We thirsted for lightning and action, of all things we kept ourselves furthest from the happiness of the weaklings, from 'resignation' There was a thunderstorm in our air, the nature which we are grew dark -- for we had no road. Formula of our happiness: a Yes, a No, a straight line, a goal What is good? What is bad? What is happiness? Not contentment, but more power, not peace at all, but war; not virtue, but proficiency virtue in the Renaissance style, virth , virtue free of moralic acid.
The weak and ill-constituted shall perish: first principle of our philanthropy. And one shall help them to do so. What is more harmful than any vice? The problem I raise here is not what ought to succeed mankind in the sequence of species -- the human being is a conclusion -- : but what type of human being one ought to breed , ought to will , as more valuable, more worthy of life, more certain of the future.
This more valuable type has existed often enough already: but as a lucky accident, as an exception, never as willed. He has rather been the most feared, he has hitherto been virtually the thing to be feared -- and out of fear the reverse type has been willed, bred, achieved : the domestic animal, the herd animal, the sick animal man -- the Christian Mankind does not represent a development of the better or the stronger or the higher in the way that is believed today.
The European of today is of far less value than the European of the Renaissance; onward development is not by any means, by an necessity the same thing as elevation, advance, strengthening. In another sense there are cases of individual success constantly appearing in the most various parts of the earth and from the most various cultures in which a higher type does manifest itself: something which in relation to collective mankind is sort of a superman.
Such chance occurrences of great success have always been possible and perhaps always will be possible. And even entire races, tribes, nations can under certain circumstances represent such a lucky hit. One should not embellish or dress up Christianity: it has waged a war to the death against this higher type of man, it has excommunicated all the fundamental instincts of this type, it has distilled evil, the Evil One , out of these instincts -- the strong human being as the type of reprehensibility, as the 'outcast'.
Christianity has taken the side of everything weak, base, ill-constituted, it has made an ideal out of opposition to the preservative instincts of strong life; it has depraved the reason even of the intellectually strongest natures by teaching men to feel supreme values of intellectuality as sinful, as misleading, as temptations. The most deplorable example: the depraving of Pascal, who believed his reason had been depraved by original sin while it had only been depraved by his Christianity!
It is painful, a dreadful spectacle which has opened up before me: I have drawn back the curtain on the depravity of man. In my mouth this word is protected against at any rate on suspicion: that it contains a moral accusation of man. It is used -- and I wish to emphasize this fact again -- without any moral significance: and this is so far true that the depravity I speak of is most apparent to me precisely in those quarters where there has been most aspiration, hitherto, toward 'virtue' and 'godliness.
I call an animal, a species, an individual corrupt, when it loses its insticts, when it chooses, when it prefers , what is injurious to it. A history of the 'higher feelings,' the 'ideals of humanity'--and it is possible that I will have to write it -- would almost explain why man is so degenerate. Life itself appears to me as a mere instinct for growth, for survival, for the accumulation of forces, for power : whenever the will to power fails, there is disaster.
My contention is that all the highest values of humanity have been emptied of this will -- that the values of decadence , of nihilism , now prevail under the holiest names. Christianity is called the religion of pity. Pity stands in opposition to all the tonic passions that augment the energy of feeling of aliveness: it is a depressant. A man loses power when he pities. Through pity that drain upon strength which suffering works is multiplied a thousandfold.
Suffering is made contagious by pity; under certain circumstances, it may lead to a total sacrifice of life and living energy -- a loss out of all proportion with the magnitude of the cause --the case of the death of the Nazerene. This is the first view of it; there is, however, a still more important one. If one measures the effects of pity by the gravity of the reactions it sets up, its character as a menace to life appears in a much clearer light.
Pity thwarts the whole law of evolution, which is the law of natural selection. It preserves what is ripe for destruction; it fights on the side of those disinherited and condemned by life; by maintaining life in so many of the botched of all kinds, it gives life itself a gloomy and dubious aspect. Mankind has ventured to call pity a virtue --in every superior moral system it appears as a weakness-- ; going still further, it has been called the virtue, the source and foundation of all other virtues--but let us always bear in mind that this was from the standpoint of a philosophy that was nihilistic, and upon whose shield the denial of life was inscribed.
Schopenhauer was right in this: that by means of pity life is denied, and made worthy of denial--pity is the technic of nihilism. Let me repeat: this depressing and contagious instinct stands against all those instincts which work for the preservation and enhancement of life: in the role of protector of the miserable, it is a prime agent in the promotion of decadence--pity persuades to extinction Of course, one doesn't say "extinction": one says "the other world," or "God," or "the true life," or Nirvana, salvation, blessedness This innocent rhetoric, from the realm of religious-ethical balderdash, appears a good deal less innocent when one reflects upon the tendency that it conceals beneath sublime words: the tendency to destroy life.
Schopenhauer was hostile to life: that is why pity appeared to him as a virtue. Aristotle, as every one knows, saw in pity a sickly and dangerous state of mind, the remedy for which was an occasional purgative: he regarded tragedy as that purgative. The instinct of life should prompt us to seek some means of puncturing any such pathological and dangerous accumulation of pity as that appearing in Schopenhauer's case and also, alack, in that of our whole literary decadence , from St.
Petersburg to Paris, from Tolstoi to Wagner , that it may burst and be discharged. Nothing is more unhealthy, amid all our unhealthy modernism, than Christian pity. To be the doctors here, to be unmerciful here , to wield the knife here --all this is our business, all this is our sort of humanity, by this sign we are philosophers, we Hyperboreans! It is necessary to say just whom we regard as our antagonists: theologians and all who have any theological blood in their veins--this is our whole philosophy.
One must have faced that menace at close hand, better still, one must have had experience of it directly and almost succumbed to it, to realize that it is not to be taken lightly --the alleged free-thinking of our naturalists and physiologists seems to me to be a joke--they have no passion about such things; they have not suffered This poisoning goes a great deal further than most people think: I find the arrogant habit of the theologian among all who regard themselves as "idealists"--among all who, by virtue of a higher point of departure, claim a right to rise above reality, and to look upon it with suspicion.
The idealist, like the ecclesiastic, carries all sorts of lofty concepts in his hand --and not only in his hand! The pure soul is a pure lie. So long as the priest, that professional denier, calumniator and poisoner of life, is accepted as a higher variety of man, there can be no answer to the question, What is truth?
Truth has already been stood on its head when the obvious attorney of mere emptiness is mistaken for its representative. Upon this theological instinct I make war: I find the tracks of it everywhere. Whoever has theological blood in his veins is shifty and dishonorable in all things. The pathetic thing that grows out of this condition is called faith : in other words, closing one's eyes upon one's self once for all, to avoid suffering the sight of incurable falsehood.
People erect a concept of morality, of virtue, of holiness upon this false view of all things; they ground good conscience upon faulty vision; they argue that no other sort of vision has value any more, once they have made theirs sacrosanct with the names of "God," "salvation" and "eternity. Whatever a theologian regards as true must be false: there you have almost a criterion of truth.
His profound instinct of self-preservation stands against truth ever coming into honour in any way, or even getting stated. Wherever the influence of theologians is felt there is a transvaluation of values, and the concepts "true" and "false" are forced to change places: what ever is most damaging to life is there called "true," and whatever exalts it, intensifies it, approves it, justifies it and makes it triumphant is there called "false. When theologians, working through the "consciences" of princes or of peoples-- , stretch out their hands for power , there is never any doubt as to the fundamental issue: the will to make an end, the nihilistic will exerts that power Among Germans I am immediately understood when I say that theological blood is the ruin of philosophy.
The Protestant pastor is the grandfather of German philosophy; Protestantism itself is its peccatum originale. Definition of Protestantism: hemiplegic paralysis of Christianity--and of reason.
PRACTICE OF BRAHMACHARYA
One need only utter the words "Tubingen School" to get an understanding of what German philosophy is at bottom--a very artful form of theology. The Suabians are the best liars in Germany; they lie innocently. Why all the rejoicing over the appearance of Kant that went through the learned world of Germany, three-fourths of which is made up of the sons of preachers and teachers--why the German conviction still echoing, that with Kant came a change for the better? The theological instinct of German scholars made them see clearly just what had become possible again. A backstairs leading to the old ideal stood open; the concept of the "true world," the concept of morality as the essence of the world --the two most vicious errors that ever existed!
Reason , the prerogative of reason, does not go so far.
Out of reality there had been made "appearance"; an absolutely false world, that of being, had been turned into reality. The success of Kant is merely a theological success; he was, like Luther and Leibnitz, but one more impediment to German integrity, already far from steady. A word now against Kant as a moralist. A virtue must be our invention; it must spring out of our personal need and defence.
