Nietzsche: The Use and Abuse of History
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Nietzsche: The Use and Abuse of History

3.93 of 5 stars 3.93  ·  rating details  ·  704 ratings  ·  37 reviews
"[A]s long as the past is principally used as a model for imitation, it's always in danger of being a little altered & touched up & brought nearer to fiction. Sometimes there is no possible distinction between a "monumental" past & a mythical romance."--from The Use & Abuse of History
One of the most controversial thinkers of the 19th century, Nietzsche's b...more
Paperback, 73 pages
Published January 1st 1957 by Pearson (first published 1873)
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On the Usefulness and Disadvantage of History for Life

Between 1872, when his first book Die Geburt der Tragödie appeared, and 1876, when he left the University of Basel to write in Italy, Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900) wrote an enormous amount of prose, most of which he did not bring to a satisfactory completion. However, he did publish, singly, a series of short books/pamphlets he called Unzeitgemässe Betrachtungen (Untimely Considerations), which at one point he had projected to include...more
Matthew W
This short booklet (basically a pamphlet) was one of Nietzsche's early writings before he became The Anti-Christ and contracted a bad case of megalomania where he would sign his letters to people as "The Crucified." The title "On the Advantage and Disadvantage of History for Life" summarizes Nietzsche's thesis with this work. Nietzsche criticizes the Germany of his time as without culture and lacking instinct, a place where a sick soulless inwardness prevails and a synthetic pseudo-kultur disgui...more
Justin Evans

One star's a bit harsh. Popular history can still be understood in terms of the categories he comes up with here: all the biographies of Churchill and Reagan? Lifeless monumental history. The obsession with Americana and 'authentic,' 'simple' living? Lifeless antiquarianism. Post-colonial/post-structuralist/post-modernist history? Lifeless critical history.

But then, Nietzsche was harsh, and it's only fair to be harsh back.

He describes three types of historiography- 'monumental' history, which...more
I decided to take a few weeks' break from reading historical scholarship, and so it made sense to start it off with Nietzsche's vicious critique of what was apparently a contemporary German obsession with history. It was all the more fitting, because I'm an aspiring classicist terrified of accidentally promoting antiquarianism or colonial classicism -- mishandlings of the past which Nietzsche rightly condemns (though, like many 19th century Germans, his interest in the cultural superiority of th...more
My first foray into Nietzsche has left me shaken to the core.

For better or worse, he was an expert rhetorician; even as one shudders to recognize the seeds of justification for later historical atrocities in his philosophies, one cannot help but feel enamoured by his prose and the undeniable style of his arguments. So many times I gave audible way to awe, reluctantly putting the book down to copy some choice phrases into a notebook.

To my view, this essay was a call to action for generations stuc...more
Eric Phetteplace
Great pamphlet, a lesser known work of Nietzsche's which (I think...) is rather early in his oeuvre. The rhetoric is as potent as ever, though it actually gets really muddled at parts in a way that is unlike anything I've encountered in Nietzsche up til now. I still think it's high-quality, brushes over some of his major concerns (the morbidity of Christianity, the way someone's drives become self-destructive when filtered through too much analysis / lost in semantics) but is an altogether diffe...more
Oh god this was fun. Nietzsche's confrontational writing style is such a breath of fresh air compared to so much of pre-20th century German philosophical writing. There are a lot of really good observations crammed into this small piece. The recognition that people often fetishize the past as a way of condemning the skills and talents of their own time, the ways that Christian millenarian beliefs stifle personal creativity and expression. But my favorite thing about this text is how he shows tha...more
Matthew Tucker
This book is frightening. I think the intended reading from Nietzsche is some sort of prophylactic strike against the emergent historical materialist trend which (arguably) Nietzsche saw around him leading up to his death. In a way, it's Nietzsche trying to kill Marx before he was ever born.
Ninja Time
If memory serves me well, I believe Nietzsche wrote this when he was 24 or 27. I remember he was pretty young and wow, what a brain he had on him. The most optimistic work as well as some of the most insightful observation on the concept of information and history.
File this under "The wonderful things that happen when brilliant philosophers engage a single question as opposed to trying to describe everything or establish first principles for everything"
Scott Kleinpeter
I read (or, I at least think I read this: for, honestly, does any one really read anything as an undergraduate?) this in a philosophy of history class. At the time, I only partly knew what was going on (I do remember an insult directed towards Hegel {is it possible to really understand what was going on without having done necessary cultural background reading on Nietzche and his time? This is a work of intellectual criticism as much as it is philosoph}).

Now that I'm older, I think I have a sen...more
Possibly the most important thing I've ever read for sorting out that demon known as nostalgia, and for knowing when people are tugging on your heartstrings with glorified histories.
Great little book in its own right, but I didn't really get what was at stake in it for Nietzsche until I'd read Genealogy of Morals.
Luka Antonić
Rano Ničeovo djelo o istoriji podstaknuto je ujedinjenjem Njemačke, potragom za njemačkim nacionalnim identitetom, a samim tim i tadašnjom preokupiranošću istorijom. Niče ne piše klasičnu filozofiju istorije; on piše nesavremenu filozofiju tragajući za vezom između istorije i života.

