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Nietzsche: A Philosophical Biography

4.13  ·  Rating Details  ·  620 Ratings  ·  21 Reviews
No other modern philosopher has proved as influential as Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900) and none is as poorly understood. In the first new biography in decades, Rüdiger Safranski, one of the foremost living Nietzsche scholars, re-creates the anguished life of Nietzsche while simultaneously assessing the philosophical implications of his morality, religion, and art. Strugg ...more
Paperback, 416 pages
Published January 17th 2003 by W. W. Norton & Company (first published January 1st 2000)
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Matthew Linton
Mar 16, 2010 Matthew Linton rated it liked it
A biography with clear cut pros and cons. Here is a brief enumeration of both:


1. Great introductory biography for those unfamiliar with Nietzsche's life and writings. Safranski outlines Nietzsche's thought in clear, elegant prose requiring little previous philosophical background to understand.

2. Stays focused on Nietzsche's philosophy and doesn't get sucked into the petty details of his life or those of the age he lived in.

3. Lacks any glaring distortions of Nietzsche's philosophy. Acknowl
Dirk Baranek
Dec 20, 2013 Dirk Baranek rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: philosophie
Keine Biographie des wunderlichen Lebens dieses gnadenlosen Denkers, sondern eine Geschichte der Entwicklung seines Denkens. Nicht ganz eingängig geschrieben, kein Wunder bei der Komplexität des Gegenstandes, jedoch durchaus klar erläuternd, was Nietzsche will, woher er kommt und welche Brüche mit Denktraditionen ihn vorantreiben.
Mar 12, 2015 Domhnall rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: philosophy
"It is absolutely unnecessary and not even desirable for you to argue in my favour; on the contrary, a dose of curiosity, as if you were looking at an alien planet with ironic distance, would strike me as an incomparably more intelligent attitude towards me."

This "philosophical biography" provides a thoughtful, chronological overview of the key ideas contained in Nietzsche's writings, taking each book in turn, but I would hesitate to respond by offering a review of Nietzsche. He himself, when he
Momo García
Jan 23, 2016 Momo García rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Safranski es un gran biógrafo y un ensayista desafortunado. Su Nietzsche se encuentra más cerca del lado de la biografía, aunque desde el título advierte que hace un relato biográfico de su pensamiento. El resultado es increíble: muestra los libros de Nietzsche y los relaciona todo el tiempo con sus desafortunados andares; mejor homenaje no puede existir. Eso coloca al libro en una situación extraña: puede ser introductorio para unos, para otros un repaso -en el que se muestran algunas vetas ant ...more
Joan Sebastián Araujo Arenas
«Nietzsche: Biografía de su pensamiento», es, en esencia, un viaje. Es dejarse llevar por mares turbulentos, por el verdadero mundo, lo monstruoso. Las valquirias, en su caminar, nos acompañan en nuestro afán de búsqueda. Atravesamos el espacio y el tiempo, y conversamos con Sócrates, discutiéndole sus ideas. Seguimos, como por encanto, hasta Marx, con quien tomamos un café.

A Schopenhauer lo vemos a lo lejos, construyendo la representación de la voluntad; y sin embargo, con ninguno nos quedamos
Nov 02, 2007 John rated it really liked it
I first encountered Friedrich Nietzsche in my freshman year at Kenyon College, when my introductory political science class read his Beyond Good and Evil. It was fascinating and challenging, and though I understood the gist of it, there were plenty of aspects of it that went over my head. During my junior year, I abruptly dropped my music major (I picked it up again the next year) and took two classes that—finally—weren’t either English or music courses: computer programming and a political scie ...more
Jul 17, 2016 Jrnl010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Rüdiger Safranski beschrijft in dit prachtboek de ontwikkeling van het denken van Nietzsche. Biografische feitjes over ouders, zus, geboorteplaats en dergelijke zaken worden nauwelijks genoemd.

'Tussen Nietzsche en zijn gedachten speelt zich een hartstochtelijke liefdesgeschiedenis af, met alle verwikkelingen die we ook van andere liefdesgeschiedenissen kennen. Er zijn daarbij misverstanden, ruzies, jaloezie, begeerte, afkeer, woede, angsten, verrukkingen in het spel. De hartstocht voor het den
Mr. Brammer
Feb 24, 2012 Mr. Brammer rated it liked it
Nietzsche is one of those philosophers that you don't just pick up and read and digest and move on. Really you have to wrestle with his ideas over the course of your life. The young and ambitious are attracted to his ideas about rebellion - I think most people, at some point in their lives, view themselves as "exceptional" . . . while the older and experienced readers might be attracted to some of the more of the cynical side of N.'s writing.

