Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900) Biography -Born: 1844 in Prussia to a Lutheran Minister -Studied at University of Bonn and Univeristy of Liepzig specializing in Philosophy -Retired from teaching because of unreliable health (poor eyesight, headaches) -Travelled and began writing -Suffered mental and physical breakdown in 1889 from which he never recovered - Sometimes called “father of existentialism” - Embraced nihilism and rejected philosophical reason and pursuit of knowledge and truth. Nihilism: belief that all values are useless. Political nihilism: destruction of all established orders needed for improvement of the future. Ethical nihilism: rejects possibility of moral absolutes. Major Works Human, All Too Human (1878) The Gay Science (1882) Thus Spoke Zarathustra (1883) Beyond Good and Evil (1886) Genealogy of Morals (1887) Twilight of Idols (1889) Übermensch – Superman -Exceptional individual -Can live successful, authentic life concentrated on personal elevation -Crafts own identity through self-realization -Willing to risk all to enhance humanity -Establishes their own values reflecting strength and independence -Can effect and dominate others therefore affecting history Neitzsche`s philosophy reflected an inherent selfishness by focussing on man`s individual elevation as opposed to charity or the good of the others (the community) He believed man should follow their Will to Power Will to Power: underlies human thought, behaviour, action -desire to exert strength - `power` over others and over self -constantly suppressed Traditional institutions and new ideas opposed a healthy life by attempting to destroy man`s Will to Power Moral philosophies (like Christianity) and social and political philosophies (democracy, equality, socialism) are beliefs of the `little men` and excused for weakness. On Christianity... “I call Christianity the one great curse, the one enormous and innermost perversion, the one great instinct of revenge for which no means are too venomous, too underhand, and too petty – I call it the one moral blemish of mankind.” On Communism -dissemination of culture would be the death of culture On Socialism... “The rabble of socialists... Who undermine the workers instincts, his pleasure, his feeling of contentment” On Equality... “The doctrine of equality! There exists no more poisonous poison for it seems to be preached by justice itself, while it is the end of justice.” “But the rabble, squinting, will say, ‘We are all equal’” Beyond Good and Evil There is no single morality appropriate for all men. No absolute values or rules for human life. Concepts of `good` and `evil` serve only to hold back human potential. Two types of morality: -- Master Morality -- Slave Morality Master Morality Slave Morality -Morality is self-glorification -“Good” and “bad” are interchangeable with noble and contemptible -“Good” : right of people to live their lives through force of will -following of one’s desires is also “good” -Forceful actions are admired -Pride, strength, leadership, power, and disregard for social approval is commended -Cowards, timid, insignificant, self-abasing, narrow thinkers, liars (common people) are “the herd”: despised -Morality of utility -Motivated by resentment of natural superiors -“Goodness” is corrupted to appeal to “the herd” -“Evil” is designated as forceful action -Condemns virtues of the powerful -Commended qualities like sympathy alleviate suffering -Kindness, helpfulness, sympathy patience, submissiveness are positive -A “good” man is good natured-easy going and stupid -Power and dangerousness are evil -An “evil” man is one whom excites fear VS incapable masses Legacy/ Influence In many ways Nietzsche was very different for his time period. He brought the focus back to the individual – the deserving individual – and preached an elitism that revolution, democracy, and equality were trying to do away with. While he was alive his philosophies were largely unread and uninfluential, however, ideas of self-discovery, and the cultural relativism of morals have become more heeded as time goes on. Nietzsche did have a strong political influence in Germany, first among the left in the 1890s. Unfortunately, one of his most famous legacies was probably the influence he had on Hitler and the development of fascist ideologies. His writings have also been used to justify eugenics and racism in search of the “superior man”.