The Followers of Schopenhauer. What one sees at the contact of civilized peoples with barbarians, - namely, that the lower civilization regularly accepts in the first place the vices, weaknesses, and excesses of the higher; then, from that point onward, feels the influence of a charm; and finally, by means of the appropriated vices and weaknesses also allows something of the valuable influence of the higher culture to leaven it: - one can also see this close at hand and without journeys to barbarian peoples, to be sure, somewhat refined and spiritualised, and not so readily palpable. What are the German followers of Schopenhauer still accustomed to receive first of all from their master? - those who, when placed beside his superior culture, must deem themselves sufficiently barbarous to be first of all barbarously fascinated and seduced by him. Is it his hard matter-of-fact sense, his inclination to clearness and rationality, which often makes him appear so English, and so unlike Germans? Or the strength of his intellectual conscience, which endured a life-long contradiction of "being" and "willing," and compelled him to contradict himself constantly even in his writings on almost every point? Or his purity in matters relating to the Church and the Christian God? - for here he was pure as no German philosopher had been hitherto, so that he lived and died "as a Voltairian." Or his immortal doctrines of the intellectuality of intuition, the apriority of the law of causality, the instrumental nature of the intellect, and the non-freedom of the will? No, nothing of this enchants, nor is felt as enchanting; but Schopenhauer’s mystical embarrassments and shufflings in those passages where the matter-of-fact thinker allowed himself to be seduced and corrupted by the vain impulse to be the unraveller of the world’s riddle: his undemonstrable doctrine of one will ("all causes are merely occasional causes of the phenomenon of the will at such a time and at such a place," "the will to live, whole and undivided, is present in every being, even in the smallest, as perfectly as in the sum of all that was, is, and will be"); his denial of the individual ("all lions are really only one lion," "plurality of individuals is an appearance," as also development is only an appearance: he calls the opinion of Lamarck "an ingenious, absurd error"); his fantasy about genius ("in aesthetic contemplation the individual is no longer an individual, but a pure, will-less, painless, timeless subject of knowledge," "the subject, in that it entirely merges in the contemplated object, has become this object itself"); his nonsense about sympathy, and about the outburst of the principium individuationis thus rendered possible, as the source of all morality; including also such assertions as, "dying is really the design of existence," "the possibility should not be absolutely denied that a magical effect could proceed from a person already dead": - these, and similar extravagances and vices of the philosopher, are always first accepted and made articles of faith; for vices and extravagances are always easiest to imitate, and do not require a long preliminary practice. But let us speak of the most celebrated of the living Schopenhauerians, Richard Wagner. - It has happened to him as it has already happened to many an artist: he made a mistake in the interpretation of the characters he created, and misunderstood the unexpressed philosophy of the art peculiarly his own. Richard Wagner allowed himself to be misled by Hegel’s influence 'till the middle of his life; and he did the same again when later on he read Schopenhauer’s doctrine between the lines of his characters, and began to express himself with such terms as "will," "genius," and "sympathy." Nevertheless it will remain true that nothing is more counter to Schopenhauer’s spirit than the essentially Wagnerian element in Wagner’s heroes: I mean the innocence of the supremest selfishness, the belief in strong passion as the good in itself, in a word, the Siegfried trait in the countenances of his heroes. "All that still smacks more of Spinoza than of me," - Schopenhauer would probably have said. Whatever good reasons, therefore, Wagner might have had to be on the outlook for other philosophers than Schopenhauer, the enchantment to which he succumbed in respect to this thinker, not only made him blind towards all other philosophers, but even towards science itself; his entire art is more and more inclined to become the counterpart and complement of the Schopenhauerian philosophy, and it always renounces more emphatically the higher ambition to become the counterpart and complement of human knowledge and science. And not only is he allured thereto by the whole mystic pomp of this philosophy (which would also have allured a Cagliostro), the peculiar airs and emotions of the philosopher have all along been seducing him as well! For example, Wagner’s indignation about the corruption of the German language is Schopenhauerian; and if one should commend his imitation in this respect, it is nevertheless not to be denied that Wagner’s style itself suffers in no small degree from all the tumours and turgidities, the sight of which made Schopenhauer so furious; and that, in respect to the German-writing Wagnerians, Wagneromania is beginning to be as dangerous as only some kinds of Hegelomania have been. From Schopenhauer comes Wagner’s hatred of the Jews, to whom he cannot do justice even in their greatest exploit: are not the Jews the inventors of Christianity! The attempt of Wagner to construe Christianity as a seed blown away from Buddhism, and his endeavour to initiate a Buddhistic era in Europe, under a temporary approximation tc Catholic–Christian formulas and sentiments, are both Schopenhauerian. Wagner’s preaching in favour of pity in dealing with animals is Schopenhauerian; Schopenhauer’s predecessor here, as is well known, was Voltaire, who already perhaps, like his successors, knew how to disguise his hatred of certain men and things as pity towards animals. At least Wagner’s hatred of science, which manifests itself in his preaching, has certainly not been inspired by the spirit of charitableness and kindness - nor by the spirit at all, as is sufficiently obvious. - Finally, it is of little importance what the philosophy of an artist is, provided it is only a supplementary philosophy, and does not do any injury to his art itself. We cannot be sufficiently on our guard against taking a dislike to an artist on account of an occasional, perhaps very unfortunate and presumptuous masquerade; let us not forget that the dear artists are all of them something of actors - and must be so; it would be difficult for them to hold out in the long run without stage-playing. Let us be loyal to Wagner in that which is true and original in him, - and especially in this point, that we, his disciples, remain loyal to ourselves in that which is true and original in us. Let us allow him his intellectual humours and spasms, let us in fairness rather consider what strange nutriments and necessaries an art like his is entitled to, in order to be able to live and grow! It is of no account that he is often wrong as a thinker; justice and patience are not his affair. It is sufficient that his life is right in his own eyes, and maintains its right, - the life which calls to each of us: "Be a man, and do not follow me - but thyself! thyself!" Our life, also ought to maintain its right in our own eyes! We also are to grow and blossom out of ourselves, free and fearless, in innocent selfishness! And so, on the contemplation of such a man, these thoughts still ring in my ears today, as formerly: "That passion is better than stoicism or hypocrisy; that straight forwardness, even in evil, is better than losing oneself in trying to observe traditional morality; that the free man is just as able to be good as evil, but that the unemancipated man is a disgrace to nature, and has no share in heavenly or earthly bliss; finally, that all who wish to be free must become so through themselves, and that freedom falls to nobody’s lot as a gift from Heaven." (Richard Wagner in Bayreuth, Vol. I. of this Translation, pp. 199–200).

Friedrich Nietzsche - The Gay Science
Book II - Aphorism # 99

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