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Twilight of the Idols (Oxford World's Classics) [Paperback]

Friedrich Nietzsche , Duncan Large
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Book Description

9 Oct 2008 Oxford World's Classics
to serve as a short introduction to the whole of his philosophy, and to be the most synoptic of all his books. A masterpiece of polemic, this `great declaration of war' targets not only `eternal idols' like Socratic rationality and Christian morality but also their contemporary counterparts, as Nietzsche the `untimely man' goes roaming in the gloaming of nineteenth-century European culture. This brilliant new translation is supplemented by a detailed commentary on one of Neitzsche's most condensed works.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford Paperbacks; Reissue edition (9 Oct 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 019955496X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0199554966
  • Product Dimensions: 19.3 x 12.7 x 1.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 615,113 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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About the Author

`Anyone who wants to gain a quick idea of how before me everything was topsy-turvy should make a start with this work. That which is called idol on the title-page is quite simply that which was called truth hitherto. Twilight of the Idols - in plain words: the old truth is coming to an end...'

Nietzsche intended Twilight of the Idols to serve as a short introduction to his philosophy, and as a result it is the most synoptic of all his books. Continuing in the spirit of its immediate predecessors On The Genealogy of Morals and The Wagner Case, it is a masterpiece of polemic, targeting not only `eternal idols' like Socratic rationality and Christian morality but also their contemporary counterparts, as Nietzsche the `untimely man' goes roaming in the gloaming of nineteenth-century European culture. He allies philosophy with psychology and physiology, relentlessly diagnozing the symptoms of decadence, and his stylistic virtuosity is such that the sheer delight he takes in his 'demonic' mischief-making communicates itself on every page. A brilliant new translation, this edition provides detailed commentary on a highly condensed and allusive work.
ABOUT THE SERIES: For over 100 years Oxford World's Classics has made available the widest range of literature from around the globe. Each affordable volume reflects Oxford's commitment to scholarship, providing the most accurate text plus a wealth of other valuable features, including expert introductions by leading authorities, helpful notes to clarify the text, up-to-date bibliographies for further study, and much more.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars We immoralists 28 Jan 2010
By Luc REYNAERT TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
This book is one of the greatest, most controversial and in some aspects unacceptable polemic texts of all times. It is a declaration of war against those who `have attempted to make mankind moral by through and trough immoral means' (the theologians and the philosophers of reason).
It had a mighty influence on certain political movements, philosophers (Carl Schmitt) and writers (`l'art pour l'art') all over the world.

Against Christianity (`the greatest misfortune of humanity so far')
The Christian morality is anti-natural, because it is against the body, the senses, the instincts. It is a revolt against life, a negation of the will to live, the very poison of life.
Christianity is the metaphysics of the hangman, the theologian, who infects innocence with guilt, who created the `free will', an artifice to give the priests the right to punish. It exploits the weakness of the dying for a rape of the conscience.
It stands or falls with faith in God. But, `is man merely a mistake of God's? Or God merely a mistake of man's?'

Against reason
The morality of reason (rationality at any price) suppresses the dark appetite, the instincts, the unconscious.
The world doesn't form a unity, a `spirit' (Hegel), so that nobody is held responsible any longer.

His credo, his heroes
What we need is freedom at all costs, the will to assume responsibility for oneself, the will to live with the manly instincts which delight in war and victory. To be one who spits `on the contemptible type of well-being dreamed of by Christians, cows, females, Englishmen and other democrats. To be one who is prepared to sacrifice human beings for one's own cause(!)
The free man is a warrior.' His heroes are Julius Caesar and Napoleon.
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Amazon.com: 4.0 out of 5 stars  5 reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant and readable 5 Jan 2013
By Shawn - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Here is the other half of the book I picked up. I reviewed "The Antichrist" earlier. The works should really be reversed and I think "Idols" should be read first, as it is more broadly founded and one gets the idea that these ideas led to "Antichrist" and not vise versa. About those ideas...

