|26 THE EGO AND HIS OWN|
longer draws any nourishment from nature, but "lives only on thoughts," and therefore is no longer "life," but -- thinking.
Yet it must not be supposed now that the ancients were without thoughts, just as the most spiritual man is not to be conceived of as if he could be without life. Rather, they had their thoughts about everything, about the world, man, the gods, etc., and showed themselves keenly active in bringing all this to their consciousness. But they did not know thought, even though they thought of all sorts of things and "worried themselves with their thoughts." Compare with their position the Christian saying, "My thoughts are not your thoughts; as the heaven is higher than the earth, so are my thoughts higher than your thoughts," and remember what was said above about our child-thoughts.
What is antiquity seeking, then? The true enjoyment of life! You will find that at bottom it is all the same as "the true life."
The Greek poet Simonides sings: "Health is the noblest good for mortal man, the next to this is beauty, the third riches acquired without guile, the fourth the enjoyment of social pleasures in the company of young friends." These are all good things of life, pleasures of life. What else was Diogenes of Sinope seeking for than the true enjoyment of life, which he discovered in having the least possible wants? What else Aristippus, who found it in a cheery temper under all circumstances? They are seeking for cheery, unclouded life-courage, for cheeriness; they are seeking to "be of good cheer."
MEN OF THE OLD TIME AND THE NEW 27
The Stoics want to realize the wise man, the man with practical philosophy, the man who knows how to live -- a wise life, therefore; they find him in contempt for the world, in a life without development, without spreading out, without friendly relations with the world, thus in the isolated life, in life as life, not in life with others; only the Stoic lives, all else is dead for him. The Epicureans, on the contrary, demand a moving life.
The ancients, as they want to be of good cheer, desire good living (the Jews especially a long life, blessed with children and goods), eudaemonia, well-being in the most various forms. Democritus, e. g., praises as such the "calm of the soul" in which one "lives smoothly, without fear and without excitement."
So what he thinks is that with this he gets on best, provides for himself the best lot, and gets through the world best. But as he cannot get rid of the world -- and in fact cannot for the very reason that his whole activity is taken up in the effort to get rid of it, i. e., in repelling the world (for which it is yet necessary that what can be and is repelled should remain existing, otherwise there would be no longer anything to repel) -- he reaches at most an extreme degree of liberation, and is distinguishable only in degree from the less liberated. If he even got as far as the deadening of the earthly sense, which at last admits only the monotonous whisper of the word "Brahm," he nevertheless would not be essentially distinguishable from the sensual man.
Even the stoic attitude and manly virtue amounts
28 THE EGO AND HIS OWN
only to this -- that one must maintain and assert himself against the world; and the ethics of the Stoics (their only science, since they could tell nothing about the spirit but how it should behave toward the world, and of nature (physics) only this, that the wise man must assert himself against it) is not a doctrine of the spirit, but only a doctrine of the repelling of the world and of self-assertion against the world. And this consists in "imperturbability and equanimity of life," and so in the most explicit Roman virtue.
The Romans too (Horace, Cicero, etc.) went no further than this practical philosophy.
The comfort (hedone) of the Epicureans is the same practical philosophy the Stoics teach, only trickier, more deceitful. They teach only another behavior toward the world, exhort us only to take a shrewd attitude toward the world; the world must be deceived, for it is my enemy.
The break with the world is completely carried through by the Skeptics. My entire relation to the world is "worthless and truthless." Timon says, "The feelings and thoughts which we draw from the world contain no truth." "What is truth?" cries Pilate. According to Pyrrho's doctrine the world is neither good nor bad, neither beautiful nor ugly, etc., but these are predicates which I give it. Timon says that "in itself nothing is either good or bad, but man only thinks of it thus or thus"; to face the world only ataraxia (unmovedness) and aphasia (speechlessness -- or, in other words, isolated inwardness) are left. There is "no longer any truth to be recognized" in the world; things contradict themselves; thoughts about
MEN OF THE OLD TIME AND THE NEW 29
things are without distinction (good and bad are all the same, so that what one calls good another finds bad); here the recognition of "truth" is at an end, and only the man without power of recognition, the man who finds in the world nothing to recognize, is left, and this man just leaves the truth-vacant world where it is and takes no account of it.
