• Grre
    118
    One of my personal reading projects this spring has been to try to read (and understand) some of Nietzsche. I am almost finished my philosophy undergrad and I am ashamed to admit I have barely read much of his work, let alone understand him (I know his infamous quote like "God is dead" and I read some Thus Spoke Zarathrustra in class). I feel like he is a philosopher I will really find interesting-unfortunately, after reading most of Ecce Homo and making it to about halfway through of
    Beyond Good and Evil
    I'm still not really sure what's going on. Even the wikipedia or encyclopaedia summaries of his work make it a bit difficult for me to understand, especially line by line of his work.

    If anyone knows a lot about Nietzsche, or at the very least can highlight some of his key points (particularly regarding Beyond Good and Evil) I would be extraordinarily thankful. Even if you can point me in the direction of some great resources, or online guides...I'm pretty disappointed in myself to be honest-and there's no one else I can ask for help.
  • ernestm
    629
    There are two predominant views of Nietzsche in the USA: white and black. The white view is that he is an obscure and rather irrelevant existentialist who inspired Hitler and therefore must be bad. About 10% of white people also think he was crazy and ill at the end, when he was writing Ecce Homo. Half of those also think that instead of having such a low opinion of women, he should have been more appreciative of his sister's support, or at least they may know that much when they state he was a misogynous pig (and it's better to grant the benefit of doubt on that).

    They will not know his ideas from women in Ecce Homo could have resulted from his failed attempt to seduce Wagner's wife. It has remained controversial by those who know about it, but generally, it's accepted that some romantic affair between the two was more than likely.

    About 0.01% of Americans, about 3,000 total in the USA, would be able to tell you that 'Beyond Good and Evil' advocated that some human spirits are superior and not subject to the moral judgments or moral restrictions which they rightfully impose on others. However, and this is important: unlike those who conceive it as proof of there being a Master Race, he states the superiority is individualistic and the result of better knowledge and reasoning, which any person may acquire, the same way Neitzsche did for himself.

    Then of those, there might be one in ten, as many as 300 in the USA, who could tell you that 'Beyond Good and Evil' could have entirely been the product of a subconscious desire to justify his attempted seduction of Wagner's wife. Nietzsche would protest otherwise, but he would not have been able to protest very much, as he writes himself in the same book:

    "It has gradually become clear to me what every great philosophy up till now has consisted of – namely, the confession of its originator, and a species of involuntary and unconscious autobiography; and moreover that the moral (or immoral) purpose in every philosophy has constituted the true vital germ out of which the entire plant has always grown.”

    Which of course applies to Nietzsche himself, for whatever else he claims or not, he most definitely claims to have created a great philosophy. Yet putting aside the motive for his work, he made it most clear that he was not speaking of some kind of genetic superiority, but rather of a personal super-awareness that only some possessed through their own pursuits, again, see Nietzsche's own work, "The Case against Wagner," for example.

    Then there is the black view, which started with followers of the Black Panther Movement in the 1960s, which has made Nietzsche somewhat of an underground pop culture icon, who was right because Black Power Rules. Also, there is a tiny minority of whites who believe the same thing the other way around. Nietzsche as underground pop culture icon is far more pervasive than any person who knows it would admit to others not in his perceived peer group.
  • I like sushi
    1.3k
    I’d recommend starting with his first book ‘The Birth of Tragedy’. Beyond G&E will open up to you a lot more if you look at BoT.

    He was certainly a serious force of nature. People don’t drop his name for nothing.

    I wouldn’t recommend ANY guides until you’ve read more of his work. You’ve probably been conditioned at uni to read what others say about him, but I’d resist that tendency if you can for this guy more than any other or you may be led down the ‘wrong’ path by taking one interpretation as sacred.
  • Hanover
    4.9k
    A very poor post, prattling on about non-existent race based interpretations of Nietzche. Really terrible. The concocted stats were an added touch of nonsense.
  • ernestm
    629
    Thank you. I of course am not enamored by Wagner's wife so I don't have any opinion on it myself. I wrote my Masters thesis on "the Despicability of Nietzsche," which provided statistical substantiation and complete analysis of the affair, but it's 60,000 words. And I don't agree of his idea that there are naturally people who are beyond and evil. I think his logic still fails Hume's guillotine.
  • ernestm
    629
    Being one of the elite who knows enough to write generalized insults somewhat on the level of Diogenes, would you be so kind to share your own opinion of N.?
  • Wallows
    8.7k
    Psychoceramics.
  • ernestm
    629
    To provide current numbers, 7,300 of undergraduate degrees are in philosophy this year, out of 1,600,000 degrees, or about 0.5%.

    https://www.humanitiesindicators.org/content/indicatordoc.aspx?i=56

    But also, only 32% of Americans have undergraduate degrees.

    https://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2015/apr/08/rick-santorum/70-americans-dont-have-college-degree-rick-santoru/

    So the overall percentage of Americans with a BA in philosophy is 0.18%.

