In his preface to Genealogy of Morals (1887), Nietzsche warns his reader of the potential difficulties facing him in his encounter with the author’s deliberately arcane and provocative prose. He therefore recommends a slow intellectual ‘chewing’ of his philosophical cud, remarking jokingly that ‘you will almost need to be a cow for this one thing and certainly not a ‘modern man’: it is rumination.’ Nietzsche’ s ‘rumination’ is to the art of interpretation what ‘slow eating’ is to the art of gastronomy. We should learn from the creator of the great sage Zarathustra that IB students must never be left roaming alone and directionless in the vast rich pastures of Philosophy. They need a good shepherd, able and wiling to guide them and let them graze at their own leisure and make the best of their intellectual nourishment.
Clearly Nietzsche did not expect his readers to adopt a fruitless attitude of bovine passivity towards his explosive pronouncements. Instead, he hoped that they would approach his works with the innocence and candid expectation of children whose heart and mind are still receptive to novelty. This attitude should be the one applied to the rigorous critical reading of any philosophical text. To become immersed in a text requires the abandonment of any previous prejudice or position on the topic(s) under discussion in the book studied. Secondly, philosophical rumination demands a personal ‘digestion’ or internalisation of its major tenets, in one’s own words in order to become familiar with its deep philosophical implications and ultimate purpose.