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Friedrich Nietzsche
Who is he?
Famous German philosopher
Born: October 15th, 1844 in Rocken
Father was a Lutheran pastor
His father and brother died months apart and the family
moved to Naumburg an der Saale. From the ages of 14-19,
Nietzsche attended a first-rate boarding school, Schulpforta.The teenage
Nietzsche read David Strauss's controversial Life of Jesus Critically Examined.
Was influenced by German philosophers Arthur Schophauer and Friedrich
Was a professor of classic philology in the University of Basel but had to quit
due to health problems
Began traveling around Europe and became an independent philosopher
1889 had a psychotic break which eventually led to mental illness
1898 - 1899 had at least two strokes
1900 contracted pneumonia and had a stroke which killed him
Died: August 25, 1900 in Weimar
Relationship with Existentialism
Not techinically an existentialist but focused on a number of key themes
which would later become the focus of existential philosophers.
Nietzsche’s existential philosophy included such things as:
• Popularized the idea that God is dead.
• Insisted that without God, life is meaningless.
• Was convinced that Christian virtues made weak people. That
meekness was a liability.
• Did not believe in values or truth.
• Personal power was essential.
• Believed good and evil kept the world as it was and in a state of
eternal recurrence
• The principle of eternal return would become one of the foundations
of existentialism
• Convinced that a person only lives once and then they exist no
longer so they must be aggressive in living the short life they have.
How he is a key world figure
• Controversial ideology.
• Gained popularity from
Thus Spoke Zarathustra
• German expressionism was
inspired by Nietzsche's
philosophy of art
How he is a key world figure
• Inspiration for right-wing German militarism.
• Thus Spoke Zarathustra given to soldiers along with the
• 20th Century political leaders, such as Hitler and Mussolini,
were influenced by his ideas
• Negatively impacted reputation.
• Influenced several prominent European philosophers – they
rehabilitated his reputation as a philosopher.
Key beliefs and general philosyphy
Morality: "Campaign against Morality"; He calls himself an "immoralist" and harshly criticizes the prominent
moral schemes of his day: Christianity,Kantianism, and Utilitarianism.
The death of God, nihilism, and perspectivism: the death of God may lead beyond bare
perspectivism to outright nihilism, the belief that nothing has any importance and that life lacks purpose.
The Will to Power: "the principle of the synthesis of forces."
Übermensch: means "human being" – as superman, superhuman, or overman
The principle of Eternal Return: also known as "eternal recurrence", is a
concept stating that the universe has been recurring, and will continue to recur in a
self-similar form, for an infinite number of times.
Believed that all people should strive to be a superman.
Many people believe his madness was caused by syphilis