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as God, Christ, the world, were and are conceived of in the most manifold wise. In this every one is a "dissenter," and after bloody combats so much has at last been attained, that opposite views about one and the same object are no longer condemned as heresies worthy of death. The "dissenters" reconcile themselves to each other. But why should I only dissent (think otherwise) about a thing? Why not push the thinking otherwise to its last extremity, that of no longer having any regard at all for the thing, and therefore thinking its nothingness, crushing it? Then the conception itself has an end, because there is no longer anything to conceive of. Why am I to say, let us suppose, "God is not Allah, not Brahma, not Jehovah, but -- God"; but not, "God is nothing but a deception"? Why do people brand me if I am an "atheist"? Because they put the creature above the creator ("They honor and serve the creature more than the Creator"*) and require a ruling object, that the subject may be right submissive. I am to bend beneath the absolute, I ought to.
By the "realm of thoughts" Christianity has completed itself; the thought is that inwardness in which all the world's lights go out, all existence becomes existenceless, the inward. man (the heart, the head) is all in all. This realm of thoughts awaits its deliverance, awaits, like the Sphinx, Oedipus's key- word to the riddle, that it may enter in at last to its death. I am the annihilator of its continuance, for in the creator's realm it no longer forms a realm of its own, not a
*Rom. 1. 25.
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State in the State, but a creature of my creative -- thoughtlessness. Only together and at the same time with the benumbed thinking world can the world of Christians, Christianity and religion itself, come to its downfall; only when thoughts run out are there no more believers. To the thinker his thinking is a "sublime labor, a sacred activity," and it rests on a firm faith, the faith in truth. At first praying is a sacred activity, then this sacred "devotion" passes over into a rational and reasoning "thinking," which, however, likewise retains in the "sacred truth" its underangeable basis of faith, and is only a marvelous machine that the spirit of truth winds up for its service. Free thinking and free science busy me -- for it is not I that am free, not I that busy myself, but thinking is free and busies me -- with heaven and the heavenly or "divine"; e. g., properly, with the world and the worldly, not this world but "another" world; it is only the reversing and deranging of the world, a busying with the essence of the world, therefore a derangement. The thinker is blind to the immediateness of things, and incapable of mastering them: he does not eat, does not drink, does not enjoy; for the eater and drinker is never the thinker, nay, the latter forgets eating and drinking, his getting on in life, the cares of nourishment, etc., over his thinking; he forgets it as the praying man too forgets it. This is why he appears to the forceful son of nature as a queer Dick, a fool -- even if he does look upon him as holy, just as lunatics appeared so to the ancients. Free thinking is lunacy, because it is pure movement of the inwardness, of the merely inward
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man, which guides and regulates the rest of the man. The shaman and the speculative philosopher mark the bottom and top rounds on the ladder of the inward man, the -- Mongol. Shaman and philosopher fight with ghosts, demons, spirits, gods.
Totally different from this free thinking is own thinking, my thinking, a thinking which does not guide me, but is guided, continued, or broken off, by me at my pleasure. The distinction of this own thinking from free thinking is similar to that of own sensuality, which I satisfy at pleasure, from free, unruly sensuality to which I succumb.
Feuerbach, in the Principles of the Philosophy of the Future, is always harping upon being. In this he too, with all his antagonism to Hegel and the absolute philosophy, is stuck fast in abstraction; for "being" is abstraction, as is even "the I." Only I am not abstraction alone: I am all in all, consequently even abstraction or nothing; I am all and nothing; I am not a mere thought, but at the same time I am full of thoughts, a thought-world. Hegel condemns the own, mine,* -- "opinion." ** "Absolute thinking" is that which forgets that it is my thinking, that I think, and that it exists only through me. But I, as I, swallow up again what is mine, am its master; it is only my opinion, which I can at any moment change, i.e. annihilate, take back into myself, and consume. Feuerbach wants to smite Hegel's "absolute thinking" with unconquered being. But in me being is as much conquered as thinking is. It
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is my being, as the other is my thinking.
