Nietzsche's Teachings

by Peter Saint-Andre


The other day a friend of mine asked me for my overall assessment of Friedrich Nietzsche. At first I jokingly replied that each of the seventy-two poems in my book Songs of Zarathustra might present a unique perspective, whereas all together they might not yield a unitary view. Then I decided to re-read the book, which led me to identify six main themes in what I take to be Nietzsche's positive philosophy of life:

  1. Be radically honest with yourself, with the goal of enlightenment.
  2. Find your own truth, with the goal of liberation.
  3. Craft your own life, with the goal of independence.
  4. Cultivate what is near and dear, with the goal of simplicity.
  5. Be moderate and self-controlled, with the goal of tranquility.
  6. Pursue work over happiness, with the goal of greatness.

There's a reason, perhaps, why the two words most often rhymed in these poems are "soul" and "goal", for it strikes me that Nietzsche's overarching message is the deep significance of self-mastery.

(Cross-posted at


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