Human all too human: 39. The fable of intelligible freedom.

Reading Friedrich Nietzsche’s Human all too human

Read the introduction here You can read the aphorism I discuss here in English and German below the main article.

My take on it/synopsis.

  1. Mistaken origin of free will and feelings.

DSCF8628The history of the impression we use to judge someone’s responsibility for their actions has the following stages. First you have good and bad actions that are judged by the results, soon these results are forgotten, and the actions are now just good or bad. Then the goodness or badness is implanted in the motive, and the action in itself is looked upon as morally ambiguous. Than we goes further by designating good or bad to a whole person instead of their actions. To evaluate, man is made responsible for his effects (the results), then for his actions, then for his motives, and finally for his nature. But finally, man discovers that our nature is determined by his place in time and space and that there is no free will. Schopenhauer does not agree with this and points out that some actions give you guild and therefore require the need for you to be responsible, if you were not responsible you could not have felt guild. But man himself, because of his determinism, is precisely the being that he is—which Schopenhauer denies. Because we can feel guild Schopenhauer thinks he can prove our liberty not with regard to what we do, but with regard to our nature, we have the freedom to be this or that way, but we cannot act this or that way. Out of the sphere of freedom and responsibility, comes the sphere of strict causality, necessity, and irresponsibility. The feeling of guild comes apparently from causality, but in reality, it comes from our freedom which is the action of a free will, the fundamental cause of the existence of an individual, his will is there before his existence. Here the twisted reasoning is followed, that the fact that there is guilt inferred the justification, the rational acceptability comes from this, this is how Schopenhauer arrives at his fantastic sequence of the so-called intelligible freedom. But the guild after the deed is not necessarily reasonable, it is most certainly not, because it is based on the wrong presumption that the feeling of guild is not a necessary result. Therefore, it is only because man believes himself to be free, not because he is free, that he experiences guild. Guild is also something you can unlearn, and it also depends on where you live, in what kind of culture, we don’t even know how old this feeling is. Nobody is responsible for his actions, nobody for his nature, to judge is identical with being unjust. This also applies when an individual judges himself. The theory is as clear as sunlight, and yet everyone prefers to go back into the shadow and the untruth, for fear of the consequences. 


