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Nietzsche: Philosopher, Psychologist, Antichrist
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Nietzsche: Philosopher, Psychologist, Antichrist

4.17 of 5 stars 4.17  ·  rating details  ·  3,628 ratings  ·  47 reviews
This classic is the benchmark against which all modern books about Nietzsche are measured. When Walter Kaufmann wrote it in the immediate aftermath of World War II, most scholars outside Germany viewed Nietzsche as part madman, part proto-Nazi, and almost wholly unphilosophical. Kaufmann rehabilitated Nietzsche nearly single-handedly, presenting his works as one of the gre ...more
Paperback, Fourth edition, 532 pages
Published 1974 by Princeton University Press (first published 1950)
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Erik Graff
Nov 26, 2012 Erik Graff rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone interested in Nietzsche or Western philosophy
Recommended to Erik by: Kaufmann's translation work
Shelves: philosophy
Walter Kaufmann is one of the great popularists of philosophy, the Will Durant of his generation. If you are intimidated by the subject and the big names in the history of philosophy, Kaufmann is for you.

If you liked this book, a positive appropriation of the oft-maligned, but ever-popular Nietzsche, then you ought look into his book on Hegel.

I originally purchased this volume in paperback during a Nietzsche phase in college, then obtained a hardcover version years later.
I have not read this book completely. In fact as far as I am certain, I have only read one chapter, that quite recently: chapter 6, “The Discovery of the Will to Power”.

Despite this, I have no doubt that the book deserves the rating I’ve given it, with no qualifications.

I will admit that I don’t know if Kaufmann has been superseded by someone else in the “Nietzsche scholarship” field over the last couple decades. This book first appeared in 1950, so it’s not recent by any means. But with three o
Anyone who would read this today already knows that Nietzsche was neither a fascist nor an anti-Semite and some might also have noticed that he was, moreover, a prescient critic of the like. A good deal of Kaufmann's energy here is devoted to confronting these prejudices and, while this needed to be done, it makes the work less relevant then some of the more current discussion of Nietzsche.

Kaufmann does address other issues of interpretation which are still being dealt with: regarding Nietzsche
Nietzsche was just a bit more of a jerk than Kaufmann is willing to admit, which is very moving, because you love Nietzsche and you don't want him to have been a jerk, but then there's all the shitty things he said, and his contempt for weakness, and the crap about the "Blond Beast," and you're like, oh fuck it. And Kaufmann's brother was killed by the Nazi's, who hijacked Nietzsche's legacy, and here's Kaufmann himself, the greatest translator Nietzsche will ever have, defending Nietzsche with ...more
Always a joy to read Kaufmann. His writing is rich and punchy, passionate and highly intelligent. Here, he makes mincemeat of received myth, and of certain other philosophers and figures in the Nietzsche industry. His interpretation of Nietzsche - whose work, he insists, must be viewed as a whole - is particularly sympathetic from one who is no acolyte of the philosopher.
This book forms a trinity with Walter Kaufmann's two volumes of translations--The Portable Nietzsche and Basic Writings of Nietzsche--comprising the bulk of the philosopher's major works. This volume takes the form of an introduction, touching on Nietzsche's biography but primarily serving two roles: carefully leading the reader through the development of Nietzsche's thoughts, while at the same time defending these major themes against gross misrepresentations by Nietzsche's sister (for a while, ...more
Jee Koh
In grappling with Nietzsche's ideas, Kaufmann appreciates fully his experimental style. He writes:

The elusive quality of this style, which is so characteristic of Nietzsche's way of thinking and writing, might be called monadologic to crystallize the tendency of each aphorism to be self-sufficient while yet throwing light on almost every other aphorism. We are confronted with a "pluralistic universe" in which each aphorism is itself a microcosm. Almost as often as not, a single passage is equall
This book is for anyone who reads Nietzsche and loves it, but doesn't really see a coherent philosophy. Kaufmann looks at Nietzsche's entire legacy and puts together a pretty straight-forward, compelling presentation of his thought. Kaufmann's writing is everything that Nietzsche's isn't, which is a blessing when it comes to clarity but kind of a downer in every other department.