In every other case it is a source of danger. Quite the contrary is demanded by the most profound laws of self-preservation and of growth: to wit, that every man find his own virtue, his own categorical imperative. A nation goes to pieces when it confounds its duty with the general concept of duty. The theological instinct alone took it under protection! What destroys a man more quickly than to work, think and feel without inner necessity, without any deep personal desire, without pleasure—as a mere automaton of duty?
Kant became an idiot. This calamitous spinner of cobwebs passed for the German philosopher—still passes today! I forbid myself to say what I think of the Germans When one recalls the fact that, among all peoples, the philosopher is no more than a development from the old type of priest, this inheritance from the priest, this fraud upon self, ceases to be remarkable. When a man feels that he has a divine mission, say to lift up, to save or to liberate mankind—when a man feels the divine spark in his heart and believes that he is the mouthpiece of super natural imperatives—when such a mission inflames him, it is only natural that he should stand beyond all merely reasonable standards of judgment.
He feels that he is himself sanctified by this mission, that he is himself a type of a higher order! What has a priest to do with philosophy! He stands far above it! Our objectives, our methods, our quiet, cautious, distrustful manner—all appeared to them as absolutely discreditable and contemptible. It was our modesty that stood out longest against their taste How well they guessed that, these turkey-cocks of God!
We have unlearned something. We have become more modest in every way. We regard him as the strongest of the beasts because he is the craftiest; one of the re sults thereof is his intellectuality. On the other hand, we guard ourselves against a conceit which would assert itself even here: that man is the great second thought in the process of organic evolution. He is, in truth, anything but the crown of creation: beside him stand many other animals, all at similar stages of development And even when we say that we say a bit too much, for man, relatively speaking, is the most botched of all the animals and the sickliest, and he has wandered the most dangerously from his instincts—though for all that, to be sure, he remains the most interesting!
Moreover, it is illogical to set man apart, as Descartes did: what we know of man today is limited precisely by the extent to which we have regarded him, too, as a machine. Under Christianity neither morality nor religion has any point of contact with actuality. This explains everything. Who alone has any reason for living his way out of reality?
The man who suffers under it. But to suffer from reality one must be a botched reality A criticism of the Christian concept of God leads inevitably to the same conclusion. In him it does honour to the conditions which enable it to survive, to its virtues—it projects its joy in itself, its feeling of power, into a being to whom one may offer thanks.
He who is rich will give of his riches; a proud people need a god to whom they can make sacrifices Religion, within these limits, is a form of gratitude. A man is grateful for his own existence: to that end he needs a god. But the castration, against all nature, of such a god, making him a god of goodness alone, would be contrary to human inclination. What would be the value of a god who knew nothing of anger, revenge, envy, scorn, cunning, violence?
No one would understand such a god: why should any one want him? He moralizes endlessly; he creeps into every private virtue; he becomes the god of every man; he becomes a private citizen, a cosmopolitan Formerly he represented a people, the strength of a people, everything aggressive and thirsty for power in the soul of a people; now he is simply the good god The truth is that there is no other alternative for gods: either they are the will to power—in which case they are national gods—or incapacity for power—in which case they have to be good No hint is needed to indicate the moments in history at which the dualistic fiction of a good and an evil god first became possible.
The contrary actually stares one in the face. His earthly kingdom, now as always, is a kingdom of the underworld, a souterrain kingdom, a ghetto kingdom Even the palest of the pale are able to master him—messieurs the metaphysicians, those albinos of the intellect. They spun their webs around him for so long that finally he was hypnotized, and began to spin himself, and became another metaphysician.
The Christian concept of a god—the god as the patron of the sick, the god as a spinner of cobwebs, the god as a spirit—is one of the most corrupt concepts that has ever been set up in the world: it probably touches low-water mark in the ebbing evolution of the god-type. God degenerated into the contradiction of life. Instead of being its transfiguration and eternal Yea! In him war is declared on life, on nature, on the will to live! In him nothingness is deified, and the will to nothingness is made holy! The fact that the strong races of northern Europe did not repudiate this Christian god does little credit to their gift for religion—and not much more to their taste.
A curse lies upon them because they were not equal to it; they made illness, decrepitude and contradiction a part of their instincts—and since then they have not managed to create any more gods. Two thousand years have come and gone—and not a single new god! Instead, there still exists, and as if by some intrinsic right,—as if he were the ultimatum and maximum of the power to create gods, of the creator spiritus in mankind—this pitiful god of Christian monotono-theism!
In my condemnation of Christianity I surely hope I do no injustice to a related religion with an even larger number of believers: I allude to Buddhism. For the fact that he is able to compare them at all the critic of Christianity is indebted to the scholars of India. Buddhism is the only genuinely positive religion to be encountered in history, and this applies even to its epistemology which is a strict phenomenalism. These physiological states produced a depression, and Buddha tried to combat it by hygienic measures.
He encourages ideas that make for either quiet contentment or good cheer—he finds means to combat ideas of other sorts. He understands good, the state of goodness, as something which promotes health. Prayer is not included, and neither is asceticism. There is no categorical imperative nor any disciplines, even within the walls of a monastery —it is always possible to leave—. These things would have been simply means of increasing the excessive sensitiveness above mentioned. And in all this he was right, for it is precisely these passions which, in view of his main regiminal purpose, are unhealthful.
The things necessary to Buddhism are a very mild climate, customs of great gentleness and liberality, and no militarism; moreover, it must get its start among the higher and better edu cated classes. Cheerfulness, quiet and the absence of desire are the chief desiderata, and they are attained. Buddhism is not a religion in which perfection is merely an object of aspiration: perfection is actually normal. Here body is despised and hygiene is denounced as sensual; the church even ranges itself against cleanliness —the first Christian order after the banishment of the Moors closed the public baths, of which there were in Cordova alone.
Sombre and disquieting ideas are in the foreground; the most esteemed states of mind, bearing the most respectable names, are epileptoid; the diet is so regulated as to engender morbid symptoms and over-stimulate the nerves. And Christian is all hatred of the intellect, of pride, of courage, of freedom, of intellectual libertinage; Christian is all hatred of the senses, of joy in the senses, of joy in general When Christianity departed from its native soil, that of the lowest orders, the underworld of the ancient world, and began seeking power among barbarian peoples, it no longer had to deal with exhausted men, but with men still inwardly savage and capable of self-torture—in brief, strong men, but bungled men.
Here, unlike in the case of the Buddhists, the cause of discontent with self, suffering through self, is not merely a general sensitiveness and susceptibility to pain, but, on the contrary, an inordinate thirst for inflicting pain on others, a tendency to obtain subjective satisfaction in hostile deeds and ideas. Christianity had to embrace barbaric concepts and valuations in order to obtain mastery over barbarians: of such sort, for example, are the sacrifices of the first-born, the drinking of blood as a sacrament, the disdain of the intellect and of culture; torture in all its forms, whether bodily or not; the whole pomp of the cult.
Buddhism is a religion for peoples in a further state of development, for races that have become kind, gentle and over-spiritualized —Europe is not yet ripe for it— : it is a summons that takes them back to peace and cheerfulness, to a careful rationing of the spirit, to a certain hardening of the body. Christianity appears before civilization has so much as begun—under certain circumstances it lays the very foundations thereof.
Buddhism, I repeat, is a hundred times more austere, more honest, more objective. His mere instinct prompts him to deny his suffering altogether, or to endure it in silence. In the first place, it knows that it is of very little consequence whether a thing be true or not, so long as it is believed to be true. Truth and faith: here we have two wholly distinct worlds of ideas, almost two diametrically opposite worlds—the road to the one and the road to the other lie miles apart.
To understand that fact thoroughly—this is almost enough, in the Orient, to make one a sage. The Brahmins knew it, Plato knew it, every student of the esoteric knows it. When, for example, a man gets any pleasure out of the notion that he has been saved from sin, it is not necessary for him to be actually sinful, but merely to feel sinful.
But when faith is thus exalted above everything else, it necessarily follows that reason, knowledge and patient inquiry have to be discredited: the road to the truth becomes a forbidden road. Man must be sustained in suffering by a hope so high that no conflict with actuality can dash it—so high, indeed, that no fulfilment can satisfy it: a hope reaching out beyond this world. Precisely because of this power that hope has of making the suffering hold out, the Greeks regarded it as the evil of evils, as the most malign of evils; it remained behind at the source of all evil.
