nietzsche, politics, theology

The Most Revealing Words Nietzsche Ever Wrote


Ah, providence. As I continue this exploration of Nietzsche as he emerges in “A Nietzsche Reader” — translated by R. J. Hollingdale — I stumbled on a construction — that is to say his editing — of the following, which I feel is the most accurate and earth-shaking explanation of what Nietzsche actually means by will to power.

After spending time in the vineyards of Heidegger and the French thinkers who have lavished many pages trying to exegete what eternal return is all about, I feel I have struck a mother lode.

Read on. This is from “Beyond Good And Evil 211” and it is in Hollingdale’s section on philosophy and philosophers.

[The philosopher] …must perhaps have been critic and skeptic and dogmatist and historian and, in addition, poet and collector and traveller and reader of riddles and moralist and seer and ‘free spirit’ and practically everything, so as to traverse the whole range of human values and value-feelings and be able to gaze from the heights into every distance, from the depths into every height, from the nook-and-corner into every broad expanse with manifold eyes and manifold conscience. But all these are only preconditions of his task: this task itself demands something different — it demands that he create values. […] Actual philosophers […] are commanders and law-givers: they say ‘thus it shall be’, it is they who determine the Wherefore and Whither of mankind, and they possess for this task all the preliminary work of all the philosophical labourers, of all those who have subdued the past — they reach for the future with creative hand, and everything that is or has been becomes for them a means, an instrument, a hammer. Their ‘knowing’ is creating, their creating is a lawgiving, their will to truth is — will to power. — Are there such philosophers today? Have there been such philosophers? Must there not be such philosophers?

I am going to leave this without comment. It is to me the precise context for an understanding of will to power.


Nietzsche’s Monster Thing

Nothing benign does Nietzsche value. I’m still ruminating on the preface to “A Nietzsche Reader” translated by R. J. Hollingdale.


In Section 3 of Why I Write Such Good Books in “Ecce Homo”, Nietzsche says: “When I picture a perfect reader, I always picture a monster of courage and curiosity, also something supple, cautious, a born adventurer and discoverer … ”

A few words before, he says, “Any ‘feminism’ in a person, or in a man, likewise closes the gates on me: one will never be able to enter this labyrinth of daring knowledge.”

He adds that harshness should be a habit of his readers.

We already know that Nietzsche is keen on our approaching philosophy as a sort of history. It is possible, perhaps, to see Nietzsche making his way around Sils-Maria, thinking in the high air of his evolving discoveries. He has already determined that there is a Dionysian man (sic) who is vastly more attuned to the immediacies of the immanent frame than to the thinking of  his ordered and reasonable Apollonian counterpart.  He has already launched his beloved Zarathustra, who ranges the heights and embodies the values Nietzsche himself apparently reveres.

I say apparently because this man in Sils, and later in Turin, is a quiet and solitary person whose mode would suggest less a monster (of anything) than a somewhat cautious and quite polite human being.  Even if you were to confront him with an arch statement regarding his premature use of feminism as a door-closer, he might remember his one major love — a woman who I am sure he regarded as his equal in every way — with a wistful sigh, or perhaps with no visible expression at all.

I believe “monster” is a provocative word Nietzsche uses to jolt readers into some willingness to leap into the Dionysian arena of involvement with the process of revaluation he is summoning us to. Elsewhere he speaks of himself as an immoralist because he is rejecting the moralities of millennia. No small aspect of his skewering of Kant and other universal moralists is because he perceives that acts rise from particular circumstances. There can be no universal direction of what one can or should do.

Nietzsche drew a sharp distinction between Jesus and Christianity — seeing Jesus as the bearer of glad tidings and Christianity as a repository of resentment, self-denigration and  repression.

Again I go historical.  At the time when he wrote “Ecce Homo” (1888), Nietzsche saw himself as a posthumous author, someone who would not be understood for possibly decades and even centuries. Even now, a critic such as Harold Bloom will off-handedly dismiss what he calls the French Nietzsche, by which I assume he means existentialists  postmodernists who have tried their hand at parsing what Nietzsche meant by  eternal return.

Nietzsche spent his first forty posthumous years being adopted by Hitler, his will to power forged into the venomous poison of the Fatherland.  He spent another forty or more posthumous years with just a few champions, such as Walter Kaufman and R. J. Hollingdale, to disabuse the Nietzsche-is-a-Nazi crowd of their false slur. It is easy enough to do this simply by noting Nietzsche’s plain statements lamenting the values and culture of Germany, including its nationalism and its anti-semitism.

Nietzsche’s monster thing is like his immoralist thing and like all of his other provocative things. All seem designed to jolt us definitively out of our often-devious hold on the received verities.  I think Nietzsche would agree with those who understand today’s situation in terms of the death throes of the world whose demise Nietzsche heralded.

It is the question of how Nietzsche would revalue values in light of this change that this rumination tends.


