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

4.4 out of 5 stars 34 customer reviews

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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: 13 x 1.4 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (34 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 5,557 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product description

From the Inside Flap

Represents Nietzsche's attempt to sum up his philosophy. In nine parts the book is designed to give the reader a comprehensive idea of Nietzche's thought and style. With an inclusive index of subjects and persons. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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Format: Paperback
"Beyond Good And Evil" was written immediately after Nietzsche's "Thus Spoke Zarathustra" and contains none of its elaborate metaphors and imagery. "Zarathustra" was literature compared to this book. This is mature Nietzsche, the philosopher, at his most witty, most serious, and most perpetually devastating.
All of the classic Nietzsche themes are present here; most notably and consummately the Will To Power. Chapter 4 consists of 122 razor-edged aphorisms, each only one or two sentences in length, which slice through the skin of human ulterior motive and the flesh of psychology, right down to the bones of mankind. Other chapters deal with the prejudices of philosophers, history of morals, people and nations, religion and "free-spirits" with the same healthy scepticism.
Nietzsche never entangles the reader in nets of abstract philosophical systems or lengthy and boring dissertation as most philosophers are compelled to do. "Beyond Good And Evil" is always to the point and the density of the language is far outweighed by the prolific content and profundity of thought. What at first glance may seem to be lead is revealed as pure gold with a scratch to the surface. For the uninitiated reader, all it takes is a little patience, (and perhaps, occasionally, a dictionary!) to unlock the books undeniable value for those "philosophers of the future" to whom "Beyond Good And Evil" is dedicated.
Nietzsche went on to outline his philosophy further in other truly great books, but "Beyond Good And Evil" represents a pinnacle in his work and is the best introduction to his philosophy. Nietzsche challenges his readers; he does not command but bids us to take a look through different eyes, and then to view ourselves, our wise men, and the world. And, above all, enquire.
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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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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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