Text from the translation by Helen Zimmern and my take on it

The history of the sentiments by means of which we make a person responsible consists of the following principal phases. The history of the impression we use to judge someone’s responsibility for their actions has the following stages. First, all single actions are called good or bad without any regard to their motives, but only on account of the useful or injurious consequences which result for the community. First you have good and bad action that are judged by the results,  But soon the origin of these distinctions is forgotten, and it is deemed that the qualities ” good ” or ” bad ” are contained in the action itself without regard to its consequences, Soon the results are forgotten and the actions are now just good or bad. by the same error according to which language describes the stone as hard,the tree as green,—with which, in short, the result is regarded as the cause. Then the goodness or badness is implanted in the motive, and the action in itself is looked upon as morally ambiguous. Then the goodness or badness is implanted in the motive, and the action in itself is looked upon as morally ambiguous. Mankind even goes further, and applies the predicate good or bad no longer to single motives, but to the whole nature of an individual, out of whom the motive grows as the plant grows out of the earth. Than man goes further by designating good or bad to a whole person instead of their actions.  Thus, in turn, man is made responsible for his operations, then for his actions, then for his motives, and finally for his nature. To evaluate, man is made responsible for his effects, then for his actions, then for his motives, and finally for his nature. Eventually it is discovered that even this nature cannot be responsible, inasmuch as it is an absolutely necessary consequence concreted out of the elements and influences of past and present things,—that man, therefore, cannot be made responsible for anything, neither for his nature, nor his motives, nor his actions, nor his effects. It has therewith come to be recognised that the history of moral valuations is at the same time the history of an error, the error of responsibility, which is based upon the error of the freedom of will. But finally man discovers that our nature is determined by his place in time and space and that there is no free will. Schopenhauer thus decided against it: because certain actions bring ill humour (“consciousness of guilt”) in their train, there must be a responsibility ; for there would be no reason for this ill humour if not only all human actions were not done of necessity,—which is actually the case and also the belief of this philosopher, Schopenhauer does not agree and points out that some actions give you guild and therefore needs you to be responsible, if you were not responsible you could not have felt guild, and Schopenhauer agrees with this. —but man himself from the same necessity is precisely the being that he is—which Schopenhauer denies. but man himself from the same necessity is precisely the being that he is—which Schopenhauer denies. From the fact of that ill humour Schopenhauer thinks he can prove a liberty which man must somehow have had, not with regard to actions, but with regard to nature Because we can feel guild Schopenhauer thinks he can prove our liberty not with regard to actions, but with regard to nature  ; liberty, therefore, to be thus or otherwise, not to act thus or otherwise. From the esse, the sphere of freedom and responsibility, there results, in his opinion, the operari, the sphere of strict causality, necessity, and irresponsibility. We have the freedom to be this or that way, but we cannot act this or that way. From the sphere of freedom and responsibility, there results, in his opinion, the sphere of strict causality, necessity, and irresponsibility. This ill humour is apparently directed to the operari,—in so far it is erroneous,—The feeling of guild comes aperently from causality, but in reality it is directed to the esse, but in reality it comes from our freedom which is the deed of a free will, the fundamental cause of the existence of an individual, which is the deed of a free will, the fundamental cause of the existence of an individual man becomes that which he wishes to be, his will is anterior to his existence. His will is there before his existence.  Here the mistaken conclusion is drawn that from the fact of the ill humour, the justification, the reasonable admissableness of this ill humour is presupposed ; and starting from this mistaken conclusion, Schopenhauer arrives at his fantastic sequence of the so-called intelligible freedom. Here the twisted reasoning is followed, that from guilt the justification, the rational acceptability of this regret is derived, this is how Schopenhauer arrives at his fantastic sequence of the so-called intelligible freedom. But the ill humour after the deed is not necessarily reasonable, indeed it is assuredly not reasonable, But the guild after the deed is not necessarily reasonable, it is most certainly not, for it is based upon the erroneous presumption that the action need not have inevitably followed. Because it is based on the wrong presumption that the feeling of guild is not a necessary result. Therefore, it is only because man believes himself to be free, not because he is free, that he experiences remorse and pricks of conscience. Therefore, it is only because man believes himself to be free, not because he is free, that he experiences guild.Moreover, this ill humour is a habit that can be broken off; in many people it is entirely absent in connection with actions where others experience it. It is a very changeable thing, and one which is connected with the development of customs and culture, and probably only existing during a comparatively short period of the world’s history. Guild is also something you can unlearn, and it also depends on where you live, in what kind of culture. We don’t even know how old this feeling is. Nobody is responsible for his actions, nobody for his nature ; to judge is identical with being unjust. Nobody is responsible for his actions, nobody for his nature ; to judge is identical with being unjust. This also applies when an individual judges himself. The theory is as clear as sunlight, and yet every one prefers to go back into the shadow and the untruth, for fear of the consequences. This also applies when an individual judges himself. The theory is as clear as sunlight, and yet every one prefers to go back into the shadow and the untruth, for fear of the consequences.


Human, all too human a book for free spirits Part I translated by Helen Zimmern 1909

