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The topic of friendship is enjoying a renewed interest among political theorists and philosophers. The three books reviewed here join several other recent works on friendship and the creation of a journal of friendship studies, Amity. Despite their shared focus on friendship, the three works under review complement rather than duplicate one another. Alexander Nehamas's work is designed for a general readership, with scholarly nuance being largely relegated to the notes. The books by P. E. Digeser and Ann Ward are more typical academic publications. While Ward focuses almost exclusively on Aristotle, Nehamas and Digeser treat him as the touchstone for all later discussions of friendship in the Western tradition.
Mark Redhead's first book, Charles Taylor: Living and Thinking Deep Diversity, offers an in-depth study of Taylor's political thought which insists, rightly in my view, on the close connection between that political thought on the one hand and Taylor's political context and activism in his native Quebec on the other. In this new book, it is both reassuring and instructive to witness someone with Redhead's deep and long knowledge of Taylor incorporate his more recent work, A Secular Age, into a discussion of the themes of Taylor's corpus more generally.
The Birth of Tragedy was written in (and, in a sense, against) a number of contexts: the military context of the Franco-Prussian War; the political context of the proclamation of the German Reich in Versailles on 18 January 1871, of the declaration of the Paris Commune on 18 March of the same year, and of the growing revolutionary movement in Europe; and the academic-political context of Basel, especially the philological circles in which Nietzsche had to operate. As early as on 20 November 1868, after his first meeting with Wagner in the Brockhaus household, Nietzsche wrote a letter to Rohde in which his dissatisfaction with scholars and with his academic colleagues was expressed with some force. Here he speaks of “the teeming broods of philologists of today, […] the entire molelike activity, with their full cheek-pouches and their blind eyes” (das wimmelnde Philologengezücht unserer Tage […], das ganze Maulwurfstreiben, die vollen Backentaschen und die blinden Augen), and what upset him was not just “their joy at the captured worm and their indifference to the real, indeed the insistent problems of life” (die Freude ob des erbeuteten Wurms und die Gleichgültigkeit gegen die wahren, ja aufdringlichen Probleme des Lebens; KSB 2, 344). This letter strikes one of the first notes in what will become a constant theme in Nietzsche's writings: the relationship between scholarly, academic activities and the tasks of the “real world”; ultimately, the relation of knowledge to life.
Although Nietzsche had sought, and found, solitude in Sils Maria, he had not given up on his project for a secular monastery. Before leaving Nice, he had written to Franz Overbeck about his hope, when he returned next winter, to establish “a society” (eine Gesellschaft) in which he would not be completely in hiding: possible members included the poet Paul Lanzky (1852–?), whom Nietzsche had gotten to know in Nice, and Heinrich Köselitz (known as Peter Gast), his trusted friend, perhaps even (as unlikely as it sounds) Paul Rée and Lou von Salomé (KSB 6, 494–95). And in a postcard to his mother and his sister in November 1884, he had envisaged Nice as the site of his “future ‘colony’” (zukünftige “Colonie”), which would consist of “pleasant people to whom I can teach my philosophy” (sympathische Menschen, vor denen ich meine Philosophie doziren kann; KSB 6, 563) — as we shall see, a very different colony from the one his sister had in mind …
But Nietzsche was aware that he needed to create a community of readers for his ideas. For, now that it was complete, Zarathustra was intended to act as “an entrance-way“ (eine Vorhalle; KSB 6, 496 and 499) — or, to use a Goethean term, a propylaeum — to his philosophy as a whole, and in 1883, while he was completing part 3 of Zarathustra, he was working on “a larger philosophical project” (eine gröΒere philosophische Arbeit; KSB 6, 414; cf. KSB 6, 427 and 429), provisionally entitled “The Innocence of Becoming: A Guide to Redemption from Morality” (“Die Unschuld des Werdens: Ein Wegweiser zur Erlösung von der Moral”; KSA 10, 8, 343) or “Morality for Moralists” (“Moral für Moralisten”; KSA 10, 7, 305—6 and 24, 660—61).
