Week 8 05/03/2013 07:29:00
Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900)
His last 11 years of life were spent in insanity and he did not write a word
after January 1889.
Torino, Italy: He suffered a completely irreversible psychological
He was mildly lucid for a short period of time afterwards.
There was a caricature of Nietzsche: Hitler used some of his writings to
further his political ends.
In this part of the world, Nietzsche started to be seen as a
forerunner of Nazism.
However, he would‟ve despised Nazism, nationalism, and anti-
He was also purported as a madman without restraint in his writing.
This was partially due to his unhealthy life, both physically and/or
Twilight of the Idols (1888): Towards the end of his „sane‟ life, he wrote 4
books feverishly. However, he was not halfway to insanity. His breakdown
was sparked suddenly.
First book: The Birth of Tragedy (1872): of ancient Greek
culture/tragedy. Greek culture was his purported high point of civilization.
He loved Greek tragedy.
Untimely Meditations (1874)
Human, All Too Human (1877)
The Gay Science (1882)
Zus Spoke Zarathustra (1883-1885)
Beyond Good and Evil (1886)
Twilight of the Idols, the Anti-Christ,
Born in Rocken, Prussia as one of 3 children to a Lutheran cleric.
He was expected by his parents to follow suit and join the church.
His father died when he was five, then his brother died a year later.
This had a profound effect on Nietzsche.
Nietzsche was a very pround and ambitious man. He had high hopes for
his first book to cause a stir in the philosophical world. It did not cause a splash.
In 1869, he started teaching at the University of Basil for almost ten
years until he had to take a “medical leave,” and it turned out to be
From 1876-1889, he moved around Europe (as he renounced his German
citizenship) to find idyllic places to live.
He was never married with no kids and a small love life.
In 1882, he fell in love with a woman and proposed to her the day he met
her. He proposed to her twice more to no avail.
The misinterpretation which is very common of Nietzsche‟s work is that
the writing style is ranting and short on discipline.
He does not write in the style of older philosophers; it is purposefully
excessive in its literary merit and rhetoric.
He does not always appear to mean what he says. Nietzsche thinks that
philosophy is the personal confession of the author, and that philosophical
ideas must be written in the style of the author.
William James says that we must regard a given philosophy as the
worldview that goes with a certain kind of temperament.
Nietzsche says something similar (though he said it first). Every
worldview reflects the holder. We constantly search for ideas that
sit well with us and serve us.
o Ideas are acts of self-expression and serve its knower.
o Nietzsche says that we should think of a work as self-
expression instead of idea expression.
o We think that philosophy should be impersonal.
Nietzsche is conscious in expressing his self in his work.
“The Will to Power” of the individual
If all expressions are of the will to power of the individual, we must write
philosophy in a different way.
We wrongfully attempt to find objectivity when present philosophical
We find that Nietzsche injects himself into his writing on purpose.
Nietzsche believes that philosophy should and has the power to change
your life. All the devices of science, religion, literature, and such should be
employed by a philosopher in his writing.
Nietzsche paints an ambitious picture that a philosopher should have a
comprehensive understanding of the world.
The lack of metaphor in philosophy creates dry, literal readings.
Metaphors have the power to say more.
Nietzsche wrote in aphorisms after writing only one treatise.
March 7, 2013
Nietzsche was primarily a philologist and ancient Greek literature
Philosophy was studied on his own time.
He mentioned that you never philosophize in a vacuum, but you think in
response to what other people have said, very much like a platonic
Twilight of the Idols: How to Philosophize with a Hammer
State of semi-illumination: this is the state of modern culture where
we have certain beliefs which are dying.
The people of the past had a sense of commitment and weren‟t as
Philosophical justification for religion: there is none.
The word „idols‟ refers to ideals, those ideals that were passed down to us
from generations past.
We live in a time of scepticism and rigour where those ideals have
deteriorated and became idols.
Egalitarianism is a terrible mistake: there are no grounds for this common
These ideals are flawed, and our thinking today can be reduced to
The role of the philosopher is to re-evaluate our values and to try to
create new ones.
This is truest with religion; all of our political principles are directly based
on ancient religious ideas that no longer stand up.
Democracy and equality are based on ancient religious notions.
The title of the book just refers to using a tuning fork and hammering the
ideas to check their validity. The philosopher should be able to synthesize in his own person. He
should have the skills of a scientist, historian, poet, and all other types of
They should ask the most general questions of the meaning of existence:
Why am I here? What does my existence serve?
These are often unanswerable questions.
Nietzsche says this is not beyond anyone to ask.
You also need boldness in your theory.
Note: Nietzsche writes this book in aphorisms as opposed to long
The trajectory of his thought can be determined from the title: th