To satisfy the ardor of the woman a beautiful saint must appear on the scene, and to satisfy that of the men there must be a virgin. These things are necessary if Christianity is to assume lordship over a soil on which some aphrodisiacal or Adonis cult has already established a notion as to what a cult ought to be. To insist upon chastity greatly strengthens the vehemence and subjectivity of the religious instinct—it makes the cult warmer, more enthusiastic, more soulful.
The force of illusion reaches its highest here, and so does the capacity for sweetening, for transfiguring. When a man is in love he endures more than at any other time; he submits to anything. The problem was to devise a religion which would allow one to love: by this means the worst that life has to offer is overcome—it is scarcely even noticed. Here I barely touch upon the problem of the origin of Christianity.
The first thing necessary to its solution is this: that Christianity is to be understood only by examining the soil from which it sprung—it is not a reaction against Jewish instincts; it is their inevitable product; it is simply one more step in the awe-inspiring logic of the Jews. The Jews are the most remarkable people in the history of the world, for when they were confronted with the question, to be or not to be, they chose, with perfectly unearthly deliberation, to be at any price: this price involved a radical falsification of all nature, of all naturalness, of all reality, of the whole inner world, as well as of the outer.
They put themselves against all those conditions under which, hitherto, a people had been able to live, or had even been permitted to live; out of themselves they evolved an idea which stood in direct opposition to natural conditions—one by one they distorted religion, civilization, morality, history and psychology until each became a contradiction of its natural significance. Precisely for this reason the Jews are the most fateful people in the history of the world: their influence has so falsified the reasoning of mankind in this matter that today the Christian can cherish anti-Semitism without realizing that it is no more than the final consequence of Judaism.
The Judaeo-Christian moral system belongs to the second division, and in every detail. In order to be able to say Nay to everything representing an ascending evolution of life—that is, to well-being, to power, to beauty, to self-approval—the instincts of ressentiment, here become downright genius, had to invent an other world in which the acceptance of life appeared as the most evil and abominable thing imaginable. The history of Israel is invaluable as a typical history of an attempt to denaturize all natural values: I point to five facts which bear this out.
Originally, and above all in the time of the monarchy, Israel maintained the right attitude of things, which is to say, the natural attitude. Its Jahveh was an expression of its consciousness of power, its joy in itself, its hopes for itself: to him the Jews looked for victory and salvation and through him they expected nature to give them whatever was necessary to their existence—above all, rain. Jahveh is the god of Israel, and consequently the god of justice: this is the logic of every race that has power in its hands and a good conscience in the use of it.
In the religious ceremonial of the Jews both aspects of this self-approval stand revealed. The nation is grateful for the high destiny that has enabled it to obtain dominion; it is grateful for the benign procession of the seasons, and for the good fortune attending its herds and its crops.
But the people still retained, as a projection of their highest yearnings, that vision of a king who was at once a gallant warrior and an upright judge—a vision best visualized in the typical prophet i. The old god no longer could do what he used to do. He ought to have been abandoned. But what actually happened? Simply this: the conception of him was changed—the conception of him was denaturized; this was the price that had to be paid for keeping him.
Once natural causation has been swept out of the world by doctrines of reward and punishment some sort of un-natural causation becomes necessary: and all other varieties of the denial of nature follow it. A god who demands—in place of a god who helps, who gives counsel, who is at bottom merely a name for every happy inspiration of courage and self-reliance What is Jewish, what is Christian morality?
The concept of god falsified; the concept of morality falsified;—but even here Jewish priest-craft did not stop. The whole history of Israel ceased to be of any value: out with it! We would regard this act of historical falsification as something far more shameful if familiarity with the ecclesiastical interpretation of history for thousands of years had not blunted our inclinations for uprightness in historicis. That there is a thing called the will of God which, once and for all time, determines what man ought to do and what he ought not to do; that the worth of a people, or of an individual thereof, is to be measured by the extent to which they or he obey this will of God; that the destinies of a people or of an individual are controlled by this will of God, which rewards or punishes according to the degree of obedience manifested.
One observes him at work: under the hand of the Jewish priesthood the great age of Israel became an age of decline; the Exile, with its long series of misfortunes, was transformed into a punishment for that great age—during which priests had not yet come into existence. What happened? The fact requires a sanction—a power to grant values becomes necessary, and the only way it can create such values is by denying nature The priest depreciates and desecrates nature: it is only at this price that he can exist at all.
Christianity sprang from a soil so corrupt that on it everything natural, every natural value, every reality was opposed by the deepest instincts of the ruling class—it grew up as a sort of war to the death upon reality, and as such it has never been surpassed. The phenomenon is of the first order of importance: the small insurrectionary movement which took the name of Jesus of Nazareth is simply the Jewish instinct redivivus—in other words, it is the priestly instinct come to such a pass that it can no longer endure the priest as a fact; it is the discovery of a state of existence even more fantastic than any before it, of a vision of life even more unreal than that necessary to an ecclesiastical organization.
Christianity actually denies the church This is what brought him to the cross: the proof thereof is to be found in the inscription that was put upon the cross. He died for his own sins—there is not the slightest ground for believing, no matter how often it is asserted, that he died for the sins of others.
As to whether he himself was conscious of this contradiction—whether, in fact, this was the only contradiction he was cognizant of—that is quite another question. Here, for the first time, I touch upon the problem of the psychology of the Saviour. My difficulties are quite different from those which enabled the learned curiosity of the German mind to achieve one of its most unforgettable triumphs. It is a long while since I, like all other young scholars, enjoyed with all the sapient laboriousness of a fastidious philologist the work of the incomparable Strauss.
The histories of saints present the most dubious variety of literature in existence; to examine them by the scientific method, in the entire ab sence of corroborative documents, seems to me to condemn the whole inquiry from the start—it is simply learned idling Nietzsche here refers to it. What concerns me is the psychological type of the Saviour. This type might be depicted in the Gospels, in however mutilated a form and however much overladen with extraneous characters—that is, in spite of the Gospels; just as the figure of Francis of Assisi shows itself in his legends in spite of his legends.
It is not a question of mere truthful evidence as to what he did, what he said and how he actually died; the question is, whether his type is still conceivable, whether it has been handed down to us. But if there is anything essentially unevangelical, it is surely the concept of the hero. Every one is the child of God—Jesus claims nothing for himself alone—as the child of God each man is the equal of every other man Imagine making Jesus a hero!
In the strict sense of the physiologist, a quite different word ought to be used here We all know that there is a morbid sensibility of the tactile nerves which causes those suffering from it to recoil from every touch, and from every effort to grasp a solid object. The instinctive exclusion of all aversion, all hostility, all bounds and distances in feeling: the consequence of an extreme susceptibility to pain and irritation—so great that it senses all resistance, all compulsion to resistance, as unbearable anguish —that is to say, as harmful, as prohibited by the instinct of self-preservation , and regards blessedness joy as possible only when it is no longer necessary to offer resistance to anybody or anything, however evil or dangerous—love, as the only, as the ultimate possibility of life These are the two physiological realities upon and out of which the doctrine of salvation has sprung.
I call them a sublime super-development of hedonism upon a thoroughly unsalubrious soil. What stands most closely related to them, though with a large admixture of Greek vitality and nerve-force, is epicureanism, the theory of salvation of paganism. I have already given my answer to the problem.
The prerequisite to it is the assumption that the type of the Saviour has reached us only in a greatly distorted form. This distortion is very probable: there are many reasons why a type of that sort should not be handed down in a pure form, complete and free of additions. The milieu in which this strange figure moved must have left marks upon him, and more must have been imprinted by the history, the destiny, of the early Christian communities; the latter indeed, must have embellished the type retrospectively with characters which can be understood only as serving the purposes of war and of propaganda.
The prophet, the messiah, the future judge, the teacher of morals, the worker of wonders, John the Baptist—all these merely presented chances to misunderstand it Finally, let us not underrate the proprium of all great, and especially all sectarian veneration: it tends to erase from the venerated objects all its original traits and idiosyncrasies, often so painfully strange—it does not even see them.
Nevertheless, the probabilities seem to be against it, for in that case tradition would have been particularly accurate and objective, whereas we have reasons for assuming the contrary. The physiologists, at all events, are familiar with such a delayed and incomplete puberty in the living organism, the result of degeneration. To be sure, the accident of environment, of educational background gives prominence to concepts of a certain sort: in primitive Christianity one finds only concepts of a Judaeo-Semitic character —that of eating and drinking at the last supper belongs to this category—an idea which, like everything else Jewish, has been badly mauled by the church.
