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Thus Spoke Zarathustra (German: Also sprach Zarathustra, sometimes translated Thus Spake Zarathustra), subtitled A Book for All and None (Ein Buch für Alle und Keinen), is a written work by German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, composed in four parts between 1883 and 1885. Much of the work deals with ideas such as the "eternal recurrence of the same", the parable on the "death of God", and the "prophecy" of the Overman, which were first introduced in The Gay Science.
Described by Nietzsche himself as "the deepest ever written", the book is a dense and esoteric treatise on philosophy and morality, featuring as protagonist a fictionalized Zarathustra. A central irony of the text is that the style of the Bible is used by Nietzsche to present ideas of his which fundamentally oppose Judaeo-Christian morality and tradition.

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It will excite any teenager, but highly recommended to anyone.more
Thus Spake Zarathustra differs from most of Nietzsche's other works in that it has as much in common with a novel as a philosophical work. This makes it more difficult to interpret than his more traditionally academic works, as he tries to convey his philosophy not only in words, but in narration of actions, moods, and tone, more so than elsewhere. Sometimes the message is too loud, or the writing too exuberant for it to possess the clarity found in his more restrained works. It would be more difficult to attempt a summary of what this book says than to describe what it variously is: bombastic, profound, lyrical, sentimental, ruthless, tender, and hearty in several senses of the word.Though the book appears to be full of meaning, some of Nietzsche's thoughts come across less ambiguously than others. One of these being the exaltation of the strong and despising of the weak; this he justifies on a moral level, which is in itself worth discussing. How can someone be truly good, unless he has the power to do evil and refrains? How can someone be truly virtuous who is weak and lacks the strength for proper wickedness? This mirrors the other aspect of the question of morality: who can be evil who knows not what wickedness is? Can only the wise, who has an intellectual understanding of moral questions be truly virtuous, as they can knowingly choose between good and evil? This elevation of power and knowledge as necessary for virtue is at least partly why he places the superman, or ubermensch, as the goal of humanity – as they alone are capable of true virtue, a state which Nietzsche describes as being beyond good and evil. There is also the recurring theme of the mountain, which he implies to be where the Ubermensch belongs, at least some of the time. This is surely metaphorical for, amongst other things, surpassing oneself and others, solitude, and elevation. This, I feel, is partly just him justifying post hoc what he feels instinctively; Nietzsche was very athletic in his youth, and undoubtedly an intellect, and he could be accused of praising the qualities that he feels that he himself possesses. Whether this was a conscious undertaking, or something driven from the subconscious, it would be difficult to say, but I think that it is mainly the latter. I don't think Nietzsche was dishonest or vain, I think he is was driven to write in support of what he thought was the truth. Even if the delivery of his message might be objectionable to some, which I cannot doubt, I think his thoughts deserve an open-minded scrutiny. To react emotionally to a question inhibits one from making a fair answer, yet this plays both ways for Nietzsche, much of what he writes is written in a way that makes it palatable and attractive by way of the lifefulness of it. The final third of the book then goes onto what seems like a partly separate track, and I don't think it was quite obvious what Nietzsche meant by it all. He talks about the "Higher Man" a lot, but this idea is then broken down into a multiplicity of things which do not seem higher at all, and it is doubtful at the end whether this can either be reassembled, or if it ever existed in the first place. Night, and then Day, also replace the mountain in importance in the final section. There is also the recurring theme of "God is dead", and while this seems to mean something in some places, it doesn't in others, yet the meaning does seem clear in Nietzsche's Joyful Wisdom. In addition to this there are numerous other Biblical allusions and quotation.Something I found curious was a parallel between events and moods in the book and stages in Carl Jung's description of individuation, which would probably be worth closer examination. Nietzsche had psychological problems, and went mad, and that his writing has parallels with stages of psychological development is intriguing.The questions and thoughts mentioned above are all to be found in the book, though more often than not they must be read from between the lines. Sometimes a sentence in itself will contain an hours worth of thought, but much of the philosophy in this book runs below the surface, and must be extracted by the thinking reader. This book is not a good introduction to the philosophy of Nietzsche as it is more challenging than most of his other works. His Joyful Wisdom has many of the same themes as this and a somewhat similar tone; much of what he says here in a roundabout way he says there clearly.more
Being Nietzsche's attempt to provide a summary of his Weltanschauung in an unsystematic, literary format (for a somewhat more conventional version of same, try Beyond good and evil). The book is wonderful, heady reading, though Nietzsche's philosophy, never conventional anyway, does sometimes become a trifle difficult to excavate from the poetic turns.more
