Fredrich Nietzsche: 7 Crucial Philosophical Concepts and Facts

God is dead, superhuman, will to power! Friedrich Nietzsche’s thinking has thrown off concepts that have gone beyond his philosophy into the use of language. What you need to know about the namesake of the newly designed award, now alternately awarded in Basel and Naumburg – Nietzsche in seven steps.

God is dead, superhuman, will to power: Friedrich Nietzsche’s thinking has thrown off concepts that have gone beyond his philosophy into language usage. The man, whose name awarded the highest prize for philosophical-essayistic works in Germany? He was a philosophical exception of the late 19th century considered to be a philologist by nature. He left his main subject early beyond classical linguistics and went out developed from the thinking of the ancient Greeks, his criticism of contemporary morality, Christianity, and Western philosophy.

Nietzsche is considered one of the forefathers of existential philosophy and philosophical postmodernism and stands for radical thinking outside of the philosophical system, summarized in a powerful language. What you need to know about the namesake of the newly designed award, now alternately awarded in Basel and Naumburg – Nietzsche in seven steps.

1. Nietzsche as a Young Professor at The Basel

Friedrich Nietzsche was 24 years old when the University of Basel appointed him to the Chair of Classical Philology in 1869. It was a testimony to the early maturity of the young man from Saxony, but also a consequence of the university’s sluggish financial situation. The traditional facility went through a crisis in the middle of the 19th century. In 1833, the city lost its rural subject areas on the Hülftenschanz, and the university also felt the following financial losses. In the same decade, universities were founded in Bern and Zurich, which pressed Basel as new competitors.

There was a shortage of students, and therefore also money but to fill the chairs with important names. One dealt with promising young talents who could come on short notice and were just as quickly gone to continue their careers at an institute with a higher reputation.

One of these young thinkers was Friedrich Nietzsche, who was brought in for classical philology. Already with his inaugural lecture on the question of Homer’s personality, he made it clear that he had his own ideas of future philology that was “enclosed by a philosophical world view” should be philology. And he told comfortingly in the dark present “of the beautiful, clear gods of a distant, blue, and a happy magic land. 

Nietzsche did not want to exclusively teach the idealized epoch of classical antiquity, but to make it usable for educational purposes. Nietzsche said that something could be learned for life from the heroic figures of antiquity and from the aesthetic creative power of this poetry.

He himself set a good example in Basel. His professorial duties also included teaching ancient Greek at the grammar school. On a further note, Nietzsche was not limited to teaching grammar and dogmatic recitation of the classic texts, but to independently translating and understanding them and opening up the epics in order to promote honor and internalization of the ancient world. Nietzsche stayed in Basel for ten years, but the continuity desired by the university management did not turn into anything. In 1879, he became ill and gave up his chair.

2. Role As a Dionysian Man

For Nietzsche, two poles determined ancient Greece, for which he was so passionate, the Apollonian and Dionysian. He explained in the Birth of Tragedy from the Spirit of Music that the two deities stand for two sides of aesthetic creativity. It was his first non-academic writing in Basel, which was supposed to ruin his academic philological career.

Apollo, the god of the arts likes purity and moderation. Therefore he represented the visual artists and the designers, who strived for harmony and structure in his creative process. The principle according to Dionysus, however, the deity of wine and ecstasy, is intoxication. It is to understand that it was not through a narcotic means, rather through the abandonment of individuality. Nietzsche attributed this principle to the Greek choral singing. It was originally for a ritual cult that served deities like Dionysus and from there, it helped design the tragedy. The ecstasy – literally: the step out of yourself anchored Nietzsche in the collective of singing and narrating choir, in which the individual gave up in favor of the overwhelming power of music.

The choir should not maintain this weight. Nietzsche described how the Dionysian-Apollonian equilibrium was thrown out of balance with the poets Euripides and Sophocles. Moreover, he points out, how early Greek tragedy was changed and destroyed. The two poets corrected the mythical origins of the choir and brought about their comedic textbooks People on stage and domesticated the tragedy. It is essential to locate Euripides and Sophocles as contemporaries of Socrates. These great Attic philosophers had introduced the age of “theoretical people”. They believed that they could grasp the world by means of rationality and thus determine it.

The technical age began with Socrates and above all his pupil Plato, in which rationality was supposed to suppress the intoxication with consequences even into Nietzsche’s presence. In the further course of the “Birth of Tragedy,” the young philosopher-philologist made a cultural criticism to Dionysus and Apollo in protection to the modern age. It is suffocated by rational coolness and mere imitation of the former mighty classic urgently needed new Dionysian flare-ups.

He recognized this in the music of Richard Wagner, whom Nietzsche was close to and whom he adored. He actually ventured to the early errors that made him hope for the renewal power of the German spirit and German people. Nietzsche later distanced himself from the work describing it as “clumsy, fanciful and confused with images”. But central elements of his later thinking were already roughly developed here.

3. Nietzsche on The Superman

Hardly any concept of his thinking is so closely linked to Nietzsche as that of the superman. Nietzsche himself has by no means clearly defined this figure. He first mentions it in 1878 in “Human, All-To-Human” in the concept of the free spirit. The character is a proto-superhuman who frees himself from the traditions and tenets of religion, metaphysics, and moral systems in general.