    Of those, about half will not have needed to read Nietzsche's Beyond Good and Evil for class. With current reading levels, we may assume incidental readers to be virtually zero. The number who were required to know something about 'Beyond Good and Evil' is therefore 0.09%. Of those, maybe one in ten would be interested enough in him as a person to read any biographical about him as well, and therefore would otherwise not know about his affair with Wagner's wife, leading to less than 0.001%, or about one in a hundred thousand, who would perceive the above quote from Nietzsche as ironic. The USA contains about 300 million adults, so that's about 300 people.
  • Merkwurdichliebe
    1.3k
    I’d recommend starting with his first book ‘The Birth of Tragedy’. Beyond G&E will open up to you a lot more if you look at BoT.I like sushi

    One thing that you find if you read enough Nietzsche, is that almost everything he writes, he contradicts somewhere else.

    He leaves himself wide open to interpretation. But he was heavily influenced by Schopenhauer, and it is easy to see how many of his ideas were derived therefrom.

    I would agree with I like sushi. Imo, every substantial contribution that he made to philosophy can be tied back into the Dionysian/Apollonian, which first appeared in BoT.
  • ernestm
    629



    Being one who was led out the garden path, I would agree, because almost all the rest of N. is moral philosophy in some regard or other, but none of it really passes Hume's Guillotine.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Is%E2%80%93ought_problem
  • StreetlightX
    4.1k
    BGE is a particularly tough work because of its disjoint composition; it's hard to say what the book is really about - not because it isn't about anything, but because it's about so many things. One way to read it is as a book of diagnosis: of why philosophers are wont to think like they do, and what motivates them to proffer the theories they do. Nietzsche sees alot of philosophy (and in particular, what he calls 'morality') as a kind of pathology, or a self-defence mechanism, trying to deny or look away from the vivid realities of life, in all its pain and joy. And alot of BGE is looking at how these denials take place, and what form they take in the different doctrines he critiques.

    If I were to offer one recommendation it would be to start with a different work actually: the Genealogy. I think it's one of the more gentle of Nietzsche's works, and it's composition - three interlinked essays - are alot easier to follow a thread of thinking though. Alternatively, try The Antichrist or the Twilight of Idols (you can find both books together sometimes), which are slimmer and also quite accessible and funny(!), good reads. If you're going to stick to BGE, read it with the above in mind: why do philosophers do as they do, what are they 'hiding' or afraid of when they construct their edifies? These are the kinds of questions Nietzsche puts to philosophy, and then answers for it.

    I've no clue what ernestm is on about, and suggest you - and anyone else in this thread - ignore him entirely.
  • ernestm
    629
    Ignore away. What you say is equally a comment on Nietzsche's attempted seduction of Wagner's wife.

    Nietzsche sees alot of philosophy as a kind of pathology, or a self-defence mechanism, trying to deny or look away from the vivid realities of life, in all its pain and joy.StreetlightX

    Nietzsche cannot escape from his own criticisms of others that equally apply to himself. He himself erects one of these Apollonian constructs that he so frequently condemns in others, most notably in Thus Spake Zarathustra, which also happens to be twice as long than his other works.

    Guttenberg:
  • Merkwurdichliebe
    1.3k
    none of it really passes Hume's Guillotine.ernestm

    Nothing passes Hume's guillotine, that's what makes it so cool.

    Speaking of Hume's guillotine, I feel like Nietzsche invented a guillotine of his own in "On Truth and Lies in a Nonmoral Sense". In that work, he irrevocably severs the correspondence between perception and concept.
  • ernestm
    629
    I feel like Nietzsche invented a guillotine of his own in "On Truth and Lies in a Nonmoral Sense".Merkwurdichliebe
    You have the advantage of me, sir, I have not read that work. Perhaps you would be so kind as to elucidate further your insights on it? You see my problem is, the Wikipedia currently says:
    O (..) is a philosophical essay by Friedrich Nietzsche. It was written in 1873, one year after The Birth of Tragedy, but was published by his sister Elisabeth in 1896 when Nietzsche was already mentally ill. The work deals largely with epistemological questions about the nature of truth and language, and how they relate to the formation of concepts.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/On_Truth_and_Lies_in_a_Nonmoral_Sense

