Random Quote #98 topic: nietzsche, We Philologists by Nietzsche, Friedrich Wilhelm, 1844-1900, translated by Kennedy, J. M.

When we look from the character and culture of the Catholic Middle Ages
back to the Greeks, we see them resplendent indeed in the rays of higher
humanity; for, if we have anything to reproach these Greeks with, we
must reproach the Middle Ages with it also to a much greater extent. The
worship of the ancients at the time of the Renaissance was therefore
quite honest and proper. We have carried matters further in one
particular point, precisely in connection with that dawning ray of
light. We have outstripped the Greeks in the clarifying of the world by
our studies of nature and men. Our knowledge is much greater, and our
judgments are more moderate and just.

In addition to this, a more gentle spirit has become widespread, thanks
to the period of illumination which has weakened mankind--but this
weakness, when turned into morality, leads to good results and honours
us. Man has now a great deal of freedom: it is his own fault if he does
not make more use of it than he does; the fanaticism of opinions has
become much milder. Finally, that we would much rather live in the
present age than in any other is due to science, and certainly no other
race in the history of mankind has had such a wide choice of noble
enjoyments as ours--even if our race has not the palate and stomach to
experience a great deal of joy. But one can live comfortably amid all
this "freedom" only when one merely understands it and does not wish to
participate in it--that is the modern crux. The participants appear to
be less attractive than ever . how stupid they must be!

Thus the danger arises that knowledge may avenge itself on us, just as
ignorance avenged itself on us during the Middle Ages. It is all over
with those religions which place their trust in gods, Providences,
rational orders of the universe, miracles, and sacraments, as is also
the case with certain types of holy lives, such as ascetics; for we only
too easily conclude that such people are the effects of sickness and an
aberrant brain. There is no doubt that the contrast between a pure,
incorporeal soul and a body has been almost set aside. Who now believes
in the immortality of the soul! Everything connected with blessedness or
damnation, which was based upon certain erroneous physiological
assumptions, falls to the ground as soon as these assumptions are
recognised to be errors. Our scientific assumptions admit just as much
of an interpretation and utilisation in favour of a besotting
philistinism--yea, in favour of bestiality--as also in favour of
"blessedness" and soul-inspiration. As compared with all previous ages,
we are now standing on a new foundation, so that something may still be
expected from the human race.

As regards culture, we have hitherto been acquainted with only one
complete form of it, _i.e._, the city-culture of the Greeks, based as it
was on their mythical and social foundations; and one incomplete form,
the Roman, which acted as an adornment of life, derived from the Greek.
Now all these bases, the mythical and the politico-social, have changed;
our alleged culture has no stability, because it has been erected upon
insecure conditions and opinions which are even now almost ready to
collapse.--When we thoroughly grasp Greek culture, then, we see that it
is all over with it. The philologist is thus a great sceptic in the
present conditions of our culture and training . that is his mission.
Happy is he if, like Wagner and Schopenhauer, he has a dim presentiment
of those auspicious powers amid which a new culture is stirring.

-- Friedrich Nietzsche


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