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Nietzsche: Philosopher, Psychologist, Antichrist 4th Edition
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Top Customer Reviews
Walter Kaufmann was arguably the best translator of Friedrich Nietzsche into any language and is responsible to a large extent for his rehabilitation after World War II. In contrast to those who attempt to trash Kaufmann (see especially the reviews to Will To Power) he was better equipped to interpret Nietzsche than the vast majority of amateur Nietzscheans today. First Kaufmann was German-born, meaning that he had a native ability with that language. Normally when choosing a translator it is the normal requirement that the target language - in the case of Nietzsche's German, English is the target language - is handled by a native speaker. Kaufmann was an exception to this rule in that his English was exceptional; his writing is better than most native English speakers. In addition to that he had the intuitive feel for Nietzsche's German that only a native speaker of that language could have. Consider too the cultural context. His generation was closer to Nietzsche's than ours, he grew up in and knew intimately the culture that had produced Nietzsche. With all this in mind, for someone to then come along, say a 30ish American with perhaps a smattering of High School German, and attempt to trash Kaufmann (all the while using his translations which one would expect were tainted) shows a distinct lack of intellectual consistency.Read more ›
The polemics against other Nietzsche scholars are a little much. However, having read a number of the books of the Nietzsche-bashers Kaufman trashes, I tend to agree with him more than his critics, and in the context of the time they were written, I suppose they were not inappropriate.
Some reviewers have suggested Kaufmann lacks depth or sophistication, and there may be some truth in this. [Anecdote deleted which some of Kaufmann's admirers don't like. I am deleting it since the source will not permit his/her name to be used despite having told the story to a fairly large number of people]
It is mildly annoying that Kaufmann trashes every German edition of Nietzsche's work except the Musarion - a 1922 edition of which around 1,000 sets were printed. I was told only a hundred or so sets survived WWII and de-Nazification. I was fortunate enough to have access to it as graduate student at the University of California, but except for Kaufmann, I don't know of any sets in private hands. It is good, but almost inaccessible. I was the only one who had checked out several of the volumes, and in others I had to cut the pages.Read more ›
This text is not a biography. It is not light reading. In fact, it was written by one of the foremost scholars on the life and philosophy of the difficult Nietzsche and Kaufmann is highly intelligent himself. Though I was able to slowly read through this text, and it did offer absolutely invaluable insights, I would not suggest it for the passive or novice reader.
The reader does get a sense of what kind of a person Nietzsche was but this book is mainly concerned with his writings and ideas. Many of the works Nietzsche wrote are highlighted and presented in depth. However, far beyond this discussion of the writings of Nietzsche is a discussion of his ideas and their relevance. In this case, Kaufmann attempts something rarely indulged--a discussion of the ideas and thoughts of one of the most brilliant and revolutionary philosophers of recent times.
This is meat not milk.
First, Kaufmann has translated many poems, philosophers, and Nietzsche's work into English. This means he has intimiate familiarity with Nietzsche's use of various Germanic words.
Second, he was interested in existential philosophy in general. Kaufmann was also fascinated by many of the same people that Nietzsche found inspirational, particularly Goethe. While it is possible to accurately "translate" a text and give a meaning based upon pure linguistics and reading the text, an author that is able to place things within their proper historical standpoint shows a great deal more to the audience whenever ideas can be placed within other contexts.
Third, Kaufmann was a fan of Nietzsche. This is something important, as many philosophers butcher other philosopher's work that they do not like. Take, for example, Karl Popper's very famous misinterpretations of Hegel in "Open Society and Its Enemies".
Fourth, though he is often harsh towards other interpretators and commentators, (most often justifiably so), he has no doctrinal axe to grind. The most serious accusation is that he white-washed Nietzsche too much. I think most readers acquainted with Nietzsche will see where Kaufmann did this. Given that he was trying to remove the taint of the Nazis from Nietzsche, I can understand his white-washing, even if it's now antiquated.
Fifth, he has no real religious axe to grind.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Nietzsche stands among the truly great in history. It is fair to say that this biography, by Walter Kaufmann, is the most thorough and enlightening biography I've read. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Thomas Lapins
Classic philosophical treatment of a notorious philosopher whose writings both shock and surprise. Perhaps dated, but not to be overlooked.Published 8 months ago by Rev. John D. White
This book by Walter Kaufmann is probably the most important book written about the life and works of Friedrich Nietzsche. Read morePublished 15 months ago by Andrew Olsen
So far so good. Kaufmann wrote THE book about Nietzsche, the book you MUST read. And, this is it. Just a quarter of the way in, I have answers to some big questions, like the... Read morePublished 23 months ago by R. Ahmanson
VERY esoteric although that is probably to be expected given the category.Published 23 months ago by Louise Simmons
Extraordinary book!!! I really love this book. It really clarified Nietzsche's philosophy and ideas. Read morePublished 23 months ago by matthew am
That is a quote from Nietzsche's 'Will to Power', and I'm referring to Mr. Kaufmann because that is what he does; his reputation is built on sanitized, literalized, 'honest'... Read morePublished on April 3, 2014 by lenazifrog
Kaufmann gives a concise, easy to follow assessment of Nietzsche's philosophy. And he disspells long-held mistaken beliefs about Nietzsche's philosophy that the Nazis purposely... Read morePublished on October 2, 2013 by canda siggler
The work addresses one of the most important thought Nieztsche: the problem of sublimation. The author develops it in a very clear and precise.Published on August 26, 2013 by Ramon Maia