The historical reflections on our Mongolism which I propose to insert episodically at this place are not given with the claim of thoroughness, or even of approved soundness, but solely because it seems to me that they may contribute toward making the rest clear.
The history of the world, whose shaping properly belongs altogether to the Caucasian race, seems till now to have run through two Caucasian ages, in the first of which we had to work out and work off our innate negroidity; this was followed in the second by Mongoloidity (Chineseness), which must likewise be terribly made an end of. Negroidity represents antiquity, the time of dependence on things (on cocks’ eating, birds’ flight, on sneezing, on thunder and lightning, on the rustling of sacred trees, etc.); Mongoloidity the time of dependence on thoughts, the Christian time. Reserved for the future are the words, “I am the owner of the world of things, I am the owner of the world of mind.”
In the negroid age fall the campaigns of Sesostris and the importance of Egypt and of northern Africa in general. To the Mongoloid age belong the invasions of the Huns and Mongols, up to the Russians.
The value of me cannot possibly be rated high so long as the hard diamond of the not-me bears so enormous a price as was the case both with God and with the world. The not-me is still too stony and indomitable to be consumed and absorbed by me; rather, men only creep about with extraordinary bustle on this immovable entity, on this substance, like parasitic animals on a body from whose juices they draw nourishment, yet without consuming it. It is the bustle of vermin, the assiduity of Mongolians. Among the Chinese, we know, everything remains as it used to be, and nothing “essential” or “substantial” suffers a change; all the more actively do they work away at that which remains, which bears the name of the “old,” “ancestors,” etc.
Accordingly, in our Mongolian age all change has been only reformatory or ameliorative, not destructive or consuming and annihilating. The substance, the object, remains. All our assiduity was only the activity of ants and the hopping of fleas, jugglers’ tricks on the immovable tight-rope of the objective, corvée -service under the leadership of the unchangeable or “eternal.” The Chinese are doubtless the most positive nation, because totally buried in precepts; but neither has the Christian age come out from the positive, i.e. from “limited freedom,” freedom “within certain limits.” In the most advanced stage of civilization this activity earns the name of scientific activity, of working on a motionless presupposition, a hypothesis that is not to be upset.
In its first and most unintelligible form morality shows itself as habit. To act according to the habit and usage (mores) of one’s country — is to be moral there. Therefore pure moral action, clear, unadulterated morality, is most straightforwardly practiced in China; they keep to the old habit and usage, and hate each innovation as a crime worthy of death. For innovation is the deadly enemy of habit, of the old, of permanence. In fact, too, it admits of no doubt that through habit man secures himself against the obtrusiveness of things, of the world, and founds a world of his own in which alone he is and feels at home, builds himself a heaven. Why, heaven has no other meaning than that it is man’s proper home, in which nothing alien regulates and rules him any longer, no influence of the earthly any longer makes him himself alien; in short, in which the dross of the earthly is thrown off, and the combat against the world has found an end — in which, therefore, nothing is any longer denied him. Heaven is the end of abnegation, it is free enjoyment. There man no longer denies himself anything, because nothing is any longer alien and hostile to him. But now habit is a “second nature,” which detaches and frees man from his first and original natural condition, in securing him against every casualty of it. The fully elaborated habit of the Chinese has provided for all emergencies, and everything is “looked out for”; whatever may come, the Chinaman always knows how he has to behave, and does not need to decide first according to the circumstances; no unforeseen case throws him down from the heaven of his rest. The morally habituated and inured Chinaman is not surprised and taken off his guard; he behaves with equanimity (i. e., with equal spirit or temper) toward everything, because his temper, protected by the precaution of his traditional usage, does not lose its balance. Hence, on the ladder of culture or civilization humanity mounts the first round through habit; and, as it conceives that, in climbing to culture, it is at the same time climbing to heaven, the realm of culture or second nature, it really mounts the first round of the — ladder to heaven.
If Mongoldom has settled the existence of spiritual beings — if it has created a world of spirits, a heaven — the Caucasians have wrestled for thousands of years with these spiritual beings, to get to the bottom of them. What were they doing, then, but building on Mongolian ground? They have not built on sand, but in the air; they have wrestled with Mongolism, stormed the Mongolian heaven, Tien. When will they at last annihilate this heaven? When will they at last become really Caucasians, and find themselves? When will the “immortality of the soul,” which in these latter days thought it was giving itself still more security if it presented itself as “immortality of mind,” at last change to the mortality of mind?
It was when, in the industrious struggle of the Mongolian race, men had built a heaven, that those of the Caucasian race, since in their Mongolian complexion they have to do with heaven, took upon themselves the opposite task, the task of storming that heaven of custom, heaven-storming [A German idiom for destructive radicalism] activity. To dig under all human ordinance, in order to set up a new and — better one on the cleared site, to wreck all customs in order to put new and — better customs in their place — their act is limited to this. But is it thus already purely and really what it aspires to be, and does it reach its final aim? No, in this creation of a “better” it is tainted with Mongolism. It storms heaven only to make a heaven again, it overthrows an old power only to legitimate a new power, it only — improves. Nevertheless the point aimed at, often as it may vanish from the eyes at every new attempt, is the real, complete downfall of heaven, customs, etc. — in short, of man secured only against the world, of the isolation or inwardness of man. Through the heaven of culture man seeks to isolate himself from the world, to break its hostile power. But this isolation of heaven must likewise be broken, and the true end of heaven-storming is the — downfall of heaven, the annihilation of heaven. Improving and reforming is the Mongolism of the Caucasian, because thereby he is always getting up again what already existed — to wit, a precept, a generality, a heaven. He harbors the most irreconcilable enmity to heaven, and yet builds new heavens daily; piling heaven on heaven, he only crushes one by another; the Jews’ heaven destroys the Greeks’, the Christians’ the Jews’, the Protestants’ the Catholics’, etc. — If the heaven-storming men of Caucasian blood throw off their Mongolian skin, they will bury the emotional man under the ruins of the monstrous world of emotion, the isolated man under his isolated world, the paradisiacal man under his heaven. And heaven is the realm of spirits, the realm of freedom of the spirit.
The realm of heaven, the realm of spirits and ghosts, has found its right standing in the speculative philosophy. Here it was stated as the realm of thoughts, concepts, and ideas; heaven is peopled with thoughts and ideas, and this “realm of spirits” is then the true reality.
To want to win freedom for the spirit is Mongolism; freedom of the spirit is Mongolian freedom, freedom of feeling, moral freedom, etc.
