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Encyclopedia > Beyond Good and Evil
Title Beyond Good and Evil: Prelude to a Philosophy of the Future

Cover of the Penguin edition.
Author Friedrich Nietzsche
Original title Jenseits von Gut und Böse. Vorspiel einer Philosophie der Zukunft
Translator R. J. Hollingdale
Country Germany
Language German
Subject(s) ethics, metaphysics
Genre(s) philosophy
Released 1886
Released in English 1966
Media type Paperback, hardcover, audiobook
Pages 239 (Penguin ed.)
ISBN ISBN 978-0140449235
Preceded by Thus Spoke Zarathustra (1883–1885)
Followed by On the Genealogy of Morality (1887)

Beyond Good and Evil (German: Jenseits von Gut und Böse), subtitled "Prelude to a Philosophy of the Future" (Vorspiel einer Philosophie der Zukunft), is a book by the German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, first published in 1886. Image File history File links No higher resolution available. ... Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche (October 15, 1844 – August 25, 1900) (IPA: ) was a German philosopher. ... Reginald John (R.J.) Hollingdale (October 20, 1930 - September 28, 2001) was best known as a biographer, and a translator of German philosophy and literature, especially the works of Friedrich Nietzsche, Goethe, E.T.A. Hoffman, Lichtenberg, and Schopenhauer. ... In political geography and international politics a country is a geographical entity, a territory, most commonly associated with the notions of state or nation. ... Ethics (from the Ancient Greek Ä“thikos, the adjective of Ä“thos custom, habit), a major branch of philosophy, including genetics is the study of values and customs of a person or group. ... Plato and Aristotle (right), by Raphael (Stanza della Segnatura, Rome). ... The philosopher Socrates about to take poison hemlock as ordered by the court. ... A publisher is a person or entity which engages in the act of publishing. ... To meet Wikipedias quality standards, this article may require cleanup. ... This article or section does not adequately cite its references or sources. ... An audio book is a recording of the contents of a book read aloud. ... The barcode of an ISBN . ... The cover for the first part of the first edition. ... On the Genealogy of Morals: A Polemic (translation of Zur Genealogie der Moral: Eine Streitschrift, also translated On the Genealogy of Morality or Toward a Genealogy of Morals), is a polemic written by the 19th century German philosopher and philologist Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche and published in 1887. ... Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche (October 15, 1844 – August 25, 1900) (IPA: ) was a German philosopher. ... Year 1886 (MDCCCLXXXVI) was a common year starting on Friday (link will display the full calendar) of the Gregorian calendar (or a common year starting on Sunday of the 12-day slower Julian calendar). ...

It takes up and expands on the ideas of his previous work, Thus Spoke Zarathustra, replacing that work's sunny and life-affirming character with a highly critical, polemical approach. The cover for the first part of the first edition. ...

In Beyond Good and Evil, Nietzsche attacks past philosophers for their alleged lack of critical sense and their blind acceptance of Christian premises in their consideration of morality. The work moves into the realm "beyond good and evil" in the sense of leaving behind the traditional morality which Nietzsche subjects to a destructive critique in favour of what he regards as an affirmative approach that fearlessly confronts the perspectival nature of knowledge and the perilous condition of the modern individual. A philosopher is a person who thinks deeply regarding people, society, the world, and/or the universe. ... This article or section does not cite any references or sources. ...


Structure of the work

The work consists of 296 numbered sections and an "epode" (or "aftersong") entitled "From High Mountains". The sections are organized into nine parts:

  • Part One: On the Prejudices of Philosophers
  • Part Two: The Free Spirit
  • Part Three: The Religious Nature
  • Part Four: Maxims and Interludes
  • Part Five: On the Natural History of Morals
  • Part Six: We Scholars
  • Part Seven: Our Virtues
  • Part Eight: Peoples and Fatherlands
  • Part Nine: What is Noble?

On philosophers, free spirits and scholars

In the opening two parts of the book, Nietzsche discusses in turn the philosophers of the past, whom he accuses of a blind dogmatism dogged by moral prejudice masquerading as a search for objective truth; and the "free spirits", like himself, who are to replace them.

He casts doubt on the project of past philosophy by asking why we should want the "truth" rather than recognizing untruth "as a condition of life". He offers an entirely psychological explanation of every past philosophy: each has been an "involuntary and unconscious memoir" on the part of its author (§6) and exists to justify his moral prejudices, which he solemnly baptizes as "truths".

In a startling passage (§34), Nietzsche tells us that "from every point of view the erroneousness of the world in which we believe we live is the surest and firmest thing we can get our eyes on". Philosophers are wrong to rail violently against the risk of being deceived. "It is no more than a moral prejudice that truth is worth more than appearance". Life is nothing without appearances; it appears to Nietzsche that it follows from this that the abolition of appearances would imply the abolition of "truth" as well. In an even more extreme leap of logic, Nietzsche is led to ask the arguably barely coherent question, "what compels us to assume there exists any essential antithesis between 'true' and 'false'?"

