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Nietzsche – Philology is the Queen of the Sciences

July 22, 2014

“It is not for nothing that one has been a philologist, perhaps one is a philologist still, that is to say, a teacher of slow reading: – in the end one also writes slowly. Nowadays it is not only my habit, it is also to my taste – a malicious taste perhaps? – no longer to write anything which does not reduce to despair every sort of man who is ‘in a hurry’. For philology is that venerable art which demands of its votaries one thing above all: to go aside, to take time, to become still, to become slow – it is a goldsmith’s art and connoisseurship of the word which has nothing but delicate, cautious work to do and achieves nothing if it does not achieve it lento. But for precisely this reason it is more necessary than ever today, by precisely this means does it entice and enchant us the most, in the midst of an age of ‘work’, that is to say, of hurry, of indecent and perspiring haste, which wants to ‘get everything done’ at once, including every old or new book: – this art does not so easily get anything done, it teaches to read well, that is to say, to read slowly, deeply, looking cautiously before and aft, with reservations, with doors left open, with delicate eyes and fingers…”

(from Daybreak [1881], translated by R. J. Hollingdale)

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