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Beyond Good and Evil: Prelude to a Philosophy of the Future (1886)

by Friedrich Nietzsche

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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8,44488762 (3.86)61
Nietzsche's mature masterpiece, Beyond Good and Evil considers the origins and nature of Judeo-Christian morality; the end of philosophical dogmatism and beginning of perspectivism; the questionable virtues of science and scholarship; liberal democracy, nationalism, and women's emancipation. A superb new translation by Marion Faber, this highly annotated edition is complemented by a lucid introduction by one of the most eminent of Nietzsche scholars, Robert C. Holub.… (more)

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  pszolovits | Feb 3, 2021 |
Utterly meaningless star rating alert! BGE is really a great book, the best place to start with Nietzsche, I think, because it states his most important ideas in digestible chunks (unlike Zarathustra, which is so over-wrought and self-regarding that I have trouble even flicking through it), and has no aspirations towards unity (and so is unlike Genealogy of Morality, which achieves that unity at the price of being transparently silly). Friedrich works best in paragraphs, and that's what he gives us here. He's about infinity times more enjoyable to read than any other philosopher, ever; I've never felt that more than this reading of BGE.

Now, that said, his reasoning is transparently flawed. He fails to treat themes outside of his own the way he treats his pet themes. To wit: why is he so keen to discuss the 'history' of Christianity, but so unwilling to discuss the history of misogyny? He never acknowledges the obvious absurdities of his positions--if all people create their reality by interpretation, why assume that there is any 'natural' given (which he does with, e.g., instinct)? If all people create their reality by interpretation, why should we value Nietzsche's interpretation rather than the (then) reigning liberal Christianism?

These inconsistencies make it plain that he thinks his thought is different from previous philosophies; "every great philosophy to date has been the personal confession of its author." It's equally obvious that his work, more than any other (possible exception: Rousseau) is driven by his own idiosyncrasies.

This urge to be a unique snowflake drives BGE. Nietzsche starts by separating himself from other 'free thinkers.' He refuses to martyr himself to the 'truth' of atheism. He's beyond both utilitarianism, and Kantianism; he has overcome all morals; he has shifted the burden of proof to those who say that doing good by others is a good thing. He's beyond the enlightenment, which assumed a *good* world, and beyond Christians, who assume a bad one; he assumes a mutable, already interpreted world.

But he's very slippery on this--sometimes he wants to get underneath all that interpretation to the text itself; sometimes he values the interpretation rather than the text; sometimes he implies that there is no text. The real 'free spirits' will be experimenters, ultra-individualistic, and ultra-elitist. Whereas the free-thinkers (to borrow from Berlin) aim for negative freedom, Nietzsche and the future philosophers aim for positive freedom.

Sadly for Nietzsche, who was deeply oppressed by pretty much everything, religion was keeping down the free spirits. On the other hand, it did train the great to be great and fool the weak into submission. I'm curious to know what Nietzsche would have thought of the Ayn Rands and neo-Darwinians who use materialism, atheism and economics to achieve the same ends.

Thus far, act one. Now for act two.

In section 5, we get a shorter, less silly version of the Genealogy of Morality, with some of the same problems of reflexivity (we should do a genealogical reading of philosophies of morality... but not Nietzsche's. All young sciences make outrageous, unprovable claims due to a lack of skepticism... except Nietzsche's). Christianity is foolish... but Nietzsche's crazed messianism is legitimate.

True philosophers, we learn, are just like Nietzsche, whereas scholars are (presumably) the people who didn't like Birth of Tragedy. Philosophers create values, rather than justifying pre-existing values; they are opposed to their own times. The new philosophical virtues will be pluralism, spite, dissection, hierarchy, self-interest, individualism for the elite, absence of pity, laughter, good taste, dutiful immoralism, honest harshness, cruelty, misogyny, and not being English.

As a friend of mine put it about later philosophers with similar ideas, there will always be an audience for this, because there will always be self-impressed teenagers.

The final section is probably the best, and reveals Nietzsche at his worst: a small, lonely, intelligent man, so filled with rage at his own failures that he has to invent a mythology that will justify his own sense of superiority. He has a different morality to others, he is a master; we, the peons, have a slave morality. One can only wish that the masters would really retire to write bilious pamphlets instead of taking over the commanding heights of the world economy, where they create values that Nietzsche would have loathed, and which, perhaps, would have led him to think the better of his more adolescent fantasies of self-sufficient genius.

