Essay Preview: Friedrich Nietzsche
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Friedrich Nietzsche was born near Rocken a small town in the Prussian province of Saxony, on October 15, 1844. Ironically the philosopher who rejected religion and coined the phrase “god is dead” was descended from a line of respected clergymen.
Nietzsche completed his secondary education at the exacting boarding school of Pforta. A brilliant student, he received rigorous training in Latin, Greek, and German. In 1864 the young man entered the University of Bonn to study theology and classical philology. A year later, however, he abandoned theology and transferred to the University of Leipzig to pursue a doctorate in philology. At Leipzig Nietzsche became an ardent admirer of philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer, whose work he accidentally discovered in a secondhand bookstore, and the composer Richard Wagner, whom he met in 1868 and came to regard as a second father.
In 1869, at the age of twenty-four, Nietzsche was appointed professor of classical philology at the University of Basel, where he taught for the next ten years. The publication in 1872 of his first major book, The Birth of Tragedy, brought him immediate notoriety. Dedicated to Wagner, it exploded the nineteenth century conception of Greek culture and sounded themes later developed by twentieth-century philosophers, psychoanalysts, and novelists. Nietzsches next work, four essays collectively titled Untimely Meditations (1873-76), focused on contemporary issues and criticism. Two attacked German “cultural philistinism” and challenged the value of historical knowledge, while tributes to Schopenhauer and Wagner were at once reflections on philosophy and art.
Indeed, Human All-too-Human (1878) represented an entirely new direction in his thought. Written in an aphoristic style perfectly suited to Nietzsches multifaceted, iconoclastic beliefs, the work contains piercing observations that lay bare the hidden motivations underlying many aspects of human behavior. Subtitled “A Book for Free Spirits,” Human All-too-Human also signaled the beginning of Nietzsches break with Wagner.
Nietzsche resigned from his professorship in 1879 owing to chronic ill health; he had long suffered from paralyzing migraine headaches, and brief military service in the Franco-Prussian War left him shattered. Afterward he existed on a university pension as an unassuming gentleman lodger at resorts in Italy, France, and Switzerland. Yet his intellectual revolt continued unabated over the next decade. Though almost constantly in pain he produced, to quote Thomas Mann, “stylistically dazzling books — works sparkling with audacious insults to his age, venturing into more and more radical psychology, radiating a more and more glaring white light.” The Gay Science (1882), which Nietzsche regarded as his most personal book, includes sustained discussions of truth, art, and knowledge.
Then, in 1883 and 1884, Nietzsche published the first three sections of Thus Spoke Zarathustra; the fourth part, completed in 1885, did not appear until 1892. Cast as a series of parables about a prophet who proclaims the death of God and challenges mankind to face its destiny, Zarathustra is a mine of ideas and perhaps Nietzsches most popular work. “Zarathustra is in a way a document of our time, and it surely has much to do with our own psychological condition,” noted Jung. “It is like a dream in its representation of events. It expresses renewal and self-destruction, the death of a god and the birth of a god, the end of an epoch and the beginning of a new one. It is so paradoxical that without the help of the whole equipment of our modern psychology of the unconscious, I would not know how to deal with it.”
In January 1889 Nietzsche collapsed on a street in Turin, Italy, and from that moment he rapidly descended into insanity. He remained in a condition of mental and physical paralysis until his death in Weimar on August 25, 1900.
Now after covering some of his life, I will attempt to give my View on some of Nietzsches grand philosophies. The first of which being His creation of the Master Morality vs. Slave Morality. But however the first truth about life is that there is no universal Morality because every individual is different and is in a different mindset. This is because Morality is simply a Social Convention. Meaning it has been derived by society, as a means to draw a line on right and wrong. Hence there are too moralities. The Master Morality is that of our leaders and bosses. Ideally that is. The Master morality is defined as being a person of the mindset on the good and noble. Fundamentally our presidents should be of the Master Morality. They should be leaders of the solid, respectable, honorable way. However the Slave Morality is the exact opposite. Nietzsche says that the slave morality originates with the lowest elements of society. Basically it reverses the basic values of good and evil thus undermining society. This leads us to the Herd Instinct as it is called. An example being when there are 4 doors, one is opened and many people all wait in line to file through the one door. No one taking the initiative to open one of the other doors. This is what I call the Sheep factor. Because sheep go wherever they are led blindly. I feel that I am one of the Master Mindset. I find that many times my friends look to me for advice. Or to tell them what to do, plan the best course of action. And touching on the Master morality, Nietzsches theory on the will to power ties right in.
Nietzsche said that the will to power is simply