If "The Antichrist" was, at its root, to show the ideas of Christianity as decadence, "Idols" attacks the rest of the pillars. Nietzsche opens with an attack Socrates and continues his idea that dialectics are a Chandala magic trick throughout the work. How he, in one combined work, slays Christ and Socrates, and was not burned as a heretic in his own time is part of his charm. No one was more fearless than Nietzsche.

He has contempt for Jews and Germans alike. He abhors Kant, and Marx and hates Christianity. He systematically (in his way) undermines all that thought and morality rest upon. He knows that what he writes is hard to look at and will (must?) be ignored, but he writes it anyway.

I think one can detect a certain liking or respect or fondness for Schopenhauer, in Nietzsche, at times, but in the end, even he is a decadent fool (and so are you, reader).

Reading Nietzsche is a little like having The Devil over for tea... the conversation is very interesting but one has to be careful with what one does with what one learns. The Nazi's misunderstood Nietzsche and so did Rand. There is danger in these ideas. Nietzsche cannot help but cause one to war with one's own conscience.

Time and time again through these books, I felt like Eve beneath the apple tree. Nietzsche says "don't worry, you remain decadent" but still... The gods of all religions (atheism included) and the philosophers of those religions, speak in riddles and myth; They use the language of symbols.

Nietzsche speaks plainly about truth by saying, essentially, that it does not matter. Rather than challenge us to answer him, or believe him, he just doesn't seem to care.

For me, personally, he pushes the question of materialism far too close for comfort. By this push we come, of course, to atheism, my last frontier and the gate I guard the closest. I don't mean the kind of atheism that non-thinkers or lazy-thinkers arrive at by default or by culture, I mean the kind of systemic atheism that stems from a life of questions and a hard searching for answers.

The trouble I have, and Nietzsche spells it out here, is that one does not come to this kind of systemic atheism and remain an embracer of moral philosophy, unless one is a Chandala destroyer or a decadent fool who embraces decline by closing one's eyes.

Here is a philosopher who needs an answer in the way that Christ or Buddha needed an answer. Anyone want to point me at one, or do I need to write it myself?
8 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars We immoralists 28 Jan 2010
By Luc REYNAERT - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
This book is one of the greatest, most controversial and in some aspects unacceptable polemic texts of all times. It is a declaration of war against those who `have attempted to make mankind moral by through and trough immoral means' (the theologians and the philosophers of reason).
It had a mighty influence on certain political movements, philosophers (Carl Schmitt) and writers (`l'art pour l'art') all over the world.

Against Christianity (`the greatest misfortune of humanity so far')
The Christian morality is anti-natural, because it is against the body, the senses, the instincts. It is a revolt against life, a negation of the will to live, the very poison of life.
Christianity is the metaphysics of the hangman, the theologian, who infects innocence with guilt, who created the `free will', an artifice to give the priests the right to punish. It exploits the weakness of the dying for a rape of the conscience.
It stands or falls with faith in God. But, `is man merely a mistake of God's? Or God merely a mistake of man's?'

Against reason
The morality of reason (rationality at any price) suppresses the dark appetite, the instincts, the unconscious.
The world doesn't form a unity, a `spirit' (Hegel), so that nobody is held responsible any longer.

His credo, his heroes
What we need is freedom at all costs, the will to assume responsibility for oneself, the will to live with the manly instincts which delight in war and victory. To be one who spits `on the contemptible type of well-being dreamed of by Christians, cows, females, Englishmen and other democrats. To be one who is prepared to sacrifice human beings for one's own cause(!)
The free man is a warrior.' His heroes are Julius Caesar and Napoleon.

Influence
The Nazis adopted his racist and eugenic views: if one wants slaves, then one is a fool to educate them to be masters. One should push down degenerating life for the right to be born (forced abortion), to live (forced euthanasia) and to procreate (forced castration).
Carl Schmitt founded his theory of nation building on Nietzsche precept that `the new Reich needs enemies, in opposition alone does it become necessary.'
`L'art pour l'art' `means "The devil take morality! Rather no purpose at all than a moral purpose!'