Nietzsche singles out the Stoic precept of "living according to nature" (§9) as showing how philosophy "creates the world in its own image" by trying to regiment nature "according to the Stoa". But nature, as something uncontrollable and "prodigal beyond measure", cannot be tyrannized over in the way Stoics tyrannize over themselves. Further, there are forceful attacks on several individual philosophers. Descartes' cogito presupposes that there is an I, that there is such an activity as thinking, and that I know what thinking is (§16). Spinoza masks his "personal timidity and vulnerability" by hiding behind his geometrical method (§5), and inconsistently makes self-preservation a fundamental drive while rejecting teleology (§13). Kant, "the great Chinaman of Königsberg" (§210), reverts to the prejudice of an old moralist with his categorical imperative, the dialectical grounding of which is a mere smokescreen (§5). His "faculty" to explain the possibility of synthetic a priori judgements is likened to the explanation of the narcotic quality of opium in terms of a "sleepy faculty" in Molière's comedy Le Malade imaginaire. Schopenhauer is mistaken in thinking that the nature of the will is self-evident (§19), which is in fact a highly complex instrument of control over those who must obey, not transparent to those who command. Stoicism is a school of philosophy commonly associated with such Greek philosophers as Zeno of Citium, Cleanthes, or Chrysippus and with such later Romans as Cicero, Seneca, Marcus Aurelius, and Epictetus. ... René Descartes René Descartes (IPA: , March 31, 1596 – February 11, 1650), also known as Cartesius, worked as a philosopher and mathematician. ... This article or section does not adequately cite its references or sources. ... Baruch Spinoza Benedictus de Spinoza (November 24, 1632 - February 21, 1677), named Baruch Spinoza by his synagogue elders and known as Bento de Spinoza or Bento dEspiñoza in the community in which he grew up. ... Teleology (telos: end, purpose) is the philosophical study of design, purpose, directive principle, or finality in nature or human creations. ... Immanuel Kant Immanuel Kant (April 22, 1724 – February 12, 1804) was a Prussian philosopher, generally regarded as one of Europes most influential thinkers and the last major philosopher of the Enlightenment. ... The categorical imperative is the central philosophical concept of the moral philosophy of Immanuel Kant, and to modern deontological ethics. ... Molière, engraved on the frontispiece to his Works. ... Le Malade imaginaire (roughly The Hypochondriac or The Imaginary Invalid) is a play and the last work by Molière. ... Arthur Schopenhauer Arthur Schopenhauer (February 22, 1788 – September 21, 1860) was a German philosopher born in Gdańsk (Danzig), Poland. ...

"Free spirits", by contrast to the philosophers of the past, are "investigators to the point of cruelty, with rash fingers for the ungraspable, with teeth and stomach for the most indigestible" (§44). Nietzsche warns against those who would suffer for the sake of truth, and exhorts his readers to shun these indignant sufferers for truth and lend their ears instead to "cynics" – those who "speak 'badly' of man - but do not speak ill of him" (§26).

There are a kind of fearless scholars who are truly independent of prejudice (§6), but these "philosophical labourers and men of science in general" should not be confused with philosophers, who are "commanders and law-givers" (§211).

Nietzsche also subjects physics to critique. "Nature's conformity to law" is merely one interpretation of the phenomena which natural science observes; Nietzsche suggests that the same phenomena could equally be interpreted as demonstrating "the tyrannically ruthless and inexorable enforcement of power-demands" (§22). Nietzsche appears to espouse a strong brand of scientific anti-realism when he asserts that "It is we alone who have fabricated causes, succession, reciprocity, relativity, compulsion, number, law, freedom, motive, purpose" (§21).

On morality and religion

In the "pre-moral period of mankind", actions were judged by their consequences. Over the past 10,000 years, however, a morality has developed where actions are judged by their origins (their motivations) not their consequences. This morality of intentions is, according to Nietzsche, a "prejudice" and "something provisional [...] that must be overcome" (§32).

Nietzsche criticizes "unegoistic morality" and demands that "Moralities must first of all be forced to bow before order of rank" (§221). Every "high culture" begins by recognizing "the pathos of distance" (§257).

Nietzsche contrasts southern (Catholic) and northern (Protestant) Christianity; northern Europeans have much less "talent for religion" (§48) and lack "southern delicatezza (§50). As elsewhere, Nietzsche praises the Old Testament while disparaging the New (§52). Note: Judaism commonly uses the term Tanakh. ... John 21:1 Jesus Appears to His Disciples--Alessandro Mantovani: the Vatican, Rome. ...