Nietzsche takes a particularly hard line with the tradition of philosophy by accusing philosophers of attempting to raise the prevailing, conditioned morals towards philosophical teaching structures. But behind every truth stands someone who claims it. And this early drawing of the superman as one who exposes and overcomes models of truth finds its expansion in Nietzsche’s later works. Science, historicism, and a belief in technology would have brought the moral teaching concept erected by Christianity to collapse. And after this total demolition, only the nihilistic epoch remained, in which the “last people” were impassively satisfied in their “existence as it is, without meaning and purpose” float.

Against them, he concludes in “Thus Spoke Zarathustra”, the superhuman enters history. He popularly said, “Human existence is uncanny and still without meaning”. He wanted to teach people the meaning of their being. It was the superhuman, lightning out of the dark cloud man. What or who he is now is particularly ambivalent in Nietzsche’s late writings and notes. In his enriching re-enactment of the development of Nietzsche’s thinking, Rüdiger Safranski explains how the “free spirit” was not free from conclusions that later than were socio-Darwinian and eugenically apostrophic. 

The description of the superman was more central and detailed than a purely creative force that no longer needs recourse to higher authorities.

“Everything goes everything comes back; the wheel of being rolls forever. Everything dies; everything blooms again, the year of being runs forever”,

This is how Nietzsche describes the “Eternal Return” in the age of nihilism. An empty space insofar as there is no more promises beyond it that prevent man from realizing himself or creating himself. In this room, man is in his own realization. Power comes from ‘doing’, says Nietzsche, and the superman is the only one who is self-sufficient, and is the only one who can power himself – if he wants to. Wanting to be liberated: that is the true teaching of will and freedom.

4. The Death of God

Nietzsche has not written any systematic treatises on philosophy and has not left a completed teaching concept. His means were aphorism, the stringing together of individual central thoughts. “Thus spoke Zarathustra”, it is one of his central, yet certainly most powerful works bristling with one-liners, which are spreading further in the Twitter world today as tattoos, on T-shirts or as memes. 

“You still have to have chaos to give birth to a dancing star.” Or, “Better to be a fool on your own than a wise man at your own discretion!” Or: “All lust wants eternity!”

Wonderful, strong sentences that can be fully agreed without knowing their respective contexts.

The sentence appears in The Gay Science, in the aphorism. He does not only announce to a man about the death of God but also immediately calls his murderers, we all. The proclamation is described as a major event as an apocalyptic scenario.

Where are we going? Away from all suns? Aren’t we falling all the time? And backward, sideways, forwards, on all sides? Are there still a top and a bottom?

But you immediately agree that with death or the abolition, God has room for something new: not for a new deity, but for the self-empowerment of man. “The size of this deed is not too big for us? Don’t we have to become gods ourselves just to be worthy of them?  

What does the “great person” calls out here is not an atheistic confession; rather it is a change of the guard. Though the moral buildings of the churches have fallen, it is still uncertain what has taken their place. Is it scientism, belief in progress, or indifference to life? 

A few years later he published “We Fearless”, which he understood as an addendum to “The Gay Science”. He also clarified his attitude towards the belief in the Christian God had become “unbelievable”. He writes under the meaningful heading “What is it about our cheerfulness”, and as a result, this belief must collapse. Thereupon, the moral guiding principles of European civilization based on this very collapse belief. This was to go on, but the euphoria was noticeable to Nietzsche. Indeed, philosophers and free spirits feel as if the news that the old God is dead and is illuminated by a new dawn. Human hearts are overflowing with gratitude, astonishment, suspicion, expectation yet; at last, the horizon seems free again.

5. Nietzsche and the Nazis

In 1934, on the occasion of the 90th birthday of Friedrich Nietzsche, the “Völkischer Beobachter” which is the central organ of the NSDAP, stated, Nietzsche was the “pioneer of the Third Reich” and “founder of a new ethic”. And it was founded by the Revaluation of all values ​​made a “first breach in the walls of outdated worldviews”.

Is Nietzsche, a philosophical stirrup holder for the dictatorship of the National Socialists? Apparently, because after the Nazis seized power, Minister of Propaganda Goebbels announced that the NSDAP’s move to power “. Thus rightly bears the name of the German revolution, because it is indeed a revaluation of all values.

In a sense, it is the overthrow of an intellectual world which is a ‘Revaluation of all values’ and this is the term that Nietzsche coined himself. However, not in the sense of a political revolution, but as a diagnosis of the decline in the concept of truth which can be understood by his quote “Nothing is true, everything is allowed”. This very concept was closely linked to the philosophical-metaphysical tradition and ultimately to Christian morality. 

Nietzsche considered in his “Genealogy of Morals” that the history of human values ​​is a constant succession of reversals followed by the morality of antiquity characterized by physical physicality. And he put it as it was a direct reaction of the underprivileged, the social ethics of Judaism and Christianity born out of the victim role.

