Search      Hot    Newest Novel
HOME > Short Stories > What Nietzsche Taught > INTRODUCTION
Font Size:【Large】【Middle】【Small】
INTRODUCTION
It is no longer possible to ignore the teachings of Friedrich Nietzsche, or to consider the trend of modern thought without giving the philosopher of the superman a prominent place in the list of thinkers who contributed to the store of present-day knowledge. His powerful and ruthless mind has had an influence on contemporary thought which even now, in the face of all the scholarly books of appreciation he has called forth, one is inclined to underestimate. No philosopher since Kant has left so undeniable an imprint on modern thought. Even Schopenhauer, whose influence coloured the greater part of Europe, made no such widespread impression. Nietzsche has penetrated into both England and America, two countries strangely impervious to rigorous philosophic ideals. Not only in ethics and literature do we find the moulding hand of Nietzsche at work, invigorating and solidifying; but in pedagogics and in art, in politics and religion, the influence of his doctrines is to be encountered. The books and essays in German elucidating his philosophy constitute a miniature library. Nearly as many books and articles have appeared in France, and the list of authors of these appreciations include many of the most noted modern scholars. Spain and Italy, likewise, have contributed works to an inquiry into his teachings; and in England and America numerous volumes dealing with the philosophy of the superman have appeared in recent years. In M. A. Mügge's excellent biography, "Friedrich Nietzsche: His Life and[Pg 10] Work," there is appended a bibliography containing 850 titles, and this list by no means includes all the books and articles devoted to a consideration of this philosopher's doctrines.

In this regard one should note that this interest is not the result of a temporary popularity, such as that which has met the philosophical pieties of Henri Bergson. To the contrary, Nietzsche's renown is gaining ground daily among serious-minded scholars, and his adherents have already reached the dimensions of a small army. But despite this appreciation there is still current an enormous amount of ignorance concerning his teachings. The very manner in which he wrote tended to bring about misunderstandings. Viewed casually and without studious consideration, his books offer many apparent contradictions. His style, always elliptic and aphoristic, lends itself easily to quotation, and because of the startling and revolutionary nature of his utterances, many excerpts from his earlier works were widely circulated through the mediums of magazines and newspapers. These quotations, robbed of their context, very often gave rise to immature and erroneous judgments, with the result that the true meaning of his philosophy was often turned into false channels. Many of his best-known aphorisms have taken on strange and unearthly meanings, and often the reverse of his gospel has gained currency and masqueraded as the original canon.

To a great extent this misunderstanding has been unavoidable. Systematisers, ever eager to bend a philosopher's statements to their own ends, have found in Nietzsche's writings much material which, when carefully isolated, substantiated their own conclusions. On the other hand, the Christian moralists, sensing in Nietzsche[Pg 11] a powerful and effective opponent, have attempted to disqualify his ethical system by presenting garbled portions of his attacks on Christianity, omitting all the qualifying passages. It is impossible, however, to understand any of Nietzsche's doctrines unless we consider them in their relation to the whole of his teachings.

Contrary to the general belief, Nietzsche was not simply a destructive critic and a formulator of impossible and romantic concepts. His doctrine of the superman, which seems to be the principal stumbling block in the way of a rationalistic interpretation of his philosophy, is no vague dream unrelated to present humanity. Nor was his chief concern with future generations. Nietzsche devoted his research to immediate conditions and to the origin of those conditions. And—what is of greater importance—he left behind him a very positive and consistent system of ethics—a workable and entirely comprehensible code of conduct to meet present-day needs. This system was not formulated with the precision which no doubt would have attached to it in its final form had he been able to complete the plans he had outlined. Yet there are few points in his code of ethics—and they are of minor importance—which cannot be found, clearly conceived and concisely stated, in the main body of his works. This system of conduct embraces every stage of society; and for the rulers to-day—the people for whom Nietzsche directly voiced his teachings—he outlines a method of outer conduct and a set of inner ideals which meet with every modern condition. His proposed ethical routine is not based on abstract reasoning and speculative conclusions. It is a practical code which has its foundation implanted in the dominating instincts of the organic and inorganic world. It is directly opposed to the[Pg 12] prevailing code, and has for its ideal the fulness of life itself—life intensified to the highest degree, life charged with a maximum of beauty, power, enthusiasm, virility, wealth and intoxication. It is the code of strength and courage. Its goal is a race which will possess the hardier virtues of strength, confidence, exuberance and affirmation.