We may find the word “morality” taken as synonymous with spontaneity, self-determination. But that is not involved in it; rather has the Caucasian shown himself spontaneous only in spite of his Mongolian morality. The Mongolian heaven, or morals,[The same word that has been translated “custom” several times in this section] remained the strong castle, and only by storming incessantly at this castle did the Caucasian show himself moral; if he had not had to do with morals at all any longer, if he had not had therein his indomitable, continual enemy, the relation to morals would cease, and consequently morality would cease. That his spontaneity is still a moral spontaneity, therefore, is just the Mongoloidity of it — is a sign that in it he has not arrived at himself. “Moral spontaneity” corresponds entirely with “religious and orthodox philosophy,” “constitutional monarchy,” “the Christian State,” “freedom within certain limits,” “the limited freedom of the press,” or, in a figure, to the hero fettered to a sick-bed.
Man has not really vanquished Shamanism and its spooks till he possesses the strength to lay aside not only the belief in ghosts or in spirits, but also the belief in the spirit.
He who believes in a spook no more assumes the “introduction of a higher world” than he who believes in the spirit, and both seek behind the sensual world a supersensual one; in short, they produce and believe another world, and this other world, the product of their mind, is a spiritual world; for their senses grasp and know nothing of another, a non-sensual world, only their spirit lives in it. Going on from this Mongolian belief in the existence of spiritual beings to the point that the proper being of man too is his spirit, and that all care must be directed to this alone, to the “welfare of his soul,” is not hard. Influence on the spirit, so-called “moral influence,” is hereby assured.
Hence it is manifest that Mongolism represents utter absence of any rights of the sensuous, represents non-sensuousness and unnature, and that sin and the consciousness of sin was our Mongolian torment that lasted thousands of years.
But who, then, will dissolve the spirit into its nothing? He who by means of the spirit set forth nature as the null, finite, transitory, he alone can bring down the spirit too to like nullity. I can; each one among you can, who does his will as an absolute I; in a word, the egoist can.
Before the sacred, people lose all sense of power and all confidence; they occupy a powerless and humble attitude toward it. And yet no thing is sacred of itself, but by my declaring it sacred, by my declaration, my judgment, my bending the knee; in short, by my — conscience.
Sacred is everything which for the egoist is to be unapproachable, not to be touched, outside his power — i.e. above him; sacred, in a word, is every matter of conscience, for “this is a matter of conscience to me” means simply, “I hold this sacred.”
For little children, just as for animals, nothing sacred exists, because, in order to make room for this conception, one must already have progressed so far in understanding that he can make distinctions like “good and bad,” “warranted and unwarranted”; only at such a level of reflection or intelligence — the proper standpoint of religion — can unnatural (i. e., brought into existence by thinking) reverence, “sacred dread,” step into the place of natural fear. To this sacred dread belongs holding something outside oneself for mightier, greater, better warranted, better, etc.; i.e. the attitude in which one acknowledges the might of something alien — not merely feels it, then, but expressly acknowledges it, i.e. admits it, yields, surrenders, lets himself be tied (devotion, humility, servility, submission). Here walks the whole ghostly troop of the “Christian virtues.”
Everything toward which you cherish any respect or reverence deserves the name of sacred; you yourselves, too, say that you would feel a “sacred dread” of laying hands on it. And you give this tinge even to the unholy (gallows, crime, etc.). You have a horror of touching it. There lies in it something uncanny, that is, unfamiliar or not your own.
“If something or other did not rank as sacred in a man’s mind, why, then all bars would be let down to self-will, to unlimited subjectivity!” Fear makes the beginning, and one can make himself fearful to the coarsest man; already, therefore, a barrier against his insolence. But in fear there always remains the attempt to liberate oneself from what is feared, by guile, deception, tricks, etc. In reverence,[Ehrfurcht] on the contrary, it is quite otherwise. Here something is not only feared,[gefürchtet] but also honored [geehrt]: what is feared has become an inward power which I can no longer get clear of; I honor it, am captivated by it and devoted to it, belong to it; by the honor which I pay it I am completely in its power, and do not even attempt liberation any longer. Now I am attached to it with all the strength of faith; I believe. I and what I fear are one; “not I live, but the respected lives in me!” Because the spirit, the infinite, does not allow of coming to any end, therefore it is stationary; it fears dying, it cannot let go its dear Jesus, the greatness of finiteness is no longer recognized by its blinded eye; the object of fear, now raised to veneration, may no longer be handled; reverence is made eternal, the respected is deified. The man is now no longer employed in creating, but in learning (knowing, investigating, etc.), i.e. occupied with a fixed object, losing himself in its depths, without return to himself. The relation to this object is that of knowing, fathoming, basing, not that of dissolution (abrogation, etc.). “Man is to be religious,” that is settled; therefore people busy themselves only with the question how this is to be attained, what is the right meaning of religiousness, etc. Quite otherwise when one makes the axiom itself doubtful and calls it in question, even though it should go to smash. Morality too is such a sacred conception; one must be moral, and must look only for the right “how,” the right way to be so. One dares not go at morality itself with the question whether it is not itself an illusion; it remains exalted above all doubt, unchangeable. And so we go on with the sacred, grade after grade, from the “holy” to the “holy of holies.”
Men are sometimes divided into two classes: cultured and uncultured. The former, so far as they were worthy of their name, occupied themselves with thoughts, with mind, and (because in the time since Christ, of which the very principle is thought, they were the ruling ones) demanded a servile respect for the thoughts recognized by them. State, emperor, church, God, morality, order, are such thoughts or spirits, that exist only for the mind. A merely living being, an animal, cares as little for them as a child. But the uncultured are really nothing but children, and he who attends only to the necessities of his life is indifferent to those spirits; but, because he is also weak before them, he succumbs to their power, and is ruled by — thoughts. This is the meaning of hierarchy.
Hierarchy is dominion of thoughts, dominion of mind!
We are hierarchic to this day, kept down by those who are supported by thoughts. Thoughts are the sacred.
But the two are always clashing, now one and now the other giving the offence; and this clash occurs, not only in the collision of two men, but in one and the same man. For no cultured man is so cultured as not to find enjoyment in things too, and so be uncultured; and no uncultured man is totally without thoughts. In Hegel it comes to light at last what a longing for things even the most cultured man has, and what a horror of every “hollow theory” he harbors. With him reality, the world of things, is altogether to correspond to the thought, and no concept is to be without reality. This caused Hegel’s system to be known as the most objective, as if in it thought and thing celebrated their union. But this was simply the extremest case of violence on the part of thought, its highest pitch of despotism and sole dominion, the triumph of mind, and with it the triumph of philosophy. Philosophy cannot hereafter achieve anything higher, for its highest is the omnipotence of mind, the almightiness of mind.