Čitanje jednog ovakvog teksta pruža posebno zadovoljstvo, jer je napisano prije Ničeove nervne rastrojenosti i sloma, ali sadrži naznake ideja koje će poslije razraditi u poznatijim djelima. Najzanimljiviji dio rela...more
Sheldon L
Stunning critique of how history functions self-consciously. Is it art or science? If it's art, how can it be meaningful? If it's science, how can we use cause and effect since no two events are alike!?

As usual, Nietzsche takes on a nuanced, textured perspective on the use and abuse of history for life. He critiques the over-saturation of history in his (and consequently our) society. We learn way too much way too fast at school... our kids can't digest all the discrete info stuffed into them th...more
Jeffrey Howard
Nietzsche gives an argument for a lived philosophy and an existential understanding of history. The best histories and philosophies are those which cause us to live, to make meaning and take action.
Так как разрушает общепринятые догматы Ницше большая редкость среды знаменитых философов, писателей и вообще каких либо людей. Возможно помехой является всё тот же стадный рефлекс, и человек опасается выйти за рамки стада, чтобы оно само его же не смело, не заглушило ропотом.

Но Ницше невероятно смелая личность и в своих книгах он неоднократно то и делает что подвергает сомнению множество общепринятых истин.

Не исключением есть и данная работа автора.

Есть конечно моменты в которых хотелось бы посп...more
Nietzsche knew how to write. That's worth its weight in gold (especially if one delves into Nietzsche after enjoying the pleasure of Kant and Hegel). The content of the argument is also very intriguing: The idea that historical knowledge is used to either encourage an almost morbid introspection about one's own life or glorify the past seems pretty relevant today, and certainly should be mulled over.
Jessica Petree
**This book is not the same edition that I read. The date finished reading is an approximation. A very strange book that will ruin one's brain just trying to understand a few sentences. Yet, an interesting read nevertheless. Nietzsche is very convoluted. Studying him in politics was very entertaining and more than a bit disturbing at times.
This is an interesting view on history in that (as might be guessed from the title) Nietzsche doesn't feel that studying history is necessarily a good thing for living one's life. Nietzsche does seem to focus more on the disadvantages of history than on the advantages.
This is definitely one of the most important things I've read. The section where he encourages you not to confront all of infinity and eternity at once was really key in making me a little more reasonable and pragmatic.

I would recommend this book for Bazarov.
Erik Graff
Nov 04, 2011 Erik Graff rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: everyone
Recommended to Erik by: Hans Seigfried
Shelves: philosophy
I'd read most of Nietzsche's important works before enrolling in Hans Seigfried's course so I used it as an occasion to cover some of the more obscure stuff such as this little essay about the political and ideological manipulation of "history".
Apr 15, 2008 Brittany rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Brittany by: Dr. Brian Carl
Shelves: textbooks
I really liked this until he actually classified the types of history and said that objective history is the worst type. To me, one needs objective history in order to draw his own conclusions.

First Nietzsche I have ever read. The minute an opinion is expressed and you want to argue, Nietzsche is countering his own argument. It's like reading an internal struggle and it was amazing.
Marc L
Zeer krachtig en beeldrijk proza
Veel gejammer en gekanker over het moderne Duitsland, tegen de middelmatigheid en de massa
Toch veel tegenstrijdigheden: niet echt tegen geschiedenis.
Sep 15, 2013 Elham rated it 1 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: No one
Recommended to Elham by: no one
Shelves: philosophy, germany
I read it years ago,
i don't remember what it was trying to say.

i didn't even understand it that time, maybe the translation wasn't good.

I Don't like Nietzsche AT ALL!
Alisha G
I'm not much of a Nietzsche fan--I think he's overrated--but this essay had a lot of influence on me and my attitude towards learning. I think he was right (this time).
Read this for a philosophy class while getting a humanities masters degree. Many underlines in my copy based on how I got ready for class.
Perhaps a little too esoteric for my more intuitive brain. I marvel at those who read Nietzsche with ease.
Nietzsche on history. Harshest criticisms and exhortations against nihilism.
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  • Philosophical Fragments/Johannes Climacus (Kierkegaard's Writings, Volume 7)
  • Memory, History, Forgetting
  • Timaeus
  • The Question Concerning Technology and Other Essays
  • Treatise on Law
  • De Anima (On the Soul)
  • Lectures and Conversations on Aesthetics, Psychology and Religious Belief
  • A History of Philosophy 7: Modern Philosophy
  • The German Ideology
  • Between Past and Future
  • Elements of the Philosophy of Right
  • New Science
  • Crisis of European Sciences and Transcendental Phenomenology
  • The First and Second Discourses
  • The Education of Cyrus
  • The Post Card: From Socrates to Freud and Beyond
  • On the Aesthetic Education of Man
  • The Ego and Its Own
Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche (1844–1900) was a German philosopher of the late 19th century who challenged the foundations of Christianity and traditional morality. He was interested in the enhancement of individual and cultural health, and believed in life, creativity, power, and the realities of the world we live in, rather than those situated in a world beyond. Central to his philosophy is the id...more
More about Friedrich Nietzsche...
Thus Spoke Zarathustra Beyond Good and Evil On the Genealogy of Morals/Ecce Homo The Anti-Christ The Gay Science: with a Prelude in Rhymes and an Appendix of Songs

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