Beyond Good and Evil: Prelude to a Philosophy of the Future Continuing where Thus Spoke Zarathustra left off, Nietzsche’s controversial work Beyond Good and Evil is one of the most influential philosophical texts of the 19th century and one of the most controversial works of ideology ever written. Attacking the notion of morality as nothing more than institutionalised weakness, Nietzsche criticises past philosophers for their unquestioning acceptance of moral precepts. Nietzsche tried to formulate what he called “the philosophy of the future”. Alex Jennings reads this new translation by Ian Johnston.
Human, All Too Human: A Book for Free Spirits It was with Human, All Too Human, first published in 1878, that Nietzsche developed the aphoristic style that so suited his challenging views and uncompromising style. The text is divided into three main sections: ‘Of the First and Last Things’, ‘History of the Moral Feelings’ and ‘The Religious Life’. But the style remains the same: he declares the subjects - dream and civilisation; private ethics and world ethics; gratitude and revenge; well-wishing; vanity - and then discusses them in a few sentences or sometimes in a longer passage. This style enables him to cover an extraordinarily wide range of topics as his fertile and lively mind wander over man in his element. This audiobook also contains the two parts of volume II: ‘Miscellaneous Maxims’ and ‘The Wanderer and His Shadow’. These two collections are less well known - unjustly so, as they are packed with Nietzsche’s wonderfully uncompromising views and observation on a lucky dip of topics including debauchery, bach, danger in admiration, deception in love and dishonest praise. Here is an example: ‘End and goal. Not every end is the goal. The end of a melody is not its goal, and yet if a melody has not reached its end, it has also not reached its goal. A parable.’ All in all, this 15-hour collection in an appropriately conversational reading by Michael Lunts is a fascinating, at times infuriating yet always entertaining discovery.
On the Genealogy of Morality: A Polemic This is one of the most accessible of Nietzsche’s works. It was published in 1887, a year after Beyond Good and Evil, and he intended it to be a continuation of the investigation into the theme of morality. In the first work, Nietzsche attacked the notion of morality as nothing more than institutionalized weakness, and he criticized past philosophers for their unquestioning acceptance of moral precepts. In On the Genealogy of Morals, subtitled “A Polemic”, Nietzsche furthers his pursuit of a clarity that is less tainted by imposed prejudices. He looks at the way attitudes towards ‘morality’ evolved and the way congenital ideas of morality were heavily colored by the Judaic and Christian traditions.
The Antichrist, Ecce Homo The Antichrist and Ecce Homo were two of the last works written by Friedrich Nietzsche just before his mental collapse in 1889. Though both written in 1888, they are very different in content and style. In The Antichrist, Nietzsche expands on his view that the submissive nature of Christianity undermined Western society, depressing and sapping energy. Using a challenging, aphoristic style, he considers ‘good’ and ‘bad’, Buddhism and Christianity, and criticises the concepts of sin, faith, and pity as proposed in the Christian tradition, declaring that they undermined a zest for life. Ecce Homo is effectively Nietzsche’s autobiography. Writing in his idiosyncratic, urgent manner, he focuses on carefully chosen topics as he reviews his life and work. Among the chapter headings are: ‘Why I Am so Wise’ and ‘Why I Am so Clever’. But like so much of Nietzsche, the effect is not quite as bombastic as might be expected - it is a fascinating document.
The Birth of Tragedy from the Spirit of Music One of Nietzsche’s earliest works, The Birth of Tragedy (1872) is a remarkable source of inspiration. It is here that the philosopher expresses his frustration with the contemporary world and urges man to embrace Dionysian energy once more. He refutes European culture since the time of Socrates, arguing that it is one-sidedly Apollonian and prevents man from living in optimistic harmony with the sufferings of life. It is argued that the healthier culture can be perceived in the traditions of ancient Greece as the spectators of the tragic plays experienced Dionysus and Apollo in perfect harmony. However, Nietzsche has great faith in the human soul and presents a laudatory portrayal of Wagner, contending that his artistic spirit is the savior of Europe; Wagner’s music has sown the seeds for a period of liberating rebirth.
