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de Botton on Nietzsche

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• Is the world eternal? YES
• Do humans have contra-causal free will (i.e., can humans do otherwise)? NO
• Is beauty in the eye of the beholder? YES
• Do humans have souls? YES
• Are there natural rights? YES
• Is it morally permissible to eat meat? NO
• Is the unexamined life worth living? NO
• Is truth subjectivity? YES
• Is virtue necessary for happiness? YES
• Can a computer have a mind? YES
• Can humans know reality as it is in itself? YES
• Is hell other people? YES
• Can art be created accidentally? NO
• Can we change the past? NO
• Are numbers real? NO
• Is it always better to know the truth? YES

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There’s an interesting video here on Nietzsche, as part of the BBC series on philosophy and happiness. It’s good to get some pictures of the Alps and places where Nietzsche lived, and the overall account seems pretty good. It’s unfortunate that de Botton sticks to the old syphilis diagnosis, and the story about Nz embracing a flogged horse (both surely false).



  1. Clay says:

    Is the syphilis diagnosis a common misconception? The forward on my copy of “Thus Spake Zarathustra” talks about the irony of an STD killing a virgin.


  2. Huenemann says:

    Yes, all too common. It’s sort of a hobby horse of mine, since I’ve recently written an article on it. You can find it here:


  3. Rob says:

    So, Charlie, it is probably not true that in one of his final gestures before total insanity Nietzsche embraced a horse being flogged in the street? I’m sad to hear this, as Kundera’s treatment of it in ‘Unbearable Lightness of Being’ is quite touching.


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