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In this chapter Nietzsche says:

It is the church that repulses us, not its poison - apart from the Church we like the poison.

I am under the impression that "us" refers to the freethinker. I do not understand what he means by saying that the freethinker likes the poison.

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"But why do you talk of nobler ideals? Let us submit to the facts; that the people have triumphed—or the slaves, or the populace, or the herd, or whatever name you care to give them—if this has happened through the Jews, so be it! In that case no nation ever had a greater mission in the world's history. The 'masters' have been done away with; the morality of the vulgar man has triumphed. This triumph may also be called a blood-poisoning (it has mutually fused the races)—I do not dispute it; but there is no doubt but that this intoxication has succeeded. The 'redemption' of the human race (that is, from the masters) is progressing swimmingly; everything is obviously becoming Judaised, or Christianised, or vulgarised (what is there in the words?). It seems impossible to stop the course of this poisoning through the whole body politic of mankind—but its tempo and pace may from the present time be slower, more delicate, quieter, more discreet—there is time enough. In view of this context has the Church nowadays any necessary purpose? has it, in fact, a right to live? Or could man get on without it? Quæritur. It seems that it fetters and retards this tendency, instead of accelerating it. Well, even that might be its utility. The Church certainly is a crude and boorish institution, that is repugnant to an intelligence with any pretence at delicacy, to a[Pg 34] really modern taste. Should it not at any rate learn to be somewhat more subtle? It alienates nowadays, more than it allures. Which of us would, forsooth, be a freethinker if there were no Church? It is the Church which repels us, not its poison—apart from the Church we like the poison." This is the epilogue of a freethinker to my discourse, of an honourable animal (as he has given abundant proof), and a democrat to boot; he had up to that time listened to me, and could not endure my silence, but for me, indeed, with regard to this topic there is much on which to be silent.

Note the speech marks bracketing the section I have italicised. He is saying that section, is the epilogue to his work by a free thinker, an animal, and a democra - which he rolls together. He is disparaging the person making a shallow reading, and going beyond what he has purposely not said. The section in scare-quotes says the triumph of the herd is a blood-poisoning, ie the slave-morality of the church, and then that the free-thinker likes that poison seperated from the Church.

The next section addresses resentment, a key idea in Nietzsche's thinking, about a morality of envy, rather than of affirmation. That is the mode of morality that leads to the Last Man, a society not of individuals but of ants.

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  • That was my idea however I was not very confident about since I was under the impression that the free thinkers are those who Nietzsche expects will bring about the transvaluation of values he wants, but here he depicts them negatively. Why would they like the poison? Would these be self-proclaimed free thinkers which are not free thinkers at all? Commented Apr 11 at 12:25
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    @littledunedain: Freethinking isn't enough for Nietzsche. Those thinkers of the Enlightenment like Voltaire & Rousseau, are stuck in the corpse of Christianity, even knowing it's animating spirit is deceased
    – CriglCragl
    Commented Apr 11 at 12:58
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    Thank you! I'm just starting Nietzsche, will take a little time to be familiar with all his idiosyncrasies. But I see what you mean since they make a moral free of religion that looks just like that of Christianity. Commented Apr 11 at 16:02

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