Friedrich Nietzsche is one of the most influential philosophers, who has a vast impact on art and culture. This primer explores the life and philosophy of Nietzsche.
The “Nietzsche aphorisms book” is a primer on the philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche. The book was written by David L. Swenson and published in 1966. Read more in detail here: nietzsche aphorisms book.
Friedrich Nietzsche contributed a number of concepts into Western philosophy that have had a significant impact on culture in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Nietzsche’s writings influenced existentialism, postmodernism, and poststructuralism.
His influence may be observed not just in scholarly theories, but also in the way many contemporary Westerners conduct their lives. Nietzsche helped form and put in motion cultural currents such as the love of struggle, the desire for autonomy and personal greatness, and the clarion call to pursue your passion and make your life a work of art. To really comprehend contemporary life in all of its wonder and strangeness, one must first comprehend Nietzsche.
I’ve highlighted a few of Nietzsche’s most important and fascinating concepts below; even if you disagree with them, they’re great food for thinking about how you live and exist in the world. Do you “say yes to life,” as Nietzsche advises? Or do you dismiss its abilities and prospects and go about your business as usual?
Keep in mind that this isn’t a comprehensive examination of Nietzsche’s work; rather, it’s intended to serve as a starting point for individuals interested in learning more about his philosophy. As a result, I attempted to simplify and compress the explanations to the greatest extent feasible. You’ll need to read the several books published by and on Nietzsche to get a more comprehensive and in-depth study; I’ll recommend a few of the finest at the end.
Dionysus and Apollo
The Birth of Tragedy, Nietzsche’s first published book, depicts two opposing viewpoints symbolized by the ancient Greeks: the Apollonian and the Dionysian. These two ethoses, according to Nietzsche, spawned one of the world’s most renowned art forms: the Athenian tragedy.
Apollo was the sun deity who offered the world light and reasoning clarity. Those who see the world through an Apollonian lens, according to Nietzsche, regard it as ordered, logical, and constrained by distinct bounds. The Apollonian sees humans as distinctive and distinct individuals, rather than an undifferentiated aggregate. Because they had distinct forms and defined lines, sculpture and poetry were the arts most represented by the Apollonian ethos.
Dionysus was a Greek deity who was associated with wine, revelry, ceremonial lunacy, and festival. The world seems chaotic, passionate, and devoid of bounds when seen through the Dionysian prism. The Dionysian sees mankind as a cohesive, passionate, amorphous totality into which the ego is absorbed, rather than as a collection of atomized individuals. The Dionysian mentality was best portrayed through music and dance, which had free-flowing forms.
The pre-Socratic Greek dramas, according to Nietzsche, brilliantly blended these two perspectives. Sophocles and Aeschylus’ works challenged the audience to confront one of life’s most difficult questions: “How can human existence be meaningful if human beings are subjected to unjust pain and death?” The Apollonian responds to this question by claiming that pain brings about change – chaos may be transformed into beauty and order. Dynamism and disorder, on the other hand, are not always negative things, according to the Dionysian. Being a part of life’s chaotic flow and gleefully riding its waves was a beautiful and worthwhile quest in and of itself; any misery that came with it was merely the cost of admission.
After Socrates, tragedies started to stress the Apollonian ethos at the cost of the Dionysian, according to Nietzsche. Rather than considering tragedy as a natural outcome of living in a world of turmoil and passion, post-Socratic dramatists understood it as the product of a “tragic fault” in a person’s nature. This more “rationalized” understanding of tragedy, Nietzsche argued, took away part of life’s mystery and romance.
While this notion may seem to be limited to a single period, location, and art genre, it has much broader ramifications. Because they’re intertwined throughout the remainder of Nietzsche’s writing, it’s crucial to have a fundamental comprehension of the two notions. The Dionysian worldview, according to Nietzsche, was the more life-affirming and vitality-spurring attitude to existence, hence he emphasized it above the Apollonian.
