Due to the political affiliation of Martin Heidegger and his place in history, it is perhaps difficult to analyze his works objectively. The temptation might be then to lift him from history, with the imagined goal of perhaps cleansing him from the troubling influences he chose to be in. But however Heidegger is read, whether in historical context, or from a "modern standpoint", he does have some interesting and original things to say about Friedrich Nietzsche. His politics was destructive, as history has shown, and that is a fact that can be discussed completely outside the context of this book.
This is a lengthy book, and concentrates on Nietzsche's work "The Will to Power". Space therefore prohibits a detailed review, but some of the more interesting discussions by the author include:
1. The classifying of Nietzsche as being the "last metaphysician" of the West. The author believes that his thought was a consummation of Western philosophy, and that the will to power is an appreciation of the decision that must be made as to whether the this final age is the conclusion of Western history or a prelude to another beginning. Nietzsche wanted philosophy to not shy away from the predicament it found itself in. Therefore the author encourages philosophers to not merely "toy" with philosophical thoughts, as this will place them merely at the boundary of the set of important philosophical issues. The will to power is a sign of courage that consists of shedding one's reservations, and in recognizing the stakes in the issues at hand.
2. The reading of Nietzsche as someone who believed that the essence of life is in "self-transcending enhancement", and not in Darwinian struggle. Value is to be equated with the enhancement of life.
3. The author's overview and explanation, and deduction of what "truth" meant for Nietzsche. Truth can become a "de-realization" and a hindrance to life, and therefore not be condition of life, and thus not a value. But for the author, Nietzsche wants to overcome nihilism, and this implies therefore that there must be a value greater than truth. And what is this value? It is art, says Nietzsche, which is "worth more than truth".
4. The author's discussion of the alleged biologism of Nietzsche. A reading of Nietzsche might tempt one to conclude that he was, but the author cautions that such a characterization of his writings would be unfounded. One must not base an understanding on mere impressions, and "unlearn" the abuse that has been leveled against the "catchword" called "biologism". The author therefore suggests that we must learn to "read".
5. The description of Nietzsche's epistemology as "schematizing a chaos". For Nietzsche, this schematizing is an act of imposing upon chaos as much regularity and as many forms as our practical needs require. This is an interesting move, for is the characterization of something as chaotic itself subject to the imposition of this regularity? But the author is certainly aware of this problem, for he discusses in detail the Nietzschean concept of chaos. His reading of Nietzsche in this regard is that chaos does not mean confusion or the removal of all order. It rather means that order is concealed, and is not understood immediately. Most eloquently, the author describes the Nietzschean epistemology as a "stream that in its flow first creates the banks and turns them toward each other in a more original way than a bridge ever would." Such a concept of knowledge may seem poetic and too ephemeral to support what is needed for activities such as science and technology, and this is correct.
6. The discussion of Nietzsche's stand on the law of contradiction. Heidegger reads Nietzsche as holding to (without an explicit admission on Nietzsche's part) an Aristotelian notion of this law, saying in effect that taking the position that the law of contradiction is the highest of all principles demands an answer to the question of what sorts of assertions it already fundamentally presupposes. Again following Aristotle, Heidegger uses 'Being" in his most powerful sense here, as it is 'Being' that has its presence and in permanence. This means that beings represented as such will take into account these two requirements via being "at the same time" and "in the same respect". But this permanence is disregarded when an individual makes a contradiction. It is a loss of memory about what is to be grasped in a "yes" and "no". Such an activity will not be harmless, says Heidegger, as one day its catastrophic consequences will be manifested. Heidegger sums up the law of noncontraction as that the "essence of beings consists in the constant absence of contradiction". Further, Heidegger says, Nietzsche's interpretation of the law of contraction is one of an "imperative". This means that its use is a declaration of "what is to count" and follows Nietzsche's conception of truth as a "holding-to-be-true". Nietzsche therefore says that "not being able to contradict is proof of an incapacity, not of a 'truth.'"