With this, of course, Feuerbach does not get further than to the proof, trivial in itself, that I require the senses for everything, or that I cannot entirely do without these organs. Certainly I cannot think if I do not exist sensuously. But for thinking as well as for feeling, and so for the abstract as well as for the sensuous, I need above all things myself, this quite particular myself, this unique myself. If I were not this one, e. g. Hegel, I should not look at the world as I do look at it, I should not pick out of it that philosophical system which just I as Hegel do, etc. I should indeed have senses, as do other people too, but I should not utilize them as I do.
Thus the reproach is brought up against Hegel by Feuerbach* that he misuses language, understanding by many words something else than what natural consciousness takes them for; and yet he too commits the same fault when he gives the "sensuous" a sense of unusual eminence. Thus it is said, p. 69, "the sensuous is not the profane, the destitute of thought, the obvious, that which is understood of itself." But, if it is the sacred, the full of thought, the recondite, that which can be understood only through mediation -- well, then it is no longer what people call the sensuous. The sensuous is only that which exists for the senses; what, on the other hand, is enjoyable only to those who enjoy with more than the senses, who go beyond sense-enjoyment or sense-reception, is at most mediated or introduced by the senses, i. e., the senses constitute
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a condition for obtaining it, but it is no longer anything sensuous. The sensuous, whatever it may be, when taken up into me becomes something non-sensuous, which, however, may again have sensuous effects, e. g. as by the stirring of my emotions and my blood.
It is well that Feuerbach brings sensuousness to honor, but the only thing he is able to do with it is to clothe the materialism of his "new philosophy" with what had hitherto been the property of idealism, the "absolute philosophy." As little as people let it be talked into them that one can live on the "spiritual" alone without bread, so little will they believe his word that as a sensuous being one is already everything, and so spiritual, full of thoughts, etc.
Nothing at all is justified by being. What is thought of is as well as what is not thought of; the stone in the street is, and my notion of it is too. Both are only in different spaces, the former in airy space, the latter in my head, in me; for I am space like the street.
The professionals, the privileged, brook no freedom of thought, i.e. no thoughts that do not come from the "Giver of all good," be he called God, pope, church, or whatever else. If anybody has such illegitimate thoughts, he must whisper them into his confessor's ear, and have himself chastised by him till the slave-whip becomes unendurable to the free thoughts. In other ways too the professional spirit takes care that free thoughts shall not come at all: first and foremost, by a wise education. He on whom the principles of morality have been duly inculcated never becomes free again from moralizing thoughts, and rob-
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bery, perjury, overreaching, etc., remain to him fixed ideas against which no freedom of thought protects him. He has his thoughts "from above," and gets no further.
It is different with the holders of concessions or patents. Every one must be able to have and form thoughts as he will. If he has the patent, or the concession, of a capacity to think, he needs no special privilege. But, as "all men are rational," it is free to every one to put into his head any thoughts whatever, and, to the extent of the patent of his natural endowment, to have a greater or less wealth of thoughts. Now one hears the admonitions that one "is to honor all opinions and convictions," that "every conviction is authorized," that one must be "tolerant to the views of others," etc.
But "your thoughts are not my thoughts, and your ways are not my ways." Or rather, I mean the reverse: Your thoughts are my thoughts, which I dispose of as I will, and which I strike down unmercifully; they are my property, which I annihilate as I list. I do not wait for authorization from you first, to decompose and blow away your thoughts. It does not matter to me that you call these thoughts yours too, they remain mine nevertheless, and how I will proceed with them is my affair, not a usurpation. It may please me to leave you in your thoughts; then I keep still. Do you believe thoughts fly around free like birds, so that every one may get himself some which he may then make good against me as his inviolable property? What is flying around is all -- mine.
Do you believe you have your thoughts for your-
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selves and need answer to no one for them, or as you do also say, you have to give an account of them to God only? No, your great and small thoughts belong to me, and I handle them at my pleasure.
