The Faith of a Heretic: Updated Edition

Princeton University Press
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Originally published in 1959, The Faith of a Heretic is the most personal statement of the beliefs of Nietzsche biographer and translator Walter Kaufmann. A first-rate philosopher in his own right, Kaufmann here provides the fullest account of his views on religion. Although he considered himself a heretic, he was not immune to the wellsprings and impulses from which religion originates, declaring it among the most vital and radical expressions of the human mind. Beginning with an autobiographical prologue that traces his evolution from religious believer to "heretic," the book touches on theology, organized religion, morality, suffering, and death—all examined from the perspective of a "quest for honesty." Kaufmann also subjects philosophy's faith in truth, reason, and absolute morality to the same heretical treatment. The resulting exploration of the faiths of a nonbeliever in a secular age is as fresh and challenging as when it was first published.

In a new foreword, Stanley Corngold vividly describes the intellectual and biographical milieu of Kaufmann’s provocative book.

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About the author

Walter Kaufmann (1921–1980) was the Stuart Professor of Philosophy at Princeton University, where he taught for more than thirty years. His many books include Nietzsche: Philosopher, Psychologist, Antichrist and Critique of Religion and Philosophy (both Princeton).
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Additional Information

Publisher
Princeton University Press
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Published on
Jun 9, 2015
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Pages
448
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ISBN
9781400866168
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Language
English
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Genres
Philosophy / Criticism
Philosophy / General
Philosophy / History & Surveys / General
Philosophy / Religious
Religion / Philosophy
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Available on Android devices
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Eligible for Family Library

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This classic is the benchmark against which all modern books about Nietzsche are measured. When Walter Kaufmann wrote it in the immediate aftermath of World War II, most scholars outside Germany viewed Nietzsche as part madman, part proto-Nazi, and almost wholly unphilosophical. Kaufmann rehabilitated Nietzsche nearly single-handedly, presenting his works as one of the great achievements of Western philosophy.

Responding to the powerful myths and countermyths that had sprung up around Nietzsche, Kaufmann offered a patient, evenhanded account of his life and works, and of the uses and abuses to which subsequent generations had put his ideas. Without ignoring or downplaying the ugliness of many of Nietzsche's proclamations, he set them in the context of his work as a whole and of the counterexamples yielded by a responsible reading of his books. More positively, he presented Nietzsche's ideas about power as one of the great accomplishments of modern philosophy, arguing that his conception of the "will to power" was not a crude apology for ruthless self-assertion but must be linked to Nietzsche's equally profound ideas about sublimation. He also presented Nietzsche as a pioneer of modern psychology and argued that a key to understanding his overall philosophy is to see it as a reaction against Christianity.


Many scholars in the past half century have taken issue with some of Kaufmann's interpretations, but the book ranks as one of the most influential accounts ever written of any major Western thinker. Featuring a new foreword by Alexander Nehamas, this Princeton Classics edition of Nietzsche introduces a new generation of readers to one the most influential accounts ever written of any major Western thinker.

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