Hide this

Results from Google Books

Click on a thumbnail to go to Google Books.

Beyond good and evil : prelude to a…

Beyond good and evil : prelude to a philosophy of the future (1886)

by Friedrich Nietzsche

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
5,94242704 (3.88)55

Sign up for LibraryThing to find out whether you'll like this book.

No current Talk conversations about this book.

» See also 55 mentions

English (38)  Dutch (2)  French (1)  Italian (1)  All languages (42)
Showing 1-5 of 38 (next | show all)
With a philosopher nothing at all is impersonal.
As an armchair Platonist, I had a personal aversion to Nietzsche, whose whole purpose in life seemed to be to overthrow Platonism. After reading "Beyond Good and Evil", however, my attitude changed from aversion to pity, that is, pity in the Nietzschean sense.

To illustrate what I think of Nietzsche and his relation to Plato, let me introduce a Chinese fictional/mythical character, Sun Wukong (孙悟空), also known as the Monkey King. The Monkey King challenged the authority of the gods, stormed their dwelling, The Heavenly Palace, and proclaimed himself an equal of the gods. They appealed to the Buddha for help, after repeatedly failing to subdue the Monkey King. The Buddha made a wager with the Monkey King, who could travel 108,000 miles with one somersault, that the latter could not jump out of the former's palm. In order to prove his power, the Monkey King traveled as far as he could, and reached what he thought were the Five Pillars of Heaven. When he returned to confront the Buddha, he learned, to his chagrin, that those pillars were actually the Buddha's fingers. He lost and was imprisoned by the Buddha under a mountain for 500 years.

An attentive reader would have no difficulty guessing at my meaning: Nietzsche was the Monkey King, Plato the Buddha.

Firstly, Plato derived the notion of an eternal cyclic nature of the universe long before Nietzsche stumbled upon it and gave it a different name, "eternal recurrence". Apparently, like the Monkey King, Nietzsche was not immune to self-deception and illusions of grandeur, when he claimed that his philosophy was new and free of metaphysical presumptions.

Secondly, there is nothing new to the idea of "order of rank" either. Plato made a division of classes in his Republic. Nietzsche seems to share Plato's contempt for democracy, which is based on the assumption of equality among man. Both would assert that some men are fit to rule and others to be ruled.

Thirdly, Christianity has long inculcated the notion that suffering is necessary for the character development of human beings. Nietzsche borrowed the idea again, without acknowledging the source.

Fourthly, Nietzsche's philosophy is not grounded in biological facts, but rather, it is another subjective interpretation with assumptions and leaps. To use his own simile, the text may have disappeared under the interpretation, but it is still there, and each interpretation shall be evaluated according to its relation to the original. The philosopher can no more place himself above the standard of good and evil, than a translator can place himself above the original.

Fifthly, the ancient Greek philosophers believed that the ultimate purpose of philosophy is the attainment of the Good and the True. Nietzsche rejected the notion as utilitarian and ignoble. What noble value did he create by will to power that would set him above those philosophers he satirized? None. ( )
  booksontrial | Oct 13, 2015 |
Two hundred pages of drivel, a rant against the establishment. Doesn't make a single assertion, only breaks out the glass in the five thousand year building of assertions. Then a wonderful closing chapter, "What is Noble," which might as well be called "The Virtue of Selfishness: A Prelude to [b:Ayn Rand|731031|Letters of Ayn Rand|Ayn Rand|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1387705805s/731031.jpg|717225]." I see a lot of inspiration there. ( )
  Victor_A_Davis | Sep 18, 2015 |
required reading in college. I got ignored by the professor as I ignored N as a blathering anti-semite. Little did I know how to read anti-jewishness as an intellectual category and a tool for analysis of a cultural trend. ( )
  joeydag | Jul 23, 2015 |
The book pretty much does what the title says, it does take you beyond good and evil, it does wash those dirty ideas ingrained in the mind since childhood. I can summarize the core of this work as "there is no good nor evil, only rules". ( )
  JorgeCarvajal | Feb 13, 2015 |
(Disclaimer: I'm definitely not qualified to write this review.)

When I started secondary school, in our first history classes, every so often it would be mentioned that such and such a historical figure was racist, or sexist, or what have you. For a bunch of 12 year old girls, this was pretty shocking, and I remember my teacher having to silence us and remind us: "it's not fair to judge someone by the standards of our time".

