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99 of 104 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best place to start with Nietzsche
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...
Published on 12 Mar. 2007 by Mr. Peter Coville

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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Prelude to a Philosophy of the Future
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...
Published on 12 Mar. 2013 by Eggy


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99 of 104 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best place to start with Nietzsche, 12 Mar. 2007
By 
Mr. Peter Coville "peter" (Reading, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Beyond Good and Evil (Penguin Classics) (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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77 of 86 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very much maligned and misunderstood, 18 Oct. 2000
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Of all the philosophers you are ever likely to come across, Nietzsche is perhaps the easiest to read. His creative prose is graceful and poetic, whilst his aphoristic style delivers quick, witty and deeply profound insights.

However, whilst his writings are the easiest to read, they are also the hardest to truly understand - and most of the time this is completely intentional.

The result of this is that people dip into his works and come away believing that they fully understand Nietzsche's philosophy, when in reality they have allowed snippets of insight to snowball in entirely the wrong directions, resulting in gross misinterpretations. Look up the case of Nathan Leopold and Richard Loeb for the most extreme example of this.

Unfortunately, the only way to truly understand the development of Nietzsche's thought is to study all his works, beginning with the Birth of Tragedy and ending with Ecce Homo (and possibly The Will to Power, providing it is understood in context). It is also necessary to have a good background knowledge of antique philosophy and more recent 'influences' such as Spinoza, Kant, Hegel & Schopenhauer. Only in this way is it possible to ever come close to the true meaning behind these works.

However, Nietzsche's work is prolific - and most people will have neither the time nor the inclination to undertake this kind of project. Therefore, it is advisable to at least read a couple of introductory texts before diving into a book like this.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Easy to read but difficult to understand, 19 Feb. 2013
This review is from: Beyond Good and Evil (Penguin Classics) (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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5.0 out of 5 stars The New Testament and its adherents are shredded one by one in a police line up where each are denounded as the greatest hypocri, 4 Feb. 2011
By 
Dr. Delvis Memphistopheles "FIST" (London) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Beyond Good and Evil (Penguin Classics) (Paperback)
Nietzsche divorced society surrendering social contact but meanwhile carefully plotted its downfall. Not with the nihilistic fervor of Gabril Princeps. Nietzsche did not want to destroy the Austrian monarchy. He wanted to do something much more grandiose, much more extreme than simple assassination. He wanted to change the thoughts inside the head.

Just as Christianity had programmed the world for two thousand years with its doctrines of sin and salvation, capturing the dreamworlds of a populace born into submission, Nietzsche wanted to find the key to liberation. Merely throwing Molotov Cocktails or firing pistols or detonating bombs was never enough. He knew that words and thoughts had a far greater impact than any form of incendiary detonation.

This book is verbal dynamite sparking off reams of emotional powerful light beams of right and left but never the centre. Nietzsche was all about extremes. The old gentlemanly strolls across the lawn reciting Homer, reading Aristophanes, Euripedes, Aristotle, Plato, Socrates and the New Testament is torn asunder by a verbal shoulder charge.

The New Testament and its adherents are shredded one by one in a police line up where each are denounded as the greatest hypocritical monsters since the last saviour of souls. Interestingly he is kind to Jesus but severe on the prophets. God of course is dead and so is the morality play built up his hallucinated appearance. Once disposed of then morality collapses as there can be no appeal to a higher authority if he no longer exists. This leads to the existential crisis bridged by the over man who transcends disbelief through application of the will.

Good and Evil are the twin polarities of the morality show. Fred moves beyond this duality shredding it with the verve of Stirner a predecessor. When it collapses everything is allowed. The only limits are those imposed by the self. Nothing else exists apart from being able to vent individual strength as the man of power moves beyond the confines of the "herd." This is the group that binds the man to current beliefs.

The language is haughty irreverent, full of right wing zeal and left iconoclasm. Fred cares little for belief systems as his aim was to smash and resurrect a life of poetic abandon based not on himself but an alter ego. The colussus who could bestride the stage exuding his self conscious genius.

It can be hard going for those newly accustomed as his conceptual apparatus is dismantling everything that preceded him. Once this is understood the metaphors flow easier. Few can agree with everything he says because he is contradictory, human all too human, but you can glean and prise the juicy morsels and saviour them before either swallowing or spitting them out.

