Essays of Schopenhauer
Arthur Schopenhauer

Part 3 out of 4

_Phil_. Only in a very approximate way, and this only in so far as
subjects of higher knowledge were written about exclusively in Latin.
But since that has ceased to be so all the mysteries are profaned.

_Demop_. However that may be, I wish to remind you, in speaking of
religion, that you should grasp it more from the practical and less from
the theoretical side. Personified metaphysics may be religion's enemy,
yet personified morality will be its friend. Perhaps the metaphysics in
all religions is false; but the morality in all is true. This is to be
surmised from the fact that in their metaphysics they contradict each
other, while in their morality they agree.

_Phil_. Which furnishes us with a proof of the rule of logic, that a
true conclusion may follow from false premises.

_Demop_. Well, stick to your conclusion, and be always mindful that
religion has two sides. If it can't stand when looked at merely from the
theoretical--in other words, from its intellectual side, it appears, on
the other hand, from the moral side as the only means of directing,
training, and pacifying those races of animals gifted with reason, whose
kinship with the ape does not exclude a kinship with the tiger. At the
same time religion is, in general, a sufficient satisfaction for their
dull metaphysical needs. You appear to me to have no proper idea of the
difference, wide as the heavens apart, of the profound breach between
your learned man, who is enlightened and accustomed to think, and the
heavy, awkward, stupid, and inert consciousness of mankind's beasts of
burden, whose thoughts have taken once and for all the direction of fear
about their maintenance, and cannot be put in motion in any other; and
whose muscular power is so exclusively exercised that the nervous power
which produces intelligence is thereby greatly reduced. People of this
kind must absolutely have something that they can take hold of on the
slippery and thorny path of their life, some sort of beautiful fable by
means of which things can be presented to them which their crude
intelligence could most certainly only understand in picture and
parable. It is impossible to approach them with subtle explanations and
fine distinctions. If you think of religion in this way, and bear in
mind that its aims are extremely practical and only subordinately
theoretical, it will seem to you worthy of the highest respect.

_Phil_. A respect which would finally rest on the principle that the end
sanctifies the means. However, I am not in favour of a compromise on a
basis of that sort. Religion may be an excellent means of curbing and
controlling the perverse, dull, and malicious creatures of the biped
race; in the eyes of the friend of truth every _fraus_, be it ever so
_pia_, must be rejected. It would be an odd way to promote virtue
through the medium of lies and deception. The flag to which I have sworn
is truth. I shall remain faithful to it everywhere, and regardless of
success, I shall fight for light and truth. If I see religion hostile, I

_Demop_. But you will not! Religion is not a deception; it is true, and
the most important of all truths. But because, as has already been said,
its doctrines are of such a lofty nature that the great masses cannot
grasp them immediately; because, I say, its light would blind the
ordinary eye, does it appear concealed in the veil of allegory and teach
that which is not exactly true in itself, but which is true according to
the meaning contained in it: and understood in this way religion is the

_Phil_. That would be very probable, if it were allowed to be true only
in an allegorical sense. But it claims to be exactly true, and true in
the proper sense of the word: herein lies the deception, and it is here
that the friend of truth must oppose it.

_Demop_. But this deception is a _conditio sine qua non_. If religion
admitted that it was merely the allegorical meaning in its doctrines
that was true, it would be deprived of all efficacy, and such rigorous
treatment would put an end to its invaluable and beneficial influence on
the morals and feelings of mankind. Instead of insisting on that with
pedantic obstinacy, look at its great achievements in a practical way
both as regards morality and feelings, as a guide to conduct, as a
support and consolation to suffering humanity in life and death. How
greatly you should guard against rousing suspicion in the masses by
theoretical wrangling, and thereby finally taking from them what is an
inexhaustible source of consolation and comfort to them; which in their
hard lot they need very much more than we do: for this reason alone,
religion ought not to be attacked.

_Phil_. With this argument Luther could have been beaten out of the
field when he attacked the selling of indulgences; for the letters of
indulgence have furnished many a man with irreparable consolation and
perfect tranquillity, so that he joyfully passed away with perfect
confidence in the little packet of them which he firmly held in his hand
as he lay dying, convinced that in them he had so many cards of
admission into all the nine heavens. What is the use of grounds of
consolation and peacefulness over which is constantly hanging the
Damocles-sword of deception? The truth, my friend, the truth alone holds
good, and remains constant and faithful; it is the only solid
consolation; it is the indestructible diamond.

_Demop_. Yes, if you had truth in your pocket to bless us with whenever
we asked for it. But what you possess are only metaphysical systems in
which nothing is certain but the headaches they cost. Before one takes
anything away one must have something better to put in its place.

_Phil_. I wish you would not continually say that. To free a man from
error does not mean to take something from him, but to give him
something. For knowledge that something is wrong is a truth. No error,
however, is harmless; every error will cause mischief sooner or later to
the man who fosters it. Therefore do not deceive any one, but rather
admit you are ignorant of what you do not know, and let each man form
his own dogmas for himself. Perhaps they will not turn out so bad,
especially as they will rub against each other and mutually rectify
errors; at any rate the various opinions will establish tolerance. Those
men who possess both knowledge and capacity may take up the study of
philosophy, or even themselves advance the history of philosophy.

_Demop_. That would be a fine thing! A whole nation of naturalised
metaphysicians quarrelling with each other, and _eventualiter_ striking
each other.

_Phil_. Well, a few blows here and there are the sauce of life, or at
least a very slight evil compared with priestly government--prosecution
of heretics, plundering of the laity, courts of inquisition, crusades,
religious wars, massacres of St. Bartholomew, and the like. They have
been the results of chartered popular metaphysics: therefore I still
hold that one cannot expect to get grapes from thistles, or good from
lies and deception.

_Demop_. How often must I repeat that religion is not a lie, but the
truth itself in a mythical, allegorical dress? But with respect to your
plan of each man establishing his own religion, I had still something to
say to you, that a particularism like this is totally and absolutely
opposed to the nature of mankind, and therefore would abolish all social
order. Man is an _animal metaphysicum_--in other words, he has
surpassingly great metaphysical requirements; accordingly he conceives
life above all in its metaphysical sense, and from that standpoint
wishes to grasp everything. Accordingly, odd as it may sound with regard
to the uncertainty of all dogmas, accord in the fundamental elements of
metaphysics is the principal thing, in so much as it is only among
people who hold the same views on this question that a genuine and
lasting fellowship is possible. As a result of this, nations resemble
and differ from each other more in religion than in government, or even
language. Consequently, the fabric of society, the State, will only be
perfectly firm when it has for a basis a system of metaphysics
universally acknowledged. Such a system, naturally, can only be a
popular metaphysical one--that is, a religion. It then becomes
identified with the government, with all the general expressions of the
national life, as well as with all sacred acts of private life. This was
the case in ancient India, among the Persians, Egyptians, Jews, also the
Greeks and Romans, and it is still the case among the Brahman, Buddhist,
and Mohammedan nations. There, are three doctrines of faith in China, it
is true, and the one that has spread the most, namely, Buddhism, is
exactly the doctrine that is least protected by the State; yet there is
a saying in China that is universally appreciated and daily applied,
_the three doctrines are only one_--in other words, they agree in the
main thing. The Emperor confesses all three at the same time, and agrees
with them all. Europe is the confederacy of _Christian_ States;
Christianity is the basis of each of its members and the common bond of
all; hence Turkey, although it is in Europe, is really not to be
reckoned in it. Similarly the European princes are such "by the grace of
God," and the Pope is the delegate of God; accordingly, as his throne
was the highest, he wished all other thrones to be looked upon only as
held in fee from him. Similarly Archbishops and Bishops, as such, had
temporal authority, just as they have still in England a seat and voice
in the Upper House; Protestant rulers are, as such, heads of their
churches; in England a few years ago this was a girl of eighteen. By the
revolt from the Pope, the Reformation shattered the European structure,
and, in particular, dissolved the true unity of Germany by abolishing
its common faith; this unity, which had as a matter of fact come to
grief, had accordingly to be replaced later by artificial and purely
political bonds. So you see how essentially connected is unity of faith
with common order and every state. It is everywhere the support of the
laws and the constitution--that is to say, the foundation of the social
structure, which would stand with difficulty if faith did not lend power
to the authority of the government and the importance of the ruler.

_Phil_. Oh, yes, princes look upon God as a goblin, wherewith to
frighten grown-up children to bed when nothing else is of any avail; it
is for this reason that they depend so much on God. All right; meanwhile
I should like to advise every ruling lord to read through, on a certain
day every six months, the fifteenth chapter of the First Book of Samuel,
earnestly and attentively; so that he may always have in mind what it
means to support the throne on the altar. Moreover, since burning at the
stake, that _ultima ratio theologorum_, is a thing of the past, this
mode of government has lost its efficacy. For, as you know, religions
are like glowworms: before they can shine it must be dark. A certain
degree of general ignorance is the condition of every religion, and is
the element in which alone it is able to exist. While, as soon as
astronomy, natural science, geology, history, knowledge of countries and
nations have spread their light universally, and philosophy is finally
allowed to speak, every faith which is based on miracle and revelation
must perish, and then philosophy will take its place. In Europe the day
of knowledge and science dawned towards the end of the fifteenth century
with the arrival of the modern Greek philosophers, its sun rose higher
in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, which were so productive,
and scattered the mists of the Middle Age. In the same proportion, both
Church and Faith were obliged to gradually disappear; so that in the
eighteenth century English and French philosophers became direct
antagonists, until finally, under Frederick the Great, Kant came and
took away from religious belief the support it had formerly received
from philosophy, and emancipated the _ancilla theologiae_ in that he
attacked the question with German thoroughness and perseverance, whereby
it received a less frivolous, that is to say, a more earnest tone. As a
result of this we see in the nineteenth century Christianity very much
weakened, almost stripped entirely of serious belief, nay, fighting for
its own existence; while apprehensive princes try to raise it up by an
artificial stimulant, as the doctor tries to revive a dying man by the
aid of a drug. There is a passage from Condorcet's _Des Progres de
l'esprit humain_, which seems to have been written as a warning to our
epoch: _Le zele religieux des philosophes et des grands n'etait qu'une
devotion politique: et toute religion, qu'on se permet de defendre comme
une croyance qu'il est utile de laisser au peuple, ne peut plus esperer
qu'une agonie plus ou moins prolongee_. In the whole course of the
events which I have pointed out you may always observe that belief and
knowledge bear the same relation to each other as the two scales of a
balance: when the one rises the other must fall. The balance is so
sensitive that it indicates momentary influences. For example, in the
beginning of this century the predatory excursions of French robbers
under their leader Buonaparte, and the great efforts that were requisite
to drive them out and to punish them, had led to a temporary neglect of
science, and in consequence to a certain decrease in the general
propagation of knowledge; the Church immediately began to raise her head
again and Faith to be revived, a revival partly of a poetical nature, in
keeping with the spirit of the times. On the other hand, in the more
than thirty years' peace that followed, leisure and prosperity promoted
the building up of science and the spread of knowledge in an exceptional
degree, so that the result was what I have said, the dissolution and
threatened fall of religion. Perhaps the time which has been so often
predicted is not far distant, when religion will depart from European
humanity, like a nurse whose care the child has outgrown; it is now
placed in the hands of a tutor for instruction. For without doubt
doctrines of belief that are based only on authority, miracles, and
revelation are only of use and suitable to the childhood of humanity.
That a race, which all physical and historical data confirm as having
been in existence only about a hundred times the life of a man sixty
years old, is still in its first childhood is a fact that every one will

_Demop_. If instead of prophesying with undisguised pleasure the
downfall of Christianity, you would only consider how infinitely
indebted European humanity is to it, and to the religion which, after
the lapse of some time, followed Christianity from its old home in the
East! Europe received from it a drift which had hitherto been unknown to
it--it learnt the fundamental truth that life cannot be an
end-in-itself, but that the true end of our existence lies beyond it.
The Greeks and Romans had placed this end absolutely in life itself, so
that, in this sense, they may most certainly be called blind heathens.
Correspondingly, all their virtues consist in what is serviceable to the
public, in what is useful; and Aristotle says quite naively, "_Those
virtues must necessarily be the greatest which are the most useful to
others_" ([Greek: anankae de megistas einai aretas tas tois allois
chraesimotatas], _Rhetor_. I. c. 9). This is why the ancients considered
love for one's country the greatest virtue, although it is a very
doubtful one, as it is made up of narrowness, prejudice, vanity, and an
enlightened self-interest. Preceding the passage that has just been
quoted, Aristotle enumerates all the virtues in order to explain them
individually. They are _Justice, Courage, Moderation, Magnificence_
([Greek: megaloprepeia]), _Magnanimity, Liberality, Gentleness,
Reasonableness, and Wisdom_. How different from the Christian virtues!
Even Plato, without comparison the most transcendental philosopher of
pre-Christian antiquity, knows no higher virtue than _Justice_; he alone
recommends it unconditionally and for its own sake, while all the other
philosophers make a happy life--_vita beata_--the aim of all virtue; and
it is acquired through the medium of moral behaviour. Christianity
released European humanity from its superficial and crude absorption in
an ephemeral, uncertain, and hollow existence.

