'Ecce Homo' Summary
According to one of Nietzsche's most prominent English translators, Walter Kaufmann, the book offers "Nietzsche's own interpretation of his development, his works, and his significance." The book contains several chapters with self-laudatory titles, such as "Why I Am So Wise", "Why I Am So Clever", "Why I Write Such Good Books" and "Why I Am a Destiny". Kaufmann's Nietzsche: Philosopher, Psychologist, Antichrist notes the internal parallels, in form and language, to Plato's Apology which documented the Trial of Socrates. In effect, Nietzsche was putting himself on trial with this work, and his sardonic judgments and chapter headings can be seen as mordant, mocking, self-deprecating, or sly.
Within this work, Nietzsche is self-consciously striving to present a new image of the philosopher and of himself, for example, a philosopher "who is not an Alexandrian academic nor an Apollonian sage, but Dionysian." On these grounds, Kaufmann considers Ecce Homo a literary work comparable in its artistry to Vincent van Gogh's paintings. Nietzsche argues that he is a great philosopher because of his withering assessment of the pious fraud of the entirety of Philosophy which he considered as a retreat from honesty when most necessary, and a cowardly failure to pursue its stated aim to its reasonable end. Nietzsche insists that his suffering is not noble but the expected result of hard inquiry into the deepest recesses of human self-deception, and that by overcoming one's agonies a person achieves more than any relaxation or accommodation to intellectual difficulties or literal threats. He proclaims the ultimate value of everything that has happened to him (including his father's early death and his near-blindness – an example of love of Fate or amor fati). Nietzsche's primary point is that to be "a man" alone is to be actually more than "a Christ".
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