I Am Dynamite!
BY SUE PRIDEAUXView on Amazon
Friedrich Nietzsche was a 19th-century German philosopher who, though hardly read during his own (sane) lifetime, has become a dominant intellectual force in today’s popular culture. Known and regularly quoted for his dazzling and often controversial turns of phrase (like his declaration that God is dead, for instance, or any other of the 97 clever Nietzsche quotations we’ve collated here), Nietzsche’s reputation in the English-speaking world is now arguably the highest it’s ever been, and his place in philosophy’s canon looks assured.
However, it wasn’t always this way: after suffering a mental breakdown in 1889, Nietzsche and his works came under the care of his sister, Elisabeth Förster-Nietzsche, who was a bigoted anti-Semite. Elisabeth warped Nietzsche’s unfinished works into a bloodthirsty call to arms for nationalist Germany, which ultimately became the blueprint for Hitler and his 'superior' Aryan race. For a long time, therefore, Nietzsche’s ideas were synonymous with those of Nazism.
Thankfully, the truth of Elisabeth’s tampering emerged — as did letters and earlier works evidencing Nietzsche’s fierce opposition to nationalism and anti-Semitism — and his character has since been reformed and his ideas reexamined. Even enjoying a resurgence in popularity, however, Nietzsche’s philosophy remains commonly misunderstood, misread, and misappropriated by those from all over the political and philosophical spectrum.
Learn everything you need to know about Friedrich Nietzsche in just six days. Our introductory course distills Nietzsche’s best and most misunderstood ideas, from God is dead to the Übermensch.Learn More about Course
So what were Nietzsche’s views, exactly? Well, that is still up for debate. Nietzsche is unusual among philosophers in that he doesn’t really tell us what he thinks. Rather, he confronts a number of our assumptions about the world, particularly about morality and religion, in ferocious and sometimes hilarious fashion. He doesn’t teach us ‘what’ to think so much as ‘how’ — for, as he puts it in one of many famous aphorisms, “There are no facts, only interpretations.”
This reading list consists of the best and most essential books for those looking to understand more about Nietzsche and his fascinating philosophy. It contains a mix of both primary and secondary literature, for although Nietzsche’s words always make for a brilliantly entertaining read themselves, they are most powerful when contextualized by scholars whose life's work has been dedicated to understanding him.
This is the biography on Nietzsche we've been waiting for. Winner of The Times Biography of the year in 2019, Sue Prideaux's I Am Dynamite! is a vividly compelling, myth-shattering portrait of one of history's most misunderstood philosophers. Prideaux illuminates all the events that shaped Nietzsche's thinking, as well as his heart-breaking descent into madness.
If you're looking beyond biography for a deeper introduction to Nietzsche's actual philosophy, then the 2022 Introduction to Nietzsche and His 5 Greatest Ideas is designed to help you learn everything you need to know about the brilliant philosopher in just six days. Distilling Nietzsche's best and most misunderstood ideas, from God is dead to the Übermensch, this bite-size course delivers materials direct to your inbox, and is accessible forever from any device. Of course, we're a little biased, as we produced this one — but if you're seeking to understand the fundamentals of Nietzsche's best ideas, have clarity on exactly what he was trying to say, and discover why he is so influential, then Introduction to Nietzsche and His 5 Greatest Ideas gets rave reviews, and might be just what you're looking for!
In his 1886 work Beyond Good & Evil, Nietzsche attempts to sum up his own philosophy — making it an ideal starting point for those looking to delve into Nietzsche's actual writings. Writing with his trademark flair, sharpness, and sheer profundity, Nietzsche explores themes recurrent throughout his work: the origins and nature of morality, the failures and dangers of objective thinking, as well as how we can overcome mediocrity and suffering and become who we truly are.
