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Freidrich Nietzsche Books In Order

Publication Order of Standalone Books

Thus Spake Zarathustra (1999) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Also sprach Zarathustra/Thus Spoke Zarathustra: German/English Bilingual Text (2013) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

Friedrich Nietzsche was a German cultural critic, philosopher, and essayist. His works on the meaning of existence, truth, consciousness, morality, power, language, nihilism, aesthetics, history and cultural theory have had a profound effect on Western intellectual history and Philosophy. Nietzsche was born in a small village in Prussia in 1844. He lost his father Carl Ludwig Nietzsche when he was only four years old and together with his sister Elizabeth, they were raised by Franziska their mother. He went to a private elementary school in Naumburg and from there proceeded to the prestigious Schulpforta School, where he got a classical education. After graduating, he proceeded to the University of Bonn in 1864, where he studied for two years before transferring to the University of Leipzig. At Leipzig, he studied a combination of history, philology, linguistics, and literature. His biggest influence during this time were the writings of the philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer.

In 1869, Nietzsche got a job at the University of Basel, where he was a professor of classical philology. In 1872, he got into writing and published his first work “The Birth of Tragedy” followed in 1878 by “All Too Human.” It was at this time that he started to distance himself from classical scholarship in general and the philosophy of his mentor Schopenhauer. He got interested in the values of contemporary society and civilizations and began philosophizing. In 1979, he was forced to resign from his professorship at the University of Basel after he got a nervous disorder. For much of the 1880s Nietzsche lived in seclusion spending much of his time in Italy, Switzerland, and France when he was not staying with his mother in Naumburg. However, this was the most productive time for him as a writer and thinker. His most significant work during the 1880s “Thus Spoke Zarathustra” was published during this time, in addition to ‘The Twilight of Idols,” “The Genealogy of Morals” and “Beyond Good and Evil.” It was also during this time that he developed the central tenets of his philosophy. One of these was his “God is dead” statement that rejected the role of Christianity as relevant in modern civilization. Others included the endorsement of self-perfection brought about by will to power and the creative drive. He also developed the concept of the “Ubermensch” – the overman or superman that endeavors to live beyond the orthodox categories of slave and master of evil and good.

Nietzsche work was in a range of disciplines from science, art, culture, philology, tragedy, history, and religion. His work covers cultural criticism, philosophical polemics, poetry, and fiction even as it is characterized by a penchant for irony and aphorism. He drew his early influences from the likes of Richard Wagner, Arthur Schopenhauer, and Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. He would later fall out with Wagner and refuted the philosophical leanings of Arthur Schopenhauer in his later writings. Some of the standout elements in his philosophy are his favoring of perspectivism and a radical critique of truth. This included a genealogical critique of Christian morality and religion, which in some ways related to the master-slave morality. He talks about the profound crisis of nihilism and in addition to coming up with the death of God, he also made aesthetic affirmations of existence to defend his theories on why the existence of God is improbable. Nietzsche’s will to power collectively encompasses his notion of Dionysian and Apollonian conception of the human subject as a manifestation of contending wills. The Ubermensch one of the most influential philosophical concepts was first put forth by Nietzsche. As he matured, he got more interested with the individual’s creative powers that make it possible for them to pursue aesthetic health and new values on the moral, cultural, and social contexts.

Nietzsche’s “Beyond Good and Evil” was first published in 1886 and expanded on “Thus Spoke Zarathustra” one of his most popular works. He takes a more polemical and critical approach accusing notable philosophers of the past of blindly accepting dogmatic premises and lacking critical sense when it comes to morality. His core argument is that the philosophers made a great error in grounding metaphysical assertions on the notion that the evil man is the opposite of the good man. For Friedrich, the expression of good and evil is driven by the same basic impulses through these are expressed more directly in the evil man. The book goes beyond the notions of evil and good in that the traditional meaning of morality is critiqued and rejected in favor of an affirmative approach. Nietzsche’s takes a perspectival approach in dealing with the perilous condition of the contemporary person and the state of knowledge. He casts doubt on past philosophical morality and asks people to accept that untruth is the natural state of being instead of wanting the truth. According to him, every philosophy from the past is influenced by unconscious and involuntary moral prejudice of the author that finds its way into every so-called philosophical truth.

“Thus Spoke Zarathustra” is one of Nietzsche’s most popular works. While he has many ideas in the work, several themes including the overarching “Ubermensch” as a self-mastered individual stand out. The self-mastered individual is something of an omnipresent being that has achieved full potential. He also talks of the “Eternal recurrence,” which is something of “nothing is new under the sun” as what has happened once will happen again. He advocates the acceptance and embracing of all of life’s pleasure and horrors and believes that the acceptance and deference to fate is a characteristic of the Ubermensch. Since everything repeats itself, the superman loves life and has no regrets and is instead characterized by the Dionysian spirit and courage. He goes on to discuss the will to power as the driving force for everything people do and asserts that it is central to human identity. As opposed to happiness, procreation or pleasure the will to power is the reason that man finds for living as well as all the struggles he has to deal with in life. “Thus Spoke Zarathustra” also critiques Christian values of belief in the afterlife and evil and good. He critiques Christianity especially the irrational squandering of earthly life in seeking a perfect life in the thereafter for which no evidence exists.

“Twilight of the Idols” is one of the best works by Friedrich Nietzsche, where he critiques the philosophical and the learned belief that life is worthless. He critiques the likes of Plato and Socrates who shared a negative physiological disposition that he believes was as a result of a society in decline. Socrates gets a lot of stick from Nietzsche who asserts that since he was from the lower orders of society and engaged in all manner of lustful impulses and vice, his ideas may not be the best. He critiques the dialectic method as it allows less sophisticated thinkers and weaker philosophical positions to become popular since such tend to be more forceful or appealing to the masses. For Nietzsche, reason is always opposed to instinct yet Nietzsche believed instinct had more value as compared to reason as put forth by Socrates. In this regard, he also asserted that morality especially as put forth by Christianity or the philosophers is anti-nature. While he acknowledges that passion is good and natural he is not a hedonist as he acknowledges the destructive power of too much passion. He also criticizes some of Plato’s ideas including the fallibility of the senses, the world of the forms, and Being and Becoming. Nietzsche argues that refuting the senses as proposed by Plato is a symptom of decadence rather than excellence. By decadence he means the embrace of weakness, the fading of life and vitality. For Nietzsche, only the dastardly, sickly or weak person can accept the sensory world as inferior while taking the static world as superior. Nietzsche also relates this to the belief in the nonphysical realm of heaven in Christianity that he thinks is part of the hate of life and decadence.

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