... _coelumque tueri
Jussit, et erectos ad sidera tollere vultus_.

Accordingly, Christianity does not only preach Justice, but the _Love of
Mankind, Compassion, Charity, Reconciliation, Love of one's Enemies,
Patience, Humility, Renunciation, Faith, and Hope_. Indeed, it went even
further: it taught that the world was of evil and that we needed
deliverance; consequently it preached contempt of the world,
self-denial, chastity, the giving up of one's own will, that is to say,
turning away from life and its phantom-like pleasures; it taught further
the healing power of suffering, and that an instrument of torture is the
symbol of Christianity, I willingly admit that this serious and only
correct view of life had spread in other forms throughout Asia thousands
of years previously, independently of Christianity as it is still; but
this view of life was a new and tremendous revelation to European
humanity. For it is well known that the population of Europe consists of
Asiatic races who, driven out from their own country, wandered away, and
by degrees hit upon Europe: on their long wanderings they lost the
original religion of their homes, and with it the correct view of life;
and this is why they formed in another climate religions for themselves
which were somewhat crude; especially the worship of Odin, the Druidic
and the Greek religions, the metaphysical contents of which were small
and shallow. Meanwhile there developed among the Greeks a quite special,
one might say an instinctive, sense of beauty, possessed by them alone
of all the nations of the earth that have ever existed--a peculiar,
fine, and correct sense of beauty, so that in the mouths of their poets
and in the hands of their artists, their mythology took an exceptionally
beautiful and delightful form. On the other hand, the earnest, true, and
profound import of life was lost to the Greeks and Romans; they lived
like big children until Christianity came and brought them back to the
serious side of life.

_Phil_. And to form an idea of the result we need only compare antiquity
with the Middle Age that followed--that is, the time of Pericles with
the fourteenth century. It is difficult to believe that we have the same
kind of beings before us. There, the finest development of humanity,
excellent constitutional regulations, wise laws, cleverly distributed
offices, rationally ordered freedom, all the arts, as well as poetry and
philosophy, at their best; the creation of works which after thousands
of years have never been equalled and are almost works of a higher order
of beings, whom we can never approach; life embellished by the noblest
fellowship, as is portrayed in the _Banquet_ of Xenophon. And now look
at this side, if you can. Look at the time when the Church had
imprisoned the minds, and violence the bodies of men, whereby knights
and priests could lay the whole weight of life on the common beast of
burden--the third estate. There you have club-law, feudalism, and
fanaticism in close alliance, and in their train shocking uncertainty
and darkness of mind, a corresponding intolerance, discord of faiths,
religious wars, crusades, persecution of heretics and inquisitions; as
the form of fellowship, chivalry, an amalgam of savagery and
foolishness, with its pedantic system of absurd affectations, its
degrading superstitions, and apish veneration for women; the survival of
which is gallantry, deservedly requited by the arrogance of women; it
affords to all Asiatics continual material for laughter, in which the
Greeks would have joined. In the golden Middle Age the matter went as
far as a formal and methodical service of women and enjoined deeds of
heroism, _cours d'amour_, bombastic Troubadour songs and so forth,
although it is to be observed that these last absurdities, which have an
intellectual side, were principally at home in France; while among the
material phlegmatic Germans the knights distinguished themselves more by
drinking and robbing. Drinking and hoarding their castles with plunder
were the occupations of their lives; and certainly there was no want of
stupid love-songs in the courts. What has changed the scene so?
Migration and Christianity.

_Demop_. It is a good thing you reminded me of it. Migration was the
source of the evil, and Christianity the dam on which it broke.
Christianity was the means of controlling and taming those raw, wild
hordes who were washed in by the flood of migration. The savage man must
first of all learn to kneel, to venerate, and to obey; it is only after
that, that he can be civilised. This was done in Ireland by St. Patrick,
in Germany by Winifred the Saxon, who was a genuine Boniface. It was
migration of nations, this last movement of Asiatic races towards
Europe, followed only by their fruitless attempts under Attila, Gengis
Khan, and Timur, and, as a comic after-piece, by the gipsies: it was
migration of nations which swept away the humanity of the ancients.
Christianity was the very principle which worked against this savagery,
just as later, through the whole of the Middle Age, the Church and its
hierarchy were extremely necessary to place a limit to the savagery and
barbarism of those lords of violence, the princes and knights: it was
the ice-breaker of this mighty flood. Still, the general aim of
Christianity is not so much to make this life pleasant as to make us
worthy of a better. It looks beyond this span of time, this fleeting
dream, in order to lead us to eternal salvation. Its tendency is ethical
in the highest sense of the word, a tendency which had hitherto been
unknown in Europe; as I have already pointed out to you by comparing the
morality and religion of the ancients with those of Christianity.

_Phil_. That is right so far as theory is concerned; but look at the
practice. In comparison with the Christian centuries that followed, the
ancient world was undoubtedly less cruel than the Middle Age, with its
deaths by frightful torture, its countless burnings at the stake;
further, the ancients were very patient, thought very highly of justice,
and frequently sacrificed themselves for their country, showed traits of
magnanimity of every kind, and such genuine humanity, that, up to the
present time, an acquaintance with their doings and thoughts is called
the study of Humanity. Religious wars, massacres, crusades,
inquisitions, as well as other persecutions, the extermination of the
original inhabitants of America and the introduction of African slaves
in their place, were the fruits of Christianity, and among the ancients
one cannot find anything analogous to this, anything to counterpoise it;
for the slaves of the ancients, the _familia_, the _vernae_, were a
satisfied race and faithfully devoted to their masters, and as widely
distinct from the miserable negroes of the sugar plantations, which are
a disgrace to humanity, as they were in colour. The censurable
toleration of pederasty, for which one chiefly reproaches the morality
of the ancients, is a trifle compared with the Christian horrors I have
cited, and is not so rare among people of to-day as it appears to be.
Can you then, taking everything into consideration, maintain that
humanity has really become morally better by Christianity?

_Demop_. If the result has not everywhere corresponded with the purity
and accuracy of the doctrine, it may be because this doctrine has been
too noble, too sublime for humanity, and its aim set too high: to be
sure, it was much easier to comply with heathen morality or with the
Mohammedan. It is precisely what is most elevated that is the most open
to abuse and deception--_abusus optimi pessimus_; and therefore those
lofty doctrines have sometimes served as a pretext for the most
disgraceful transactions and veritable crimes. The downfall of the
ancient institutions, as well as of the arts and sciences of the old
world, is, as has been said, to be ascribed to the invasion of foreign
barbarians. Accordingly, it was inevitable that ignorance and savagery
got the upper hand; with the result that violence and fraud usurped
their dominion, and knights and priests became a burden to mankind. This
is partly to be explained by the fact that the new religion taught the
lesson of eternal and not temporal welfare, that simplicity of heart was
preferable to intellectual knowledge, and it was averse to all worldly
pleasures which are served by the arts and sciences. However, in so far
as they could be made serviceable to religion they were promoted, and so
flourished to a certain extent.

_Phil_. In a very narrow sphere. The sciences were suspicious
companions, and as such were placed under restrictions; while fond
ignorance, that element so necessary to the doctrines of faith, was
carefully nourished.

_Demop_. And yet what humanity had hitherto acquired in the shape of
knowledge, and handed down in the works of the ancients, was saved from
ruin by the clergy, especially by those in the monasteries. What would
have happened if Christianity had not come in just before the migration
of nations?

_Phil_. It would really be an extremely useful inquiry if some one, with
the greatest frankness and impartiality, tried to weigh exactly and
accurately the advantages and disadvantages derived from religions. To
do this, it would be necessary to have a much greater amount of
historical and psychological data than either of us has at our command.
Academies might make it a subject for a prize essay.

_Demop_. They will take care not to do that.

_Phil_. I am surprised to hear you say that, for it is a bad look-out
for religion. Besides, there are also academies which make it a secret
condition in submitting their questions that the prize should be given
to the competitor who best understands the art of flattering them. If
we, then, could only get a statistician to tell us how many crimes are
prevented yearly by religious motives, and how many by other motives.
There would be very few of the former. If a man feels himself tempted to
commit a crime, certainly the first thing which presents itself to his
mind is the punishment he must suffer for it, and the probability that
he will be punished; after that comes the second consideration, that his
reputation is at stake. If I am not mistaken, he will reflect by the
hour on these two obstacles before religious considerations ever come
into his mind. If he can get away from these two first safeguards
against crime, I am convinced that religion _alone_ will very rarely
keep him back from it.

_Demop_. I believe, however, that it will do so very often; especially
when its influence works through the medium of custom, and thereby
immediately makes a man shrink from the idea of committing a crime.
Early impressions cling to him. As an illustration of what I mean,
consider how many a man, and especially if he is of noble birth, will
often, in order to fulfil some promise, make great sacrifices, which are
instigated solely by the fact that his father has often impressed it
upon him in childhood that "a man of honour, or a gentleman, or a
cavalier, always keeps his word inviolate."

_Phil_. And that won't work unless there is a certain innate _probitas_.
You must not ascribe to religion what is the result of innate goodness
of character, by which pity for the one who would be affected by the
crime prevents a man from committing it. This is the genuine moral
motive, and as such it is independent of all religions.