Spiritual men have taken into their head something that is to be realized. They have concepts of love, goodness, etc., which they would like to see realized; therefore they want to set up a kingdom of love on earth, in which no one any longer acts from selfishness, but each one “from love.” Love is to rule. What they have taken into their head, what shall we call it but — fixed idea? Why, “their head is haunted.” The most oppressive spook is Man. Think of the proverb, “The road to ruin is paved with good intentions.” The intention to realize humanity altogether in oneself, to become altogether man, is of such ruinous kind; here belong the intentions to become good, noble, loving, etc.
In the sixth part of the Denkwürdigkeiten, p. 7, Bruno Bauer says: “That middle class, which was to receive such a terrible importance for modern history, is capable of no self-sacrificing action, no enthusiasm for an idea, no exaltation; it devotes itself to nothing but the interests of its mediocrity; i.e. it remains always limited to itself, and conquers at last only through its bulk, with which it has succeeded in tiring out the efforts of passion, enthusiasm, consistency — through its surface, into which it absorbs a part of the new ideas.” And (p. 6) “It has turned the revolutionary ideas, for which not it, but unselfish or impassioned men sacrificed themselves, solely to its own profit, has turned spirit into money. — That is, to be sure, after it had taken away from those ideas their point, their consistency, their destructive seriousness, fanatical against all egoism.” These people, then, are not self-sacrificing, not enthusiastic, not idealistic, not consistent, not zealots; they are egoists in the usual sense, selfish people, looking out for their advantage, sober, calculating, etc.
Who, then, is “self-sacrificing?”[Literally, “sacrificing”; the German word has not the prefix “self.”] In the full sense, surely, he who ventures everything else for one thing, one object, one will, one passion. Is not the lover self-sacrificing who forsakes father and mother, endures all dangers and privations, to reach his goal? Or the ambitious man, who offers up all his desires, wishes, and satisfactions to the single passion, or the avaricious man who denies himself everything to gather treasures, or the pleasure-seeker, etc.? He is ruled by a passion to which he brings the rest as sacrifices.
And are these self-sacrificing people perchance not selfish, not egoist? As they have only one ruling passion, so they provide for only one satisfaction, but for this the more strenuously, they are wholly absorbed in it. Their entire activity is egoistic, but it is a one-sided, unopened, narrow egoism; it is possessedness.
“Why, those are petty passions, by which, on the contrary, man must not let himself be enthralled. Man must make sacrifices for a great idea, a great cause!” A “great idea,” a “good cause,” is, it may be, the honor of God, for which innumerable people have met death; Christianity, which has found its willing martyrs; the Holy Catholic Church, which has greedily demanded sacrifices of heretics; liberty and equality, which were waited on by bloody guillotines.
He who lives for a great idea, a good cause, a doctrine, a system, a lofty calling, may not let any worldly lusts, any self-seeking interest, spring up in him. Here we have the concept of clericalism, or, as it may also be called in its pedagogic activity, school-masterliness; for the idealists play the schoolmaster over us. The clergyman is especially called to live to the idea and to work for the idea, the truly good cause. Therefore the people feel how little it befits him to show worldly haughtiness, to desire good living, to join in such pleasures as dancing and gaming — in short, to have any other than a “sacred interest.” Hence, too, doubtless, is derived the scanty salary of teachers, who are to feel themselves repaid by the sacredness of their calling alone, and to “renounce” other enjoyments.
Even a directory of the sacred ideas, one or more of which man is to look upon as his calling, is not lacking. Family, fatherland, science, etc., may find in me a servant faithful to his calling.
Here we come upon the old, old craze of the world, which has not yet learned to do without clericalism — that to live and work for an idea is man’s calling, and according to the faithfulness of its fulfillment his human worth is measured.
This is the dominion of the idea; in other words, it is clericalism. Thus Robespierre and St. Just were priests through and through, inspired by the idea, enthusiasts, consistent instruments of this idea, idealistic men. So St. Just exclaims in a speech, “There is something terrible in the sacred love of country; it is so exclusive that it sacrifices everything to the public interest without mercy, without fear, without human consideration. It hurls Manlius down the precipice; it sacrifices its private inclinations; it leads Regulus to Carthage, throws a Roman into the chasm, and sets Marat, as a victim of his devotion, in the Pantheon.”
Now, over against these representatives of ideal or sacred interests stands a world of innumerable “personal” profane interests. No idea, no system, no sacred cause is so great as never to be outrivaled and modified by these personal interests. Even if they are silent momentarily, and in times of rage, and fanaticism, yet they soon come uppermost again through “the sound sense of the people.” Those ideas do not completely conquer till they are no longer hostile to personal interests, till they satisfy egoism.
The man who is just now crying herrings in front of my window has a personal interest in good sales, and, if his wife or anybody else wishes him the like, this remains a personal interest all the same. If, on the other hand, a thief deprived him of his basket, then there would at once arise an interest of many, of the whole city, of the whole country, or, in a word, of all who abhor theft; an interest in which the herring-seller’s person would become indifferent, and in its place the category of the “robbed man” would come into the foreground. But even here all might yet resolve itself into a personal interest, each of the partakers reflecting that he must concur in the punishment of the thief because unpunished stealing might otherwise become general and cause him too to lose his own. Such a calculation, however, can hardly be assumed on the part of many, and we shall rather hear the cry that the thief is a “criminal.” Here we have before us a judgment, the thief’s action receiving its expression in the concept “crime.” Now the matter stands thus: even if a crime did not cause the slightest damage either to me or to any of those in whom I take an interest, I should nevertheless denounce it. Why? Because I am enthusiastic for morality, filled with the idea of morality; what is hostile to it I everywhere assail. Because in his mind theft ranks as abominable without any question, Proudhon, e.g., thinks that with the sentence “Property is theft” he has at once put a brand on property. In the sense of the priestly, theft is always a crime, or at least a misdeed.
Here the personal interest is at an end. This particular person who has stolen the basket is perfectly indifferent to my person; it is only the thief, this concept of which that person presents a specimen, that I take an interest in. The thief and man are in my mind irreconcilable opposites; for one is not truly man when one is a thief; one degrades Man or “humanity” in himself when one steals. Dropping out of personal concern, one gets into philanthropy, friendliness to man, which is usually misunderstood as if it was a love to men, to each individual, while it is nothing but a love of Man, the unreal concept, the spook. It is not tous anthropous, men, but ton anthropon, Man, that the philanthropist carries in his heart. To be sure, he cares for each individual, but only because he wants to see his beloved ideal realized everywhere.
