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useful.-*. This truth has been insisted upon at great length by Helvetius
in his chief work De V Esprit* the conclusion of which is that we love
esteem not for its own sake, but solely for the advantages which it brings.
And as the means can never be more than the end, that saying, of which
so much is made, Honor is dearer than life itself, is, as I have remarked, a
very exaggerated statement. So much, then, for civic honor.

Official honor is the general opinion of other people that a man who
fills any office really has the necessary qualities for the proper discharge
of all the duties which appertain to it. The greater and more important
the duties a man has to discharge in the State, and the higher and more
influential the office which he fills, the stronger must be the opinion
which people have of the moral and intellectual qualities which render
him fit for his post Therefore, the higher his position, the greater must
be the degree of honor paid to him, expressed, as it is, in titles, orders
and the generally subservient behavior of others towards him. As a rule,
a man's official rank implies the particular degree of honor which ought
to be paid to him, however much this degree may be modified by the
capacity of the masses to form any notion of its importance. Still, as a
matter of fact, greater honor is paid to a man who fulfils special duties
than to the common citizen, whose honor mainly consists in keeping
clear of dishonor.

Official honor demands, further, that the man who occupies an office
must maintain respect for it, for the sake both of his colleagues and of
those who will come after him. This respect an official can maintain by a
proper observance of his duties, and by repelling any attack that may be

1 Dejlnibus iii., 17. Disc : iii., 13,

44



THE WISDOM OF LIFE. 305

made upon the office itself or upon its occupant : he must not, for in-
stance, pass over unheeded any statement to the effect that the duties of
the office are not properly discharged, or that the office itself does not
conduce to the public welfare. He must prove the unwarrantable nature
of such attacks by enforcing the legal penalty for them.

Subordinate to the honor of official personages comes that of those
who serve the State in any other capacity, as doctors, lawyers, teachers,
anyone, in short, who by graduating in any subject, or by any other
public declaration that he is qualified to exercise some special skill,
claims to practice it ; in a word, the honor of all those who take any
public pledges whatever. Under this head comes military honor, in the
true sense of the word, the opinion that people who have bound them-
selves to defend their country really possess the requisite qualities which
will enable them to do so, especially courage, personal bravery and
strength, and -that they are perfectly ready to defend their country to the
death, and never and under no circumstances desert the flag to which
they have once sworn allegiance. I have here taken official honor in a
wider sense than that in which it is generally used, namely, the respect
due by citizens to an office itself.

In treating of sexual honor and the principals on which it rests, a little
more attention and analysis are necessary ; and what I shall say will
support my contention that all honor really rests upon a utilitarian basis.
There are two natural divisions of the subject tho honor of women and
the honor of men, in either side issuing in a well-understood esprit de
corps. The former is by far the more important of the two, because the
most essential feature in woman's life is her relation to man.

Female honor is the general opinion in regard to a girl that she is
pure, and in regard to a wife that she is faithful. The importance of this
opinion rests upon the following considerations. Women depend upon
men in all the relations of life ; men upon women, it might be said, in
one only. So an arrangement is made for mutual interdependence man
undertaking responsibility for all woman's needs and also for the children
that spring from their union an arrangement on which is based the
welfare of the whole female race. To carry out this plan, women have
to band together with a show of esprit de corps, and present one undivided
front to their common enemy, man, who possesses all the good things
of the earth, in virtue of his superior physical and intellectual power, in
order to lay siege to and conquer him, and so get possession of him and
a share of those good things. To this end the honor of all women de-
pends upon the enforcement of the rule that no woman should give her-
self to a man except in marriage, in order that every man may be forced,
as it were, to surrender and ally himself with a woman ; by this arrange-
ment provision is made for the whole of the female race. This is a result,
however, which can be obtained only by a strict observance of the rule ;
and, accordingly, women everywhere show true esprit de corps in carefttlty

IS



3 o6 BEACON LIGHTS OF SCIENCE.