_Demop_. But even this moral motive has no effect on the masses unless
it is invested with a religious motive, which, at any rate, strengthens
it. However, without any such natural foundation, religious motives
often in themselves alone prevent crime: this is not a matter of
surprise to us in the case of the multitude, when we see that even
people of good education sometimes come under the influence, not indeed
of religious motives, which fundamentally are at least allegorically
true, but of the most absurd superstitions, by which they are guided
throughout the whole of their lives; as, for instance, undertaking
nothing on a Friday, refusing to sit down thirteen at table, obeying
chance omens, and the like: how much more likely are the masses to be
guided by such things. You cannot properly conceive the great
limitations of the raw mind; its interior is entirely dark, especially
if, as is often the case, a bad, unjust, and wicked heart is its
foundation. Men like these, who represent the bulk of humanity, must be
directed and controlled meanwhile, as well as possible, even if it be by
really superstitious motives, until they become susceptible to truer and
better ones. Of the direct effect of religion, one may give as an
instance a common occurrence in Italy, namely, that of a thief being
allowed to replace what he has stolen through the medium of his
confessor, who makes this the condition of his absolution. Then think of
the case of an oath, where religion shows a most decided influence:
whether it be because a man places himself expressly in the position of
a mere _moral being_, and as such regards himself as solemnly appealed
to,--as seems to be the case in France, where the form of the oath is
merely "_je le jure_"; and among the Quakers, whose solemn "yea" or
"nay" takes the place of the oath;--or whether it is because a man
really believes he is uttering something that will forfeit his eternal
happiness,--a belief which is obviously only the investiture of the
former feeling. At any rate, religious motives are a means of awakening
and calling forth his moral nature. A man will frequently consent to
take a false oath, but suddenly refuse to do so when it comes to the
point; whereby truth and right come off victorious.

_Phil_. But false oaths are still oftener sworn, whereby truth and right
are trodden underfoot with the clear knowledge of all the witnesses of
the act. An oath is the jurist's metaphysical _pons asinorum_, and like
this should be used as seldom as ever possible. When it cannot be
avoided, it should be taken with great solemnity, always in the presence
of the clergy--nay, even in a church or in a chapel adjoining the court
of justice.... This is precisely why the French abstract formulary of
the oath is of no value. By the way, you are right to cite the oath as
an undeniable example of the practical efficacy of religion. I must, in
spite of everything you have said, doubt whether the efficacy of
religion goes much beyond this. Just think, if it were suddenly declared
by public proclamation that all criminal laws were abolished; I believe
that neither you nor I would have the courage to go home from here alone
under the protection of religious motives. On the other hand, if in a
similar way all religions were declared to be untrue; we would, under
the protection of the laws alone, live on as formerly, without any
special increase in our fears and measures of precaution. But I will
even go further: religions have very frequently a decidedly demoralising
influence. It may be said generally that duties towards God are the
reverse of duties towards mankind; and that it is very easy to make up
for lack of good behaviour towards men by adulation of God. Accordingly,
we see in all ages and countries that the great majority of mankind find
it much easier to beg admission into Heaven by prayers than to deserve
it by their actions. In every religion it soon comes to be proclaimed
that it is not so much moral actions as faith, ceremonies, and rites of
every kind that are the immediate objects of the Divine will; and indeed
the latter, especially if they are bound up with the emoluments of the
clergy, are considered a substitute for the former. The sacrifice of
animals in temples, or the saying of masses, the erection of chapels or
crosses by the roadside, are soon regarded as the most meritorious
works; so that even a great crime may be expiated by them, as also by
penance, subjection to priestly authority, confessions, pilgrimages,
donations to the temple and its priests, the building of monasteries and
the like; until finally the clergy appear almost only as mediators in
the corruption of the gods. And if things do not go so far as that,
where is the religion whose confessors do not consider prayers, songs of
praise, and various kinds of devotional exercise, at any rate, a partial
substitute for moral conduct? Look at England, for instance, where the
audacious priestcraft has mendaciously identified the Christian Sunday
with the Jewish Sabbath, in spite of the fact that it was ordained by
Constantine the Great in opposition to the Jewish Sabbath, and even took
its name, so that Jehovah's ordinances for the Sabbath--_i.e._, the day
on which the Almighty rested, tired after His six days' work, making it
therefore _essentially the last day_ of the week--might be conferred on
the Christian Sunday, the _dies solis_, the first day of the week which
the sun opens in glory, the day of devotion and joy. The result of this
fraud is that in England "Sabbath breaking," or the "desecration of the
Sabbath," that is, the slightest occupation, whether it be of a useful
or pleasurable nature, and any kind of game, music, knitting, or worldly
book, are on Sundays regarded as great sins. Must not the ordinary man
believe that if, as his spiritual guides impress upon him, he never
fails in a "strict observance of the holy Sabbath and a regular
attendance on Divine Service,"--in other words, if he invariably whiles
away his time on a Sunday, and never fails to sit two hours in church to
listen to the same Litany for the thousandth time, and to babble it with
the rest _a tempo_, he may reckon on indulgence in here and there little
sins which he at times allows himself? Those devils in human form, the
slave-owners and slave-traders in the Free States of North America (they
should be called the Slave States), are, in general, orthodox, pious
Anglicans, who look upon it as a great sin to work on Sundays; and
confident in this, and their regular attendance at church, they expect
to gain eternal happiness. The demoralising influence of religion is
less problematical than its moral influence. On the other hand, how
great and how certain that moral influence must be to make amends for
the horrors and misery which religions, especially the Christian and
Mohammedan religions, have occasioned and spread over the earth! Think
of the fanaticism, of the endless persecutions, the religious wars, that
sanguinary frenzy of which the ancients had no idea; then, think of the
Crusades, a massacre lasting two hundred years, and perfectly
unwarrantable, with its war-cry, _It is God's will_, so that it might
get into its possession the grave of one who had preached love and
endurance; think of the cruel expulsion and extermination of the Moors
and Jews from Spain; think of the massacres, of the inquisitions and
other heretical tribunals, the bloody and terrible conquests of the
Mohammedans in three different parts of the world, and the conquest of
the Christians in America, whose inhabitants were for the most part, and
in Cuba entirely, exterminated; according to Las Casas, within forty
years twelve million persons were murdered--of course, all _in majorem
Dei gloriam_, and for the spreading of the Gospel, and because,
moreover, what was not Christian was not looked upon as human. It is
true I have already touched upon these matters; but when in our day "the
Latest News from the Kingdom of God" is printed, we shall not be tired
of bringing older news to mind. And in particular, let us not forget
India, that sacred soil, that cradle of the human race, at any rate of
the race to which we belong, where first Mohammedans, and later
Christians, were most cruelly infuriated against the followers of the
original belief of mankind; and the eternally lamentable, wanton, and
cruel destruction and disfigurement of the most ancient temples and
images, still show traces of the monotheistic rage of the Mohammedans,
as it was carried on from Marmud the Ghaznevid of accursed memory, down
to Aureng Zeb, the fratricide, whom later the Portuguese Christians
faithfully tried to imitate by destroying the temples and the _auto da
fe_ of the inquisition at Goa. Let us also not forget the chosen people
of God, who, after they had, by Jehovah's express and special command,
stolen from their old and faithful friends in Egypt the gold and silver
vessels which had been lent to them, made a murderous and predatory
excursion into the Promised Land, with Moses at their head, in order to
tear it from the rightful owners, also at Jehovah's express and repeated
commands, knowing no compassion, and relentlessly murdering and
exterminating all the inhabitants, even the women and children (Joshua
x., xi.); just because they were not circumcised and did not know
Jehovah, which was sufficient reason to justify every act of cruelty
against them. For the same reason, in former times the infamous roguery
of the patriarch Jacob and his chosen people against Hamor, King of
Shalem, and his people is recounted to us with glory, precisely because
the people were unbelievers. Truly, it is the worst side of religions
that the believers of one religion consider themselves allowed
everything against the sins of every other, and consequently treat them
with the utmost viciousness and cruelty; the Mohammedans against the
Christians and Hindoos; the Christians against the Hindoos, Mohammedans,
Americans, Negroes, Jews, heretics, and the like. Perhaps I go too far
when I say _all_ religions; for in compliance with truth, I must add
that the fanatical horrors, arising from religion, are only perpetrated
by the followers of the monotheistic religions, that is, of Judaism and
its two branches, Christianity and Islamism. The same is not reported of
the Hindoos and Buddhists, although we know, for instance, that Buddhism
was driven out about the fifth century of our era by the Brahmans from
its original home in the southernmost part of the Indian peninsula, and
afterwards spread over the whole of Asia; yet we have, so far as I know,
no definite information of any deeds of violence, of wars and cruelties
by which this was brought about. This may, most certainly, be ascribed
to the obscurity in which the history of those countries is veiled; but
the extremely mild character of their religion, which continually
impresses upon us to be forbearing towards _every living thing_, as well
as the circumstance that Brahmanism properly admits no proselytes by
reason of its caste system, leads us to hope that its followers may
consider themselves exempt from shedding blood to any great extent, and
from cruelty in any form. Spence Hardy, in his excellent book on
_Eastern Monachism_, p. 412, extols the extraordinary tolerance of the
Buddhists, and adds his assurance that the annals of Buddhism furnish
fewer examples of religious persecution than those of any other
religion. As a matter of fact, intolerance is only essential to
monotheism: an only god is by his nature a jealous god, who cannot
permit any other god to exist. On the other hand, polytheistic gods are
by their nature tolerant: they live and let live; they willingly
tolerate their colleagues as being gods of the same religion, and this
tolerance is afterwards extended to alien gods, who are, accordingly,
hospitably received, and later on sometimes attain even the same rights
and privileges; as in the case of the Romans, who willingly accepted and
venerated Phrygian, Egyptian, and other foreign gods. Hence it is the
monotheistic religions alone that furnish us with religious wars,
persecutions, and heretical tribunals, and also with the breaking of
images, the destruction of idols of the gods; the overthrowing of Indian
temples and Egyptian colossi, which had looked on the sun three thousand
years; and all this because a jealous God had said: "_Thou shalt make no
graven image_," etc. To return to the principal part of the matter: you
are certainly right in advocating the strong metaphysical needs of
mankind; but religions appear to me to be not so much a satisfaction as
an abuse of those needs. At any rate we have seen that, in view of the
progress of morality, its advantages are for the most part
problematical, while its disadvantages, and especially the enormities
which have appeared in its train, are obvious. Of course the matter
becomes quite different if we consider the utility of religion as a
mainstay of thrones; for in so far as these are bestowed "by the grace
of God," altar and throne are closely related. Accordingly, every wise
prince who loves his throne and his family will walk before his people
as a type of true religion; just as even Machiavelli, in the eighteenth
chapter of his book, urgently recommended religion to princes. Moreover,
it may be added that revealed religions are related to philosophy,
exactly as the sovereigns by the grace of God are to the sovereignty of
the people; and hence the two former terms of the parallel are in
natural alliance.

_Demop_. Oh, don't adopt that tone! But consider that in doing so you
are blowing the trumpet of ochlocracy and anarchy, the arch-enemy of all
legislative order, all civilisation, and all humanity.

_Phil_. You are right. It was only a sophism, or what the fencing-master
calls a feint. I withdraw it therefore. But see how disputing can make
even honest men unjust and malicious. So let us cease.

_Demop_. It is true I regret, after all the trouble I have taken, that I
have not altered your opinion in regard to religion; on the other hand,
I can assure you that everything you have brought forward has not shaken
my conviction of its high value and necessity.

_Phil_. I believe you; for as it is put in Hudibras:

"He that complies against his will
Is of his own opinion still."

I find consolation, however, in the fact that in controversies and in
taking mineral waters, it is the after-effects that are the true ones.

_Demop_. I hope the after-effect may prove to be beneficial in your

_Phil_. That might be so if I could only digest a Spanish proverb.

_Demop_. And that is?

_Phil._ _Detras de la cruz esta el Diablo_.

_Demop_. Which means?

_Phil_ Wait--"Behind the cross stands the devil."

_Demop_. Come, don't let us separate from each other with sarcasms, but
rather let us allow that religion, like Janus, or, better still, like
the Brahman god of death, Yama, has two faces, and like him, one very
friendly and one very sullen. Each of us, however, has only fixed his
eyes on one.

_Phil_. You are right, old fellow.


[13] _De Anim. Mundi_, p. 104, d. Steph.


