Friedrich Nietzsche holds a commanding historical significance in modern thought in spite of a continuing controversy about his stature as a philosophical mind. Many scholars refuse to judge Nietzsche’s brilliant writings as serious philosophical contributions. They prefer to view him as a poet, as a critic of culture and religion, or even as a superb master of the German language. Yet some scholars insist on Nietzsche’s importance as a genuine philosophical figure—a lonely, disturbed thinker who anticipated criticism of the classical ideal of a rigorously deductive model of philosophical knowledge and of the accompanying belief in the possibility of a completed metaphysics. Nietzsche felt keenly the impact of Darwinian evolutionary views that so stirred many nineteenth century thinkers in a number of intellectual fields. As a philosopher, he must be included in that group of thinkers for whom the philosopher’s primary function is to lay bare the unexamined assumptions and buried cultural influences lurking behind supposedly disinterested moral and metaphysical constructions.
Symptomatically, Beyond Good and Evil begins with a chapter entitled “About Philosophers’ Prejudices.” Written during Nietzsche’s intellectual maturity, hard on the heels of a lengthy literary development yet prior to the illness that ended his career, this book reflects the many important central tendencies of his thought. Its contents illustrate the...
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