Of Nietzsche's publications to date (i.e., to 1886), Beyond Good and Evil (Jenseits von Gut und Böse) had enjoyed arguably the best critical reception. In a review for the Swiss journal Der Bund, Josef Victor Widmann described it as Nietzsche's “dangerous book” (gefährliches Buch), pointing out that the dynamite used in the construction of the Gotthardbahn, the railway line that traverses the Swiss Alps, always bore a black warning-flag to alert people to its danger — and that Nietzsche's book deserved a similar warning. Nietzsche was delighted by the review, both for commercial reasons (KSB 7, 249 and 256) and because, in essence, it said his book was dynamite (KSB 7, 251-52 and 258); in Ecce Homo, he would allude to Widmann's review and playfully apply his description of Beyond Good and Evil to himself: “I am not a man, I am dynamite” (Ich bin kein Mensch, ich bin Dynamit; EH “Why I Am a Destiny” §1; KSA 6, 365). Other reviews were positive, too, but Nietzsche's old friend, Erwin Rohde, was not impressed. The two friends were reunited when Nietzsche visited Leipzig again in 1886, but the encounters left both disappointed. Rohde told Franz Overbeck that there was “something totally uncanny” (etwas mir damals völlig unheimliches) about Nietzsche, “as if he came from a country where no one else lived” (als käme er aus einem Lande, wo sonst Niemand wohnt); for his part, Nietzsche wrote to Overbeck that Rohde's case simply proved that “the best go to seed in the atmosphere of the university”
The catastrophic breakdown in relations with family and friends alike after the débâcle with Lou von Salomé and Paul Rée left Nietzsche isolated from almost everyone in his life. After his mother accused him of having besmirched the name of his father, Nietzsche packed his bags and left Naumburg for Leipzig in September 1882 (cf. KSB 6, 256 and 326); his sister, Elisabeth, was seemingly unable to understand why Nietzsche was so upset by this remark, but we should remember Nietzsche's identification with his father, following his early death. Although the Pindaric imperative, “become who you are” that Nietzsche had earlier drawn to Lou von Salomé's attention (KSB 6, 203) was one that he continued to urge upon her in the form of her “emancipation from her emancipation” (schließlich muß man sich noch von dieser Emancipation emancipiren; KSB 6, 247–48), his discovery that Lou was, as he told Malwida von Meysenbug, “almost a caricature of what I admire as an ideal” (beinahe die Caricatur dessen, was ich als Ideal verehre; KSB 6, 315), had led to complete disillusionment; Nietzsche's attitude became increasingly grim and bleak. Consumed by his emotions “in the school of the affects” (in der Schule der Affekte), and plagued by bad headaches and migraines, he turned to opium for relief (KSB 6, 306–7).
Turin forms the backdrop to Nietzsche's most productive year, and his last year of sanity: in addition to The Case of Wagner (Der Fall Wagner), published in September 1888, and Nietzsche contra Wagner (a series of selections from his earlier writings, first published in 1889 and then again in 1895), 1888 saw the preparation of three new works, Twilight of the Idols (Götzen-Dämmerung), The Anti-Christ or The Anti-Christian (Der Anti-Christ), and Ecce Homo, all published posthumously — all of which stand in some relation or another to Nietzsche's final philosophical project. This work is (or a part of it) is referred to variously as The Will to Power (Der Wille zur Macht), The Innocence of Becoming (Die Unschuld des Werdens), or The Revaluation of All Values (Die Umwerthung aller Werthe), to name the texts that have been published in various (and controversial) selected forms and are available in their raw, unedited state in the final volumes of the KGW or the KSA.
When Nietzsche first visited Turin in the spring of 1888, he was delighted: “This is really the city I need now!” (Das ist wirklich die Stadt, die ich jetzt brauchen kann!), he enthused to his friend Heinrich Köselitz (or Peter Gast) on 7 April 1888, “in the evening on the bridge over the Po: magnificent! Beyond Good and Evil!!” (Abends auf der Pobrücke: herrlich! Jenseits von Gut und Böse!!; KSB 8, 285–86).
While he and Heinrich Köselitz were still correcting the proofs of On the Genealogy of Morals (Zur Genealogie der Moral), Nietzsche told Meta von Salis that the work indicated everything essential that should be known about him: from the preface to The Birth of Tragedy (Die Geburt der Tragödie) to the preface of his latest work there was revealed, he said, “a kind of ‘evolution’” (eine Art “Entwicklungsgeschichte”; KSB 8, 151). Before Nietzsche returned to Nice for his fifth winter, E. W. Fritzsch published a composition by Nietzsche, his setting of Lou von Salomé's “Hymn to Life” (Hymnus an das Leben), arranged for choir and orchestra. Amid the evolutionary unfolding of Nietzsche's thought, one thing remained constant: his passion for music.
After all, his first book examined the birth of tragedy out of the spirit of music, where he associated music with the Dionysian (BT §1; KSA 1, 25 and 29–30). In his fourth and final Untimely Meditation (Unzeitgemäße Betrachtung), he described “the primally-determined nature through which music speaks to the world of appearance” (die ur-bestimmte Natur, durch welche die Musik zur Welt der Erscheinung spricht), as “the most mysterious thing under the sun, an abyss in which power and goodness dwell together, a bridge between the Self and the Non-Self” (das räthselvollste Ding unter der Sonne, ein Abgrund, in welchem Kraft und Güte gepaart ruhen, eine Brücke zwischen Selbst und Nicht-Selbst; UM IV §6; KSA 1, 465).
