Joyful Wisdom

Joyful Wisdom

Joyful Wisdom

Joyful Wisdom

Excerpt

Three major phases may roughly be distinguished in the evolution of Friedrich Nietzsche’s thought and, correspondingly, in his works: the first comprises—to name only the high points of his production—The Birth of Tragedy from the Spirit of Music (1872) and the four essays entitled Thoughts out of Season (or, in W. Kaufmann’s translation, Untimely Meditations [1873-76]); the second culminates in Human, All-too-Human (1878), Aurora or the Dawn of Day (1881), and the first four books of Joyful Wisdom (1882; Book Five was added in 1886); the third period begins with an anticipatory exposition of the idea of “eternal recurrence,” which is mentioned for the first time in Book Four of Joyful Wisdom and further elaborated in Thus Spoke Zarathustra (1882-85); it continues with Beyond Good and Evil (1886) and the Genealogy of Morals (1887); and it ends with The Antichrist (1888), Ecce Homo (1888; first published in 1908), and Twilight of the Idols (1889).

While the works of the first period are written in the more or less traditional style of the philosophic essay, those of the second period bear the form of the brilliantly glittering aphorism, a style of writing which Nietzsche had adopted from some of his favorite French and German freethinkers of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, such as Larochefoucauld, Chamfort, and Lichtenberg, and which typifies what has become known as Nietzsche’s “experimentalism” in thinking and writing. Each individual aphorism (or at times several of them in their sequence) is an experiment in thought, reflecting Nietzsche’s ardent . . .

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