Basic Writings of Nietzsche

1. Love him or hate him, it is one of those classics of the Western canon that must be dealt with, or at least acknowledged. Nietzsche was one of the few philosophers who could actually write.

2. I had fun reading this.

3. A full review is impossible at this stage. I read the book a couple hundred pages a time for over seven years. I simply don’t have the whole narrative in my mind, though I get the general argument. So, this post is simply “notes” on Nietzsche. I plan to reread certain sections and get Kaufmann’s Portable Nietzsche next month.

4.  The first book was the Birth of Tragedy. While Nietzsche himself later eschewed parts of this book, and few scholars follow it strictly today, it is by far the most interesting. Contrary to popular opinion, Nietzsche points out that Greek culture is not simply “Apollonian” (serene). It is also Dionysian (wild, debauched, chaotic). No big deal. A number of Patristic writers made the same point. Nietzsche adds a most genius conclusion: the two poles demand one another.

5. If we can say it another way: there is no healthy mean between Heraclitean flux and Platonic unity.

6. The Gay Science and 75 Aphorisms are a collection of sayings of varying interest.

7. I am not ready to give a full report of his ethics: Genealogy of Morals and Beyond Good and Evil. I sort of get what he is saying. He often made brilliant psychological insights.

8. He credits Dostoevsky with teaching him everything he knew about psychology.

9.  It is fun to read Goethe alongside Nietzsche. Is the mature Goethe Nietzsche’s Dionysus?

These are introductory notes written in a Nietzschean format


One thought on “Basic Writings of Nietzsche

  1. I agree with you about Nietszche being a fun read. He wrote enthusiastically, with great energy. Zarathustra & Co. are neither abstract nor irrelevant. Unhappily, Nietszche appears as a tragic figure — rebelling against his weak “Christian” clergy father, failing to ever find the enduring love of a supportive woman,* and unable to overcome the insanity that marked the latter years of his life. Spiritually, this man of great humanistic animus, was a catastrophe. In many ways, Europe’s spiritual crisis became Friedrich Nietszche’s own crisis. His virtues must not be allowed to escape without this scrutiny.

    *Great Philosophers Who Failed at Love, by Andrew Shaffer, pp 116-119.


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