But despite the inconsistencies and absurdities and misogyny, BGE is filled with legitimately fascinating and important insights. The irony of Nietzsche's career is that he's at his best when undermining others; that is, when he's being a critic, rather than a creator of new values etc... His 'creation' is nothing other than an inversion of whatever other people say (they say be good to others; he says be good to oneself) with some post-positivist blather about nature and evolution. His criticisms, though, are devastating for much of the philosophical tradition. If only he'd stuck to that, and recognized the main meta-philosophical lesson of Hegel: the owl of Minerva flies at dusk. ( )
1 vote stillatim | Oct 23, 2020 |
Ky libër mund të shihet edhe i përshtatur me vetë nëntitullin e tij: prelud i një filozofie të së ardhmes. Kjo pasi autori shpreh, me anë të po asaj gjuhe të zgjedhur e plot metafora të Zarathustrës, të buruara nga zemra e një dashurie vetmitare për njeriun dhe të ardhmen e tij koncepte dhe opinione të ndryshme për historinë natyrale dhe morale, për paragjykimet e filozofëve, për shpirtin e lirë dhe qënien fetare, për popujt dhe shtetet, e së fundi, edhe për të virtytshmit dhe aristokratët.
  BibliotekaFeniks | Sep 2, 2020 |
Maybe I'm just not smart enough for this book. I gave up after the first chapter because I wasn't 100% clear on just what the heck his point was. I wasn't even 20% clear. It seemed to be a very convoluted and wordy argument that everything anyone anywhere believes is wrong. Perhaps in later chapters he starts arguing for stuff instead of against stuff, but, there are just too many books out there I want to read to justify continuing to slog through this one. ( )
1 vote James_Maxey | Jun 29, 2020 |
Arguably Nietzsche's best and most accessible work of philosophy - certainly among his most influential and popular. His views on Will to Power, class, race, the prejudices of philosophers, science, the Free Spirit or Superman - they're all here. Written in his usual provocative yet engaging style, it is required reading for anyone interested in his work and ideas. Hollingdale's translation walks a good line between readability and faithfulness.

Gareth Southwell is a philosopher, writer and illustrator.
  Gareth.Southwell | May 23, 2020 |
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» Add other authors (220 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Nietzsche, FriedrichAuthorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Clyne, RonaldCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Cowan, MarianneTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Crossley, StevenNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Crowe, IanIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Doren, Stephen VanNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gebhard, WalterAfterword, Chronology, Bibliographysecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Graftdijk, ThomasTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Holingdale, R.J.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Jennings, AlexNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kaufmann, WalterTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kaufmann, Walter ArnoldTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
McMillan, RoyNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sánchez Pascual, AndrésTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sánchez Pascual, AndrésTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Tanner, MichaelIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Zimmern, HelenTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Beyond Good and Evil is one of the greatest books by a very great thinker, and like all such books it is very difficult, all the more so for not seeming to be.
Supposing that Truth is a woman—what then? (Zimmern trans.)
1. The Will to Truth, which is to tempt us to many a hazardous enterprise, the famous Truthfulness of which all philosophers have hitherto spoken with respect, what questions has this Will to Truth not laid before us!
Introduction (Cowan ed.): Nietzsche has always been more popular with ordinary people than with professional philosophers and among ordinary people it has been chiefly the young who kept his memory alive.
Preface (Cowan trans.): Supposing that Truth is a woman—well, now, is there not some foundation for suspecting that all philosophers, insofar as they were dogmatists, have not known how to handle women?
Digressions, objections, delight in mockery, carefree mistrust are signs of health; everything unconditional belongs in pathology.
Poets are shameless with their experiences: they exploit them.
He who fights with monsters might take care lest he thereby become a monster. And if you gaze for long into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you.
What is done out of love always takes place beyond good and evil.
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The original German title is “Jenseits von Gut und Böse; Vorspiel einer Philosophie der Zukunft’.
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Nietzsche's mature masterpiece, Beyond Good and Evil considers the origins and nature of Judeo-Christian morality; the end of philosophical dogmatism and beginning of perspectivism; the questionable virtues of science and scholarship; liberal democracy, nationalism, and women's emancipation. A superb new translation by Marion Faber, this highly annotated edition is complemented by a lucid introduction by one of the most eminent of Nietzsche scholars, Robert C. Holub.

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Book description
Friedrich Nietzsche's Beyond Good and Evil, first published in 1886, presents a scathing critique of traditional morality and attacks previous philosophers for their blind acceptance of Christian ideals of virtue. As an alternative to what he viewed as the illogical and irrelevant philosophy of the nineteenth century, Nietzsche argues for the importance of imagination, self-assertion, danger, and originality for genuine philosophy. He furthermore denies the existence of a universal system of morality and instead offers a framework in which social roles and power dynamics dictate what is appropriate. A culmination of Nietzsche's mature philosophy, Beyond Good and Evil is a classic of moral thought and one of the foundations of existentialism. This edition is the translation by Helen Zimmern.
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