The thought is my own only when I have no misgiving about bringing it in danger of death every moment, when I do not have to fear its loss as a loss for me, a loss of me. The thought is my own only when I can indeed subjugate it, but it never can subjugate me, never fanaticizes me, makes me the tool of its realization.
So freedom of thought exists when I can have all possible thoughts; but the thoughts become property only by not being able to become masters. In the time of freedom of thought, thoughts (ideas) rule; but, if I attain to property in thought, they stand as my creatures.
If the hierarchy had not so penetrated men to the innermost as to take from them all courage to pursue free thoughts, e. g., thoughts perhaps displeasing to God, one would have to consider freedom of thought just as empty a word as, say, a freedom of digestion.
According to the professionals' opinion, the thought is given to me; according to the freethinkers', I seek the thought. There the truth is already found and extant, only I must -- receive it from its Giver by grace; here the truth is to be sought and is my goal, lying in the future, toward which I have to run.
In both cases the truth (the true thought) lies outside me, and I aspire to get it, be it by presentation (grace), be it by earning (merit of my own). Therefore, (1) The truth is a privilege; (2) No, the way to
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it is patent to all, and neither the Bible nor the holy fathers nor the church nor any one else is in possession of the truth; but one can come into possession of it by -- speculating.
Both, one sees, are property-less in relation to the truth: they have it either as a fief (for the "holy father," e. g. is not a unique person; as unique he is this Sixtus, Clement, but he does not have the truth as Sixtus, Clement, but as "holy father," i.e. as a spirit) or as an ideal. As a fief, it is only for a few (the privileged); as an ideal, for all (the patentees).
Freedom of thought, then, has the meaning that we do indeed all walk in the dark and in the paths of error, but every one can on this path approach the truth and is accordingly on the right path ("All roads lead to Rome, to the world's end, etc."). Hence freedom of thought means this much, that the true thought is not my own; for, if it were this, how should people want to shut me off from it?
Thinking has become entirely free, and has laid down a lot of truths which I must accommodate myself to. It seeks to complete itself into a system and to bring itself to an absolute "constitution." In the State e. g. it seeks for the idea, say, till it has brought out the "rational State," in which I am then obliged to be suited; in man (anthropology), till it "has found man."
The thinker is distinguished from the believer only by believing much more than the latter, who on his part thinks of much less as signified by his faith (creed). The thinker has a thousand tenets of faith
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where the believer gets along with few; but the former brings coherence into his tenets, and takes the coherence in turn for the scale to estimate their worth by. If one or the other does not fit into his budget, he throws it out.
The thinkers run parallel to the believers in their pronouncements. Instead of "If it is from God you will not root it out," the word is "If it is from the truth, is true, etc."; instead of "Give God the glory" -- "Give truth the glory." But it is very much the same to me whether God or the truth wins; first and foremost I want to win.
Aside from this, how is an "unlimited freedom" to be thinkable inside of the State or society? The State may well protect one against another, but yet it must not let itself be endangered by an unmeasured freedom, a so-called unbridledness. Thus in "freedom of instruction" the State declares only this -- that it is suited with every one who instructs as the State (or, speaking more comprehensibly, the political power) would have it. The point for the competitors is this "as the State would have it." If the clergy, e. g., does not will as the State does, then it itself excludes itself from competition (vid. France). The limit that is necessarily drawn in the State for any and all competition is called "the oversight and superintendence of the State." In bidding freedom of instruction keep within the due bounds, the State at the same time fixes the scope of freedom of thought; because, as a rule, people do not think farther than their teachers have thought.
Hear Minister Guizot: "The great difficulty of
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today is the guiding and dominating of the mind. Formerly the church fulfilled this mission; now it is not adequate to it. It is from the university that this great service must be expected, and the university will not fail to perform it. We, the government, have the duty of supporting it therein. The charter calls for the freedom of thought and that of conscience."* So, in favor of freedom of thought and conscience, the minister demands "the guiding and dominating of the mind."