Every animal, and especially man, requires, in order to exist and get on
in the world, a certain fitness and proportion between his will and his
intellect. The more exact and true this fitness and proportion are by
nature, the easier, safer, and pleasanter it will be for him to get
through the world. At the same time, a mere approximation to this exact
point will protect him from destruction. There is, in consequence, a
certain scope within the limits of exactness and fitness of this
so-called proportion. The normal proportion is as follows. As the object
of the intellect is to be the light and guide of the will on its path,
the more violent, impetuous, and passionate the inner force of the will,
the more perfect and clear must be the intellect which belongs to it; so
that the ardent efforts of the will, the glow of passion, the vehemence
of affection, may not lead a man astray or drive him to do things that
he has not given his consideration or are wrong or will ruin him; which
will infallibly be the case when a very strong will is combined with a
very weak intellect. On the other hand, a phlegmatic character, that is
to say, a weak and feeble will, can agree and get on with little
intellect; a moderate will only requires a moderate intellect. In
general, any disproportion between the will and intellect--that is to
say, any deviation from the normal proportion referred to--tends to make
a man unhappy; and the same thing happens when the disproportion is
reversed. The development of the intellect to an abnormal degree of
strength and superiority, thereby making it out of all proportion to the
will, a condition which constitutes the essence of true genius, is not
only superfluous but actually an impediment to the needs and purposes of
life. This means that, in youth, excessive energy in grasping the
objective world, accompanied by a lively imagination and little
experience, makes the mind susceptible to exaggerated ideas and a prey
even to chimeras; and this results in an eccentric and even fantastic
character. And when, later, this condition of mind no longer exists and
succumbs to the teaching of experience, the genius will never feel so
much at home or take up his position in the everyday world or in civic
life, and move with the ease of a man of normal intellect; indeed, he is
often more apt to make curious mistakes. For the ordinary mind is so
perfectly at home in the narrow circle of its own ideas and way of
grasping things that no one can control it in that circle; its
capacities always remain true to their original purpose, namely, to look
after the service of the will; therefore it applies itself unceasingly
to this end without ever going beyond it. While the genius, as I have
stated, is at bottom a _monstrum per excessum_; just as conversely the
passionate, violent, and unintelligent man, the brainless savage, is a
_monstrum per dejectum_.

* * * * *

The _will_ to _live_, which forms the innermost kernel of every living
being, is most distinctly apparent in the highest, that is to say in the
cleverest, order of animals, and therefore in them we may see and
consider the nature of the will most clearly. For _below_ this order of
animals the will is not so prominent, and has a less degree of
objectivation; but _above_ the higher order of animals, I mean in men,
we get reason, and with reason reflection, and with this the faculty for
dissimulation, which immediately throws a veil over the actions of the
will. But in outbursts of affection and passion the will exhibits itself
unveiled. This is precisely why passion, when it speaks, always carries
conviction, whatever the passion may be; and rightly so. For the same
reason, the passions are the principal theme of poets and the
stalking-horse of actors. And it is because the will is most striking in
the lower class of animals that we may account for our delight in dogs,
apes, cats, etc.; it is the absolute _naivete_ of all their expressions
which charms us so much.

What a peculiar pleasure it affords us to see any free animal looking
after its own welfare unhindered, finding its food, or taking care of
its young, or associating with others of its kind, and so on! This is
exactly what ought to be and can be. Be it only a bird, I can look at it
for some time with a feeling of pleasure; nay, a water-rat or a frog,
and with still greater pleasure a hedgehog, a weazel, a roe, or a deer.
The contemplation of animals delights us so much, principally because we
see in them our own existence very _much simplified_.

There is only one mendacious creature in the world--man. Every other is
true and genuine, for it shows itself as it is, and expresses itself
just as it feels. An emblematical or allegorical expression of this
fundamental difference is to be found in the fact that all animals go
about in their natural state; this largely accounts for the happy
impression they make on us when we look at them; and as far as I myself
am concerned, my heart always goes out to them, particularly if they are
free animals. Man, on the other hand, by his silly dress becomes a
monster; his very appearance is objectionable, enhanced by the unnatural
paleness of his complexion,--the nauseating effect of his eating meat,
of his drinking alcohol, his smoking, dissoluteness, and ailments. He
stands out as a blot on Nature. And it was because the Greeks were
conscious of this that they restricted themselves as far as possible in
the matter of dress.

* * * * *

Much that is attributed to _force of habit_ ought rather to be put down
to the constancy and immutability of original, innate character, whereby
we always do the _same_ thing under the same circumstances; which
happens the first as for the hundredth time in consequence of the same
necessity. While _force of habit_, in reality, is solely due to
_indolence_ seeking to save the intellect and will the work, difficulty,
and danger of making a fresh choice; so that we are made to do to-day
what we did yesterday and have done a hundred times before, and of which
we know that it will gain its end.

But the truth of the matter lies deeper; for it can be explained more
clearly than appears at first sight. The _power of inertia_ applied to
bodies which may be moved by mechanical means only, becomes _force of
habit_ when applied to bodies which are moved by motives. The actions
which we do out of sheer force of habit occur, as a matter of fact,
without any individual separate motive exercised for the particular
case; hence we do not really think of them. It was only when each action
at first took place that it had a motive; after that it became a habit;
the secondary after-effect of this motive is the present habit, which is
sufficient to carry on the action; just as a body, set in motion by a
push, does not need another push in order to enable it to continue its
motion; it will continue in motion for ever if it is not obstructed in
any way. The same thing applies to animals; training is a habit which is
forced upon them. The horse draws a cart along contentedly without being
urged to do so; this motion is still the effect of those lashes with the
whip which incited him at first, but which by the law of inertia have
become perpetuated as habit. There is really something more in all this
than a mere parable; it is the identity of the thing in question, that
is to say of the will, at very different degrees of its objectivation,
by which the same law of motion takes such different forms.

* * * * *

_Viva muchos anos!_ is the ordinary greeting in Spain, and it is usual
throughout the whole world to wish people a long life. It is not a
knowledge of what life is that explains the origin of such a wish, but
rather knowledge of what man is in his real nature: namely, _the will to

The wish which every one has, that he may be _remembered_ after his
death, and which those people with aspirations have for _posthumous_
fame, seems to me to arise from this tenacity to life. When they see
themselves cut off from every possibility of real existence they
struggle after a life which is still within their reach, even if it is
only an ideal--that is to say, an unreal one.

* * * * *

We wish, more or less, to get to the end of everything we are interested
in or occupied with; we are impatient to get to the end of it, and glad
when it is finished. It is only the general end, the end of all ends,
that we wish, as a rule, as far off as possible.

* * * * *

Every separation gives a foretaste of death, and every meeting a
foretaste of the resurrection. This explains why even people who were
indifferent to each other, rejoice so much when they meet again after
the lapse of twenty or thirty years.

* * * * *

The deep sorrow we feel on the death of a friend springs from the
feeling that in every individual there is a something which we cannot
define, which is his alone and therefore _irreparable. Omne individuum
ineffabile_. The same applies to individual animals. A man who has by
accident fatally wounded a favourite animal feels the most acute sorrow,
and the animal's dying look causes him infinite pain.

* * * * *

It is possible for us to grieve over the death of our enemies and
adversaries, even after the lapse of a long time, almost as much as over
the death of our friends--that is to say, if we miss them as witnesses
of our brilliant success.

* * * * *

That the sudden announcement of some good fortune may easily have a
fatal effect on us is due to the fact that our happiness and unhappiness
depend upon the relation of our demands to what we get; accordingly, the
good things we possess, or are quite sure of possessing, are not felt to
be such, because the nature of all enjoyment is really only _negative_,
and has only the effect of annulling pain; whilst, on the other hand,
the nature of pain or evil is really positive and felt immediately. With
the possession, or the certain prospect of it, our demands instantly
rise and increase our desire for further possession and greater
prospects. But if the mind is depressed by continual misfortune, and the
claims reduced to a _minimum_, good fortune that comes suddenly finds no
capacity for its acceptance. Neutralised by no previous claims, it now
has apparently a positive effect, and accordingly its whole power is
exercised; hence it may disorganise the mind--that is to say, be fatal
to it. This is why, as is well known, one is so careful to get a man
first to hope for happiness before announcing it, then to suggest the
prospect of it, then little by little make it known, until gradually all
is known to him; every portion of the revelation loses the strength of
its effect because it is anticipated by a demand, and room is still left
for more. In virtue of all this, it might be said that our stomach for
good fortune is bottomless, but the entrance to it is narrow. What has
been said does not apply to sudden misfortunes in the same way. Since
hope always resists them, they are for this reason rarely fatal. That
fear does not perform an analogous office in cases of good fortune is
due to the fact that we are instinctively more inclined to hope than to
fear; just as our eyes turn of themselves to light in preference to

* * * * *

_Hope_ is to confuse the desire that something should occur with the
probability that it will. Perhaps no man is free from this folly of the
heart, which deranges the intellect's correct estimation of probability
to such a degree as to make him think the event quite possible, even if
the chances are only a thousand to one. And still, an unexpected
misfortune is like a speedy death-stroke; while a hope that is always
frustrated, and yet springs into life again, is like death by slow

He who has given up hope has also given up fear; this is the meaning of
the expression _desperate_. It is natural for a man to have faith in
what he wishes, and to have faith in it because he wishes it. If this
peculiarity of his nature, which is both beneficial and comforting, is
eradicated by repeated hard blows of fate, and he is brought to a
converse condition, when he believes that something must happen because
he does not wish it, and what he wishes can never happen just because he
wishes it; this is, in reality, the state which has been called

* * * * *

That we are so often mistaken in others is not always precisely due to
our faulty judgment, but springs, as a rule as Bacon says, from
_intellectus luminis sicci non est, sec recipit infusionem a voluntate
et affectibus_: for without knowing it, we are influenced for or against
them by trifles from the very beginning. It also often lies in the fact
that we do not adhere to the qualities which we really discover in them,
but conclude from these that there are others which we consider
inseparable from, or at any rate incompatible with, them. For instance,
when we discern generosity, we conclude there is honesty; from lying we
conclude there is deception; from deception, stealing, and so on; and
this opens the door to many errors, partly because of the peculiarity of
human nature, and partly because of the one-sidedness of our point of
view. It is true that character is always consistent and connected; but
the roots of all its qualities lies too deep to enable one to decide
from special data in a given case which qualities can, and which cannot
exist together.

* * * * *

The use of the word _person_ in every European language to signify a
human individual is unintentionally appropriate; _persona_ really means
a player's mask, and it is quite certain that no one shows himself as he
is, but that each wears a mask and plays a _role_. In general, the whole
of social life is a continual comedy, which the worthy find insipid,
whilst the stupid delight in it greatly.

* * * * *

It often happens that we blurt out things that may in some kind of way
be harmful to us, but we are silent about things that may make us look
ridiculous; because in this case effect follows very quickly on cause.

