ready for any exploit, thanks to an excess of "free will," with front-souls and back-souls whose final intentions no one can easily see, with foregrounds and backgrounds which no foot may move through to the end, hidden under a cloak of light, conquerors, whether we appear like heirs and spendthrifts, stewards and collectors from dawn to dusk, miserly with our wealth and our crammed drawers, economical in learning and forgetting, resourceful in coming up with schemes, sometimes proud of tables of categories, sometimes pedants, sometimes night owls at work, even in broad daylight, in fact, when necessary, even scarecrows - and nowadays that’s necessary: that is, to the extent that we are born the sworn jealous friends of loneliness, of our own most profound midnight and noon loneliness: - we are that kind of men, we free spirits! And perhaps you also are something like that, you who are coming, you new philosophers?

8. These phrases all mean "free thinkers."
Friedrich Nietzsche - Beyond Good and Evil
Part II - Aphorism # 44

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