Catholicism haled the examinee before the forum of ecclesiasticism, Protestantism before that of biblical Christianity. It would be but little bettered if one haled him before that of reason, as Ruge, e. g., wants to. ** Whether the church, the Bible, or reason (to which, moreover, Luther and Huss already appealed) is the sacred authority makes no difference in essentials.
The "question of our time" does not become soluble even when one puts it thus: Is anything general authorized, or only the individual? Is the generality (e. g. State, law, custom, morality, etc.) authorized, or individuality? It becomes soluble for the first time when one no longer asks after an "authorization" at all, and does not carry on a mere fight against "privileges." -- A "rational" freedom of teaching, which recognizes only the conscience of reason," *** does not bring us to the goal; we require an egoistic freedom of teaching rather, a freedom of teaching for all own-
*Chamber of peers, Apr. 25, 1844.
** "Anekdota," 1, 120.
***"Anekdota," 1, 127.
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ness, wherein I become audible and can announce myself unchecked. That I make myself "audible"*, this alone is "reason,"** be I ever so irrational; in my making myself heard, and so hearing myself, others as well as I myself enjoy me, and at the same time consume me.
What would be gained if, as formerly the orthodox I, the loyal I, the moral I, etc., was free, now the rational I should become free? Would this be the freedom of me?
If I am free as "rational I," then the rational in me, or reason, is free; and this freedom of reason, or freedom of the thought, was the ideal of the Christian world from of old. They wanted to make thinking -- and, as aforesaid, faith is also thinking, as thinking is faith -- free; the thinkers, i.e. the believers as well as the rational, were to be free; for the rest freedom was impossible. But the freedom of thinkers is the "freedom of the children of God," and at the same time the most merciless --hierarchy or dominion of the thought; for I succumb to the thought. If thoughts are free, I am their slave; I have no power over them, and am dominated by them. But I want to have the thought, want to be full of thoughts, but at the same time I want to be thoughtless, and, instead of freedom of thought, I preserve for myself thoughtlessness.
If the point is to have myself understood and to make communications, then assuredly I can make use only of human means, which are at my command because I am at the same time man. And really I
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have thoughts only as man; as I, I am at the same time thoughtless.* He who cannot get rid of a thought is so far only man, is a thrall of language, this human institution, this treasury of human thoughts. Language or "the word" tyrannizes hardest over us, because it brings up against us a whole army of fixed ideas. Just observe yourself in the act of reflection, right now, and you will find how you make progress only by becoming thoughtless and speechless every moment. You are not thoughtless and speechless merely in (say) sleep, but even in the deepest reflection; yes, precisely then most so. And only by this thoughtlessness, this unrecognized "freedom of thought" or freedom from the thought, are you your own. Only from it do you arrive at putting language to use as your property.
If thinking is not my thinking, it is merely a spun-out thought; it is slave work, or the work of a "servant obeying at the word." For not a thought, but I, am the beginning for my thinking, and therefore I am its goal too, even as its whole course is only a course of my self-enjoyment; for absolute or free thinking, on the other hand, thinking itself is the beginning, and it plagues itself with propounding this beginning as the extremest "abstraction" (e. g. as being). This very abstraction, or this thought, is then spun out further.
Absolute thinking is the affair of the human spirit, and this is a holy spirit. Hence this thinking is an affair of the parsons, who have "a sense for it," a sense
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for the "highest interests of mankind," for "the spirit."
To the believer, truths are a settled thing, a fact; to the freethinker, a thing that is still to be settled. Be absolute thinking ever so unbelieving, its incredulity has its limits, and there does remain a belief in the truth, in the spirit, in the idea and its final victory: this thinking does not sin against the holy spirit. But all thinking that does not sin against the holy spirit is belief in spirits or ghosts.
