Twilight of the Idols

Götzen-Dämmerung

Twilight of the Idols, or, How to Philosophize with a Hammer (German: Götzen-Dämmerung, oder, Wie man mit dem Hammer philosophirt) is a book by Friedrich Nietzsche, written in 1888, and published in 1889. (Wiki)

Text from this book:

Goethe is the last German for whom I feel any reverence: he would have felt three things which I feel–we also understand each other about the “cross.”

I am often asked why, after all, I write in German: nowhere am I read worse than in the Fatherland. But who knows in the end whether I even wish to be read today? To create things on which time tests its teeth in vain; in form, in substance, to strive for a little immortality–I have never yet been modest enough to demand less of myself. The aphorism, the apothegm, in which I am the first among the Germans to be a master, are the forms of  “eternity”; it is my ambition to say in ten sentences what everyone else says in a book–what everyone else does not say in a book.


Synopsis

Twilight of the IdolsTwilight of the Idols, or, How to Philosophize with a Hammer (German: Götzen-Dämmerung, oder, Wie man mit dem Hammer philosophirt) is a book by Friedrich Nietzsche, written in 1888, and published in 1889. Twilight of the Idols was written in just over a week, between 26 August and 3 September 1888, while Nietzsche was on holiday in Sils-Maria. As Nietzsche’s fame and popularity was spreading both inside and outside Germany, he felt that he needed a text that would serve as a short introduction to his work. Originally titled A Psychologist’s Idleness, it was renamed Twilight of the Idols or How to Philosophize with a Hammer. The latter title, Götzen-Dämmerung in German, is a pun on the title of Richard Wagner’s opera, Götterdämmerung, or ‘Twilight of the Gods’. Götze is a German word for “idol” or “false god”. Walter Kaufmann has suggested that in his use of the word Nietzsche might be indebted to Francis Bacon. Nietzsche criticizes German culture of the day as unsophisticated and nihilistic, and shoots some disapproving arrows at key French, British, and Italian cultural figures who represent similar tendencies. In contrast to all these alleged representatives of cultural “decadence”, Nietzsche applauds Caesar, Napoleon, Goethe, Thucydides and the Sophists as healthier and stronger types. The book states the transvaluation of all values as Nietzsche’s final and most important project, and gives a view of antiquity wherein the Romans for once take precedence over the ancient Greeks.

In Twilight of the Idols, Nietzsche criticizes German culture of the day as unsophisticated and nihilistic, and shoots some disapproving arrows at key French, British, and Italian cultural figures who represent similar tendencies. In contrast to all these alleged representatives of cultural “decadence”, Nietzsche applauds Caesar, Napoleon, Goethe, Thucydides and the Sophists as healthier and stronger types. The book states the transvaluation of all values as Nietzsche’s final and most important project, and gives a view of antiquity wherein the Romans for once take precedence over the ancient Greeks.

Nietzsche intended Twilight of the Idols to serve as a short introduction to his philosophy, and as a result it is the most synoptic of all his books. Continuing in the spirit of its immediate predecessors On The Genealogy of Morals and The Wagner Case, it is a masterpiece of polemic, targeting not only `eternal idols’ like Socratic rationality and Christian morality but also their contemporary counterparts, as Nietzsche the `untimely man’ goes roaming in the gloaming of nineteenth-century European culture. He allies philosophy with psychology and physiology, relentlessly diagnozing the symptoms of decadence, and his stylistic virtuosity is such that the sheer delight he takes in his ‘demonic’ mischief-making communicates itself on every page. A brilliant new translation, this edition provides detailed commentary on a highly condensed and allusive work.

Maintaining cheerfulness in the midst of a gloomy task, fraught with immeasurable responsibility, is no small feat; and yet what is needed more than cheerfulness? Nothing succeeds if prankishness has no part in it. Excess strength alone is the proof of strength. A revaluation of all values: this question mark, so black, so huge that it casts a shadow over the man who puts it down — such a destiny of a task compels one to run into the sunlight at every opportunity to shake off a heavy, all-too-heavy seriousness. Every means is proper to do this; every “case” is a case of luck. Especially, war. War has always been the great wisdom of all spirits who have become too introspective, too profound; even in a wound there is the power to heal.

Twilight of the Idols2Twilight of the Idols, or How to Philosophize with a Hammer a book by Friedrich Nietzsche, written in 1888, and published in 1889. Nietzsche criticizes German culture of the day as unsophisticated and nihilistic, and shoots some disapproving arrows at key French, British, and Italian cultural figures who represent similar tendencies. In contrast to all these alleged representatives of cultural “decadence”, Nietzsche applauds Caesar, Napoleon, Goethe, Thucydides and the Sophists as healthier and stronger types. The book states the transvaluation of all values as Nietzsche’s final and most important project, and gives a view of antiquity wherein the Romans for once take precedence over the ancient Greeks. The Antichrist (German: Der Antichrist) is a book by the philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, originally published in 1895. Although it was written in 1888, its controversial content made Franz Overbeck and Heinrich Köselitz delay its publication, along with Ecce Homo. The German title can be translated into English as either The Anti-Christ or The Anti-Christian, depending on how the German word Christ is translated. Christianity, as a religion of peace, is despised by Nietzsche. According to Nietzsche’s account, pity has a depressive effect, loss of vitality and strength, and is harmful to life. It also preserves that which should naturally be destroyed. For a noble morality, pity is a weakness, but for Christianity, it is a virtue. In Schopenhauer’s philosophy, which Nietzsche sees as the most nihilistic and opposed to life, pity is the highest virtue of all. But, for Nietzsche, pity “… multiplies misery and conserves all that is miserable, and is thus a prime instrument of the advancement of decadence: pity persuades men to nothingness! Of course, one does not say ‘nothingness.’ One says ‘the Beyond’ or ‘God’ or ‘ true life’ or ‘Nirvana,’ ‘salvation,’ ‘redemption,’ ‘blessedness.’ … Schopenhauer was hostile to life: therefore pity became a virtue for him.” The moderns Leo Tolstoy and Richard Wagner adopted Schopenhauer’s viewpoint. Aristotle, who lived in 384-322 BC, on the other hand, recognized the unhealthiness of pity and prescribed tragedy as a purgative. “In our whole unhealthy modernity there is nothing more unhealthy than Christian pity.”


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Twilight of the Idols cover