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  • The will to truth!

  • That will which is yet to seduce us into many a venture,

  • that famous truthfulness of which all philosophers up to this time have spoken reverently

  • think what questions this will to truth has posed for us!

  • What strange, wicked, questionable, questions!

  • It has been a long story – and yet it seems hardly to have started.

  • No wonder if just for once we become suspicious, and, losing our patience, impatiently turn around!

  • Let us learn to ask this Sphinx some questions ourselves, for a change.

  • Just who is it anyway who has been asking these questions?

  • Just what is it in us that wants "to approach truth"?

  • Indeed, we tarried a long time before the question of the cause of this will.

  • And in the end we stopped altogether before the even more basic question.

  • We asked "What is the value of this will?"

  • Supposing we want truth: why not rather untruth?

  • Uncertainty? Even Ignorance?

  • The problem of the value of truth confronted us

  • or were we the ones who confronted the problem?

  • Which of us is Oedipus? Which of us the Sphinx?

  • It is a rendezvous of questions and question marks.

  • It may be unbelievable, but it seems to us in the end as though the problem had never yet been posed

  • as though it were being seen, fixed, above all risked, for the first time.

  • For there is a risk in posing itperhaps no greater risk could be found.

  • How is it possible for anything to come out of its opposite?

  • Truth, for example, out of error?

  • Or the will to truth out of the will to deception?

  • Or a self-less act out of self-interest?

  • Or the pure sunny contemplation of a wise man out of covetousness?

  • This sort of origin is impossible.

  • Who dreams of it is a fool or worse;

  • the things of highest value must have some other, indigenous origin;

  • they cannot be derived from this ephemeral, seductive, deceptive, inferior world,

  • this labyrinth of delusion and greed!

  • Their basis must lie in the womb of Being,

  • in the Eternal, in the hidden God, in the "Thing in Itself"—

  • here and nowhere else!—

  • This type of judgement is the typical prejudice by which the metaphysicians of all time can be recognized.

  • This type of valuation stands back of all their logical methods;

  • this is the "faith" that enables them to struggle for what they call "knowing"

  • —a something which at last they solemnly christen "truth."

  • The basic faith of all metaphysicians is faith in the antithetical nature of values.

  • It has never occurred to the most cautious of them,

  • even though they had taken the vow to "doubt everything,"

  • to pause in doubt at the very threshold where doubt would have been most necessary.

  • But we may indeed doubt:

  • first, whether antitheses exist at all, and second,

  • whether those popular valuations and value-antitheses upon which the metaphysicians have placed their stamp of approval are not perhaps merely superficial valuations,

  • merely provisional perspectives

  • and perspectives from a tight corner at that,

  • possibly from below, a "worms eye view" so to speak.

  • Admitting all the value accorded to the true, the truthful, the selfless,

  • it is nonetheless possible that a higher value should be ascribed to appearance,

  • to the will to deception, to self-interest, to greed—a higher value with respect to all life.

  • Furthermore, it is quite possible that the very value of those good and honored things consists, in fact, in their insidious relatedness to these wicked, seemingly opposite things

  • it could be that they are inextricably bound up, entwined, perhaps even similar in their very nature.

  • Perhaps! But who is willing to be troubled by such a perilous Perhaps?

  • We must wait for a new species of philosopher to arrive,

  • who will have some other, opposite tastes and inclinations than the previous ones.

  • Philosophers of the Perilous Perhaps, in every sense!

  • And seriously, I can see such new philosophers coming up over the horizon.

  • After keeping an eye on and reading between the lines of the philosophers for a long time, I find that I must tell myself the following:

  • the largest part of conscious thinking must be considered an instinctual activity,

  • even in the case of philosophical thinking.

  • We must simply re-learn, as we have had to re-learn about heredity and "inborn" qualities.

  • As little as the act of birth is of consequence in the whole process and progress of heredity, so little is consciousness in any decisive sense opposed to instinct.

  • Most of the conscious thinking of a philosopher is secretly guided by his instincts and forced along certain lines.

  • Even behind logic and its apparent sovereignty of development stand value judgements,

  • or, to speak more plainly,

  • physiological demands for preserving a certain type of life.

  • Such as, for example, that the definite is worth more than the indefinite, that appearance is less valuable than "the truth."

  • Such valuations, all their regulative importance notwithstanding,

  • can for us be only foreground-valuations,

  • a definite type of ridiculous simplicity,

  • possibly necessary for the preservation of the creature we happen to be.

  • Assuming, to be sure, that man does not happen to be "the measure of all things"...

  • The falseness of a given judgement does not constitute an objection against it, so far as we are concerned.

  • It is perhaps in this respect that our new language sounds strangest.

  • The real question is how far a judgement furthers and maintains life, preserves a given type, possibly cultivates and trains a given type.

  • We are, in fact, fundamentally inclined to maintain that the falsest judgements

  • (to which belong the synthetic a priori judgements)

  • are the most indispensable to us,

  • that man cannot live without accepting the logical fictions as valid,

  • without measuring reality against the purely invented world of the absolute, the immutable,

  • without constantly falsifying the world by means of numeration.

  • That getting along without false judgements would amount to getting along without life, negating life.

  • To admit untruth as a necessary condition of life:

  • this implies, to be sure, a perilous resistance against customary value-feelings.

  • A philosophy that risks it nonetheless, if it did nothing else, would by this alone have taken its stand beyond good and evil.

  • What tempts us to look at all philosophers half suspiciously and half mockingly is not so much that we recognize again and again how innocent they are,

  • how often and how easily they make mistakes and lose their way,

  • in short their childishness and childlike-ness

  • but rather that they are not sufficiently candid,

  • though they make a great virtuous noisy to-do as soon as the problem of truthfulness is even remotely touched upon.

