𝐹𝑜𝓊𝓃𝒹 Niaiserie allemande

People today are trying, it seems to me, to divert attention from Kant’s real influence on German philosophy, trying especially to evade what he himself considered his great value. Kant was most proud of his table of categories; holding it in his hands he said, “This is the most difficult thing that ever could be undertaken for the benefit of metaphysics.” But let us understand what this “could be” really implies! He was proud of having discovered in man a new faculty, the faculty to make synthetic a priori judgements. Granted that he was deceiving himself about his discovery: nevertheless, the development and rapid flowering of German philosophy stem from this pride and from the rivalry of his disciples to discover if at all possible something worthy of even more pride—and in any event “new faculties”! But let’s think about it, it is high time. “How are synthetic a priori judgements possible?” wondered Kant, and what did he answer? They are facilitated by a faculty: unfortunately, however, he did not say this in four words, but so cumbersomely, so venerably, and with such an expense of German profundity and ornateness that people misheard the comical niaiserie allemande in such an answer. They were ecstatic about this new faculty, in fact, and the rejoicing reached its height when Kant discovered a moral faculty in man as well. (For at that time Germans were still moral, and not yet “real-political”.) There followed the honeymoon of German philosophy; all the young theologians of the Tübingen Stift headed right for the bushes—they were all looking for ‘faculties’.

— from Beyond Good and Evil by Friedrich Nietzsche, translated by Marion Faber

1886 (1998)