THE ANTICHRIST
By
Friedrich Nietzsche
Translation: H.L. Mencken

55.

--One step further in the psychology of conviction, of "faith." It is now a good while since I first proposed for consideration the question whether convictions are not even more dangerous enemies to truth than lies. ("Human, All-Too-Human," I, aphorism 483.)27 This time I desire to put the question definitely: is there any actual difference between a lie and a conviction?--All the world believes that there is; but what is not believed by all the world!--Every conviction has its history, its primitive forms, its stage of tentativeness and error: it becomes a conviction only after having been, for a long time, not one, and then, for an even longer time, hardly one. What if falsehood be also one of these embryonic forms of conviction?--Sometimes all that is needed is a change in persons: what was a lie in the father becomes a conviction in the son.--I call it lying to refuse to see what one sees, or to refuse to see it as it is: whether the lie be uttered before witnesses or not before witnesses is of no consequence. The most common sort of lie is that by which a man deceives himself: the deception of others is a relatively rare offence.--Now, this will not to see what one sees, this will not to see it as it is, is almost the first requisite for all who belong to a party of whatever sort: the party man becomes inevitably a liar. For example, the German historians are convinced that Rome was synonymous with despotism and that the Germanic peoples brought the spirit of liberty into the world: what is the difference between this conviction and a lie? Is it to be wondered at that all partisans, including the German historians, instinctively roll the fine phrases of morality upon their tongues--that morality almost owes its very survival to the fact that the party man of every sort has need of it every moment?--"This is our conviction: we publish it to the whole world; we live and die for it--let us respect all who have convictions!"--I have actually heard such sentiments from the mouths of anti-Semites. On the contrary, gentlemen! An anti-Semite surely does not become more respectable because he lies on principle. . . The priests, who have more finesse in such matters, and who well understand the objection that lies against the notion of a conviction, which is to say, of a falsehood that becomes a matter of principle because it serves a purpose, have borrowed from the Jews the shrewd device of sneaking in the concepts, "God," "the will of God" and "the revelation of God" at this place. Kant, too, with his categorical imperative, was on the same road: this was hispractical reason.28 There are questions regarding the truth or untruth of which it is not for man to decide; all the capital questions, all the capital problems of valuation, are beyond human reason. . . . To know the limits of reason--that alone is genuine. philosophy. Why did God make a revelation to man? Would God have done anything superfluous? Man could not find out for himself what was good and what was evil, so God taught him His will. Moral: the priest does not lie--the question, "true" or "untrue," has nothing to do with such things as the priest discusses; it is impossible to lie about these things. In order to lie here it would be necessary to knowwhat is true. But this is more than man can know; therefore, the priest is simply the mouth-piece of God.--Such a priestly syllogism is by no means merely Jewish and Christian; the right to lie and the shrewd dodge of "revelation" belong to the general priestly type--to the priest of the decadence as well as to the priest of pagan times (--Pagans are all those who say yes to life, and to whom "God" is a word signifying acquiescence in all things) --The "law," the "will of God," the "holy book," and "inspiration"--all these things are merely words for the conditionsunder which the priest comes to power and with which he maintains his power,--these concepts are to be found at the bottom of all priestly organizations, and of all priestly or priestly-philosophical schemes of governments. The "holy lie"--common alike to Confucius, to the Code of Manu, to Mohammed and to the Christian church--is not even wanting in Plato. "Truth is here": this means, no matter where it is heard, the priest lies. . . .

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