The Life & Philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche
Born: 1844. Rocken, Germany
Died: 1900. Weimar, Germany
Major Works: The Gay Science (1882),
Thus Spoke Zarathustra (1883-1885),
Beyond Good & Evil (1886),
On the Genealogy of Morals (1887),
Self deception is a particularly destructive characteristic of
Life is The Will To Power; our natural desire is to dominate and
reshape the world to fit our own preferences and assert our personal
strength to the fullest degree possible.
Struggle, through which individuals achieve a degree of power
commensurate with their abilities, is the basic fact of human existence.
Ideals of human equality perpetuate mediocrity -- a truth that has
been distorted and concealed by modern value systems.
Christian morality, which identifies goodness with meekness and
servility is the prime culprit in creating a cultural climate that thwarts
the drive for excellence and self realization
God is dead; a new era of human creativity and achievement is at
hand. -- Great Thinkers In The Western World. By: Ian P. McGreal, 1992
Much information is available on Mr. Friedrich Nietzsche, including many
books that he wrote himself, during his philosophical career. I took this
as a good sign I would find a fountain of enlightened material produced by
the man. I've had to go through a bit of my own philosophical meditations
to put my own value judgements aside, and truly look for the contributions
Nietzsche gave to philosophy. Much of my understanding came only after I
had a grasp of Neitzsche's history; therefore, I encourage you to read-up
on his history before diving into his philosophy (see Appendix I). The
modern Westerner might disagree with every aspect of his philosophy, but
there are many things one must unfortunately admit are true (only if you
put your morality aside). So, from here, I will present his contributions
to philosophy, and do my best to delete my own opinions, other than to say
that he was not the chosen topic of this paper out of any admiration.
THE PHILOSOPHY OF FRIEDRICH NIETZSCHE
Sometimes philosophy is called "timeless," implying that it's
lessons are of value to any generation. This may be hard to see in
Nietzsche's work; but, we are assured that it was appropriate thought for
his time. However, even Nietzsche's critics admit that his words hold an
undeniable truth, as hard as it is to accept. Perhaps this is why his
work is timeless, and has survived 150 years in print.
Christianity "God is Dead!" announced Zarathustra (better known
as Zoroaster), in Neitzsche's proudest book, Thus Spoke Zarathustra
(1883-1885). Unlike many philosophers, Nietzsche never tried to prove or
disprove the existence of God, just that belief in God can create
sickness; and to convince that highest achievements in human life depend
on elimination of God. Whether God existed had no relevance in his goal.
Proclamation of the death of God was a fundamental ingredient in the
revaluation of values Nietzsche advocated.
"Nothing has done more than Christianity to entrench the morality of mediocrity in
"Christian love extols qualities of weakness; it causes guilt. Charity is just teaching
hatred and revenge directed toward nobility."
"Belief in God is a tool to bring submission to the individual of noble character."
-- F. Nietzsche, Thus Spoke Zarathustra.
Hero Morality Nietzsche had an ideal world in mind, with an ideal
government and an ideal God: the "Overman" or
"Superman." These Gods were a product of natural selection, or
social Darwinism. He felt, very strongly, that any kind of moral
limitations upon man would only stand in the way of The Overman.
"The Will To Power," his strongest teaching, meant that The
Overman should and would do anything possible to gain power, control and
strength. If one showed the smallest bit of weakness or morality, he
would be killed by the stronger Overman, and taken over. Thus, the
advancement of The Master Race (Nietzsche's "Master Race" will
be discussed later).
"Not mankind, but superman is the goal. The very last thing a sensible man would
undertake would be to improve mankind: mankind does not improve, it doesn't even exist -
- it is an abstraction."
"... his superman as the individual rising precariously out of the mire of mass
mediocrity, and owing his existence more to deliberate breeding and careful nurture than to
the hazards of natural selection."
Master Race Nietzsche is often referred to as a pre-Nazi thinker, by his
idealism of The Master Race. He was, in fact, a prime influence on the
writing of Hitler's highest men, and quoted in Hitler's speeches. But,
his writings were mostly taken out of context, because he was very open
about his distaste for "those anti-semites." If one is able to
come from a more intelligent place, regarding the breeding of best-fit
humans, Nietzsche was far beyond Hitler. Nietzsche understood the
necessity for variation in a population, and especially was able to
appreciate the contributions of other races and cultures. His ideal
society would be a race that included select bits from many
races/cultures. The only culture that he seemed to have a special
appreciation for were the Polish. He wrote, "The Poles, I consider
the most gifted and gallant among Slavic people..." Still, he wrote
about his value for the Jews, as response to the growing anti-semite
culture in Germany during his time:
"The whole problem of the Jews exists only in nation states,
for here their energy and higher intelligence, their accumulated capital
of spirit and will, gathered from generation to generation though a long
schooling in suffering, must become so preponderant as to arouse mass envy
and hatred. In almost all contemporary nations, therefore -- in direct
proportion to the degree which they act up nationalistically -- the
literary obscenity of leading the Jews to slaughter as scapegoats of every
conceivable public and internal misfortune is spreading. As soon as it is
no longer a matter of preserving nations, but of producing the strongest
possible Euro-Mixed race, the Jew is just as useful and desirable as
ingredient as any other national remnant."