The title is a little sensationalist and misleading — this book is basically a very dense, very competent CliffsNotes.
I'm so close to done with this book... I've been picking through it piece-by-piece for years now, but it is a great companion to Nietzsche's life and work—a kind of high-speed, PhD-level Sparknotes, I guess.

Also not for the Nietzsche neophyte, this book is daunting in its density, yet surprisingly readable for the truly interested. A good distillation and interpretation of Nietzsche's life and times and how it all came together in his work.
Superb introduction to Nietzsche's thought. Not entirely for the specialist. Gives a fairly thorough (although some have argued sanitized) account of the central elements of Nietzsche's critical philosophy. Was a ground-breaking study when it first appeared and still outranks all subsequent studies of Nietzsche (in my opinion). Kaufmann is also a wonderfully articulate writer. If you are at all interested in Nietzsche you must read this book.
I think Walter Kaufmann is the best guide for the Nietzsche wirter, because he really really seems to care a great deal about the topic, much more than other commentators, and he's not one of those dumbass very modern guys from France who make Nietzsche into something completely different from what he was. I recommend this book to anyone who really wants to get a good understanding of Nietzsche that the books themselves can't provide so easily.
Alex Obrigewitsch
A useful text from which to spring into (or back into) Nietzsche.
While I enjoy Kaufmann's translations of Nietzsche the most, I cannot stand the tone of the man himself. He writes like he is the authority on everything and anything, is never wrong, and everyone else (especially philosophers) were all idiots. Not specifically in this work as much as in From Shakespeare to Existentialism
Alex Milledge
Nietzsche is what you can call an "asshole." You can read him in so many ways and he wants you to read him in that way, to never have a privileged aspect of being able to interpret him. You can read as being an Aristotelian or an immoralist, or as an elitist or an egalitarian.

Kaufman reads him as being a tender nietzschean, not the racist neo-nazi that some people interpret him to be. I think that is the way to best interpret Nietzsche, if you can do such a thing.

Will be diving into the main w
This is an indispensable work for anyone interested in understanding Nietzsche's thought. Kaufmann clarifies every aspect of Nietzsche's philosophy with such clarity and precision that it becomes possible to understand the notoriously difficult philosopher with relative ease. Some of Kaufmann's interpretations are debatable, but they always serve well in the attempt to illuminate Nietzsche's position.

