Twilight of the Idols


Friedrich Nietzsche

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Themes and Colors
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
LitCharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in Twilight of the Idols, which you can use to track the themes throughout the work.

History and the Decline of Civilization

Friedrich Nietzsche wrote Twilight of the Idols over the course of one week in 1888. A response to his growing popularity and influence, the work’s primary goal is to provide the reader with a brief introduction to the main ideas of Nietzschean philosophy and cultural criticism. At their core, most of the ideas Nietzsche puts forth in Twilight of the Idols relate back to his belief that contemporary western society (and German society especially) is…

read analysis of History and the Decline of Civilization

The Will to Power 

Another concept central to Twilight of the Idols (and to Nietzschean philosophy in general) is the individual’s struggle against institutional power. Nietzsche also condemns contemporary society’s embrace of selflessness and altruism over self-affirmation. This theme resonates with the “will to power,” a concept that appears in many of Nietzsche’s works, though he never provides a clear definition for the concept, which has resulted in various interpretations (and, some scholars claim, misinterpretations). Put simply…

read analysis of The Will to Power 

The Ideal vs. The Real

One of Nietzsche’s main gripes with past philosophers (and theologians) is that they rejected the notion of a real world and replaced it with the concept of the apparent world. Nietzsche argues that society embraces (and suffers from) this flawed logic to this day. In the section entitled “How the ‘Real World’ at last Became a Myth,” Nietzsche employs a series of maxims to summarize what he defines as the “history of an error,”…

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Christianity and the “Revaluation of All Values”

The “revaluation of all values” is a core concept of Nietzschean philosophy. In the forward to Twilight of the Idols, Nietzsche boldly declares the work to be “a grand declaration of war” and a “sounding-out of idols.” As the work’s title suggests, Nietzsche’s project in the book is to attack and eliminate the “idols” that he believes have transfixed and degraded society. “Idols,” as Nietzsche uses the term, refers to society’s ideals—the modes of…

read analysis of Christianity and the “Revaluation of All Values”