* * * * *

The ordinary man who has suffered injustice burns with a desire for
revenge; and it has often been said that revenge is sweet. This is
confirmed by the many sacrifices made merely for the sake of enjoying
revenge, without any intention of making good the injury that one has
suffered. The centaur Nessus utilised his last moments in devising an
extremely clever revenge, and the fact that it was certain to be
effective sweetened an otherwise bitter death. The same idea, presented
in a more modern and plausible way, occurs in Bertolotti's novel, _Le
due Sorelle_ which has been translated into three languages. Walter
Scott expresses mankind's proneness to revenge in words as powerful as
they are true: "Vengeance is the sweetest morsel to the mouth that ever
was cooked in hell!" I shall now attempt a psychological explanation of
revenge. All the suffering that nature, chance, or fate have assigned to
us does not, _ceteris paribus_, pain us so much as suffering which is
brought upon us by the arbitrary will of another. This is due to the
fact that we regard nature and fate as the original rulers of the world;
we look upon what befalls us, through them, as something that might have
befallen every one else. Therefore in a case of suffering which arises
from this source, we bemoan the fate of mankind in general more than we
do our own. On the other hand, suffering inflicted on us through the
arbitrary will of another is a peculiarly bitter addition to the pain or
injury caused, as it involves the consciousness of another's
superiority, whether it be in strength or cunning, as opposed to our own
weakness. If compensation is possible, it wipes out the injury; but that
bitter addition, "I must submit to that from you," which often hurts
more than the injury itself, is only to be neutralised by vengeance. For
by injuring the man who has injured us, whether it be by force or
cunning, we show our superiority, and thereby annul the proof of his.
This gives that satisfaction to the mind for which it has been
thirsting. Accordingly, where there is much pride or vanity there will
be a great desire for revenge. But as the fulfilment of every wish
proves to be more or less a delusion, so is also the wish for revenge.
The expected enjoyment is mostly embittered by pity; nay, gratified
revenge will often lacerate the heart and torment the mind, for the
motive which prompts the feeling of it is no longer active, and what is
left is the testimony of our wickedness.

* * * * *

The pain of an ungratified desire is small compared with that of
repentance; for the former has to face the immeasurable, open future;
the latter the past, which is closed irrevocably.

* * * * *

Money is human happiness _in abstracto_; so that a man who is no longer
capable of enjoying it _in concrete_ gives up his whole heart to it.

* * * * *

Moroseness and melancholy are very opposite in nature; and melancholy is
more nearly related to happiness than to moroseness. Melancholy
attracts; moroseness repels. Hypochondria not only makes us unreasonably
cross and angry over things concerning the present; not only fills us
with groundless fears of imaginative mishaps for the future; but also
causes us to unjustly reproach ourselves concerning our actions in the

Hypochondria causes a man to be always searching for and racking his
brain about things that either irritate or torment him. The cause of it
is an internal morbid depression, combined often with an inward
restlessness which is temperamental; when both are developed to their
utmost, suicide is the result.

* * * * *

What makes a man hard-hearted is this, that each man has, or fancies he
has, sufficient in his own troubles to bear. This is why people placed
in happier circumstances than they have been used to are sympathetic and
charitable. But people who have always been placed in happy
circumstances are often the reverse; they have become so estranged to
suffering that they have no longer any sympathy with it; and hence it
happens that the poor sometimes show themselves more benevolent than the

On the other hand, what makes a man so very _curious_, as may be seen in
the way he will spy into other people's affairs, is boredom, a condition
which is diametrically opposed to suffering;--though envy also often
helps in creating curiosity.

* * * * *

At times, it seems as though we wish for something, and at the same time
do not wish for it, so that we are at once both pleased and troubled
about it. For instance, if we have to undergo some decisive test in some
affair or other, in which to come off victorious is of great importance
to us; we both wish that the time to be tested were here, and yet dread
the idea of its coming. If it happens that the time, for once in a way,
is postponed, we are both pleased and sorry, for although the
postponement was unexpected, it, however, gives us momentary relief. We
have the same kind of feeling when we expect an important letter
containing some decision of moment, and it fails to come.

In cases like these we are really controlled by two different motives;
the stronger but more remote being the desire to stand the test, and to
have the decision given in our favour; the weaker, which is closer at
hand, the desire to be left in peace and undisturbed for the present,
and consequently in further enjoyment of the advantage that hoping on in
uncertainty has over what might possibly be an unhappy issue.
Consequently, in this case the same happens to our moral vision as to
our physical, when a smaller object near at hand conceals from view a
bigger object some distance away.

* * * * *

The course and affairs of our individual life, in view of their true
meaning and connection, are like a piece of crude work in mosaic. So
long as one stands close in front of it, one cannot correctly see the
objects presented, or perceive their importance and beauty; it is only
by standing some distance away that both come into view. And in the same
way one often understands the true connection of important events in
one's own life, not while they are happening, or even immediately after
they have happened, but only a long time afterwards.

Is this so, because we require the magnifying power of imagination, or
because a general view can only be got by looking from a distance? or
because one's emotions would otherwise carry one away? or because it is
only the school of experience that ripens our judgment? Perhaps all
these combined. But it is certain that it is only after many years that
we see the actions of others, and sometimes even our own, in their true
light. And as it is in one's own life, so it is in history.

* * * * *

Why is it, in spite of all the mirrors in existence, no man really knows
what he looks like, and, therefore, cannot picture in his mind his own
person as he pictures that of an acquaintance? This is a difficulty
which is thwarted at the very outset by _gnothi sauton--know thyself_.

This is undoubtedly partly due to the fact that a man can only see
himself in the glass by looking straight towards it and remaining quite
still; whereby the play of the eye, which is so important, and the real
characteristic of the face is, to a great extent, lost. But co-operating
with this physical impossibility, there appears to be an ethical
impossibility analogous to it. A man cannot regard the reflection of his
own face in the glass as if it were the face of _some one else_--which
is the condition of his seeing himself _objectively_. This objective
view rests with a profound feeling on the egoist's part, as a moral
being, that what he is looking at is _not himself_; which is requisite
for his perceiving all his defects as they really are from a purely
objective point of view; and not until, then can he see his face
reflected as it really and truly is. Instead of that, when a man sees
his own person in the glass the egoistic side of him always whispers,
_It is not somebody else, but I myself_, which has the effect of a _noli
me tangere_, and prevents his taking a purely objective view. Without
the leaven of a grain of malice, it does not seem possible to look at
oneself objectively.

* * * * *

No one knows what capacities he possesses for suffering and doing until
an opportunity occurs to bring them into play; any more than he imagines
when looking into a perfectly smooth pond with a mirror-like surface,
that it can tumble and toss and rush from rock to rock, or leap as high
into the air as a fountain;--any more than in ice-cold water he suspects
latent warmth.

* * * * *

That line of Ovid's,

"_Pronaque cum spectent animalia cetera terram_,"

is only applicable in its true physical sense to animals; but in a
figurative and spiritual sense, unfortunately, to the great majority of
men too. Their thoughts and aspirations are entirely devoted to physical
enjoyment and physical welfare, or to various personal interests which
receive their importance from their relation to the former; but they
have no interests beyond these. This is not only shown in their way of
living and speaking, but also in their look, the expression of their
physiognomy, their gait and gesticulations; everything about them
proclaims _in terram prona!_ Consequently it is not to them, but only to
those nobler and more highly endowed natures, those men who really think
and observe things round them, and are the exceptions in the human race,
that the following lines are applicable:

"_Os homini sublime dedit coelumque tueri
Jussitt et erectos ad sidera tollere vultus_."

* * * * *

Why is "_common_" an expression of contempt? And why are _"uncommon,"
"extraordinary," "distinguished,"_ expressions of approbation? Why is
everything that is common contemptible?

_Common_, in its original sense, means that which is peculiar and common
to the whole species, that is to say that which is innate in the
species. Accordingly, a man who has no more qualities than those of the
human species in general is a "_common man_" "Ordinary man" is a much
milder expression, and is used more in reference to what is
intellectual, while _common_ is used more in a moral sense.

What value can a being have that is nothing more than like millions of
its kind? Millions? Nay, an infinitude, an endless number of beings,
which Nature in _secula seculorum_ unceasingly sends bubbling forth from
her inexhaustible source; as generous with them as the smith with the
dross that flies round his anvil.

So it is evidently only right that a being which has no other qualities
than those of the species, should make no claim to any other existence
than that confined to and conditioned by the species.

I have already several times explained[14] that whilst animals have only
the generic character, it falls to man's share alone to have an
individual character. Nevertheless, in most men there is in reality very
little individual character; and they may be almost all classified. _Ce
sont des especes_. Their desires and thoughts, like their faces, are
those of the whole species--at any rate, those of the class of men to
which they belong, and they are therefore of a trivial, common nature,
and exist in thousands. Moreover, as a rule one can tell pretty exactly
beforehand what they will say and do. They have no individual stamp:
they are like manufactured goods. If, then, their nature is absorbed in
that of the species, must not their existence be too? The curse of
vulgarity reduces man to the level of animals, for his nature and
existence are merged in that of the species only. It is taken for
granted that anything that is high, great, or noble by its very nature
stands isolated in a world where no better expression can be found to
signify what is base and paltry than the term which I have mentioned as
being generally used--namely, _common_.

* * * * *

According as our intellectual energy is strained or relaxed will life
appear to us either so short, petty, and fleeting, that nothing can
happen of sufficient importance to affect our feelings; nothing is of
any importance to us--be it pleasure, riches, or even fame, and however
much we may have failed, we cannot have lost much; or _vice versa,_ life
will appear so long, so important, so all in all, so grave, and so
difficult that we throw ourselves into it with our whole soul, so that
we may get a share of its possessions, make ourselves sure of its
prizes, and carry out our plans. The latter is the immanent view of
life; it is what Gracian means by his expression, _tomar muy de veras el
vivir_ (life is to be taken seriously); while for the former, the
transcendental view, Ovid's _non est tanti_ is a good expression;
Plato's a still better, [Greek: oute ti ton anthropinon axion hesti,
megalaes spoudaes] (_nihil, in rebus humanis, magno studio dignum est_).

The former state of mind is the result of the intellect having gained
ascendency over consciousness, where, freed from the mere service of the
will, it grasps the phenomena of life objectively, and so cannot fail to
see clearly the emptiness and futility of it. On the other hand, it is
the _will_ that rules in the other condition of mind, and it is only
there to lighten the way to the object of its desires. A man is great or
small according to the predominance of one or the other of these views
of life.

* * * * *

It is quite certain that many a man owes his life's happiness solely to
the circumstance that he possesses a pleasant smile, and so wins the
hearts of others. However, these hearts would do better to take care to
remember what Hamlet put down in his tablets--_that one may smile, and
smile, and be a villain_.

* * * * *

People of great and brilliant capacities think little of admitting or
exposing their faults and weaknesses. They regard them as something for
which they have paid, and even are of the opinion that these weaknesses,
instead of being a disgrace to them, do them honour. This is especially
the case when they are errors that are inseparable from their brilliant
capacities--_conditiones sine quibus non_, or, as George Sand expressed
it, _chacun a les defauts de ses vertus_.

On the contrary, there are people of good character and irreproachable
minds, who, rather than admit their few little weaknesses, carefully
conceal them, and are very sensitive if any reference is made to them;
and this just because their whole merit consists in the absence of
errors and defects; and hence when these errors come to light they are
immediately held in less esteem.

* * * * *

Modesty, in people of moderate ability, is merely honesty, but in people
of great talent it is hypocrisy. Hence it is just as becoming in the
latter to openly admit the regard they have for themselves, and not to
conceal the fact that they are conscious of possessing exceptional
capabilities, as it is in the former to be modest. Valerius Maximus
gives some very good examples of this in his chapter _de fiducia sui_.

* * * * *

Man even surpasses all the lower order of animals in his capacity for
being trained. Mohammedans are trained to pray five times a day with
their faces turned towards Mecca; and they do it regularly. Christians
are trained to make the sign of the Cross on certain occasions, and to
bow, and so forth; so that religion on the whole is a real masterpiece
of training--that is to say, it trains people what they are to think;
and the training, as is well known, cannot begin too early. There is no
absurdity, however palpable it may be, which may not be fixed in the
minds of all men, if it is inculcated before they are six years old by
continual and earnest repetition. For it is the same with men as with
animals, to train them with perfect success one must begin when they are
very young.