  1. THE FABLE OF INTELLIGIBLE FREEDOM.—The history of the sentiments by means of which we make a person responsible consists of the following principal phases. First, all single actions are called good or bad without any regard to their motives, but only on account of the useful or injurious consequences which result for the community. But soon the origin of these distinctions is forgotten, and it is deemed that the qualities ” good ” or ” bad ” are contained in the action itself without regard to its consequences, by the same error according to which language describes the stone as hard,the tree as green,—with which, in short, the result is regarded as the cause. Then the goodness or badness is implanted in the motive, and the action in itself is looked upon as morally ambiguous. Mankind even goes further, and applies the predicate good or bad no longer to single motives, but to the whole nature of an individual, out of whom the motive grows as the plant grows out of the earth. Thus, in turn, man is made responsible for his operations, then for his actions, then for his motives, and finally for his nature. Eventually it is discovered that even this nature cannot be responsible, inasmuch as it is an absolutely necessary consequence concreted out of the elements and influences of past and present things,—that man, therefore, cannot be made responsible for anything, neither for his nature, nor his motives, nor his actions, nor his effects. It has therewith come to be recognised that the history of moral valuations is at the same time the history of an error, the error of responsibility, which is based upon the error of the freedom of will. Schopenhauer thus decided against it: because certain actions bring ill humour (“consciousness of guilt”) in their train, there must be a responsibility ; for there would be no reason for this ill humour if not only all human actions were not done of necessity,—which is actually the case and also the belief of this philosopher,—but man himself from the same necessity is precisely the being that he is—which Schopenhauer denies. From the fact of that ill humour Schopenhauer thinks he can prove a liberty which man must somehow have had, not with regard to actions, but with regard to nature ; liberty, therefore, to be thus or otherwise, not to act thus or otherwise. From the esse, the sphere of freedom and responsibility, there results, in his opinion, the operari, the sphere of strict causality, necessity, and irresponsibility. This ill humour is apparently directed to the operari,—in so far it is erroneous,—but in reality it is directed to the esse, which is the deed of a free will, the fundamental cause of the existence of an individual, man becomes that which he wishes to be, his will is anterior to his existence. Here the mistaken conclusion is drawn that from the fact of the ill humour, the justification, the reasonable admissableness of this ill humour is presupposed ; and starting from this mistaken conclusion, Schopenhauer arrives at his fantastic sequence of the so-called intelligible freedom. But the ill humour after the deed is not necessarily reasonable, indeed it is assuredly not reasonable, for it is based upon the erroneous presumption that the action need not have inevitably followed. Therefore, it is only because man believes himself to be free, not because he is free, that he experiences remorse and pricks of conscience. Moreover, this ill humour is a habit that can be broken off; in many people it is entirely absent in connection with actions where others experience it. It is a very changeable thing, and one which is connected with the development of customs and culture, and probably only existing during a comparatively short period of the world’s history. Nobody is responsible for his actions, nobody for his nature ; to judge is identical with being unjust. This also applies when an individual judges himself. The theory is as clear as sunlight, and yet every one prefers to go back into the shadow and the untruth, for fear of the consequences.

