Monday, February 4, 2013

Book Review: Nietzsche-Philosopher, Psychologist, Antichrist

The book Nietzsche-Philosopher, Psychologist, Antichrist by Walter Kaufmann offers remarkable insight into the life and philosophies of Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche. The book covers important topics such as Existenz, Will to Power, Morality, Sublimation, Apollonian and Dionysian dichotomy, perspectivism, Eros, and Geist. Furthermore, it offers insight into the life struggles of Nietzsche and how each of these difficulties offered more philosophical understandings of the nature of  human existence. 

Friedrich Wilhelm Neitzsche was (1844-1900) was a German philosopher, poet, composer, philologist and cultural observer.  He grew up in the Rocken in the Prussian province of Saxony.  At the age of 24 he became a professor in classical philology at the University of Basel.  He was considered one of the youngest professors in history and never obtained an official doctorate degree. At the time of his post he renounced his Prussian citizenship and remained stateless until the time of his death. 

Neitzsche’s work led him to the concept of Will to Power which proposes that the every person in society and even society itself seeks to impose its will on other people.  Each person is inherently egotistical and seeks to control others through all types of social and personal constructions. This could be war, gift giving, love overtures, diplomacy, physical violence or anything else.  Neitzsche explains the concept… 

All of psychology to date remained stuck in moral prejudices and apprehensions: it did not dare go into any depths. To comprehend it as a morphology and theory of the evolution of the will to power, as I do-that nobody has come close to doing yet even in thought-insofar as it is permitted to recognize in what has so far been written a symptom of what has so far been kept secret (Kaufmann, 1974, pp.274).

The book’s author Walter Kaufmann passed away in 1980. He was a professor at Princeton and was well known to be an excellent translator of Neitzsche’s works.  He joined the military intelligence against Nazi German in WWII and afterward obtained a doctorate degree at Harvard University. Much of his time as a professor was spent in translation, research, writing and teaching. He studied religion and philosophy throughout his life. 

The book is quite long netting approximately 532 pages. In the academic style there are plenty of references for readers to consider. However, not all of these make their way into the chapters. The book is written at a graduate level and is fairly easy to follow. There are few locations within the book where there was some disconnect between a few chapters.  However, the book is worth reading and will give one an excellent understanding of Neitzsche’s philosophies and life. 

Kaufmann, W. (1974). Nietzsche: philosopher, psychologist, antichrist. NJ: Princeton University Press. ISB: 0-691-07207-8

Pages: 532
Price: $15- $22
Blog Rating: 4.4/5

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