No Comment, Quotation — August 3, 2007, 12:00 am

Nietzsche on the Specific Gravity of Personal Morals

“The Hiker” speaks.— If you would like to see our European morality for once as it appears from a distance, in order to measure it against other moralities, past and future, then you have to proceed like a hiker who wants to know how high the towers in a town are: he leaves town for that purpose. “Thoughts about moral prejudices,” unless intended to be prejudices about prejudices, presuppose a position outside morality, some point beyond Good and Evil to which one has to rise, climb, or fly—and in the present case at least a point beyond our Good and Evil, a freedom from everything “European,” by which I mean the sum of the domineering value judgments that have become part of our flesh and blood. That one wants to go out there, up there, may be a minor craziness, a peculiar and unreasonable “you must”—for those of us who seek knowledge also have our idiosyncrasies of “unfree will”—: the question is whether one really can get up there. This may depend on many conditions, in the main the question is how light or heavy we are, the problem of our “specific gravity.” One has to be very light to drive one’s will to knowledge over such a distance and, as it were, beyond one’s time, to create for oneself eyes to survey millennia and, moreover, clear skies in these eyes! One must have liberated oneself from many things that oppress, inhibit, hold down, and make us heavy—we contemporary Europeans. The human being of such a Beyond who wants to behold the supreme measures of worth of his time must first of all “overcome” this time in himself—this is the test of his strength—and consequently not only his time but also his prior aversion and contradiction against this time, his suffering from this time, his untimeliness, his romanticism …-

Friedrich Nietzsche, Die fröhliche Wissenschaft (La gaya scienza) § 380 (2d ed. 1887) in: Werke in drei Bänden, vol. 2, p. 255 (K. Schlechta ed.) (S.H. transl.)

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(1) To need his glasses and be struck by an awareness that they are not at hand, an ordinary enough circumstance for Frederick Douglass, except sometimes it’s accompanied by a flash of extraordinary dread. If not quite panic, certainly an unease disproportionate to a simple recurring situation. Dread that may be immediately extinguished if he locates his horn-rimmed, owlish-eyed spectacles exactly where he anticipated they should be. He sees them and almost sighs. Nearly feels their slightly uncomfortable weight palpable on his nose. Finding the glasses enough to reassure him that he remains here among the living in this material …
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(1) To need his glasses and be struck by an awareness that they are not at hand, an ordinary enough circumstance for Frederick Douglass, except sometimes it’s accompanied by a flash of extraordinary dread. If not quite panic, certainly an unease disproportionate to a simple recurring situation. Dread that may be immediately extinguished if he locates his horn-rimmed, owlish-eyed spectacles exactly where he anticipated they should be. He sees them and almost sighs. Nearly feels their slightly uncomfortable weight palpable on his nose. Finding the glasses enough to reassure him that he remains here among the living in this material …
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(1) To need his glasses and be struck by an awareness that they are not at hand, an ordinary enough circumstance for Frederick Douglass, except sometimes it’s accompanied by a flash of extraordinary dread. If not quite panic, certainly an unease disproportionate to a simple recurring situation. Dread that may be immediately extinguished if he locates his horn-rimmed, owlish-eyed spectacles exactly where he anticipated they should be. He sees them and almost sighs. Nearly feels their slightly uncomfortable weight palpable on his nose. Finding the glasses enough to reassure him that he remains here among the living in this material …
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(1) To need his glasses and be struck by an awareness that they are not at hand, an ordinary enough circumstance for Frederick Douglass, except sometimes it’s accompanied by a flash of extraordinary dread. If not quite panic, certainly an unease disproportionate to a simple recurring situation. Dread that may be immediately extinguished if he locates his horn-rimmed, owlish-eyed spectacles exactly where he anticipated they should be. He sees them and almost sighs. Nearly feels their slightly uncomfortable weight palpable on his nose. Finding the glasses enough to reassure him that he remains here among the living in this material …
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