So antiquity gets through with the world of things, the order of the world, the world as a whole; but to the order of the world, or the things of this world, belong not only nature, but all relations in which man sees himself placed by nature, e. g. the family, the community -- in short, the so-called "natural bonds." With the world of the spirit Christianity then begins. The man who still faces the world armed is the ancient, the -- heathen (to which class the Jew, too, as non-Christian, belongs); the man who has come to be led by nothing but his "heart's pleasure," the interest he takes, his fellow-feeling, his --spirit, is the modern, the -- Christian.
As the ancients worked toward the conquest of the world and strove to release man from the heavy trammels of connection with other things, at last they came also to the dissolution of the State and giving preference to everything private. Of course community, family, etc., as natural relations, are burdensome hindrances which diminish my spiritual freedom.
30 THE EGO AND HIS OWN
"If any man be in Christ, he
is a new creature; the old is passed away, behold, all
is become new."*
As it was said above, "To the ancients the world was a truth," we must say here, "To the moderns the spirit was a truth"; but here, as there, we must not omit the supplement, "a truth whose untruth they tried to get back of, and at last they really do."
A course similar to that which antiquity took may be demonstrated in Christianity also, in that the understanding was held a prisoner under the dominion of the Christian dogmas up to the time preparatory to the Reformation, but in the pre-Reformation century asserted itself sophistically and played heretical pranks with all tenets of the faith. And the talk then was, especially in Italy and at the Roman court, "If only the heart remains Christian-minded, the understanding may go right on taking its pleasure."
Long before the Reformation, people were so thoroughly accustomed to fine-spun "wranglings" that the pope, and most others, looked on Luther's appearance too as a mere "wrangling of monks" at first. Humanism corresponds to Sophisticism, and, as in the time of the Sophists Greek life stood in its fullest bloom (the Periclean age), so the most brilliant things happened in the time of Humanism, or, as one might perhaps also say, of Machiavellianism (printing, the New World, etc.). At this time the heart was still far from wanting to relieve itself of its Christian
* 2 Cor. 5. 17. [The words "new" and "modern"
are the same in German.]
|MEN OF THE OLD TIME AND THE NEW 31|
But finally the Reformation, like Socrates, took hold seriously of the heart itself, and since then hearts have kept growing visibly -- more unchristian. As with Luther people began to take the matter to heart, the outcome of this step of the Reformation must be that the heart also gets lightened of the heavy burden of Christian faith. The heart, from day to day more unchristian, loses the contents with which it had busied itself, till at last nothing but empty warmheartedness is left it, the quite general love of men, the love of Man, the consciousness of freedom, "self-consciousness."
Only so is Christianity complete, because it has become bald, withered, and void of contents. There are now no contents whatever against which the heart does not mutiny, unless indeed the heart unconsciously or without "self- consciousness" lets them slip in. The heart criticises to death with hard-hearted mercilessness everything that wants to make its way in, and is capable (except, as before, unconsciously or taken by surprise) of no friendship, no love. What could there be in men to love, since they are all alike "egoists," none of them man as such, i.e. none spirit only? The Christian loves only the spirit; but where could one be found who should be really nothing but spirit?
To have a liking for the corporeal man with hide and hair -- why, that would no longer be a "spiritual" warmheartedness, it would be treason against "pure" warmheartedness, the "theoretical regard." For pure warmheartedness is by no means to be conceived as like that kindliness that gives everybody a
32 THE EGO AND HIS OWN
friendly hand-shake; on the contrary, pure warmheartedness is warm-hearted toward nobody, it is only a theoretical interest, concern for man as man, not as a person. The person is repulsive to it because of being "egoistic," because of not being that abstraction, Man. But it is only for the abstraction that one can have a theoretical regard. To pure warmheartedness or pure theory men exist only to be criticized, scoffed at, and thoroughly despised; to it, no less than to the fanatical parson, they are only "filth" and other such nice things.
