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Basic Writings of Nietzsche (Modern Library Classics) Paperback – November 28, 2000
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A better title for this book might be The Indispensable Writings of Nietzsche. Indeed, the six selections contained in Walter Kaufmann's volume are not only critical elements of Nietzsche's oeuvre, they are must-reads for any aspiring student of philosophy. Those coming to Nietzsche for the first time will be pleased to find three of his best-known works--The Birth of Tragedy, Beyond Good and Evil, and On the Genealogy of Morals--as well as a collection of 75 aphorisms drawn from Nietzsche's celebrated aphoristic work. In addition, there are two lesser known, but important, pieces in The Case of Wagner and Ecce Homo. Kaufmann's lucid and accurate translations have been the gold standard of Nietzsche scholarship since the 1950s, and this volume does not disappoint.
Anyone who has slogged their way through the swamps of German philosophical writing---in Kant or Hegel or Heidegger--will find Nietzsche a refreshing and exhilarating change. The selections are well chosen, and a cover-to-cover read will aptly depict Nietzsche's philosophy. In this volume the reader will find many of Nietzsche's polemical (and frequently misunderstood) ratiocinations on Christianity, Socrates, Germany, and art. Here, too, are his seminal and unforgettable critiques of Western morality ("That lambs dislike great birds of prey does not seem strange: only it gives no ground for reproaching these birds of prey for bearing off little lambs"). For philosophical fireworks, Nietzsche can hardly be matched. His brazen defiance of intellectualism's conventions still rings in contemporary thought because he practiced philosophy with a hammer. --Eric de Place
"Nietzsche is one of the few philosophers since Plato whom large numbers of intelligent people read for pleasure."
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"This book contains the complete texts of The Birth of Tragedy, Beyond Good and Evil, On the Genealogy of Morals, The Case of Wagner, and Ecce Homo. Edited and translated by the great Nietzsche scholar Walter Kaufmann, this volume also features seventy-five aphorisms, selections from Nietzsche’s correspondence, and variants from drafts for Ecce Homo."
There is another compendium of Kaufmann's translations called "The Portable Nietzsche," which "contains the complete texts of Thus Spoke Zarathustra, Twighlight of the Idols, The Antichrist, and Nietzsche contra Wagner. It has additional selections from Human, All to Human; The Dawn; Beyond Good and Evil; Toward a Genealogy of Morals; Ecce Homo; and other works Letters and Notes."
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His influence on philosophy, literature, psychology and politics is immense.
Of course, some aspects of his vision on mankind are unacceptable.
The all important influence on his Nietzsche's life and philosophy came from Schopenhauer: `I very earnestly denied my `will to life' at the time when I first read Schopenhauer.'
The life of a Nietzschean immoralist
Life is to express one's will to and lust for power. The cardinal instinct of man is not self-preservation, but the discharge of strength. Everything evil, terrible, tyrannical in man, everything that is kin to beasts of prey and serpents serves the enhancement of the species `man'. This enhancement has always been the work of an aristocratic society. The noble man creates his own morality, his good and bad, with egoism and exploitation as his real nature. He despises the slaves, the unfree, the doglike people who allow themselves to be maltreated.
Christian morals, democracy
When the aristocratic value judgments declined, the plebeians imposed their own morality of unegoism, pity, self-sacrifice, self-abnegation and ascetic ideals on mankind. The egoistic `good' of the masters became the `evil' of the Christian faith.
This faith constitutes not less than a sacrifice of all freedom, enslavement and self-mutilation. By preserving all that is sick, it breads `a mediocre herd animal'.
Democracy, `the nonsense of the greatest numbers', with its `equality of rights', is the heir of Christianity.
It is a gruesome fact that an anti-life morality received the highest honors and was fixed as a law and a categorical imperative.
Art is a saving sorceress. She alone knows how to turn the nauseous thoughts about the horrors of life into the sublime and life's absurdity into the comic.
Musically speaking, Nietzsche himself was a composer.
`The Case against Wagner' compares the Dionysian opera `Carmen' by Bizet, with the Christian opera `Parsifal' by Wagner, the redeemer.
Besides his unacceptable profound misogyny (`woman's great art is the lie, her highest concern is mere appearance'), Friedrich Nietzsche's brutal evangel is not less than a call for war, not peace. But in an age of nuclear, bio- and chemo-weapons, of veiled State terrorism and of demographic explosions, his call for an uninhibited exploitation of man's basic instincts to fight for the spoils should be categorically rejected.
His romantic anti-rational and anti-scientific stances became pipedreams.
On the other hand, his attacks on the power of the moralists, his sincere call to live in `Dionysian' freedom and not for `eternal bliss', as well as his vision that art is the only truly metaphysical activity of man, will continue to appeal strongly to many and remain the bright parts of his virulent diatribes.
His work is a must read for all philosophers and lovers of truly essential polemics.