    So as I understand it, his sister gathered material for the common 3-page essay of this title after she started assembling 'Ecce Homo,' and originally included it in another book now called 'Early Greek Philosophy and other essays.' She expanded the original essay with another 9 pages from his lecture notes, which was finally published in English long after, in 1911. So at least some of this material was written while he was still working as a University professor. The book is here:
    https://www.gutenberg.org/files/51548/51548-h/51548-h.htm

    That book contains the full text of the expanded essay "On Truth and Falsity in their Ultramoral Sense" as the concluding section 6, pages 171 to 193. Excerpts appear in other places as the original essay.
  • ChatteringMonkey
    263
    Here's another slightly different recommendation, start with Plato, maybe specifically Plato's republic. A lot of Nietzsche is a direct or indirect critique of Plato's idea's, and you'll be missing a lot of his points if you didn't read at least some of Plato.

    And maybe I'll also note two important idea's of Nietzsche, the one following the other, sort of...

    He believes Plato, and all subsequent philosophers that were inspired by Plato's work, got it backwards with his forms. That is basicly the beginning of Beyond Good and Evil. For Nietzsche the world is not a mere shadow of the Forms which are prior to that world and more real metaphysically... but conversely forms and idea come out this world, out of humans. Or to put in an other way, the highest abstractions are not 'high' because they are prior and more real than lower abstractions, but because they are more abstracted away from the world we observe... and so more empty (of information).

    This brings him to the method he is going to use for his inquiry, which is discussed a bit further in the beginning of Beyond and Evil. Since he doesn't believe we have this direct access to something metaphysically real like Plato's Forms, what are philosophers actually talking about when they talk about things like the Truth? For Nietzsche these ideas do not come from some pure unbiased dialectic (as they would probably have it), but spring from the instincts and drives of the particular individual that came up with them. So his goal is not necessarily to engage with the truthvalue of those idea, but to look for what motivated those ideas in the first place, like a psychologist... That is basicly his main method of inquiry.

    And I'll throw in a third point, the thing you need to understand is that he's a moral philosopher. Although still quite wide, his domain of inquiry is specifically morality. Where do moral ideas come from, what is the value of morality in general, what about some of the more specific incarnations of morality like Christianity etc etc...
  • ernestm
    629


    Nietzsche would be disgusted to hear recommendations for Plato's Republic.

    To be attracted to the Platonic dialogue, this horribly self-satisfied and childish kind of dialectic, one must never have read good French writers — Fontenelle, for example. Plato is boring. (Twilight of Idols)

    N. typically starts with such vulgar rhetoric, eg:

    My objections to Wagner's music are physiological objections....what my foot demands in the first place from music is that ecstasy which lies in good walking, stepping and dancing. But do not my stomach, my heart, my circulation also protest? Are not my intestines also troubled? And do I not become hoarse unawares (Case of Wagner)?

    By starting in a vulgar tone, he makes his subsequent intellectual scorn seem less boring to his audience, whom, as he makes perfectly clear, he does not respect either.
  • I like sushi
    1.3k
    I found Aristotle’s Poetics useful in coming to grips with Birth of Tragedy. Plato’s Republic is useful too as an outline in the general issue of art and morals.

    I gather the author of the OP will already be familiar enough with those that is why I’d recommend Nietzsche’s debut work (his self criticism of this work is also a nice insight).
  • Merkwurdichliebe
    1.3k
    Perhaps you would be so kind as to elucidate further your insights on it?ernestm

    I feel that this essay is his only attempt of presenting the Dionysian/Apollonian scientifically. And I'm no expert, but it seems his later (relevant) works took note of the necessary conclusions at which he arrived in this essay, and I believe he was attempting to reflect them in his peculiar style of philosophizing - like a crazed prophet with his innane ramblings.

    Historically speaking, I would say this essay is arguably the first appearance of postmodernist thought in the philosophical tradition since it essentially lays out some the most fundamental tenets of postmodernism. For example, he says: "Every concept arrises from the equation of unequal things."

    It definitely plays as a major factor in his reputation as a nihilist (which I find debatable), nevertheless it served a devastating blow to the phenomenological perspective that was prevalent at the time. This not only led directly to the slippery slope of fatuous postmodernist blather, but also opened the door for analytical philosophy to take prominence with its soulless robotic ossification.


    I feel Nietzsche was getting at something much deeper, which has never been recognized by his philosophical successors. There is more to the fact that he presented his ideas so as to be wide open to interpretation. But that is my interpretation, and it is only one of many.
  • Merkwurdichliebe
    1.3k
    that is why I’d recommend Nietzsche’s debut work (his self criticism of this work is also a nice insight).I like sushi

    I believe his debut work to be invaluable in interpreting his overall philosophy. In "ecce homo", he triples down on his commitment to the Dionysian. That says enough for me.
  • ChatteringMonkey
    263


    Did you read the rest of my post? I said you need read it to understand what he is critiquing, not because I think, or Nietzsche thinks, it is a particularly good work of philosophy.
  • ernestm
    629
    I said you need read it to understand what he is critiquing, not because I think, or Nietzsche thinks, it is a particularly good work of philosophy.ChatteringMonkey

    Well there's two problems. First, N. thought Plato was boring.