But let us be careful not to see in all this anything more than symbolical language, semantics an opportunity to speak in parables. It is only on the theory that no work is to be taken literally that this anti-realist is able to speak at all. Set down among Hindus he would have made use of the concepts of Sankhya, and among Chinese he would have employed those of Lao-tse—and in neither case would it have made any difference to him. Denial is precisely the thing that is impossible to him.
The results of such a point of view project themselves into a new way of life, the special evangelical way of life. He offers no resistance, either by word or in his heart, to those who stand against him. He is angry with no one, and he despises no one. The life of the Saviour was simply a carrying out of this way of life—and so was his death He no longer needed any formula or ritual in his relations with God—not even prayer.
And thereby it has robbed conception of its immaculateness—  Amphitryon was the son of Alcaeus, King of Tiryns. His wife was Alcmene. During his absence she was visited by Zeus, and bore Heracles. It was a way of life that he bequeathed to man: his demeanour before the judges, before the officers, before his accusers—his demeanour on the cross. He does not resist; he does not defend his rights; he makes no effort to ward off the most extreme penalty—more, he invites it And he prays, suffers and loves with those, in those, who do him evil On the contrary, to submit even to the Evil One—to love him Mankind was unspeakably far from our benevolent and cautious neutrality, from that discipline of the spirit which alone makes possible the solution of such strange and subtle things: what men always sought, with shameless egoism, was their own advantage therein; they created the church out of denial of the Gospels Quite to the contrary, the whole history of Christianity—from the death on the cross onward—is the history of a progressively clumsier misunderstanding of an original symbolism.
With every extension of Christianity among larger and ruder masses, even less capable of grasping the principles that gave birth to it, the need arose to make it more and more vulgar and barbarous—it absorbed the teachings and rites of all the subterranean cults of the imperium Romanum, and the absurdities engendered by all sorts of sickly reasoning. It was the fate of Christianity that its faith had to become as sickly, as low and as vulgar as the needs were sickly, low and vulgar to which it had to administer.
A sickly barbarism finally lifts itself to power as the church—the church, that incarnation of deadly hostility to all honesty, to all loftiness of soul, to all discipline of the spirit, to all spontaneous and kindly humanity. There are days when I am visited by a feeling blacker than the blackest melancholy—contempt of man.
Let me leave no doubt as to what I despise, whom I despise: it is the man of today, the man with whom I am unhappily contemporaneous. The man of today—I am suffocated by his foul breath! But my feeling changes and breaks out irresistibly the moment I enter modern times, our times. Our age knows better What was formerly merely sickly now becomes indecent—it is indecent to be a Christian today. And here my disgust begins.
All the ideas of the church are now recognized for what they are—as the worst counterfeits in existence, invented to debase nature and all natural values; the priest himself is seen as he actually is—as the most dangerous form of parasite, as the venomous spider of creation Every one knows this, but nevertheless things remain as before. What has become of the last trace of decent feeling, of self-respect, when our statesmen, otherwise an unconventional class of men and thoroughly anti-Christian in their acts, now call themselves Christians and go to the communion-table?
A prince at the head of his armies, magnificent as the expression of the egoism and arrogance of his people—and yet acknowledging, without any shame, that he is a Christian! Whom, then, does Christianity deny? To this day such a life is still possible, and for certain men even necessary: genuine, primitive Christianity will remain possible in all ages Not faith, but acts; above all, an avoidance of acts, a different state of being States of consciousness, faith of a sort, the acceptance, for example, of anything as true—as every psychologist knows, the value of these things is perfectly indifferent and fifth-rate compared to that of the instincts: strictly speaking, the whole concept of intellectual causality is false.
To reduce being a Christian, the state of Christianity, to an acceptance of truth, to a mere phenomenon of consciousness, is to formulate the negation of Christianity. In fact, there are no Christians. In the world of ideas of the Christian there is nothing that so much as touches reality: on the contrary, one recognizes an instinctive hatred of reality as the motive power, the only motive power at the bottom of Christianity. What follows therefrom?
That even here, in psychologicis, there is a radical error, which is to say one conditioning fundamentals, which is to say, one in substance. Take away one idea and put a genuine reality in its place—and the whole of Christianity crumbles to nothingness! At the moment when their disgust leaves them —and us!
Therefore, let us not underestimate the Christians: the Christian, false to the point of innocence, is far above the ape—in its application to the Christians a well-known theory of descent becomes a mere piece of politeness Here everything must be accounted for as necessary; everything must have a meaning, a reason, the highest sort of reason; the love of a disciple excludes all chance. Answer: dominant Judaism, its ruling class. Until then this militant, this nay-saying, nay-doing element in his character had been lacking; what is more, he had appeared to present its opposite.
Obviously, the little community had not understood what was precisely the most important thing of all: the example offered by this way of dying, the freedom from and superiority to every feeling of ressentiment—a plain indication of how little he was understood at all! All that Jesus could hope to accomplish by his death, in itself, was to offer the strongest possible proof, or example, of his teachings in the most public manner But his disciples were very far from forgiving his death—though to have done so would have accorded with the Gospels in the highest degree; and neither were they prepared to offer themselves, with gentle and serene calmness of heart, for a similar death On the contrary, it was precisely the most unevangelical of feelings, revenge, that now possessed them.
On the other hand, the savage veneration of these completely unbalanced souls could no longer endure the Gospel doctrine, taught by Jesus, of the equal right of all men to be children of God: their revenge took the form of elevating Jesus in an extravagant fashion, and thus separating him from themselves: just as, in earlier times, the Jews, to revenge themselves upon their enemies, separated themselves from their God, and placed him on a great height. At once there was an end of the gospels! Sacrifice for sin, and in its most obnoxious and barbarous form: sacrifice of the innocent for the sins of the guilty!
What appalling paganism! And not as a mere privilege! Paul even preached it as a reward One now begins to see just what it was that came to an end with the death on the cross: a new and thoroughly original effort to found a Buddhistic peace movement, and so establish happiness on earth—real, not merely promised. What, indeed, has not this dysangelist sacrificed to hatred! Above all, the Saviour: he nailed him to his own cross. The life, the example, the teaching, the death of Christ, the meaning and the law of the whole gospels—nothing was left of all this after that counterfeiter in hatred had reduced it to his uses.
Surely not reality; surely not historical truth! Once more the priestly instinct of the Jew perpetrated the same old master crime against history—he simply struck out the yesterday and the day before yesterday of Christianity, and invented his own history of Christian beginnings. Later on the church even falsified the history of man in order to make it a prologue to Christianity The figure of the Saviour, his teaching, his way of life, his death, the meaning of his death, even the consequences of his death—nothing remained untouched, nothing remained in even remote contact with reality.
At bottom, he had no use for the life of the Saviour—what he needed was the death on the cross, and something more. To see anything honest in such a man as Paul, whose home was at the centre of the Stoical enlightenment, when he converts an hallucination into a proof of the resurrection of the Saviour, or even to believe his tale that he suffered from this hallucination himself—this would be a genuine niaiserie in a psychologist. Paul willed the end; therefore he also willed the means What was the only part of Christianity that Mohammed borrowed later on? The vast lie of personal immortality destroys all reason, all natural instinct—henceforth, everything in the instincts that is beneficial, that fosters life and that safeguards the future is a cause of suspicion.
Why be public-spirited? For the first time, perhaps, you have stumbled upon a book about ethics. At the center of the painting, surrounded by all the major philosophers of antiquity, are the figures of two men walking. On the left is the old Plato B. Each has a book with him. I am not trying to compare the present volume to the Nicomachean Ethics of Aristotle which, I hope, you will soon have the chance to study! I only wish to introduce you to this discipline. To do so, I will begin by asking what interest guides ethical research 1.
Secondly, we will define the relations between this study and faith 1. We will then describe our method 1. And lastly, we will concentrate on the object of our research 1. Is your personal identity reducible to that of everyone else? Well, these are the questions and desires from which the study of morality proceeds. They are questions that can be synthesized into one single question:. At this point, you might be asking yourself: What does posing these questions mean for a Christian?
What else can philosophy add? It can, however, help us understand Revelation better and penetrate its meaning more profoundly. This concerns a service rendered on two fronts: on the one hand, philosophy discovers certain truths that facilitate the reception of the Gospel; on the other hand, philosophy unmasks certain errors that impede this reception. To do philosophy means to embark on a rational investigation of man, the world, and God, seeking to know the truth.
