Saturday, December 29, 2012

The Genealogy of Morals - Friedrich Nietzsche

I'll admit, I picked up this Modern Library edition of the classic work written in 1887 because of the word "genealogy" in the title (genealogy being a recent passion of mind) and because I knew very little of Nietzsche's philosophical writings.  It was a difficult read, partly because the language is out of date and largely because it is theoretical beyond my knowledge - stretching the mind is good though!  It took me several nights to read in small bits and I'm sure I missed most of the points being made.  I read up on interpretations of the work and its influence on other writers and philosophers and grasped pieces of understanding.  I won't try to summarize the writing nor recommend it.  My impression reading it from today's perspective is that Nietzsche was wildly passionate about his subject and had difficulty keeping to the point.  Reviewers explained that he was considered witty and ironic and fond of metaphors.  He died at 56 after 12 years in a complete mental collapse (brought on, it is speculated, by advance syphillis), so finished his works by age 44.  I did learn that his philosophy was twisted by Nazi Germany as Nietzsche himself adhered to none of their beliefs.

From a genealogical viewpoint, 1887 would have seen it published when my great-great grandparents were young adults and they and their children could have read it when it became more well-known after his death in 1900.  Being of German descent, maybe they heard of his writings.  The reference to it in the title had nothing to do with generations of people but rather the evolution of thoughts and beliefs over time.  A "genealogy" of a subject was a method of exploring the chronology of and idea or trend or belief.

I won't let this be my last read for 2012, I've another that's about half finished!

Published: 1887  Read: December 2012  Genre: Philosophy  

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