cover image Hiking with Nietzsche: On Becoming Who You Are

Hiking with Nietzsche: On Becoming Who You Are

John Kaag. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $26 (272p) ISBN 978-0-374-17001-1

Kaag (American Philosophy: A Love Story) mixes personal reflection and interpretation of Friedrich Nietzsche’s thought in this meditative work, framed by two trips to the philosopher’s home in Sils-Maria, Switzerland: once, when Kaag was a 19-year-old college student, and then, years later, when he returns as a philosophy professor with wife and child. The work reflects on adulthood and on squaring the notion of the Übermensch with the realities of adult life. Kaag’s reading of Nietzsche is tempered with humanity and compassion. Acknowledging that the writer’s ideas are controversial, he writes that “even those who disprove them cannot disprove the person behind the scenes,” emphasizing the deeply personal source of Nietzschean philosophy. Also thought provoking is this final explication of Nietzsche’s maxim, “Become who you are”: “Selfhood is made in the active, ongoing process.... The enduring nature of being human is to turn into something else, which should not be confused with going somewhere else.” Kaag has crafted a stirring account of a personal encounter with a great mind. Agent: Markus Hoffmann, Regal Hoffman & Assoc. (Oct.)