insisting upon its maintenance. Any girl who commits a breach of the
rule betrays the whole female race, because its welfare would be destroyed
if every woman were to do likewise ; so she is cast out with shame as one
who has lost her honor. No woman will have anything more to do with
her ; she is avoided like the plague. The same doom is awarded to a
woman who breaks the marriage tie ; for in so doing she is false to the
terms upon which the man capitulated ; and as her conduct is such as to
frighten other men from making a similar surrender, it imperils the
welfare of all her sisters. Nay more ; this deception and coarse breach
of troth is a crime punishable by the loss, not only of personal, but also
of civic honor. This is why we minimize the shame of a girl, but not
of a wife ; because, in the former case, marriage can restore honor, while
in the latter, no atonement can be made for the breach of contract.

Once this esprit de corps is acknowledged to be the foundation of
female honor, and is seen to be a wholesome, nay, a necessary arrange-
ment, as at bottom a matter of prudence and interest, its extreme import-
ance for the welfare of women will be recognized. But it does not pos-
sess anything more than a relative value. It is no absolute end, lying
beyond all other aims of existence and valued above life itself. In this
view, there will be nothing to applaud in the forced and extravagant
conduct of a Lucretia or a Virgmius conduct which can easily degen-
erate into tragic farce, and produce a terrible feeling of revulsion. The
conclusion of Emilia Galotti, for instance, makes one leave the theatre
completely ill at ease ; and, on the other hand, all the rules of female
honor cannot prevent a certain sympathy with Clara in Egmont. To
carry this principle of female honor too far is to forget the end in think-
ing of the means and this is just what people often do ; for such exag-
geration suggests that the value of sexual honor is absolute ; while the
truth is that it is more relative than any other kind. One might go so
far as to say that its value is purely conventional, when one sees from
Thomasius how in all ages and countries, up to the time of the Reforma-
tion, irregularities were permitted and recognized by law, with no dero-
gation to female honor, not to speak of the temple of Mylitta at Babylon.*

There are also, of course, certain circumstances in civil life which
make external forms of marriage impossible, especially in Catholic coun-
tries, where there is no such thing as divorce. Ruling princes every-
where, would, in my opinion, do much better, from a moral point of
view, to dispense with forms altogether rather than contract a morganatic
marriage, the descendants of which might raise claims to the throne if the
legitimate stock happened to die out; so that there is a possibility,
though, perhaps, a remote one, that a morganatic marriage might pro-
duce a civil war. And, besides, such a marriage, concluded in defiance
of all outward ceremony, is a concession made to women and priests
two classes of persons to whom one should be most careful to give at

Herodotus, i. 199.
40



THE WISDOM OF LIFE. 3 o 7

little tether as possible. It is further to be remarked that every man in a
country can marry the woman of his choice, except one poor individual,
namely, the prince. His hand belongs to his country, and can be gi^en
in marriage only for reasons of State, that is, for the good of the country.
Still, for all that, he is a man ; and, as a man, he likes to follow whither
his heart leads. It is an unjust, ungrateful and priggish thing to forbid,
or to desire to forbid, a prince from following his inclinations in this
matter ; of course, as long as the lady has no influence upon the Govern-
ment of the country. From her point of view she occupies an excep-
tional position, and does not come under the ordinary rules of sexual
honor ; for she has merely given herself to a man who loves her, and
whom she loves but cannot marry. And in general, the fact that the
principle of female honor has no origin in nature, is shown by the many
bloody sacrifices which have been offered to it, the murder of children
and the mother's suicide. No doubt a girl who contravenes the code
commits a breach of faith against her whole sex ; but this faith is one
which is only secretly taken for granted, and not sworn to. And since,
in most cases, her own prospects suffer most immediately, her folly is
infinitely greater than her crime.