So there is nothing said here of care for me, you, us; that would be personal interest, and belongs under the head of “worldly love.” Philanthropy is a heavenly, spiritual, a — priestly love. Man must be restored in us, even if thereby we poor devils should come to grief. It is the same priestly principle as that famous fiat justitia, pereat mundus; man and justice are ideas, ghosts, for love of which everything is sacrificed; therefore, the priestly spirits are the “self-sacrificing” ones.
He who is infatuated with Man leaves persons out of account so far as that infatuation extends, and floats in an ideal, sacred interest. Man, you see, is not a person, but an ideal, a spook.
Now, things as different as possible can belong to Man and be so regarded. If one finds Man’s chief requirement in piety, there arises religious clericalism; if one sees it in morality, then moral clericalism raises its head. On this account the priestly spirits of our day want to make a “religion” of everything, a “religion of liberty,” “religion of equality,” etc., and for them every idea becomes a “sacred cause,” e.g. even citizenship, politics, publicity, freedom of the press, trial by jury, etc.
Now, what does “unselfishness” mean in this sense? Having only an ideal interest, before which no respect of persons avails!
The stiff head of the worldly man opposes this, but for centuries has always been worsted at least so far as to have to bend the unruly neck and “honor the higher power”; clericalism pressed it down. When the worldly egoist had shaken off a higher power (e.g. the Old Testament law, the Roman pope, etc.), then at once a seven times higher one was over him again, e.g. faith in the place of the law, the transformation of all laymen into divines in place of the limited body of clergy, etc. His experience was like that of the possessed man into whom seven devils passed when he thought he had freed himself from one.
In the passage quoted above, all ideality is denied to the middle class. It certainly schemed against the ideal consistency with which Robespierre wanted to carry out the principle. The instinct of its interest told it that this consistency harmonized too little with what its mind was set on, and that it would be acting against itself if it were willing to further the enthusiasm for principle. Was it to behave so unselfishly as to abandon all its aims in order to bring a harsh theory to its triumph? It suits the priests admirably, to be sure, when people listen to their summons, “Cast away everything and follow me,” or “Sell all that thou hast and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” Some decided idealists obey this call; but most act like Ananias and Sapphira, maintaining a behavior half clerical or religious and half worldly, serving God and Mammon.
I do not blame the middle class for not wanting to let its aims be frustrated by Robespierre, i.e. for inquiring of its egoism how far it might give the revolutionary idea a chance. But one might blame (if blame were in place here anyhow) those who let their own interests be frustrated by the interests of the middle class. However, will not they likewise sooner or later learn to understand what is to their advantage? August Becker says: “To win the producers (proletarians) a negation of the traditional conception of right is by no means enough. Folks unfortunately care little for the theoretical victory of the idea. One must demonstrate to them ad oculos how this victory can be practically utilized in life.” And (p.32): “You must get hold of folks by their real interests if you want to work upon them.” Immediately after this he shows how a fine looseness of morals is already spreading among our peasants, because they prefer to follow their real interests rather than the commands of morality.
Because the revolutionary priests or schoolmasters served Man, they cut off the heads of men. The revolutionary laymen, those outside the sacred circle, did not feel any greater horror of cutting off heads, but were less anxious about the rights of Man than about their own.
How comes it, though, that the egoism of those who affirm personal interest, and always inquire of it, is nevertheless forever succumbing to a priestly or schoolmasterly (i. e. an ideal) interest? Their person seems to them too small, too insignificant — and is so in fact — to lay claim to everything and be able to put itself completely in force. There is a sure sign of this in their dividing themselves into two persons, an eternal and a temporal, and always caring either only for the one or only for the other, on Sunday for the eternal, on the work-day for the temporal, in prayer for the former, in work for the latter. They have the priest in themselves, therefore they do not get rid of him, but hear themselves lectured inwardly every Sunday.
How men have struggled and calculated to get at a solution regarding these dualistic essences! Idea followed upon idea, principle upon principle, system upon system, and none knew how to keep down permanently the contradiction of the “worldly” man, the so-called “egoist.” Does not this prove that all those ideas were too feeble to take up my whole will into themselves and satisfy it? They were and remained hostile to me, even if the hostility lay concealed for a considerable time. Will it be the same with self-ownership? Is it too only an attempt at mediation? Whatever principle I turned to, it might be to that of reason, I always had to turn away from it again. Or can I always be rational, arrange my life according to reason in everything? I can, no doubt, strive after rationality, I can love it, just as I can also love God and every other idea. I can be a philosopher, a lover of wisdom, as I love God. But what I love, what I strive for, is only in my idea, my conception, my thoughts; it is in my heart, my head, it is in me like the heart, but it is not I, I am not it.
To the activity of priestly minds belongs especially what one often hears called “moral influence.”
Moral influence takes its start where humiliation begins; yes, it is nothing else than this humiliation itself, the breaking and bending of the temper [Muth] down to humility.[Demuth] If I call to some one to run away when a rock is to be blasted, I exert no moral influence by this demand; if I say to a child “You will go hungry if you will not eat what is put on the table,” this is not moral influence. But, if I say to it, “You will pray, honor your parents, respect the crucifix, speak the truth, for this belongs to man and is man’s calling,” or even “this is God’s will,” then moral influence is complete; then a man is to bend before the calling of man, be tractable, become humble, give up his will for an alien one which is set up as rule and law; he is to abase himself before something higher : self-abasement. “He that abaseth himself shall be exalted.” Yes, yes, children must early be made to practice piety, godliness, and propriety; a person of good breeding is one into whom “good maxims” have been instilled and impressed, poured in through a funnel, thrashed in and preached in.
If one shrugs his shoulders at this, at once the good wring their hands despairingly, and cry: “But, for heaven’s sake, if one is to give children no good instruction, why, then they will run straight into the jaws of sin, and become good-for-nothing hoodlums!” Gently, you prophets of evil. Good-for-nothing in your sense they certainly will become; but your sense happens to be a very good-for-nothing sense. The impudent lads will no longer let anything be whined and chattered into them by you, and will have no sympathy for all the follies for which you have been raving and driveling since the memory of man began; they will abolish the law of inheritance; they will not be willing to inherit your stupidities as you inherited them from your fathers; they destroy inherited sin. If you command them, “Bend before the Most High,” they will answer: “If he wants to bend us, let him come himself and do it; we, at least, will not bend of our own accord.” And, if you threaten them with his wrath and his punishment, they will take it like being threatened with the bogie-man. If you are no more successful in making them afraid of ghosts, then the dominion of ghosts is at an end, and nurses’ tales find no — faith.
