To the Teachers of Selfishness

Nietzsche 1I do not agree with society systems and education systems because they make us to be like everyone else and destroy our unique being. They do not teach us how to cultivate one’s individuality; on the contrary, they teach us how to be a cog of society and the part of utility. What is wrong with being true oneself ultimately? I cannot find any negativity; but I can only see ultimate possibility. Unfortunately, so many people are unhappy nowadays, since they have been taught to eliminate their individuality; they have been trained to have identical opinions. I think that it is time for us to think about the importance of individualism seriously and also time for us to start cultivating own uniqueness earnestly in order to be happy. Nietzsche explained the importance of selfishness:   

A man’s virtues are called good depending on their probable consequences not for him, but for us and society: the praise of virtues has always been far from “selfless,” far from “unegoistic.”  Otherwise one would have had notice that virtues (like industriousness, obedience, chastity, filial piety, and justice) are usually harmful for those who possess them, being instincts that dominate them too violently and covetously and resist the efforts of reason to keep them in balance with their other instincts. When you have a virtue, a real, whole virtue (and not merely a mini-instinct for some virtue), you are its victim. But, your neighbor praises your virtue precisely on that account. One praises the industrious even though they harm their eyesight or the spontaneity and freshness of their sprit. One honors and feels sorry for the youth who has worked himself into the ground because one thinks: “For society as a whole, the loss of even the best individual is merely a small sacrifice. Too bad that such sacrifices are needed! But, it would be far worse if the individual would think otherwise and considered his preservation and development more important than his work in the service of society.” Thus, one feels sorry for the youth not for his own sake, but because a devoted instrument, ruthless against itself – a so-called “good man” – has been lost to society by his death.

Perhaps one gives some thought to the question whether it would have been more useful for society if he had been less ruthless against himself and had preserved himself longer. One admits that there would have been some advantage in that, but one considers the other advantage – that a sacrifice has been made and that the attitude of the sacrificial animal has once again been confirmed for all to see – grater and of more lasting significance.

Thus, what is rally praised when virtues are praised is, first, their instrument nature and, secondly, the instinct in every virtue that refuse to be held in check by the over-all advantage for the individual himself – in sum, the unreason in virtue that leads the individual to allow himself to be transformed into a mere function of the whole. The praise of virtue is the praise of something that is privately harmful – the praise of instincts that deprive a human being of his noblest selfishness and the strength for the highest autonomy.”

To be sure, for educational purpose and to lead men to incorporate virtuous habits one emphasizes effects of virtue that make it appear as if virtue and private advantage were sisters; and some such relationship actually exists. Blindly raging industriousness, for example – this typical virtue of an instrument – is represented as the way to wealth and honor and as the poison that best cures boredom and the passions, but one keeps silent about its dangers, its extreme dangerousness. That is how education always proceeds: one tries to condition an individual by various attractions and advantages to adopt a way of thinking and behaving that, once it has become a habit, instinct, and passion, will dominate him to his own ultimate disadvantage, but “for the general good.”

How often I see that blindly raging industriousness does create wealth and reap honors while at the same time depriving the organs of their subtlety, which alone would make possible the enjoyment of wealth and honors; also that this chief antidote to boredom and the passions at the same time blunts the senses and leads the spirit to resist new attractions,. (The most industrious of all ages – ours – does not know how to make anything of all its industriousness and money, except always still more genius to spend than to acquire. – Well, we shall have our “grandchildren”!)

If this education succeeds, then every virtue of an individual is public utility and a private disadvantage, measured against the supreme private goal – probably some impoverishment of the spirit and the sense or even a premature decline. Consider from this point of view, one by one, the virtues of obedience, chastity, filial piety, and justice.

The praise of selfless, the self-sacrificial, the virtuous – that is, of those who do not apply that whole strength and reason to their own preservation, development, elevation, promotion, and the expansion of their power, but rather live, in relation to themselves, modestly and thoughtlessly, perhaps even with indifference or irony – this praise certainly was not born from the spirit of selflessness. The “neighbor” praises selflessness because it brings him advantages. If the neighbor himself were “selfless” in his thinking, he would repudiate this diminution of strength, this mutilation for his benefit; he would work against the development of such inclinations, and above all he would manifest his selflessness by not calling it good!

This indicates the fundamental contradiction in the morality that is very prestigious nowadays: the motives of this morality stand opposed to its principal. What this morality considers its proof is refuted by its criterion of what is moral. In order not to contravene its own morality, the demand “You shall renounce yourself and sacrifice yourself” could be laid down only those who thus renounced their own advantage and perhaps brought about their own distraction through the demanded sacrifice of individuals. But, as soon as the neighbor (or society) recommends altruism for the sake of its utility, it applies the contradictory principal. “You shall seek your advantage even at the expense of everything else” – and thus one preaches, in the same breath, a “Thou shall” and “Thou shall not.”

 

 

 

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