Published shortly after Beyond Good & Evil in 1887, On the Genealogy of Morals is arguably Nietzsche's masterpiece. In it, Nietzsche develops and explains ideas only cryptically explored in earlier works, laying out his thoughts in an accessible, highly readable tripartite essay form. This is the culmination of Nietzsche's thinking as prose, exploring goodness, 'evil', guilt, bad conscience, as well as ascetic ideals and the purpose of life. For anyone interested in Nietzsche, On the Genealogy of Morals is worth digesting and re-reading again and again.
If On the Genealogy of Morals is the culmination of Nietzsche's thought as prose, then his 1885 philosophical novel Thus Spoke Zarathustra is the culmination of his thought as poetry. Considered by Nietzsche himself to be his magnum opus, Thus Spoke Zarathustra lightheartedly imitates the New Testament in style, and chronicles the fictitious travels of a prophet named Zarathustra, who descends from solitude in the mountains (the parallels here to Nietzsche's own life are not, some scholars suspect, accidental) to tell the world that God is dead, but that we shouldn't worry: humanity can become the divine successor, if only we let go of piety and restraint and embrace passion, chaos, and freedom. Not for the faint-hearted, Thus Spoke Zarathustra is a dense, challenging, deeply rewarding read.
Both an introduction to and a sustained commentary on Nietzsche's moral philosophy, Brian Leiter's 2002 book Nietzsche on Morality has become one of the most widely used and debated secondary sources on Nietzsche over the past two decades. Focusing on morality but touching on related topics too, Nietzsche on Morality is a fantastic overview and critique for anyone interested in Nietzsche's philosophy.
Maudemarie Clark's 1990 book Nietzsche on Truth and Philosophy treats Nietzsche like an actual philosopher — difficult to do with a thinker who resisted categorization so vehemently — engaging dialectically, argumentatively, and systematically with Nietzsche's views on truth, knowledge, and morality. It's the most academic treatment of Nietzsche on this list, but rewards the reader with deep excavations and interpretations of his thinking.
Essential Philosophy Books by Subject
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Learn everything you need to know about Friedrich Nietzsche in just six days. This introductory course distills Nietzsche’s best and most misunderstood ideas, from God is dead to the Übermensch.Learn More about Course
★★★★★ GreatGreat course experience, content was clear and simple to read. Loved the way the course was delivered and the writing was informative, interesting, and easy to understand. My favorite chapter was the final one on the will to power, I thought it brought everything together very nicely. Thanks for creating such an accessible course on Nietzsche!
VERIFIED BUYERJulien S. on 22 March 2022
★★★★★ Please make moreIt was really good. Honestly, there are things I thought I knew but turns out I had completely misunderstood from the books and the course helped me to figure out what I was missing. The content was very easy to understand and didactic, covering everything I was hoping for, and the difficulty of material was very well balanced. Please make more!
VERIFIED BUYERJoaquim N. on 16 March 2022
★★★★★ ExcellentExcellent. Well written and an enjoyable read on my iPhone. I found the content very interesting. It's been over 30 years since I took a course on Nietzsche - great to revisit the material at a later life stage and new perspective. My favorite chapter was the one on perspectivism.
VERIFIED BUYERDavid U. on 11 March 2022
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Why does anything exist? Do we have free will? How should we approach life? We’ve distilled the great philosophers’ best answers to life’s big questions. Start learning today.Learn More about Course
★★★★★ FantasticFantastic! Loved the delivery of one chapter per day and the content was fascinating. I didn't know much about philosophy going into this, and some things like consciousness I didn't realize had such a philosophical component. Really interesting, and I'd highly recommend the course.
VERIFIED BUYERBernie L. on 11 March 2022
★★★★★ Really goodI had a really good course experience, thanks. Good portion size of information each day, really easy to read, and really informative and interesting - cuts through a lot of waffle. Would recommend for anyone interested in philosophy.
VERIFIED BUYERPhoebe T. on 9 February 2022
★★★★★ Truly enjoyedExcellent course experience! Good pace and length of reads, combined with very well written content. Complexities are shared in a digestible manner. The reading lists are a great addition. I truly enjoyed every chapter. Thanks!
VERIFIED BUYERTomas R. on 27 January 2022
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