Pushed to this extremity of disinterested warmheartedness, we must finally become conscious that the spirit, which alone the Christian loves, is nothing; in other words, that the spirit is -- a lie.
What has here been set down roughly, summarily, and doubtless as yet incomprehensibly, will, it is to be hoped, become clear as we go on.
Let us take up the inheritance left by the ancients, and, as active workmen, do with it as much as -- can be done with it! The world lies despised at our feet, far beneath us and our heaven, into which its mighty arms are no longer thrust and its stupefying breath does not come. Seductively as it may pose, it can delude nothing but our sense; it cannot lead astray the spirit -- and spirit alone, after all, we really are. Having once got back of things, the spirit has also got above them, and become free from their bonds, emancipated, supernal, free. So speaks "spiritual freedom."
To the spirit which, after long toil, has got rid of the world, the worldless spirit, nothing is left after the
MEN OF THE OLD TIME AND THE NEW 33
loss of the world and the worldly but -- the spirit and the spiritual.
Yet, as it has only moved away from the world and made of itself a being free from the world, without being able really to annihilate the world, this remains to it a stumbling-block that cannot be cleared away, a discredited existence; and, as, on the other hand, it knows and recognizes nothing but the spirit and the spiritual, it must perpetually carry about with it the longing to spiritualize the world, i.e. to redeem it from the "black list." Therefore, like a youth, it goes about with plans for the redemption or improvement of the world.
The ancients, we saw, served the natural, the worldly, the natural order of the world, but they incessantly asked themselves of this service; and, when they had tired themselves to death in ever-renewed attempts at revolt, then, among their last sighs, was born to them the God, the "conqueror of the world." All their doing had been nothing but wisdom of the world, an effort to get back of the world and above it. And what is the wisdom of the many following centuries? What did the moderns try to get back of? No longer to get back of the world, for the ancients had accomplished that; but back of the God whom the ancients bequeathed to them, back of the God who "is spirit," back of everything that is the spirit's, the spiritual. But the activity of the spirit, which "searches even the depths of the Godhead," is theology. If the ancients have nothing to show but wisdom of the world, the moderns never did nor do
34 THE EGO AND HIS OWN
make their way further than to theology. We shall see later that even the newest revolts against God are nothing but the extremest efforts of "theology," i. e., theological insurrections.
The realm of spirits is monstrously
great, there is an infinite deal of the spiritual; yet let us
look and see what the spirit, this bequest of the ancients, properly
Out of their birth-pangs it came forth, but they themselves could not utter themselves as spirit; they could give birth to it, it itself must speak. The "born God, the Son of Man," is the first to utter the word that the spirit, i.e. he, God, has to do with nothing earthly and no earthly relationship, but solely, with the spirit and spiritual relationships.
Is my courage, indestructible under all the world's blows, my inflexibility and my obduracy, perchance already spirit in the full sense, because the world cannot touch it? Why, then it would not yet be at enmity with the world, and all its action would consist merely in not succumbing to the world! No, so long as it does not busy itself with itself alone, so long as it does not have to do with its world, the spiritual, alone, it is not free spirit, but only the "spirit of this world," the spirit fettered to it. The spirit is free spirit, i. e., really spirit, only in a world of its own; in "this," the earthly world, it is a stranger. Only through a spiritual world is the spirit really spirit, for "this" world does not understand it and does not know how to keep
|MEN OF THE OLD TIME AND THE NEW 35|
"the maiden from a foreign land"* from departing.
But where is it to get this spiritual world? Where but out of itself? It must reveal itself; and the words that it speaks, the revelations in which it unveils itself, these are its world. As a visionary lives and has his world only in the visionary pictures that he himself creates, as a crazy man generates for himself his own dream-world, without which he could not be crazy, so the spirit must create for itself its spirit world, and is not spirit till it creates it.
Thus its creations make it spirit, and by its creatures we know it, the creator; in them it lives, they are its world.