According to this view, good and evil are simply ways of seeing things: To me, a certain behavior looks good, to you it looks evil. I must leave you free to do what seems good to you, and you must leave me free to do what seems good to me. Assuredly, whoever thinks like this, as along as they continue to think this way, cannot receive the Christian moral message.
If my freedom is the only criteria of good and evil, why would I ever submit to the law of God? Our task, therefore, is to push rational knowledge onward in the search for truth and the refutation of error. In so doing, we also render a service to theology. As it is, we feel ourselves invited by faith toward a profound exercise of our reason. But does this mean, then, that philosophy should content herself with serving theology, furnishing her with tools and preparing the road before her? Or that theology lays down the obligatory routes which philosophy must follow? Not at all. Philosophical knowledge has its own specificity which can never be diminished.
This is particularly evident today in the complex and secularized society in which we move. In the debate on subjects that are tearing to pieces the consciences of nations, indeed, of the whole world e. As a result, we must learn to give our arguments a philosophical basis. These people maintain that our faith obstructs the freedom and scientific nature of research because it is a collection of prejudices that is, judgements formulated before rational investigation that corrupt the comprehension of things.
What can we make of these criticisms? For my part, before declaring that Christians can or cannot do philosophy, I believe we should ask ourselves what it means to be a philosopher. The philosopher is a thinker who seeks a rational basis for his judgements without making an appeal to myth, faith, or majority opinion. As long as his judgements are founded on rational arguments, his discourse is scientific. A philosopher does not have to bracket his faith be it Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, or any other.
The only thing required is that he not draw arguments from the truth of faith , that is, that he keep his discussion on a rigorously rational plane. Therefore, the Christian like every other person can be a philosopher. Though it can be integrated with moral theology, it nonetheless possesses its own validity, a validity which theology must recognize. In other words, philosophical ethics is mistress of her own house. Having thus defined the relationship between philosophy and moral theology, we may now occupy ourselves more closely with the method of our philosophical research.
How should we conduct our study in order to be true philosophers? We must then identify the point of departure for our investigation 1. Many Ancient Greek philosophers taught that philosophy is born from the experience of wonder in front of being. While the experience of wonder can be very exciting, it can also lead to excessive stress. To be amazed means not being able to explain the why and how of certain phenomena. When it comes to the universe, being, or man himself, I must confess that I cannot understand everything about myself or my surroundings.
This is rather frustrating! Not only frustrating — it can produce a true and proper anguish. The unknown, the mysterious, attracts and frightens me at the same time. We can side-step the sometimes disquieting path we must walk with the object we wish to know. In so doing, we may escape anguish. Instead, we would be devoting ourselves to that most dangerous of human mental activities: ideology. If the philosophical question is born from wonder, its answer will not be found by fleeing or denying wonder.
On the contrary, we must continue in a state of wonder! For wonder to be possible, we must cultivate in ourselves the virtue of reverence for reality. Reverence implies the availability to listen thoroughly, the effort to be quiet in order to understand rather than prepare our own discourse while the other is still trying to speak , and the renouncement of any attempt to imprison an object in something already known.
Nietzsche Such an attitude aims at dominating reality in order to enslave it to oneself. All this assumes an enormous gravity when it concerns not just inanimate things, but human beings. The philosopher must maintain himself in an attitude of delicate and sensitive reverence for reality in itself.
The third virtue we must cultivate in our training for philosophy is firmly joined to wonder and reverence: loving desire. The Greeks spoke of philosophical eros. This expression probably sounds a bit strong and scarcely comprehensible to our modern mentality. Such thinking would be opposed to wonder and respect! So, wonder in front of reality, reverence for reality, and a loving desire for the truth constitute the fundamental attitudes of philosophical inquiry. We must now ask ourselves what the point of departure for our investigation should be. Should we start with the Pre-Socratics and then work our way up to our own time to see how the problem of morality has been treated in the history of Western thought?
This is a legitimate kind of study. Clearly, philosophy does not begin with books. Books themselves are the product of the activity of human beings who have put their thoughts into writing. But these thoughts are not born out of thin air; they are the result of a reflection on experience. Each of us has life experience — in particular, moral experience — something personal and yet common to others. From childhood, we have reflected on these experiences and formed certain ideas concerning what is right and what is wrong, what is beautiful and what is ugly, on good and evil, on man, the world, and God.
And these contacts are realized in dialogue. So, philosophical reflection on our own life is enriched and enlivened thanks to dialogue with our neighbor, be it spoken or written. In some cases, yes. But not necessarily. In addition, such conditioning is the stronger for not being recognized. If someone deceives himself into thinking that he is totally free, that he has a pure and virginal intelligence of things as they are.
Plato describes the condition of such a man with the image of a prisoner chained in a cave who sees shadows projected on the back wall and believes that the whole world is there before him. No prisoner can free himself if he does not first understand that he is a prisoner! If you want to be free from conditioning, you first have to admit that you have been conditioned.
You must first of all recognize the traditions in which you have lived. I myself grew up in a context marked by a western, neo-Latin, Italian mentality; I am a Catholic Christian and I live in a country that declares itself to be Catholic in majority; I was brought up in a family where some behaviors were applauded and others stigmatized; I attended certain schools, etc.
Proceeding in this way, we can attain an ever greater level of objectivity. Whoever is aware of the risk of being conditioned is already potentially free from conditioning. To free ourselves from conditioning, to be as objective as possible, we must distinguish between two concepts that are very often confused and confusing: the obvious and the evident. Obvious for them , but mistaken in itself! What I know, I know in as much as it is present to me. I will explain: It is true that there are craters on the moon, but this is not evident to me because I have never had the chance to see them.
Therefore, for me, the proposition:. In the case of craters observed with the telescope, this concerns sensible evidence , as in the case of the proposition:. This is evident to your senses, to your vision. But there also exists evidence of an intelligible kind, as for example the proposition:. This is evident to your intellect.
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Examples 2 and 3 are cases of immediate evidence , that is, of evidence gathered directly from reality sensible in the case of the printed page, intelligible in the case of the triangle. There also exists, however, mediated evidence which is attainable thanks to the mediation of a defined series of immediate evidence. To understand this, think of the theorems of mathematics: you know that the sum of squares constructed on the sides of a right triangle is equal to the square constructed on the hypotenuse. Is this evident?
Is it immediately evident? Certainly not. It must be demonstrated. I can demonstrate a theorem because I proceed from an immediately evident proposition from which other evidence is obtained, and then other evidence.
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This conclusion at the end is also evident, but thanks to the demonstration, that is to say, in a mediated way. Thus, in philosophy, there are some kinds of evidence that are immediate , for example, that moral values can be realized only by persons can you imagine an honest brick or a prudent salad? The point of departure for our investigation can be nothing other than experience and that minimum-of-philosophy which each of us carries within himself. Nevertheless, so that our work be scientific, we must be aware of the conditioning deriving from our culture and education.
Hence, the task of philosophy is that of dismantling the obvious to gain access to the evident. We have seen in what relation philosophical research stands to faith, and we have explained the salient characteristics of philosophical method. At this point, we must apply what has been said to the specifically ethical research that we are doing. As we have done already, we will use both words indifferently, moved only by stylistic exigency. We have said above 1. The first step of our research, then, will be to discover in ourselves and in dialogue with our neighbor if an experience of this type exists, essentially distinct from all other types of experience and irreducible to them.
We will then describe this experience, penetrating into its essential nucleus, so that we may begin to draw from it the first consequences for human action. So, we are to occupy ourselves with moral experience. But from what point of view?
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What type of knowledge do we intend to have of this object? Do we limit ourselves to describing it? Or do we extract certain practical indications for our way of living, that is to say, certain regulations and norms? And, if so, what type of norms will these be? There are various currents of thought which hold that ethics is a merely descriptive science and, consequently, non-proscriptive. Positivism is a current of thought that arose in the 19th century following the enormous progress achieved by the experimental sciences.
As the positivists saw it, the method of the experimental sciences — so valid and fruitful — had to be extended to all other branches of knowledge. Moral science has no other end than the description of the practices and customs of different peoples. Ethics is thus transformed into human ethology or cultural anthropology.
Weak Thought , a very recent movement and still rather prolific, has little or nothing to do with positivism. And yet, in its encounter with ethics, it reaches strangely similar conclusions. Though originating in different interests, both positivism and weak thought negate the possibility of constructing a normative ethics. What can we make of this kind of thinking? I think, Dear Reader, it gives us the opportunity to start using our heads in a critical way!