I can as little renounce thinking as feeling, the spirit's activity as little as the activity of the senses. As feeling is our sense for things, so thinking is our sense for essences (thoughts). Essences have their existence in everything sensuous, especially in the word. The power of words follows that of things: first one is coerced by the rod, afterward by conviction. The might of things overcomes our courage, our spirit; against the power of a conviction, and so of the word, even the rack and the sword lose their overpoweringness and force. The men of conviction are the priestly men, who resist every enticement of Satan.
Christianity took away from the things of this world only their irresistibleness, made us independent of them. In like manner I raise myself above truths and their power: as I am supersensual, so I am supertrue. Before me truths are as common and as indifferent as things; they do not carry me away, and do not inspire me with enthusiasm. There exists not even one truth, not right, not freedom, humanity, etc., that has stability before me, and to which I subject myself. They are words, nothing but words, as
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to the Christian nothing but "vain things." In words and truths (every word is a truth, as Hegel asserts that one cannot tell a lie) there is no salvation for me, as little as there is for the Christian in things and vanities. As the riches of this world do not make me happy, so neither do its truths. It is now no longer Satan, but the spirit, that plays the story of the temptation; and he does not seduce by the things of this world, but by its thoughts, by the "glitter of the idea."
Along with worldly goods, all sacred goods too must be put away as no longer valuable.
Truths are phrases, ways of speaking, words (lógos); brought into connection, or into an articulate series, they form logic, science, philosophy.
For thinking and speaking I need truths and words, as I do foods for eating; without them I cannot think nor speak. Truths are men's thoughts, set down in words and therefore just as extant as other things, although extant only for the mind or for thinking. They are human institutions and human creatures, and, even if they are given out for divine revelations, there still remains in them the quality of alienness for me; yes, as my own creatures they are already alienated from me after the act of creation.
The Christian man is the man with faith in thinking, who believes in the supreme dominion of thoughts and wants to bring thoughts, so-called "principles," to dominion. Many a one does indeed test the thoughts, and chooses none of them for his master without criticism, but in this he is like the dog who sniffs at people to smell out "his master"; he is always aim-
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ing at the ruling thought. The Christian may reform and revolt an infinite deal, may demolish the ruling concepts of centuries; he will always aspire to a new "principle" or new master again, always set up a higher or "deeper" truth again, always call forth a cult again, always proclaim a spirit called to dominion, lay down a law for all.
If there is even one truth only to which man has to devote his life and his powers because he is man, then he is subjected to a rule, dominion, law; he is a servingman. It is supposed that, e. g. man, humanity, liberty, etc., are such truths.
On the other hand, one can say thus: Whether you will further occupy yourself with thinking depends on you; only know that, if in your thinking you would like to make out anything worthy of notice, many hard problems are to be solved, without vanquishing which you cannot get far. There exists, therefore, no duty and no calling for you to meddle with thoughts (ideas, truths); but, if you will do so, you will do well to utilize what the forces of others have already achieved toward clearing up these difficult subjects.
Thus, therefore, he who will think does assuredly have a task, which he consciously or unconsciously sets for himself in willing that; but no one has the task of thinking or of believing. In the former case it may be said, "You do not go far enough, you have a narrow and biased interest, you do not go to the bottom of the thing; in short, you do not completely subdue it. But, on the other hand, however far you may come at any time, you are still always at the end, you have no call to step farther, and you can have it as you will or as
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you are able. It stands with this as with any other piece of work, which you can give up when the humor for it wears off. Just so, if you can no longer believe a thing, you do not have to force yourself into faith or to busy yourself lastingly as if with a sacred truth of the faith, as theologians or philosophers do, but you can tranquilly draw back your interest from it and let it run. Priestly spirits will indeed expound this your lack of interest as "laziness, thoughtlessness, obduracy, self-deception," etc. But do you just let the trumpery lie, notwithstanding. No thing,* no so-called "highest interest of mankind," no "sacred cause,"** is worth your serving it, and occupying yourself with it for its sake; you may seek its worth in this alone, whether it is worth anything to you for your sake. Become like children, the biblical saying admonishes us. But children have no sacred interest and know nothing of a "good cause." They know all the more accurately what they have a fancy for; and they think over, to the best of their powers, how they are to arrive at it.