Now, what is the spirit? It is the creator of a spiritual world! Even in you and me people do not recognize spirit till they see that we have appropriated to ourselves something spiritual, -- i.e. though thoughts may have been set before us, we have at least brought them to live in ourselves; for, as long as we were children, the most edifying thoughts might have been laid before us without our wishing, or being able, to reproduce them in ourselves. So the spirit also exists only when it creates something spiritual; it is real only together with the spiritual, its creature.
As, then, we know it by its works, the question is what these works are. But the works or children of the spirit are nothing else but -- spirits.
If I had before me Jews, Jews of the true metal, I should have to stop here and leave them standing before this mystery as for almost two thousand years
*[Title of a poem by Schiller]
36 THE EGO AND HIS OWN
they have remained standing before it, unbelieving and without knowledge. But, as you, my dear reader, are at least not a full-blooded Jew -- for such a one will not go astray as far as this -- we will still go along a bit of road together, till perhaps you too turn your back on me because I laugh in your face.
If somebody told you were altogether spirit, you would take hold of your body and not believe him, but answer: "I have a spirit, no doubt, but do not exist only as spirit, but as a man with a body." You would still distinguish yourself from "your spirit." "But," replies he, "it is your destiny, even though now you are yet going about in the fetters of the body, to be one day a 'blessed spirit,' and, however you may conceive of the future aspect of your spirit, so much is yet certain, that in death you will put off this body and yet keep yourself, i.e. your spirit, for all eternity; accordingly your spirit is the eternal and true in you, the body only a dwelling here below, which you may leave and perhaps exchange for another."
Now you believe him! For the present, indeed, you are not spirit only; but, when you emigrate from the mortal body, as one day you must, then you will have to help yourself without the body, and therefore it is needful that you be prudent and care in time for your proper self. "What should it profit a man if he gained the whole world and yet suffered damage in his soul?"
But, even granted that doubts, raised in the course of time against the tenets of the Christian faith, have long since robbed you of faith in the immortality of
MEN OF THE OLD TIME AND THE NEW 37
your spirit, you have nevertheless left one tenet undisturbed, and still ingenuously adhere to the one truth, that the spirit is your better part, and that the spiritual has greater claims on you than anything else. Despite all your atheism, in zeal against egoism you concur with the believers in immortality.
But whom do you think of under the name of egoist? A man who, instead of living to an idea, i. e., a spiritual thing, and sacrificing to it his personal advantage, serves the latter. A good patriot brings his sacrifice to the altar of the fatherland; but it cannot be disputed that the fatherland is an idea, since for beasts incapable of mind,* or children as yet without mind, there is no fatherland and no patriotism. Now, if any one does not approve himself as a good patriot, he betrays his egoism with reference to the fatherland. And so the matter stands in innumerable other cases: he who in human society takes the benefit of a prerogative sins egoistically against the idea of equality; he who exercises dominion is blamed as an egoist against the idea of liberty, -- etc.
You despise the egoist because he puts the spiritual in the background as compared with the personal, and has his eyes on himself where you would like to see him act to favor an idea. The distinction between you is that he makes himself the central point, but you the spirit; or that you cut your identity in two
* [The reader will remember (it is to be hoped has
never forgotten) that "mind" and "spirit"
are one and the same word in German. For several pages back the
connection of the discourse has seemed to require the almost exclusive
use of the translation "spirit," but to complete the
sense it has often been necessary that the reader recall the thought
of its identity with "mind," as stated in a previous
38 THE EGO AND HIS OWN
and exalt your "proper self," the spirit, to be ruler of the paltrier remainder, while he will hear nothing of this cutting in two, and pursues spiritual and material interests just as he pleases. You think, to be sure, that you are falling foul of those only who enter into no spiritual interest at all, but in fact you curse at everybody who does not look on the spiritual interest as his "true and highest" interest. You carry your knightly service for this beauty so far that you affirm her to be the only beauty of the world. You live not to yourself, but to your spirit and to what is the spirit's, i. e. ideas.