This ideal has been the source of many misunderstandings, and it is the errors which have arisen from the vicious and inept dissemination of his teachings, that I have striven to rectify in the present book. I have hoped to accomplish this by presenting the whole of Nietzsche's philosophy, as far as possible, in his own words. This has not been so difficult a matter. His writings, more than those of any other modern philosopher, offer opportunities for such treatment. There is no point in his entire system not susceptible to brief and clear quotation. Furthermore, his thought developed consistently and logically in straight-away, chronological order, so that at the conclusion of each book we find ourselves just so much further along the route of his thinking. Beginning with "Human, All-Too-Human," his first destructive volume, we can trace the gradual and concise pyramiding of his teachings, down to the last statement of his cardinal doctrine of will as set forth in the notes which comprise the second volume of "The Will to Power." Each one of the intervening books embodies new material: it is a distinct, yet co-ordinated, division in the great structure of his life's work. These books overlap one another in many instances, and develop points raised speculatively in former books, but they organise each other and lead one surely, if at times circuitously, to the crowning doctrines of his thought.

[Pg 13]

The majority of critics have chosen to systematise Nietzsche's teachings by separating the ideas in his different books, and by drawing together under specific captions (such as "religion," "the state," "education," etc.,) all the scattered material which relates to these different subjects. In many cases they have succeeded in offering a very coherent and consistent résumé of his thought. But Nietzsche's doctrines were inherently opposed to such arbitrary dividing and arranging, because beneath the various sociological points which fell under his consideration, were two or three general motivating principles which unified the whole of his thought. He did not work from modern institutions back to his doctrines; but, by analysing the conditions out of which these institutions grew, he arrived at the conclusions which he afterward used in formulating new methods of operation. It was the change in conditions and needs between ancient and modern times that made him voice the necessity of change between ancient and modern institutions. In other words, his advocacy of new methods for dealing with modern affairs was evolved from his researches into the origin and history of current methods. For instance, his remarks on religion, society, the state, the individual, etc., were the outcome of fundamental postulates which he described and elucidated in terms of human institutions. Therefore an attempt to reach an explanation of the basic doctrines of his philosophy through his applied teachings unconsciously gives rise to the very errors which the serious critics have sought to overcome: this method focuses attention on the application of his doctrines rather than on the doctrines themselves.

Therefore I have taken his writings chronologically, beginning with his first purely philosophical work—[Pg 14]"Human, All-Too-Human"—and have set down, in his own words, every important conclusion throughout his entire works. In this way one may follow Nietzsche throughout every step in the development of his teachings—not only in his abstract theories but also in his application of them. There is not a single important point in the entire sweep of his thought not contained in these pages. Naturally I have been unable to give any of the arguments which led to these conclusions. The quotations are in every instance no longer than has been necessary to make clear the idea: for the processes of thought by which these conclusions were reached the reader must go direct to the books from which the excerpts are made. Also I have omitted Nietzsche's brilliant analogies and such desultory critical judgments, literary and artistic, as have no direct bearing on his philosophy; and have contented myself with setting down only those bare, unelaborated utterances which embody the positive points in his thought. By thus letting Nietzsche himself state his doctrines I have attempted to make it impossible for anybody who goes carefully through these pages to misunderstand those points which now seem clouded in error.

In order to facilitate further the research of the student and to make clear certain of the more obscure selections, I have preceded each chapter with a short account of the book and its contents. In these brief essays, I have reviewed the entire contents of each book, set down the circumstances under which it was written, and attempted to weigh its individual importance in relation to the others. Furthermore, I have attempted to state briefly certain of the doctrines which did not permit of entirely self-explanatory quotation. And where Nietzsche indulged in research, such as in tracing the origin[Pg 15] of certain motives, or in explaining the steps which led to the acceptance of certain doctrines, I have included in these essays an abridged exposition of his theories. In short, I have embodied in each chapter such critical material as I thought would assist the reader to a clear understanding of each book's contents and relative significance.

This book is frankly for the beginner—for the student who desires a survey of Nietzsche's philosophy before entering upon a closer and more careful study of it. In this respect it is meant also as a guide; and I have given the exact location of every quotation so that the reader may refer at once to the main body of Nietzsche's works and ascertain the premises and syllogisms which underlie the quoted conclusion.

In the opening biographical sketch I have refrained from going into Nietzsche's personality and character, adhering throughout to the external facts of his life. His personality will be found in the racy, vigorous and stimulating utterances I have chosen for quotation, and no comments of mine could add colour to the impression thus received. It is difficult to divorce Nietzsche from his work: the man and his teachings are inseparable. His style, as well as his philosophy, is a direct outgrowth of his personality. This is why his gospel is so personal and intimate a one, and so closely bound up in the instincts of humanity. There are several good biographies of Nietzsche in existence, and a brief account of the best ones in English will be found in the bibliography at the end of this volume.

It must not be thought that this book is intended as a final, or even complete, commentary on Nietzsche's doctrines. It was written and compiled for the purpose of[Pg 16] supplying an introductory study, and, with that end in view, I have refrained from all technical or purely philosophical nomenclature. The object throughout has been to stimulate the reader to further study, and if this book does not send the reader sooner or later to the original volumes from which these quotations have been made, I shall feel that I have failed somewhat in my enterprise.