Beginning with the positivists, we can schematize their way of arguing thus:. Anyone who knows a minimum of logic will recognize here a formally correct syllogism. I would say that it is taken arbitrarily for truth. Why should ethics or philosophy in general conform itself to the model of the experimental sciences? How can one justify the choice of a determined type of science experimental as a paradigm and model for all the sciences?
Note well, too, that this affirmation cannot be justified in any way with the methods of experimental science, the supposedly only valid methods available. I mean to say: there does not exist any experimental, scientific procedure which can demonstrate that every science must conform itself to the model of experimental science. Moreover, it is clearly false because it is self-contradictory that is, it simultaneously affirms and negates the same thing.
It affirms that science must be non-normative while at the same time imposing a norm: the norm of not imposing norms! This norm, thus declared, negates the norm itself. Let us pass now to examining the attitude of weak thought. Here, also, the reasoning proposed can be schematized thus:. A We are all equal. B You and I have different opinions. This time, the syllogism does not work even at a formal level. In order for it to work, it would be necessary to insert an intermediate demonstration probatio media , admitting:.
B 1 Opinions are worth as much as the man who expresses them. But I do not see how this affirmation can be acceptable. Frankly, it seems absurd to consider as criteria for evaluating an opinion, not the relationship between thought and the reality of the object of thought, but the relationship between thought and the subject thinking. Is it really true that you and I are equal?
If you are a saint and I am a vicious pervert, do we really have the same worth? Was the wise Socrates as valuable as the brutish despots who condemned him? We noted above that libertarians are the self-appointed advocates of these ways of thinking, in the name of the democratic spirit. Alas, they do not take into consideration that democracy itself is put in serious danger by this type of reasoning. True democracy is conditioned by the clear distinction between freedom and arbitrary act. Hence, the arguments of positivism and weak thought, claiming that ethics must be a merely descriptive and non-normative science, are fallacious.
We can assert, therefore, that moral philosophy is not a descriptive science even if description plays an important part within it. It is fundamentally a normative science: it prescribes certain obligations and imposes certain prohibitions. The engineer says: if you want the roof to stay up, you must support it with beams of these dimensions.
The doctor says: if you do not want to die of cirrhosis of the liver, you must stop drinking alcohol. What distinguishes science or technology from morality is that the former regard certain particular ends that man can choose for himself — or not. Morality, on the other hand, concerns itself with the end of human action as such, that is, the end which man cannot determine for himself.
If I do not want to die of cirrhosis of the liver, I have to. But why should I try to avoid death? Morality, on the contrary, expresses categorical norms: you must behave in this or that manner, not only to obtain a particular end, but to realize the end of human existence as such. Technologies prescribe how someone should act to be a good engineer, a good doctor, etc. An ethics reduced in this manner immediately provokes a radical question: Why should I submit myself to such norms?
The usual response to such a query is: Because this is the way to be morally good. To which it is easy to reply: But why should I be morally good? Hence, before arriving at the formulation of norms, moral philosophy is called upon to reflect on the foundation of the norms themselves. Thus, the exigency of developing our human personality is the basis of morality. As we will see, the full realization of this development constitutes a happy life, while the means of this development are the virtues.
In synthesis, we can say that moral philosophy is the science of the good or virtuous life, and therefore, precisely for this reason, it is the art of happiness. Anyone who has followed a course of philosophy in high school, however, will find the sound of this word familiar. For this reason, I will begin right away with clarifying the meaning of phenomenology for us. In my opinion, then, phenomenology consists in letting the object which concerns us speak for itself so that we may discover what it is, its essential nucleus, and gather truths rooted in its essence.
As was noted in the previous chapter, the object which concerns us here is moral experience. We must ask ourselves, then, if specifically moral experiences, distinct from every other type of human experience, actually exist 2. We will begin, first of all, by discussing the positions of those thinkers who negate moral experience, asserting that it can be reduced to other spheres of human experience 2. According to Marx , morality is nothing other than a superstructure that depends on the economic power relations. The only real structure for Marx is the relationship of production and work.
This structure necessarily generates a complex of superstructures capable of supporting and defending the structure itself, such as religion, morality, metaphysics, law, the forms of government, etc. On the horizon of Marxist thought, then, moral experience — analogous to religious experience — is seen as a sort of alienation man seeks himself in a mistaken direction or mystification power invests with mystical significance that which is purely and simply instrumental for the conservation of existing relationships. Freud was the great discoverer of the unconscious. He revealed that a great part of what happens at the level of our awareness is the result of something inside us, in our depths, of which we are unaware.
Consequently, moral experience, in particular, is the result of unconscious mechanisms of repression and censure , above all regarding sexual desire or libido. The libido is thus repressed, sublimated, and censured. Morality the entire ensemble of rules, norms, and models of behavior is the result of this repression and its consequent identification with the father figure.
On the basis of ideas such as these, some thinkers have theorized the end of any kind of morality. Nevertheless, morality is not dead. In the unconscious , taboos tied to sexuality have been supplanted by other taboos, for example, that of death or suffering. In place of a resentment against life and strength, there has been substituted a resentment against the weak which seeks their liquidation, be they fetuses, deformed children, the sick, the aged, etc. Moreover, the economic structures of society continue to produce their super-structural models, making use of the powerful means of mass communication to impose rules of behavior that serve the system.
Yet, notwithstanding all this, there persist true moral attitudes that bear witness to how much moral experience is rooted in the essence of human life. We will examine these experiences first in reference to our judgement on the behavior of others, and then in reference to the judgement we make on our own behavior.
In front of the behavior of others, spontaneous reactions of approval or disapproval arise within us. A first phenomenon to take into consideration is that of scandal. In the past, people were scandalized by an action that transgressed the dominant canons of behavior. As a matter of fact, however, this is just how things are proceeding. You would think that nothing could scandalize us anymore. Yet, in reality, we continue to be scandalized by many things. Clearly, the existence of scandal affirms the permanence of moral sense.
It means bestowing on these deeds, even implicitly, a negative value judgement. This not only supposes that there is no moral apathy; it implies reference to an axiological horizon [i. The framework of values has changed this mutation must be examined critically , but moral sense remains. Another phenomenon to consider is admiration. The Latin word expresses the esteem and wonder that is felt in front of things that are both beautiful and extraordinary. This sense of wonder is underlined by the German expression Bewunderung , from Wunder : marvel, wonder.
We feel admiration before very different objects. In fact, our admiration changes essentially according to the type of object eliciting it. In classical terms, we can say that the concept of admiration is not univocal, but analogical. I can admire a natural spectacle an alpine panorama, a sunset on the sea, etc. Clearly, the meaning of admiration is different in both cases: in the first, it turns exclusively on the consideration of the beauty or sublimity of natural scenery; in the second, there also enters in esteem for a person or his accomplishment.
Let us concentrate, then, on the second case. Admiration for a human work includes appreciation for its author. Nevertheless, this admiration-of-esteem does not have a univocal meaning, either. For example, I can admire the work of an artist and appreciate him in as much as he is an artist without admiring and esteeming him as a man. Indeed, a man can be a great painter and at the same time be given to violence and thievery!
The same can be said of the work of a technician, a scientist, a man of letters, etc. This admiration-of-esteem for a man as a man is a moral experience. We have said 1. Such a sentiment would be impossible if we did not have a framework of values on the basis of which to judge. But let us proceed with our analysis. Our own behavior is also subject to the judgement we make of ourselves and generates diverse phenomena. Let us begin with the phenomenon of remorse.
The word French: remords ; Spanish: remordimiento ; Italian: rimorso derives from the Latin remordere , to bite again, signifying the interior torment consequent on the awareness of an evil that has been committed. The Jewish Dutch philosopher B. The feeling of interior suffering. Remorse is the tragic experience par excellence in which a guilty past raises itself against the present, creating fractures in the soul of the subject. What is it that creates this inner division? We cannot manipulate or eliminate it. In fact, if I myself had determined this order, I would be able to change it, adapting it to what I have done in such a way as to no longer stand condemned by it.
Yet, despite whatever I do, judgement is rendered in virtue of a law that I do not give myself — a law which transcends me. The experience opposite to remorse is that of gratification. We feel this in ourselves when we are aware of having acted or of acting rightly. Probably I have lost some benefit by behaving in this way. I continued to direct my life toward the ideals in which I believe. I can walk with my head held high. I can return my own gaze when I look in the mirror. The significance of this experience emerges by contrast when someone accuses us falsely.
And again, if someone maliciously interprets my innocent behavior, I still do not lose my peace of mind because I know that I have acted honestly. Some reward, gentlemen, if I am bound to suggest what I really deserve, and what is more, a reward which would be appropriate for myself. First of all, we will look at how these experiences always have some voluntary behavior as their object 2. We will than see that in these experiences the will is moved in a very special way: it is obligated by duty 2.
