The Project Gutenberg eBook of Human, All Too Human, by Friedrich Nietzsche.

96

Usage and Ethic.—To be moral, virtuous, praiseworthy means to yield obedience to ancient law and hereditary usage. Whether this obedience be rendered readily or with difficulty is long immaterial. Enough that it be rendered. “Good” finally comes to mean him who acts in the traditional manner, as a result of heredity or natural disposition, that is to say does what is customary with scarcely an effort, whatever that may be (for example revenges injuries when revenge, as with the ancient Greeks, was part of good morals). He is called good because he is good “to some purpose,” and as benevolence, sympathy, considerateness, moderation and the like come, in the general course of conduct, to be finally recognized as “good to some purpose” (as utilitarian) the benevolent man, the helpful[117] man, is duly styled “good”. (At first other and more important kinds of utilitarian qualities stand in the foreground.) Bad is “not habitual” (unusual), to do things not in accordance with usage, to oppose the traditional, however rational or the reverse the traditional may be. To do injury to one’s social group or community (and to one’s neighbor as thus understood) is looked upon, through all the variations of moral laws, in different ages, as the peculiarly “immoral” act, so that to-day we associate the word “bad” with deliberate injury to one’s neighbor or community. “Egoistic” and “non-egoistic” do not constitute the fundamental opposites that have brought mankind to make a distinction between moral and immoral, good and bad; but adherence to traditional custom, and emancipation from it. How the traditional had its origin is quite immaterial; in any event it had no reference to good and bad or any categorical imperative but to the all important end of maintaining and sustaining the community, the race, the confederation, the nation. Every superstitious custom that originated in a misinterpreted event or casualty entailed some tradition, to adhere to which is moral. To break loose from it is dangerous, more prejudicial to the community than to the individual (because divinity visits the consequences of impiety and sacrilege upon the community rather[118] than upon the individual). Now every tradition grows ever more venerable—the more remote is its origin, the more confused that origin is. The reverence due to it increases from generation to generation. The tradition finally becomes holy and inspires awe. Thus it is that the precept of piety is a far loftier morality than that inculcated by altruistic conduct. -FN http://ift.tt/Spry1Y
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