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What Nietzsche Really Said


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About the Author

Robert C. Solomon is the Quincy Lee Centennial Professor of Philosophy and Distinguished Teaching Professor at the University of Texas at Austin. He is the author of, among many other books, From Hegel to Existentialism.
Kathleen M. Higgins is a professor of philosophy at the University of Texas at Austin and the author of Nietzsche's Zarathustra. Together, Solomon and Higgins have written A Short History of Philosophy and Reading Nietzsche. They live in Austin.


About a decade ago, the late Allan Bloom published his immensely successful polemic, The Closing of the American Mind. In it he denounced the erosion of intellectual culture in the U.S., listing Nietzsche as one of the main villains in the story of American decline. Our moral fiber, so the argument goes, has been vitiated by a relativism, skepticism and godlessness that can be traced to the baleful influence of Nietzsche. Bloom's is merely one version of a common view. Higgins and Solomon--both professors of philosophy at the University of Texas, Austin--have much to say in favor of a clear, sober and precise understanding of Nietzsche's writings. In particular, they aim to bring into focus "Nietzsche's affirmative philosophy, his positive suggestions, along with his famously misunderstood doctrines and his enthusiasms. To think of Nietzsche as nothing but negative, `the great destroyer,' is to misunderstand him profoundly." In brisk, forthright prose, Higgins and Solomon debunk widely accepted myths and rumors about Nietzsche: he was not a German nationalist, not an anti-Semite, did not hate women and plainly opposed everything the Nazis would later stand for. In addition, Higgins and Solomon give an especially sound presentation of Nietzsche's ethically motivated "immoralism" along with the various other positions that are basic to his writings, including the much misunderstood "will to power." The concept, they say, is largely a later creation of Heidegger and other interpreters who combed Nietzsche's unpublished notes for whatever jetsam might aid their own undertakings. Higgins and Solomon regard "the will to power" with judicious skepticism, wisely preferring the books Nietzsche did write to those he didn't. (Feb.) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.

"Solomon and Higgins have put together a survival kit for those intending an expedition into Nietzsche territory, a refresher course for those who have been there, a map of the danger spots, and an encyclopedia of the main wonders. A valuable book."
-- Arthur C. Danto, Johnsonian Professor of Philosophy Emeritus, Columbia University

"Here is the thread of Ariadne that will lead you through the labryinth of Nietzsche's philosophy."
-- Sam Keen, author of Learning to Fly "Like all aphoristic thinkers, Nietzsche seems often to contradict himself. Being not only a philosopher but also an artist, he is not easy to understand -- hence many misunderstandings and prejudices. This book recontructs the true Nietzsche, who often -- as a skeptic -- Nietzsche himself has deconstructed."
-- John-Francois Revel, coauthor of The Monk and the Philosopher

Solomon and Higgins (philosophy, Univ. of Texas, Austin) have written a clear, concise, level-headed but restrained overview of Friedrich Nietzsche's life, thought, and influence. They introduce the reader to his provocative ideas about God, values, creativity, perspectivism, the will to power, the future overman, and the eternal recurrence. Particularly helpful are their brief annotations of Nietzsche's 14 books and short analyses of the thinkers who influenced him, e.g., Darwin, Wagner, Spinoza, and Schopenhauer. Nietzsche offers a this-worldly, life-affirming philosophy grounded in a cyclical cosmology and unabashed atheism. Unfortunately, to make him palpable, his controversial concepts are often misrepresented. Of course, there is no substitute for reading the original works, especially Thus Spake Zarathustra, but what emerges in this unique guideline is a holistic glimpse of Nietzsche as a person and thinker. Both insightful and inspiring, this engaging book is recommended for all philosophy collections.--H. James Birx, Canisius Coll., Buffalo Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.

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