    Second, if you don't find Plato boring and read as far as Republic VII, you'd find the metaphor of the cave. N. rejected it as a stupid metaphor, at possibly the high point of of his epistemological work, in 'Truth and Lies.' The strange thing is, he himself claims to be the alienated Light of Truth, LoT, lamenting his own persecution. That's exactly what Plato said happens to people like N. in the Republic.

    So reading Plato actually makes Nietzsche seem more insane than anything else. I think, if you are trying to find something out of him that's more durable than a vulgar two fingers, you have to go into his Dionysian thing, he was very poetic about it.
  • Merkwurdichliebe
    1.3k
    @ernestm @ChatteringMonkey

    Platoism was one of the prime examples that Nietschze used to illustrate the Apollonian. In fact, in BoT, Platonism is represented as the first relevant manifestation or creation of the Apollonian, in a world historic context. Christianity represents yet another.
  • ChatteringMonkey
    263


    Boring or not, if you don't know anything about the thing someone is a critiquing, how can you possibly evaluate that critique?

    And I doubt you will understand a lot of what is Nietzsche is saying about the dionysian, if you don't get what it meant in the Greek society, and how Plato was a product of things going the wrong way in Greek culture.
  • ernestm
    629
    Boring or not, if you don't know anything about the thing someone is a critiquing, how can you possibly evaluate that critique?ChatteringMonkey

    Because, if you are after understanding Nietzsche, and you want to understand his influences, it is better to study Schopenhauer first.
  • ChatteringMonkey
    263


    I don't know about Platonism being the first manifestation of the Apollonian, it's been a while since i've read BoT, but wasn't the tragic a fusion of the Apollonian and the Dionysian. The problem with platonism was that it was 'only' Apollonian.
  • ChatteringMonkey
    263
    Because, if you are after understanding Nietzsche, and you want to understand his influences, it is better to study Schopenhauer first.ernestm

    Sure, reading him will help your understanding too, in particular how Nietsche got his idea about the importance of the will, and how his idea of it differs from Schopenhauers... but still Plato is the start of the whole thing, the rest being footnotes and all that.
  • ernestm
    629
    but still Plato is the start of the whole thingChatteringMonkey

    Well thats where we definitely differ. Wagner humiliated the guy with better mythology, so he had to prove he was a better philosopher, but he still didn't seduce Wagner's wife. Good try, but still did not amount to much more than intellectual masturbation. Western philosophers still look to Russell instead. No one else cares much except racists.
  • Shamshir
    747
    What Nietzsche does is echo out against the pagan westerner and his superfluous behaviour. What he craves is Pierre-Joseph Proudhon's anarchic-justice; that's his Übermensch, the man above the law.

    When he says 'God is dead, and we have killed him', he's talking about a con - how God has been killed, through misrepresentation; like the poisoned apple from Sneewittchen.

    :confused:
  • ernestm
    629
    Ah, the pulp culture pop icon has just appeared. Well it's time for me to be going. Thanks for the chat )
  • Merkwurdichliebe
    1.3k
    I don't know about Platonism being the first manifestation of the ApollonianChatteringMonkey

    I think BoT had a heavy dose of phenomenology overshadowing it. And because of that assumption, I think the world historic is steadily implied therein.

    But you are correct. The Apollonian is not something that came into existence. It is fundamental to the Dionysian.

    So, let me restate it: in BoT, Plato represented the first world historic creation that was 'only' Apollonian

    but wasn't the tragic a fusion of the Apollonian and the Dionysian. The problem with platonism was that it was 'only' Apollonian.ChatteringMonkey

    Good point. The return of the Apollonian to the Dionysian is best represented in the death of the tragic hero. This I believe is at the heart of Nietzsche's philosophy and ethics. It gets lost in the irrationality of his aphoristic style. Yet I think the unintelligibilty of his style was actually the medium in which he intended to illustrate the interplay of the Dionysian-Apollonian.
  • Merkwurdichliebe
    1.3k
    he still didn't seduce Wagner's wife. Good try, but still did not amount to much more than intellectual masturbation. Western philosophers still look to Russell instead.ernestm

    I could seduce Wagner's slutty wife. :grin: .

    Now that's a good question:
    Who would win in a fight, Nietzsche or Russell?
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