Unacceptable
Nietzsche was a fundamental anti-democrat. For him, the world is naturally made an ensemble of a few masters and a herd of slaves. For him, `Equal rights' policies are an essential feature of decline. His eugenic propositions are a slap in the face of mankind.
His admiration of war is, today more than ever, an insult of humanity. His heroes, Napoleon and Julius Caesar, were two war criminals.
His misogyny is abject: `the agony of women giving birth must be there eternally'.

With his exceptional polemic talent (`Seneca, the toreador of virtue'; `Lobeck, a worm dried up between books'), Nietzsche wrote a formidable blasphemous text which influenced world's history. It has to be read `critically'.
1 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The unintended negative historical consequence outweighs the brilliance of the work 10 Aug 2010
By Shalom Freedman - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Reading this book was difficult for me. I know Nietzsche's work quite well but that doesn't mean I am immune to being bored by it. One waits for occasional flashes of brilliance and insight and often has too endure a lot of dogmatic baloney to get there. Nietzsche in this book makes his usual strong attack on Christianity the 'slave- religion'. He attacks the Germans for no longer producing great culture. He attacks those who would put 'Reason' at the center of life and in so doing devoid life of its instinctive power. He shows his usual anti- democratic side and again preaches the superiority of the few who are truly great spirits. He is often for me anyway, obtuse and difficult to understand.
What he does not do of course is foresee the misuse of his teaching which will be made by Wagnerian Nazis. He doesn't see his own kind of individual ranting and raving and condemning will not be for those who distort his views be confined to words but will mean murdering millions.
9 of 20 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Philosophy of the Hammer 24 Feb 2001
By unraveler - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
In this book, Nietzsche is concerned with bringing about the end of those idols that have the "feet of clay." Much has grown hollow in the light of modern discoveries, and the old idols must fall. We are not to worry too much about what shall replace them, because Nietzsche's hammer is impatient to speak. And new values need room before they can flourish, so it is out with traditional (mis)conceptions for Nietzsche.
This book is an interesting insight into Nietzsche's, if not the human, psyche. He reveals the insecurity that must stalk those who fancy to be significant people (are you really the ideal/person you represent to be, or just an actor?) This book is also the origin of the famous "what does not destroy me, makes me stronger" maxim. It's a terse and impressive statement, but it is clearly not always true. You may not come out stronger out an illness or a psychologically traumatic experience. Nietzsche overvalues hardness and overestimates the power of the subconsiouss to motivate our actions. As a short and insightful book, however, this is still a great read.
0 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Twilight of the Idols 26 Feb 2010
By Cwn_Annwn - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
This starts off with some almost funny (something even vaguely resembling humor is not something you expect to see in a Nietzsche book) observations from Nietzsche and goes from there into his critiques of Socrates. He later goes into critiques and observations about other philosophers, as well as critiquing Germans and Germany. This book has plenty of what I normally like and dislike about Nietzsche. Dislike, sometimes reading his work is about as exciting as watching paint dry and he comes off personality wise as way too anal retentive, dogmatic to his own worldview and humorless. He reminds me of the current wave of militant atheists. Dogmatic atheism is the trendy new system created religion in case you haven't noticed.

What I like about Nietzsche, the creed of self improvement and the anti-Christianity stuff, is here in abundance. Like in most of his work between pages of boredom you get instances of brilliance such as the following from Twilight of the Idols when talking about what Christianity did to the great "Teutonic Blonde Beast"
he say Christianity made him "sick, miserable, filled with ill-will towards himself, full of hatred for the impulses towards life, full of suspicion of all that was still strong and happy". In other words he lost his healthy Pagan Odinic worldview and became a psychological and spiritual Jew.
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