Nietzsche's Übermensch (Alternative Meetup)

  • April 22, 2013 · 7:00 PM
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What did Nietzsche have in mind when proposing the Übermensch? To investigate this, we'll discuss the various challenges of modernity for which Nietzsche meant the Übermensch to be a solution.


Nietzsche was philosophically active from[masked]; "Also Sprach Zarathustra" (So spoke Zarathustra) was originally published in several parts starting in 1883. Zarathustra, its protagonist, borrows his name from the German translation of "Zoroaster", the central figure in an ancient religion predating Judaism; Nietzsche saw modernity as having departed from what made life worth living, and early in his philosophical career saw a return to classic virtues (as he saw them) as a solution.


This primary source will be our focus for this meetup. It's a philosophical hero story of sorts, where Zarathustra wanders the earth preaching and gathering people around him who have interesting faults and who represent failed approaches to dealing with the emptiness of modern life; readers will find it similar in some ways to Canterbury Tales and in others to Jesus of the Christian Bible, but with a fairly different message. We'll also cover the topics of ressentiment, the death of God, and Nietzsche's idea of nihilism as both a failure of the final man (in an early form) and as a transition for the Übermensch.


Read as much of the reading as you wish and come with plenty of ideas. I hope to provide some of the background for the wordplay (in German) that's important to understand the work.


A basic translation is available here:

Penn State has put up a better edition here:

If you don't mind spending a bit of money, Walter Kaufmann's translation of "Also Sprach" is better and does a good job providing background for the allegories and wordplay.


This is an alternative meetup, but I expect those who sign up for it to actually commit. No refunds are offered except for cancellations a week or more before the event.

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  • Pat G.

    Also, we briefly mentioned Nietzsche and Buddhism in the meeting, but I wasn't prepared to give the 5-minute version. Here are two links that are worth checking out regarding the interactions between Buddhism and Nietzschean thought (which are not as far as you might think): (badly formatted, I know)

    1 · April 23, 2013

  • Pat G.

    I've added my notes for the meeting, which cover the intro and additional things we didn't get to, here:

    1 · April 23, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    As always with this group, the range of life experiences and viewpoints was impressive. Pat is a very well prepared, conscientious organizer who should be on regular rotation in this Meetup (if he wants to be). Some interesting aspects of N's thought were discussed, with everyone participating. Glad I went.

    1 · April 22, 2013

  • Dyutiman D.

    got into the main meetup

    April 22, 2013

  • Pat G.

    I've added a note of another translation in PDF format hosted by Penn State.

    1 · April 15, 2013

  • Pat G.

    For any of you who have a bit of extra time, reading up on Johann Herder might be interesting; his birth and death respectively are about a century before Nietzsche, and explain a lot of the historical context for N's ideas. I'll briefly talk about him and N's contemporaries when starting the Meetup. N's criticisms of Socrates and his nuanced respect for Buddhism and Islam are also good reading.

    April 9, 2013

  • joy

    Sorry I double booked. Well I paid the 2 bucks already... May I use it as credit for a future event? Thanks Pat!

    April 9, 2013

    • Pat G.

      I have no idea how the payment system works; you might want to ask Massimo? It'd probably be safest to hit "request refund" and pay again for a future event. Best wishes

      April 9, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    Currently in the midst of 6,800 pages of reading for other projects. So there is no chance of tackling Zarathustra again right now. However, the concept of the Übermensch as a goal for the human species is a fascinating one which I'd like to discuss.

    April 9, 2013

  • Pat G.

    Please remember not to sign up to attend this meetup if you made it into the main one. It would be best if you remove yourself from the waiting list of the main one if you make it into this one.

    April 9, 2013

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