And is it not precisely the liberals again that press for good education and improvement of the educational system? For how could their liberalism, their “liberty within the bounds of law,” come about without discipline? Even if they do not exactly educate to the fear of God, yet they demand the fear of Man all the more strictly, and awaken “enthusiasm for the truly human calling” by discipline.
A long time passed away, in which people were satisfied with the fancy that they had the truth, without thinking seriously whether perhaps they themselves must be true to possess the truth. This time was the Middle Ages. With the common consciousness — i.e. the consciousness which deals with things, that consciousness which has receptivity only for things, or for what is sensuous and sense-moving — they thought to grasp what did not deal with things and was not perceptible by the senses. As one does indeed also exert his eye to see the remote, or laboriously exercise his hand till its fingers have become dexterous enough to press the keys correctly, so they chastened themselves in the most manifold ways, in order to become capable of receiving the supersensual wholly into themselves. But what they chastened was, after all, only the sensual man, the common consciousness, so-called finite or objective thought. Yet as this thought, this understanding, which Luther decries under the name of reason, is incapable of comprehending the divine, its chastening contributed just as much to the understanding of the truth as if one exercised the feet year in and year out in dancing, and hoped that in this way they would finally learn to play the flute. Luther, with whom the so-called Middle Ages end, was the first who understood that the man himself must become other than he was if he wanted to comprehend truth — must become as true as truth itself. Only he who already has truth in his belief, only he who believes in it, can become a partaker of it; i.e. only the believer finds it accessible and sounds its depths. Only that organ of man which is able to blow can attain the further capacity of flute-playing, and only that man can become a partaker of truth who has the right organ for it. He who is capable of thinking only what is sensuous, objective, pertaining to things, figures to himself in truth only what pertains to things. But truth is spirit, stuff altogether inappreciable by the senses, and therefore only for the “higher consciousness,” not for that which is “earthly-minded.”
With Luther, accordingly, dawns the perception that truth, because it is a thought, is only for the thinking man. And this is to say that man must henceforth take an utterly different standpoint, to wit, the heavenly, believing, scientific standpoint, or that of thought in relation to its object, the — thought — that of mind in relation to mind. Consequently: only the like apprehend the like. “You are like the spirit that you understand.”
Because Protestantism broke the medieval hierarchy, the opinion could take root that hierarchy in general had been shattered by it, and it could be wholly overlooked that it was precisely a “reformation,” and so a reinvigoration of the antiquated hierarchy. That medieval hierarchy had been only a weakly one, as it had to let all possible barbarism of unsanctified things run on uncoerced beside it, and it was the Reformation that first steeled the power of hierarchy. If Bruno Bauer thinks: “As the Reformation was mainly the abstract rending of the religious principle from art, State, and science, and so its liberation from those powers with which it had joined itself in the antiquity of the church and in the hierarchy of the Middle Ages, so too the theological and ecclesiastical movements which proceeded from the Reformation are only the consistent carrying out of this abstraction of the religious principle from the other powers of humanity,” I regard precisely the opposite as correct, and think that the dominion of spirits, or freedom of mind (which comes to the same thing), was never before so all-embracing and all-powerful, because the present one, instead of rending the religious principle from art, State, and science, lifted the latter altogether out of secularity into the “realm of spirit” and made them religious.
Luther and Descartes have been appropriately put side by side in their “He who believes in God” and “I think, therefore I am” (cogito, ergo sum). Man’s heaven is thought — mind. Everything can be wrested from him, except thought, except faith. Particular faith, like faith of Zeus, Astarte, Jehovah, Allah, may be destroyed, but faith itself is indestructible. In thought is freedom. What I need and what I hunger for is no longer granted to me by any grace, by the Virgin Mary. by intercession of the saints, or by the binding and loosing church, but I procure it for myself. In short, my being (the sum) is a living in the heaven of thought, of mind, a cogitare. But I myself am nothing else than mind, thinking mind (according to Descartes), believing mind (according to Luther). My body I am not; my flesh may suffer from appetites or pains. I am not my flesh, but I am mind, only mind.
This thought runs through the history of the Reformation till today.
Only by the more modern philosophy since Descartes has a serious effort been made to bring Christianity to complete efficacy, by exalting the “scientific consciousness.” to be the only true and valid one. Hence it begins with absolute doubt, dubitare, with grinding common consciousness to atoms, with turning away from everything that “mind,” “thought,” does not legitimate. To it Nature counts for nothing; the opinion of men, their “human precepts,” for nothing: and it does not rest till it has brought reason into everything, and can say “The real is the rational, and only the rational is the real.” Thus it has at last brought mind, reason, to victory; and everything is mind, because everything is rational, because all nature, as well as even the most perverse opinions of men, contains reason; for “all must serve for the best,” i. e., lead to the victory of reason.
Descartes’s dubitare contains the decided statement that only cogitare, thought, mind — is. A complete break with “common” consciousness, which ascribes reality to irrational things! Only the rational is, only mind is! This is the principle of modern philosophy, the genuine Christian principle. Descartes in his own time discriminated the body sharply from the mind, and “the spirit ‘tis that builds itself the body,” says Goethe.
But this philosophy itself, Christian philosophy, still does not get rid of the rational, and therefore inveighs against the “merely subjective,” against “fancies, fortuities, arbitrariness,” etc. What it wants is that the divine should become visible in everything, and all consciousness become a knowing of the divine, and man behold God everywhere; but God never is, without the devil.
For this very reason the name of philosopher is not to be given to him who has indeed open eyes for the things of the world, a clear and undazzled gaze, a correct judgment about the world, but who sees in the world just the world, in objects only objects, and, in short, everything prosaically as it is; but he alone is a philosopher who sees, and points out or demonstrates, heaven in the world, the supernal in the earthly, the — divine in the mundane. The former may be ever so wise, there is no getting away from this:
What wise men see not by their wisdom’s art
Is practiced simply by a childlike heart.
It takes this childlike heart, this eye for the divine, to make a philosopher. The first-named man has only a “common” consciousness, but he who knows the divine, and knows how to tell it, has a “scientific” one. On this ground Bacon was turned out of the realm of philosophers. And certainly what is called English philosophy seems to have got no further than to the discoveries of so-called “clear heads,” e.g. Bacon and Hume. The English did not know how to exalt the simplicity of the childlike heart to philosophic significance, did not know how to make — philosophers out of childlike hearts. This is as much as to say, their philosophy was not able to become theological or theology, and yet it is only as theology that it can really live itself out, complete itself. The field of its battle to the death is in theology. Bacon did not trouble himself about theological questions and cardinal points.