My biggest criticisms are what I see as stylistic faults. For instance, the whole text is soaked
Philip Cartwright
An important and thought-provoking book for anyone wishing to get to grips with Nietzsche’s writings. Kaufmann does a good job of combating the various misleading interpretations which have dogged Nietzsche’s reputation over the years: that he was a proto-Nazi; a nihilist; a Social Darwinist; an irrationalist; someone who gloried in war and brutality; and so on. Indeed, whilst there are certainly many harsh (perhaps even shrill) comments in Nietzsche’s books, even a half-attentive reader will be ...more
Joshua Savage
Kaufmann is considered by most as the eminent Nietzsche scholar, and for good reason! This book helps illuminate Nietzsche's work. Though I focused primarily on Kaufmann's treatment of the overman, eternal recurrence, and Nietzsche's repudiation of Christ, Kaufmann's writing is very approachable and his insights useful. This is a perfect book for those looking to dive deeper into Nietzsche's thought and philosophy.
Michal Schmalz
Great book (and a classic on this topic) that offers much needed insight into Nietzsche´s thought. It enabled me to read Thus spoke Zarahustra in a way that was meant to be read.
This book has the reputation of being the "gold standard" of Nietzsche scholarship and after reading this book, that reputation has been rightfully earned. Kaufmann has done a couple of big things in this book. One, his sympathetic analysis is superb however, he does not let his sympathies cloud his objectivity as there are passages that find Kaufmann being very critical of Nietzsche. I find that to be the mark of a true academic. Secondly, the scope of his research is immense yet, he conveys th ...more
Excellent exploration/exposition of Nietzsche's thought.
Doesn't get to the heart of Nietzsche's transvaluation paradox, i.e. Nietzsche as a moral philosopher is descriptive rather than prescriptive. He used a psychological determinist theory for the rise of one, or other, type of moral tendency, either indulgent or ascetic, but still offers moral prescriptions in open contradiction to the fact that such prescriptions are only spontaneous actions psychologically determined. His prescriptions against 'pity' are therefore paradoxical given his purely de ...more
Matthew Ciaramella
Absolutely perfect.
I do not possibly understand how this book has a higher average rating than Beyond Good and Evil and TSZ? [Rhetorical Question]
An entertaining book to say the least on a man scarcely in need of anymore spice or commentary. Kaufmann defies common opinion and instills the reader with confidence by being both bold and accurate in giving a stylistic portrayal. This is a must read for anyone even the least bit interested in either Nietzsche the man or merely only his works.
This is the book that made Nietzsche relevant again to the English speaking world. It is a clear, objective portrayal of the thoughts and philosophy of Nietzsche. It is a very accessible read, not encumbered by a great deal of technical philosophical jargon, so it is an excellent primer on Nietszche for the layman.
Anthony Cristofani
This is essential reading as Nietzsche is the most poorly read author in history, and Kaufmann will help you overcome those bad reading habits inculcated from being exposed to Nietzsche by ressentiment-laden meek-loving slaves who are threatened by his unparalleled uncompromising intellectual integrity.
Leslie Erin Quinn
A tough read - very dry. While the subject himself was interesting in terms of both his ideas and life, I think it could have presented in a way that made it a little easier to get through. Not bad by any means, and certainly well-researched, but just read like the longest term paper in history.
Over-sanitizes Nietzsche. Kaufmann emphasizes self-mastery and the Apollonian vs. de-individuation and the Dionysian. Nevertheless, one of the most famous expositions of a philosopher's thought ever and almost single-handedly responsible for bringing Nietzsche to America.
Kyle Sardonicus Amadeus Stanfield
While Kaufmann did a lot for translating Nietzsche to English, he's too full of himself and anything he translates is at least 50 liner notes of him masturbating at how he knows Nietzsche better than you. This book is essentially a glorification of that.
I really enjoyed this one-- but frankly, its troubling to me to have just one guy translating/interpreting Nietzsche as an authority. This is a good work, but a lot of Kaufmann's arguments should be taken with a grain of skepticism.
This helped me through Nietszche's rough spots. And there are plenty of 'em. Best Kaufmann comment, on Nietszche's views of women (strikingly feminist sometimes): "One must remember that his information was second-hand and third-rate."
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  • Nietzsche and Philosophy (European Perspectives)
  • The Birth of Tragedy/The Case of Wagner
  • Nietzsche: A Philosophical Biography
  • Ludwig Wittgenstein: The Duty of Genius
  • What Nietzsche Really Said
  • Nietzsche, Volumes One and Two
  • On Nietzsche
  • A History of Philosophy 2: Medieval Philosophy
  • The World as Will and Representation, Vol 2
  • Truth and Method
  • Irrational Man: A Study in Existential Philosophy
  • Critique of Judgment
  • Karl Marx: His Life and Environment
Walter Arnold Kaufmann was a German-American philosopher, translator, and poet. A prolific author, he wrote extensively on a broad range of subjects, such as authenticity and death, moral philosophy and existentialism, theism and atheism, Christianity and Judaism, as well as philosophy and literature. He served for over 30 years as a Professor at Princeton University.

He is renowned as a scholar an
More about Walter Kaufmann...
Existentialism from Dostoevsky to Sartre Critique of Religion and Philosophy Faith of a Heretic From Shakespeare to Existentialism Tragedy and Philosophy

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“when Nietzsche’s fame had begun to spread rapidly, she climbed on the bandwagon. She acquired the sole rights to all his writings, including even the letters that he had sent to others. She sued those who published material to which she could claim a right.” 1 likes
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