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Study Questions for Thus Spoke Zarathustra

1. (“Prologue”) How do Zarathustra’s and the saint’s attitudes towards men and what they need differ (122-124) What do you think Nietzsche’s feelings about the saint’s loving God rather than man are

2. What does it mean to “remain faithful to the earth” (125) What presuppositions about the nature of values and the nature of being go into Nietzsche’s opposition between earth and the otherwordly Why is it important to Nietzsche to espouse the earth’s cause here

3. We are familiar with the general sense of what “wretched contentment” (125) means in many areas of life. If it is different, how is what Nietzsche means different from “being the best you can be,” for example

4. What do you think it means to say that “virtue is the will to go under and an arrow of longing” (127)

5. (“On the Afterwordly”) Why does Nietzsche think that “suffering and incapacity. . .created all afterworlds” (143)

6. How do the “ego’s contradiction and confusion. . .speak most honestly of its ( i.e., the ego’s) being” (144)

7. What does it mean that the “godlike men” do not have faith in “afterworlds and redemptive drops of blood but [it is] in the body, that they. . .have most faith and [that] their body is to them their thing-in-itself” (145)

1. (“On the Despisers of the Body”) What does Zarathustra mean when he says the “body is a great reason, a plurality with one sense, a war and a peace, a herd and a shepherd” (146) How does this relate to his idea that we are “entirely” body

2. What is the difference between saying “I” and doing “I” (146)

3. What is the relation between “spirit,” “sense,” “ego,” “body,” and “self” (146-7)

4. (“On Enjoying and Suffering the Passions”) Why would Zarathustra have our virtue be “inexpressible and nameless” (148)

5. (“On the Pale Criminal”) What does Zarathustra mean when he says “an image made this pale man pale. He could bear his deed when he did it, but he could not bear its image when it was done” (150) What do you think the deed was What is the meaning of the deed for Zarathustra’s thought

6. What is the meaning of the murder/robbery dichotomy that Zarathustra plays with (150-1) What especially is the “bliss of the knife”
7. (“On Reading and Writing”) Why is it “not easily possible to understand the blood of another” (152) What does “blood” mean

8. (“On the Tree on the Mountainside”) What is the relation between “height” and “evil” (154)

9. (“On War and Warriors”) What is the difference between “recalcitrance” and “obedience” (160)

10. (“On Chastity”) What is “innocence of the senses” (166)

11.. What does Zarathustra mean when he says “It is not when truth is dirty, but when it is shallow, that the lover of knowledge is reluctant to step into its waters” (167)

12.. (“On the Thousand and One Goals”) Why to Zarathustra is there “no greater power than good and evil” (170)

13. What is the relation between creation and annihilation: “Whoever must be a creator always annihilates” (171)

14. Try to reconcile the seeming contradiction between the fact that “good and evil have always been created by lovers and creators” (a seemingly positive description) and Zarathustra’s assertion that “a monster is the power of this praising and censuring” (172).

15. (“On Love of the Neighbor”) What is the difference between a neighbor and a friend” (173)

16. (“On the Way of the Creator”) In the long paragraph beginning “Can you give yourself your own evil. . .” (175), what is the significance of the ideas of being along and solitude Why will people say in this state that “All is false” (175)

17. (“On the Gift-Giving Virtue”) Why does Zarathustra say that a “gift-giving love must approach all values as a robber. . .” (187) Distinguish between this selfishness and the selfishness described in the succeeding paragraph.

18. Zarathustra says that “[w]hen you are above praise and blame, and your will wants to command all things, like a lover’s will: there is the origin of your virtue” (188). What does it mean to be “above praise and blame” Why would virtue have its origins there

19. Zarathustra says “Remain faithful to the earth. . . .” “In a hundred ways, thus far, have spirit as well as virtue flown away and made mistakes. Alas, all this delusion and all these mistakes still dwell in our body: they have there become body and will” (188-189). What does it mean for Zarathustra to “remain faithful to the earth” What are the mistakes the spirit and virtue have made and what does it mean that they have become body and will

20. (“Upon the Blessed Isles”) Why for Zarathustra is “God. . .a thought that makes crooked all that is straight, amd makes turn whatever stands” (198)
21. (“On the Virtuous”) Zarathustra says the virtuous “have lied reward and punishment into the foundation of things” (205) and that when the virtuous say “‘I am just,’ it always sound like ‘I am just–revenged’” (207). What is Zarathustra’s perspective on the issue or reward, punishment and justice How does this relate to the concept of innocence put forward in “On Chastity” How does this relate to the overman

22. (“On the Tarantulas”) What is the relation between equality and revenge (211-212)

