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Nietzsche's Philosophical Context

An Intellectual Biography

Thomas H. Brobjer

Publication Year: 2008

Friedrich Nietzsche was immensely influential and, counter to most expectations, also very well read. An essential new reference tool for those interested in his thinking, Nietzsche's Philosophical Context identifies the chronology and huge range of philosophical books that engaged him. Rigorously examining the scope of this reading, Thomas H. Brobjer consulted over two thousand volumes in Nietzsche's personal library, as well as his book bills, library records, journals, letters, and publications. This meticulous investigation also considers many of the annotations in his books. In arguing that Nietzsche's reading often constituted the starting point for, or counterpoint to, much of his own thinking and writing, Brobjer's study provides scholars with fresh insight into how Nietzsche worked and thought; to which questions and thinkers he responded; and by which of them he was influenced. The result is a new and much more contextual understanding of Nietzsche's life and thinking.

Published by: University of Illinois Press

Series: International Nietzsche Studies

Title Page

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Copyright Page

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pp. vii

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pp. ix-x

A large number of interpretations of Nietzsche’s philosophy are published every year in the form of books and articles. But there has been a shortage of studies that show how Nietzsche worked and thought, to which questions and thinkers he responded, and by which...

Notes on References

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pp. xi-xiv

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pp. xv

For good service in Nietzsche’s library in Weimar over many years, I wish to thank Frau Schmidt, Frau Matteis, Frau Fox, Frau Schneider, Frau Kuhles, Frau Ellermann-Minda, Frau Schwitalla, Dr. Frank Simon-Ritz, the director of the Anna Amalia Bibliothek...

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pp. 1-5

Most great philosophers are seen as figures towering above their time. In Nietzsche’s case, such a view is perhaps especially pervasive, for he fostered it himself with his claims to be “untimely” and “a destiny” and with prophetic writings such as Thus Spoke Zarathustra. He...

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1. Nietzsche As Reader

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pp. 6-21

One can easily get the impression that Nietzsche, and especially the late Nietzsche, read little. He criticized reading as insufficiently life-affirming and Dionysian: “Early in the morning at the break of day, in all the freshness and dawn of one’s strength, to...

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2. The Major Philosophical Influences on Nietzsche's Thinking

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pp. 22-42

Nietzsche was educated as a classical philologist and had a very limited philosophical education in the conventional sense. As a philosopher he was largely an autodidact. He never had a living philosophical teacher or mentor who could help him develop. He therefore...

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3. The Young Nietzsche: 1844-69

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pp. 43-50

As is the case for most young people, Nietzsche’s first philosophical influences came from persons and sources outside of philosophy. Most important was a strong Christian influence, which made him a very pious child. The early death of his father—a Protestant pastor—when Nietzsche was only five years old may well have had the effect of intensifying his...

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4. The Early Nietzsche: 1869-74

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pp. 51-60

During Nietzsche’s first three years as a professor at Basel (1869–71)—a period during which he worked hard to prepare lectures and teaching, finished the extensive index to twenty-four massive volumes of the journal Rheinisches Museum für Philologie (which was published at the end of 1871 as a separate volume of 167 pages),1 and wrote The Birth of Tragedy (published...

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5. The Middle Nietzsche: 1875-82

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pp. 61-89

During 1875 and 1876, Nietzsche went through an intellectual and emotional crisis and changed fundamental aspects of his Weltanschauung, including breaking with Schopenhauer, Kant, and Wagner.1 Nietzsche then exchanged his earlier enthusiasm for metaphysics...

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6. The Late Nietzsche: 1883-89

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pp. 90-104

During the Zarathustra period (1883–85), when Nietzsche developed much of his new philosophy, he continued a relatively broad philosophical reading. This reading, as always, also consisted of much rereading of philosophical texts he had read earlier, such as...

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pp. 105-110

An important approach to understanding a philosopher is to reconstruct his thinking, not in terms of a number of propositions but as answers to questions and implicit questions that he attempted to answer or to which he attempted to respond.1 This can be done by using the...


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pp. 111-184

Table 1. Chronological Listing of Nietzsche's Philosophical Reading

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pp. 185-236

Table 2. Philosophical Titles in Nietzsche's Library: Unknown If and When Read

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pp. 237-242

Table 3. Alphabetical Listing of Nietzsche's Philosophical Reading

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pp. 243-258


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pp. 259-268

E-ISBN-13: 9780252090622
Print-ISBN-13: 9780252032455

Page Count: 288
Publication Year: 2008

Series Title: International Nietzsche Studies