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Nietzsche is a philosopher with the heart of a poet (and a mustache that makes Tom Selleck look like a 13 year old working towards his first shave).  Human, All Too Human contains 638 aphorisms on a variety of subjects, including religion, philosophy, aesthetics, science, ethics, and more.  The book falls in the middle part of Nietzsche’s career, when his philosophy is tempered by a subtle sympathy for the common man and contemporary culture.  This is Nietzsche looking ahead to what will come, but not ordering the reader to force its coming.  Nietzsche’s wit is sharp and his prescience is remarkable.  Many of his cultural prophecies have come true in the century since his death.

You cannot argue with a mustache like that.

Let me be clear– this is not a fun book to read.  It is, however, a brilliant book.  Nietzsche has an uncanny ability to point out exactly those things that shame us most about our natures.  It is subtitled A Book For Free Spirits, and the free spirit is what Nietzsche believes we all should be but lack the courage to become.  This concept is a clear precursor to the Ubermensch of Thus Spoke Zarathustra.  Many other ideas that are central to Nietzsche’s later philosophy make their first appearance in Human, All Too Human.  The structure of this book makes it easier to digest than some of his other works.  He does not attempt to offer a complete philosophical system.  Instead, we are presented with his observations about the state of everything he sees.  If you are new to Nietzsche, Human, All Too Human is a good place to start.

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