The elder Mill, whose philosophy I will not praise otherwise, was on this point right when he said: If one proceeds from pure
experience, one arrives at polytheism. … It is commonplace to observe that something may be true although it is
not beautiful and not holy and not good. Indeed it may be true in precisely those aspects.
But all these are only the most elementary cases of the struggle that the gods of the various
orders and values are engaged in. I do not know how one might wish to decide
‘scientifically’ the value of French and German culture; for here, too, different gods struggle
with one another…
We live as did the ancients when their world was not yet disenchanted of its gods and demons, only we live in a different sense. As Hellenic man at times sacrificed to Aphrodite and at other times to Apollo, and, above all, as everybody sacrificed to the gods of his city, so do we still nowadays, only the bearing of man has been disenchanted and denuded of its mystical but inwardly genuine plasticity. Fate, and certainly not ‘science,’ holds sway over these gods and their struggles. One can only understand what the godhead is for the one order or for the other, or better, what godhead is in the one or in the other order. …
The grandiose rationalism of an ethical and methodical conduct of life that flows from every religious prophecy dethroned this polytheism in favor of the ‘one thing that is needful.’ … [But] today the routines of everyday life challenge religion. Many old gods ascend from their graves; they are disenchanted and hence take the form of impersonal forces. They strive to gain power over our lives and again they resume their eternal struggle with one another.