In fact, already as a thirteen-year-old lad, I

In fact, already as a thirteen-year-old lad, I was confronted with the problem of the
origin of evil. At an age when one has “half childish play, half God in one’s heart,” I
devoted my first childish literary trifle, my first written philosophical exercise, to this
problem. And so far as my “solution” to the problem at that time is concerned, well, I
gave that honour to God, as is reasonable, and made him the father of evil.
Is that what my “a priori” demanded of me precisely, that new immoral, at the very
least unmoral “a priori” and the cryptic “categorical imperative” which spoke out from
it, alas, so anti-Kantian, which I have increasingly listened to ever since—and not just
listened to? Luckily I soon learned to separate theological prejudices from moral ones,
and I no longer sought the origin of evil behind the world. Some education in history
and philology, along with an inherently refined sense concerning psychological
questions in general, quickly changed my problem into something else: Under what
conditions did men invent for themselves these value judgments good and evil? And
what inherent value do they have? Have they hindered or fostered human well-being
up to now? Are they a sign of some emergency, of impoverishment, of an atrophying
life? Or is it the other way around—do they indicate fullness, power, a will for living,
courage, confidence, the future?
From there I came across and proposed all sorts of answers for myself. I distinguished
between ages, peoples, different ranks of individuals. I kept refining my problem. Out
of the answers arose new questions, investigations, assumptions, probabilities—until
at last I had my own country, my own soil, a totally secluded, flowering, blooming
world, like a secret garden, of which no one had the slightest inkling . . . Oh, how
lucky we are, we knowledgeable people, provided that we know how to stay silent
long enough!

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