As the spirit exists only in its creating of the spiritual, let us take a look about us for its first creation. If only it has accomplished this, there follows thenceforth a natural propagation of creations, as according to the myth only the first human beings needed to be created, the rest of the race propagating of itself. The first creation, on the other hand, must come forth "out of nothing" -- i.e. the spirit has toward its realization nothing but itself, or rather it has not yet even itself, but must create itself; hence its first creation is itself, the spirit. Mystical as this sounds, we yet go through it as an every-day experience. Are you a thinking being before you think? In creating the first thought you create yourself, the thinking one; for you do not think before you think a thought, i.e. have a thought. Is it not your singing that first makes you a singer, your talking that makes you a talker? Now, so too it is the production of the spiritual that first makes you a spirit.
Meantime, as you distinguish yourself from the
|MEN OF THE OLD TIME AND THE NEW 39|
thinker, singer, and talker, so you no less distinguish yourself from the spirit, and feel very clearly that you are something beside spirit. But, as in the thinking ego hearing and sight easily vanish in the enthusiasm of thought, so you also have been seized by the spirit-enthusiasm, and you now long with all your might to become wholly spirit and to be dissolved in spirit. The spirit is your ideal, the unattained, the other-worldly; spirit is the name of your -- god, "God is spirit."
Against all that is not spirit you are a zealot, and therefore you play the zealot against yourself who cannot get rid of a remainder of the non-spiritual. Instead of saying, "I am more than spirit," you say with contrition, "I am less than spirit; and spirit, pure spirit, or the spirit that is nothing but spirit, I can only think of, but am not; and, since I am not it, it is another, exists as another, whom I call 'God'."
It lies in the nature of the case that the spirit that is to exist as pure spirit must be an otherworldly one, for, since I am not it, it follows that it can only be outside me; since in any case a human being is not fully comprehended in the concept "spirit," it follows that the pure spirit, the spirit as such, can only be outside of men, beyond the human world -- not earthly, but heavenly.
Only from this disunion in which I and the spirit lie; only because "I" and "spirit" are not names for one and the same thing, but different names for completely different things; only because I am not spirit and spirit not I -- only from this do we get a quite tautological explanation of the necessity that the spirit
40 THE EGO AND HIS OWN
dwells in the other world, i. e. is God.
But from this it also appears how thoroughly theological is the liberation that Feuerbach* is laboring to give us. What he says is that we had only mistaken our own essence, and therefore looked for it in the other world, but that now, when we see that God was only our human essence, we must recognize it again as ours and move it back out of the other world into this. To God, who is spirit, Feuerbach gives the name "Our Essence." Can we put up with this, that "Our Essence" is brought into opposition to us -- that we are split into an essential and an unessential self? Do we not therewith go back into the dreary misery of seeing ourselves banished out of ourselves?
What have we gained, then, when for a variation we have transferred into ourselves the divine outside us? Are we that which is in us? As little as we are that which is outside us. I am as little my heart as I am my sweetheart, this "other self" of mine. Just because we are not the spirit that dwells in us, just for that reason we had to take it and set it outside us; it was not we, did not coincide with us, and therefore we could, not think of it as existing otherwise than outside us, on the other side from us, in the other world.
With the strength of despair Feuerbach clutches at the total substance of Christianity, not to throw it away, no, to drag it to himself, to draw it, the long-yearned-for, ever-distant, out of its heaven with a last effort, and keep it by him forever. Is not that a clutch of the uttermost despair, a clutch for life or
*"Essence of Christianity"
MEN OF THE OLD TIME AND THE NEW 41
death, and is it not at the same time the Christian yearning and hungering for the other world? The hero wants not to go into the other world, but to draw the other world to him, and compel it to become this world! And since then has not all the world, with more or less consciousness, been crying that "this world" is the vital point, and heaven must come down on earth and be experienced even here?
Let us, in brief, set Feuerbach's theological view and our contradiction over against each other! "The essence of man is man's supreme being;* now by religion, to be sure, the supreme being is called God and regarded as an objective essence, but in truth it is only man's own essence; and therefore the turning point of the world's history is that henceforth no longer God, but man, is to appear to man as God."**
To this we reply: The supreme being is indeed the essence of man, but, just because it is his essence and not he himself, it remains quite immaterial whether we see it outside him and view it as "God," or find it in him and call it "Essence of Man" or "Man." I am neither God nor Man,*** neither the supreme essence nor my essence, and therefore it is all one in the main whether I think of the essence as in me or outside me. Nay, we really do always think of the supreme being as in both kinds of otherworldliness, the inward and
*[Or, "highest essence." The word Wesen,
which means both "essence" and "being," will
be translated now one way and now the other in the following pages.