At least you can say you have tasted something which changes the inner nature rather than putting something in the mouth which travels straight through into the cistern without providing a shred of nourishment.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Freeing and empowering., 31 Oct. 2012
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This review is from: Beyond Good and Evil (Penguin Classics) (Paperback)
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
4.0 out of 5 stars An interesting view on morality, 22 Sept. 2014
By 
StarryNight (United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Beyond Good and Evil (Penguin Classics) (Paperback)
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
3.0 out of 5 stars Prelude to a Philosophy of the Future, 12 Mar. 2013
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This review is from: Beyond Good and Evil (Penguin Classics) (Paperback)
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
5.0 out of 5 stars Life is will to and lust for power, 14 May 2010
By 
Luc REYNAERT (Beernem, Belgium) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Beyond Good and Evil (Penguin Classics) (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.
The master creates his own morality, his own good and evil. He despises those who adopt a slave morality of pity and utility. He has only `contempt for the unfree, the common people, the humble, the doglike people who allow themselves to be maltreated'.

Evaluation
Besides his unacceptable profound misogyny (`woman's great art is the lie, her highest concern is mere appearance'), Friedrich Nietzsche's brutal evangel is not less than a call for war, not peace. The rabble must be crushed, in order to make place for an enhanced type of man, the superman.
On the other hand, his attacks on the power of the churches and on the ideas of some German philosophers (Kant, Hegel), as well as his call for men to become really independent and free spirits, masters not slaves, remain the bright parts of his virulent diatribes.

This formidable work written by `a fascinating human being of exceptional complexity and integrity' (P. Gay) is a must read for all those interested in Western philosophy.
Nietzsche's political, literary and philosophical influence continues to be immense.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Michael Tanner, you have overcome yourself!, 13 April 2012
By 
Allen Baird (Belfast, Northern Ireland) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Beyond Good and Evil (Penguin Classics) (Paperback)
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!

Of course, Tanner being Tanner has to inject a few choice opines into the mix. Taking on the mantel of an average reader (?) Tanner states that Nietzsche's questioning of truth's value "seems provokingly silly" and that his account of master morality might read as "a repulsive general view of things". However:

"It becomes clear that Nietzsche is trying to formulate the conditions under which we may hope to recover a conception of greatness, above all of that kind of greatness which we associate with creativity, at least before that term was so debased by pop psychologists and educational theorists." (p. 22)

As much as I would love to digress into a defence of creativity techniques, I will instead point to the only real issue I have with Tanner's Nietzsche, one that he seems to share with the rest of the Nietzsche scholars. He quotes BGE: 209 where Nietzsche mentions Napoleon and Goethe as historical exemplars of master morality and enemies of the "legalization of life". Then, forgetting Napoleon, Tanner asserts that for Nietzsche art was the "the peak human activity", the field of greatest risk and importance, "the realm in which man can celebrate existence most completely" (25).

Really? So why does Nietzsche refer to Julius Creaser as often as Leonardo Di Vinci (BGE: 200)? How can he dare mention Cesare Borgia at all (BGE: 197)? Or why does he, in the same chapter, decry "feminine" traits (BGE: 202) along with "socialists dolts and blockheads" (BGE: 203). Why does he equate the aristocratic spirit with the military spirit (BGE: 239)? Are we to take his book-long polemic against pity sentimentality (e.g. BGE: 293), and for cruelty and wildness as anything other than seriously meant?

Speaking of Cesare Borgia, I also need to mention the excellent commentary at the back of this Penguin edition. Some of the comments are fairly basic in terms of philosophical definitions and explanations. However, what impressed me is that in several places, where Nietzsche mentioned something requiring reference in the text, the commentary as gathered together other references to the same subject in his other works. For instance, we have Nietzsche's main comments on Epicurus (p. 226), anti-teleology (p. 277), the French Revolution (p. 288), cruelty and 'de capo' (p. 229), Jewry and Borgia (p.231), Napoleon and fear (p. 232), Homer (p. 233), Wagner (p. 234), Jesus (p. 236), and laughter (p. 237).

May I conclude by suggesting you read Nietzsche's comments in 56 and 58 (plus maxim 94) where he equates life-affirmation with the concepts of play and game? Relevance to review? Not much really. Only this. Don't they apply to all areas of life, not just art? And not excluding war?

Counter-cultural, yes. But 'evil' for that?

Or should that be 'bad'?

PS BGE should be the second work of Nietzsche's a noob should tackle after GOM IMHO.
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13 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Go with the Cambridge version, 30 Jan. 2008
By 
R. Watts-Huston (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Beyond Good and Evil (Penguin Classics) (Paperback)
Our college accidentally bought the Penguin version of BGE, and as a student of languages I can tell you that the translation quality is very poor. Some passages seem to lose their meaning entirely for lack of a feeling for the overall text on the part of the translator. Eventually I gave up on the Penguin copy and went for the Cambridge one - the difference was immense. I would definitely recommend the Cambridge copy.

In terms of the text itself, BGE is one of the most important books ever written, and one of the most fun.
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Beyond Good and Evil (Penguin Classics)
Beyond Good and Evil (Penguin Classics) by Friedrich Nietzsche (Paperback - 27 Feb. 2003)
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