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on 24 August 1998
Kaufmann has done another excellent job with his translation of Nietzsche's most complete collection of thoughts. It is here that the famous adage "God is Dead" is first decreed. The Gay Science is a beautiful work of literature, and at the same time, a sort of summation of many of Nietzsche's previous and later books. The Gay Science is a must for anyone interested in Nietzsche's philosophy. And no one translates Nietzsche (or any other German philosopher) better than Walter Kaufmann.
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A passage from Gay Science was used in the philosophical cartoon, Waking Life. Its on You Tube titled 'fear or laziness'.... Ironically, the producers dug up the clichés surrounding Nietzsche. What Nietzsche writes in this book, I find is different from the imagining of 'philosophy' graduates. Nietzsche was physically very ill when he wrote this passage and, in many passages, well he's talking about himself. But people can easily misread his personal wounds as absolute statements on existence. So when he talks about those who suffer from a lack of life, I personally reckon he was writing about his pain. This is how one must read Nietzsche to really understand the Gay Science.
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on 1 December 2006
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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Fred took apart the hallucination of religion by revealing its psychological pantomine. Showing the reverse of repression he encouraged the strong willed to think beyond God and build a life of solitary despair looking into the abyss whilst balancing on to holding a future vision. Religion meanwhile crushed the soul with its various strictures. This contains more quips about his thinking, built around women, religion, science, socialism, logic,customs,law, relationships.

Science and its mechanic view point is severely castigated as a partial view. It built a world on belief just as religion had done previously. An ascendancy to God as he details Newton scurrying to assemble a new scaffolding to reach the heights.

The only true reality resided in the emotions within the body and these were denigrated by religion and science, so they appeared instead in sensual music and the written word, but never allowed full reign as the noise emitted was drowned in objective interpretation rather than inhabiting the moment.

This book allows the pagan to explore the world behind the facade to the Dyonisian thrill lying under the performed charade. It has no system, all the insights are built from extended aphorisms and verse, but climbs into various crescendo's, revealing the paucity of everyday life, that makes a reader pause and smile or go nooooooo and creates a shake of the head.

Take the Time to dip in, you will not find a ready made suit, you have to create you own bespoke one from the cloth he has provided.
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on 29 April 2014
I must admit that I am very much a fan of Nietzsche's writings, he is probably my favourite philosopher to read. With that said, I very much enjoyed this book. As per the norm for Nietzsche, it is very much an assorted collection of aphorisms. I feel there is less continuity between the aphorisms here, and, for example, in Beyond Good and Evil, but the ones contained here are generally less pithy, and more expressive. All in all, worth it, if you enjoy Nietzsche, though possibly better to begin with another book if you have not read him before.
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on 1 August 2012
Probably the most beautiful and important of all Nietzsche's books. It is here that the famous fragment `God is dead' appears (The Madman, book III: 125) and a passage on Eternal Return (The Greatest Weight).

The best way to get acquainted with Nietzsche is to read him direct:

The Greatest Weight. -"What, if some day or night, a demon were to steal after you into your loneliest loneliness and say to you: "This life as you now live it and have lived it, you will have to live once more and innumerable times more; and there will be nothing new in it, but every pain and every joy and every thought and sigh and everything unutterably small or great in your life will have to return to you, all in the same succession and sequence - even this spider and this moonlight between the trees, and even this moment and myself. The eternal hourglass of existence is turned upside down again and again - and you with it, speck of dust!
-Would you not throw yourself down and gnash your teeth and curse the demon who spoke thus? Or have you once experienced a tremendous moment when you would have answered him: "You are a god, and never had I heard anything more divine!" If this thought were to gain possession of you it would change you as you are, or perhaps crush you. The question in each and everything, "Do you desire this once more and innumerable times more?", would lie upon your actions as the greatest weight. Or how well disposed you would have to become to yourself and to life to crave nothing more fervently than this ultimate eternal conformation and seal? (book IV: 341)
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on 4 October 2015
Kaufmann certainly makes it easier to read than other translators. The poetry is brilliant too.
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on 9 July 1999
for all of those who cannot enjoy nietzsche, on of the 4, 5 greatest masters of the german language (with goethe, heine, kafka, possibly schiller), in his native tounge, walter kaufman is _the_ translation to read, everything else is not doing nietzsche justice. in la gaya scienca, the book that at least _i_ think is his most accessible for he offers light and heavy doses of his thought and humor in small portions, he rises to be one of the only and truly great german poets, e.g. with 'to the mistral'. aphorisms and poems especially are nowhere to be found in accurate translation - this book is the only notable exception. whereas other translators translate with what they think nietzsche's intent was in their mind, kaufman sticks to what nietzsche _actually_ writes, hence giving a much less distorted view than any other work. i cannot reccommend this book enough - and if i say that about every book of nietzsche, here i mean it yet even more. this i s i t !
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on 24 June 2015
very good
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 30 November 2009
Nietzsche's place in the history of philosophy
Nietzsche was the first disciple of Schopenhauer, but where the latter turned into a pessimist, Nietzsche became an optimist (fröhlich) for the same reasons.
Schopenhauer countered I. Kant (who stated that we couldn't know `the thing in itself') by remarking that we experience our own body. His analysis of the way of the world unveiled a mankind driven by a universal destructive impulse for uninhibited power, which he called the `Will'. Nietzsche turned this `negative' message into a positive one: let's quit the age of tragedy and live `fully' by accepting that `expansion of power' is a fundamental instinct of life.

Nietzsche's message
His message to the members of mankind is: Why have morality, when life, nature and history are not moral. Quit this age of moralities, remorse and moral valuations. `Be yourself'. Make your `own new tables of what is good'. Create your own laws.

Nietzsche's enemies
His first and foremost enemy was religion with its morality of selflessness, self-sacrifice, virtue, pity and charity. This morality makes man an assistant of his neighbor. It is a disadvantage, `good' only for the other. Man is a victim of his virtue.
Other enemies are the Utilitarians and their trade (`a prostitution of the spirit'), I. Kant and his categorical imperative, the French revolutionaries (`we don't need the sirens and their song about equal rights'), Darwinism (`an incomprehensible one-sided doctrine of the struggle for existence'), science (a doctrine), the human herd (`the herd animal with its profound mediocrity') and the poor (`the smell of distress and overcrowding'); also, consciousness (`a disease') and women (his profound misogyny).

Nietzsche's friends
The warriors (`war is for the noblest people a pleasure'), Ancient Greece (he only names two people: the anti-democrat Plato and a member of a secret society, Pythagoras) and Evil (`hatred, the mischievous delight in the misfortune of others, the lust to rob and to dominate'), which belongs to the most amazing economy of the preservation of the species.

Philosophy in a bad position
With all this `mediocrity' around him, Nietzsche didn't become a misanthrope. But, he recognized that `we, philosophers are in a bad position nowadays regarding knowledge', because `science keeps growing'.

Nietzsche's message of freedom, against religious and moral oppression is still a must today. But his contempt for the great majority of humanity as well as his ruthless call to follow man's instinct for domination (and war) is unacceptable.
This book is a long series of invective shouts without much argumentation by someone who believes that only he knows the ultimate `truth' about `human' behavior and who admonishes his followers from his pulpit like a secular Pope.

Only for Nietzsche fans.
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