EINSTEIN, ALBERT. Autograph letter signed ("Papa") to Eduard Einstein, n.p., 23 December 1927. 2 pages, 4to, 280 x 220 mm. (11 x 9 in.)
"CREATION REQUIRES ITS INDULGENCE"
A long, philosophical letter invoking Beethoven and Nietzsche, apparently in reply to a similar letter from the seventeen-year-old Eduard: "...Your axiom, 'life has no purpose which lies outside itself,' I agree with entirely, but having said this, one has not said enough. Life in the sense of our mere existence and functioning is not a worthy ideal, not even 'the happy life'...One must aim at the ideal of 'the beautiful life' while remaining fully aware that the decision as to what this actually constitutes must be left to the feelings. Men, who live in society, are pleased when they behold each other, share their burdens and direct their efforts to that which is in their hearts. For this effort is the source of joy, and this life a full life. For me, health, joy in intellectual and artistic creation, and humor are part of this...Life in the service of an idea can be good when the idea is life-giving and releases the individual from the shackle of the self, without precipitating him into another form of slavery. Science and art can have this effect...But I don't think that these efforts must lead to an unreadiness for life itself. Even water is a poison when one drowns in it. If the refinement of consciousness were equivalent to degeneration, then the development from fish to man would have to be regarded as a degenerative process, which is certainly not what you meant. One can be a joyous, vital creature, and at the same time be thoughtful and compassionate. You shouldn't become a caricature of an intellectual, but be spirited as well as active and open to enjoyment. The Greeks were right when they saw the ideal in the mean.
"I will not hear of natural hierarchy. Democracy and humanity are the natural consequences of sound social feeling. If you don't think abstractly, but consider the better examples among your fellow students and others whom you know, then you will see nothing of hierarchy. The man who is sound and feels harmoniously takes joy in his friends, his loved ones, his dog, and whatever else is crawling around, and takes pleasure in all sorts of happiness and all life, and takes everything as it is. The degeneration of the race is certainly undesirable and one of the worst things, therefore I cannot forgive Albert for his sin [his marriage to Frieda Knecht]. I instinctively avoid seeing him because I cannot be pleasant to him...In the end, to be sure, the process of intellectual and artistic creation and the begetting of children can, if necessary, be separated...However, I wouldn't want Beethoven to have left his works unwritten in favor of the latter activity. Creation requires its indulgence, if God is not to regret it. Neither you nor I can deny that a great part of morality is life-enhancing. However, what I prize in this cannot suppress the vital joy of being, as I observe it in good and happy fellow men. Hermits such as Nietzsche are not good judges in this domain."