On convictions and justice. To carry out later, in coolness and sobriety, what a man promises or decides in passion: this demand is among the heaviest burdens oppressing mankind. To have to acknowledge for all duration the consequences of anger, of raging vengeance, of enthusiastic devotion-this can incite a bitterness against these feelings all the greater because everywhere, and especially by artists, precisely these feelings are the object of idol worship. Artists cultivate the esteem for the passions, and have always done so; to be sure, they also glorify the frightful satisfactions of passion, in which one indulges, the outbursts of revenge that have death, mutilation, or voluntary banishment as a consequence, and the resignation of the broken heart. In any event, they keep alive curiosity about the passions; it is as if they wished to say: without passions you have experienced nothing at all.

Because we have vowed to be faithful, even, perhaps, to a purely imaginary being, a God, for instance; because we have given our heart to a prince, a party, a woman, a priestly order, an artist, or a thinker, in the state of blind madness that enveloped us in rapture and let those beings appear worthy of every honor, every sacrifice: are we then inextricably bound? Were we not deceiving ourselves then? Was it not a conditional promise, under the assumption (unstated, to be sure) that those beings to whom we dedicated ourselves really are the beings they appeared to be in our imaginations? Are we obliged to be faithful to our errors, even if we perceive that by this faithfulness we do damage to our higher self?

No - there is no law, no obligation of that kind; we must become traitors, act unfaithfully, forsake our ideals again and again. We do not pass from one period of life to another without causing these pains of betrayal, and without suffering from them in turn. Should we have to guard ourselves against the upsurging of our feeling in order to avoid these pains? Would not the world then become too bleak, too ghostly for us? We want rather to ask ourselves whether these pains at a change of conviction are necessary, or whether they do not depend on an erroneous opinion and estimation. Why do we admire the man who remains faithful to his conviction and despise the one who changes it? I fear the answer must be that everyone assumes such a change is caused only by motives of baser advantage or personal fear. That is, we believe fundamentally that no one changes his opinions as long as they are advantageous to him, or at least as long as they do him no harm. But if that is the case, it bears bad testimony to the intellectual meaning of all convictions. Let us test how convictions come into being and observe whether they are not vastly overrated: in that way it will be revealed that the change of convictions too is in any case measured by false standards and that until now we have tended to suffer too much from such changes.

Friedrich Nietzsche - Human, All Too Human
Section Nine: Man Alone with Himself - Aphorism # 629

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