23. Zarathustra says that in the “[preachers of equality’s] hostilities they shall become inventors of images and ghosts, and with their images and ghosts they shall yet fight the highest fight against one another. Good and evil, and rich and poor, and hight and low, all the names of values–arms shall they be and clattering signs that life must overcome itself again and again” (213). What is the nature of these hostilities What are the images and ghosts What does he mean that life must “overcome itself again and again

24. (“The Night Song”) Why does Zarathustra have a thirst “that languishes after [those who belong to the night’s] thirst” (219) What in this section is the relation between night and day Why does Zarathustra belong to the day Is that good or bad Why

25. (“The Dancing Song”) In this section Zarathustra says he is “a forest and a night of dark trees” (220). What about the way he juxtaposes himself to life here makes him reconceptualize himself

26. In the parable on pp. 220-1, what is the relation of wisdom and life Why are they so similiar Is one better than the other Why or why not

27. (“On Self-Overcoming”) On pp. 226-7 Zarathustra talks about how each level of life seeks to master the levels weaker than it. Then he says that “the smaller yields to the greater that it [meaning “the greater” ( )] may have pleasure and power over the smallest, thust even the greatest still yields, and for the sake of power risks life.” Does this mean that there is pleasure in yielding What does it mean for the greatest to “risk life”

28. What does it mean that good and evil “must overcome themselves again and again” (228)

29. (“The Wanderer”) What stance towards oneself is implied when Zarathustra says that “you must climbover yourself–upward, up until even your stars are under you!” (265) Why is this important Why is it difficult

30. (“On the Vision and the Riddle”) Why does Zarathustra name the dwarf the “spirit of gravity” (268) Why is “gravity” bad

31. What is the importance in Zarathustra’s thought of “courage” (269) What is its relation to “pity” What does he when he says of the statements–“Was that life Well then! Once more!”–that there is “in such words. . .much playing and brass” (269)

32. Why does the shepherd who bites the snake’s head off become “no longer shepherd–no longer human” and why has “no human being laughed as he laughed (272)

33. (“On Involuntary Bliss”) When it was time for Zarathustra to leave he “lay there chained to the love for [his] children: desire set this snare for me–the desire for love that I might become my children’s prey and lose myself to them. Desire–this means to me to have lost myself. I have you, my children! In this experience everything shall be security and nothing desire” (274) What are the two meanings of “desire” here

34. (“Before Sunrise”) Why does Zarathustra say to the heavens that he “hate[s] [nothing] more than drifting clouds and all that stains you” (276-7) What does this stain mean

35. (“On Virtue That Makes Small”) Explain what Zarathustra means when he says, “‘We have placed our chair in the middle,’ your smikring says to me; ‘and exactly as far from dying fighters as from amused sows.’ That, however, is medocrity, though it be called moderation” (282).

36. (“Upon the Mount of Olives”) Why is it called the “ice of knowledge” (287) Why does Zarathustra not “pray, like the pampered, to the potbellied fire idol” (285) How do the metaphors of head and ice work here How do they fit in with Nietzsche’s larger scheme

37. (“On Passing By”) Zarathustra says, “[W]here one can no longer love, there one should pass by” (290). Why is this important to him

38. At the end of “The Apostates,” Zarathustra tells a story about how the gods “laughed themselves to death” (294). What is the point of this story

39. (“The Return Home”) Why does Zarathustra say that “[c]onsideration and pity have ever been my greatest dangers. . .” (297)

40. (“On the Three Evils”) Why does sex “mock and fool all teachers of error and confusion” (300)

41. What is the reaction to “the lust to rule” for most people How does Zarathustra view this “evil” (301-2)

42. Why does “selfishness” hold “in low esteem. . .anyone who wants oaths instead of eyes and hands. . . (302)

43. How does Zarathustra compare selflessness and selfishness Why is the one bad and the other good to him

44. (“On the Spirit of Gravity”) Explain the following passage. “And verily, this is no command for today and tomorrow, to learn to love oneself. . . . For whatever is his own is well concealed from the owner; and of all treasures, it is our own that we dig up last: thus the spirit of gravity orders it. We are presented with grave words and values almost from the cradle: ‘good’ and ‘evil’ this gift is called. For its sake we are forgiven for living” (305).

45. Why does the ass bray “Yea-Yuh ” (306) Contrast this with the “sacred Yes” of the child (139).

46. (“On Old and New Tablets”) Try to explain what “constraint, statute, necessity and consequence and purpose and will and good and evil” (309) have to do with the spirit of gravity.

47. Explain what Zarathustra means by “robbing and killing” in #10 (314).

48. Why does the spirit of the good and just “imprison [them] in their conscience (324)

49. Why does Zarathustra’s cry–“O though my will! Thous cessation fo all need, my own necessity” (326)–mean

50. (“The Convalescent”) Why is “the smallest cleft the hardest to bridge ” (329)

51. (“On the Great Longing”) What is the great longing here Why does Zarathustra’s soul have the melancholy it does

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