This biography illuminates some of his more difficult
Sep 24, 2011 James rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Safranski examines the intersection of Nietzsche's life and thought in this impressive and thoughtful biography. In doing so he presents a reappraisal of Nietzsche's philosophy, his relationships with others including Wagner, and his many interests including music and literature. In his concluding remarks, the author offers this comment about his project: "Nietzsche's philosophical biography is a story without an end and will need to continue being written" (p 349). This notion of "philosophical ...more
Dec 30, 2011 Shaun rated it it was ok
I read this for two reasons: one, because the author wrote a philosophical biography of Schopenhauer which I really liked; two, to prepare for my Nietzsche class next semester. I was expecting to like this as much as Safranski's other book. However, I found this book lacking. Although it focuses more on the philosophy rather than the biography, it seemed that the explanations where rather superficial. And yes, they seemed more like explanations rather than justifications. Perhaps the redeeming c ...more
Cormac Zoso
Oct 21, 2014 Cormac Zoso rated it it was amazing
this was an excellent if not intense bio of my personal favorite philospher ... having been raised in the lutheran church (missouri synod ... or misery synod as i always said) reading the first words of his where he ripped the lutherans was obviosly going to get on my constant reading list (and i almost always have one of his books near at hand as when i need a break or a jolt of hard-core philosophy) ... this was a heacvy read tho so if you're not really into the man, it might be a rough read . ...more
Dec 26, 2010 Dries added it
So far.. Safranski, like always, is so clear. Short easy readable chapters discussing themes in Nietzsches life are really helping me getting an insight in Nietzsches life and putting his books in a better perspective. Joy to read! Although offcourse you have to find Nietzsche interesting as a person. If you ever manage to get your head around him that is..!
Jul 18, 2013 Danimausi rated it it was amazing
Nietzsche one of the German clichés, more frequent quotated as he could be very funny, but never readed or understanded beyond what his sister and Mr. Chamberlains protonazism, I'm still waiting for a good book about the Nietscheancountry she and her husband trying to stablish in Paraguay.
Jul 05, 2007 Jeffrey added it
Shelves: nietzsche
A good and intelligent book, but definitely the author's take on Nietzsche, biographically and philosophically, rather than an attempt at a comprehensive or "objective" biography.
Feb 28, 2009 Anna rated it really liked it
Shelves: philosophy
Well written biography of Nietzsche explaining his life in manner underandable for intelligent person, who knows who Nietzsche was and what was the basic of his philosophy.
"The book is an ideal blend of biography, philosophy, and cultural history." - Eric Posner
Oct 22, 2015 Marc rated it it was ok
Shelves: philosophy
Knappe introductie tot leven en werk van de filosoof met de hamer.
Feb 07, 2009 Hollis rated it really liked it
Shelves: biography
A thought-provoking biography of the great philosopher.
Apr 29, 2012 Scott rated it it was ok

Abandoned. Never understood the structure of it.
Jul 08, 2013 R1d3 rated it really liked it
Good overview over the life and the work of Nietzsche.
Mike Burmeister
his philosophies werent bent at best sometimes
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  • Nietzsche, Volumes One and Two
  • Nietzsche: Life as Literature
  • Spinoza: A Life
  • Nietzsche and Philosophy (European Perspectives)
  • Martin Heidegger
  • The Birth of Tragedy/The Case of Wagner
  • Nietzsche: Philosopher, Psychologist, Antichrist
  • Nietzsche: The Man and his Philosophy
  • Nietzsche and the Vicious Circle
  • Zorn und Zeit
  • Ludwig Wittgenstein: The Duty of Genius
  • Time and Narrative, Volume 1
  • The Concept of Irony/Schelling Lecture Notes (Kierkegaard's Writings, Volume 2)
  • De la constance du sage : De la tranquilité de l'âme
  • Contingency, Irony, and Solidarity
  • The Cambridge Companion to Nietzsche
  • What Nietzsche Really Said
  • On Nietzsche

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