The reader must bear in mind that these two words are identical
in German; and so are "supreme" and "highest."]
**Cf. e. g. "Essence of Christianity", p. 402.
***[That is, the abstract conception of man, as in the preceding sentence.]
42 THE EGO AND HIS OWN
outward, at once; for the "Spirit of God" is, according to the Christian view, also "our spirit," and "dwells in us."* It dwells in heaven and dwells in us; we poor things are just its "dwelling," and, if Feuerbach goes on to destroy its heavenly dwelling and force it to move to us bag and baggage, then we, its earthly apartments, will be badly overcrowded.
But after this digression (which, if we were at all proposing to work by line and level, we should have had to save for later pages in order to avoid repetition) we return to the spirit's first creation, the spirit itself.
The spirit is something other than myself. But this other, what is it?
Have you ever seen a spirit? "No,
not I, but my grandmother." Now, you see, it's just so with
me too; I myself haven't seen any, but my grandmother had them
running between her feet all sorts of ways, and out of confidence
in our grandmothers' honesty we believe in the existence of spirits.
But had we no grandfathers then, and did they not shrug their shoulders every time our grandmothers told about their ghosts? Yes, those were unbelieving men who have harmed our good religion much, those rationalists! We shall feel that! What else lies at the bottom of this warm faith in ghosts, if not the faith in "the existence of spiritual beings in general," and is not this latter itself disastrously unsettled if
Rom. 8. 9, 1 Cor. 3. 16, John 20. 22 and innumerable other passages.
|MEN OF THE OLD TIME AND THE NEW 43|
saucy men of the understanding may disturb the former? The Romanticists were quite conscious what a blow the very belief in God suffered by the laying aside of the belief in spirits or ghosts, and they tried to help us out of the baleful consequences not only by their reawakened fairy world, but at last, and especially, by the "intrusion of a higher world," by their somnambulists of Prevorst, etc. The good believers and fathers of the church did not suspect that with the belief in ghosts the foundation of religion was withdrawn, and that since then it had been floating in the air. He who no longer believes in any ghost needs only to travel on consistently in his unbelief to see that there is no separate being at all concealed behind things, no ghost or -- what is naively reckoned as synonymous even in our use of words -- no "spirit."
"Spirits exist!" Look about in the world, and say for yourself whether a spirit does not gaze upon you out of everything. Out of the lovely little flower there speaks to you the spirit of the Creator, who has shaped it so wonderfully; the stars proclaim the spirit that established their order; from the mountain-tops a spirit of sublimity breathes down; out of the waters a spirit of yearning murmurs up; and -- out of men millions of spirits speak. The mountains may sink, the flowers fade, the world of stars fall in ruins, the men die -- what matters the wreck of these visible bodies? The spirit, the "invisible spirit," abides eternally!
Yes, the whole world is haunted! Only is haunted? Nay, it itself "walks," it is uncanny through and through, it is the wandering seeming-
44 THE EGO AND HIS OWN
body of a spirit, it is a spook. What else should a ghost be, then, than an apparent body, but real spirit? Well, the world is "empty," is "naught," is only glamorous "semblance"; its truth is the spirit alone; it is the seeming-body of a spirit.
Look out near or far, a ghostly world surrounds you everywhere; you are always having "apparitions" or visions. Everything that appears to you is only the phantasm of an indwelling spirit, is a ghostly "apparition"; the world is to you only a "world of appearances," behind which the spirit walks. You "see spirits."
Are you perchance thinking of comparing yourself with the ancients, who saw gods everywhere? Gods, my dear modern, are not spirits; gods do not degrade the world to a semblance, and do not spiritualize it.