  • Every one of them pretends that he has discovered and reached his opinions through the self-development of cold, pure, divinely untroubled dialectic

  • (in distinction to the mystics of every rank who, more honest and fatuous, talk about "inspiration"),

  • whereas, at bottom, a pre-conceived dogma, a notion, "an institution," or mostly a heart's desire, made abstract and refined,

  • is defended by them with arguments sought after the fact.

  • They are all of them lawyers (though wanting to be called anything but that),

  • and for the most part quite sly defenders of their prejudices which they christen "truths"—

  • very far removed they are from the courageous conscience which admits precisely this;

  • very remote from the courageous good taste which makes sure that others understand

  • perhaps to warn an enemy or a friend, perhaps from sheer high spirits and self-mockery.

  • The spectacle of old Kant's Tartuffery, as stiff as it is respectable,

  • luring us onto the dialectical crooked paths which lead to (or better mislead) to his "categorical imperative"

  • this spectacle makes us, used to diversions as we are, smile.

  • For we find no small entertainment in keeping our eye on the delicate tricks of ancient moralists and morality-preachers.

  • Or consider that hocus-pocus of mathematical form with which Spinoza masked and armor-plated as though in bronze his philosophy

  • (or let us translate the word properly: "the love of his own wisdom")!

  • He used it to intimidate at the very start the courageous attacker who might dare cast eyes on this invincible virgin and Pallas Athene

  • how much insecurity and vulnerability this masquerade of a sick recluse betrays!

  • Gradually I have come to realize what every great philosophy up to now has been:

  • the personal confession of its originator,

  • a type of involuntary and unaware memoirs;

  • also that the moral (or amoral) intentions of each philosophy constitute the protoplasm from which each entire plant has grown.

  • Indeed, one will do well (and wisely), if one wishes to explain to himself how on earth the more remote metaphysical assertions of a philosopher ever arose to ask each time:

  • What sort of morality is this (is he) aiming at?

  • Thus I do not believe that a "desire for comprehension" is the father of philosophy,

  • but rather that a quite different desire has here as elsewhere used comprehension (together with miscomprehension) as tools to serve its own ends.

  • Anyone who looks at the basic desires of man with a view to finding out how well they have played their part in precisely this field

  • as inspirational genii (or demons or hobgoblins) will note that they have all philosophized at one time or another.

  • Each individual desire wants badly to represent itself as the final aim of existence and as rightful master of all the others.

  • For each desire is autocratic and as such it attempts to philosophize.

  • In the case of scholars, to be sure, the specifically "scientific" men, it may be different—"better" if you wish.

  • They may really have something like a "desire for comprehension,"

  • some small independent clockwork mechanism which, when properly wound, works bravely on without involving the remaining desires of the scholars.

  • The real "interests," therefore, of the scholars lie in quite another field

  • in their family, perhaps, or their livelihood, or in politics.

  • It makes almost no difference, in fact, whether the little machine is employed in one place or another to serve science,

  • and whether the "promising" young worker makes of himself a philologist or a mushroom-fancier or a chemist

  • his becoming this or that does not characterize him.

  • Conversely, there is nothing impersonal whatever in the philosopher.

  • And particularly his morality testifies decidedly and decisively as to who he isthat is, what order of rank the innermost desires of his nature occupy.

  • How malicious philosophers can be!

  • I know of nothing more ferocious than the jest that Epicurus permitted himself against Plato and the Platonists.

  • He called them Dionysiokolakes.

  • Superficially, and literally, it means "flatterers of Dionysius,"

  • that is "yes-men" and lick-spittles;

  • but in addition the word signifies "They are only actors; they are not genuine"

  • (for Dionysiokolax was the popular designation for an actor).

  • This latter implication is really the malice that Epicurus aimed at Plato;

  • he was annoyed by the grand manner, the play-acting, that Plato and all his students so well knew how to put onand Epicurus did not!

  • He, the old schoolmaster of Samos, sat hidden in his little garden at Athens and wrote three hundred books.

  • Who knowsperhaps out of furious ambition to equal Plato!

  • It took one hundred years before Greece realized just who this garden-god Epicurus had been. If, indeed, she ever realized it!

  • In every philosophy there comes the point where the philosopher's "conviction" enters the scene

  • or, in the words of an ancient mystery,

  • adventavit asinus pulcher et fortissimus. (Enters now the ass Beautiful and most strong.)

  • "In moderation, according to nature" you wish to live? Oh noble Stoics! How your words deceive!

  • Think of a being like Nature, immoderately wasteful, immoderately indifferent, devoid of intentions and considerateness,

  • devoid of compassion, and a sense of justice,

  • fruitful and desolate and uncertain at the same time; think of Indifference on the thronehow could you live in moderation according to this indifference?

  • Livingisn't it precisely a wishing-to-be-different from this Nature?

  • Doesn't living mean evaluating, preferring, being unjust, being limited, wanting to be different?

  • But suppose your imperative "to live in moderation, according to nature" only means 'to live in moderation, according to life"—

  • how then could you live otherwise?

  • Why make a principle of something that you are and have to be?

  • The truth is quite another matter:

  • while rapturously pretending to read the canon of your law out of nature, you actually want the oppositeyou strange play-actors and self-deceivers!

  • Your pride wants to dictate your morality, your ideal, to nature (even to nature!).

  • It wants to incorporate itself in nature; you demand that nature be nature "in moderation, according to the Stoa";