What Nietzsche Taught


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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. Mgge, 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."

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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. Frster-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 Salom—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.

W. H. W.


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WHAT NIETZSCHE TAUGHT

I

Biographical Sketch

Nietzsche liked to believe that he was of Polish descent. He had a greater admiration for the Poles than for the Germans, and went so far as to instigate an investigation by which he hoped to prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that he was not only Polish but was descended from the Polish nobility. His efforts, his sister tells us, were not entirely successful, although some evidence was turned up which pointed to the truth of this theory. Several of the dates in the report, however, did not accurately tally, and since many of Nietzsche's papers containing the results of his genealogical research were lost in Turin after his breakdown, the hypothesis of his Polish descent consequently remains somewhat mythical. Nietzsche's theory was that his great-great-grandfather was a nobleman named Nicki who fled from Poland during the religious wars, as a fugitive under sentence of death, and took with him a young son who afterward changed his name to Nietzsche. There is a romance in this belief which appealed strongly to the philosopher. He saw a genuine grandeur in the fact that his ancestor had become a fugitive for his religious and political opinions. This belief in time became a conviction with him, and in the later years of his[Pg 20] life we find him definitely asserting the truth of this family tradition.

The matter, however, one way or the other, is of little consequence, for Nietzsche's mind embodied universal traits: it was uncommonly free from distinctly national characteristics. All the important facts of his life and of his immediate ancestry are known to us. He was born at Rcken, a little village in the Prussian province of Saxony, on October 15, 1844. The day was the anniversary of the birth of Friedrich Wilhelm IV, King of Prussia, and Nietzsche was christened Friedrich Wilhelm in honour of the event. The coincidence was all the more marked by the fact that Nietzsche's father, three years previous, had been tutor to the Altenburg Princesses, in which capacity he had met the sovereign and made so favourable an impression that it was by the royal favour he was living at Rcken. There were two other children in the Nietzsche household—a girl born in 1846, and a son born in 1850. The girl was named Therese Elizabeth Alexandra after the Duke of Altenburg's three daughters who had come under her father's tutorship. Afterward she became the philosopher's closest companion and guardian and his most voluminous biographer. The boy Joseph, named after the Duke of Altenburg himself, did not survive his first year.



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