Thinking will as little cease as feeling. But the power of thoughts and ideas, the dominion of theories and principles, the sovereignty of the spirit, in short the -- hierarchy, lasts as long as the parsons, i.e., theologians, philosophers, statesmen, philistines, liberals, schoolmasters, servants, parents, children, married couples, Proudhon, George Sand, Bluntschli, etc., etc., have the floor; the hierarchy will endure as long as people believe in, think of, or even criticize, principles;
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for even the most inexorable criticism, which undermines all current principles, still does finally believe in the principle.
Every one criticises, but the criterion is different. People run after the "right" criterion. The right criterion is the first presupposition. The critic starts from a proposition, a truth, a belief. This is not a creation of the critic, but of the dogmatist; nay, commonly it is actually taken up out of the culture of the time without further ceremony, like e. g. "liberty," "humanity," etc. The critic has not "discovered man," but this truth has been established as "man" by the dogmatist, and the critic (who, besides, may be the same person with him) believes in this truth, this article of faith. In this faith, and possessed by this faith, he criticises.
The secret of criticism is some "truth" or other: this remains its energizing mystery.
But I distinguish between servile and own criticism. If I criticize under the presupposition of a supreme being, my criticism serves the being and is carried on for its sake: if e. g. I am possessed by the belief in a "free State," then everything that has a bearing on it I criticize from the standpoint of whether it is suitable to this State, for I love this State; if I criticize as a pious man, then for me everything falls into the classes of divine and diabolical, and before my criticism nature consists of traces of God or traces of the devil (hence names like Godsgift, Godmount, the Devil's Pulpit), men of believers and unbelievers; if I criticize while believing in man as the "true essence," then for me everything falls primarily
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into the classes of man and the un-man, etc.
Criticism has to this day remained a work of love: for at all times we exercised it for the love of some being. All servile criticism is a product of love, a possessedness, and proceeds according to that New Testament precept, "Test everything and hold fast the good."* "The good" is the touchstone, the criterion. The good, returning under a thousand names and forms, remained always the presupposition, remained the dogmatic fixed point for this criticism, remained the -- fixed idea.
The critic, in setting to work, impartially presupposes the "truth," and seeks for the truth in the belief that it is to be found. He wants to ascertain the true, and has in it that very "good."
Presuppose means nothing else than put a thought in front, or think something before everything else and think the rest from the starting-point of this that has been thought, i.e. measure and criticize it by this. In other words, this is as much as to say that thinking is to begin with something already thought. If thinking began at all, instead of being begun, if thinking were a subject, an acting personality of its own, as even the plant is such, then indeed there would be no abandoning the principle that thinking must begin with itself. But it is just the personification of thinking that brings to pass those innumerable errors. In the Hegelian system they always talk as if thinking or "the thinking spirit" (i.e. personified thinking, thinking as a ghost) thought and acted; in critical
*1 Thess. 5. 21.
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liberalism it is always said that "criticism" does this and that, or else that "self- consciousness" finds this and that. But, if thinking ranks as the personal actor, thinking itself must be presupposed; if criticism ranks as such, a thought must likewise stand in front. Thinking and criticism could be active only starting from themselves, would have to be themselves the presupposition of their activity, as without being they could not be active. But thinking, as a thing presupposed, is a fixed thought, a dogma; thinking and criticism, therefore, can start only from a dogma, i. e. from a thought, a fixed idea, a presupposition.
With this we come back again to what was enunciated above, that Christianity consists in the development of a world of thoughts, or that it is the proper "freedom of thought," the "free thought," the "free spirit." The "true" criticism, which I called "servile," is therefore just as much "free" criticism, for it is not my own.
