Immanent Ethics

| February 18, 2013

Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evil (44).

“After all this, do I really need to add that they will be free, very free spirits, these philosophers of the future – and that they certainly will not just be free spirits, but rather something more, higher, greater, and funda­mentally different, something that does not want to be misunderstood or mistaken for anything else? But, in saying this, I feel – towards them almost as much as towards ourselves (who are their heralds and precursors, we free spirits!) – an obligation to sweep away a stupid old prejudice and misunderstanding about all of us that has hung like a fog around the concept of the “free spirit” for far too long, leaving it completely opaque. In all the countries of Europe, and in America as well, there is now something that abuses this name: a very narrow, restricted, chained­ up type of spirit whose inclinations are pretty much the opposite of our own intentions and instincts (not to mention the fact that this restricted type will be a fully shut window and bolted door with respect to these approaching new philosophers). In a word (but a bad one): they belong to the levelers, these misnamed “free spirits” – as eloquent and prolifically scribbling slaves of the democratic taste and its “modern ideas.” They are all people without solitude, without their own solitude, clumsy, solid folks whose courage and honest decency cannot be denied – it’s just that they are un-free and ridiculously superficial, particularly given their basic tendency to think that all human misery and wrongdoing is caused by traditional social structures: which lands truth happily on its head! What they want to strive for with all their might is the universal, green pasture happiness of the herd, with security, safety, contentment, and an easier life for all. Their two most well-sung songs and doctrines are called: “equal rights” and “sympathy for all that suffers” – and they view suffering itself as something that needs to be abolished. We, who are quite the reverse, have kept an eye and a conscience open to the question of where and how the plant “man” has grown the strongest, and we think that this has always happened under conditions that are quite the reverse. We think that the danger of the human condition has first had to grow to terrible heights, its power to invent and dissimulate (its “spirit” -) has had to develop under prolonged pressure and compulsion into something refined and daring, its life-will has had to be intensified to an unconditional power­ will. We think that harshness, violence, slavery, danger in the streets and in the heart, concealment, Stoicism, the art of experiment, and devilry of every sort; that everything evil, terrible, tyrannical, predatory, and snakelike in humanity serves just as well as its opposite to enhance the species “humanity.” But to say this much is to not say enough, and, in any event, this is the point we have reached with our speaking and our silence, at the other end of all modern ideology and herd desires: perhaps as their antipodes? Is it any wonder that we “free spirits” are not exactly the most communicative spirits? That we do not want to fully reveal what a spirit might free himself from and what he will then perhaps be driven towards? And as to the dangerous formula “beyond good and evil,” it serves to protect us, at least from being mistaken for something else. We are something different from “libres-penseurs,” “liberipensatori,” “Freidenker“, and whatever else all these sturdy advocates of “modern ideas” like to call themselves. At home in many countries of the spirit, at least as guests; repeatedly slipping away from the musty, comfortable corners where preference and prejudice, youth, origin, accidents of people and books, and even the fatigue of traveling seem to have driven us; full of malice at the lures of dependency that lie hidden in honors, or money, or duties, or enthusiasms of the senses; grateful even for difficulties and inconstant health, because they have always freed us from some rule and its “prejudice,” grateful to the god, devil, sheep, and maggot in us, curious to a fault, researchers to the point of cruelty, with unmindful fingers for the incomprehensible, with teeth and stomachs for the indigestible, ready for any trade that requires a quick wit and sharp senses, ready for any risk, thanks to an excess of”free will,” with front and back souls whose ultimate aim is clear to nobody, with fore- and backgrounds that no foot can fully traverse, hidden under the cloak of light, conquerors, even if we look like heirs and prodigals, collectors and gatherers from morning until evening, miserly with our riches and our cabinets filled to the brim, economical with what we learn and forget, inventive in schemata, sometimes proud of tables of categories, sometimes pedants, sometimes night owls at work, even in bright daylight; yes, even scarecrows when the need arises – and today the need has arisen: inasmuch as we are born, sworn, jealous friends of solitude, our own deepest, most midnightly, noon-likely solitude. This is the type of people we are, we free spirits! and perhaps you are something of this yourselves, you who are approaching? you new philosophers? –

Smith DW – Deleuze and the Question of Desire – Toward an Immanent Theory of Ethics.pdf.