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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”.

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