Why Am I So Clever?


Why I Am So Clever

By Nietzsche

Ecce Home

   Why do I know a few more things? Why am I so clever altogether? I have never reflected on questions that are none—I have not squandered myself.—I have ,for example, no experience of actual religious difficulties. I am entirely at a loss to know to what extent I ought to have felt ‘sinful’. I likewise lack a reliable criterion of a pang of conscience: from what one hears of it, a pang of conscience does not seem to me anything respectable…



  I should not like to leave an act in the lurch afterwards, I would as a matter of principle prefer to leave the evil outcome, the consequences, out of the question of values. When the outcome is evil one can easily lose the true eye for one has done: a pang of conscience seems to me a kind of ‘evil eye’. To honor to oneself something that went wrong all the more because it went wrong—that rather would accord with my morality.—‘God’, ‘immortality of the soul’ ‘redemption’, ‘the Beyond’, all of them concepts to which I have given no attention and no time, not even as a child—perhaps I was never childish enough for it?


   I have absolutely no knowledge of atheism as an outcome of reasoning, still less as an event: with me it is obviously by instinct. I am too inquisitive, too questionable, too high spirited to rest content with a crude answer. God is a crude answer, a piece of indelicacy against us thinkers—fundamentally even a crude prohibition to us: you shall not think! …I am interested in quite a different way in a question upon which the ‘salvation of mankind’ depends far more than it does upon any kind of quaint curiosity of the theologians; the question nutriment.


  One can for convenience’ sake formulate it thus: ‘ how to nourish yourself so as to attain your maximum of strength, of virtue in the Renaissance style, of moraline-free virtue?’—My experiences here are as bad as they possibly could be; I am astonished that I heard this question so late, that I learned ‘reason’ from these experiences so late.

Only the perfect worthlessness of our German education—‘idealism’—can to some extent explain to me why on precisely this point I was backward to the point of holiness.


  The ‘education’ which from the first teaches one to lose sight of realities so as to hunt after altogether problematic, so-called ‘ideal’ objectives, ‘classical education’ for example—as if it were not from the first an utterly fruitless undertaking to try to unite ‘classical’ and German’ in one concept! It is, moreover, mirth-provoking—just think of a ‘classically education’ Leipziger!


  Until my very maturest years I did in fact eat badly—in the language of morals ‘ impersonally’, ‘selflessly’, ‘altruistically’, for the salvation of cooks and other fellow Christians. With the aid of Leipzig cookery, for example, which accomplished my earliest study of Schopenhauer, I very earnestly denied my ‘will to live’. To ruin one’s stomach so as to receive inadequate nutriment—the aforesaid cookery seems to me to solve the problem wonderfully well.



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