Cognition has its object in life. German thought seeks, more than that of others, to reach the beginnings and fountain-heads of life, and sees no life till it sees it in cognition itself. Descartes’s cogito, ergo sum has the meaning “One lives only when one thinks.” Thinking life is called “intellectual life”! Only mind lives, its life is the true life. Then, just so in nature only the “eternal laws,” the mind or the reason of nature, are its true life. In man, as in nature, only the thought lives; everything else is dead! To this abstraction, to the life of generalities or of that which is lifeless, the history of mind had to come. God, who is spirit, alone lives. Nothing lives but the ghost.
How can one try to assert of modern philosophy or modern times that they have reached freedom, since they have not freed us from the power of objectivity? Or am I perhaps free from a despot when I am not afraid of the personal potentate, to be sure, but of every infraction of the loving reverence which I fancy I owe him? The case is the same with modern times. They only changed the existing objects, the real ruler, into conceivedobjects, i.e. into ideas, before which the old respect not only was not lost, but increased in intensity. Even if people snapped their fingers at God and the devil in their former crass reality, people devoted only the greater attention to their ideas. “They are rid of the Evil One; evil is left.” The decision having once been made not to let oneself be imposed on any longer by the extant and palpable, little scruple was felt about revolting against the existing State or overturning the existing laws; but to sin against the idea of the State, not to submit to the idea of law, who would have dared that? So one remained a “citizen” and a “law-respecting,” loyal man; yes, one seemed to himself to be only so much more law-respecting, the more rationalistically one abrogated the former defective law in order to do homage to the “spirit of the law.” In all this the objects had only suffered a change of form; they had remained in their preponderance and pre-eminence; in short, one was still involved in obedience and possessedness, lived in reflection, and had an object on which one reflected, which one respected, and before which one felt reverence and fear. One had done nothing but transform the things into conceptions of the things, into thoughts and ideas, whereby one’s dependence became all the more intimate and indissoluble. So, e.g., it is not hard to emancipate oneself from the commands of parents, or to set aside the admonitions of uncle and aunt, the entreaties of brother and sister; but the renounced obedience easily gets into one’s conscience, and the less one does give way to the individual demands, because he rationalistically, by his own reason, recognizes them to be unreasonable, so much the more conscientiously does he hold fast to filial piety and family love, and so much the harder is it for him to forgive himself a trespass against the conception which he has formed of family love and of filial duty. Released from dependence as regards the existing family, one falls into the more binding dependence on the idea of the family; one is ruled by the spirit of the family. The family consisting of John, Maggie, etc., whose dominion has become powerless, is only internalized, being left as “family” in general, to which one just applies the old saying, “We must obey God rather than man,” whose significance here is this: “I cannot, to be sure, accommodate myself to your senseless requirements, but, as my ‘family,’ you still remain the object of my love and care”; for “the family” is a sacred idea, which the individual must never offend against. — And this family internalized and desensualized into a thought, a conception, now ranks as the “sacred,” whose despotism is tenfold more grievous because it makes a racket in my conscience. This despotism is broken when the conception, family, also becomes a nothing to me The Christian dicta, “Woman, what have I to do with thee?” “I am come to stir up a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother,” and others, are accompanied by something that refers us to the heavenly or true family, and mean no more than the State’s demand, in case of a collision between it and the family, that we obey its commands.
The case of morality is like that of the family. Many a man renounces morals, but with great difficulty the conception, “morality.” Morality is the “idea” of morals, their intellectual power, their power over the conscience; on the other hand, morals are too material to rule the mind, and do not fetter an “intellectual” man, a so-called independent, a “freethinker.”
The Protestant may put it as he will, the “holy [heilig] Scripture,” the “Word of God,” still remains sacred [heilig] for him. He for whom this is no longer “holy” has ceased to — be a Protestant. But herewith what is “ordained” in it, the public authorities appointed by God, etc., also remain sacred for him. For him these things remain indissoluble, unapproachable, “raised above all doubt”; and, as doubt, which in practice becomes a buffeting, is what is most man’s own, these things remain “raised” above himself. He who cannot get away from them will — believe; for to believe in them is to be boundto them. Through the fact that in Protestantism the faith becomes a more inward faith, the servitude has also become a more inward servitude; one has taken those sanctities up into himself, entwined them with all his thoughts and endeavors, made them a “matter of conscience”, constructed out of them a “sacred duty” for himself. Therefore what the Protestant’s conscience cannot get away from is sacred to him, and conscientiousness most clearly designates his character.
Protestantism has actually put a man in the position of a country governed by secret police. The spy and eavesdropper, “conscience,” watches over every motion of the mind, and all thought and action is for it a “matter of conscience,” i. e., police business. This tearing apart of man into “natural impulse” and “conscience” (inner populace and inner police) is what constitutes the Protestant. The reason of the Bible (in place of the Catholic “reason of the church”) ranks as sacred, and this feeling and consciousness that the word of the Bible is sacred is called — conscience. With this, then, sacredness is “laid upon one’s conscience.” If one does not free himself from conscience, the consciousness of the sacred, he may act unconscientiously indeed, but never consciencelessly.
The Catholic finds himself satisfied when he fulfills the command; the Protestant acts according to his “best judgment and conscience.” For the Catholic is only a layman; the Protestant is himself a clergyman.[Geistlicher, literally “spiritual man”] Just this is the progress of the Reformation period beyond the Middle Ages, and at the same time its curse — that the spiritual became complete.
What else was the Jesuit moral philosophy than a continuation of the sale of indulgences? Only that the man who was relieved of his burden of sin now gained also an insight into the remission of sins, and convinced himself how really his sin was taken from him, since in this or that particular case (casuists) it was so clearly no sin at all that he committed. The sale of indulgences had made all sins and transgressions permissible, and silenced every movement of conscience. All sensuality might hold sway, if it was only purchased from the church. This favoring of sensuality was continued by the Jesuits, while the strictly moral, dark, fanatical, repentant, contrite, praying Protestants (as the true completers of Christianity, to be sure) acknowledged only the intellectual and spiritual man. Catholicism, especially the Jesuits, gave aid to egoism in this way, found involuntary and unconscious adherents within Protestantism itself, and saved us from the subversion and extinction of sensuality. Nevertheless the Protestant spirit spreads its dominion farther and farther; and, as, beside it the “divine,” the Jesuit spirit represents only the “diabolic” which is inseparable from everything divine, the latter can never assert itself alone, but must look on and see how in France, e.g., the Philistinism of Protestantism wins at last, and mind is on top.