The corresponding virtue in men is a product of the one I have been
discussing. It is their esprit de corps, which demands that, once a man
has made that surrender of himself in marriage which is so advantageous
to his conqueror, he shall take care that the terms of the treaty are main-
tained ; both in order that the agreement itself may lose none of its force
by the permission of any laxity in its observance, and that men, having
given up everything, may, at least, be assured of their bargain, namely,
exclusive possession. Accordingly, it is part of a man's honor to resent
a breach of the marriage tie on the part of his wife, and to punish it, at
the very least by separating from her. If he condones the offence, his
fellow-men cry shame upon him ; but the shame in this case is not nearly
so foul as that of the woman who has lost her honor ; the stain is by no
means of so deep a dye levioris notae macula ; because a man's relation
to woman is subordinate to many other and more important affairs in his
life. The two great dramatic poets of modern times have each taken
man's honor as the theme of two plays ; Shakespeare in Othello and Tht
Winters Tale, and Calderon in El medico de su honra (the Physician of
his Honor), and A secreto agravio secreta venganza (for Secret Insult
Secret Vengeance). It should be said, however, that honor demands
the punishment of the wife only ; to punish her paramour too, is a work
of supererogation. This confirms the view I have taken, that a man's
honor originates in esprit de corps.

The kind of honor which I have been discussing hitherto has always
existed in its various forms and principles amongst all nations and at all
times ; although the history of female honor shows that its principles
have undergone certain local modifications at different periods. But



3 o8 BEACON LIGHTS OF SCIENCE.

there is another species of honor which differs from this entirely, a species
Of honor of which the Greeks and Romans had no conception, and up to
this day it is perfectly unknown amongst Chinese, Hindoos or Moham-
medans. It is a kind of honor which arose only in the Middle Age, and
is indigenous only to Christian Europe, nay, only to an extremely small
portion of the population, that is to say, the higher classes of society and
those who ape them. It is knightly honor, o\ point d'honneur. Its prin-
ciples are quite different from those which underlie the kind of honor I
have been treating until now, and in some respects are even opposed to
them. The sort I am referring to produces the cavalier ; while the other
kind creates the man of honor. As this is so, I shall proceed to give an
explanation of its principles, as a kind of code or mirror of knightly
courtesy.

(i.) To begin with, honor of this sort consists, not in other people's
opinion of what we are worth, but wholly and entirely in whether they
express it or not, no matter whether they really have any opinion at ail,
let alone whether they know of reasons for having one. Other people
may entertain the worst opinion of us in consequence of what we do,
and may despise us as much as they like ; so long as no one dares to
give expression to his opinion, our honor remains untarnished. So if
our actions and qualities compel the highest respect from other people,
and they have no option but to give this respect, as soon as anyone, no
matter how wicked or foolish he may be, utters something depreciatory
of us, our honor is offended, nay, gone forever, unless we can manage
to restore it A superfluous proof of what I say, namely, that knightly
honor depends, not upon what people think, but upon what they say, is
furnished by the fact that insults can be withdrawn, or, if necessary, form
the subject of an apology, which makes them as though they had never
been uttered. Whether the opinion which underlay the expression has
also been rectified, and why the expression should ever have been used,
are questions which are perfectly unimportant : so long as the statement
is withdrawn, all is well. The truth is that conduct of this kind aims,
not at earning respect, but at extorting it.

(2.) In the second place, this sort of honor rests, not on what a man
does, but on what he suffers, the obstacles he encounters ; differing from
the honor which prevails in all else, in consisting, not in what he says or
does himself, but in what another man says or does. His honor is thus
at the mercy of every man who can talk it away on the tip of his tongue ;
and if he attacks it, in a moment it is gone forever, unless the man
who is attacked manages to wrest it back again by a process which I shall
mention presently, a process which involves danger to his life, health,
freedom, property and peace of mind. A man's whole conduct may be
in accordance with the most righteous and noble principles, his spirit
may be the purest that ever breathed, his intellect of the very highest
order; and yet his ho~ - ^ay disappear the moment that anyone is

. 48



THE WISDOM OF LIFE. 309

pleased to insult him, anyone at all who has not offended against this
code of honor himself, let him be the most worthless rascal or the most
stupid beast, an idler, gambler, debtor, a man, in short, of no account
at all. It is usually this sort of fellow who likes to insult people ; for, as
Seneca 1 rightly remarks, ut quisque contemtissimus et ludibrio est, ita solu-
tissimcB linguce est the more contemptible and ridiculous a man is, the
readier he is with his tongue. His insults are most likely to be directed
against the very kind of man I have described, because people of different
tastes can never be friends, and the sight of pre-eminent merit is apt to
raise the seciet ire of a ne'er-do-well. What Goethe says in the West-
ostlicher Divan is quite true, that it is useless to complain against your
enemies ; for they can never become your friends, if your whole being i
a standing reproach to them:

