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Unformatted text preview: Friedrich Nietzsche
Philosopher/Writer (1844-1900) Writer or Philosopher? Discounted by philosophers as too literary Discounted by literature professors because he is too much of an abstract thinker Nietzsche's place Prominent place in the thinking of the 20th century Brilliant forerunner of Psychoanalysis and Existentialism Critic of Western philosophy, culture Nietzsche as inspiration Inspired many 20th century intellectuals, even those who thought of his work as proto-fascist doctrine Refused to develop philosophical system, felt that individual analyses in short aphorisms more insightful than long scholarly treatises Reading Nietzsche Try not to figure out how many of his ideas fit into one abstract formula Consider every one of his pieces as thought experiment which succeeds or fails on its own Nietzsche's success in his time Victorian dogmatism and complacency of his cultural environment made success in his own time impossible Had to pay for the publication of his own books Not famous until beginning of WWI, shattered European self-image Nietzsche's History Born in Prussia into family of Lutheran pastor Father died when very young Brought up in household of pious women History Due to precocious speech patterns, he was nicknamed "the little pastor" Went to Pforta, one of Germany's elite schools, classical education Univ. training in classical languages and ancient culture Educational background Became professor of Greek language at the young age of 24 Taught at the Univ. of Basel in Switzerland for 10 years Influential friends While at University of Basel, he developed friendship and admiration for composer Richard Wagner Nietzsche's works Around 1879 Nietzsche became chronically ill Retired from teaching on pension Wrote books in rapid succession Human, All Too Human Daybreak The Joyful Science Thus Spoke Zarathustra The Case of Wagner More Works Beyond Good and Evil The Genealogy of Morals Ecce Homo Antichrist Twilight of the Idols Nietzsche's ill health Physically miserable condition No permanent residence Near blindness Used opiates for insomnia Went insane in 1889 Definition of self Most philosophers said true self is the mind Struggle between the mind and body Nietzsche disagreed, said the mind and body are one, mind is one aspect of the body, an organ needed for survival Nietzsche on the body "Behind your thoughts and feelings, my brother, stands a powerful ruler, an unknown sage he is called the self. In your body he resides; he is your body. There is more reason in your body than in our best wisdom. And who knows to what end your body needs your best wisdom?" Nietzsche on the body Brought up thinking the body was evil, base, filthy, center of sin Revolted against this tradition Saw body as something wonderful, source of great achievements Scientific materialism Darwin's Origin of Species (1859) published during Nietzsche's life The Descent of Man (1871) Significant scientific developments Highly controversial Re-discovery of the body Scandalized many conservatives Offended moral sensibilities of the cultural mainstream In 1857, two of most important literary works of the century published: Baudelaire's The Flowers of Evil Flaubert's Madame Bovary Both books banned by French courts for "indecency" Walt Whitman "I Sing the Body Electric" (1855) I sing the body electric; The armies of those I love engirth me, and I engirth them, They will not let me off till I go with them, respond to them, And discorrupt them, and charge them full with the charge of the soul. Was it doubted that those who corrupt their own bodies conceal themselves? And if those who defile the living are as bad as Fear of Ordinary Reality Nietzsche said people fear reality because of its imperfections Uncertainties Sufferings Inevitable finality Seek refuge in imaginary world Hope for redemption denied in a material universe Imagine "another world" in which people live more perfectly Turn away from ideas they are afraid to face Strong individuals According to Nietzsche, strong individuals (supermen) will not shun or denounce life and earth because they imply sickness and death Not tempted to create "another world" Cultivate "tragic view of life" Master/slave moralities Master moralities developed by strong, selfconfident people Flourish among ruling class Value Strength Intelligence Courage Strife Seeking of dominance over other people Slave morality Developed by weak or timid people Flourish among lower classes, downtrodden people Value Sympathy Pity Kindness Humility Patience Self-effacement Helping others Slaves and Masters Nietzsche believed they both have similar motivation Will to prevail Will to power Weak have to develop devious methods Self-denial hides envy and revenge Will to Power May show in open actions, systematic attempts to control people, countries, corporations May show itself in the struggle of an artist with a major work Monk masters his desire to eat or love with iron discipline, so as to lead other people Tools in struggle of power For lowly people, the inculcation of a bad conscience in strong Central to slave ethic is the will to make strong people feel profoundly guilty about themselves, thus weakening them until they are no longer a threat to the meek Superman of Nietzsche Unlike the type of human being created by Christianity Not humble Not divided against him or herself by gratuitous feelings of guilt Full control of body and passions by using them constructively Live dangerously Affirm life, even when terrifying Nietzsche on Overman "What is the ape for human beings? A laugh, or a painful embarrassment. And that's what human beings shall be for the Overman: a laugh, or a painful embarrassment." ...
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