Menschliches allzu menschlich 1878/80

  1. Die Fabel von der intelligibelen Freiheit. – Die Geschichte der Empfindungen, vermöge deren wir jemanden verantwortlich machen, also der sogenannten moralischen Empfindungen verläuft, in folgenden Hauptphasen. Zuerst nennt man einzelne Handlungen gut oder böse ohne alle Rücksicht auf deren Motive, sondern allein der nützlichen oder schädlichen Folgen wegen. Bald aber vergisst man die Herkunft dieser Bezeichnungen und wähnt, dass den Handlungen an sich, ohne Rücksicht auf deren Folgen, die Eigenschaft “gut” oder “böse” innewohne: mit demselben Irrthume, nach welchem die Sprache den Stein selber als hart, den Baum selber als grün bezeichnet – also dadurch, dass man, was Wirkung ist, als Ursache fasst. Sodann legt man das Gut- oder Böse-sein in die Motive hinein und betrachtet die Thaten an sich als moralisch zweideutig. Man geht weiter und giebt das Prädicat gut oder böse nicht mehr dem einzelnen Motive, sondern dem ganzen Wesen eines Menschen, aus dem das Motiv, wie die Pflanze aus dem Erdreich, herauswächst. So macht man der Reihe nach den Menschen für seine Wirkungen, dann für seine Handlungen, dann für seine Motive und endlich für sein Wesen verantwortlich. Nun entdeckt man schliesslich, dass auch dieses Wesen nicht verantwortlich sein kann, insofern es ganz und gar nothwendige Folge ist und aus den Elementen und Einflüssen vergangener und gegenwärtiger Dinge concrescirt: also dass der Mensch für Nichts verantwortlich zu machen ist, weder für sein Wesen, noch seine Motive, noch seine Handlungen, noch seine Wirkungen. Damit ist man zur Erkenntniss gelangt, dass die Geschichte der moralischen Empfindungen die Geschichte eines Irrthums, des Irrthums von der Verantwortlichkeit ist: als welcher auf dem Irrthum von der Freiheit des Willens ruht. -Schopenhauer schloss dagegen so: weil gewisse Handlungen Unmuth (“Schuldbewusstsein”) nach sich ziehen, so muss es eine Verantwortlichkeit geben; denn zu diesem Unmuth wäre kein Grund vorhanden, wenn nicht nur alles Handeln des Menschen mit Nothwendigkeit verliefe – wie es thatsächlich, und auch nach der Einsicht dieses Philosophen, verläuft -, sondern der Mensch selber mit der selben Nothwendigkeit sein ganzes Wesen erlangte, – was Schopenhauer leugnet. Aus der Thatsache jenes Unmuthes glaubt Schopenhauer eine Freiheit beweisen zu können, welche der Mensch irgendwie gehabt haben müsse, zwar nicht in Bezug auf die Handlungen, aber in Bezug auf das Wesen: Freiheit also, so oder so zu sein, nicht so oder so zu handeln. Aus dem esse, der Sphäre der Freiheit und Verantwortlichkeit, folgt nach seiner Meinung das operari, die Sphäre der strengen Causalität, Nothwendigkeit und Unverantwortlichkeit. Jener Unmuth beziehe sich zwar scheinbar auf das operari – insofern sei er irrthümlich -, in Wahrheit aber auf das esse, welches die That eines freien Willens, die Grundursache der Existenz eines Individuums, sei; der Mensch werde Das, was er werden wolle, sein Wollen sei früher, als seine Existenz. – Hier wird der Fehlschluss gemacht, dass aus der Thatsache des Unmuthes die Berechtigung, die vernünftige Zulässigkeit dieses Unmuthes geschlossen wird; und von jenem Fehlschluss aus kommt Schopenhauer zu seiner phantastischen Consequenz der sogenannten intelligibelen Freiheit. Aber der Unmuth nach der That braucht gar nicht vernünftig zu sein: ja er ist es gewiss nicht, denn er ruht auf der irrthümlichen Voraussetzung, dass die That eben nicht nothwendig hätte erfolgen müssen. Also: weil sich der Mensch für frei hält, nicht aber weil er frei ist, empfindet er Reue und Gewissensbisse. – Ueberdiess ist dieser Unmuth Etwas, das man sich abgewöhnen kann, bei vielen Menschen ist er in Bezug auf Handlungen gar nicht vorhanden, bei welchen viele andere Menschen ihn empfinden. Er ist eine sehr wandelbare, an die Entwickelung der Sitte und Cultur geknüpfte Sache und vielleicht nur in einer verhältnissmässig kurzen Zeit der Weltgeschichte vorhanden. -Niemand ist für seine Thaten verantwortlich, Niemand für sein Wesen; richten ist soviel als ungerecht sein. Diess gilt auch, wenn das Individuum über sich selbst richtet. Der Satz ist so hell wie Sonnenlicht, und doch geht hier jedermann lieber in den Schatten und die Unwahrheit zurück: aus Furcht vor den Folgen.

Sources:

I will read a Dutch translation that is based on the work of researchers Colli and Montinari. I also use a translation from R.J.Hollingdale and the Gary Handwerk translation from the Colli-Montinari edition. Both are more modern than the copyright free translation I use here. This is a translation from 1909 by Helen Zimmern, who knew Nietzsche personally, but there was no critical study of Nietzsche’s work done back then and this translation suffers from that. The same goes for the translation from Alexander Harvey. My German is not good enough to pretend that I can translate it better than the professionals do but I will use the original as a referee.

  1. Menselijk al te menselijk een boek voor vrije geesten, translated by Thomas Graftdijk, 2000. Buy it here
  2. Human, all too human a book for free spirits, translated by R.J.Hollingdale, 1986
  3. Human, all too human a book for free spirits I V3, translated by Gary handwerk 1997
  4. Human, all too human a book for free spirits Part I, translated by Helen Zimmern 1909. Read it  here
  5. Human, all too human a book for free spirits, translated by Alexander Harvey, 1908. Read it here
  6. Menschliches allzu menschlich 1878/80. Read it here

 

 

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