War Mentality Nietzsche had an incredible infatuation with evil and
violence. He did so much to find evil and cruelty in the world, that he
seemed to have a sadistic pleasure in celebrating it; "man is the
cruelest animal," he states in Thus Spoke Zarathustra. In his book,
Beyond Good and Evil, he really aims at changing the reader's opinion as
to what is good and what is evil, but professes, except at moments, to be
raising what is "evil" and decrying what is "good."
It is necessary for higher men to make war upon the masses, and resist the
democratic tendencies of the age, for in all directions mediocre people
are joining hands to make themselves masters. "Everything that
pampers, that softens, and that brings the 'people' or 'woman' to the
front, operates in favor of universal suffrage -- that is to say, the
dominion of 'inferior' men."
Women & The Family This brings us to Nietzsche's view of women. At
this point, I believe it's important to note Nietzsche's experience with
women, because his writings about them seemed to begin closely after being
rejected by the only woman he admitted to love. She rejected him as he
asked her hand in marriage.
"Men shall be trained for war and woman for the recreation of
the warrior. All else is folly."
"The patriotic member of a militant society will look upon
bravery and strength as the highest virtues of a man; upon obedience as
the highest virtue of the citizen; and upon silent submission to multiple
motherhood as the highest virtue of woman."
"Thou goest to woman? Do not forget thy whip."
From Nietzsche's experience with women, as author Betrand Russell said,
"Nine out of ten women would get the whip away from him, and he knew
it, so he kept away from women, and soothed his wounded vanity with unkind
remarks." Many of his comments toward women reflected what a lonely
and unloved person he was. In some poems he wrote after his prospective
wife left him, he wrote this lonely line: "I could sing a song, and I
will sing it, although I am alone in an empty house and must sing it to
mine own ears." So, he added appropriately to his beliefs the
"How absurd it is, after all, to let higher individuals marry
for love -- heroes with servant girls and geniuses with seamstresses!
When a man is in love he should not be permitted to make decisions
affecting his entire life. We should declare invalid the vows of lovers
and should make love a legal impediment to marriage."
The Aristocracy Nietzsche loved his aristocratic anarchism, and had such a
hate for democracy, that it consumes nearly every bit of his philosophy.
His ideal society was divided into three classes: producers (farmers,
merchants, business men), officials (soldiers and government), and rulers.
The latter would rule, but they would not officiate in government; the
actual government is a menial task. The rulers would be
philosopher-statesmen rather than office- holders. Their power will rest
on the control of credit and the army; but they would live more like the
proud-soldier than like the financier.
Nietzsche believed that some people were inherently more important than
others; their happiness or unhappiness counted for more than the happiness
of average people. He dismissed John Stuart Mill as a
"blockhead" for the presupposition that everyone was equal. He
wrote about Mill:
"I abhor the man's vulgarity when he says "what is right
for one man is right for another. Such principals wild fain establish the
whole of human traffic upon mutual services, so every action would appear
to be a cash payment for something done to us. The hypothesis here is
ignoble to the last degree; it is taken for granted that there is some
sort of equivalence in value between my actions and thine."
Nietzsche, as I said before, hated democracy, but he recognized
Christianity as a greater risk. Perhaps this was because people are
always more loyal to their god, than their government. He felt that
democracy began with Christianity: "...holy epileptics like saint
Paul, who had no honesty. The new testament is the gospel of a completely
ignoble species of man. Christianity is the most fatal and seductive lie
that ever existed." So, before stripping people of their choice and
equality, their God had to be taken first, then the government.
"Consequently, the road to the superman must lie through
aristocracy. Democracy - - this manner for counting noses -- must be
eradicated before it is too late. The first step here is the destruction
of Christianity so far as all higher men are concerned."
Conclusion As Will Durant stated Nietzsche's faults so eloquently,
"we can see him suffering at every line, and we must love him even
where we question him," I couldn't agree more. I always ask the
supremacist the question, "why do you support a supremacist
government that would probably reject you into it's lower class?" I
have no doubt, that if Nietzsche lived in his ideal society, he would have
no honor, as he misses every requirement, being a sickly man who was
rejected from the army, and lacking the strength to compete with his own