Nietzsche drew on additional Ancient Greek notions to influence his worldview, in addition to the Dionysian and Apollonian archetypes. He admired the pre-Socratic Greeks and their Homeric warrior ethos in particular. Nietzsche promoted the values of strength, bravery, boldness, and pride throughout his life.
Nietzsche famously said, “There are no facts, just interpretations.” He is often accused of being a relativist as a result of this, but a deeper examination of his work reveals that this is not the case. Nietzsche doesn’t rule out the possibility that there is an enormous T Truth out there, but we’d never be able to verify it since our observations are skewed and “conceived within a language, within a society, within a viewpoint, within the restrictions and expectations of a theory.”
Instead of relativism, Nietzsche pushes for a concept known as “perspectivism.” In a nutshell, perspectivism states that every claim, opinion, concept, or philosophy is based on a particular viewpoint, and that it is impossible for humans to separate themselves from these viewpoints in order to discern the objective Truth. This may seem similar to relativism, but according to Nietzsche, they are not the same. Perspectivism, unlike pure relativism, which claims that all viewpoints are equally legitimate since they are important to each individual, does not assert that all perspectives are equal in value; some are, in fact, superior to others. According to Nietzsche, the philosopher’s mission is to absorb, adopt, and test as many various views as possible in order to have a deeper understanding of the Truth. This technique may even need looking at the world from seemingly contradictory viewpoints. While Nietzsche does not believe that adopting multiple points of view would finally disclose the Big T Truth (remember, it can never be completely revealed due to our biases), he does believe that it will bring you quite near.
I was impressed by how similar Nietzsche’s perspectivism seemed to John Boyd’s OODA Loop when I read about it. The OODA Loop, as you may recall, is a strategy for making strategic choices in the face of resistance — at least, that’s how it’s often seen in today’s corporate and military society. The OODA Loop, on the other hand, is more than a decision-making cycle for military tacticians for Boyd. In an ever-shifting and unpredictable terrain, it is a meta-paradigm for intellectual development and progress. The Orient stage, in which you continually re-direct and re-frame your thinking depending on your observations of the world around you, is the most crucial step in the OODA Loop. We must continually be orienting since our environment is always changing. Building a solid toolbox of mental models and putting those mental models to the test in the actual world is an important aspect of that. According to Boyd, the more mental models one possessed (even conflicting ones!) the more chance they had of understanding the world and making effective judgments. Perspectivism reminds me a lot of Nietzsche.
Morality of the Master-Slave Relationship
Nietzsche’s criticisms and deconstructions of contemporary morality and religion are among his most recognized works. Nietzsche elaborates on this criticism in Beyond Good and Evil and On the Genealogy of Morals. The dichotomy of “master morality” and “slave morality” is a key part of Nietzsche’s critique. While Nietzsche portrays the evolution of master-slave morality as a historical and anthropological fact, it’s best to think of it as Nietzsche’s big picture psychological explanation for why we (as in all of mankind) have the morality we have.
Morality, according to Nietzsche, originated as “master morality.” He considers the Homeric Greeks’ aristocratic warrior ideals, as well as those of other pre-Christian civilizations, to be the source of real goodness. They saw the universe in terms of “noble” and “ignoble,” rather than “good” and “bad.” Noblesse oblige means effectively expressing one’s will on the world and achieving one’s goals via power, bravery, and perfection. To be noble, you had to be the finest at everything you did. This worldview demanded a hierarchical perspective of mankind, in which some individuals were better and nobler than others. Furthermore, under this idea of nobility, there was no place for humility. “Egoism is the fundamental core of a great spirit,” Nietzsche said. If you accomplished great things, you accepted responsibility for them and basked in the adoration of your peers. The nobles, or masters, were the ones who made moral decisions.
