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 Nietzsche - Human, All Too Human
Section One: Of First and Last Things - Aphorism # 18

« Prev - Random - Next »