Yet let us reflect, where does the animal cease, where does man begin? — man, who is nature’s sole concern! As long as anyone desires life as he desires happiness, he has not yet raised his eyes above the horizon of the animal, for he only desires more consciously what the animal seeks through blind impulse. But that is what we all do for the greater part of our lives; usually we fail to emerge out of animality, we ourselves are the animals whose suffering seems to be senseless.
But there are moments when we realize this: then the clouds are rent asunder, and we see that, in common with all nature, we are pressing towards something that stands high above us. In this sudden illumination we gaze around us and behind us with a shudder; we behold the more subtle beasts of prey and there we are in the midst of them. The tremendous coming and going of men on the great wilderness of the earth, their founding of cities and states their wars their restless assembling and scattering again, their confused mingling, mutual imitation, mutual outwitting and downtreading, their wailing in distress, their howls of joy in victory — all this is a continuation of animality; as though man was to be deliberately retrogressed and defrauded of his metaphysical disposition, indeed as though nature, after having desired and worked at man for so long, now drew back from him in fear and preferred to return to the unconsciousness of instinct. Nature needs knowledge and it is terrified of the knowledge it has need of; and so the flame flickers restlessly back and forth as though afraid of itself and seizes upon a thousand things before it seizes upon that on account of which nature needs knowledge at all. In individual moments we all know how the most elaborate arrangements of our life are made only so as to flee from the tasks we actually ought to be performing, how we would like to hide our head somewhere as though our hundred-eyed conscience could not find us out there, how we hasten to give our heart to the state, to money-making, to sociability or science merely so as no longer to possess it ourselves, how we labor at our daily work more ardently and thoughtlessly than is necessary to sustain our life because to us it is even more necessary not to have leisure to stop and think. Haste is universal because everyone is in flight from himself; universal too is the shy concealment of this haste because everyone wants to seem content and would like to deceive more sharp-eyed observers as to the wretchedness he feels; and also universal is the need for new tinkling word-bells to hang upon life and so bestow upon it an air of noisy festivity. Everyone is familiar with the strange condition in which unpleasant memories suddenly assert themselves and we then make great efforts, through vehement noise and gestures, to banish them from our minds: but the noise and gestures which are going on everywhere reveal that we are all in such a condition all the time, that we live in fear of memory and of turning inward. But what is it that assails us so frequently, what is the gnat that will not let us sleep? There are spirits all around us, every moment of our life wants to say something to us, but we refuse to listen to these spirit-voices. We are afraid that when we are alone and quiet something will be whispered into our ear, and so we hate quietness and deafen ourselves with sociability.