The ignoble, or “slaves,” as Nietzsche referred to them, were the antithesis of the noble. They were frail, fearful, and pitiful. Because they lacked the attributes of perfection and the power to force their will on the world, the ignoble were unable to get what they desired. In reality, the ignoble shied away from expressing their demands and wishes for fear of upsetting the nobles. They got along for the sake of getting along. The slaves were despised by the nobles; at best, they were pitied, and at worst, they were despised.
Nietzsche refers to living a rule based on the noble/ignoble dichotomy as “master morality.” However, according to the philosopher, master morality simply produced hatred among slaves and the lower classes. And it was out of this animosity that “slave morality” arose. According to Nietzsche, slave morality was a kind of “spiritual retribution” against the ruling class, which tried to reverse master morality. Beginning with the Ancient Hebrews and continuing through Christianity, the ignoble or lower classes started to assert that the master class’s ideals were not only repugnant to God, but that being weak, meek, and obedient was actually more just and wonderful. Rather of dividing the world into noble and ignoble, slave morality separated it into good and evil. The noble man was seen as the bad man, while the ignoble man was viewed as the virtuous man, according to slave morality. Slave morality was a method for Nietzsche to not only protect but also elevate the weak.
Furthermore, unlike master morality, which was established by the noble individual’s own self-assertion and hence was unique to him, slave morality was external and applicable to everyone. Consider the Torah’s Ten Commandments.
While Nietzsche appreciates master morality and despises slave morality, he did regard slave morality as fulfilling a psychological function in that it provided a feeling of self-esteem to people without authority. Slave morality, despite its dignity-bestowing virtues, always places its believers in a subordinate, dependent position, according to Nietzsche. Without thinking of someone else as wicked, the slave will never have a feeling of self-worth; it is reactive rather than proactive.
It is conceivable, according to Nietzsche, for a person to be governed by both master and slave morality. Take, for example, the Pope. The Pope held genuine political and military authority at one point in history. He ruled kingdoms and commanded armies. In certain ways, he may be governed by master morality. As a Christian, though, he upheld a code of conduct that stressed humility and temperance. So there was a battle inside a single individual between the two sorts of morality.
This mental fight is not limited to popes; according to Nietzsche, we all face it. The urge to abide by a code of master morality collides with the pull of slave morality, resulting in what we term a terrible or guilty conscience. We want to be wealthy and powerful, but we feel bad about it because we’ve been taught that greed and power are immoral desires. When we feel guilty about our accomplishments or belittle them with self-deprecating justifications like “Oh, it was just chance,” we are engaging in a war between master and slave morals inside ourselves. Slave morality becomes a kind of self-hatred for Nietzsche.
According to Nietzsche, slave morality surpassed master morality over time, and today’s morality is nearly completely made up of the former’s principles. Slave morality encourages us to criticise and find fault in others rather than pursuing personal greatness so that we can say, “Well, at least I’m not as bad/evil/sinful as that man.” It pushes us to cast our opponents in the most negative light possible in order to justify going after them; the noble enemy has no place in the realm of slave morality. Slave morality is also seen in society’s overabundance of humility; simply mentioning one’s achievements is considered boasting. Anyone who pretends to be superior than us makes us squirm. Overall, Nietzsche believed that following the slave morality code was a weak and pitiful way to live.
So, since slave morality is so horrible, what does Nietzsche propose as a replacement? He doesn’t push us to return to master morality because he believes we’ve passed the point of no return and that doing so would be psychologically impossible. Instead, Nietzsche says that we must advance “beyond good and evil,” to a morality that is proactive rather than reactive, and centered on human perfection. Aristotelian virtue ethics, according to Nietzsche scholar Robert Solomon, would be an excellent fit for this new (old) morality.
Listen to Nietzsche’s life and work on our podcast:
God is no longer alive.
