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Sancta simplicitas of Virtue.—Every virtue has its privilege: for example, that of contributing its own little bundle of wood to the funeral pyre of one condemned


Morality and Consequence.—Not alone the beholders of an act generally estimate the ethical or unethical element in it by the result: no, the one who performed the act does the same. For the motives and the intentions are seldom sufficiently apparent, and amid them the memory itself seems to become clouded by the results of the act, so that a man often ascribes the wrong motives to his acts or regards the remote motives as the direct ones. Success often imparts to an action all the brilliance and honor of good intention, while failure throws the shadow of conscience over the most estimable deeds. Hence arises the familiar maxim of the politician: "Give me only success: with it I can win all the noble souls over to my side—and make myself noble even in my own eyes."—In like manner will success prove an excellent substitute for a better argument. To this very day many well educated men think the triumph of Christianity over Greek philosophy is a proof of the superior truth of the former—although in this case it was simply the coarser and more powerful that triumphed over the more delicate and intellectual. As regards superiority of truth, it is evident that because of it the reviving sciences have connected themselves, point for point, with the philosophy of[101] Epicurus, while Christianity has, point for point, recoiled from it

Love and Justice.—Why is love so highly prized at the expense of justice and why are such beautiful things spoken of the former as if it were a far higher entity than the latter? Is the former not palpably a far more stupid thing than the latter?—Certainly, and on that very account so much the more agreeable to everybody: it is blind and has a rich horn of plenty out of which it distributes its gifts to everyone, even when they are unmerited, even when no thanks are returned. It is impartial like the rain, which according to the bible and experience, wets not alone the unjust but, in certain circumstances, the just as well, and to their skins at that

Execution.—How comes it that every execution causes us more pain than a murder? It is the coolness of the executioner, the painful preparation, the perception that here a man is being used as an instrument for the intimidation of others. For the guilt is not punished even if there be any: this is ascribable to the teachers,[102] the parents, the environment, in ourselves, not in the murderer—I mean the predisposing circumstances

Hope.—Pandora brought the box containing evils and opened it. It was the gift of the gods to men, a gift of most enticing appearance externally and called the "box of happiness." Thereupon all the evils, (living, moving things) flew out: from that time to the present they fly about and do ill to men by day and night. One evil only did not fly out of the box: Pandora shut the lid at the behest of Zeus and it remained inside. Now man has this box of happiness perpetually in the house and congratulates himself upon the treasure inside of it; it is at his service: he grasps it whenever he is so disposed, for he knows not that the box which Pandora brought was a box of evils. Hence he looks upon the one evil still remaining as the greatest source of happiness—it is hope.—Zeus intended that man, notwithstanding the evils oppressing him, should continue to live and not rid himself of life, but keep on making himself miserable. For this purpose he bestowed hope upon man: it is, in truth, the greatest of evils for it lengthens the ordeal of man


Degree of Moral Susceptibility Unknown.—The fact that one has or has not had certain profoundly moving impressions and insights into things—for example, an unjustly executed, slain or martyred father, a faithless wife, a shattering, serious accident,—is the factor upon which the excitation of our passions to white heat principally depends, as well as the course of our whole lives. No one knows to what lengths circumstances (sympathy, emotion) may lead him. He does not know the full extent of his own susceptibility. Wretched environment makes him wretched. It is as a rule not the quality of our experience but its quantity upon which depends the development of our superiority or inferiority, from the point of view of good and evil

The Martyr Against His Will.—In a certain movement there was a man who was too cowardly and vacillating ever to contradict his comrades. He was made use of in each emergency, every sacrifice was demanded of him because he feared the disfavor of his comrades more than he feared death: he was a petty, abject spirit. They perceived this and upon the foundation of the qualities just mentioned they[104] elevated him to the altitude of a hero, and finally even of a martyr. Although the cowardly creature always inwardly said No, he always said Yes with his lips, even upon the scaffold, where he died for the tenets of his party: for beside him stood one of his old associates who so domineered him with look and word that he actually went to his death with the utmost fortitude and has ever since been celebrated as a martyr and exalted character

General Standard.—One will rarely err if extreme actions be ascribed to vanity, ordinary actions to habit and mean actions to fear

Misunderstanding of Virtue.—Whoever has obtained his experience of vice in connection with pleasure as in the case of one with a youth of wild oats behind him, comes to the conclusion that virtue must be connected with self denial. Whoever, on the other hand, has been very much plagued by his passions and vices, longs to find in virtue the rest and peace of the soul. That is why it is possible for two virtuous people to misunderstand one another wholly


The Ascetic.—The ascetic makes out of virtue a slavery

Honor Transferred from Persons to Things.—Actions prompted by love or by the spirit of self sacrifice for others are universally honored wherever they are manifest. Hence is magnified the value set upon whatever things may be loved or whatever things conduce to self sacrifice: although in themselves they may be worth nothing much. A valiant army is evidence of the value of the thing it fights for

Ambition a Substitute for Moral Feeling.—Moral feeling should never become extinct in natures that are destitute of ambition. The ambitious can get along without moral feeling just as well as with it.—Hence the sons of retired, ambitionless families, generally become by a series of rapid gradations, when they lose moral feeling, the most absolute lunkheads

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