The Philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche

The Philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche

H. L. Mencken

Language: English

Pages: 224

ISBN: 1884365310

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


The first book on Nietzsche ever to appear in English, this examination by legendary journalist H. L. Mencken is still one of the most enlightening. Mencken wrote this book while still in his 20s, but his penchant for thoroughness was evident even at that young age—in preparation for writing this book, he read Nietzsche's works in their entirety, mostly in the original German. A brief biographical sketch is followed by clear and thorough explanations of Nietzsche's basic concepts and attitudes. Analyzed are Nietzsche's much-misunderstood concept of the superman, his concept of eternal recurrence, his rejection of Christianity, and his basic rationalism and materialism. Included are two essays on Nietzsche that appeared in Mencken's magazine The Smart Set subsequent to the publishing of the original edition of this book. Nearly a century after its original publication, this remains one of the clearest, most concise, and entertaining introductions to Nietzsche to date.

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meet and overcome the influences which would weaken or destroy him. "Keep yourselves up, my brethren," cautions Zarathustra, "learn to keep yourselves up! The sea is stormy and many seek to keep afloat by your aid. The sea is stormy and all are overboard. Well, cheer up and save yourselves, ye old seamen!... What is your fatherland? The land wherein your children will dwell.... Thus does your love to these remote ones speak: 'Disregard your neighbors! Man is something to be surpassed!' Surpass

the family is a necessary and impeccable institution and that without it progress would be impossible. As a matter of fact, the idea of the family, as it exists today, is based entirely upon the idea of feminine helplessness. So soon as women are capable of making a living for themselves and their children, without the aid of the fathers of the latter, the old corner-stone of the family - the masculine defender and breadwinner - will find his occupation gone, and it will become ridiculous to

more than devices to make man remember his pledges to his gods. Today they survive in the form of legal punishments, which are nothing more, at bottom, than devices to make a man remember his pledges to his fellow men. From all this Nietzsche argues that our modern law is the outgrowth of the primitive idea of barter - of the idea that everything has an equivalent and can be paid for - that when a man forgets or fails to discharge an obligation in one way he may wipe out his sin by

whatever he did was the result of his own thought and choice, and that it was right, in consequence, to condemn him to hell for his sins and to exalt him to heaven for any goodness he might chance to show. Schopenhauer turned all this completely about. Intelligence, he said, was not the source of will, but its effect. When life first appeared upon earth, it but one aim and object: that of perpetuating itself. This instinct, he said, was still at the bottom of every function of all living beings.

rational of them will put his hand to the plough and the vainest will seek favor at court. Thus we shall get rid of bad philosophers."((2)) The argument here is plain enough. The professional teacher must keep to his rut. The moment he combats the existing order of things he loses his place. Therefore he is wary, and his chief effort is to transmit the words of authority to his pupils unchanged. Whether he be a philosopher, properly so-called, or something else matters not. In a medical school

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