The thought that “God is dead” is the most (in)famous of all the bold declarations Nietzsche made throughout his life. Some have misinterpreted Nietzsche’s words as a celebration of Deity’s death. A deeper examination, however, shows a different tale. Nietzsche was merely putting into words what has been going on in the West from the dawn of modernity. He wasn’t exulting; he was describing. Most contemporary Westerners, including those who professed to be devout Christians, lived their lives and regarded the world through the Enlightenment-born lens of scientific materialism, rather than putting their trust in God and basing their worldview on a divine, universal rule.
Rather of seeing the death of God as something to rejoice about, Nietzsche regarded it as sad and terrible. Read the following paragraph from The Gay Science, in which Nietzsche has a lunatic proclaim that God is dead, to get a feel of the farce Nietzsche felt had occurred in replacing God with science:
“Whither is God?” he wailed, and he promised to tell him. You and I were the ones who murdered him. We are all his assassins. But how did we manage it? How could we possibly consume the sea? Who gave us the sponge to wash the horizon clean? What were we doing when we freed the earth from its orbit around the sun? What direction is it heading now? Where are we heading? Away from the sun’s rays? Isn’t it true that we’re always falling? In all directions, backwards, sideways, and forwards? Is there still any upward or downward movement? … How will we, the killers of all murderers, console ourselves? Who will wipe this blood off us? What was once the holiest and mightiest of all the world’s possessions has bled to death beneath our knives: who will wipe this blood off us? What water do we have to clean ourselves with? What atonement festivals and holy games will we have to invent?
The death of God, according to Nietzsche, would lead to a rejection of trust in a universal moral code, which will lead to existential nihilism – a philosophy he despised. While Nietzsche was critical of “slave morality,” as we’ve seen, he believed it was healthy for the psyche and that religion played a vital role in giving the universe meaning – a center of gravity. “There will be conflicts the likes of which have never been seen on earth before,” Nietzsche warned once a universal foundation of morality disintegrated — a prediction that came true not long after he died in 1900.
Nietzsche’s proclamation of God’s death is frequently forgotten since he also points out that no one seemed to notice the Almighty’s departure. And why is it the case? First, even as Westerners increasingly placed their reliance in science and reason, they maintained their religious traditions and professed a believe in God. It’s not as if, like today’s New Atheists, individuals deliberately attempted to prove God’s nonexistence during the time. They just began to disregard Him, even if they were unaware of it.
Second, Nietzsche claims that modern Westerners failed to notice God’s death because they continued to practice faith, albeit one based on science and reason rather than the divine; if people were honest with themselves, they would admit that they planned their days, made decisions, and chose careers based on economic, sociological, and technological factors rather than scripture and prayer. While Nietzsche was an agnostic and a supporter of science, he considered that science’s new religion was no better than God’s old faith. It was really worse, since it left no opportunity for a passionate, Dionysian spirituality that gave life purpose and vigor. Furthermore, reductivist theories of scientific materialism fostered a void and nihilistic worldview.
Those who affirm life vs. those who deny it
Joy, according to Nietzsche, needed a man to enjoy this earthly existence right now, with all of its ups and downs. “My formula for greatness in a human being is amor fati [literally, “love of destiny,” the acceptance of one’s fate]: that one wishes nothing to be different, not forward, not backward, not in all eternity,” Nietzsche contended. Not only endure, much less hide, what is essential… but adore it.”
Life, with all of its joys and sufferings, is what gives human existence purpose for Nietzsche. We should not only accept, but also appreciate and cherish our problems since they allow us to put ourselves to the test. The same is true of our adversaries. Not because of piety, but because they challenge and push us, we should appreciate and love our opponents. “Say yes to life,” Nietzsche urges us. Rather of running away from it, face it full on. His concept of “everlasting recurrence” (see below) emphasizes this point.
Life-denying ideologies are those that try to minimize or even eradicate both the negative and positive aspects of life. The most dangerous form of life-denying ideas, according to Nietzsche, are those that induce people to hope for a “pie in the sky” future that would relieve them from all anguish and grief. Life-denying beliefs urge people to detest this life and look forward to another, rather than viewing mortality’s hardships as something to strive with and conquer in order to become stronger.
