“In some remote corner of the universe poured out and glittering in innumerable solar systems there once was a star on which clever animals invented knowledge. That was the haughtiest and most mendacious minute of ‘world history”– yet only a minute. After nature had. drawn a few breaths the star grew cold, and the clever animals had to die.
One might invent such a fable and still not have illustrated inefficiently how wretched, how shadowy and flighty, how aimless and arbitrary, the human intellect appears in nature. There have been eternities when it did not exist; and when it is done for again, nothing will have happened. For this intellect has no further mission that would lead beyond human life. It is human, rather, and only its owner and producer gives it such importance, as if the world pivoted around it.
But if we could communicate with the mosquito, then we would learn that it floats through the air with the same self-importance, feeling within itself the flying center of the world.
There is nothing in nature so despicable or insignificant that it cannot immediately be blown up like a bag by a slight breath of this power of knowledge; and just as every Porter wants an admirer, the proudest human being, the philosopher thinks that he sees the eyes of the universe telescopically focused from all sides on his actions and thoughts.
It is strange that this should be the effect of the intellect, for after all it was given only as an aid to the most unfortunate, most delicate, most evanescent beings in order to hold them for a minute in existence from” which otherwise, without this gift they would have every reason to flee as quickly as Lessing’s son.
That haughtiness which goes with knowledge and feeling, which shrouds the eyes and senses of man in a blinding fog, therefore deceives him about the value of existence by carrying in itself the most flattering evaluation of knowledge itself. Its most universal effect is deception; but even its most particular effects have something of the same character.
The intellect as a means for the presentation of the individual, unfolds its chief powers in simulation; for this is the means by which the weaker, less robust individuals preserve themselves, since they are denied the chance of waging the struggle for existence with horns or the fangs of beasts of prey.”
— Nietzsche from “On Truth & Lie in an Extra-Moral Sense.”