But to you the whole world is spiritualized, and has become an enigmatical ghost; therefore do not wonder if you likewise find in yourself nothing but a spook. Is not your body haunted by your spirit, and is not the latter alone the true and real, the former only the "transitory, naught" or a "semblance"? Are we not all ghosts, uncanny beings that wait for "deliverance" -- to wit, "spirits"?
Since the spirit appeared in the world, since "the Word became flesh," since then the world has been spiritualized, enchanted, a spook.
You have spirit, for you have thoughts. What are your thoughts? "Spiritual entities." Not things, then? "No, but the spirit of things, the main point in all things, the inmost in them, their -- idea." Consequently what you think is not only your thought?
MEN OF THE OLD TIME AND THE NEW 45
"On the contrary, it is that in the world which is most real, that which is properly to be called true; it is the truth itself; if I only think truly, I think the truth. I may, to be sure, err with regard to the truth, and fail to recognize it; but, if I recognize truly, the object of my cognition is the truth." So, I suppose, you strive at all times to recognize the truth? "To me the truth is sacred. It may well happen that I find a truth incomplete and replace it with a better, but the truth I cannot abrogate. I believe in the truth, therefore I search in it; nothing transcends it, it is eternal."
Sacred, eternal is the truth; it is the Sacred, the Eternal. But you, who let yourself be filled and led by this sacred thing, are yourself hallowed. Further, the sacred is not for your senses -- and you never as a sensual man discover its trace -- but for your faith, or, more definitely still, for your spirit; for it itself, you know, is a spiritual thing, a spirit -- is spirit for the spirit.
The sacred is by no means so easily to be set aside as many at present affirm, who no longer take this "unsuitable" word into their mouths. If even in a single respect I am still upbraided as an "egoist," there is left the thought of something else which I should serve more than myself, and which must be to me more important than everything; in short, somewhat in which I should have to seek my true welfare,* something -- "sacred."** However human this sacred thing may look, though it be the Human itself, that
46 THE EGO AND HIS OWN
does not take away its sacredness, but at most changes it from an unearthly to an earthly sacred thing, from a divine one to a human.
Sacred things exist only for the egoist who does not acknowledge himself, the involuntary egoist, for him who is always looking after his own and yet does not count himself as the highest being, who serves only himself and at the same time always thinks he is serving a higher being, who knows nothing higher than himself and yet is infatuated about something higher; in short, for the egoist who would like not to be an egoist, and abases himself (i.e. combats his egoism), but at the same time abases himself only for the sake of "being exalted," and therefore of gratifying his egoism. Because he would like to cease to be an egoist, he looks about in heaven and earth for higher beings to serve and sacrifice himself to; but, however much he shakes and disciplines himself, in the end he does all for his own sake, and the disreputable egoism will not come off him. On this account I call him the involuntary egoist.
His toil and care to get away from himself is nothing but the misunderstood impulse to self-dissolution. If you are bound to your past hour, if you must babble today because you babbled yesterday,* if you cannot transform yourself each instant, you feel yourself
*[How the priests tinkle! how important they
Would make it out, that men should come their way
And babble, just as yesterday, today!
Oh, blame them not! They know man's need, I say!
For he takes all his happiness this way,
To babble just tomorrow as today.
-- Translated from Goethe's "Venetian Epigrams."
|MEN OF THE OLD TIME AND THE NEW 47|
fettered in slavery and benumbed. Therefore over each minute of your existence a fresh minute of the future beckons to you, and, developing yourself, you get away "from yourself," i. e., from the self that was at that moment. As you are at each instant, you are your own creature, and in this very "creature" you do not wish to lose yourself, the creator. You are yourself a higher being than you are, and surpass yourself. But that you are the one who is higher than you, i. e., that you are not only creature, but likewise your creator -- just this, as an involuntary egoist, you fail to recognize; and therefore the "higher essence" is to you -- an alien* essence. Every higher essence, e. g. truth, mankind, etc., is an essence over us.
