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quote 2017-06-17 15:06
It is not a lack of love, but a lack of friendship that makes unhappy marriages.

― Friedrich Nietzsche

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review 2017-02-17 00:00
The Birth of Tragedy
The Birth of Tragedy - Friedrich Nietzsche,Michael Tanner,Shaun Whiteside Nietzsche is really speaking about the death of tragedy not its birth. He really doesn't like humanism in any of its variations. He says that it's our experiences which give us our understanding (a very Husserlian Phenomenological thing to say). The instinct, emotion, passion, the mysticism within us, and our intuitions are what really empower us (he says) not our reason. Music and dance lets the real person who lies within come to full actualization. Knowledge of the real world is not truth and it is the disclosure (as in the Homeric myths) that gives us our understanding (according to him).

The metaphor he uses to describe the development of tragedy throughout history could just as easily be applied to within a person in themselves and almost for sure could be used by Freudian psychology and its various off shots to explain the conscious verse unconscious selves within us and for both Freud and Nietzsche reaching into the unconscious will give us our true selves. In the end, he thinks the individual is master of his own domain and the primal instinct within us has been extinguished since the time of the Socratics, and we are all the worst for it.

The Republican's who embrace a neanderthal like Donald Trump would do well to read Nietzsche. They would understand how to frame their arguments better than they usually do. There is a part in this book where he'll speak about the special character of the Germans. Patriotism always means the group you belong to is special because you are in that group. By definition, you have to make some other group less special. Republicans under Donald Trump definitely are trying to do that. But, there is more than just the patriotism that would appeal to Republicans in this book. He also wants to feel his way to the right answer so that facts can be replaced with 'alternative facts' (whatever those are?) as long as you can feel the answer then it is better than knowing through reason.

Reason is definitely not a virtue for Nietzsche or any Republican who is a climate change denier Also, Republicans mock Freud, but seem to love to blame the victim too. Everything in their world view is the fault of the individual. (They loved thinking, refrigerator moms caused autism. They love blaming the mother when they can. Little realizing sometimes people are born that way and there is no one to blame except the universe. They believe that you are the master of your own fate. The captain of your own ship. Time and chance play no role in their world view).

This book is slightly different then the other ones of his that I've read recently. He doesn't show contempt for the reader, he wants to be taken seriously, and he doesn't hate women overtly (yes, he does mention 'feminine traits' as being bad, after all, 'virtus' originally meant 'manly excellence', so that which is worthy of being imitated was according to the man not from the woman, but overall that kind of thinking is within the time frame he was writing in. I'd be even able to site modern people who say stupid things like that such as a previous governor (Schwarzenegger) of California who said "don't be a sissy man" and that was within the bounds of most Republicans and they even like that kind of talk, but that's not what I think nor believe).

Nietzsche's fluency with Greek Gods and Titans was overwhelmingly elegant. He also seemed to be even more pessimistic than Schopenhauer within this book. I liked it when he quotes someone as to the one thing we should all know is "that we would have been better not to be born".

If you do read this one, I would suggest reading "Genealogy of Morals" first even though it was written latter. Nietzsche hasn't yet flushed out many of his thoughts within this book (Birth of Tragedy) and "Genealogy of Morals" will fill in those obvious gaps making this book easy to understand.
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review 2017-02-01 00:00
When Nietzsche Wept
When Nietzsche Wept - Irvin D. Yalom postponed BookClub Read.
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review 2017-01-21 00:00
On the Geneology of Morals
On the Geneology of Morals - Friedrich N... On the Geneology of Morals - Friedrich Nietzsche Three essays each coherent. This is Nietzsche's best work. Almost all of his major ideas lurk within this book. I would recommend the audio version. There's just something about Nietzsche that when he's read aloud you just feel the contempt and frustration you know he has for mankind and even the reader of his book.

He'll say the world needs artist and poets. He feels his truths and the reader feels them too. There's good and there's bad with Nietzsche. He has special dislike for women and feminism which even transcends the time period he's writing in. I could probably identify 10 statements through out the book that even a modern day misogynist would blush at. I hope that doesn't stop modern readers from reading this short masterpiece of a work.

Everything we know is tinted by our current context, its history and our expectations. Nietzsche does say in the book that most of philosophy is ahistorical, but in order to understand the proper context history must first be understood. (One of my favorite statements made by modern day homophobes often in the guise of religion is "marriage is between a man and a woman and it was Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden not Adam and Steve". They always forget to mention the talking snake, and they were right when they made it a tautology, but, unfortunately for them, the world has moved and now it's 'marriage is between consenting adults' and there is a new tautology in play).

The theme that really ties all three essays together is that 'man prefers the will to nihilism more than the will to nothing'. The Christian (and Nietzsche seems to focus mostly on the most popular religion in Western Europe at that time) is the most nihilistic person of all for they have outsourced their morality to somebody else. Who truly acts for the good? The person who is promised an eternal life for performing according to scripture or the person who does the good for its own sake. Nietzsche is not a nihilist. He has a system and he defends them within these three essays.