Religion has always been connected to "three dangerous dietary prescriptions: solitude, fasting and sexual abstinence" (§47), and has exerted cruelty through demanding sacrifice according to a "ladder" with different rungs of cruelty, which has ultimately caused God Himself to be sacrificed (§55). Christianity, "the most fatal kind of self-presumption ever", has beaten everything joyful, assertive and autocratic out of man and turned him into a "sublime abortion" (§62). If, unlike past philosophers such as Schopenhauer, we really want to tackle the problems of morality, we must "compare many moralities" and "prepare a typology of morals" (§186). In a discussion that anticipates On the Genealogy of Morality, Nietzsche claims that "Morality is in Europe today herd-animal morality" (§202)—i.e., it emanates from the ressentiment of the slave for the master (see also §260, which leads into the discussion in Genealogy, I). On the Genealogy of Morals: A Polemic (translation of Zur Genealogie der Moral: Eine Streitschrift, also translated On the Genealogy of Morality or Toward a Genealogy of Morals), is a polemic written by the 19th century German philosopher and philologist Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche and published in 1887. ...

On nations, peoples and cultures

Nietzsche discusses the complexities of the German soul (§244), praises the Jews and heavily criticizes the trend of German anti-Semitism (§251). He praises France as "the seat of Europe's most spiritual and refined culture and the leading school of taste" (§254). He finds the English coarse, gloomy, more brutal even than the Germans, and declares that "they are no philosophical race", singling out Bacon, Hobbes, Hume and Locke as representing a "debasement and devaluation of the concept 'philosopher' for more than a century" (§252). Nietzsche also touches on problems of translation and the leaden quality of the German language (§28). The Eternal Jew: 1937 German poster. ... Francis Bacon, 1st Viscount St Alban (22 January 1561 – 9 April 1626) was an English philosopher, statesman, and essayist, but is best known as a philosophical advocate and defender of the scientific revolution. ... This article is about the philosopher Thomas Hobbes. ... Hume is the name of several people: Most likely it refers to: David Hume, (1711-76) 18th-century Scottish philosopher It can also refer to: Alexander Hamilton Hume (1797-1873) Australian explorer Allan Octavian Hume, English ornithologist Basil Cardinal Hume, former Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster Brit Hume, journalist best known... Locke is a common Western surname of English origin: John Locke, an English Enlightenment philosopher. ...

In a prophetic statement, Nietzsche proclaims that "The time for petty politics is past: the very next century will bring with it the struggle for mastery over the whole earth" (§208).

Aphorisms and poetry

Between §62 and §186 Nietzsche inserts a collection of mostly single-sentence aphorisms, modelled on French aphorists such as La Rochefoucauld. Twelve of these (§§ 84, 85, 86, 114, 115, 127, 131, 139, 144, 145, 147, 148) concern women or the distinction between men and women, in which Nietzsche mostly adopts a denigrating and misogynistic tone. Other subjects touched on include his doctrine of the eternal recurrence (§70), music (§106) and utilitarianism (§174), among more general attempts at trenchant observations about human nature. This article is about the French noble and writer de La Rochefoucauld. ... Eternal Recurrence is a philosophical concept formulated by Friedrich Nietzsche. ...

The work concludes with a short ode to friendship in verse form (continuing Nietzsche's use of poetry in The Gay Science and Thus Spoke Zarathustra). The Gay Science [German: Die fröhliche Wissenschaft (la gaya scienza)], is a book written by Friedrich Nietzsche, first published in 1882 and followed by a second edition, which was published after the completion of Thus Spoke Zarathustra and Beyond Good and Evil, in 1887. ... The cover for the first part of the first edition. ...


See also: Cultural References to Friedrich Nietzsche's Beyond Good and Evil

It has been suggested that this article or section be merged into Beyond Good and Evil. ...

Editions of Beyond Good and Evil

  • Jenseits von Gut und Böse. Zur Genealogie der Moral, edited by Giorgio Colli and Mazzino Montinari, Munich: Deutscher Taschenbuch Verlag, 2002 (study edition of the standard German Nietzsche edition)
  • Beyond Good and Evil, translated by Walter Kaufmann, New York: Random House, 1966; reprinted in Vintage Books, and as part of Basic Writings of Nietzsche, New York: Modern Library, 2000
  • Beyond Good and Evil, translated by R. J. Hollingdale, Harmondsworth: Penguin Books, 1973; revised reprint 1990 with introduction by Michael Tanner
  • Beyond Good and Evil, translated by Marion Faber, Oxford: Oxford World's Classics, 1998
  • Beyond Good and Evil, translated by Judith Norman and edited by Rolf-Peter Horstmann, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002

Walter Arnold Kaufmann (July 1, 1921 - September 4, 1980) was a 20th-century Jewish German philosopher, scholar, and poet. ... Reginald John (R.J.) Hollingdale (October 20, 1930 - September 28, 2001) was best known as a biographer, and a translator of German philosophy and literature, especially the works of Friedrich Nietzsche, Goethe, E.T.A. Hoffman, Lichtenberg, and Schopenhauer. ...

External links

Wikiquote has a collection of quotations related to:

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