In this insightful study, Nietzsche specialist Jonathan R Cohen argues that "Human, All Too Human" (1878) represents the crucial watershed for Nietzsche's philosophical development, the moment at which he 'becomes who he is'. Here Nietzsche breaks his early allegiance to Schopenhauer and Wagner by offering acute criticisms, which often are diametric reversals of his earlier writings. At the same time, he establishes the overall framework of his later philosophy as the overcoming of metaphysical barriers to the emergence of free spirits who will be the avant-garde of culture. His use of science to accomplish this goal gives this work a positivistic slant unique in his corpus.Cohen explains Nietzsche's turnabout from his earlier philosophy, analyses the argumentative tactics by which Nietzsche deploys science to undercut traditional metaphysics, describes the character of the free spirits, and examines the division of labor scheme that Nietzsche prescribes for cultural progress. Cohen also shows how "Human, All Too Human", despite its 'aphoristic' style, has a unified literary structure and integrity, which are central to the communication of the book's philosophical message.
Jonathan R. Cohen (Farmington, ME) is professor of philosophy at the University of Maine at Farmington. He writes on Nietzsche, ancient philosophy, Jewish philosophy, and other subjects. He was an invited plenary speaker at the 2001 "Nietzsche and Science" conference of the Friedrich Nietzsche Society of the United Kingdom and Ireland.