Noblemen are trained to regard nothing more sacred than their word of
honour, to believe earnestly, rigidly, and firmly in the inane code of
knight-errantry, and if necessary to seal their belief by death, and to
look upon a king as a being of a higher order. Politeness and
compliments, and particularly our courteous attitude towards ladies, are
the result of training; and so is our esteem for birth, position, and
title. And so is our displeasure at certain expressions directed against
us, our displeasure being proportionate to the expression used. The
Englishman has been trained to consider his being called no gentleman a
crime worthy of death--a liar, a still greater crime; and so, the
Frenchman, if he is called a coward; a German, if he is called a stupid.
Many people are trained to be honest in some particular direction,
whilst in everything else they exhibit very little honesty; so that many
a man will not steal money, but he will steal everything that will
afford him enjoyment in an indirect way. Many a shopkeeper will deceive
without scruple, but he will on no condition whatever steal.

* * * * *

The doctor sees mankind in all its weakness; the lawyer in all its
wickedness; the theologian in all its stupidity.

* * * * *

_Opinion_ obeys the same law as the swing of the pendulum: if it goes
beyond the centre of gravity on one side, it must go as far beyond on
the other. It is only after a time that it finds the true point of rest
and remains stationary.

* * * * *

Distance in space decreases the size of things, for it contracts them
and so makes their defects and deficiencies disappear. This is why
everything looks so much finer in a contracting mirror or in a _camera
obscura_ than it is in reality; and the past is affected in the same way
in the course of time. The scenes and events that happened long ago, as
well as the persons who took part in them, become a delight to the
memory, which ignores everything that is immaterial and disagreeable.
The present possesses no such advantage; it always seems to be
defective. And in space, small objects near at hand appear to be big,
and if they are very near, they cover the whole of our field of vision;
but as soon as we stand some little distance away they become minute and
finally invisible. And so it is with time: the little affairs and
misfortunes of everyday life excite in us emotion, anxiety, vexation,
passion, for so long as they are quite near us, they appear big,
important, and considerable; but as soon as the inexhaustible stream of
time has carried them into the distance they become unimportant; they
are not worth remembering and are soon forgotten, because their
importance merely consisted in being near.

* * * * *

It is only now and then that a man learns something; but he forgets the
whole day long.

Our memory is like a sieve, that with time and use holds less and less;
in so far, namely, as the older we get, the quicker anything we have
entrusted to our memory slips through it, while anything that was fixed
firmly in it, when we were young, remains. This is why an old man's
recollections are the clearer the further they go back, and the less
clear the nearer they approach the present; so that his memory, like his
eyes, becomes long-sighted ([Greek: presbus]).

That sometimes, and apparently without any reason, long-forgotten scenes
suddenly come into the memory, is, in many cases, due to the recurrence
of a scarcely perceptible odour, of which we were conscious when those
scenes actually took place; for it is well known that odours more easily
than anything else awaken memories, and that, in general, something of
an extremely trifling nature is all that is necessary to call up a
_nexus idearum_.

And by the way, I may say that the sense of sight has to do with the
understanding,[15] the sense of hearing with reason,[16] and the sense
of smell with memory, as we see in the present case. Touch and taste are
something real, and dependent on contact; they have no ideal side.

* * * * *

Memory has also this peculiarity attached to it, that a slight state of
intoxication very often enhances the remembrance of past times and
scenes, whereby all the circumstances connected with them are recalled
more distinctly than they could be in a state of sobriety; on the other
hand, the recollection of what one said or did while in a state of
intoxication is less clear than usual, nay, one does not recollect at
all if one has been very drunk. Therefore, intoxication enhances one's
recollection of the past, while, on the other hand, one remembers little
of the present, while in that state.

* * * * *

That arithmetic is the basest of all mental activities is proved by the
fact that it is the only one that can be accomplished by means of a
machine. Take, for instance, the reckoning machines that are so commonly
used in England at the present time, and solely for the sake of
convenience. But all _analysis finitorum et infinitorum_ is
fundamentally based on calculation. Therefore we may gauge the "profound
sense of the mathematician," of whom Lichtenberg has made fun, in that
he says: "These so-called professors of mathematics have taken advantage
of the ingenuousness of other people, have attained the credit of
possessing profound sense, which strongly resembles the theologians'
profound sense of their own holiness."

* * * * *

As a rule, people of very great capacities will get on better with a man
of extremely limited intelligence than with a man of ordinary
intelligence; and it is for the same reason that the despot and the
plebeians, the grandparents and the grandchildren, are natural allies.

* * * * *

I am not surprised that people are bored when they are alone; they
cannot laugh when they are alone, for such a thing seems foolish to
them. Is laughter, then, to be regarded as merely a signal for others, a
mere sign, like a word? It is a want of imagination and dulness of mind
generally ([Greek: anaisthaesia kai bradytaes psychaes]), as
Theophrastus puts it, that prevents people from laughing when they are
alone. The lower animals neither laugh when they are alone nor in

Nyson, the misanthropist, was surprised as he was laughing to himself by
one of these people, who asked him why he laughed when he was alone.
"That is just why I was laughing," was the answer.

* * * * *

People who do not go to the theatre are like those who make their toilet
without a looking-glass;--but it is still worse to come to a decision
without seeking the advice of a friend. For a man may have the most
correct and excellent judgment in everything else but in his own
affairs; because here the will at once deranges the intellect. Therefore
a man should seek counsel. A doctor can cure every one but himself; this
is why he calls in a colleague when he is ill.

* * * * *

The natural gesticulation of everyday life, such as accompanies any kind
of lively conversation, is a language of its own, and, moreover, is much
more universal than the language of words; so far as it is independent
of words, and the same in all nations; although each nation makes use of
gesticulation in proportion to its vivacity, and in individual nations,
the Italian, for instance, it is supplemented by some few gesticulations
which are merely conventional, and have therefore only local value.

Its universal use is analogous to logic and grammar, since it expresses
the form and not the matter of conversation. However, it is to be
distinguished from them since it has not only an intellectual relation
but also a moral--that is, it defines the movements of the will. And so
it accompanies conversation, just as a correctly progressive bass
accompanies a melody, and serves in the same way to enhance the effect.
The most interesting fact about gesticulation is that as soon as
conversation assumes the same _form_ there is a repetition of the same
gesture. This is the case, however varied the _matter_, that is to say,
the subject-matter, may be. So that I am able to understand quite well
the general nature of a conversation--in other words, the mere form and
type of it, while looking out of a window--without hearing a word
spoken. It is unmistakably evident that the speaker is arguing,
advancing his reasons, then modifying them, then urging them, and
drawing his conclusion in triumph; or it may be he is relating some
wrong that he has suffered, plainly depicting in strong and condemnatory
language the stupidity and stubbornness of his opponents; or he is
speaking of the splendid plan he has thought out and put in execution,
explaining how it became a success, or perhaps failed because fate was
unfavourable; or perhaps he is confessing that he was powerless to act
in the matter in question; or recounting that he noticed and saw
through, in good time, the evil schemes that had been organised against
him, and by asserting his rights or using force frustrated them and
punished their author; and a hundred other things of a similar kind. But
what gesticulation alone really conveys to me is the essential
matter--be it of a moral or intellectual nature--of the whole
conversation _in abstracto_. That is to say the quintessence, the true
substance of the conversation, remains identical whatever has brought
about the conversation, and consequently whatever the subject-matter of
it may be.

The most interesting and amusing part of the matter, as has been said,
is the complete identity of the gestures for denoting the same kind of
circumstances, even if they are used by most diverse people; just as the
words of a language are alike for every one and liable to such
modifications as are brought about by a slight difference in accent or
education. And yet these standing forms of gesticulation which are
universally observed are certainly the outcome of no convention; they
are natural and original, a true language of nature, which may have been
strengthened by imitation and custom. It is incumbent on an actor, as is
well known, and on a public speaker, to a less extent, to make a careful
study of gesture--a study which must principally consist in the
observation and imitation of others, for the matter cannot very well be
based on abstract rules; with the exception of some quite general
leading principles--as, for instance, that the gesture must not follow
the word, but rather immediately precede it, in order to announce it and
thereby rouse attention.

The English have a peculiar contempt for gesticulation, and regard it as
something undignified and common; this seems to me to be only one of
those silly prejudices of English fastidiousness. For it is a language
which nature has given to every one and which every one understands;
therefore to abolish and forbid it for no other reason than to gratify
that so much extolled, gentlemanly feeling, is a very dubious thing to

* * * * *

The state of human happiness, for the most part, is like certain groups
of trees, which seen from a distance look wonderfully fine; but if we go
up to them and among them, their beauty disappears; we do not know
wherein it lay, for it is only trees that surround us. And so it happens
that we often envy the position of others.


[14] _Grundpr. der Ethik_, p. 48; _Welt als Wille und Vorstellung_, vol.
i. p. 338.

[15] _Vierfache Wurzel_, Sec. 21.

[16] _Pererga_, vol. ii. Sec. 311.


We are accustomed to see poets principally occupied with describing the
love of the sexes. This, as a rule, is the leading idea of every
dramatic work, be it tragic or comic, romantic or classic, Indian or
European. It in no less degree constitutes the greater part of both
lyric and epic poetry, especially if in these we include the host of
romances which have been produced every year for centuries in every
civilised country in Europe as regularly as the fruits of the earth. All
these works are nothing more than many-sided, short, or long
descriptions of the passion in question. Moreover, the most successful
delineations of love, such, for example, as _Romeo and Juliet, La
Nouvelle Heloise_, and _Werther_, have attained immortal fame.

Rochefoucauld says that love may be compared to a ghost since it is
something we talk about but have never seen, and Lichtenberg, in his
essay _Ueber die Macht der Liebe_, disputes and denies its reality and
naturalness--but both are in the wrong. For if it were foreign to and
contradicted human nature--in other words, if it were merely an
imaginary caricature, it would not have been depicted with such zeal by
the poets of all ages, or accepted by mankind with an unaltered
interest; for anything artistically beautiful cannot exist without

"_Rien n'est beau que le vrai; le vrai seul est aimable_."--BOIL.

Experience, although not that of everyday, verifies that that which as a
rule begins only as a strong and yet controllable inclination, may
develop, under certain conditions, into a passion, the ardour of which
surpasses that of every other. It will ignore all considerations,
overcome all kinds of obstacles with incredible strength and
persistence. A man, in order to have his love gratified, will
unhesitatingly risk his life; in fact, if his love is absolutely
rejected, he will sacrifice his life into the bargain. The Werthers and
Jacopo Ortis do not only exist in romances; Europe produces every year
at least half-a-dozen like them: _sed ignotis perierunt mortibus illi_:
for their sufferings are chronicled by the writer of official registers
or by the reporters of newspapers. Indeed, readers of the police news in
English and French newspapers will confirm what I have said.

Love drives a still greater number of people into the lunatic asylum.
There is a case of some sort every year of two lovers committing suicide
together because material circumstances happen to be unfavourable to
their union. By the way, I cannot understand how it is that such people,
who are confident of each other's love, and expect to find their
greatest happiness in the enjoyment of it, do not avoid taking extreme
steps, and prefer suffering every discomfort to sacrificing with their
lives a happiness which is greater than any other they can conceive. As
far as lesser phases and passages of love are concerned, all of us have
them daily before our eyes, and, if we are not old, the most of us in
our hearts.

After what has been brought to mind, one cannot doubt either the reality
or importance of love. Instead, therefore, of wondering why a
philosopher for once in a way writes on this subject, which has been
constantly the theme of poets, rather should one be surprised that love,
which always plays such an important _role_ in a man's life, has
scarcely ever been considered at all by philosophers, and that it still
stands as material for them to make use of.

