Untimely Meditations

Unzeitgemässe Betrachtungen

Untimely Meditations (German: Unzeitgemässe Betrachtungen), also translated as Unfashionable Observations and Thoughts Out Of Season) consists of four works by the philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, started in 1873 and completed in 1876. (Wikipedia)

Text from this book:

RICHARD WAGNER IN BAYREUTH. I. FOR an event to be great, two things must be united—the lofty sentiment of those who accomplish it, and the lofty sentiment of those who witness it. No event is great in itself, even though it be the disappearance of whole constellations, the destruction of several nations, the establishment of vast empires, or the prosecution of wars at the cost of enormous forces: over things of this sort the breath of history blows as if they were flocks of wool. But it often happens, too, that a man of might strikes a blow which falls without effect upon a stubborn stone; a short, sharp report is heard, and all is over. History is able to record little or nothing of such abortive efforts. Hence the anxiety which every one must feel who, observing the approach of an event, wonders whether those about to witness it will be worthy of it. This reciprocity between an act and its reception is always taken into account when anything great or small is to be accomplished; and he who would give anything away must see to it that he find recipients who will do justice to the meaning of his gift. This is why even the work of a great man is not necessarily great when it is short, abortive, or fruitless; for at the moment when he performed it he must have failed to perceive that it was really necessary; he must have been careless in his aim, and he cannot have chosen and fixed upon the time with sufficient caution. Chance thus became his master; for there is a very intimate relation between greatness and the instinct which discerns the proper moment at which to act.


Synopsis

Untimely Meditations2The four short works in Untimely Meditations were published by Nietzsche between 1873 and 1876.They deal with such broad topics as the relationship between popular and genuine culture, strategies for cultural reform, the task of philosophy, the nature of education, and the relationship between art, science and life. They also include Nietzsche’s earliest statement of his own understanding of human selfhood as a process of endlessly ‘becoming who one is’. As Daniel Breazeale shows in his introduction to this new edition of R. J. Hollingdale’s translation of the essays, these four early texts are key documents for understanding the development of Nietzsche’s thought and clearly anticipate many of the themes of his later writings. Nietzsche himself always cherished his Untimely Meditations and believed that they provide valuable evidence of his ‘becoming and self-overcoming’ and constitute a ‘public pledge’ concerning his own distinctive task as a philosopher.