Style and structureUnlike his first book, The Birth of Tragedy, which was written in essay style, Human, All Too Human is a collection of aphorisms, a style which he would use in many of his subsequent works. The aphorisms of Human, All Too Human range from a few words to a few pages, but most are short paragraphs. The first installment’s 638 aphorisms are divided into nine sections by subject, and a short poem as an epilogue. The phrase itself appears in Aphorism 35 (originally conceived as the first aphorism) "when Nietzsche observes that maxims about human nature can help in overcoming life's hard moments." Implicit also, is a drive to overcome what is human, all too human through understanding it, through philosophy. The second and third installments are an additional 408 and 350 aphorisms respectively.
The genre of the aphorism was already well established at this time - in the German tradition Nietzsche's most important predecessor was a figure of the Enlightenment, Georg Christoph Lichtenberg, whose writing Nietzsche greatly admired.
This book represents the beginning of Nietzsche's "middle period", with a break from German Romanticism and from Wagner and with a definite positivist slant. Reluctant to construct a systematic philosophy, this book comprises more a collection of debunkings of unwarranted assumptions than an interpretation and "contains the seeds of concepts crucial to Nietzsche's later philosophy, such as the need to transcend conventional Christian morality"; he uses his perspectivism and the idea of the will to power as explanatory devices, though the latter remains less developed than in his later thought.