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The Valkyrie: Page 333
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autonomy in one case and to recognize it in another, to dispose of the good a man does as the grace of God, but to hold man guilty of the evil he does.” [248F-LER: p. 162]

Wagner reiterates this sentiment in his observation that the good, or “help,” man identifies with God, but evil, or harm, man attributes to man himself and his voluntary sinning:

[P. 310] “(Misunderstanding his own impulses, to himself Man seemed outside God, i.e., wicked: over against themselves men set the Law, as come from God, to force themselves to good.) God was one with the world from the beginning: the earliest races (Adam and Eve) lived and moved in this oneness, innocent, unknowing it: the first step in knowledge was the distinguishing between the helpful and the harmful; in the human heart the notion of the Harmful developed into that of the Wicked: this seemed to be the opposite [P. 311] of the Good, the Helpful, of God, and that dualism (Zwiegespaltenheit) formed the basis of all Sin and Suffering of mankind; upon it was built the idea of man’s imperfectness, and that idea itself was bound to swell to doubt of God.

Human Society next sought deliverance through the Law: it fastened the notion of Good to the Law, as to something intelligible and perceptible by us all: but what was bound fast to the Law was only a moment of the Good, and since God [i.e., natural necessity] is eternally generative, fluent and mobile [Wotan’s longing for change], the Law thus turned against God’s self; for, as man can live and move by none save the ur-law of Motion itself, in pursuance of his nature he needs must clash against the Law, i.e., the binding, standing, -- thus grow sinful. This is man’s suffering, the suffering of God himself who has not come as yet to consciousness in men. That consciousness we finally attain through taking the essence of Man himself for immediate Godhood … .” [391W-{1-2/49} Jesus of Nazareth: PW Vol. VIII, p. 310-311]

Wagner provides an even deeper analysis of the question, whether mortal man can have a free will, which Fricka raised. Wagner notes below that if man only does what he does because of outside coercion, as for instance if he does good when his natural instincts would otherwise have persuaded him to do evil, only because, let’s say, he fears God, this good is deprived of merit:

“… so long as a virtue is demanded, it will never in truth be exercised. Either the exercise of this virtue was an act despotically imposed – and thus without that merit of virtue imagined for it; or it was a necessary, an unreflective act of free-will, and then its enabling force was not the self-restricting Will, -- but Love.” [551W-{50-1/51} Opera and Drama: PW Vol. II, p. 352]

But anything man does of his own natural volition, by instinct (or even an immortal soul), is not free either, because it is the direct product of a man’s true character, which he inherits by virtue of his genes and the environment in which he develops, or soul, and which can’t truly be altered:

[P. 952] “In the salon he [Wagner] talked to me about character and said it was foolish to praise it, for either it was meaningless, or a [P. 953] person could not act otherwise than he had done. (‘For example, when I did not wish to compose a ballet for ‘Tannhaeuser’: I could not have acted differently.’) I ask him whether he does not admit struggles inside a noble person. ‘Yes, but the decision is preordained. And the actions are what matter.’ “ [1139W-{11/15/82} CD Vol. II, p. 952-953]

Again, we find the basis for Wagner’s reflections in Feuerbach:

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