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Friedrich Nietzsche Lecture Notes

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Queen's University
PHIL 115
Paul Fairfield

thstWeeks 2022March 521 2013Friedrich Nietzsche Twilight of the IdolsBasics about NietzscheNietzsche spent the last 11 years of his life totally insane He did not however commit suicide In Turin Italy in January 1889 Nietzsche had a physical and mental breakdown and lost the ability to write except for a few insane letters and conversations with friends in the first 612 months The cause of his breakdown is unknown but irreversibleNietzsche suffered from physical and mental maladies all his life By 1887 and 1888 he was writing at a feverish rateup to four books in a year Prior to his breakdown he was not halfway insane He was perfectly sane when writing his last booksNietzsche was not a forerunner to Nazism German nationalism or antisemitism Hitler took and manipulated some of his ideas to support his own views but this was not Nietzsches original intentWorks1872 The Birth of Tragedy Nietzsche had a lifelong fascination with Ancient Greek culture and tragedy but not a high regard for Ancient Greek philosophers1874 Untimely Meditations four long essays compiled into one book1878 Human All Too Human1881 Daybreak1882 The Gay Science also translated as Joyful Wisdom18835 Thus Spoke Zarathustra completed in instalments1886 Beyond Good and Evil1887 On the Genealogy of Morals1888 The Case of WagnerTwilight of the IdolsThe AntichristEcce HomoPosthumously Will to Power a collection of his unpublished worksFriedrich Nietzsche 18441900Nietzsche was born in RockenbeiLutzen Prussia now Germany He was the first of three children His father belonged to a long line of Protestant ministers and Nietzsches parents expected him to follow suitWhen Nietzsche was 5 years old his father died The following year his younger brother died He was raised by his mother and two unmarried aunts He had a troubling relationship with his younger sister Elizabeth especially when she married a forerunner of NazismNietzsche was a proud ambitious philosopher and writer Reading his books suggest he was loud and eccentric but he was really quiet and humble It is as if an alternate Nietzsche was present in his writings He had high hopes that his first book would cause a stir in philosophy but it didnt end up doing anything Nietzsche slowly gained a reputation over his lifetime but he did not really become famous until after his deathNietzsche taught philology for 10 years at the University of Basel in Switzerland beginning when he was 25 He took a temporary medical leave from his position but never went backthstWeeks 2022March 521 2013In 1876 Nietzsche gave up his German citizenship He didnt have a proper home after that and just travelled Europe looking for a place to get healthy In 1882 he met a woman named Louise and proposed to her the day they met She refused and refused again the next two times he proposed to her Nietzsche never married and never had kids He had a somewhat lonely existence but he had friends who we wrote to oftenWriting StyleNietzsches writing style seems to ranting imprecise unedited and scattered However there is a method to his madness He is not approaching writing in the usual philosophical way He is more literary rhetorical and purposefully excessive He doesnt appear to say what he means all the time Nietzsche strongly believed that philosophy is a personal confession of the author Like James said in his pragmatism someones philosophy reflects what kind of person they are Every worldview directly reflects whos view it is We search for ideas that sit well with us and serve is Nietzsche says we should think oh philosophical work as standing to the author as a piece of art does to an artista work of self expression Philosophy is not impersonal This includes his own writings and he is selfconscious of expressing ideas as his so his writings are not really meant for everyoneIf all ideas are an expression of the thinker then we have to put ourselves into the page We must make the reader aware of who the author is Philosophy is not objective Philosophical thinking however is no more subjective than art or science Nietzsche projects himself into his writings not because he is narcissistic but because he regards philosophical ideas as selfexpressionConsider the opening paragraph of Beyond Good and Evil Nietzsche makes serious points but uses humour to make them He is not writing casually quickly uneditedeverything is there on purpose to provoke the reader and shake them out of their everyday thinking There a lot of what ifs instead of beliefs where there is no way to prove an ideaNietzsche thought that philosophy has comparable power to that of religious ideas it has the power to change someones life in profound ways Philosophical prose should be able to incorporate the skills of science religious prophets historians and poets Nietzsche preferred metaphors to literal statements Literal statements are one dimensional and unimaginative whereas metaphors are richerWhile he doesnt have or state a theory of truth he describes and questions it He compares truth to a woman Keep in mind that Nietzsche was an unabashed misogynist He knew he was sexist and that is was wrong but he was unapologetic about it When reading Nietzsche one must put egalitarian notions away Nietzsches truth is a woman metaphor suggests that truth is something we pursue but never actually possess Truth is a woman in the sense that we cant have it that it is difficult elusive irrational contingent changes so we can approach it differently each day fickle complex rich nuanced and resists efforts to be known or possessed The job of the philosopher is to pursue truth anywhere it is found in any way possible approach it from many different perspectives This is reflected in his writing style as he approaches concepts from many anglesNietzsches first book was his only philosophical treatise After that he wrote in aphorismsshort pieces that jump from one topic to anotherin order to approach the topic from many perspectives Nietzsche was well read in many subjects including philosophy but he didnt have one particular influencer However he was mostly influenced by a German philosopher
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