Consequently, we will consider the dimension of responsibility inherent in duty 2. Finally, we will describe the rapport between duty and happiness 2. A first, evident characteristic of moral experience is that it regards the will. The object of moral admiration is precisely the will of the admired subject. Possessing a beautiful quality does not depend on the will of the subject; hence, there can be no merit attached to it. A quality can be appreciated, but not esteemed in a moral sense.
I can admire and esteem someone who is very capable in his work or art. But here, even if my esteem should not extend to the whole personality of the subject, it is clear that admiration also regards what the subject, through his voluntary behavior, has accomplished to become the professional or artist that he is.
It is for this that he deserves merit. In the case of genuine moral admiration, the kind we experience when we consider the actions of Socrates, or M. Atilius Regulus,  or Maximilian Kolbe,  etc. The motivation for our admiration, if we reflect well on it, is nothing other than their voluntary conduct.
Socrates could have escaped his condemnation by means of the flight prepared for him by his disciples, or by agreeing to compromise with his accusers. He did neither. To his disciples, he offered this explanation:. Gentlemen, I am your very grateful and devoted servant, but I owe a greater obedience to God than to you, and so long as I draw breath and have my faculties, I shall never stop practicing philosophy and exhorting you and elucidating the truth for everyone that I meet.
He draws an admission out of the friend who proposed flight to him:. Is it true, as we have often agreed before, that there is no sense in which wrongdoing is good or honorable? Or have we jettisoned all our former convictions in these last few days? Can you and I at our age, Crito, have spent all these years in serious discussions without realizing that we were no better than a pair of children? Surely the truth is just what we have always said. Whatever the popular view is, and whether the alternative is pleasanter than the present one or even harder to bear, the fact remains that to do wrong is in every sense bad and dishonorable for the person who does it.
Is that our view, or not? Well, here is my next point, or rather question. In the same way, M. Atilius Regulus could have escaped the horrendous torture that his enemies prepared for him either by encouraging the Roman Senate to accept terms favorable to Carthage, or by not returning to the city of his imprisonment.
But he willed to remain faithful to the oath he had made. Our will was stronger than the flattery and seduction of improper behavior. We can conclude, then, that moral experience arises only in the presence of voluntary behavior. We can see this more clearly by comparing it with other kinds of experience. There are human experiences that do not move the will. Knowing some truth of mathematics or natural science, for example, can leave the will completely indifferent. Does knowing that the square root of is 14 move you to want or not want something?
Probably not. Now, compare these experiences with some others. Take, for example, the aesthetic experience of contemplating something beautiful. In fact, the experience of the beautiful gives rise to a desire to prolong or extend the experience. In aesthetic experience, the will is attracted by pleasure , while in moral experience, it is obligated by duty. We are scandalized by deeds that should not happen, that cannot be permitted, that someone society, the authorities, etc.
We feel remorse when we understand that we have betrayed our duty to do or to avoid something. We were obligated to do something, but we willfully fled from this obligation. Before the prospect of consenting to an injustice, a voice rises within us that shouts firmly: You must not! You are obligated to deny yourself no matter what the cost! Let us concentrate now on the phenomenon of moral obligation.
In appearance, obligation or duty seem to be realities that exclude the freedom of the subject: I am free if I am not obligated. I feel free when I have no duty to fulfill. In reality, this is a very superficial way of looking at things. Let us consider our experience somewhat more attentively. In what circumstances do we perceive a duty? I have no sense of duty in regard to being tall, or being born on such and such a day, or having had these parents. We see easily enough that the perception of a duty obligating us to behave in a certain way would be impossible if we were not simultaneously aware of our capacity to behave in another way.
Let us take a banal example: On a deserted street, I find a wallet containing a notable sum of money and the identifying documents of the owner. I know very well that I have a duty to return the wallet, a duty that startles me because I realize I also have the power to keep the money for myself. I must do something, but I must to it freely — meaning that I could just as well not do it. Hence, the experience of moral obligation involves freedom. Where freedom is lacking, there is no moral experience. Moral duty presents itself, then, as an appeal, a call that we must freely answer.
This means that moral experience is always an experience of responsibility from the Latin respondere , to answer. But we are also aware that our lives unfold in a context of relations with other people, in a society. Hence, we must all render account for our conduct to other human subjects and to the community as such. If it is true that duty obliges my will, it is also true that I can perceive a duty only if a good is presented to me.
I mean to say that a certain action for example, to return the wallet to the legitimate owner presents itself as good , and therefore , I feel that I must do it. Everything depends on understanding why some actions present themselves as good and their contraries as bad. We must take this discourse a little further, entering again into the depth of the conscience, asking ourselves about our desires, our aspirations, our hopes, and our plans 2.
We can then clarify the concept of good in view of moral action 2. Lastly, we will consider what approach to take to the problem of moral evil 2. There are those, in fact, whose sole aim is to satisfy every impulse as quickly as possible. After a while, however, this way of life ends up being.
Why live at all? The search for an end begins, and many hopes come to mind. But the concept of happiness is one of the most vague and undetermined to appear on the horizon of our minds. What does it mean to be happy? The fact is that the object of our desire is not pleasure but the thing that procures pleasure! Certainly, we want to enjoy.
What we hope for is something desirable. But even something scarcely desirable in itself can be considered attractive in view of a further end. For example, a long journey on a train can be boring in itself, but very desirable if it leads me to the embrace of someone I love. And you, Dear Reader, as you read these pages, perhaps you are finding it a bit tiring or boring.
What keeps you going? Maybe the desire to learn — or the fear of exams? But why learn — or why pass exams? Perhaps to carry out a certain service? In effect, there is something for which I must desire and hope, something which represents the meaning of every one of my desires: I want to be happy.
I want to realize fully my existence, that is, to develop completely my personality. All that I desire, all that I hope for, I desire and hope for because I believe that it can contribute to my true happiness. If we think about it, the things that we know and the things that we do appear to us as desirable and attractive, as positive values , when we find some merit in them that attracts our desire. In other words, something presents itself to me as a value by appearing to me as an end or goal of a certain tendency of mine.
In every case, it in some way contributes to my happiness. Something presents itself as a negative value if it constitutes an impediment to the acquisition of a positive value, or if I recognize it as repugnant to one of my tendencies or plans. A negative value foreseen in the future elicits fear; experienced in the present, it entails disablement or pain.
At this point, we can formulate some first definitions:. This indicates the intentionality of human action. For example, the goal of an assassin is murder. Objectively, such an end is evil, but the assassin could not desire it if it did not appear to him hence, subjectively as a good for him that is, he hopes to profit from it. In effect, everything that is desired, that moves the will, must necessarily appear, at least under some aspects, as a good. This is evident in the example described above: I can desire to track down the owner of a wallet that I have found.
I can desire to return to him what he has lost. I can desire the gratification of my conscience which will come out of this act of restitution. On the other hand, to experience the gratification of my conscience is a delightful good. Here also, the gratification arises from the presence of another good, that is, the returning of the wallet. However, to return the wallet is a good in itself , that is, a good not as a means or a consequence of something else. It is good in itself as an action that corresponds to the truth of things, to the dignity of the human person.
As soon as an action concerns a true and proper good, it is designated a virtuous good. We have, then, some definitions:. But if everything we want is wanted because it represents a good for us, what then is evil? We must distinguish two levels: that of being the ontic level and that of acting the moral level. On the plane of being, everything, in as much as it is , is good in itself.
Its being , in fact, constitutes its perfection. The in-depth investigation of this concept is the job of metaphysics; here we can only give a brief illustration of it. Can a material object a stone, a liquid, a gas be bad? Certainly, a stone can be a bad conductor of electricity , that is, bad in as much as it is little or no use for a determined end. But this end to conduct electricity well is a finality that we ourselves impose on the stone. It is not that of the stone itself! A liquid can be bad as a drink ; a gas can be bad because it is toxic for man — but neither of these material objects is bad in itself in as much as it is.
Perhaps, then, a living being an animal, a plant, a virus can be bad? But why are these creatures bad? Because they are damaging for man , or for sheep, but certainly not because in themselves and for themselves they constitute any evil. If fables were written by wolves, they would be full of big, bad hunters! For example, we can say that a chair is a bad chair if it has one leg shorter than the others; or that an eye is a bad eye if it does not see well.