Protestantism is usually complimented on having brought the mundane into repute again, e.g. marriage, the State, etc. But the mundane itself as mundane, the secular, is even more indifferent to it than to Catholicism, which lets the profane world stand, yes, and relishes its pleasures, while the rational, consistent Protestant sets about annihilating the mundane altogether, and that simply by hallowing it. So marriage has been deprived of its naturalness by becoming sacred, not in the sense of the Catholic sacrament, where it only receives its consecration from the church and so is unholy at bottom, but in the sense of being something sacred in itself to begin with, a sacred relation. Just so the State, also. Formerly the pope gave consecration and his blessing to it and its princes, now the State is intrinsically sacred, majesty is sacred without needing the priest’s blessing. The order of nature, or natural law, was altogether hallowed as “God’s ordinance.” Hence it is said e.g. in the Augsburg Confession, Art. II: “So now we reasonably abide by the saying, as the jurisconsults have wisely and rightly said: that man and woman should be with each other is a natural law. Now, if it is a natural law, then it is God’s ordinance, therefore implanted in nature, and therefore a divine law also.” And is it anything more than Protestantism brought up to date, when Feuerbach pronounces moral relations sacred, not as God’s ordinance indeed, but, instead, for the sake of the spirit that dwells in them? “But marriage as a free alliance of love, of course — is sacred of itself, by the nature of the union that is formed here. Thatmarriage alone is a religious one that is a true one, that corresponds to the essence of marriage, love. And so it is with all moral relations. They are ethical, are cultivated with a moral mind, only where they rank as religious of themselves. True friendship is only where the limits of friendship are preserved with religious conscientiousness, with the same conscientiousness with which the believer guards the dignity of his God. Friendship is and must be sacred for you, and property, and marriage, and the good of every man, but sacred in and of itself.”
That is a very essential consideration. In Catholicism the mundane can indeed be consecrated or hallowed, but it is not sacred without this priestly blessing; in Protestantism, on the contrary, mundane relations are sacred of themselves, sacred by their mere existence. The Jesuit maxim, “the end hallows the means,” corresponds precisely to the consecration by which sanctity is bestowed. No means are holy or unholy in themselves, but their relation to the church, their use for the church, hallows the means. Regicide was named as such; if it was committed for the church’s behoof, it could be certain of being hallowed by the church, even if the hallowing was not openly pronounced. To the Protestant, majesty ranks as sacred; to the Catholic only that majesty which is consecrated by the pontiff can rank as such; and it does rank as such to him only because the pope, even though it be without a special act, confers this sacredness on it once for all. If he retracted his consecration, the king would be left only a “man of the world or layman,” an “unconsecrated” man, to the Catholic.
If the Protestant seeks to discover a sacredness in the sensual itself, that he may then be linked only to what is holy, the Catholic strives rather to banish the sensual from himself into a separate domain, where it, like the rest of nature, keeps its value for itself. The Catholic church eliminated mundane marriage from its consecrated order, and withdrew those who were its own from the mundane family; the Protestant church declared marriage and family ties to be holy, and therefore not unsuitable for its clergymen.
A Jesuit may, as a good Catholic, hallow everything. He needs only, e.g., to say to himself: “I as a priest am necessary to the church, but serve it more zealously when I appease my desires properly; consequently I will seduce this girl, have my enemy there poisoned, etc.; my end is holy because it is a priest’s, consequently it hallows the means.” For in the end it is still done for the benefit of the church. Why should the Catholic priest shrink from handing Emperor Henry VII the poisoned wafer for the — church’s welfare?
The genuinely churchly Protestants inveighed against every “innocent pleasure,” because only the sacred, the spiritual, could be innocent. What they could not point out the holy spirit in, the Protestants had to reject — dancing, the theatre, ostentation (e.g. in the church), and the like.
Compared with this puritanical Calvinism, Lutheranism is again more on the religious, spiritual, track — is more radical. For the former excludes at once a great number of things as sensual and worldly, and purifies the church; Lutheranism, on the contrary, tries to bring spirit into all things as far as possible, to recognize the holy spirit as an essence in everything, and so to hallow everything worldly. (“No one can forbid a kiss in honor.” The spirit of honor hallows it.) Hence it was that the Lutheran Hegel (he declares himself such in some passage or other: he “wants to remain a Lutheran”) was completely successful in carrying the idea through everything. In everything there is reason, i.e. holy spirit, or “the real is rational.” For the real is in fact everything; as in each thing, e.g., each lie, the truth can be detected: there is no absolute lie, no absolute evil, etc.
Great “works of mind” were created almost solely by Protestants, as they alone were the true disciples and consummators of mind.
How little man is able to control! He must let the sun run its course, the sea roll its waves, the mountains rise to heaven. Thus he stands powerless before the uncontrollable. Can he keep off the impression that he is helpless against this gigantic world? It is a fixed law to which he must submit, it determines his fate. Now, what did pre-Christian humanity work toward? Toward getting rid of the irruptions of the destinies, not letting oneself be vexed by them. The Stoics attained this in apathy, declaring the attacks of nature indifferent, and not letting themselves be affected by them. Horace utters the famous Nil admirari, by which he likewise announces the indifference of the other, the world; it is not to influence us, not to rouse our astonishment. And that impavidum ferient ruinae expresses the very same imperturbability as Ps. 46.3: “We do not fear, though the earth should perish.” In all this there is room made for the Christian proposition that the world is empty, for the Christian contempt of the world.
The imperturbable spirit of “the wise man,” with which the old world worked to prepare its end, now underwent an inner perturbation against which no ataraxia, no Stoic courage, was able to protect it. The spirit, secured against all influence of the world, insensible to its shocks and exalted above its attacks, admiring nothing, not to be disconcerted by any downfall of the world — foamed over irrepressibly again, because gases (spirits) were evolved in its own interior, and, after the mechanical shock that comes from without had become ineffective, chemical tensions, that agitate within, began their wonderful play.
