Religion makes people petty

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Second piece.

From the struggle of the good principle with evil, to rule over people

[709] That, in order to become a morally good person, it is not enough just to let the germ of the good, which lies in our species, develop unhindered, but also to combat an opposing cause of evil that is in us, Among all the old moralists, this was primarily the case with the Stoics through their password Virtue, which (both in Greek and Latin) denotes courage and bravery, and thus presupposes an enemy. From this point of view the name virtue is a splendid name, and it can do no harm that it has often been boastfully abused and ridiculed (like the word enlightenment recently). - Because calling for courage is half as much as instilling it; on the other hand, the lazy, self-mistrusting way of thinking (in morality and religion), which waits for outside help, drains all human strength and makes him unworthy of this help.

But those brave men misunderstood their enemy, who is not in the natural, merely undisciplined, but openly manifesting himself to be the consciousness of everyone, but an enemy who is invisible, hiding behind reason, and is therefore all the more dangerous. They offered that wisdom against the folly who is merely carelessly deceived by inclinations instead of against them malice (of the human heart), which secretly undermines the disposition with soul-corrupting principles.20 [709]

Natural tendencies are in itself, good, i.e. incorruptible, and not only is it in vain, but it would also be harmful and blameworthy to want to exterminate them; Rather, one only has to tame them so that they do not wear themselves out with one another, but can be brought to a harmony in a whole, called bliss. But the reason that directs this is called wisdom. Only what is morally unlawful is in itself evil, utterly reprehensible, and must be exterminated; but reason, which teaches this, but even more so when it directs it into work, alone deserves the name of wisdom, in comparison with which the vice too folly can be called, but only if reason feels sufficient strength in itself to do so (and all the incentives to do so) despise, and not merely as a being to be feared to hate, and to arm against it. [710]

If the Stoic So man's moral struggle merely as a quarrel with his (inherently innocent) inclinations, insofar as they have to be overcome as obstacles to the fulfillment of his duty, thought: so he could, because he does not accept a special positive (inherently bad) principle, the Cause of the transgression only in the omission set to fight those; but since this omission itself is contrary to duty (transgression), not a mere natural error, and now the cause of it is not again (without explaining in the circle) in the inclinations, but only in what the arbitrariness determines as free arbitrariness (in the inner first Foundations of the maxims that are in agreement with inclinations) can be sought, then it can be understood how philosophers who fail to recognize the real opponent of the good with a reason for explanation which remains forever enveloped in darkness21 and although it is inevitable but nonetheless unwelcome with whom they believed they could fight the battle.

So it shouldn't be strange if an apostle said this invisibleThe enemy who can be known to us and corrupt the principles only through his effects on us, as outside us, and indeed as evil ghost makes representations: "We do not have to fight with flesh and blood (the natural inclinations), but with princes and mighty ones - with evil spirits". An expression that is not used to expand our knowledge [711] beyond the world of the senses, but only to describe the concept of what is unfathomable for us, for practical use to make clear, seems to be laid out; for incidentally, for the sake of the latter, it does not matter to us whether we place the seducer merely in ourselves or also outside of us, because in the latter case we are no less guilty than in the former, as we are not seduced by him would be if we were not in secret agreement with him.22 - We want to divide this whole consideration into two sections.


These philosophers took their general moral principle from the dignity of human nature, freedom (as independence from the power of inclinations); Nor could they base anything better or more noble. They drew the moral laws directly from reason, which in this way alone legislates and through it absolutely ruling, and so it was objective, as far as the rule is concerned, and also subjective, as to the mainspring, when one ascribes an unspoiled will to man to incorporate these laws into his maxims without hesitation, all correctly stated. But in the last premise was the mistake. For, however early we may direct our attention to our moral condition, we find; that with him it is no longer res integra, but that we must begin to drive out of his possession the evil that has already taken place (but would not have been able to do it without our having included it in our maxim) : di The first true good that man can do is to start from evil, which is to be sought not in inclinations but in the wrong maxim, and therefore in freedom itself. Those only complicate them execution the opposite good maxim; but the real evil consists in the fact that one does not resist those inclinations, if they incite to transgression want, and that attitude is actually the real enemy. The inclinations are only opponents of the principles in general (they may be good or bad); and so far is that noble principle of morality as a preliminary exercise (discipline of inclinations in general) for the maneuverability of the subject through principles. But provided there are specific principles of the Morally good should be, and nevertheless are not as a maxim, another opponent of the same must be presupposed in the subject, with whom virtue has to fight, without whom all virtues, though not, as that church father wants, shine Vice, but brilliant misery would be; because the rebellion is often quenched, but the rebel himself is never defeated and exterminated.


It is a quite common prerequisite of moral philosophy that the existence of morally evil in man can be explained very easily, namely from the power of the mainsprings of sensuality on the one hand, and from the impotence of the mainspring of reason (respect for the law) on the other, i.e. out weakness. But then the morally good (in the moral disposition) would have to be even easier to explain in him; for the comprehensibility of one is, without that of the other, inconceivable. Now, however, the power of reason to become master over all opposing mainsprings through the mere idea of ​​a law is absolutely inexplicable; therefore it is also incomprehensible how those of sensuality can become masters over a reason that commands such respect. For if all the world were to seduce according to the prescription of the law, one would say that everything would proceed according to the natural order, and no one would even think of asking about the cause.


It is a peculiarity of Christian morality: the moral good from the moral evil not like heaven from the earthbut like the sky from the hell to introduce distinctions; an idea that is figurative and, as such, outrageous, but none the less, in its meaning, is philosophically correct. - It serves to prevent: that good and bad, the kingdom of light and the kingdom of darkness, are not thought of as being adjacent to one another and as being lost in one another through gradual stages (of greater and lesser brightness), but rather through an immeasurable gap is imagined separately from each other. The total dissimilarity of the principles with which one can be subject to one or the other of these two realms, and at the same time the danger associated with the imagination of a close relationship of the properties which qualify one or the other, justify to this mode of representation which, given the horror it contains, is at the same time very sublime.