Because our time is struggling toward the word with which it may express its spirit, many names come to the fore and all make claim to being the right one. […] Without our assistance, time will not bring the right word to light; we must all work together on it. If, however, so much depends on us, we may reasonably ask what they have made of us and what they propose to make of us; we ask about the education through which they seek to make us creators of that word. Do they conscientiously cultivate our predisposition to become creators or do they treat us only as creatureswhose nature simply permits training? […] Therefore we are concerned above all with what they make of us in the time of our plasticity; the school question is a life question.
Man, your head is haunted; you have wheels in your head! You imagine great things, and depict to yourself a whole world of gods that has an existence for you, a spirit-realm to which you suppose yourself to be called, an ideal that beckons to you. You have a fixed idea! Do not think that I am jesting or speaking figuratively when I regard those persons who cling to the Higher, and (because the vast majority belongs under this head) almost the whole world of men, as veritable fools, fools in a madhouse. What is it, then, that is called a “fixed idea”? An idea that has subjected the man to itself. When you recognize, with regard to such a fixed idea, that it is a folly, you shut its slave up in an asylum. And is the truth of the faith, say, which we are not to doubt; the majesty of (e. g.) the people, which we are not to strike at (he who does is guilty of — lese-majesty); virtue, against which the censor is not to let a word pass, that morality may be kept pure; — are these not “fixed ideas”? Is not all the stupid chatter of (e. g.) most of our newspapers the babble of fools who suffer from the fixed idea of morality, legality, Christianity, etc., and only seem to go about free because the madhouse in which they walk takes in so broad a space?
I say: liberate yourself as far as you can, and you have done your part; for it is not given to every one to break through all limits, or, more expressively, not to everyone is that a limit which is a limit for the rest. Consequently, do not tire yourself with toiling at the limits of others; enough if you tear down yours. […] He who overturns one of his limits may have shown others the way and the means; the overturning of their limits remains their affair.