Nietzsche’s Beyond Good and Evil is a critique of sciences, politics, and art of the modern world through a collection of aphorisms and commentary. The author uses epigrams to shine a unique light on truth and nature. His exclusive perspective could stem from the fact that he was without a stable home and in chronic pain while writing the book. The text consists of nine themes with a poem at the end. The author holds the belief that most philosophies are a projection of the philosopher. He expresses that a strong person explores their own preconceived ideas and independence in order to discover more about themselves. Regarding independence, Nietzsche refers to the masses as a herd that follows the same mentality without question. He further condemns philosophers that do the same. Those that follow this line of thinking support the proliferation of mediocrity through concepts that render everyone equally ordinary, such as “common” sense.
Nietzsche asserts that all people cannot be measured by the same rules of morality due to their differing spiritual strength. Throughout the book, the author encourages the reader to go beyond the concepts of good and evil. On the subject of morality, most philosophers are without critical sense by willingly accepting Christian dogma without analytical thought. This analytical thinking is expressed in the concept that nothing can originate out of its opposite-that it is false that truth is generated out of error and generousness out of selfishness. On living according to nature, he believes that nature is boundlessly indifferent. Living naturally is living according to life, but as a part of life, you can act no differently.
Beyond Good and Evil is an interwoven thread in the fabric of Nietzsche’s collection of work. It’s also an introduction to the background of his prior work, Thus Spoke Zarathustra. The author doesn’t seek to resolve the tension between the will to truth and the will to value in Beyond Good and Evil. He conceives of a future philosophy where the will to truth and the will to value coexist. One of Nietzsche’s leading points is that he’s opposed to equal rights but advocates justice. He shares the belief that philosophy should reflect the innermost concerns of human beings, similar to philosopher Kierkegaard’s work. He also believes in attributing merit according to an individual’s worth to society. He abhors democracy because making everyone equal robs great people from being great. Becoming great should be one of the innermost concerns of mankind, instead of seeking to alleviate discomfort.
Beyond Good and Evil was published in 1886 in a religiously enthusiastic atmosphere. It was written subsequent to his work that supported Christian views, Aus Meinem Leben back in 1858. The views presented in Beyond Good and Evil are contrary to Nietzsche’s earlier work, which displayed positive and passionate Christian views. The author’s influences and views changed throughout his life; his beliefs ranging from devotion for the lord to absolute disdain. In the late 1880’s, Nietzsche took an unforgiving anti-Christian stance, even calling himself the anti-Christ. Along with this line of thinking, a core belief of the author is that the spirit of man grows under oppression. To him, all that is violent and mischievous about man’s nature is necessary and serves a purpose in the elevation of mankind. He views good and evil as human creations, selfishness being a sign of healthiness.
The time during which Beyond Good and Evil was written was a trying time for Nietzsche’s health. Not only that, it was written during a 10-year period of homelessness, along with several other well-known texts. He suffered from migraines, digestion issues, and chronic nausea in addition to poor eyesight. The author’s physical adversities played a role in his style of writing, he distilled complex concepts into short and powerful quips. Nietzsche seeks to prove that philosophy does not follow a logical process, but rather follows the instincts of the philosopher. Because of this, a philosopher’s words are never free from his own instincts and subconscious thoughts. The author dares to believe that all great philosophies are unconsciously an autobiographical written confession. In his opinion, philosophy is created by a philosopher’s own image of the world.
He also promotes the idea that philosophy is the way things should be and not necessarily the way they actually are. Nietzsche believes that philosophers have a sacred entitlement to make the world better. Therefore, their philosophies should fall in line with the way things should be. Throughout the book, Nietzsche has a surprisingly vicious sense of humor which takes the reader by surprise. He makes prejudiced yet humorous remarks about women, Germans, other philosophers, and more. Nietzsche thoroughly explores his unadulterated judgments on subjects that experience tension between good and evil such as art, politics, science, philosophy, Catholicism, and Christianity.
Overall, Beyond Good and Evil is an indulgent critique of Western philosophy, modernity and its philosopher’s fictitious concepts, such as absolute truth and self-consciousness. He presents the forward-thinking notion that modernity is not as modern as it should be. In his opinion, modernity needs to evolve to a higher level. An effect of modernity is the evasion of pain and fear. This is only to man’s detriment, keeping him from reaching his full potential. The greatest potential is the aristocracy of the soul. To him, philosophy needs to evolve as well, as it is the supreme area of knowledge. In the preconceived opinion of old philosophers, philosophy is weighty and glum. The author believes that philosophy should be enjoyable and humorous, as opposed to being somber and written in an arcane language.