Alienness is a criterion of the "sacred." In everything sacred there lies something "uncanny," i.e. strange,** e. g. we are not quite familiar and at home in. What is sacred to me is not my own; and if, e. g.,, the property of others was not sacred to me, I should look on it as mine, which I should take to myself when occasion offered. Or, on the other side, if I regard the face of the Chinese emperor as sacred, it remains strange to my eye, which I close at its appearance.
Why is an incontrovertible mathematical truth, which might even be called eternal according to the common understanding of words, not -- sacred? Because it is not revealed, or not the revelation of, a higher being. If by revealed we understand only the
48 THE EGO AND HIS OWN
so-called religious truths, we go far astray, and entirely fail to recognize the breadth of the concept "higher being." Atheists keep up their scoffing at the higher being, which was also honored under the name of the "highest" or Être suprême, and trample in the dust one "proof of his existence" after another, without noticing that they themselves, out of need for a higher being, only annihilate the old to make room for a new. Is "Man" perchance not a higher essence than an individual man, and must not the truths, rights, and ideas which result from the concept of him be honored and --counted sacred, as revelations of this very concept? For, even though we should abrogate again many a truth that seemed to be made manifest by this concept, yet this would only evince a misunderstanding on our part, without in the least degree harming the sacred concept itself or taking their sacredness from those truths that must "rightly" be looked upon as its revelations. Man reaches beyond every individual man, and yet -- though he be "his essence" -- is not in fact his essence (which rather would be as single* as he the individual himself), but a general and "higher," yes, for atheists "the highest essence."** And, as the divine revelations were not written down by God with his own hand, but made public through "the Lord's instruments," so also the new highest essence does not write out its revelations itself, but lets them come to our knowledge through "true men." Only the new essence betrays, in fact, a more spiritual style of conception than the old God,
**["the supreme being."]
MEN OF THE OLD TIME AND THE NEW 49
because the latter was still represented in a sort of embodiedness or form, while the undimmed spirituality of the new is retained, and no special material body is fancied for it. And withal it does not lack corporeity, which even takes on a yet more seductive appearance because it looks more natural and mundane and consists in nothing less than in every bodily man -- yes, or outright in "humanity" or "all men." Thereby the spectralness of the spirit in a seeming body has once again become really solid and popular.
Sacred, then, is the highest essence and everything in which this highest essence reveals or will reveal itself; but hallowed are they who recognize this highest essence together with its own, i.e. together with its revelations. The sacred hallows in turn its reverer, who by his worship becomes himself a saint, as Likewise what he does is saintly, a saintly walk, saintly thoughts and actions, imaginations and aspirations.
It is easily understood that the conflict over what is revered as the highest essence can be significant only so long as even the most embittered opponents concede to each other the main point -- that there is a highest essence to which worship or service is due. If one should smile compassionately at the whole struggle over a highest essence, as a Christian might at the war of words between a Shiite and a Sunnite or between a Brahman and a Buddhist, then the hypothesis of a highest essence would be null in his eyes, and the conflict on this basis an idle play. Whether then the one God or the three in one. whether the Lutheran God or the Être suprême or not God at all, but "Man," may
50 THE EGO AND HIS OWN
represent the highest essence, that makes no difference at all for him who denies the highest essence itself, for in his eyes those servants of a highest essence are one and all-pious people, the most raging atheist not less than the most faith-filled Christian.
In the foremost place of the sacred,* then, stands the highest essence and the faith in this essence, our "holy** faith."
With ghosts we arrive in the spirit-realm,
in the realm of essences.
What haunts the universe, and has its occult, "incomprehensible" being there, is precisely the mysterious spook that we call highest essence. And to get to the bottom of this spook, to comprehend it, to discover reality in it (to prove "the existence of God") -- this task men set to themselves for thousands of years; with the horrible impossibility, the endless Danaid-labor, of transforming the spook into a non-spook, the unreal into something real, the spirit into an entire and corporeal person -- with this they tormented themselves to death. Behind the existing world they sought the "thing in itself," the essence; behind the thing they sought the un-thing.
When one looks to the bottom of anything, i.e. searches out its essence, one often discovers something quite other than what it seems to be; honeyed speech and a lying heart, pompous words and beggarly thoughts, etc. By bringing the essence into promi-
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