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Nietzsche: A Philosophical Biography

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Nietzsche: A Philosophical Biography Cover

 

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

No other modern philosopher has proved as influential as Nietzsche and none as consistently misunderstood. This groundbreaking new biography reveals the complexities of one of the world's most enigmatic philosophers.

In his blistering prose, Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900) uprooted the traditional study of philosophy as firmly grounded in rationality and truth and lay the foundations for the radicalism of twentieth-century Western thought, as it would emerge after his death. Contemporary thinkers have reinterpreted, revised, and repeated Nietzsche's ideas, but no one has transcended them, and today, no student of philosophy can afford to ignore the life and work of this towering figure. In his definitive work, acclaimed biographer Rüdiger Safranski proves his ability to integrate philosophical analysis with biographical detail and to portray this difficult, often contradictory man with an objective, even-handed grace.

Following Nietzsche's own dictum that "life is a testing ground for thought," Safranski, the author of biographies of Heidegger and Schopenhauer, offers a critical reappraisal of Nietzsche's philosophy by examining the intersection of his life and work, innovatively using biographical details to represent the larger vision of Nietzsche's philosophy. In his portrayal, Safranski attempts what Nietzsche considered the most important of human tasks: to be "an adventurer, a circumnavigator of the inner world called human." Safranski knowingly guides us through the tepid philosophical climate of nineteenth-century Germany, where, in the considerable wake of Kant and Hegel, Nietzsche struggled to break away from the oppressive burdens of the past, whose dubious philosophical foundations in rationality, objective truth, and traditional morality suffocated Nietzsche's Dionysian sensibility.

Following Nietzsche from the beginning of his burgeoning career as a talented young philologist to his violent break with academic tradition with the publication of The Birth of Tragedy, Safranski traces the origins and growth of Nietzsche's ideas. He details the young thinker's boyhood obsession with music and writing and his friendship, and eventual break, with Richard Wagner, whose music ignited a devotion to aesthetics Nietzsche would resist, but never completely abandon, for the rest of his life. With compassion and expertise, Safranski tackles the considerable contradictions and controversies of Nietzsche's later life and work: his alternating devotions to art and science, excess and sacrifice; his struggles with intimacy and sexuality; his ultimately tragic descent into madness; and his posthumous reception by the next generation of European philosophers, including his dubious association with German nationalism.

Offering trenchant analysis of Nietzsche's most difficult texts, The Birth of Tragedy, Human, All Too Human, and Beyond Good and Evil among others, Safranski keeps the total vision of Nietzsche's thought in mind, quoting letters, diaries, journals, and fragmented writings — each of which reveals a unique vision of this multifaceted figure.

Using Nietzsche's own formulations — about the intersection of life and philosophy, about the necessity for rigorous self-criticism, and, finally, about the pervasiveness of the unknowable — Safranski conjures the mind of a philosopher who had the courage to "leave the shore and venture into the open sea."

Review:

"Most people take life as they find it, and try to make something of the possibilities that are offered by their personal and social circumstances, avoiding catastrophe or failure, pursuing happiness, and working to realize some acceptable private or public ambitions. A small minority have the leisure to devote themselves systematically to understanding life and the world: scientists, historians, and thinkers. Others, seeing that there is much that is wrong with the world, spend their lives trying to change it for the better, and not just for themselves. Still others, creative artists, try to add to the world wonders that do not yet exist. Friedrich Nietzsche's conception of his own task, the task of the true philosopher, was closest to the last of these ? not merely to understand the world or to change it, but to create something new. And the field of his creation was himself." Thomas Nagel, The New Republic (read the entire New Republic review)

Synopsis:

A seminal biography, essential reading for anyone studying the philosophy of history's most enigmatic and fascinating thinker.

Synopsis:

Assessing Nietzche's morality, religion, and art, this seminal biography is essential reading for anyone studying the philosophy of history's most enigmatic and fascinating thinker.

Synopsis:

A seminal biography, essential reading for anyone studying the philosophy of history's most enigmatic and fascinating thinker.

Synopsis:

Includes bibliographical references (p. 377-385) and index.

About the Author

Rüdiger Safranski's other books include Martin Heidegger: Between Good and Evil and Schopenhauer and the Wild Years of Philosophy.Shelley Frisch earned a doctorate in German Literature from Princeton University.

Product Details

ISBN:
9780393323801
Author:
Safranski, Rudiger
Publisher:
W. W. Norton & Company
Translator:
Frisch, Shelley
Author:
Frisch, Shelley
Location:
New York
Subject:
General
Subject:
Philosophers
Subject:
Biography - General
Publication Date:
20030131
Binding:
TRADE PAPER
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Pages:
416
Dimensions:
8.2 x 5.5 x 1.1 in 0.825 lb

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Related Subjects

Biography » General
Biography » Philosophers
Humanities » Philosophy » General

Nietzsche: A Philosophical Biography New Trade Paper
0 stars - 0 reviews
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Product details 416 pages W. W. Norton & Company - English 9780393323801 Reviews:
"Review" by , "Most people take life as they find it, and try to make something of the possibilities that are offered by their personal and social circumstances, avoiding catastrophe or failure, pursuing happiness, and working to realize some acceptable private or public ambitions. A small minority have the leisure to devote themselves systematically to understanding life and the world: scientists, historians, and thinkers. Others, seeing that there is much that is wrong with the world, spend their lives trying to change it for the better, and not just for themselves. Still others, creative artists, try to add to the world wonders that do not yet exist. Friedrich Nietzsche's conception of his own task, the task of the true philosopher, was closest to the last of these ? not merely to understand the world or to change it, but to create something new. And the field of his creation was himself." (read the entire New Republic review)
"Synopsis" by , A seminal biography, essential reading for anyone studying the philosophy of history's most enigmatic and fascinating thinker.
"Synopsis" by , Assessing Nietzche's morality, religion, and art, this seminal biography is essential reading for anyone studying the philosophy of history's most enigmatic and fascinating thinker.
"Synopsis" by , A seminal biography, essential reading for anyone studying the philosophy of history's most enigmatic and fascinating thinker.
"Synopsis" by , Includes bibliographical references (p. 377-385) and index.
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