"There are no truths, there are only perspectives" leading to the 'free spirit' as he said in the third essay, and in the first essay (or maybe the second?) he says what free spirit would actually do wrong because he has no God keeping him from acting wrongly? Almost none! The more inclusive set of beliefs that include the other inferior systems (a recursive process of sorts) give his rank order of being leading to his 'perspectivism' of truth and keeping out of a nihilistic trap.

He's really clued into the 'pernicious teleological' way for thinking that permeates society today. He illustrates by saying "the hand was made to grasp" after all that's what we do with it. The world gives but it also takes. Idle chatter distracts. He does obliquely mention his solution of 'modified poverty' (my words) for the fulfillment of a philosopher (artist, poet, or even a regular human like me). The philosopher should only have the bare minimum necessary to survive and the rest is too much (this will be another spot where he makes a gratuitous misogynistic statement which adds nothing to the point) and ends up taking more than giving (except for the gratuitous statement against women I have hearitly endorsed this advice for my life).

He has hints of his 'eternal return' within the second essay. But he only takes it as far as the absolute determination of the world. He knows man is an animal but quotes Spencer ('survival of the fittest') more than Darwin (or Huxely, Darwin's bulldog). He's definitely got a book that Nazis could embraced if they ignore the parts they don't like. He is not anti-Semite (he goes out of his way to attack the anti-Semites), but he does state the last great man was Napoleon, and Germans after 1930 could put Hitler within Nietsche's context of greatness. This book surprised me by how much what the Nazis thought could fit into this book with a little bit of editing.

"Will to Power" is a term people love to throw out when discussing Nietzsche. Nobody gets it right. I suspect even Nietzsche doesn't always know what he means by it. But, in the context of some of the book, he will say "man's instinct to freedom or what I call 'will to power'". Nietzsche doesn't believe in 'free will' as originally defined by St. Augustine because St. Augustine uses it for man analogously to God creating the universe. The 'will' is more in line with that which contain all of our feelings, passions, and emotions, the Dionysian man, our rational intuitions of sorts. The power is our drive (or driving, because Nietzsche would say we are always becoming we never are). Our drive comes about because everything that is must maintain itself and strives to conquer what is beyond it. (That's why Nietzsche calls out Napoleon as he does. That's why the Nazis would have embraced this book because Hitler would be their ideal man. Their aesthetic priest).

Man is an animal and thus has the instincts of an animal. Debt and Guilt (apparently practically the same word in German) are the onus society puts on us. Historically, cutting off someone's arm would compensate for my loss. As if, their suffering would make me better. That's how religion gets started. The ultimate Christian sacrifice is of course Jesus on the Cross as payment. Of course, Nietzsche calls all of this bunk. Everything up til know has been designed in such a way to take away our 'instinct of freedom' or our 'will to power'. The masters have been enslaved by the slaves (the Roman Nobels by the Jews according to Nietzsche). Our system of values have been turned upside down where the pitifiul, the needy, and the vulgar has been made the nobel, the good and the hoped for.

Nietzsche is clear. Man took a wrong turn after Homer. Truth (or the best perspective) is disclosed to man by appearance. It's not necessarily to have a Copernican Revolution of the Mind (he quotes Kant surprisingly often and actually in flattering ways) or to think that Plato's Cave with ideal forms is helpful. Truth is not correctness.

There are clear links to existentialism running throughout this book. Man is absolutely responsible for his own actions because of his freedom that he is given (according to him). Man first historically has created someone to blame (this is another one of the 10 times he'll single out women in a misogynistic way) thus leading to religion and probably psychiatrists. The hermeneutics of suspicion used by Nietzsche are clearly borrowed by the early 20th century psychoanalysts and this book shows why.

It's not what we see when we look at the great piece of art, but it's what the artist thinks. That forms the basis of his aesthetic ideal. They are going to lead us out of the wilderness.

I don't like most of what Nietzsche says, but I love his thought process. I'm glad that Republicans don't like him because they falsely see him as a Nihilist (but he surely is an Atheist), and they would be able to argue their viewpoints from a stronger perspective if they would take the time to read a masterpiece like this (Nietzsche knows how to 'feel' his way to the best perspective and in no uncertain terms he like the Republicans put the onus on the individual, and they would discount time and chance and say that government (or society) is the problem not the solution and most of all would never think "there but for the grace of the universe go I" since they both think the absolute freedom trumps equality almost always ). I suspect Nietzsche never wrote anything more coherent than this book of essays, but he's always worth reading and I would recommend this book because of the depth and cohesion within the book.
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review 2016-11-18 08:00
Aphorisms On Love And Hate
Little Black Classics Aphorisms On Love and Hate - Friedrich Nietzsche

I was a little bit afraid to start this collection of Aphorisms, because the last one I read, another one of the Little Black Classics, was a real disappointment. I'd previously only seen a little bit of Nietzsche in class, but was curious to what he had to say.

I can only speak for this short edition, which had some nice observation on human nature, which I liked although some seemed a bit random and it would have been nice as some more context could have been provided in this edition. On the other hand, his views on women and gender roles are very outdated, especially for someone seeing through a lot of other things. However, he -of course- was also just a man of his time, but I did deduct a star for it.

Little Black Classics #5

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