Living According to Nature

“You want to live ‘according to nature’? O you noble Stoics, what fraudulent words! Think of a being such as nature is, prodigal beyond measure, indifferent beyond measure, without aims or intentions, without mercy or justice, at once fruitful and barren and uncertain; think of indifference itself as a power—how could you live according to such indifference? To live—is that not precisely wanting to be other than this nature? Is living not valuating, preferring, being unjust, being limited, wanting to be different? And even if your imperative ‘live according to nature’ meant at bottom the same thing as ‘live according to life’ —how could you not do that? Why make a principle of what you yourselves are and must be?—The truth of it is, however, quite different: while you rapturously pose as deriving the canon of your law from nature, you want something quite the reverse of that, you strange actors and self-deceivers! Your pride wants to prescribe your morality, your ideal, to nature, yes to nature itself, and incorporate them in it; you demand that nature should be nature ‘according to the Stoa’ and would like to make all existence exist only after your own image—as a tremendous eternal glorification and universalization of Stoicism! All your love of truth not withstanding, you have compelled yourselves for so long and with such persistence and hypnotic rigidity to view nature falsely, namely Stoically, you are no longer capable of viewing it in any other way—and hypnotic rigidity to view nature it in any other way—and some abysmal arrogance infects you at last with the Bedlamite hope that, because you know how to tyrannize over yourselves—Stoicism is self-tyranny—nature too can be tyrannized over: for is the Stoic not a piece of nature? . . . But this is an old and never-ending story: what formerly happened with the Stoics still happens today as soon as a philosophy begins to believe in itself. It always creates the world in its own image, it cannot do otherwise; philosophy is this tyrannical drive itself, the most spiritual will to power, to ‘creation of the world’, to causa prima.”

—Friedrich Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evil.