Nietzsche in the Light of Modern Experience
As far as I can see, there are two mistakes that warp Nietzsche’s thinking and become fatal to it. The first error is a complete and, we must assume, a willful misconception of the relationship of power between instinct and intellect on earth, as if the latter were dangerously in the dominance and it were high time to save instinct from it. If one considers how completely will, impulse, and self-interest domininate and suppress intellect, reason, and the sense of justice in the great majority of people, the opinion that intellect must be overcome by instinct becomes absurd. This opinion can be explained only historically, by a momentary philosophical situation needing a corrective to saturation with rationalism, and it immediately demands a counter-correction.
As though it were necessary to defend life against spirit! As though there were the slightest danger that things on earth would ever become too spiritual! The simplest generosity should be enough to make us shield and protect the weak little flame of reason, of spirit, of justice, instead of aligning ourselves with power and instinctual life and indulging in a corybantic over-estimation of life’s “negated” side, crime—the idiocy of of which we contemporaries have just experienced. Nietzsche behaved—and in doing so he has caused a great deal of harm—as though it were moral consciousness that, like Mephistopheles, threatened life with its cold, Satanic fist. For my part, I can see nothing particularly Satanic in the idea (an old idea of mystics) that life might one day be eliminated by the human spirit-something still a long, an interminably long, way off. The danger that life of itself will eliminate itself from this planet by perfecting the atomic bomb is considerably greater. But even that is improbable. Life is a cat with nine lives, and so is humanity.
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