Was klagst du itter Feindef

Sollten Solcheje werden Freunde
Denen das Wesen, wie du bist^
Jm stillen ein ewiger Vorwurfistf

It is obvious that people of this worthless description have good cattov
to be thankful to the principle of honor, because it puts them on a level
with people who in every other respect stand far above them. If a fel-
low likes to insult any one, attribute to him, for example, some bad
quality, this is taken prima facie as a well-founded opinion, true in fact ;
a decree, as it were, with all the force of law ; nay, if it is not at once
wiped out in blood, it is a judgment which holds good and valid to all
time. In other words, the man who is insulted remains in the eyes of
all honorable people what the man who uttered the insult even though
he were the greatest wretch on earth was pleased to call him ; for he has
put up with the insult the technical term, I believe. Accordingly, all
honorable people will have nothing more to do with him, and treat him
like a leper, and, it may be, refuse to go into any company where he may
be found, and so on.

This wise proceeding may, I think, be traced back to the fact that in
the Middle Age, up to the fifteenth century, it was not the accuser in any
criminal process who had to prove the guilt of the accused, but the
accused who had to prove his innocence. 2 This he could do by swearing
he was not guilty ; and his backers consacramentales had to come and
swear that in their opinion he was incapable of perjury. If he could find
no one to help him in this way, or the accuser took objection to his
backers, recourse was had to trial by the Judgment of God, which generally
meant a duel. For the accused was now in disgrace,* and had to clear

1 De Constantly II.

* See C. G. von Wachter's Beitrage sur deutschen Geschichte, especially the chapter
on criminal law.

3 Translator's Note. It is true that this expression has another and special meaning
in the technical terminology of Chivalry, but it is the nearest English equivalent which I
can find for the German ein Bescholtener.

40



?IO 'BEACON LIGHTS OF SCIENCE.

himself. Here, then, is the origin of the notion of disgrace, and of that
whole system which prevails nowadays amongst honorable people, only
that the oath is omitted. This is also the explanation of that deep feel-
ing of indignation which honorable people are called upon to show if they
are given the He ; it is a reproach which they say must be wiped out
in blood. It seldom comes to this pass, however, though lies are of
common occurrence ; but in England, more than elsewhere, it is a super-
stition which has taken very deep root As a matter of order, a man who
threatens to kill another for telling a lie should never have told one him-
self. The fact is, that the criminal trial of the Middle Age also admitted
of a shorter form. In reply to the charge, the accused answered : That is
a lie ; whereupon it was left to be decided by the Judgment of God.
Hence, the code of knightly honor prescribes that, when the lie is given,
an appeal to arms follows as a matter of course. So much, then, for the
theory of insult.

But there is something even worse than insult, something so dreadful
that I must beg pardon of all honorable people for so much as mentioning
it in this code of knightly honor ; for I know they will shiver, and their
hair will stand on end, at the very thought of it the summum malum, the
greatest evil on earth, worse than death and damnation. A man may
give another horribile dictu t a slap or a blow. This is such an awful
thing, and so utterly fatal to all honor, that, while any other species of
insult may be healed by blood-letting, this can be cured only by the coup-
de-grdce.

(3.) In the third place, this kind of honor has absolutely nothing to
do with what a man may be in and for himself; or, again, with the ques-
tion whether his moral character can ever become better or worse, and all
such pedantic inquiries. If your honor happens to be attacked, or to all
appearances gone, it can very soon be restored in its entirety if you are
only quick enough in having recourse to the one universal remedy a
duel. But if the aggressor does not belong to the classes which recognize
the code of knightly honor, or has himself once offended against it, there
is a safer way of meeting any attack upon your honor, whether it consists
in blows, or merely in words. If you are armed, you can strike down
your opponent on the spot, or perhaps an hour later. This will restore
your honor.

