D O C U M E N T 1 0 4 D E C E M B E R 1 9 2 7 1 1 9 I would have been prepared to make the effort to travel to Berlin, but that project was shattered by the fact that Mama[2] claims not to have the money for travel ex- penses right now. Could you make a detour to the Swiss mountains? Your eldest son, by the way, will now probably spend Christmas here with Hängsel.[3] Howev- er, in principle I have no objections to an adjournment until Easter. I have three va- cations between now and Easter, now from the 25th on for two weeks. Please think about it. I found your attempt to educate me surprising. Especially that you would like me to be more animal-like. I hadn’t known that you had such sound views. I have long maintained that any effort to make out of the human animal a “good person” or a “good citizen,” or a creature with a refined consciousness yields nothing but a considerable degeneration. Up to now, I always thought you were intellectually ori- ented that way. I recall that once when I ventured to say something in a letter about science’s lack of value, you sharply admonished me for having a really swineherd ideal.[4] You maintained the arrant superstitions that, 1. Ethics can only be prac- ticed emotionally, 2. Feeling forces a person to see the refinement and ramification of consciousness as the highest goal of life. At that time I let myself be confounded. I think now you agree: that’s superstition. When you say that decisions about ethi- cal issues cannot be made by reflection, it is as if the moralist Nietzsche were to opine that natural science says nothing about nature.[5] We can probably ground ethics on reflection if we simply make up our minds to accept a few axioms. For example, these are my axioms: Life has no ultimate goal that lies outside life itself. Second: Life is absolutely an end in itself and in fact the fullest development of life has the greatest value. (“Fullest development” is a vague concept. I cannot describe it precisely. I believe a tiger is more fully developed than mold is, a bodily life more developed than a mental one.) These axioms seem to me no less enlightening than the parallel postulate. If I apply them to human relationships, I have to consider the following as immoral: 1. Whatever life represses or limits in the interest of an idea, or whatever seeks to make the life of an idea useful. (Many religions and moral codes, state and soci- ety insofar as they do not absolutely subordinate themselves to the individual, and insofar as they accept laws other than natural laws). This point has been persuasively made too often for it to be worthwhile harping on here. 2. Whatever seeks a refinement of human beings (culture). From a certain de- gree on, refinement is identical with an inability to live. Efforts to connect humans’ affects with any area other than the natural (mental) one are particularly immoral. Mental discharge is a lame safety valve for cases in which the affects do not have enough strength for a physical discharge, or a physical discharge is inhibited. (This section is on art and science.) A refinement of consciousness works directly against
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