The modern era finally brought about the overthrow of Christian morality through nihilism. As Nietzsche concluded, values are created and legitimize rule, and whoever reverses them reverses the rule. It was not the only Nazi captured by the Nazis. Above all, the figure of the superman was reinterpreted as an affirmation of Nietzsche’s leadership cult where the will to power was taken as a legitimating of the rule.

Despite the suppression, it was mentioned by Nietzsche’s critics during the Nazi era that Nietzsche’s rejection of the concept of truth is difficult to reconcile with the rigid ideological buildings of the Nazis. He opposed nationalism, which he described as “poor evaporation of people who have nothing but their flock characteristics to be proud of” and the “anti-Semitic screams” of his time. He clearly recognized the lower motives of anti-Semitism. The anti-Semites do not forgive the Jews because the Jews have spirit and money. 

He came away badly, it should come as no surprise that Judaism as a religion from which his arch-opponent, Christianity, ultimately emerged. Sin is a Jewish invention, and in view of this background of all Christian morality, Christianity was indeed aims to ‘Jewish up’ the whole world. ” He did not forgive them and expressed that there were no Christians without Jews.

6. Nietzsche in the Engadine

Ten years after taking up office, Nietzsche gave up his chair in Basel. Severe migraines, repeated stomach pains, and increasing myopia were leading him to blindness. The health condition almost made regular teaching impossible for him. 

Eventually, he hoped to relax from the heights, the good air in the Upper Engadine, where he felt “by far the most comfortable on earth”. “It can’t be quiet and high and lonely enough around me,” this is what he wrote from Sils Maria on Lake Silvaplana where he appeared regularly since 1881. As if he seemed to bring his mythical Zarathustra into reality, he became a hermit who had been drawn away from people into loneliness for years to see the arrival of superman.

Nietzsche turned away from people at almost 2000 meters, too from the local farmers. And there were no other tourists yet, and listened to himself and thought. “Oh, what is hidden in me and wants to in a form and words!”

Nietzsche spent seven summers in a small house of the family of the mayor in Sils Maria and wrote parts of Also sprach Zarathustra in his chamber. The language of this masterpiece was influenced by the tremendous natural spectacle of the region. The house is still standing and is now a museum that not only documents Nietzsche’s life and work but also wants to preserve his intellectual works. It can and should be used as a place for a study. Thus preserve the function that it already had for Nietzsche as a “breeding ground”.

7. Nietzsche’s Mental Condition and Falsification of his Works

During his stay in Turin, on January 3, 1889, Nietzsche observed a coachman walking through the streets, who hit his horse with a whip. Thereupon Nietzsche hurried towards the horse with loud lamentations to embrace it on the open road. 

It was a strangely touching episode which it is not clear whether it ever took place as it is. If it was invented, it could still have the illustrative teaching power that is peculiar to the myth. Because back then, just in this phase, after many years of failure the first wave of Nietzsche’s reception made its way. Nietzsche’s mental breakdown began which was supposed to slowly but completely remove him from the thinker in the lonely heights by his fellow human beings.

The so-called “delusions” preceded the Turin episode from December 1888 to January 1889. Nietzsche sent several confusing letters to selected friends, in which allusions to historical events and references to his biography were mixed. And Nietzsche signed “The Antichrist”, “Dionysos” or“The Crucified One”. The last of these letters went to the Basel historian Jacob Burckhardt, whom he knew. Eventually, he sent a letter to another friend from Basel, the theology professor Franz Overbeck. He then visited him with the head of the Basel psychiatry in Turin. The visit must have been a staggering sight for Nietzsche. Overbeck described,

“… looking horribly dilapidated, he recognized me and rushed towards me, hugged violently, and bursts into tears of tears,”

Nietzsche’s mother brought him back to Germany and cared for him until her death. She experienced his health, which was probably caused by genetic schizophrenia and the consequences of a syphilis disease from his studies. The entire lifestyle deteriorated steadily and eventually resulted in progressive paralysis.

When his sister Elisabeth Förster took over his care of the now paralyzed philosopher was a stroke-stricken and dementia patient three years before Nietzsche’s death. She eventually built a center around him with what was left of the philosopher, in her domicile in Weimar of the local intellectual life. The morbid climax of which was a look at the frozen, almost lifeless body of the philosopher. In the late 19th century, Nietzsche’s works had slowly become the subject of great admiration for the culture-pessimistic atmosphere of the fin de siècle.

Nietzsche’s sister tried to take advantage of this to her own splendor with the intention of controlling the interpretation of his works. She also included arbitrarily compiled estate documents and fake correspondence. In a high altitude, the imposition of a political coloring of Nietzsche’s philosophy by his sister was increasingly adapted to the nationalist-ethnic mood. 

To contradict them, Nietzsche’s friends in Basel, especially Franz Overbeck, founded a “Basel tradition” and started archiving and interpreting Nietzsche’s work during his lifetime. The second-largest collection of Nietzsche documents which includes letters and manuscripts has been preserved at the University Library in Basel. The Nietzsche Archive in Basel and the ensuing tradition of interpretation have saved Nietzsche from the falsification founded by his sister, precisely at the place where his wild thinking began.

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