The Dawn of Day: Thoughts on the Prejudices of Morality Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900) is one of the towering intellectual figures of the 19th century, a philologist, philosopher and poet of profound complexity and range whose writings in moral philosophy continue to resonate in the present day. The Dawn of Day (Morgenröte), first published in 1881, marked a clear shift in his thinking and prefigures many of the ideas that would be further developed in his later writings. The clue is in the title, sometimes translated as Dawn or Morning, which suggests the beginning of a different awareness. One of Nietzsche’s least studied works, The Dawn of Day consists of 575 passages ranging from a few lines to numerous pages in length, in which the philosopher considers and dissects the nature of reality and of conventional 19th-century European ethics and morality. The great German thinker and classicist makes considerable use of aphorisms and frequently uses an ironic tone to criticise the nature of the morality suffusing the fabric of the society of his day. In John M Kennedy’s excellent translation, Nietzsche ranges across the influences exerted on the mind of modern man referencing classical sources, the Bible, Christian thinkers and the writer’s own contemporaries. The influence of Schopenhauer and an admiration for Kant are still apparent in his thinking, but Nietzsche clearly begins to develop his own world view, his own philosophy in this work. His burgeoning moral and cultural relativism in his critique of Christian thought is incisive and constant and the roots of the notions later developed into the ideas of ‘the death of God’ and ‘the will to power’ are clearly discernible. The work is organised in four books containing Nietzsche’s reflections on everything including politics, history, art, music, theatre, literature, psychology, religion, culture, crime and punishment, heroism, idealism and a plethora of other issues affecting the individual in society. It is an attempt at creating and describing a modern European perspective on existence while simultaneously exploring the nature of thinking and belief. Nietzsche alternates between pondering, preaching, teasing and provoking the listener. For instance when considering education he remarks, ‘…nobody learns, nobody teaches, nobody wishes, to endure solitude’. Then, shortly afterwards, he states, ‘Master and Pupil. By cautioning his pupils against himself the teacher shows his humanity.’ The Dawn of Day remains an abundant source of food for thought and is expertly presented by reader Michael Lunts for Ukemi Audiobooks.
The Gay Science (The Joyful Wisdom) The Gay Science (The Joyful Wisdom) is one of Nietzsche’s greatest books. His wonderfully fertile mind roams over mankind, his thoughts, his emotions, his behaviour and his weaknesses with remarkable clarity, with insight - but also with humour! In this work are 383 separate paragraphs, some short, some long, but all singular observations - the epitome of his famous aphoristic style. ‘Morality is the herd instinct in the individual.’ ‘The world is overfull of beautiful things, but it is nevertheless poor, very poor, in beautiful moments.’ Being intellectual, he declares, is not equivalent to ‘taking things seriously’: why not laugh while thinking! When should one be an Epicurean and when a Stoic? Nietzsche may be best known for Thus Spoke Zarathustra (The Gay Science was published in 1882, a year before Zarathustra, and actually contains its opening paragraph!) but with its potpourri of comments, some wild, some sharp, some rather odd, it is totally different in tone. The Gay Science represents the Friedrich Nietzsche one would want to meet. All of the 77 poems included by Nietzsche in The Gay Science have been placed at the end of the main text, to be enjoyed by dedicated Nietzscheans. The aphorisms and poems are persuasively read by Michael Lunts.
The Will to Power: An Attempted Transvaluation of All Values Nietzsche never recovered from his mental breakdown in 1889 and therefore was unable to further any plans he had for the ‘magnum opus’ he had once intended, bringing together in a coherent whole his mature philosophy. It was left to his close friend Heinrich Köselitz and his sister Elizabeth Förster-Nietzsche to go through the remaining notebooks and unpublished writings, choosing sections of particular interest to produce The Will to Power, giving it the subtitle An Attempted Transvaluation of All Values. It was published in 1901, was expanded in subsequent years and was translated into English in its expanded form in 1910 by Anthony M Ludovici, who had done so much to bring Nietzsche’s work to the English-speaking public. Ludovici explains that for Nietzsche, the Will to Power was the fundamental principle of all life, a view that could be found in many of his earlier texts, including Thus Spoke Zarathustra: ‘Where there is life, there is also will: not, however, Will to Life, but - so teach I thee - Will to Power!’ (In this, Nietzsche was concerned to overtake Schopenhauer’s concept of the ‘Will to Live’.) This posthumous compilation is arranged in four books (divided into 1,067 sections): 1. European Nihilism 2. A Criticism of the Highest Values That Have Prevailed Hitherto 3. The Principles of a New Valuation 4. Discipline and Breeding Among the themes given prominence by this compilation - and it is, it must be remembered, basically an anthology - are nihilism, metaphysics and the future of Europe. Nietzsche identified Christianity (and its claim to be ‘higher and better’) and its ‘meek/weak’ attitude as one cause of the nihilism that so concerned him. Another side of the coin was the ineluctable basic human nature of ’the will to power’. Deny that, and nihilism results. But passive nihilism (following the breakdown of social conventions, including conventional religion) can be counteracted by active nihilism and the role of the ‘ubermensch’, the self-reliant. In aphorism after aphorism he argued for the creation of new values based on acceptance that there is nothing beyond ourselves. It remains his conviction that it is the men who are the masters of themselves - a dominating elite - who must lead. But a deeply human initiative, not the creation of a master race! Aphorism 22 posits, ‘Nihilism. It may be two things: A. Nihilism as a sign of enhanced spiritual strength: active Nihilism. B. Nihilism as a sign of the collapse and decline of spiritual strength: passive Nihilism.’ Nietzsche’s powerful, uncompromising language continues right to the closing moments, where he concludes, ‘And even you yourselves are this will to power - and nothing besides!’ Translation by Anthony M Ludovici.