The volumes of Nietzsche's philosophy from which the quotations in this book are taken, comprise the first complete and authorised edition of the works of Nietzsche in English. To the courageous energy of Dr. Oscar Levy do we owe the fact that Nietzsche's entire writings are now obtainable in English. The translations of these books have, in every instance, been made by competent scholars, and each volume is introduced by an illuminating preface. As this edition now stands, it is the most complete and voluminous translation of any foreign philosopher in the English language. The edition is in eighteen volumes, and is published in England by T. N. Foulis, and in America by the Macmillan Company. The volumes and their contents are given below.

    I. "The Birth of Tragedy," translated by William A. Haussmann, B.A., Ph.D., with a biographical introduction by the author's sister; a portrait of Nietzsche, and a facsimile of his manuscript.

    II. "Early Greek Philosophy and Other Essays," translated by Maximilian A. Mügge, Ph.D. Contents: "The Greek State," "The Greek Woman," "On Music and Words," "Homer's Contest," "The Relation of Schopenhauer's Philosophy to a German Culture," "Philosophy During the Tragic Age of the Greeks" and "On Truth and Falsity in Their Ultramoral Sense."

    III. "The Future of Our Educational Institutions," translated by J. M. Kennedy. Besides the titular essay, this volume contains "Homer and Classical Philology."

    [Pg 17]

    IV. "Thoughts Out of Season," Vol. I., translated by Anthony M. Ludovici. Contents: "David Strauss, the Confessor and the Writer" and "Richard Wagner in Bayreuth."

    V. "Thoughts Out of Season," Vol. II., translated with introduction by Adrian Collins, M.A. Contents: "The Use and Abuse of History" and "Schopenhauer as Educator."

    VI. "Human, All-Too-Human," Vol. I., translated by Helen Zimmern, with introduction by J. M. Kennedy.

    VII. "Human, All-Too-Human," Vol. IL, translated, with introduction, by Paul V. Cohn, B.A.

    VIII. "The Case of Wagner," translated by Anthony M. Ludovici and J. M. Kennedy, with introductions by the translators. Contents: "The Case of Wagner," "Nietzche contra Wagner," "Selected Aphorisms" and "We Philologists."

    IX. "The Dawn of Day," translated, with introduction, by J. M. Kennedy.

    X. "The Joyful Wisdom," translated, with introduction, by Thomas Common. The poetry which appears in the appendix under the caption of "Songs of Prince Free-As-A-Bird," is translated by Paul V. Cohn and Maude D. Petre.

    XI. "Thus Spake Zarathustra," revised introduction by Thomas Common, with introduction by Mrs. F?rster-Nietzsche, and commentary by A. M. Ludovici.

    XII. "Beyond Good and Evil," translated by Helen Zimmern, with introduction by Thomas Common.

    XIII. "The Genealogy of Morals," translated by Horace B. Samuel, M.A., with introductory note. "People and Countries," an added section to this book, is translated by J. M. Kennedy with an editor's note by Dr. Oscar Levy.

    XIV. "The Will to Power," Vol. I., translated, with an introduction, by A. M. Ludovici.

    XV. "The Will to Power," Vol. IL, translated, with an introduction, by A. M. Ludovici.

    XVI. "The Twilight of the Idols," translated, with an introduction, by A. M. Ludovici. Contents: "The Twilight of the Idols," "The Antichrist," "Eternal Recurrence," and "Explanatory Notes to 'Thus Spake Zarathustra.'"

    XVII. "Ecce Homo," translated by A. M. Ludovici. Various poetry and epigrams translated by Paul V. Cohn, Herman[Pg 18] Scheffauer, Francis Bickley and Dr. G. T. Wrench. In addition this volume contains the music of Nietzsche's "Hymn to Life"—words by Lou Salomé—with an introduction by A. M. Ludovici.

    XVIII. "Index to Complete Works," compiled by Robert Guppy, with vocabulary of foreign quotations occurring in the works of Nietzsche translated by Paul V. Cohn, B.A., and an introductory essay, "The Nietzsche Movement in England (A Retrospect—A Confession—A Prospect)," by Dr. Oscar Levy.

There are in the present volume no quotations from Nietzsche's "Ecce Homo" or from the pamphlets dealing with Wagner. The former work is an autobiography which, while it throws light on both Nietzsche's character and his work, is nevertheless outside his purely philosophical writings. And the Wagner documents, though interesting, have little to do with the Nietzschean doctrines, except as showing perhaps the result of their application. I have therefore left them intact for the student who wishes to go more deeply into the philosopher's character than I have here attempted.
Tools

All The Data From The Network AND User Upload, If Infringement, Please Contact Us To Delete! Contact Us
About Us | Terms of Use | Privacy Policy | Tag List | Recent Search  
©2010-2014 wenovel.com, All Rights Reserved