March 13, 2007

I keep having the same experience and keep resisting it anew each time; I do not want to believe it although I can grasp it as with my hands: the great majority lacks an intellectual conscience – indeed, it has often seemed to me as if someone requiring such a conscience would be as lonely in the most densely populated cities as he would be in the desert. Everyone looks at you with strange eyes and goes on handling their scales, calling this good and that evil; nobody as much as blushes when you notice that their weights are underweight – nor do they become indignant with you; perhaps they laugh at your doubts. I mean : to the great majority it is not contemptible to believe this or that and to live accordingly without first becoming aware of the final and most certain reasons pro and con, and without even troubling themselves about such reasons afterwards: the most gifted men and the noblest women still belong to the ‘great majority’. But what are goodheartedness, refinement, and genius to me when the person possessing these virtues tolerates slack feelings in his believing and judging and when he does not consider the desire for certainty to be his inmost craving and deepest need – as that which separates the higher human beings from the lower! I discovered in certain pious people a hatred of reason and I was well disposed towards them for that: at least this betrayed their bad intellectual conscience! But to stand in the midst of this rerum concordia discors and the whole marvelous uncertainty and ambiguity of existence without questioning , without trembling with the craving and rapture of questioning, without at least hating the person who questions, perhaps even being faintly amused by him – that is what I fell to be contemptible , and this is the feeling I look for first in anyone. Some folly keeps persuading me that every person has this feeling, simply as human. That is my type of injustice.

~ Nietzsche, from The Gay Science

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