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Beyond Good and Evil (Penguin Classics) Paperback – April 29, 2003

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Editorial Reviews

Language Notes

Text: English, German (translation) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900) published, among other titles, Human, All Too Human and The Dawn. He divorced himself from public life and, in 1889, became insane, remaining in a condition of mental and physical paralysis until his death. R J Hollingdale translated eleven of Nietzsche's books and published two books about him. Michael Tanner is a Fellow of Corpus Christi College.

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Product Details

  • Series: Penguin Classics
  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics; Reissue edition (April 29, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 014044923X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140449235
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.6 x 7.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #162,140 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Lucia Medea on May 12, 2006
Format: Paperback
I was introduced to Nietzsche with this book, and have become addicted. The language is absolutely beautiful, and I think Hollingdale's translation brings out a lot of subtleties that the other translations don't. (If you can, compare passage 16 of various translations to see what I mean.)

A lot of Nietzsche's most prominent ideas (history of morality, noble vs. common types, nihilism) are present in this work, which makes me say that it's a good place to start to get a basic understanding of his ideas. Another recommendation would be The Gay Science, although that one's a bit more radical in that it's the first time that Nietzsche mentions the death of god.

A warning, though. If this is indeed your first encounter with Nietzsche, read him slowly. Let the ideas sink in before going on. Since the passages and aphorisms are short, the tendency is to read them through quickly, which causes you to overlook the underlying meaning.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Bill R. Moore on January 1, 2003
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Though he was all but unread during his actual lifetime, the eventual impact of Friedrich Nietzsche's writings have had something of the effect of a hydrogen bomb being dropped on the world of philosophy. Though this is perhaps not Nietzsche's best book, it is probably the best one to read if you are not familar with his works, as it is a nice and concise introduction to his philosophy, and easier to get into than other works, such as the more famous Thus Spoke Zarathustra. In the course of this book, Nietzsche does nothing less than shake all of Western philosophy, including some of its most sacred and long-held tenets, to its core. Starting with the ancient Greeks and going all the way through the then-contemporary Schopenhauer, no one and nothing is safe from the scathing, vitrolic attack of Nietzsche's pen, being a critical assestment and denunciation of philosophy the level of which had not been seen since Voltaire - a man Nietzsche seems to have held a somewhat-reluctant admiration for (though he also speaks of a certain philosopher as being "more profound than Voltaire... and consequently a good deal more silent.") Nietzsche, herein, attacks some of our most sacred and fundamentally-held beliefs: boldly declaring that good and evil, ethics and morality, and more are simply mere cultural inventions, and cannot be objectively defined, while also telling us that there is no God, no soul, and that life is essentially meaningless and absurd. While all of these are obvious implications of Nietzsche's famous perspectiveism - and clearly give him full claim to the title of Grandfather of postmodernism and existentialinism - he was not, as is often claimed, a nihilist. No, Nietzsche tells us that there is one thing, at least, that is noble (if not quite virtuous): that which affirms life.Read more ›
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Kevin L. Nenstiel TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on March 11, 2009
Format: Paperback
Nietzsche was an epoch-making thinker whose radical thought experiments defied the hegemony of mediocrity which ruled Europe in the guise of Christianity. He pushed both Christians and skeptics to greater intellectual hygiene, and demanded that all people who would weigh into philosophic debate first examine themselves to ensure they are capable of the effort this task requires. The epigraphs which comprise this book are some of the shining lights of the dawning modern era.

But I cannot recommend this book. As profound as Nietzsche's mind is, reading this book is a herculean task for those not schooled in critical philosophy. His claims don't so much take up a position as refute the positions of others, and unless you have read every thinker against whom he protests, following his concepts is a scavenger hunt through early modern philology.

The heart of this book, which the author conceived as an explication of Thus Spake Zarathustra, is that old theistic, Platonic, formalistic ways of seeing the world no longer have any teleological benefit to mankind. We are moving into a new era, he posits, and we need new philosophy. In justice, Nietzsche does not proclaim to proffer this new philosophy, only to explain why it is needed, and why we can confidently demolish the old philosophies.

Though Nietzsche is tarred with the epithet "atheist," if this book is typical, that is unfair. If anything, he sees of himself as harbinger of a world where spirituality thrives without need for "theist" or "atheist" ideas, a world where being FOR or AGAINST no longer apply.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful By "philoking" on August 8, 2001
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Beyond Good and Evil is a criticism of the most profound depths of human existence. A testimony from a heightened spirit and his journey upon the fine line between attacking the system unaided and falling into the "abyss" of nihilism.
Nietzsche antagonizes the school of thought that says 'the status quo of all things human leaves room for progression of the human mind, spirit and physiology.' All around him, Nietzsche sees that human existence is corrupted by the "monsters" encompassing it. These "monsters" are Nietzsche's metaphor for human ideas, modern and ancient, primitive or sophisticated. These ideas endemic of humanity, which he defines as limiting to human creativity, expression, and progression are: religion, equality, morality, democracy, nationalism, communism, classicism, stoicism, and belief in fixed human nature, (there are many more). Nietzsche fears that these ideas will plague humanity like unseen skeletons in the closet, making all men neither savage, nor great; these ideas will breed a population of mediocre humans, whom are oblivious to the self-destructive nature of their coveted ideas. And in ultimate effect: no mediocre man will dare antagonize the "herd" and its ideas; as Nietzsche so vividly illustrates that he can.
Even if one disagrees with some of the criticism, no open-minded reader will be left untouched with a sense of uncertainty for today's existence.
Beyond Good and Evil is a masterpiece to the individualist and an unnecessary evil to those of convention. This book is a compass that encourages the individual to define oneself and find one's own niche among existence.
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