I think there's a lot of sense in that idea, and this is what I tried to do with 'Beyond Good and Evil', but unfortunately, I found it impossible simply because Nietzsche's philosophy is deeply entrenched in 19th century European society -- remove that context and what he's saying won't make sense. And so, because a lot of his philosophy is deeply rooted in social hierarchy, misogyny and nationalism (even though I wouldn't say Nietzsche is hugely nationalistic himself by 19th century standards), 'Beyond Good and Evil' can be tasteless to someone with more contemporary values.

I don't doubt that Nietzsche was a genius, however. His deconstruction of Western philosophy is very impressive and he makes many valid criticisms of the likes of Descartes and Kant. I also can see that his work is incredibly influential, and (though I'm not well versed in philosophy) I gather that it's Nietzsche's influence that led to the more post-moral slant of modern philosophy.

Nietzsche brings forward a lot of excellent ideas, and is admirable in not shying away from controversy. He takes a more cynical view of human nature than (probably) was typical until that point, and this is seen in ideas such as the will to power and the notions of master and slave morality. However much or little we agree with these notions, they're daringly subversive, and I think that they've made their mark on contemporary thinking, on an everyday level as much as on a philosophical one.

Master and slave morality is itself one of the ideas that seems particularly tasteless to us, in spite of it having penetrated people's thinking -- we (hopefully!) don't see the world in terms of masters and slaves, or leaders and followers, or higher and lower anymore, at least not in the same way that Europe did in the 19th century. It's very unappealing to us to see the world in terms of noble versus downtrodden and victimised. At the same time, though, some of the ideas of master morality -- self-respect, self-righteousness, etc -- are widely accepted these days as positive ways of living.

I don't want to go on for too much longer, but I'll finish by saying that Nietzsche was a highly intelligent philosopher, and an astute observer of the world around him. I may be slightly unfair in criticising the tastelessness of his views, but I do think that his philosophy is inextricably linked with the attitudes of 19th century Europe. I did enjoy it on the whole, though, and in spite of the three-and-a-half stars, I think 'Beyond Good and Evil' is definitely a book worth reading and forming an opinion on!

And I'm sorry for this mess of a review. ( )
  Jane.Elinor | Feb 4, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 38 (next | show all)
no reviews | add a review

» Add other authors (43 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Friedrich Nietzscheprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Graftdijk, ThomasTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kaufmann, Walter ArnoldTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
You must log in to edit Common Knowledge data.
For more help see the Common Knowledge help page.
Series (with order)
Canonical title
Original title
Alternative titles
Original publication date
Important places
Important events
Related movies
Awards and honors
First words
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!
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.
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
The original German title is “Jenseits von Gut und Böse; Vorspiel einer Philosophie der Zukunft’.
Publisher's editors
Publisher series
Original language
Information from the Dutch Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.

References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English (5)

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.
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0679724656, Paperback)

Represents Nietzsche's attempt to sum up his philosophy. In nine parts the book is designed to give the reader a comprehensive idea of Nietzche's thought and style. With an inclusive index of subjects and persons.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:23:41 -0400)

(see all 9 descriptions)

"Beyond Good and Evil is one of the most scathing and powerful critiques of philosophy, religion, science, politics, and ethics ever written. In it, Nietzsche presents a set of problems, criticisms, and philosophical challenges that continue both to inspire and to trouble contemporary thought. In addition, he offers his most subtle, detailed, and sophisticated account of the virtues, ideas, and practices which will characterize philosophy and philosophers of the future. With his relentlessly energetic style and tirelessly probing manner, Nietzsche embodies the type of thought he wants to foster, while defining its historical role and determining its agenda. This edition offers a new and readable translation, by Judith Norman, of one of the most influential texts in the history of philosophy, together with an introduction by Rolf-Peter Horstmann that sets it in its historical and philosophical context."--BOOK JACKET.… (more)

» see all 7 descriptions

Quick Links

Popular covers


Average: (3.88)
0.5 2
1 18
1.5 2
2 38
2.5 13
3 156
3.5 28
4 262
4.5 34
5 225


5 editions of this book were published by Audible.com.

See editions

Penguin Australia

An edition of this book was published by Penguin Australia.

» Publisher information page

Tantor Media

An edition of this book was published by Tantor Media.

» Publisher information page

Is this you?

Become a LibraryThing Author.


Help/FAQs | About | Privacy/Terms | Blog | Store | Contact | LibraryThing.com | APIs | WikiThing | Common Knowledge | Legacy Libraries | Early Reviewers | 100,880,075 books! | Top bar: Always visible