Book Two: A Criticism of the Highest Values That Have Prevailed Hitherto
V: The Moral Ideal
§349 Whatever kind of eccentric ideal one may have (whether as a “Christian”, a “free spirit”, an “immoralist”, or a German Imperialist), one should try to avoid insisting upon its being the ideal; for, by so doing, it is deprived of all its privileged nature. One should have an ideal as a distinction; one should not propagate it and thus level one’s self down to the rest of mankind.
How is it, that in spite of this obvious fact, the majority of idealists indulge in propaganda for their ideal, just as if they had no right to it unless the majority acquiesce in it? For instance, as all those brave little women do when they claim the right to study Latin and mathematics. What is it urges them to do this? I fear it is the instinct of the herd and the terror of the herd: they fight for the “emancipation of woman” because they are best able to achieve their own private little distinction by fighting for it under the cover of a charitable movement, under the banner bearing the slogan “For others”.
The prudence of idealists consists in their persistently posing as the missionaries and “representatives” of an ideal: they thus “beautify” themselves in the eyes of those who still believe in disinterestedness and heroism. Whereas real heroism consists, not in fighting under the banner of self-sacrifice, submission and disinterestedness, but in not fighting at all — “I am thus; I will be thus and you can go to the devil”!