The case stands otherwise when what is yours is not made into something that is of itself, not personified, not made independent as a "spirit" to itself. Your thinking has for a presupposition not "thinking," but you. But thus you do presuppose yourself after all? Yes, but not for myself, but for my thinking. Before my thinking, there is -- I. From this it follows that my thinking is not preceded by a thought, or that my thinking is without a "presupposition." For the presupposition which I am for my thinking is not one made by thinking, not one thought of, but it is posited thinking itself, it is the owner of the thought, and proves only that thinking is nothing more than -- prop-
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erty, i. e. that an "independent" thinking, a "thinking spirit," does not exist at all.
This reversal of the usual way of regarding things might so resemble an empty playing with abstractions that even those against whom it is directed would acquiesce in the harmless aspect I give it, if practical consequences were not connected with it.
To bring these into a concise expression, the assertion now made is that man is not the measure of all things, but I am this measure. The servile critic has before his eyes another being, an idea, which he means to serve; therefore he only slays the false idols for his God. What is done for the love of this being, what else should it be but a -- work of love? But I, when I criticize, do not even have myself before my eyes, but am only doing myself a pleasure, amusing myself according to my taste; according to my several needs I chew the thing up or only inhale its odor.
The distinction between the two attitudes will come out still more strikingly if one reflects that the servile critic, because love guides him, supposes he is serving the thing (cause) itself.
The truth, or "truth in general," people are bound not to give up, but to seek for. What else is it but the Être suprême, the highest essence? Even "true criticism" would have to despair if it lost faith in the truth. And yet the truth is only a -- thought; but it is not merely "a" thought, but the thought that is above all thoughts, the irrefragable thought; it is the thought itself, which gives the first hallowing to all others; it is the consecration of thoughts, the "absolute," the "sacred" thought. The truth wears longer
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than all the gods; for it is only in the truth's service, and for love of it, that people have overthrown the gods and at last God himself. "The truth" outlasts the downfall of the world of gods, for it is the immortal soul of this transitory world of gods, it is Deity itself.
I will answer Pilate's question, What is truth? Truth is the free thought, the free idea, the free spirit; truth is what is free from you, what is not your own, what is not in your power. But truth is also the completely unindependent, impersonal, unreal, and incorporeal; truth cannot step forward as you do, cannot move, change, develop; truth awaits and receives everything from you, and itself is only through you; for it exists only -- in your head. You concede that the truth is a thought, but say that not every thought is a true one, or, as you are also likely to express it, not every thought is truly and really a thought. And by what do you measure and recognize the thought? By your impotence, to wit, by your being no longer able to make any successful assault on it! When it overpowers you, inspires you, and carries you away, then you hold it to be the true one. Its dominion over you certifies to you its truth; and, when it possesses you, and you are possessed by it, then you feel well with it, for then you have found your -- lord and master. When you were seeking the truth, what did your heart then long for? For your master! You did not aspire to your might, but to a Mighty One, and wanted to exalt a Mighty One ("Exalt ye the Lord our God!"). The truth, my dear Pilate, is -- the Lord, and all who seek the truth are seeking and
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praising the Lord. Where does the Lord exist? Where else but in your head? He is only spirit, and, wherever you believe you really see him, there he is a -- ghost; for the Lord is merely something that is thought of, and it was only the Christian pains and agony to make the invisible visible, the spiritual corporeal, that generated the ghost and was the frightful misery of the belief in ghosts.
As long as you believe in the truth, you do not believe in yourself, and you are a -- servant, a -- religious man. You alone are the truth, or rather, you are more than the truth, which is nothing at all before you. You too do assuredly ask about the truth, you too do assuredly "criticize," but you do not ask about a "higher truth" -- to wit, one that should be higher than you -- nor criticize according to the criterion of such a truth. You address yourself to thoughts and notions, as you do to the appearances of things, only for the purpose of making them palatable to you, enjoyable to you, and your own: you want only to subdue them and become their owner, you want to orient yourself and feel at home in them, and you find them true, or see them in their true light, when they can no longer slip away from you, no longer have any unseized or uncomprehended place, or when they are right for you, when they are your property. If afterward they become heavier again, if they wriggle themselves out of your power again, then that is just their untruth -- to wit, your impotence. Your impotence is their power, your humility their exaltation. Their truth, therefore, is you, or is the nothing which you are for them and in which they dissolve: their
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truth is their nothingness.