Nietzsche was one tortured dude. He suffered to an extreme physically, with insomnia, stomach cramps, migraines, bloody vomiting, hemorrhoids, lack of appetite, and night sweats, and on top of all that, he was nearly blind. He spent long, lonely hours hunched over his writings and ultimately suffered a complete mental breakdown at the age of 45 that left him in the care of his mother for most of what remained of his life. It’s ironic that such a cowed man would write feverishly of transcending the all-too-human in the form of the “Ubermensch” (Overman, or Superman). Zarathustra is the prophet who descends down from the mountains in Biblical fashion to deliver this message to humanity. His main principles:1. God is dead.2. Traditional virtues and the morality of the masses (e.g. Christianity) promote mediocrity.3. Education of the masses and popular culture also promotes mediocrity, lowering social standards.4. Man must rise above the masses and the “all-too-human” to give his life meaning, and he who does this will be the Ubermensch. “What is the ape to man? A laughing-stock or a painful embarrassment. And man shall be just that for the overman…”5. Power and strength of will characterize the Ubermensch, as do lightness of mind and exuberance, as seen in dance.As with a lot of original thinkers, Nietzsche was controversial all around: radicals claimed him for #1 and #2; conservatives for #3 and #4. The German military used portion of Nietzsche as a part of the mindset for both WWI and WWII; it was easy to extrapolate “Ubermensch” to “Master Race”, which is obviously an ugly association.There are elements of truth in #3 and #4 but the reverse, to over-stratify society and threaten a return to conditions at the time of the Industrial Revolution or prior, rubs me the wrong way. It’s a fine balance and it seems to me Nietzsche was too much of a reactionary. Another theme in this book, eternal recurrence, also seems a little odd in the extreme he takes it, and I’m not a big fan of his views on women.However, I do like and agree with the concept of needing to develop meaning for ourselves in this bleak universe and all-too-short life, and of needing to transcend the baser aspects of humanity. I also appreciate the strength of his writing, his originality, and elements of his arguments. In that way I am reminded of Ayn Rand, who I also like in spite of my liberal political views. I guess what I’m saying is, thumbs up, even if you’re not a Nazi.Quotes:On the lightness of being, and individuality:“I would believe only in a god who could dance. And when I saw my devil I found him serious, thorough, profound, and solemn: it was the spirit of gravity - through him all things fall.Not by wrath does one kill but by laughter. Come, let us kill the spirit of gravity!I have learned to walk: ever since, I let myself run. I have learned to fly: ever since, I do not want to be pushed before moving along.Now I am light, now I fly, now I see myself beneath myself, now a god dances through me.”On loneliness:“O you loving fool, Zarathustra, you are trust-overfull. But thus you have always been: you have always approached everything terrible trustfully. You have wanted to pet every monster. A whiff of warm breath, a little soft tuft on the paw - and at once you were ready to love and to lure it.Love is the danger of the loneliest; love of everything if only it is alive. Laughable, verily, are my folly and my modesty in love.”more
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Reviews

It will excite any teenager, but highly recommended to anyone.more
Thus Spake Zarathustra differs from most of Nietzsche's other works in that it has as much in common with a novel as a philosophical work. This makes it more difficult to interpret than his more traditionally academic works, as he tries to convey his philosophy not only in words, but in narration of actions, moods, and tone, more so than elsewhere. Sometimes the message is too loud, or the writing too exuberant for it to possess the clarity found in his more restrained works. It would be more difficult to attempt a summary of what this book says than to describe what it variously is: bombastic, profound, lyrical, sentimental, ruthless, tender, and hearty in several senses of the word.Though the book appears to be full of meaning, some of Nietzsche's thoughts come across less ambiguously than others. One of these being the exaltation of the strong and despising of the weak; this he justifies on a moral level, which is in itself worth discussing. How can someone be truly good, unless he has the power to do evil and refrains? How can someone be truly virtuous who is weak and lacks the strength for proper wickedness? This mirrors the other aspect of the question of morality: who can be evil who knows not what wickedness is? Can only the wise, who has an intellectual understanding of moral questions be truly virtuous, as they can knowingly choose between good and evil? This elevation of power and knowledge as necessary for virtue is at least partly why he places the superman, or ubermensch, as the goal of humanity – as they alone are capable of true virtue, a state which Nietzsche describes as being beyond good and evil. There is also the recurring theme of the mountain, which he implies to be where the Ubermensch belongs, at least some of the time. This is surely metaphorical for, amongst other things, surpassing oneself and others, solitude, and elevation. This, I feel, is partly just him justifying post hoc what he feels instinctively; Nietzsche was very athletic in his youth, and undoubtedly an intellect, and he could be accused of praising the qualities that he feels that he himself possesses. Whether this was a conscious undertaking, or something driven from the subconscious, it would be difficult to say, but I think that it is mainly the latter. I don't think Nietzsche was dishonest or vain, I think he is was driven to write in support of what he thought was the truth. Even