Plato has devoted himself more than any one else to the subject of love,
especially in the _Symposium_ and the _Phaedrus_; what he has said about
it, however, comes within the sphere of myth, fable, and raillery, and
only applies for the most part to the love of a Greek youth. The little
that Rousseau says in his _Discours sur l'inegalite_ is neither true nor
satisfactory. Kant's disquisition on love in the third part of his
treatise, _Ueber das Gefuehl des Schoenen und Erhabenen_, is very
superficial; it shows that he has not thoroughly gone into the subject,
and therefore it is somewhat untrue. Finally, Platner's treatment of it
in his _Anthropology_ will be found by every one to be insipid and

To amuse the reader, on the other hand, Spinoza's definition deserves to
be quoted because of its exuberant naivete: _Amor est titillatio,
concomitante idea causae externae_ (_Eth._ iv., prop. 44). It is not my
intention to be either influenced or to contradict what has been written
by my predecessors; the subject has forced itself upon me objectively,
and has of itself become inseparable from my consideration of the world.
Moreover, I shall expect least approval from those people who are for
the moment enchained by this passion, and in consequence try to express
their exuberant feelings in the most sublime and ethereal images. My
view will seem to them too physical, too material, however metaphysical,
nay, transcendent it is fundamentally.

First of all let them take into consideration that the creature whom
they are idealising to-day in madrigals and sonnets would have been
ignored almost entirely by them if she had been born eighteen years

Every kind of love, however ethereal it may seem to be, springs entirely
from the instinct of sex; indeed, it is absolutely this instinct, only
in a more definite, specialised, and perhaps, strictly speaking, more
individualised form. If, bearing this in mind, one considers the
important _role_ which love plays in all its phases and degrees, not
only in dramas and novels, but also in the real world, where next to
one's love of life it shows itself as the strongest and most active of
all motives; if one considers that it constantly occupies half the
capacities and thoughts of the younger part of humanity, and is the
final goal of almost every human effort; that it influences adversely
the most important affairs; that it hourly disturbs the most earnest
occupations; that it sometimes deranges even the greatest intellects for
a time; that it is not afraid of interrupting the transactions of
statesmen or the investigations of men of learning; that it knows how to
leave its love-letters and locks of hair in ministerial portfolios and
philosophical manuscripts; that it knows equally well how to plan the
most complicated and wicked affairs, to dissolve the most important
relations, to break the strongest ties; that life, health, riches, rank,
and happiness are sometimes sacrificed for its sake; that it makes the
otherwise honest, perfidious, and a man who has been hitherto faithful a
betrayer, and, altogether, appears as a hostile demon whose object is to
overthrow, confuse, and upset everything it comes across: if all this is
taken into consideration one will have reason to ask--"Why is there all
this noise? Why all this crowding, blustering, anguish, and want? Why
should such a trifle play so important a part and create disturbance and
confusion in the well-regulated life of mankind?" But to the earnest
investigator the spirit of truth gradually unfolds the answer: it is not
a trifle one is dealing with; the importance of love is absolutely in
keeping with the seriousness and zeal with which it is prosecuted. The
ultimate aim of all love-affairs, whether they be of a tragic or comic
nature, is really more important than all other aims in human life, and
therefore is perfectly deserving of that profound seriousness with which
it is pursued.

As a matter of fact, love determines nothing less than the
_establishment of the next generation_. The existence and nature of the
_dramatis personae_ who come on to the scene when we have made our exit
have been determined by some frivolous love-affair. As the being, the
_existentia_ of these future people is conditioned by our instinct of
sex in general, so is the nature, the _essentia_, of these same people
conditioned by the selection that the individual makes for his
satisfaction, that is to say, by love, and is thereby in every respect
irrevocably established. This is the key of the problem. In applying it,
we shall understand it more fully if we analyse the various degrees of
love, from the most fleeting sensation to the most ardent passion; we
shall then see that the difference arises from the degree of
individualisation of the choice. All the love-affairs of the present
generation taken altogether are accordingly the _meditatio compositionis
generationis futurae, e qua iterum pendent innumerae generationes_ of
mankind. Love is of such high import, because it has nothing to do with
the weal or woe of the present individual, as every other matter has; it
has to secure the existence and special nature of the human race in
future times; hence the will of the individual appears in a higher
aspect as the will of the species; and this it is that gives a pathetic
and sublime import to love-affairs, and makes their raptures and
troubles transcendent, emotions which poets for centuries have not tired
of depicting in a variety of ways. There is no subject that can rouse
the same interest as love, since it concerns both the weal and woe of
the species, and is related to every other which only concerns the
welfare of the individual as body to surface.

This is why it is so difficult to make a drama interesting if it
possesses no love motive; on the other hand, the subject is never
exhausted, although it is constantly being utilised.

What manifests itself in the individual consciousness as instinct of sex
in general, without being concentrated on any particular individual, is
very plainly in itself, in its generalised form, the will to live. On
the other hand, that which appears as instinct of sex directed to a
certain individual, is in itself the will to live as a definitely
determined individual. In this case the instinct of sex very cleverly
wears the mask of objective admiration, although in itself it is a
subjective necessity, and is, thereby, deceptive. Nature needs these
stratagems in order to accomplish her ends. The purpose of every man in
love, however objective and sublime his admiration may appear to be, is
to beget a being of a definite nature, and that this is so, is verified
by the fact that it is not mutual love but possession that is the
essential. Without possession it is no consolation to a man to know that
his love is requited. In fact, many a man has shot himself on finding
himself in such a position. On the other hand, take a man who is very
much in love; if he cannot have his love returned he is content simply
with possession. Compulsory marriages and cases of seduction corroborate
this, for a man whose love is not returned frequently finds consolation
in giving handsome presents to a woman, in spite of her dislike, or
making other sacrifices, so that he may buy her favour.

The real aim of the whole of love's romance, although the persons
concerned are unconscious of the fact, is that a particular being may
come into the world; and the way and manner in which it is accomplished
is a secondary consideration. However much those of lofty sentiments,
and especially of those in love, may refute the gross realism of my
argument, they are nevertheless in the wrong. For is not the aim of
definitely determining the individualities of the next generation a much
higher and nobler aim than that other, with its exuberant sensations and
transcendental soap-bubbles? Among all earthly aims is there one that is
either more important or greater? It alone is in keeping with that
deep-rooted feeling inseparable from passionate love, with that
earnestness with which it appears, and the importance which it attaches
to the trifles that come within its sphere. It is only in so far as we
regard _this_ end as the real one that the difficulties encountered, the
endless troubles and vexations endured, in order to attain the object we
love, appear to be in keeping with the matter. For it is the future
generation in its entire individual determination which forces itself
into existence through the medium of all this strife and trouble.
Indeed, the future generation itself is already stirring in the careful,
definite, and apparently capricious selection for the satisfaction of
the instinct of sex which we call love. That growing affection of two
lovers for each other is in reality the will to live of the new being,
of which they shall become the parents; indeed, in the meeting of their
yearning glances the life of a new being is kindled, and manifests
itself as a well-organised individuality of the future. The lovers have
a longing to be really united and made one being, and to live as such
for the rest of their lives; and this longing is fulfilled in the
children born to them, in whom the qualities inherited from both, but
combined and united in one being, are perpetuated. Contrarily, if a man
and woman mutually, persistently, and decidedly dislike each other, it
indicates that they could only bring into the world a badly organised,
discordant, and unhappy being. Therefore much must be attached to
Calderon's words, when he calls the horrible Semiramis a daughter of the
air, yet introduces her as a daughter of seduction, after which follows
the murder of the husband.

Finally, it is the will to live presenting itself in the whole species,
which so forcibly and exclusively attracts two individuals of different
sex towards each other. This will anticipates in the being, of which
they shall become the parents, an objectivation of its nature
corresponding to its aims. This individual will inherit the father's
will and character, the mother's intellect, and the constitution of
both. As a rule, however, an individual takes more after the father in
shape and the mother in stature, corresponding to the law which applies
to the offspring of animals.... It is impossible to explain the
individuality of each man, which is quite exceptional and peculiar to
him alone; and it is just as impossible to explain the passion of two
people for each other, for it is equally individual and uncommon in
character; indeed, fundamentally both are one and the same. The former
is _explicite_ what the latter was _implicite_.

We must consider as the origin of a new individual and true _punctum
saliens_ of its life the moment when the parents begin to love each
other--_to fancy each other_, as the English appropriately express it.
And, as has been said, in the meeting of their longing glances
originates the first germ of a new being, which, indeed, like all germs,
is generally crushed out. This new individual is to a certain extent a
new (Platonic) Idea; now, as all Ideas strive with the greatest
vehemence to enter the phenomenal sphere, and to do this, ardently seize
upon the matter which the law of causality distributes among them all,
so this particular Idea of a human individuality struggles with the
greatest eagerness and vehemence for its realisation in the phenomenal.
It is precisely this vehement desire which is the passion of the future
parents for one another. Love has countless degrees, and its two
extremes may be indicated as [Greek: Aphroditae pandaemos] and [Greek:
ourania]; nevertheless, in essentials it is the same everywhere.

According to the degree, on the other hand, it will be the more powerful
the more _individualised_ it is--that is to say, the more the loved
individual, by virtue of all her qualities, is exclusively fit to
satisfy the lover's desire and needs determined by her own
individuality. If we investigate further we shall understand more
clearly what this involves. All amorous feeling immediately and
essentially concentrates itself on health, strength, and beauty, and
consequently on youth; because the will above all wishes to exhibit the
specific character of the human species as the basis of all
individuality. The same applies pretty well to everyday courtship
([Greek: Aphroditae pandaemos]). With this are bound up more special
requirements, which we will consider individually later on, and with
which, if there is any prospect of gratification, there is an increase
of passion. Intense love, however, springs from a fitness of both
individualities for each other; so that the will, that is to say the
father's character and the mother's intellect combined, exactly complete
that individual for which the will to live in general (which exhibits
itself in the whole species) has a longing--a longing proportionate to
this its greatness, and therefore surpassing the measure of a mortal
heart; its motives being in a like manner beyond the sphere of the
individual intellect. This, then, is the soul of a really great passion.
The more perfectly two individuals are fitted for each other in the
various respects which we shall consider further on, the stronger will
be their passion for each other. As there are not two individuals
exactly alike, a particular kind of woman must perfectly correspond with
a particular kind of man--always in view of the child that is to be
born. Real, passionate love is as rare as the meeting of two people
exactly fitted for each other. By the way, it is because there is a
possibility of real passionate love in us all that we understand why
poets have depicted it in their works.

Because the kernel of passionate love turns on the anticipation of the
child to be born and its nature, it is quite possible for friendship,
without any admixture of sexual love, to exist between two young,
good-looking people of different sex, if there is perfect fitness of
temperament and intellectual capacity. In fact, a certain aversion for
each other may exist also. The reason of this is that a child begotten
by them would physically or mentally have discordant qualities. In
short, the child's existence and nature would not be in harmony with the
purposes of the will to live as it presents itself in the species.

In an opposite case, where there is no fitness of disposition,
character, and mental capacity, whereby aversion, nay, even enmity for
each other exists, it is possible for love to spring up. Love of this
kind makes them blind to everything; and if it leads to marriage it is a
very unhappy one.

And now let us more thoroughly investigate the matter. Egoism is a
quality so deeply rooted in every personality that it is on egotistical
ends only that one may safely rely in order to rouse the individual to

To be sure, the species has a prior, nearer, and greater claim on the
individual than the transient individuality itself; and yet even when
the individual makes some sort of conscious sacrifice for the
perpetuation and future of the species, the importance of the matter
will not be made sufficiently comprehensible to his intellect, which is
mainly constituted to regard individual ends.