Nietzsche — “Against The Censurers of Brevity”

I begin my excursion into “A Nietzsche Reader” translated by R. J. Hollingdale with a thought from the book’s preface. It is from “Assorted Opinions and Maxims” which appeared in 1879 as the First Supplement to Human, All Too Human.

In section 127 Nietzsche tells “Censurers of brevity” that substantial thought can go into very short bits of text.

I fully agree. As I struggle to get across notions related to pattern language, I sometimes find I have said things best is apparently tossed-off summary statements. This is, however, no guarantee that what is said will be either understood or received.

In a broader context, this passage and much of the rest of “A Nietzsche Reader” reveals an author who is not like other philosophers. His mode is aphoristic, heartfelt and challenging. He does not want to be the avatar of a new religion. But he knows what he has to say has impact. That it is dynamite. That ideas have the capacity in themselves to dislodge the very mountains of the earth.

So prepare yourselves. Brevity will rule. And …


dostoevsky, karamazov, nietzsche

Nietzsche: The Fifth Karamazov Brother

It is unlikely that Nietzsche ever read Dostoevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov, though he did praise lavishly the Russian author’s “Underground Man” and allowed that the writer was a psychologist worthy of his attention.

To one steeped in Dostoevsky and familiar with Nietzsche’s own ambivalent certitudes, it is not hard to link him to this family of 19th Century fictional archetypes — all wrestling with the implications of a world that is in the process of rejecting God.

The four Karamazov Brothers — children of the insidious buffoon Fyodor — are:

Dmitri, the eldest who might qualify as a life-affirmer in Nietzsche’s terms,

Ivan, the tormented intellectual who is stretched out on the rack of the very morality Nietzsche is at pains to excoriate,

Alyosha, the saintly secular monk Dostoevsky hopes will carry human destiny forward, and:

Smerdyakov, the imitative imbecile who infers the homicidal urges of his brothers and acts them out in the parricide that is the novel’s principal crime.

Nietzsche, is the fifth Karamazov — Like Ivan he has passed through Dostoevsky’s furnace of doubt — but gone even farther than the tormented Ivan.



A Few Nietzsche-Christianity Sparks

I have consoidated a few notes from a Nietzsche blog now folded into this.

The Nietzsche Channel: David Strauss, the Confessor and the Writer

Here is an available text which does much of the job of making Nietzsche’s criticism of David Strauss available online. I sense it is a missing link that relates in a possibly devastating way to the celebration of Strauss by the likes of Robert Funk. I will now search for linkages between Funk and Nitezsche.


The Life of Jesus Critically Examined by D. F. Strauss

Here we have Strauss in English online — a work in progress.

Strauss was apparently so vilified in his own time that when hired to teach in Zurich, he was pensioned before his term even began.

What interests me here is the animosity displayed in Nietzsche’s work on Strauss. And what I have generally assumed to be Nietzsche’s own latent or repressed need to arrive at a relationship with Jesus.

It is also interesting in this context to speculate on the extent of N’s reading of Dostoevsky.


The Politics of Paul (PDF)

We shall bring Paul into the mix because of the author’s references to Nietzsche and the merits of the essay.


Recent Podcasts



nietzsche, sils maria

Travel Notes — Sils Maria

Sils lies six-thousand feet above the sea
Here Nietzsche came and spent some summertimes
The little room he lived in you can see
Not far from where the church sends forth its chimes
Sils is where Zarathustra was conceived
Think high think power and then overcome
He left most past philosophies ungrieved
Sadly he could not see what was to come
The people he despised adopted him
And used his language to describe their way
The wretched world was soon torn limb from limb
I hear his theories are the rage today
A sculpted eagle sits on Nietzsche’s lawn
Across the street I look at it and yawn

By Stephen C. Rose

nietzsche, theology

A Critical Directory of Useful and Usable Nietzsche-related Sites

A Critical Directory of Useful and Usable Nietzsche-related Sites

To my best knowledge the sites below are accessible, have no thinly veiled subscription requirements, and have accurately presented what they claim to present.

Many of the “comprehensive” pages out there lead to nonexistent sites or to sites which have various access requirements. Or else they have obtrusive ads.












Homer and Classical Philology

Thoughts Out of Season Part One

The Antichrist

We Philologists


Nietzsche and The Machine — Derrida Interview Excerpt

Nietzsche by Paul Elmer More


Duncan Large How To Philosophize with a Ploughshare

Glenn W. Most , On the use and abuse of ancient Greece for life


Nietzsche as Critic and Captive of Enlightenment

Nietzsche: The Ethics of an Immoralist


The Life of Jesus Critically Examined by D. F. Strauss

Here we have Strauss in English online — a work in progress.

Strauss was apparently so vilified in his own time that when hired to teach in Zurich, he was pensioned before his term even began.

What interests me here is the animosity displayed in Nietzsche’s work on Strauss. And what I have generally assumed to be Nietzsche’s own latent or repressed need to arrive at a relationship with Jesus.

It is also interesting in this context to speculate on the extent of N’s reading of Dostoevsky.