if the delivery of his message might be objectionable to some, which I cannot doubt, I think his thoughts deserve an open-minded scrutiny. To react emotionally to a question inhibits one from making a fair answer, yet this plays both ways for Nietzsche, much of what he writes is written in a way that makes it palatable and attractive by way of the lifefulness of it. The final third of the book then goes onto what seems like a partly separate track, and I don't think it was quite obvious what Nietzsche meant by it all. He talks about the "Higher Man" a lot, but this idea is then broken down into a multiplicity of things which do not seem higher at all, and it is doubtful at the end whether this can either be reassembled, or if it ever existed in the first place. Night, and then Day, also replace the mountain in importance in the final section. There is also the recurring theme of "God is dead", and while this seems to mean something in some places, it doesn't in others, yet the meaning does seem clear in Nietzsche's Joyful Wisdom. In addition to this there are numerous other Biblical allusions and quotation.Something I found curious was a parallel between events and moods in the book and stages in Carl Jung's description of individuation, which would probably be worth closer examination. Nietzsche had psychological problems, and went mad, and that his writing has parallels with stages of psychological development is intriguing.The questions and thoughts mentioned above are all to be found in the book, though more often than not they must be read from between the lines. Sometimes a sentence in itself will contain an hours worth of thought, but much of the philosophy in this book runs below the surface, and must be extracted by the thinking reader. This book is not a good introduction to the philosophy of Nietzsche as it is more challenging than most of his other works. His Joyful Wisdom has many of the same themes as this and a somewhat similar tone; much of what he says here in a roundabout way he says there clearly.more
Being Nietzsche's attempt to provide a summary of his Weltanschauung in an unsystematic, literary format (for a somewhat more conventional version of same, try Beyond good and evil). The book is wonderful, heady reading, though Nietzsche's philosophy, never conventional anyway, does sometimes become a trifle difficult to excavate from the poetic turns.more
Nietzsche was one tortured dude. He suffered to an extreme physically, with insomnia, stomach cramps, migraines, bloody vomiting, hemorrhoids, lack of appetite, and night sweats, and on top of all that, he was nearly blind. He spent long, lonely hours hunched over his writings and ultimately suffered a complete mental breakdown at the age of 45 that left him in the care of his mother for most of what remained of his life. It’s ironic that such a cowed man would write feverishly of transcending the all-too-human in the form of the “Ubermensch” (Overman, or Superman). Zarathustra is the prophet who descends down from the mountains in Biblical fashion to deliver this message to humanity. His main principles:1. God is dead.2. Traditional virtues and the morality of the masses (e.g. Christianity) promote mediocrity.3. Education of the masses and popular culture also promotes mediocrity, lowering social standards.4. Man must rise above the masses and the “all-too-human” to give his life meaning, and he who does this will be the Ubermensch. “What is the ape to man? A laughing-stock or a painful embarrassment. And man shall be just that for the overman…”5. Power and strength of will characterize the Ubermensch, as do lightness of mind and exuberance, as seen in dance.As with a lot of original thinkers, Nietzsche was controversial all around: radicals claimed him for #1 and #2; conservatives for #3 and #4. The German military used portion of Nietzsche as a part of the mindset for both WWI and WWII; it was easy to extrapolate “Ubermensch” to “Master Race”, which is obviously an ugly association.There are elements of truth in #3 and #4 but the reverse, to over-stratify society and threaten a return to conditions at the time of the Industrial Revolution or prior, rubs me the wrong way. It’s a fine balance and it seems to me Nietzsche was too much of a reactionary. Another theme in this book, eternal recurrence, also seems a little odd in the extreme he takes it, and I’m not a big fan of his views on women.However, I do like and agree with the concept of needing to develop meaning for ourselves in this bleak universe and all-too-short life, and of needing to transcend the baser aspects of humanity. I also appreciate the strength of his writing, his originality, and elements of his arguments. In that way I am reminded of Ayn Rand, who I also like in spite of my liberal political views. I guess what I’m saying is, thumbs up, even if you’re not a Nazi.Quotes:On the lightness of being, and individuality:“I would believe only in a god who could dance. And when I saw my devil I found him serious, thorough, profound, and solemn: it was the spirit of gravity - through him all things fall.Not by wrath does one kill but by laughter. Come, let us kill the spirit of gravity!I have learned to walk: ever since, I let myself run. I have learned to fly: ever since, I do not want to be pushed before moving along.Now I am light, now I fly, now I see myself beneath myself, now a god dances through me.”On loneliness:“O you loving fool, Zarathustra, you are trust-overfull. But thus you have always been: you have always approached everything terrible trustfully. You have wanted to pet every monster. A whiff of warm breath, a little soft tuft on the paw - and at once you were ready to love and to lure it.Love is the danger of the loneliest; love of everything if only it is alive. Laughable, verily, are my folly and my modesty in love.”more
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