With a philosopher nothing at all is impersonal.
As an armchair Platonist, I had a personal aversion to Nietzsche, whose whole purpose in life seemed to be to overthrow Platonism. After reading “Beyond Good and Evil”, however, my attitude changed from aversion to pity, that is, pity in the Nietzschean sense.
To illustrate what I think of Nietzsche and his relation to Plato, let me introduce a Chinese fictional/mythical character, Sun Wukong (孙悟空), also known as the Monkey King. The Monkey King challenged the authority of the gods, stormed their dwelling, The Heavenly Palace, and proclaimed himself an equal of the gods. They appealed to the Buddha for help, after repeatedly failing to subdue the Monkey King. The Buddha made a wager with the Monkey King, who could travel 108,000 miles with one somersault, that the latter could not jump out of the former’s palm. In order to prove his power, the Monkey King traveled as far as he could, and reached what he thought were the Five Pillars of Heaven. When he returned to confront the Buddha, he learned, to his chagrin, that those pillars were actually the Buddha’s fingers. He lost and was imprisoned by the Buddha under a mountain for 500 years.
An attentive reader would have no difficulty guessing at my meaning: Nietzsche was the Monkey King, Plato the Buddha.
Firstly, Plato derived the notion of an eternal cyclic nature of the universe long before Nietzsche stumbled upon it and gave it a different name, “eternal recurrence”. Apparently, like the Monkey King, Nietzsche was not immune to self-deception and illusions of grandeur, when he claimed that his philosophy was new and free of metaphysical presumptions.
Secondly, there is nothing new to the idea of “order of rank” either. Plato made a division of classes in his Republic. Nietzsche seems to share Plato’s contempt for democracy, which is based on the assumption of equality among man. Both would assert that some men are fit to rule and others to be ruled.
Thirdly, Christianity has long inculcated the notion that suffering is necessary for the character development of human beings. Nietzsche borrowed the idea again, without acknowledging the source.
Fourthly, Nietzsche’s philosophy is not grounded in biological facts, but rather, it is another subjective interpretation with assumptions and leaps. To use his own simile, the text may have disappeared under the interpretation, but it is still there, and each interpretation shall be evaluated according to its relation to the original. The philosopher can no more place himself above the standard of good and evil, than a translator can place himself above the original.
Fifthly, the ancient Greek philosophers believed that the ultimate purpose of philosophy is the attainment of the Good and the True. Nietzsche rejected the notion as utilitarian and ignoble. What noble value did he create by will to power that would set him above those philosophers he satirized? None.