Illness and death are evils in this sense. We have said that everything we want and choose, we want and choose because it appears to us as a good, that is, as desirable. Consequently, bad human behavior does not consist in choosing what is bad , but in choosing badly. We have observed that there is an analogy and a hierarchy among goods. From this perspective, it is clear that an action which involves an ontic evil can be good for example, Socrates drinking the Hemlock.
In fact, in the qualification of human behavior as good or bad, it is completely misleading to limit oneself to the consideration of the ontic goods involved. At this point, we have described the essential elements of moral experience. We are still very far, however, from determining what constitutes a good and virtuous life, a life that realizes true and proper happiness. This will be the theme of the chapters to follow. The phenomenology of moral experience described in chapter two has shown us that moral experience arises before voluntary behavior.
We must now take a close look at this latter notion. Since our being cannot be reduced to intelligence and will alone, important though they may be, we will also examine the role of emotions and feelings in our actions 3. At this point of our investigation, we will be able to tackle the fascinating and complex theme of freedom 3.
Under what conditions can our actions be defined as voluntary? This might appear to be an idle question with an all too easy tautological response: A behavior is voluntary when we want to do it! This is true. We will try to bring some light to the subject by first of all introducing a classical, terminological distinction between acts of man and human acts 3.
We will then do a phenomenological analysis of voluntary action 3. Think, for example, of all the operations relating to vegetative life digestion, respiration, sleep, dreams, etc. I am truly the subject of these processes insofar as I am the one who digests, who dreams, etc. However, such processes occur in me without the cooperation of my will. On the same plane, though in a qualified sense, we can speak of acts performed under psychological compulsion sleep walking, hallucinations, raptus, hypnosis, etc. We have seen in the preceding chapter that one of the characteristics of moral experience is the possibility of judging behavior as worthy or not worthy of the human person.
Let us consider, then, the case of a sleepwalker who, in his sleep, throws himself from a balcony and dies. Would we say that he committed suicide? Obviously not! He really killed himself, but he did not do it voluntarily. With this we reach a first terminological and conceptual clarification:. Properly speaking, non-voluntary acts, even though accomplished by a human being , are not qualifiable as human.
We can make two classical distinctions in this regard:. But what is the specific imprint of humanity? What renders man different from all other beings? This is to say that man is capable of understanding and willing. Hence, we can conclude:. In the preceding chapter 2. Clearly, this judgement is correct when it is rational. We have, then, the two sides of the question: on the one hand, the human faculty of aspiration will ; on the other, that of judging intelligence.
We must now look at the relationship between these two realities. If I reflect on my actions, I notice some constant characteristics  :. Before acting, I more or less represent to myself what I am about to do. For example, if I think about getting a degree in philosophy, this goal appears to my mind as a good. My will adheres to this good: obtaining a degree in philosophy seems to me desirable. But I have not yet decided anything in its regard. I then ask myself if it is effectively possible that I pursue such a degree.
I reason about it, asking myself if I am up to it, if I have the means, and so forth. If I make a positive judgement on the possibility of attaining my goal, then I proceed. I decide to earn my degree in philosophy: I am seriously bent on doing it. I think of all the steps I have to take to graduate applying, getting registered, attending classes, studying, taking exams, writing the dissertation, etc. In the face of all that must be done, I could be discouraged.
But, I express my consent : I commit myself to making the effort. Then comes the moment when I must get down to work. Where do I begin? I have to think about it. Of the different possibilities before me I judge one better than the others. I choose , then, to put the preceding judgement into practice. In front of the means chosen to attend lessons on these certain days, to study at these hours, etc. I use the means necessary to obtain my end.
At last, I obtain the degree and I enjoy the results of my efforts. In the first part of this process , the acts performed regard the end; in the intermediate part , they regard the means. The final act 11 is the accomplishment of the end — that which was willed from the beginning and set the entire process in motion. Note that in the acts listed above there is an alternation between intelligence and will.
This is represented in the following schema  :. Simple thought of the good. Simple inefficacious will of the good. Judgement by which the end is presented as possible. Efficacious intention of this end. Practical judgement on the most suitable means. Choice of such means. Command of the reason.
Use of the means. Enjoyment of the good. Intelligence contributes to the realization of the human act in as much as it allows us to know both the end of an action and the means to pursue it. A principle of classical ethics says:. This is a self-evident principle that has no need of demonstration; in fact, a demonstration in the strict sense would be impossible. On the other hand, it is possible to present some evidence in support of this principle. Take the case of finding yourself in a foreign restaurant.
You are given a menu written in a language that you do not understand. The waiter asks you to choose among the dishes indicated. Can you really make a choice? Clearly not, since you do not know the items from which you are asked to choose. It is clear, then, that the will wants something in response to the intelligence that knows this something and recognizes it as a good. It can happen that a woman is sterilized under different conditions:.
Nevertheless, she judges that in her condition it would be convenient to be sterilized. Hence, she acts knowingly. We can give the following definitions:. The opposite of knowledge is ignorance or doubt. The opposite of advertence is inadvertence. We have said that the will acts in response to a known good. It should be stressed, however, that the will has its own way of responding and its own characteristics in responding which are not to be confused with the acts of intelligence.
We have said that an act can be called moral or human only in so far as it is voluntary. We must now define this concept more precisely by first of all distinguishing what is voluntary from its contrary the involuntary , and then by distinguishing the different species of the voluntary simple or relative, willed or tolerated. Who would say that such a woman has committed a human act? Who would consider her responsible for being sterilized? She is not, in fact, the one acting; she is only submitting to an action, and doing so against her will.
We can speak of voluntary sterilization hence, a human act , only when the woman herself asks for such an operation because that is precisely what she wants. But what about this case: Due to an operation, a woman is rendered sterile in a non-voluntary way. Once aware of her condition, however, she approves it with her own will. In this case, the sterilization, even though involuntary, is nevertheless willed. Such would be the case for a husband who wishes his wife to be sterilized but does nothing to induce her to submit to the operation.
Hence, we can formulate the following definitions  :. On whatever pretext, he slaps him in the face. To correct him, he feels compelled to give him a slap — though he does so with a heavy heart. We have here two voluntary actions, but there is a substantial difference. In his senseless anger, he wants to slap this boy whom he takes for an enemy.
In the second case, however, the father does not want to hit his son since this means suffering for both the child and the parent; nevertheless, given the unfavorable circumstances, the father wants to strike the boy because otherwise, uncorrected, the child would be on the path to even greater suffering. In the first case, we are looking at the simple voluntary, that is, an action to which the will of the subject fully adheres.
The second case, on the other hand, illustrates the limited voluntary, that is, an action to which the will of the subject adheres only in relation to a determined, unwilled circumstance. We can define, then:. These cases seem similar because the effects are analogous: the health of the mother and the death of the child.
In reality, however, they are very different in terms of the central point. In the first case, the will of the woman tends directly to the killing of the fetus. In the second case, on the other hand, the will of the woman tends directly to the removal of the cancer. The removal of the uterus has no other end than this: it is an infected organ that cannot be cured and must be taken out. Hence, we can state the following definitions:. For now, I am content with having given you a sufficient overview of the role of intelligence and will in human behavior.
Intelligence and will manifest the rational nature specific to man. But we should remember that man is not an angel! I mean to say, we are not reducible to our rationality alone. Consequently, when we place ourselves in front of a good to perform or an evil to avoid, not only intelligence and will enter into play, but also our sensibility. For a comprehension of the human act, therefore, we must take into account the interaction between our sensible, corporeal life and the life of the spirit.
Such interaction is called psychicism and its most important natural components for the comprehension of the human act are the feelings or emotions in classical language these are called sensible motions or passions. Consider, for example, the decision made by Gianna Beretta Molla, a mother who, though ill with a uterine tumor, renounced her own healing so as not to damage the child she carried in her womb. She died a short time after giving birth. I think it is nearly impossible. We can see this in some other common examples: Can the choice to marry this person be dictated exclusively by rational considerations?
Clearly, the sentimental component plays an important role! Would we say that the act of defending our life or the lives of those we love is motivated only by reason and not also by fear , which is — precisely — an emotion? Feelings and emotions act as go betweens assuring the link between sensible life and the life of the spirit. They influence action to various degrees. They can enjoin and contribute to some kinds of behavior while restraining and obstructing others. Emotions, sentiments, and the movements of our sensibility are many and varied; yet, they can be traced back to two common roots: love and hate.
These are spontaneous responses in front of determined objects and, as such, are not voluntary in themselves. Nevertheless, they can become voluntary either because they are commanded by the will or because the will does not resist them. Whoever makes use of pornographic materials wants nothing other than to procure sexual excitement.