Human all too human
223 Where we must travel. -Immediate self-observation is far from sufficient for getting to know ourselves: we need history, for the past flows on, through us, in a hundred waves; indeed, we are ourselves nothing except what we experience at every moment of this onward flow. And even here, if we want to descend into the river of what seems to be our most individual and personal nature, the saying of Heraclitus holds true: we do not step into the same river twice. This is a truth that has gradually become stale, to be sure, but that has nonetheless remained as powerful and nourishing as it ever was: just like the other one that says, in order to understand history, we must seek out the living remains of historical epochs-that we must travel, as the patriarch Herodotus traveled, to other nations-these are, in fact, only the solidified earlier stages of cultures, on which we can place ourselves-to so-called savage and half-savage peoples, especially, where human beings have removed or not yet put on the garments of Europe. There is, however, a still more refined art of and purpose in traveling, which does not make it always necessary to move from place to place and to cross thousands of miles on foot. The last three hundred years, in all their cultural hues and refractions, are quite Human, All Too Human II likely still alive even near to us: they need only be discovered. In many families, even in individual human beings, the strata still lie beautifully and distinctly on top of one another: elsewhere there are dislocations in the stone that are harder to understand. It is certain that in out-of-the-way places and less frequently trodden mountain valleys, a more self-enclosed community can more easily maintain a venerable model of a much older sensibility, which has to be tracked down there: whereas it is, for example, unlikely that we would make such discoveries in Berlin, where people come into the world already leached and blanched. Anyone who, after lengthy practice in this art of traveling, has become a hundred-eyed Argus, will eventually accompany his Io* I mean his ego-everywhere and will rediscover the travel adventures of this becoming and transformed ego in Egypt and Greece, Byzantium and Rome, France and Germany, in the age of nomadic or settled peoples, in the Renaissance and Reformation, at home and abroad, even in the sea, the woods, the plants and the mountains. -Thus, selfknowledge becomes knowledge of everything, with regard to the entire past: just as, according to a different chain of observations only hinted at here, self-determination and self-education could in the freest and most farsighted spirits become the determination of everything, with regard to all future humanity.
*Io was seduced by Zeus and changed into a young cow by him to protect her from the wrath of Hera. Hera, knowing of the transformation, placed Io under the guard of Argus. Hermes slew Argus to free Io, but Hera pursued her from land to land, tormenting her with a gad-fly, until she finally settled in Egypt, where she gave birth to Zeus’s son.
Or read it here for free in the translation by Paul V. Cohn from 1913: https://www.gutenberg.org/cache/epub/37841/pg37841-images.html or https://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/37841