The human soul and its limits, the range of inner human experiences reached so far, the heights, depths, and distances of these experiences, the whole history of the soul so far and its as yet unexhausted possibilities—that is the predestined hunting ground for a born psychologist and lover of the “great hunt.”  But how often he has to say to himself in despair: “One hunter! alas, only a single one! and look at this huge forest, this primeval forest!”  And then he wishes he had a few hundred helpers and good, well-trained hounds that he could drive into the history of the human soul to round up his game.  In vain: it is proved to him again and again, thoroughly and bitterly, how helpers and hounds for all the things that excite his curiosity cannot be found.  What is wrong with sending scholars into new and dangerous hunting grounds, where courage, sense, and subtlety in every way are required, is that they cease to be of any use precisely where the “great hunt,” but also the great danger, begins: precisely there they lose their keen eye and nose.

To figure out and determine, for example, what kind of a history the problem of science and conscience [Wissen and Gewissen: literally, knowledge and conscience] has so far had in the soul of homines religiosi [Religious men], one might perhaps have to be as profound, as wounded, as monstrous as Pascal’s intellectual conscience was—and then one would still need that vaulting heaven of bright, malicious spirituality that would be capable of surveying from above, arranging, and forcing into formulas this swarm of dangerous and painful experiences.

But who would do me this service?  But who would have time to wait for such servants?  They obviously grow too rarely; they are so improbable in any age.  In the end one has to do everything oneself in order to know a few things oneself: that is, one has a lot to do.

But a curiosity of my type remains after all the most agreeable of all vices—sorry, I meant to say: the love of truth has its reward in heaven and even on earth.—


Beyond Good & Evil:  Prelude to a Philosophy of the Future,

Part Three—What is Religious §45.

Circa 1886