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Friedrich Nietzsche: Human, All Too Human

The only previous work of Nietzsche’s I had read were extracts from his later works, namely those contained in The Will to Power. I was chatting with a friend of mine, whose views of Nietzsche’s writing were somewhat different to my own; I was aware that The Will to Power was published after Nietzsche’s death, however I wasn’t aware, that it is at best a significant distortion of his work, and at worst contains in many places the work of other authors passed off under Nietzsch’s name. I picked up Human, All Too Human and Beyond Good and Evil, and my impression from the former is of a very different philosophy to that expressed in the previous extracts I had read. The latter are very disjointed and confused; where a consistent philosophy emerges, it is less like that of Nietzsche’s other writing than that of Schopenhauer (whose ideas Nietzsche, for the most part, disagreed with in his earlier work).

However, by contrast Human, All Too Human sets out both a critical attack on previous schools of thought, in particular Kantian Idealism and Platonic Rationalism, and a pragmatic philosophy of moral influences and actions. He outlines quite clearly his stance on the direction of evolution in nature, namely, that it will sometimes ‘achieve what is useful...without having wanted to’; his seeming misunderstanding of this point was a criticism I had of his later work that rendered a substantial proportion of it meaningless, but it appears that was probably a mistake on the part of later compilers and publishers. I remain of the opinion that his writing is rather turgid, but I can believe that that is a consequence of the translation (my German isn’t even up to reading novels, much less nuanced philosophical argument).

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