Thus Spoke Zarathustra: A Book for All and None Thus Spoke Zarathustra is one of the most extraordinary - and important - texts in Western philosophy. It was written by Friedrich Nietzsche between 1883 and 1885. He cast it in the form of a novel in the hope that his urgent message of the ‘death of God’ and the rise of the superman (Ubermensch) would have greater emotional as well as intellectual impact. Though tarnished somewhat by inappropriate adoption by the Nazi movement in the mid-20th century, Zarathustra remains an immensely important and influential work, particularly as it exhorts the individual to question standard conventions of society in order to pursue a truly ethical and spiritual path. After 10 years in solitude in the mountains, Zarathustra decides it is time to return to the world so that people can benefit from the fruits of his pondering: ‘I would like to bestow and distribute, until the wise have once more become joyous in their folly, and the poor happy in their riches.’ Thus Spoke Zarathustra is a challenging text, but once encountered and absorbed, it cannot be forgotten for both its content and style. Translation: Thomas Common - revised and updated.
Twilight of the Idols, On Truth and Lies in a Nonmoral Sense Though Twilight of the Idols (written in a week in 1888 and subtitled How to Philosophise with a Hammer) came near the end of Nietzsche’s creative life, he actually recommended it as a starting point for the study of his work. This was because from the beginning he viewed it as an introduction to his wide-ranging views. After an opening chapter of aphorisms - ‘Maxims and Arrows’ – he takes a challenging look at ‘The Problem of Socrates’, continues to buck the trend with ‘Morality as Anti-Nature’, and ‘The Four Great Errors’ (starting with ‘The Error of Confusing Cause and Effect’). He makes a scathing attack on conventional morality in ‘The Improvers of Mankind’ and finishes with a critical look at his own nation in ‘What Germans Lack’. He roams freely over icons of European culture, dispensing judgment without favour on writers, philosophers, composers and the like in a lively and characteristically Nietzschean torrent: Caryle, Emerson, Rousseau, George Eliot, Dante, Sainte Beuve, The Imitation of Christ, psychology, all fall under his pen; while he gives time to those he continues to admire, such as Schopenhauer, ‘the last German worthy of consideration’, and Dostoyevsky, ‘the only psychologist from whom I had something to learn’. He also looks back to where he began in ‘What I Owe to the Ancients’. Vigorous and intensely human, Twilight of the Idols (a nod to Wagner’s Götterdämmerung) is certainly instructive, argumentative and good fun! The shorter essay ‘On Truth and Lies in a Nonmoral Sense’ comes from an earlier stage in Nietzsche’s career (1873), though it was not published until two decades later. It has significantly influenced postmodernists of the 20th century. Twilight of the Idols is translated by Thomas Cannon. ‘On Truth and Lies in a Nonmoral Sense’ is translated by W. A. Haussman.
Untimely Considerations Untimely Considerations contain four essays: ‘David Strauss - Writer and Confessor’; ‘On the Use and Abuse of History for Life’; ‘Schopenhauer as Educator’; and ‘Richard Wagner at Bayreuth’. The essays date from the early part of Nietzsche’s life when his Romantic view on life and art was coloured by the powerful writings and personalities of such figures as Schopenhauer and Wagner - as the titles of two of the essays proclaim. Published between 1873 and 1876, they were presented under the umbrella title ‘Unzeitgemässe Betrachtungen’, which has been variously translated as ‘Thoughts Out Of Season’, ‘Untimely Meditations’, ‘Unfashionable Observations’ - and ‘Untimely Considerations’. They reflect his early interest particularly in culture, philosophy, and the interplay between art, science and life - topics which he would revisit over the following years. In ‘David Strauss: the Confessor and Writer’, he labels Strauss - a prominent Protestant theologian of the time - as a Philistine, in humorous but derogatory style. In ‘On the Use and Abuse of History for Life’ Nietzsche sets out to re-examine the role of history in informing contemporary life, and, controversially promotes the importance of individual ‘great men’ rather than the ‘masses’. This theme is continued, in a way, in the third essay, ‘Schopenhauer as Educator’, where he lauds those individual and honest qualities of his philosophic mentor. However, Nietzsche faced more difficulty with the final essay - where he considers both the work and the personality of Wagner - because his own attitudes towards the challenging composer were changing. These four works together present a fascinating portrait of the younger Nietzsche emerging into the highly charged and figure he was to become. Translations: David Strauss and Richard Wagner - Anthony M Ludovici; On the Use and Abuse of History for Life - Ian Johnston; Schopenhauer as Educator by Adrian Collins.