Therefore Nature attains her ends by implanting in the individual a
certain illusion by which something which is in reality advantageous to
the species alone seems to be advantageous to himself; consequently he
serves the latter while he imagines he is serving himself. In this
process he is carried away by a mere chimera, which floats before him
and vanishes again immediately, and as a motive takes the place of
reality. _This illusion is instinct_. In most instances instinct may be
regarded as the sense of the species which presents to the will whatever
is of service to the species. But because the will has here become
individual it must be deceived in such a manner for it to discern by the
sense of the _individual_ what the sense of the species has presented to
it; in other words, imagine it is pursuing ends concerning the
individual, when in reality it is pursuing merely general ends (using
the word general in its strictest sense).

Outward manifestation of instinct can be best observed in animals, where
the part it plays is most significant; but it is in ourselves alone that
we can get to know its internal process, as of everything internal. It
is true, it is thought that man has scarcely any instinct at all, or at
any rate has only sufficient instinct when he is born to seek and take
his mother's breast. But as a matter of fact man has a very decided,
clear, and yet complicated instinct--namely, for the selection, both
earnest and capricious, of another individual, to satisfy his instinct
of sex. The beauty or ugliness of the other individual has nothing
whatever to do with this satisfaction in itself, that is in so far as it
is a matter of pleasure based upon a pressing desire of the individual.
The regard, however, for this satisfaction, which is so zealously
pursued, as well as the careful selection it entails, has obviously
nothing to do with the chooser himself, although he fancies that it has.
Its real aim is the child to be born, in whom the type of the species is
to be preserved in as pure and perfect a form as possible. For instance,
different phases of degeneration of the human form are the consequences
of a thousand physical accidents and moral delinquencies; and yet the
genuine type of the human form is, in all its parts, always restored;
further, this is accomplished under the guidance of the sense of beauty,
which universally directs the instinct of sex, and without which the
satisfaction of the latter would deteriorate to a repulsive necessity.

Accordingly, every one in the first place will infinitely prefer and
ardently desire those who are most beautiful--in other words, those in
whom the character of the species is most purely defined; and in the
second, every one will desire in the other individual those perfections
which he himself lacks, and he will consider imperfections, which are
the reverse of his own, beautiful. This is why little men prefer big
women, and fair people like dark, and so on. The ecstasy with which a
man is filled at the sight of a beautiful woman, making him imagine that
union with her will be the greatest happiness, is simply the _sense of
the species_. The preservation of the type of the species rests on this
distinct preference for beauty, and this is why beauty has such power.

We will later on more fully state the considerations which this
involves. It is really instinct aiming at what is best in the species
which induces a man to choose a beautiful woman, although the man
himself imagines that by so doing he is only seeking to increase his own
pleasure. As a matter of fact, we have here an instructive solution of
the secret nature of all instinct which almost always, as in this case,
prompts the individual to look after the welfare of the species. The
care with which an insect selects a certain flower or fruit, or piece of
flesh, or the way in which the ichneumon seeks the larva of a strange
insect so that it may lay its eggs in _that particular place only_, and
to secure which it fears neither labour nor danger, is obviously very
analogous to the care with which a man chooses a woman of a definite
nature individually suited to him. He strives for her with such ardour
that he frequently, in order to attain his object, will sacrifice his
happiness in life, in spite of all reason, by a foolish marriage, by
some love-affair which costs him his fortune, honour, and life, even by
committing crimes. And all this in accordance with the will of nature
which is everywhere sovereign, so that he may serve the species in the
most efficient manner, although he does so at the expense of the

Instinct everywhere works as with the conception of an end, and yet it
is entirely without one. Nature implants instinct where the acting
individual is not capable of understanding the end, or would be
unwilling to pursue it. Consequently, as a rule, it is only given
prominently to animals, and in particular to those of the lowest order,
which have the least intelligence. But it is only in such a case as the
one we are at present considering that it is also given to man, who
naturally is capable of understanding the end, but would not pursue it
with the necessary zeal--that is to say, he would not pursue it at the
cost of his individual welfare. So that here, as in all cases of
instinct, truth takes the form of illusion in order to influence the

All this, however, on its part throws light upon the instinct of
animals. They, too, are undoubtedly carried away by a kind of illusion,
which represents that they are working for their own pleasure, while it
is for the species that they are working with such industry and
self-denial. The bird builds its nest; the insect seeks a suitable place
wherein to lay its eggs, or even hunts for prey, which it dislikes
itself, but which must be placed beside the eggs as food for the future
larvae; the bee, the wasp, and the ant apply themselves to their skilful
building and extremely complex economy. All of them are undoubtedly
controlled by an illusion which conceals the service of the species
under the mask of an egotistical purpose.

This is probably the only way in which to make the inner or subjective
process, from which spring all manifestations of instinct, intelligible
to us. The outer or objective process, however, shows in animals
strongly controlled by instinct, as insects for instance, a
preponderance of the ganglion--_i.e., subjective_ nervous system over
the _objective_ or cerebral system. From which it may be concluded that
they are controlled not so much by objective and proper apprehension as
by subjective ideas, which excite desire and arise through the influence
of the ganglionic system upon the brain; accordingly they are moved by a
certain illusion....

The great preponderance of brain in man accounts for his having fewer
instincts than the lower order of animals, and for even these few easily
being led astray. For instance, the sense of beauty which instinctively
guides a man in his selection of a mate is misguided when it degenerates
into the proneness to pederasty. Similarly, the blue-bottle (_Musca
vomitoria_), which instinctively ought to place its eggs in putrified
flesh, lays them in the blossom of the _Arum dracunculus_, because it is
misled by the decaying odour of this plant. That an absolutely generic
instinct is the foundation of all love of sex may be confirmed by a
closer analysis of the subject--an analysis which can hardly be avoided.

In the first place, a man in love is by nature inclined to be
inconstant, while a woman constant. A man's love perceptibly decreases
after a certain period; almost every other woman charms him more than
the one he already possesses; he longs for change: while a woman's love
increases from the very moment it is returned. This is because nature
aims at the preservation of the species, and consequently at as great an
increase in it as possible.... This is why a man is always desiring
other women, while a woman always clings to one man; for nature compels
her intuitively and unconsciously to take care of the supporter and
protector of the future offspring. For this reason conjugal fidelity is
artificial with the man but natural to a woman. Hence a woman's
infidelity, looked at objectively on account of the consequences, and
subjectively on account of its unnaturalness, is much more unpardonable
than a man's.

In order to be quite clear and perfectly convinced that the delight we
take in the other sex, however objective it may seem to be, is
nevertheless merely instinct disguised, in other words, the sense of the
species striving to preserve its type, it will be necessary to
investigate more closely the considerations which influence us in this,
and go into details, strange as it may seem for these details to figure
in a philosophical work. These considerations may be classed in the
following way:--

Those that immediately concern the type of the species, _id est_,
beauty; those that concern other physical qualities; and finally, those
that are merely relative and spring from the necessary correction or
neutralisation of the one-sided qualities and abnormities of the two
individuals by each other. Let us look at these considerations

The first consideration that influences our choice and feelings is

The second consideration is that of _health_: a severe illness may alarm
us for the time being, but an illness of a chronic nature or even
cachexy frightens us away, because it would be transmitted.

The third consideration is the _skeleton_, since it is the foundation of
the type of the _species_. Next to old age and disease, nothing disgusts
us so much as a deformed shape; even the most beautiful face cannot make
amends for it--in fact, the ugliest face combined with a well-grown
shape is infinitely preferable. Moreover, we are most keenly sensible of
every malformation of the _skeleton_; as, for instance, a stunted,
short-legged form, and the like, or a limping gait when it is not the
result of some extraneous accident: while a conspicuously beautiful
figure compensates for every defect. It delights us. Further, the great
importance which is attached to small feet! This is because the size of
the foot is an essential characteristic of the species, for no animal
has the tarsus and metatarsus combined so small as man; hence the
uprightness of his gait: he is a plantigrade. And Jesus Sirach has
said[17] (according to the improved translation by Kraus), "A woman that
is well grown and has beautiful feet is like pillars of gold in sockets
of silver." The teeth, too, are important, because they are essential
for nourishment, and quite peculiarly hereditary.

The fourth consideration is a certain _plumpness_, in other words, a
superabundance of the vegetative function, plasticity.... Hence
excessive thinness strikingly repels us.... The last consideration that
influences us is a _beautiful face_. Here, too, the bone parts are taken
into account before everything else. So that almost everything depends
on a beautiful nose, while a short _retrousse_ one will mar all. A
slight upward or downward turn of the nose has often determined the
life's happiness of a great many maidens; and justly so, for the type of
the species is at stake.

A small mouth, by means of small maxillae, is very essential, as it is
the specific characteristic of the human face as distinguished from the
muzzle of the brutes. A receding, as it were, a cut-away chin is
particularly repellent, because _mentum prominulum_ is a characteristic
belonging exclusively to our species.

Finally, we come to the consideration of beautiful eyes and a beautiful
forehead; they depend upon the psychical qualities, and in particular,
the intellectual, which are inherited from the mother. The unconscious
considerations which, on the other hand, influence women in their choice
naturally cannot be so accurately specified. In general, we may say the
following:--That the age they prefer is from thirty to thirty-five. For
instance, they prefer men of this age to youths, who in reality possess
the highest form of human beauty. The reason for this is that they are
not guided by taste but by instinct, which recognises in this particular
age the acme of generative power. In general, women pay little attention
to beauty, that is, to beauty of face; they seem to take it upon
themselves alone to endow the child with beauty. It is chiefly the
strength of a man and the courage that goes with it that attract them,
for both of these promise the generation of robust children and at the
same time a brave protector for them. Every physical defect in a man,
any deviation from the type, a woman may, with regard to the child,
eradicate if she is faultless in these parts herself or excels in a
contrary direction. The only exceptions are those qualities which are
peculiar to the man, and which, in consequence, a mother cannot bestow
on her child; these include the masculine build of the skeleton, breadth
of shoulder, small hips, straight legs, strength of muscle, courage,
beard, and so on. And so it happens that a woman frequently loves an
ugly man, albeit she never loves an unmanly man, because she cannot
neutralise his defects.

The second class of considerations that are the source of love are those
depending on the psychical qualities. Here we shall find that a woman
universally is attracted by the qualities of a man's heart or character,
both of which are inherited from the father. It is mainly firmness of
will, determination and courage, and may be honesty and goodness of
heart too, that win a woman over; while intellectual qualifications
exercise no direct or instinctive power over her, for the simple reason
that these are not inherited from the father. A lack of intelligence
carries no weight with her; in fact, a superabundance of mental power or
even genius, as abnormities, might have an unfavourable effect. And so
we frequently find a woman preferring a stupid, ugly, and ill-mannered
man to one who is well-educated, intellectual, and agreeable. Hence,
people of extremely different temperament frequently marry for
love--that is to say, _he_ is coarse, strong, and narrow-minded, while
_she_ is very sensitive, refined, cultured, and aesthetic, and so on; or
_he_ is genial and clever, and _she_ is a goose.

"Sic visum Veneri; cui placet impares
Formas atque animos sub juga aenea
Saevo mittere cum joco."

The reason for this is, that she is not influenced by intellectual
considerations, but by something entirely different, namely, instinct.
Marriage is not regarded as a means for intellectual entertainment, but
for the generation of children; it is a union of hearts and not of
minds. When a woman says that she has fallen in love with a man's mind,
it is either a vain and ridiculous pretence on her part or the


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