Only as the property of me do the spirits, the truths, get to rest; and they then for the first time really are, when they have been deprived of their sorry existence and made a property of mine, when it is no longer said "the truth develops itself, rules, asserts itself; history (also a concept) wins the victory," etc. The truth never has won a victory, but was always my means to the victory, like the sword ("the sword of truth"). The truth is dead, a letter, a word, a material that I can use up. All truth by itself is dead, a corpse; it is alive only in the same way as my lungs are alive -- to wit, in the measure of my own vitality. Truths are material, like vegetables and weeds; as to whether vegetable or weed, the decision lies in me.
Objects are to me only material that I use up. Wherever I put my hand I grasp a truth, which I trim for myself. The truth is certain to me, and I do not need to long after it. To do the truth a service is in no case my intent; it is to me only a nourishment for my thinking head, as potatoes are for my digesting stomach, or as a friend is for my social heart. As long as I have the humor and force for thinking, every truth serves me only for me to work it up according to my powers. As reality or worldliness is "vain and a thing of naught" for Christians, so is the truth for me. It exists, exactly as much as the things of this world go on existing although the Christian has proved their nothingness; but it is vain, because it has its value not in itself but in me. Of itself it is valueless. The truth is a -- creature.
|474 THE EGO AND HIS OWN|
As you produce innumerable things by your activity, yes, shape the earth's surface anew and set up works of men everywhere, so too you may still ascertain numberless truths by your thinking, and we will gladly take delight in them. Nevertheless, as I do not please to hand myself over to serve your newly discovered machines mechanically, but only help to set them running for my benefit, so too I will only use your truths, without letting myself be used for their demands.
All truths beneath me are to my liking; a truth above me, a truth that I should have to direct myself by, I am not acquainted with. For me there is no truth, for nothing is more than I! Not even my essence, not even the essence of man, is more than I! than I, this "drop in the bucket," this "insignificant man"!
You believe that you have done the utmost when you boldly assert that, because every time has its own truth, there is no "absolute truth." Why, with this you nevertheless still leave to each time its truth, and thus you quite genuinely create an "absolute truth," a truth that no time lacks, because every time, however its truth may be, still has a "truth."
Is it meant only that people have been thinking in every time, and so have had thoughts or truths, and that in the subsequent time these were other than they were in the earlier? No, the word is to be that every time had its "truth of faith"; and in fact none has yet appeared in which a "higher truth" has not been recognized, a truth that people believed they must subject themselves to as "highness and majesty."
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Every truth of a time is its fixed idea, and, if people later found another truth, this always happened only because they sought for another; they only reformed the folly and put a modern dress on it. For they did want -- who would dare doubt their justification for this? -- they wanted to be "inspired by an idea." They wanted to be dominated -- possessed, by a thought! The most modern ruler of this kind is "our essence," or "man."
For all free criticism a thought was the criterion; for own criticism I am, I the unspeakable, and so not the merely thought-of; for what is merely thought of is always speakable, because word and thought coincide. That is true which is mine, untrue that whose own I am; true, e. g. the union; untrue, the State and society. "Free and true" criticism takes care for the consistent dominion of a thought, an idea, a spirit; "own" criticism, for nothing but my self-enjoyment. But in this the latter is in fact -- and we will not spare it this "ignominy"! -- like the bestial criticism of instinct. I, like the criticizing beast, am concerned only for myself, not "for the cause." I am the criterion of truth, but I am not an idea, but more than idea, e. g., unutterable. My criticism is not a "free" criticism, not free from me, and not "servile," not in the service of an idea, but an own criticism.
True or human criticism makes out only whether something is suitable to man, to the true man; but by own criticism you ascertain whether it is suitable to you.
Free criticism busies itself with ideas, and therefore is always theoretical. However it may rage against
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