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What Nietzsche Really Said Paperback – January 30, 2001

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Kathleen Higgins and Robert Solomon's comprehensive, lucid, and often humorous overview of Nietzsche's philosophy sings with the joy of his own work--a joy, the authors point out, that is often misunderstood or overlooked. Central to Nietzsche's thought is the call to celebrate life for its own sake. Yet, as Nietzsche himself realized, this often requires provocation. Through both the style and substance of his work, Nietzsche sought to inspire heated dialogue, encouraging readers "to say yes to philosophy, and to life." Many factors get in the way of recognizing and rising to the challenge, however--not the least of which are the rumors surrounding his life, work, and sympathies; his provocative views and prose; and his vivid attacks on systems of thought and individuals. With sense and sensitivity, Higgins and Solomon, both philosophy professors at the University of Texas at Austin, debunk 30 common rumors, offer questions to help guide our reading, provide brief annotations of Nietzsche's works, and examine his heroes and nemeses (sometimes the same people). In addition, they thoughtfully assess concepts central to Nietzsche's philosophy, including those critical to his "affirmative philosophy." This thorough approach, combined with clear writing and a sense of playfulness (attributes Nietzsche would have appreciated), offers insight into Nietzsche's philosophy without sacrificing its nuance or power--a substantial gift, indeed. --Stephanie Wickersham --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

About a decade ago, the late Allan Bloom published his immensely successful polemic, The Closing of the American Mind. In it he denounced the erosion of intellectual culture in the U.S., listing Nietzsche as one of the main villains in the story of American decline. Our moral fiber, so the argument goes, has been vitiated by a relativism, skepticism and godlessness that can be traced to the baleful influence of Nietzsche. Bloom's is merely one version of a common view. Higgins and Solomon--both professors of philosophy at the University of Texas, Austin--have much to say in favor of a clear, sober and precise understanding of Nietzsche's writings. In particular, they aim to bring into focus "Nietzsche's affirmative philosophy, his positive suggestions, along with his famously misunderstood doctrines and his enthusiasms. To think of Nietzsche as nothing but negative, 'the great destroyer,' is to misunderstand him profoundly." In brisk, forthright prose, Higgins and Solomon debunk widely accepted myths and rumors about Nietzsche: he was not a German nationalist, not an anti-Semite, did not hate women and plainly opposed everything the Nazis would later stand for. In addition, Higgins and Solomon give an especially sound presentation of Nietzsche's ethically motivated "immoralism" along with the various other positions that are basic to his writings, including the much misunderstood "will to power." The concept, they say, is largely a later creation of Heidegger and other interpreters who combed Nietzsche's unpublished notes for whatever jetsam might aid their own undertakings. Higgins and Solomon regard "the will to power" with judicious skepticism, wisely preferring the books Nietzsche did write to those he didn't. (Feb.)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Series: Age of Unreason
  • Paperback: 2863 pages
  • Publisher: Schocken (January 30, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0805210946
  • ISBN-13: 978-0805210941
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.6 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (42 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #118,437 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
What Nietzsche Really Said Robert C. Solomon and Kathleen M. Higgins Schocken Books 201 East 50th Street, New York, NY 10022 ISBN: 0-8052-4157-4 $23.00 Hardcover, 263 pages,
"To be great," wrote the great Ralph Waldo Emerson, "is to be misunderstood." Excepting Sigmund Freud, no thinker in recent history has been more talked about and less understood than Friedrich Nietzsche. How can we -- soft-living members of the herd, untrained in the linguistic labyrinth of contemporary philosophy -- understand this complex author who wants to revolutionize our lives? We might begin with three seminal books. The third would be a reliable anthology of Nietzsche's writings, such as The Portable Nietzsche, edited by Walter Kaufmann. Second on my list is Neils Lyhne, by the Danish novelist Jens Peter Jacobsen (1847-1885), which dramatizes the continual conflicts of any 19th-Century man who dares to embrace atheism and shout that God is no longer with us. And firstly, we might begin with this new work by Solomon and Higgins, which may be -- for the student and general reader -- the most readable and interesting introduction to Nietzsche currently in print.
The book begins by blasting away thirty common rumors and misunderstandings about Nietzsche's life and work. With the air cleared, the authors provide guidelines for approaching a book by Nietzsche, then summarize the major books, then explore the quintessential Nietzschean themes. Nietzsche is better-known as a destroyer of values, but thankfully, Solomon and Higgins correct the picture by highlighting the affirmative values and ideas imbued in Nietzsche's work.
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Format: Hardcover
The authors wrote this book with the intention of exonerating Nietzsche from many nasty rumors which have long been dismissed by scholars and intellectuals but are still common with the common.
The first half of the book directly comments on 30 such rumors: e.g., "Nietzsche was a Fascist," "Nietzsche Hated Jews," "Nietzsche was a Nihilist," etc.. The second part of the book has some features like "Nietzsche's Top Ten"--and also Nietzsche's bottom ten--where the authors present Nietzsche's opinions about other philosophers, like Socrates and Spinoza (Heraclitus is inexcusably absent). Then in the final part this book glosses over some other Nietzschean concepts such as the eternal return.
The entire book is an exercise in lost opportunities; the authors often (but hardly always) make correct claims, but the evidence they present is insubstantial. There is very little direct quotation of Nietzsche. For example, in the section where they try to destroy the rumor that "Nietzsche Hated Jews," the only evidence the authors present is a phrase from a letter Nietzsche wrote after he had gone insane. They had here the opportunity to present several Nietzschean quotations, from his books, which supported their point; but instead of getting right to the point and presenting Nietzsche's unequivocal rejection of anti-Semitism and of what he called the "race swindle," his admiration of the Jews, of the Old Testament, in his own words, this book just contains the aforementioned fragment and the authors' often confusing and poorly written commentary.
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Format: Hardcover
Few philosophers have been so widely read and yet so incredibly misunderstood as Friedrich Nietzsche. Many people have used Nietzsche's words to advance their own agendas. Hitler was supposedly a fan even though the philosopher was a staunch opponent of anti-Semitism and would have found the Third Reich abhorrent. Many atheists twist Nietzsche's remark that "God is dead" into an endorsement of nihilism when in truth, the German's writings are full of joy and spirit. Clearly, the misinterpretation of Nietzsche's words over the past century makes a book that synthesizes his ideas an absolute necessity. This is that book. The authors have much enthusiasm for Nietzsche's writings and their feelings spill over into the reader. They begin by refuting "thirty rumors" that swirl around the postmodernist. These include accusations that Nietzsche was a misogynist, an alcoholic, and drove students to murder. They are all dismissed. Mr. Solomon and Ms. Higgins go on to explore Nietzsche's critique of other philosophers and include a list of his heroes and villains. The strongest section of the book illuminates "Nietzsche's virtues." Here, the German's "life-affirming" philosophy is explained in detail. If ever there was a man ahead of his times, it was Nietzsche. Over a century ago, he anticipated a profound crisis in morality. He recognized that the old religious institutions were losing their credibility and influence. With their decline would come the ascent of scientific materialism. This new system, however, is a poor instrument for creating morality and virtue. Nietzsche offers his students an alternative: a morality from "within;" a perspective that sees life as worth living for its own sake and cultivating a character written with "style." Nietzsche is a living voice that sees life as a joy, encouraging us to treat every moment as such. That is what Nietzsche really said.
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