Twilight of the Idols


Friedrich Nietzsche

Teachers and parents! Our Teacher Edition on Twilight of the Idols makes teaching easy.

Twilight of the Idols: How the “Real World” at last Became a Myth Summary & Analysis

This section consists of a series of six maxims to summarize how philosophy came to reject the “real world.”  Maxim #1 states that wise people exist in and are themselves the real world (Nietzsche cites Plato’s “I, Plato, am the truth” as an example of this idea). Maxim #2: the real world exists but is unattainable. Only the wise can hope to one day find it. Maxim #3: because the real world is unattained, people call its existence into question. Maxim #4: the real world ceases to be a relevant concept, and people no longer have a “duty” to attain it. Maxim #6: society abandons the real world and replaces it with the “apparent world.” This is where Zarathustra begins.
In this brief section, Nietzsche sketches out the process through which humans went from trusting their senses (knowing that the world they could touch, see, hear, etc. was real and meaningful) to distrusting their senses and giving in to nihilism. Nietzsche is suggesting that intellectual culture (in the western world) has deteriorated ever since Socrates taught people to prioritize reason over human instinct. The final line of this passage alludes to Nietzsche’s Thus Spoke Zarathustra, a work of philosophical fiction about Zarathustra, a hermit and prophet who returns to the world to spread the word that God is dead (that humanity is no longer beholden to the old moral system). When Nietzsche states that Zarathustra begins where people have learned to doubt the world as it appears to them, he’s saying that contemporary society’s skepticism justifies a complete overhaul of the old values.
History and the Decline of Civilization  Theme Icon
The Will to Power   Theme Icon
The Ideal vs. The Real  Theme Icon
Christianity and the “Revaluation of All Values”  Theme Icon