The Challenge of NietzscheHow to Approach His Thought

The Challenge of NietzscheHow to Approach His Thought

Jeremy Fortier

Print publication date: 2020

ISBN: 9780226679396

Publisher: University of Chicago Press

Abstract

Friedrich Nietzsche has been one of the most widely read authors in the world from the time of his death to the present day, as well as one of the most controversial. He has been celebrated as a liberating theorist of individual creativity and self-care, but also condemned as the inhumane advocate of anti-modern politics and hierarchical communalism. This book contends that Nietzsche’s complex legacy is the consequence of a self-conscious and artful tension within his work. That tension is reflected by the two major character-types that he established in his writings, the Free Spirit and Zarathustra, who represent different approaches to the conduct and understanding of life: one that strives to be as independent and critical of the world as possible, and one that engages with, cares for, and aims to change the world. Nietzsche developed these characters at different moments of his life, in order to confront from contrasting perspectives such elemental experiences as the drive to independence, the feeling of love, and the assessment of one’s overall health (or well-being). Understanding the tension between the Free Spirit and Zarathustra takes readers to the heart of what Nietzsche identified as the tensions central to his life, and to all of human life. The book highlights the fact that Nietzsche equipped his writings with retrospective self-commentaries and an autobiographical apparatus that clarify how he understood his development as an author, thinker, and human being, as well as the challenges that he left for readers to confront on their own.