Against the wishes of his mother and his sister (KGB II.6.1, 501), and against the advice of his friend Erwin Rohde (KGB II.6.1, 595) — which may, ever since Rohde's marriage in August 1877, have counted for much less (cf. KSB 5, 277) — Nietzsche decided to give up his professorship at Basel, and he applied to be released from the post on grounds of ill-health on 2 May 1879 (KSB 5, 411–12). He had developed, as he told Franz Overbeck on 3 April 1879, “a phobia about Basel, a veritable anxiety and inhibition about the bad water, the bad air, the entire depressed essence of this unholy breeding-ground of my sufferings!” (die Basileophobie, eine wahre Angst und Scheu vor dem schlechten Wasser, der schlechten Luft, dem ganzen gedrückten Wesen dieser unseligen Brütestätte meiner Leiden!; KSB 5, 402).
Yet, as we have seen, this dissatisfaction with his life in Basel had deep roots, and it constantly emerged during his time as professor there, sometimes in ways that must have been unsettling for those who met him. Clara Thurneysen, for example, recalled how he told her at a dinner party:
“I recently dreamed that my hand, which was resting in front of me on the table, suddenly acquired a glassy, transparent skin; I saw clearly into its bone structure, into its tissue, into its muscles. Suddenly I saw a fat toad sitting on my hand and at the same time I felt the irresistible urge to swallow the animal. I overcame my terrible revulsion and gulped it down.”
[“Mir hat kürzlich geträumt, meine Hand, die vor mir auf dem Tische lag, bekam plötzlich eine gläserne, durchsichtige Haut; ich sah deutlich in ihr Gebein, in ihr Gewerbe, in ihr Muskelspiel hinein. Mit einen Male sah ich eine dicke Kröte auf meiner Hand sitzen und verspürte zugleich den unwiderstehlichen Zwang, das Tier zu verschlucken. Ich überwand meinen entsetzlichen Widerwillen und würgte sie herunter.”]
At ten o'clock in the morning on Tuesday, 15 October 1844, a child was born to Franziska Nietzsche, née Oehler, and Karl Ludwig Nietzsche, the pastor of the village of Röcken, near Lützen in the eastern part of Germany. On 24 October, the boy was christened Friedrich Wilhelm; his father, on the anniversary of whose own baptism the service had taken place, gave his son the following Taufspruch or baptismal motto: “What manner of child shall this be? And the hand of the Lord was with him” (Luke 1:66).
As Nietzsche was well aware, he was the descendant of a whole line of Christian ministers, and in an early autobiographical sketch he wrote: “As a plant I was born close to the churchyard, and as a human being in a vicarage” (Ich bin als Pflanze nahe dem Gottesacker, als Mensch in einem Pfarrhause geboren). In fact, long before he wrote Ecce Homo, Nietzsche was an insatiable writer of autobiographical sketches, quickly becoming aware of how, “if the basic characteristics of every individual are, as it were, innate, time and circumstance develop these simple seeds and leave their specific marks on them, which then over time become firm and ineradicable” (wenn auch die Grundzüge des Charakters jedem Menschen gleichsam angeboren sind, so bilden doch erst die Zeit und die Umstände diese rohen Keime aus und prägen ihnen bestimmte Formen auf, die dann durch die Dauer fest und unverlöschlich werden).
When he received a Wahnsinnszettel from Nietzsche, Strindberg replied immediately (in Latin) with a quotation from Horace:
Rectus vives, Licini, neque altum semper urgendo neque, dum procellas cautus horrescis, nimium premendo litus iniquum.
[You would lead a better life, Licinius, if you neither shaped your life constantly towards the open sea, nor, shivering tremulously in the face of the storm, held too closely to the treacherous coast.]
Much of Nietzsche's life had been spent, in metaphorical terms, doing precisely this: he had looked into the horizon of the infinite (GS §124), lived dangerously, built his cities on the shores of Vesuvius, and sent his ships into uncharted seas (GS §283), urging philosophers to “embark!” (GS §289) and gazing into the monstrous eye of infinity (“Toward New Seas” [“Nach neuen Meeren”]; KSA 5, 649), just as Zarathustra gazed out upon open seas from the midst of superfluity, no longer saying “God,” but saying “Superman” (Z II 2; KSA 4, 109). And in respect of the Revaluation of All Values (Umwerthung aller Werthe) Nietzsche described his future work as “the distant sound of thunder in the mountains” (mit einem fernen Donner im Gebirge; KSB 8, 453).
Following his collapse in Turin in January 1889, Nietzsche sent a note to Cosima Wagner, which said, simply: “Ariadne, I love you. — Dionysos” (Ariadne, ich liebe Dich. Dionysos; W 3, 1350). When he was in the psychiatric clinic in Jena, he is recorded as saying: “My wife, Cosima Wagner, has brought me here” (Meine Frau Cosima Wagner hat mich hierher gebracht).