This kind of life-denying mentality, according to Nietzsche, was supported by Christianity and even scientific materialism. “From the beginning, Christianity was basically and profoundly life’s revulsion and disgust with existence, just buried behind, covered by, dressed up as trust in ‘another’ or ‘better’ life,” Nietzsche said. Hatred of ‘the world,’ condemnations of the appetites, dread of beauty and pleasure, and a beyond fabricated to defame this life.”
Nietzsche regarded scientific materialism as fomenting a similar unhappiness with life by promising a better future just over the horizon, rather than paradise. Those who trust in science think that we will be able to surpass our physical constraints and be free of all pain via reason and ingenuity.
Both of these viewpoints, according to Nietzsche, divert a person’s attention away from the present and toward the distant future. Nietzsche thought that life had to be lived right now.
Nietzsche also chastised asceticism as a kind of life-denying ideology. Nietzsche, a devotee of Dionysus, argued that asceticism undervalued human desires by urging people to mortify and reject life’s fundamental forces. He believed that asceticism prohibited individuals from fully appreciating all that life has to offer. Nietzsche’s criticism of this ideology as “life-depriving” isn’t limited to religious disciplines such as fasting, celibacy, or severe meditation. He also said that the zealous pursuit of scientific knowledge was a type of asceticism in that it caused a person to dodge existence – it’s difficult to feel the depth of mortality when you’re cooped up in a lab or buried in a book. Another sort of life-denying ascetics, according to Nietzsche, is type-A workaholics who never have time to appreciate the pleasures of their effort.
Eternal Recurrence is a concept that has been around for a long time.
The notion of “eternal recurrence” or “eternal return,” if you can call it that, underpins Nietzsche’s life-affirming philosophy. The concept is that time repeats itself with the same occurrences over and over again. It’s hardly a novel concept. The Persians, the Vedics of India, and the Ancient Greeks were among the nations who believed in perpetual recurrence. Nietzsche just enlarged on the concept and applied it to contemporary man as an existential test.
Near the conclusion of The Gay Science, Nietzsche perfectly conveys his concept of endless recurrence:
What if a demon followed you into your deepest loneliness one day or night and said to you, “This life as you now live it and have lived it, you will have to live it once more and innumerable times more; and there will be nothing new in it, but every pain and every joy, every thought and sigh, and everything unutterably small or great in your life will have to return to you, all in the same succession and sequence — even this spider and this moonlight between you and me The everlasting hourglass of life, and you, particle of dust, are repeatedly flipped upside down!” Would you not scream, gnash your teeth, and curse the monster that talked in this manner? Or have you ever had a profound experience when you would have said to him, “You are a god, and I have never heard anything more divine”?
If you let this concept take control of you, it will either alter you or demolish you. “Do you wish this once again and infinite times more?” would be the most pressing question in everything. Or, alternatively, how favorably inclined to oneself and life would you have to be to seek nothing more fiercely than this final affirmation and seal?
Do you truly adore life? Eternal recurrence is a thought experiment that acts as an existential gut check.
People often claim they love their lives, but what they really mean is that they enjoy all of the positive things that happen to them. Love of life, according to Nietzsche, entails embracing everything about it, even its pains and tragedies. That’s a difficult thing to accept for many people. If the prospect of experiencing your life again and over fills you with dread, then you don’t really appreciate life, according to Nietzsche.
So, how does one learn to appreciate life? Nietzsche explains his idea of amor fati, or destiny love. Love and accept all that life throws to you, good and bad. Rather of resenting life’s challenges, look at them as chances to put yourself to the test and progress.
Nietzsche doubted the human ability for personal growth (he was a determinist; you were born the way you were, and you pretty much remained that way), but he does imply that we may take steps to create the type of life we’d happily repeat indefinitely.
