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The origin of responsability February 3, 2012

Posted by aldelsol in FREE WILL, MORALITY.
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Precisely that development is the long history of the origin of responsibility. That task of breeding an animal which is permitted to make promises contains within it, as we have already grasped, as a condition and prerequisite, the more precise task of first making a human being necessarily uniform to some extent, one among others like him, regular and consequently predictable. The immense task involved in this, what I have called the “morality of custom” (cf. Daybreak 9, 14, 16)—the essential work of a man on his own self in the longest-lasting age of the human race, his entire prehistorical work, derives its meaning, its grand justification, from the following point, no matter how much hardship, tyranny, monotony, and idiocy it also manifested: with the help of the morality of custom and the social strait jacket, the human being was made truly predictable.

Let’s position ourselves, by contrast, at the end of this immense process, in the place where the tree at last yields its fruit, where society and the morality of custom finally bring to light the end for which they were simply the means: then we find, as the ripest fruit on that tree, the sovereign individual, something which resembles only itself, which has broken loose again from the morality of custom, the autonomous individual beyond morality (for “autonomous” and “moral” are mutually exclusive terms), in short, the human being who possesses his own independent and enduring will, who is entitled to make promises—and in him a consciousness quivering in every muscle, proud of what has finally been achieved and has become a living embodiment in him, a real consciousness of power and freedom, a feeling of completion for human beings generally. This man who has become free, who really is entitled to make promises, this master of free will, this sovereign—how is he not to realize the superiority he enjoys over everything which is not permitted to make a promise and make pledges on its own behalf, knowing how much trust, how much fear, and how much respect he creates—he “is worthy” of all three—and how, with this mastery over himself, he has necessarily been given in addition mastery over his circumstances, over nature, and over all less reliable creatures with a shorter will? The “free” man, the owner of an enduring unbreakable will, by possessing this, also acquires his own standard of value: he looks out from himself at others and confers respect or contempt.

And just as it will be necessary for him to honour those like him, the strong and dependable (who are entitled to make promises)—in other words, everyone who makes promises like a sovereign, seriously, rarely, and slowly, who is sparing with his trust, who honours another when he does trust, who gives his word as something reliable, because he knows he is strong enough to remain upright even when opposed by misfortune, even when “opposed by fate”—in just the same way it will be necessary for him to keep his foot ready to kick the scrawny unreliable men, who make promises without being entitled to, and to hold his cane ready for the liar, who breaks his word in the very moment it comes out of his mouth. The proud knowledge of the extraordinary privilege of responsibility, the consciousness of this rare freedom, of this power over oneself and destiny, has become internalized into the deepest parts of him and grown instinctual, has become an instinct, a dominating instinct:—what will he call it, this dominating instinct, assuming that he finds he needs a word for it? There’s no doubt: the sovereign man calls this instinct his conscience.

GM-II-2

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