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Beyond Good and Evil (Penguin Classics) Paperback – 27 Feb 2003

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Product details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics; Rev Ed edition (27 Feb. 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 014044923X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140449235
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 1.4 x 19.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 35,049 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

More About the Author

The philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche was born in Prussia in 1844. After the death of his father, a Lutheran minister, Nietzsche was raised from the age of five by his mother in a household of women. In 1869 he was appointed Professor of Classical Philology at the University of Basel, where he taught until 1879 when poor health forced him to retire. He never recovered from a nervous breakdown in 1889 and died eleven years later.

Known for saying that "god is dead," Nietzsche propounded his metaphysical construct of the superiority of the disciplined individual (superman) living in the present over traditional values derived from Christianity and its emphasis on heavenly rewards. His ideas were appropriated by the Fascists, who turned his theories into social realities that he had never intended.

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About the Author

Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900) published, among other titles, Human, All Too Human and The Dawn. He divorced himself from public life and, in 1889, became insane, remaining in a condition of mental and physical paralysis until his death. R J Hollingdale translated eleven of Nietzsche's books and published two books about him. Michael Tanner is a Fellow of Corpus Christi College.

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The will to truth, which is still going to tempt us to many a hazardous enterprise; that celebrated veracity of which all philosophers have hitherto spoken with reverence: what questions this will to truth has already set before us! Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

99 of 104 people found the following review helpful By Mr. Peter Coville on 12 Mar. 2007
Format: Paperback
Many start with the better-known "Thus spoke Zarathoustra" but this book is a clearer and more accessible exposition of Nietzsche's mature philosophy. The book is organized under chapter headings dealing with the main areas Nietzsche was concerned with : philosophy and philosophers, religion, art, the genealogy of morals etc. as well as various brilliant aphorisms. Above all, do not believe the bitter reviews of those who were probably looking for a manual of traditional or religious morality - Nietzsche's aim was precisely to attack these and replace them with something better. But beyond his polemical aspect, Nietzsche is an ESSENTIAL philosopher for our self-understanding because he reintroduced the body into the western philosophical tradition, thus reversing the idealistic tradition which started with Plato. Thus he is of the highest importance whether or not one agrees with all of his conclusions. This is the best and clearest introduction to his thought.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Jack Wonder on 19 Feb. 2013
Format: Paperback
Like all books by Nietzsche, this one contains brilliant thoughts, brilliantly written down. Here is my favourite fragment, much abbreviated: "Everything profound loves the mask; the profoundest things of all hate even image and parable. Should not nothing less than the opposite be the proper disguise under which the shame of god goes abroad?...Every profound spirit needs a mask: more, around every profound spirit a mask is continually growing, thanks to the constantly false, that is to say shallow interpretation of every word he speaks, every step he takes, every sign of life he gives" (BGE: 40).

But as Kaufmann has warned us, Nietzsche is easy to read but difficult to understand. This self-riddling style goes back to Heraclitus, Nietzsche's most revered pre-Socratic. And Pythia of Delphi was not lacking ambiguity in her pronouncements either.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Alexander J. Dunn on 31 Oct. 2012
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This book is so challenging and full of firm, intelligent opinions about the nature of morality, its history and its future. Here, Nietzsche pushes the boundaries of human thought and succeeds in attacking simple-minded dichotomies. His work is freeing and empowering in a way that traditional religious theology just isn't!

Some of his prose is a little hard to read, particularly if you are new to philosophy like me, but I would strongly recommend buying this book and dipping into it when you feel ready to partake of some of this man's considerable wisdom.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By StarryNight TOP 100 REVIEWER on 22 Sept. 2014
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A very interesting read, though rather complex and challenging in places. I found some of this work very powerful and quite profound; it gives the reader much to think about! The reader may not agree with Nietzsche's point of view but this book will certainly make one think about the concept of morality in a different way.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Eggy on 12 Mar. 2013
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In Beyond Good and Evil, Nietzsche accuses past philosophers of lacking critical sense and blindly accepting dogmatic premises in their consideration of morality. Specifically, he accuses them of founding grand metaphysical systems upon the faith that the good man is the opposite of the evil man, rather than just a different expression of the same basic impulses that find more direct expression in the evil man.
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10 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Luc REYNAERT TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 14 May 2010
Format: Paperback
Friedrich Nietzsche shouts in a relentless torrent of raging prose and a sometimes obscene vocabulary his anger about the concepts of Christian morality, God, sin, democracy and socialism. For him, all `eternal' values must be inverted or revalued.

Plato, Christianity, democracy, socialism
For Nietzsche, the decline of mankind began with the Greek `dogmatist', Plato, who invented the pure spirit and the good as such.
His ideas were adopted by Christianity, `Platonism for the people'. But, Christian faith constitutes a sacrifice of all freedom, enslavement and self-mutilation. Its morality of pity, humility and utility worsens the human race. By preserving all that is sick, mankind breeds `a mediocre herd animal', `ugly plebeians'.
The democratic movement is the heir of Christianity. Democracy, `the nonsense of the greatest numbers', with its `equality of rights', is a form of political decay and, more importantly, a decay of `man' through the creation of a `dwarf animal'.
The `socialist dolts and flatheads are the scribbling slaves of the democratic taste striving for the universal green-pasture happiness of the herd.'

Nietzsche's evangel (master and slave morality)
The cardinal instinct of man is not self-preservation, but the discharge of strength. The essence of life is will to power. Everything evil, terrible, tyrannical in man, everything that is kin to beasts of prey and serpents serves the enhancement of the species `man'.
Good is the distinction, the determination of rank. Every enhancement of the type `man' has so far been the work of an aristocratic society. The noble soul lives as a leader who feels the compulsion to exploit his strength. Egoism is the nature of the noble soul. Exploitation belongs to the essence of what lives.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Allen Baird on 13 April 2012
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What I want to draw attention to in my brief review is to this particular edition of Beyond Good and Evil (BGE). R J Hollingdale did the translation work, so top marks there, even though I tend to favour certain more recent translators simply as matter of weight (see my review of On the Genealogy of Morals translation by Douglas Smith).

This edition contains two extra goodies worth a mention. The first is an introduction by Michael Tanner. Tanner and I have form (he said, flattering himself). I reviewed his book on Nietzsche and flung it a mere two stars. That book was about a hundred pages long; this introduction is twenty. It seems that less is more after all.

Tanner not only provides a workable context for a reading of BGE, he uses it as a launch pad to fire off illuminating flashes in the direction of Nietzsche's thought as a whole. Such as?

"Nietzsche regards all of us, insofar as we subscribe to a system of values, as being philosophers." (p.11)

"So, in Nietzsche's view, we inevitably do create values, whether we want to or not...Value is not something that we discover, it is something that we invent...Values are dependent on one kind of fact - the nature of those doing the valuing." (p.20)

Tanner also makes insightful comments on Nietzsche's "much misunderstood" doctrines of persprctivism (p. 19) and particularly the Superman (ps. 17, 21), whose task it is to overcome decadence by turning every event in into an affirmation, carrying "self-sufficiency to a degree which virtually meant total exile from society." He is "self-important in the best sense of that term" and delights in his "sense of being different from others". At last, some meat on the bones of steel!
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