Do you become anxious and regretful when you think about reliving your life? You should modify your route, according to Nietzsche: Ask that lady out; write that book; acquire that new skill you’ve always wanted to learn; reconcile with an alienated buddy; go on a long-awaited journey At the same time, don’t be discouraged by life’s difficulties and uncertainties; instead, ride them like a wave that will carry you to a new, higher level.
The Existential thinkers of the twentieth century would be profoundly influenced by eternal recurrence. It’s particularly evident in Albert Camus’ essay “The Myth of Sisyphus.” “So live as if you were already living for the second time, and as if you had done the first time as foolishly as you are going to act again!” Existential psychologist Viktor Frankl said in his book Man’s Search for Meaning, echoing the notion of endless repetition. To put it another way, spend your life without regrets!
To be clear, Nietzsche didn’t think we’d be able to live our lives again and over again. He did have some notes in which he attempted to construct a scientific evidence of everlasting recurrence, but it was faulty to the point of being unpublishable. Nonetheless, whether everlasting recurrence is a real reality is irrelevant to Nietzsche; what important is the driving impact that comes from contemplating the concept.
Willingness to Rule
As a counter to Schopenhauer’s “will to life” philosophy, Nietzsche invented the expression “will to power” in his early aphoristic writings. All living organisms, according to Schopenhauer, have a self-preservation motive and will go to any length to ensure their survival. This worldview, according to Nietzsche, was unduly negative and reactive. He thought that existence was about more than just escaping death, and that living creatures are driven by a desire for power.
But what does power imply to Nietzsche? It’s difficult to say. Throughout his published works, Nietzsche used the expression “will to power,” but he never clarified what he meant by it. He just drops clues now and again. Many people have viewed it as a desire to exert power over others. While this might be the case, a closer examination of the original German phrase (Der Wille zur Macht) reveals that Nietzsche was probably thinking about something deeper and more spiritual.
Macht translates to “power,” but it refers to personal strength, discipline, and aggressiveness. Many historians argue that Nietzsche’s definition of the will to power is a psychological need to establish oneself in the world – to be successful, make a mark, become something greater than you are today, and express oneself. Self-mastery and the development of personal strength through difficulty and challenge are required to exercise one’s will to power.
This idea of will to power, according to Nietzsche, is much more proactive and even noble than Schopenhauer’s desire to life. Humans are compelled not only to live, but also to dare great things, according to Nietzsche.
The Last Man vs. The Übermensch
Nietzsche established two prototypes of mankind in Thus Spoke Zarathustra: the Übermensch and the Last Man.
The Übermensch, or Overman/Superman, is a Nietzschean idea that is sometimes misinterpreted. Some have understood it as a biological, evolutionary aim — that mankind will be able to become a race of Supermen via our mastery of technology and nature.
But it was not Nietzsche’s intention. He believes that no one can really become an Übermensch. The Übermensch, on the other hand, is more of a spiritual aim or way of life. The Übermensch’s path is marked by vigor, energy, risk-taking, and conflict. The Übermensch signifies the desire to strive and live for something greater than oneself while being faithful to and anchored in earthly existence (Nietzsche’s reality has no other-worldly longings). Being producers rather than simple consumers is a difficult task. In a nutshell, the Übermensch is the embodiment of the drive to power.
Nietzsche never says what we should be working for or what we should be building outside ourselves. That is something that each guy must choose for himself. A work of art, a book, a company, a piece of legislation, or a strong family culture might all be examples. We may leave a legacy that lasts beyond our mortal existence via the act of creating. We may achieve immortality in the here and now by attempting to live like the Übermensch.
Compare and contrast the Übermensch with the Last Man. The Last Man is the polar opposite of a superhero:
Lo! I’m going to show you THE LAST MAN.
