Beyond Good and Evil: Prelude to a Philosophy of the Future (German: Jenseits von Gut und Böse: Vorspiel einer Philosophie der Zukunft) covers ideas in his previous work Thus Spoke Zarathustra but with a more polemical approach. It was first published in 1886 at the author’s own expense and first translated into English by Helen Zimmern, who was two years younger than Nietzsche and knew the author.
The title refers to the need for moral philosophy to go beyond simplistic black and white moralizing, as contained in statements such as “X is good” or “X is evil”. At the beginning of the book, Nietzsche attacks the very idea of using strictly opposite terms such as “Good versus Evil”.
In Beyond Good and Evil, Nietzsche accuses past philosophers of lacking critical sense and blindly accepting dogmatic premises in their consideration of morality. Specifically, he accuses them of founding grand metaphysical systems upon the faith that the good man is the opposite of the evil man, rather than just a different expression of the same basic impulses that find more direct expression in the evil man. The work moves into the realm “beyond good and evil” in the sense of leaving behind the traditional morality which Nietzsche subjects to a destructive critique in favor of what he regards as an affirmative approach that fearlessly confronts the perspectival nature of knowledge and the perilous condition of the modern individual.