Good Life

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Nietzsche on the Good Life Featured in the New Book What Better Place to Die

Author: Bernie Dahl, M.D.

During the process of writing the chapter Journey into the Self, in my latest book What Better Place to Die, I chose to focus on the question: “What is the good life?” The process started with creating a list of notable philosophers and theologians, one of which was the great German philosopher, Friedrich Nietzsche.

Nietzsche was born October 15, 1844 in the city of Rocken in what is now Germany. At the age of twenty-four he was given a position as a professor of philology at the University of Basel in Switzerland. From 1879 on, Nietzsche lived as an independent author, holding no academic position. In 1889 he suffered a mental breakdown on a street in Turin, Italy. From then on his health, both physical and mental, steadily declined until in August of 1900 he died shortly after suffering a stroke.

A deceptively important tenet of Nietzsche’s philosophy is elucidated in this line from Thus Spake Zarathustra: “My brother, when thou hast a virtue, and it is thine own virtue, thou hast it in common with no one.” Unlike most philosophers who teach some form of the good life, Nietzsche did not believe that the good life consists in more or less the same thing for everyone. Each of us is radically different from each other, in virtue of having lived completely different lives. He rejects ethical theories that purport to be valid for everyone: “All these moralities are baroque in form and devoid of sense because they address themselves to everyone, because they generalize where there can be no generalization.”

However, Nietzsche did realize that we are all humans and that therefore we all have at least something in common. Much of his writing is devoted to the development of a nuanced and novel understanding of the human. The following excerpt from Thus Spake Zarathustra serves as a good example: “Lo! How each of thy virtues is covetous of the highest place; it wanteth thy whole spirit to be its herald, it wanteth thy whole power, in wrath, hatred, and love. Jealous is every virtue of the others, and a dreadful thing is jealousy.” For Nietzsche the human is a complex and sometimes contradictory animal, and he recognizes the often turbulent interplay of thoughts and emotions which goes on in the human mind. Nietzsche sketches a sometimes sordid picture of the human being, but at the same time he states in Thus Spake Zarathustra that “man is something that hath to be surpassed.” For Nietzsche, the human starts with his or her passions, thoughts, and impulses as the given conditions of human existence; however, as a human agent, one can and must transcend the historical boundaries of the human, creating new modes of life as one sees fit.

Nietzsche tells us that one must first plumb the depths of the human; one must explore “the human psyche and its limits, the hitherto attained extent of human inner experience, the entire history of the psyche up to now plus its still unexhausted possibilities.” Once one is familiar with the playing field of the human mind one must then play, breaking and remaking the rules of human life, creating new modes of being. Nietzsche does not believe that there is one, true “good life.” Rather, he sends each of us off to find our own: “‘This–is now my way–where is yours?’ Thus did I answer those who asked me ‘the way.’ For the way–it doth not exist!’”

What Better Place to Die is based on my “near death” experience on Mt. Washington in New Hampshire and the things I learned. In a series of keynote addresses and a re-enactment on The Discovery Channel, I shared the story of my rescue and these three admonitions which came out of my experience: Be prepared to die, Have a plan to live, and Do it now. After these “how-to” messages, the book takes a broad view of life in the chapter Journey into the Self, focusing on oneself and the attainment of the good life.

Readers are encouraged to join me in the writing of this book either by email to or via the blog-to-book at

About the Author:

Bernhoff A. Dahl, M.D., author, public speaker, keynote speaker, consultant, humorist and veteran mountaineer shares his life-threatening experience in a positive, motivational and inspirational message focused on three admonitions: Be prepared to die! Have a plan to live! Do it now!

For more information, please visit
Dr. Dahl is available for interviews about his near-death experience on the mountain and the life lessons he learned.

Bernhoff Dahl, M.D.
President, Trionics International, Inc
66 Upper Oak Point
Winterport, ME 04496
Phone : 207-223-9998
Fax : 207-848-5649

Dr. Dahl is the author of the International Bestseller Optimize Your Life! The One-page Strategic Planner. Contact via for details.

Article Source: ArticlesBase.comNietzsche on the Good Life Featured in the New Book What Better Place to Die

Good Life

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