“What exactly is love?” What is the definition of creation? What is the meaning of longing? “What is a star?” you may wonder. — thus inquires the last guy, blinking. The world has shrunk in size since then, and on it dwells the last man who shrinks everything. His species, like that of the ground-flea, is unstoppable; the last man lives the longest. “We have found bliss,” the final guys declare, blinking. They have fled the difficult-to-live-in areas in search of warmth. One still loves and rubs against one’s neighbor because one needs warmth.
They consider it wicked to get unwell and untrustworthy, therefore they move cautiously. He who still trips over stones or persons is a fool! A little poison every now and again brings wonderful dreams. Finally, a lot of poison for a lovely death. Work is a hobby, thus one continues to work. However, one must be cautious should the activity cause harm. It is no longer possible to become impoverished or wealthy; both are too taxing. Who wants to be in charge any longer? Who still wants to be obeyed? Both are very taxing. There is no shepherd and just one herd! Everyone wants the same thing; everyone is equal; he who has different feelings willingly enters the insane asylum.
They enjoy their daytime and nighttime pleasures, but they pay attention to their health. “We have found bliss,” the final guys declare, blinking.
The Last Man is a tiny, safe film. He blinks and misses the vital forces of life. The Last Man is devoid in ambition, risk-taking, and energy. He avoids difficulties because they make him uncomfortable. Because invention and leadership are “burdensome,” The Last Man does not wish to produce or lead. There is no desire to live for a purpose greater than oneself. The Last Man has “found contentment” in his “small pleasures” and only wants to be left alone in order to enjoy a long, uneventful existence. The Last Man is only existing, rather than genuinely living. The Last Man, in the words of Robert Solomon, is the “ultimate couch potato.”
While Nietzsche did not believe it was feasible to become a full-fledged Übermensch, the Last Man represented a clearly achievable condition. Take a look about you, including at yourself. You’ve probably seen glimpses of the Last Man inside yourself; he serves as a warning of what you’ll become if you stop striving for things greater than yourself — if you don’t cultivate the glimpses of your superhuman potential you receive from time to time.
Become the Person You Want to Be
Nietzsche’s favorite advice to his audience is “Become who you are,” which he stole from the ancient Greek poet Pindar. But, precisely, what does this admonition imply?
Becoming who you are, according to Nietzsche, does not imply becoming who you wish to be. This can only lead to annoyance.
For instance, I’d want to play in the NFL, but I’m 32 years old, haven’t played football in 17 years, and lack natural athleticism. Professional football is not and has never been an option for me.
Rather, the command to “become who you are” compels us to face the restrictions imposed on us by nature, society, and even chance. Within these constraints, we must attempt to live to the utmost degree feasible our innate gifts and abilities. Indeed, we should welcome our restrictions because they allow us to wield more creative potential than we would if we had perfect freedom. Nietzsche’s concept of “being who you are” is analogous to a haiku in certain ways. Because of the limitations of haiku poetry, the poet must choose carefully the words to use and how to arrange his text. Contrary to popular belief, the limits really foster innovation.
As a result, “becoming who you are” necessitates a love of destiny, a joy in the cards life has dealt you — even if it’s a bad hand — and a determination to do the best you can with them. “Become who you are” is a command to use your creative ability and write your own story. This concept of self-realization might help you escape the bitterness and misery that comes with wishing for a life that doesn’t and can’t exist. Instead, we should concentrate our energy on the here and now and find delight in the trip, according to Nietzsche.
I hope you’ve gained a better knowledge of Nietzsche’s famed philosophy as a result of this two-part series. Regardless of your beliefs or background, pondering Nietzsche’s theories may help you understand how you want to live your life, as well as why so many people do in the contemporary West.
If you’re a believer, Nietzsche’s diagnosis of God’s death is a spiritual wake-up call, compelling you to question yourself, “Do I truly live my life as if there were a God?” How would my everyday conduct, how I spend my time, and my life objectives alter if I really felt that the claims of my religion are true?” He also makes you consider if you’re savoring this earthly existence in all of its splendor or aching for the next; do you perceive life as something to be savored or merely endured?