In fact, ancient history ends with this — that I have struggled till I won my ownership of the world. “All things have been delivered to me by my Father” (Matt. 11. 27). It has ceased to be overpowering, unapproachable, sacred, divine, for me; it is undeified, and now I treat it so entirely as I please that, if I cared, I could exert on it all miracle-working power, i. e., power of mind — remove mountains, command mulberry trees to tear themselves up and transplant themselves into the sea (Luke 17.6), and do everything possible, thinkable : “All things are possible to him who believes.” I am the lord of the world, mine is the “glory.” [Herrlichkeit, which, according to its derivation, means “lordliness”] The world has become prosaic, for the divine has vanished from it: it is my property, which I dispose of as I (to wit, the mind) choose.
When I had exalted myself to be the owner of the world, egoism had won its first complete victory, had vanquished the world, had become worldless, and put the acquisitions of a long age under lock and key.
The first property, the first “glory,” has been acquired!
But the lord of the world is not yet lord of his thoughts, his feelings, his will: he is not lord and owner of the spirit, for the spirit is still sacred, the “Holy Spirit,” and the “worldless” Christian is not able to become “godless.” If the ancient struggle was a struggle against the world, the medieval (Christian) struggle is a struggle against self, the mind; the former against the outer world, the latter against the inner world. The medieval man is the man “whose gaze is turned inward,” the thinking, meditative
All wisdom of the ancients is the science of the world, all wisdom of the moderns is the science of God.
The heathen (Jews included) got through with the world; but now the thing was to get through with self, the spirit, too; i.e. to become spiritless or godless.
For almost two thousand years we have been working at subjecting the Holy Spirit to ourselves, and little by little we have torn off and trodden under foot many bits of sacredness; but the gigantic opponent is constantly rising anew under a changed form and name. The spirit has not yet lost its divinity, its holiness, its sacredness. To be sure, it has long ceased to flutter over our heads as a dove; to be sure, it no longer gladdens its saints alone, but lets itself be caught by the laity too; but as spirit of humanity, as spirit of Man, it remains still an alien spirit to me or you, still far from becoming our unrestricted property, which we dispose of at our pleasure. However, one thing certainly happened, and visibly guided the progress of post-Christian history: this one thing was the endeavor to make the Holy Spirit more human, and bring it nearer to men, or men to it. Through this it came about that at last it could be conceived as the “spirit of humanity,” and, under different expressions like “idea of humanity, mankind, humaneness, general philanthropy,” appeared more attractive, more familiar, and more accessible.
Would not one think that now everybody could possess the Holy Spirit, take up into himself the idea of humanity, bring mankind to form and existence in himself?
No, the spirit is not stripped of its holiness and robbed of its unapproachableness, is not accessible to us, not our property; for the spirit of humanity is not my spirit. My ideal it may be, and as a thought I call it mine; the thought of humanity is my property, and I prove this sufficiently by propounding it quite according to my views, and shaping it today so, tomorrow otherwise; we represent it to ourselves in the most manifold ways. But it is at the same time an entail, which I cannot alienate nor get rid of.
Among many transformations, the Holy Spirit became in time the “absolute idea”, which again in manifold refractions split into the different ideas of philanthropy, reasonableness, civic virtue, etc.
But can I call the idea my property if it is the idea of humanity, and can I consider the Spirit as vanquished if I am to serve it, “sacrifice myself” to it? Antiquity, at its close, had gained its ownership of the world only when it had broken the world’s overpoweringness and “divinity,” recognized the world’s powerlessness and “vanity.”
The case with regard to the spirit corresponds. When I have degraded it to a spook and its control over me to a cranky notion, then it is to be looked upon as having lost its sacredness, its holiness, its divinity, and then I use it, as one uses nature at pleasure without scruple.
The “nature of the case,” the “concept of the relationship,” is to guide me in dealing with the case or in contracting the relation. As if a concept of the case existed on its own account, and was not rather the concept that one forms of the case! As if a relation which we enter into was not, by the uniqueness of those who enter into it, itself unique! As if it depended on how others stamp it! But, as people separated the “essence of Man” from the real man, and judged the latter by the former, so they also separate his action from him, and appraise it by “human value.” Concepts are to decide everywhere, concepts to regulate life, concepts to rule. This is the religious world, to which Hegel gave a systematic expression, bringing method into the nonsense and completing the conceptual precepts into a rounded, firmly-based dogmatic. Everything is sung according to concepts, and the real man, i.e. I, am compelled to live according to these conceptual laws. Can there be a more grievous dominion of law, and did not Christianity confess at the very beginning that it meant only to draw Judaism’s dominion of law tighter? (“Not a letter of the law shall be lost!”)
Liberalism simply brought other concepts on the carpet; human instead of divine, political instead of ecclesiastical, “scientific” instead of doctrinal, or, more generally, real concepts and eternal laws instead of “crude dogmas” and precepts.
Now nothing but mind rules in the world. An innumerable multitude of concepts buzz about in people’s heads, and what are those doing who endeavor to get further? They are negating these concepts to put new ones in their place! They are saying: “You form a false concept of right, of the State, of man, of liberty, of truth, of marriage, etc.; the concept of right, etc., is rather that one which we now set up.” Thus the confusion of concepts moves forward.
The history of the world has dealt cruelly with us, and the spirit has obtained an almighty power. You must have regard for my miserable shoes, which could protect your naked foot, my salt, by which your potatoes would become palatable, and my state-carriage, whose possession would relieve you of all need at once; you must not reach out after them. Man is to recognize the independence of all these and innumerable other things: they are to rank in his mind as something that cannot be seized or approached, are to be kept away from him. He must have regard for it, respect it; woe to him if he stretches out his fingers desirously; we call that “being light-fingered!”
How beggarly little is left us, yes, how really nothing! Everything has been removed, we must not venture on anything unless it is given us; we continue to live only by the grace of the giver. You must not pick up a pin, unless indeed you have got leave to do so. And got it from whom? From respect! Only when this lets you have it as property, only when you can respect it as property, only then may you take it. And again, you are not to conceive a thought, speak a syllable, commit an action, that should have their warrant in you alone, instead of receiving it from morality or reason or humanity. Happy unconstraint of the desirous man, how mercilessly people have tried to slay you on the altar of constraint!
But around the altar rise the arches of a church, and its walls keep moving further and further out. What they enclose is sacred. You can no longer get to it, no longer touch it. Shrieking with the hunger that devours you, you wander round about these walls in search of the little that is profane, and the circles of your course keep growing more and more extended. Soon that church will embrace the whole world, and you be driven out to the extreme edge; another step, and the world of the sacred has conquered: you sink into the abyss. Therefore take courage while it is yet time, wander about no longer in the profane where now it is dry feeding, dare the leap, and rush in through the gates into the sanctuary itself. If you devour the sacred, you have made it your own! Digest the sacramental wafer, and you are rid of it!