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on 1 June 2017
Still reading it. Will be in touch when i finish, however so far it is very thought provoking.
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on 28 June 2012
This is probably the best, though not the most famous, book Nietzsche wrote. As a highly readable starting point for the reader new to the author it can hardly be bettered, giving a taste of Nietzsche in both extended and aphoristic modes, written late enough to represent his mature thought, free of the rather artificial and now dated manner that Nietzsche deployed in 'Thus Spake Zarathustra', and offering examples of his thinking on major issues. The reader who is familiar with Camus, Foucault and other representatives of modern Continental thinking may be startled by how many anticipations and premonitions of these thinkers appear in this book.

This edition is a good modern translation (1998) with a useful introduction and notes by the translator.
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on 19 February 2013
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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on 12 March 2013
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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on 14 April 1999
"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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on 12 March 2007
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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on 31 October 2012
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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on 13 April 2012
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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on 4 June 2013
This edition is a must-have for anyone not fluent enough in German to conquer the original. The translation is clear and fiercely loyal to the German with minimal ambiguity. The explanatory notes at the back explain any word-play and translate Nietzsche's frequent segues into French, Latin, Greek etc. Couldn't recommend this copy more!
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on 14 May 2010
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'.

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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