If you’re an atheist, Nietzsche pushes you to actively pursue a lively spiritual life full with purpose rather than just replacing your religion with science, which might lead to nihilism.
The problem for all contemporary men, according to Nietzsche, is to develop and live by their own life-affirming ideals — to become independent — and to find meaning in a world that has lost all significance. We frequently feel as if we are “straying as though an endless emptiness” in today’s world; Nietzsche’s advice to everyone is to battle this empty drift, to become who you are, to appreciate hardship and struggle as much as ease and comfort, and to always, always say yes to life.
Additional Reading and Resources
Robert Solomon and Kathleen Higgins’ What Nietzsche Really Said This is the greatest “Intro to Nietzsche” book I’ve ever seen. They do an excellent job of outlining Nietzsche’s major concepts as well as refuting many of the common misconceptions about him.
Friedrich Nietzsche’s Philosophy: The Will to Power. Solomon and Higgins provide audio lectures. Very easy to get to. The lectures are based on their book, What Nietzsche Really Said, thus either the book or the audio lectures are recommended.
Paul Kirkland’s Nietzsche’s Noble Aims: Affirming Life, Contesting Modernity. This is a thick and scholarly work, but if you can get through it, you’ll learn a lot about Nietzsche’s love of competition and his idealization of the “noble enemy.”
Laurence Gane introduces Nietzsche: A Graphic Guide. Nietzsche and his ideas are introduced via a graphic book. It’s a little incoherent, so if you’re unfamiliar with Nietzsche’s philosophy, you’ll probably get lost reading it.
John Armstrong’s Nietzsche Life Lessons. A little book that summarizes a handful of Nietzsche’s beliefs. The author gives specific strategies for applying each theory in your own life at the conclusion of each chapter.
Where Should You Begin Reading Nietzsche?
A few readers inquired about the sequence in which they should study Nietzsche’s writings if they were to create their own course.
Based on my personal self-study experience, I have the following recommendation:
First, read a “Intro to Nietzsche” book. I tried reading Nietzsche’s books without any basic knowledge beforehand, and it was difficult. It was difficult for me to keep up with him. When I went back to the direct sources after reading a couple of the aforementioned works, things began to connect. As a result, my advice is to start with something like What Nietzsche Really Said.
Read The Tragedy’s Beginning. Read Nietzsche’s first work, The Birth of Tragedy, once you’ve finished an introductory book. While it isn’t as thrilling as his later works, it will give you a decent idea of Nietzsche’s notion of the Apollonian and Dionysian, which runs through all of his writings.
Read in chronological sequence or read whatever piques your attention. Reading Nietzsche’s works in chronological sequence will help you to observe how his ideas grow, but it might be tedious when you reach works that don’t appeal to you for whatever reason. If you fear you’ll become bored attempting to get through Nietzsche, reading what interests you is a better option. Read Thus Spoke Zarathustra if you’re interested in the Ubermensch and The Last Man; On the Genealogy of Morals and Beyond Good and Evil if you’re interested in Nietzsche’s criticism of contemporary morality. Is there such a thing as eternal recurrence? The Science of Gays.
Anthologies should be read. Another option is to just read the scholarly edited anthologies of Nietzsche’s writings. These anthologies do not include all of Nietzsche’s writings; rather, they include those that the writers believe are essential for a reader to be exposed to. Walter Kaufman’s The Portable Nietzsche is a masterpiece. Nietzsche’s Basic Writings is also a fantastic book.
The “Nietzsche axioms” is a primer of the philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche. It includes his most important ideas and basic beliefs, as well as some of his more famous quotes. Reference: nietzsche axioms.
Frequently Asked Questions
What were the main points of Nietzsche philosophy?
A: The main points of Nietzsches philosophy are the proclamation that God does not exist and seeing human beings as natural equals.
What is philosophy according to Friedrich Nietzsche?
A: Philosophy is the discipline exploring the fundamental nature of human existence.
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