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Friedrich Nietzsche: Life and Philosophical Ideas Essay (Biography)

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Introduction

Friedrich Nietzsche was an influential modern philosopher who is remembered for his categorical disparagements of traditional European morality and religion, conservative philosophical ideas, contemporary culture, and political ideologies connected to modernity. Unlike his contemporaries, Nietzsche had a brief career. However, his writings played a significant role in influencing numerous thinkers and writers of the 20th century. His publications are significant to this day, and he is often cited as one of the most influential philosophers of the 19th century.

Biography

Nietzsche was born in a small village called Rocken, Germany on October 15, 1884 to Carl Ludwig Nietzsche and Franziska. His father, a Lutheran minister, died when he was 4 years old, after which his family relocated to Naumburg. He was raised by his mother, together with his younger sister called Elisabeth (Anderson). Nietzsche attended two schools during his childhood: a private preparatory school and Schulpforta school. He graduated in 1864 and attended the University of Bonn, later transferring to the University of Leipzig. Nietzsche named Arthur Schopenhauer as one of his major influences. He started writing while working as a professor of classical philology at the University of Basel in Switzerland. During that time, he began to desert his earlier ideologies that were based on the writings of Schopenhauer, instead of developing an interest in the development of modern civilization (Anderson). For the larger part of the 1880s, Nietzsche live in seclusion and published several literary works. For example, one of his most popular works, “Thus Spoke Zarathustra,” was published during that period (Anderson). Other works, including “Beyond Good and Evil,” “Twilight of the Idols,” and “The Genealogy of Morals” were published between 1885 and 1890 (Anderson). These works contain his core philosophical principles that include the will to power, perspectivism, the eternal recurrence of the same, and the idea of the “super-man.” The last decade of his life was spent in agony as he experienced insanity. His mother and sister took care of him at different periods, and he died on August 25, 1900 in Weimar.

Philosophical Ideas

Nietzsche is famous for several philosophical ideas. However, the three major ones are the will to power, perspectivism, and eternal recurrence. The will to power doctrine was developed to respond to an earlier philosophy by Schopenhauer called “will to live,” which stated that creatures had an internal desire for self-preservation and they would go to greater lengths to guarantee their survival (Anderson). On the contrary, Nietzsche argued that life had a greater purpose other than avoiding death. He believed that the drive for power was the major driving force in living creatures (Anderson). Though unclear what he meant by the term power, he could have been referring to personal values like strength, assertiveness, and discipline.

The eternal recurrence doctrine states that time repeats itself, meaning that situations and events recur over and over again (Anderson). This was not an original idea as the Ancient Greeks and Persians believed in an eternal recurrence. He expanded the principle and applied it to modernity. This idea is best explained in his published work titled “The Gay Science.” He challenges human beings to embrace the good and evil that they encounter and perceive them as tests that enhance their growth.

Perspectivism is a philosophical idea developed by Nietzsche, which maintains that facts are nonexistent, because everything is perspective. He did not deny the possibility of the existence of truth. However, he argued that if it existed, human beings would be unable to determine its authenticity because of the inherent propensity toward bias and the inclination to explain phenomena using languages, theories, and cultures (Anderson). He recommends the testing of different perspectives to get the bigger picture and arrive at the truth.

Place in History of Philosophy

Nietzsche is among the most influential modern philosophers that informed the philosophies of many 20th century thinkers and writers in fields like philosophy, art, and theology. Through his writings, he contributed immensely toward the works of Sigmund Freud, Albert Camus, Hermann Hesse, Jacques Derrida, Martin Heidegger, Michel Foucault, and Carl Jung (Anderson). His philosophical doctrines have been regarded as among the most significant pillars of the development of modern philosophy in the 20th century. Nietzsche’s contribution is evident from the numerous thinkers that developed their philosophies based on some of his doctrines. He is a key figure in the history of philosophy because many 20th century thinkers were influenced by his works.

Conclusion

Friedrich Nietzsche is among the most influential philosophers of the 19th century. He developed several philosophical ideas, the major ones being the will to power, perspectivism, and eternal recurrence. He is responsible for influencing many thinkers and writers of the 20th century, among them Albert Camus, Hermann Hesse, Jacques Derrida, Michel Foucault, and Carl Jung. He is an important figure in the history of philosophy because of the influence of his works on contemporary thinkers. Moreover, his opinions on morality, religion, and epistemology evoke mixed reactions and have been widely debated.

References

Anderson, Lanier. “Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, 2017. Web.

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