Hiking With Nietzsche

Hiking With Nietzsche

On Becoming Who You Are

Book - 2018 | First edition
Average Rating:
Rate this:
"Hiking with Nietzsche: Becoming Who You Are is a tale of two philosophical journeys--one made by John Kaag as an introspective young man of nineteen, the other seventeen years later, in radically different circumstances: he is now a husband and father, and his wife and small child are in tow. Kaag sets off for the Swiss peaks above Sils Maria where Nietzsche wrote his landmark work Thus Spoke Zarathustra. Both of Kaag's journeys are made in search of the wisdom at the core of Nietzsche's philosophy, yet they deliver him to radically different interpretations and, more crucially, revelations about the human condition. Just as Kaag's acclaimed debut, American Philosophy: A Love Story, seamlessly wove together his philosophical discoveries with his search for meaning, Hiking with Nietzsche is a fascinating exploration not only of Nietzsche's ideals but of how his experience of living relates to us as individuals in the twenty-first century. Bold, intimate, and rich with insight, Hiking with Nietzsche is about defeating complacency, balancing sanity and madness, and coming to grips with the unobtainable. As Kaag hikes, alone or with his family, but always with Nietzsche, he recognizes that even slipping can be instructive. It is in the process of climbing, and through the inevitable missteps, that one has the chance, in Nietzsche's words, to 'become who you are'" -- Publisher's description
Publisher: New York : Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2018
Edition: First edition
Copyright Date: ©2018
ISBN: 9780374170011
Branch Call Number: 193 KAAG
Characteristics: 255 pages : map ; 22 cm


From the critics

Community Activity


Add a Comment
Jan 15, 2020

ht nigel warburton's philosophy in the bookshop

Nov 12, 2019

How do you fit a study of a German philosopher filled with existential angst into supporting a small family in today's world? This book does that. I have always been interested in Nietzsche, but found his books not so absorbing. This short work examines his life and works as the author John Kaag journeys with his wife and young daughter into mountainous regions where Nietzsche lived and wrote. We get a brief biography of Nietzsche, including an insightful analysis of his writings, as Kaag tries to emulate the philosopher while traveling with his small family. There are nuggets of wisdom gained from Nietzsche: "To flourish in the present, one must first come to grips with the distant past." Also, this study of the ever bold philosopher shows us ways to better understand our own fears: "Our overblown risk aversion doesn’t track the actual danger of a particular situation, but rather our own sense of anxiety." However, I must admit that I could not quite understand why one would want to emulate the philosopher, but John Kaag still gave me a better understanding of Nietzsche by seeing him from the perspective of a father and husband who had lived a free youth.

Jan 31, 2019

Yes, a good, smart, accessible introduction to Nietzsche, and also one man focusing on another man who was a misogynist.

DPL_Graham Dec 11, 2018

John Kaag has written a philosophy book that is both accessible and one that has depth and heart. That doesn’t mean you won’t re-read a few paragraphs to squeeze out the meaning but the puzzle you often find in a philosophy book has been removed from “Hiking with Nietzsche.” Through personal exploration and storytelling Kaag explores the fascinating philosophy of Nietzsche without having to read his often extremely dense works.

Kaag helps us understanding Nietzsche philosophy, books, and life through an exploration of the dwellings, mountains, and towns where Nietzsche spent his time devising his philosophies. Kaag visited his Alpine retreat as a college student and it almost ended badly as he starved himself and contemplated the void. Thanks to Kaag's years of introspection and study we can view Nietzsche from both the viewpoint of a young man, the age group that is often powerfully drawn to Nietzsche, and the older more mature person with years of experience.

Kaag takes a return trip to the small Alpine town with his wife and child to see if his feelings from the past are true. As he scrambles up mountains, re-reads old works, and cares for his wife and child the philosophy of Nietzsche unfolds and expands. This wonderful piece of philosophical and adventure reading has a powerful and beautiful ending.

Dec 08, 2018

With an intriguing theme and favorable reviews this seemed sure to please, but the author’s inclination for disaster led down a different trail. It seemed all right at first, but Kaag’s need to hold a finger in the air and make absurd pronouncements like 'Losing all sense of proportion is one of the inevitable consequences of hiking the mountains for any extended period of time' before walking smack into a rock wall led to doubts. What to you or me entails wholesome exercise spent seeking natural beauty becomes for others a search for pain, danger and ill health. What we call irrational, Kaag dignifies with the term 'existential.' In the course of reading this my sense of Nietzsche’s importance changed from seeing him as a rebel against bourgeoisie complacency to his being the prophet of middle-class malaise: So that careerist professionals who discover their shallow values bring them no happiness have a mouthpiece. And if this is Nietzsche’s importance, then I have learned something, and this book has value. But I confess I got impatient with it toward the end . . . I suppose that ‘existentialism’ really refers to ideas and values that an individual discovers as opposed to those shared by larger societal groups, like the one Melville’s Father Mapple says ‘stands forth his own inexorable self.’ If what they come up with amounts to a different twist on self-destruction, of what value are the insights, this trite supposed profundity, or they? Pooh upon them I say! And Pooh-Pooh again.

Nov 26, 2018

Thinking about Nietzsche while on vacation doesn't really address the question of how to be an ubermensch when the dishes need to be done.


Add Age Suitability

There are no ages for this title yet.


Add a Summary

There are no summaries for this title yet.


Add Notices

There are no notices for this title yet.


Add a Quote

There are no quotes for this title yet.

Explore Further

Browse by Call Number


Subject Headings


Find it at ACLib

To Top