On Friedrich Nietzsche’s 1888 book summarizing his thought and critiquing the founding myths of his society: traditional morality, free will, Socratic reason, and the idiocy of “Deutschland Uber Alles!” (For Wes Alwan’s summary of this book, go here).
Nietzsche defends instinct as the source of values, but these instincts must be “spiritualized” into frenzied creativity. Nietzsche as artist is an appealing figure to us, but he also praises Napoleon and says lots of nice things about war as the antidote to a complacent society sliding into decline. He thinks we’re all degenerates, but we can’t help it. So what does he actually want from us?
Nietzsche wrote this book in just over a week, and it’s packed full of juicy quotes (like “What does not destroy me, makes me stronger”) and psychological insights (e.g., virtue doesn’t make you happy; being happy makes you tend to be virtuous). Wes, Mark, Dylan, and Seth sketch out the best and weirdest parts and try to figure out what Nietzsche would have to say about our world today, from social justice warriors to Louis CK.
If you want to learn more about Nietzsche, or some of what we’re saying here sounds mysterious, then you should review our past episodes:
- Episode 11 on The Genealogy of Morals (1887)
- Episode 61 on his essay “On Truth and Lies in a Nonmoral Sense” (1873)
- Episode 84 on his essay The Gay Science (1882)
- Episode 119 on The Birth of Tragedy (1872)
Nietzsche picture by Genevieve Arnold.