- Paperback: 292 pages
- Publisher: Cambridge University Press; 2 edition (November 13, 1997)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0521599636
- ISBN-13: 978-0521599634
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #332,170 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Daybreak: Thoughts on the Prejudices of Morality (Cambridge Texts in the History of Philosophy) 2nd Edition
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Text: English, German (translation)
Daybreak marks the arrival of Nietzsche's 'mature' philosophy and is indispensable for an understanding of his critique of morality and 'revaluation of all values'. This volume presents the distinguished translation by R. J. Hollingdale, with a new introduction that argues for a dramatic change in Nietzsche's views from Human, All too Human to Daybreak, and shows how this change, in turn, presages the main themes of Nietzsche's later and better-known works such as On the Genealogy of Morality. The edition is completed by a chronology, notes and a guide to further reading.
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Top Customer Reviews
Nietzsche criticized the Christian moral world view on a number of grounds that he was to develop further in his later works. His basic case rests on psychological analyses of the motivations and effects that stem from the adoption of the Christian moral perspective. In this respect, Daybreak typifies Nietzsche's ad hominem approach to morality. Nietzsche asks primarily, "What kind of person would be inclined to adopt this perspective?" and "What impact does this perspective have on the way in which its adherent develops and lives?"
Nietzsche argues that the concepts that Christianity uses to analyze moral experience--especially sin and the afterlife--are entirely imaginary and psychologically pernicious. These categories deprecate human experience, making its significance appear more vile than it actually is. Painting reality in a morbid light, Christian moral concepts motivate Christians to adopt somewhat paranoid and hostile attitudes toward their own behavior and that of others. Convinced of their own sinfulness and worthiness of eternal damnation, Christians are driven to seek spiritual reassurance at tremendous costs in terms of their own mental health and their relationships to others.
For instance, Christians feel that they need to escape their embodied selves because they are convinced of their own sinfulness. They are convinced of their own failure insofar as they believe themselves sinners and believe themselves to be bound by an unfulfillable law of perfect love. In order to ameliorate their sense of guilt and failure, Nietzsche contends, they look to others in the hope of finding them even more sinful than themselves. Because the Christian moral worldview has convinced its advocates that their own position is perilous, Christians are driven to judge others to be sinners in order to gain a sense of power over them. The Christian moral worldview thus paradoxically encourages uncharitable judgments of others, despite its praise of neighbor love.
The fundamental misrepresentation of reality offered by the Christian moral worldview provokes dishonesty in its adherents, particularly in appraisals of themselves and others. It also encourages them to despise earthly life in favor of another reality (one that Nietzsche claims does not exist). Still further psychological damage to the believer results from the Christian moral worldview's insistence on absolute conformity to a single standard of human behavior. Nietzsche contends that one size does not fit all where morality is concerned, and that most of the best and strongest individuals are least capable of living according to the mold. Nevertheless, Christians are urged to abolish their individual characters, and to the extent that they fail to do so they reinforce their own feelings of inadequacy.
Nietzsche's picture of Christian morality seems dismal. He regards it as the motivation for attitudes that are self-denigrating, vindictive towards others, escapist, and anti-life. Nietzsche never alters this basic assessment of the moral framework of his own tradition; instead, he continues to develop these themes in all his later discussions of morality and ethics.
As emphasized in the extremely well-written introduction by the editors (who do a great job in setting Daybreak in its context among other works by Nietzsche), the main subject of the book is a critique of morality -- what does it really mean to humans when we try to strip it down to its essentials and challenge the many conventions of custom. Nietzsche does not simply treat morality as an interesting subject for a pleasant intellectual dialogue, but rather makes it clear that he is in deadly earnest about how fundamentally important it is, and how our attitudes about it create ourselves and our world. You cannot read this book passively, because Nietzsche writes about difficult concepts that are very much alive today, such as this excerpt from section 149 about the common compulsion to conform to social custom, "The need for little deviant acts":
"Sometimes to act against one's better judgment when it comes to questions of custom... many toerably free-minded people regard this, not merely as unobjectionable, but as 'honest', 'humane', 'tolerant', 'not being pedantic', and whatever else those pretty words may be with which the intellectual conscience is lulled to sleep: and thus this person takes his child for Christian baptism though he is an atheist; and that person serves in the army as all the world does, however much he may execrate hatred between nations; and a third marries his wife in church because her relatives are pious and is not ashamed to repeat vows before a priest. ... The thoughtless error! ... it thereby acquires in the eyes of all who come to hear of it the sanction of rationality itself!"
There's much more of course, and one of the constantly exciting aspects of reading Nietzsche is to experience the way he interweaves discussions of art with larger philosophical concerns. His insights into literature and music are never trivial, and he provides a series of very startling perspectives. Daybreak is not the best known of Nietzsche's works, but it is essential to anyone who wants to engage seriously with his thought.
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These bad translations are everywhere, and here is another one.Read more