But if you wish to avoid such an extreme step, from fear of any
unpleasant consequences arising therefrom, or from uncertainty as to
whether the aggressor is subject to the laws of knightly honor or not, there
is another means of making your postition good, namely, the Awntage.
This consists in returning rudeness with still greater rudeness ; and if
insults are no use, you can try a blow, which forms a sort of climax in
the redemption of your honor ; for instance, a box on the ear may be
cured by a blow with a stick, and a blow with a stick by a thrashing with

a horsewhip : and s the approved remedy for this last, some people

50



THE WISDOM OF LIFE. 3II

recommend you to spit at your opponent. ' If all these means are of no
avail, you must not shrink from drawing blood. And the reason for
these methods of wiping out insult is, in this code, as follows :

(4.) To receive an insult is disgraceful ; to give one, honorable. Let
me take an example. My opponent has truth, right and reason on his
side. Very well. I insult him. Thereupon right and honor leave him
and come to me, and, for the time being, he has lost them until he gets
them back, not by the exercise of right or reason, but by shooting and
sticking me. Accordingly, rudeness is a quality which, in point of
honor, is a substitute for any other and outweighs them all. The
rudest is always right. What more do you want? However stupid, bad or
wicked a man may have been, if he is only rude into the bargain, he con-
dones and legitimizes all his faults. If in any discussion or conversation
another man shows more knowledge, greater love of truth, a sounder
judgment, better understanding than we, or generally exhibits intellectual
qualities which cast ours into the shade, we can at once annul his superi-
ority and our own shallowness, and in our turn be superior to him, by
being insulting and offensive. For rudeness is better than any argument;
it totally eclipses intellect If our opponent does not care for our mode
of attack, and will not answer still more rudely, so as to plunge us into
the ignoble rivalry of the Avaniage, we are the victors and honor is on
our side. Truth, knowledge, understanding, intellect, wit, must beat a
retreat and leave the field to this almighty insolence.

Honorable people immediately make a show of mounting their war-
horse, if anyone utters an opinion adverse to theirs, or shows more intelli-
gence than they can muster ; and if in any controversy they are at a loss
for a reply, they look about for some weapon of rudeness, which will
serve as well and come readier to hand ; so they retire masters of the
position. It must now be obvious that people are quite right in applaud-
ing this principle of honor as having ennobled the tone of society. This
principle springs from another, which forms the heart and soul of the
entire code.

(5.) Fifthly, the code implies that the highest court to which a man
can appeal in any differences he may have with another on a point of
honor is the court of physical force, that is of brutality. Every piece of
rudeness is, strictly speaking, an appeal to brutality ; for it is a declaration
that intellectual strength and moral insight are incompetent to decide,
and that the battle must be fought out by physical force a struggle which,
in the case of man, whom Franklin defines as a fool-making animal, is
decided by the weapons peculiar to the species ; and the decision is
irrevocable. This is the well-know principle of the right of might irony,

i Translator's Note. It must be remembered that Schopenhauer is here describing,
or perhaps caricaturing, the manners and customs of the German aristocracy of half a
century ago. Now, of course, nous avons change tout cela !

51



BEACON LIGHTS OF SCIENCE.

of course, like the wit of a fool, a parallel phrase. The honor of a knight
may be called the glory of might.

(6.) Lastly, if, as we saw above, civic honor is very scrupulous in the
matter of meum and iuum, paying great respect to obligations and a
promise once made, the code we are here discussing displays, on the other
hand, the noblest liberality. There is only one word which may not be
broken, the word of honor upon my honor, as people say the pre-
sumption being, of course, that every other form of promise may be
broken. Nay, if the worst comes to the worst, it is easy to break even
one's word of honor, and still remain honorable again by adopting that
universal remedy, the duel, and fighting with those who maintain that we
pledged our word. Further, there is one debt, and one alone, that under
no circumstances must be left unpaid a gambling debt, which has



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