Biography of Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche (1844-1900)

Friedrich Nietzsche.

German, contradictory and passionate thinker who contrasts the cold rationalism of Western philosophy, and Christian morality, faith in the "eternal return of the same," and in the "Superman", as a final goal of history. Even in the midst of the different interpretations which has been subjected, it appears in history as an advance testimony of the contemporary crisis of bourgeois culture.

Biographical data

Son of a Protestant pastor, Nietzsche was born in Röcken (Prussia). When he/she was only four years, died his father and soon after his brother. He/She studied at the universities of Bonn and Leipzig. In the latter city he/she read for the first time the world as will and representation, Schopenhauer, that would make him deep impression. In 1867 he/she was called to service military, which would be withdrawn because of a traumatic fall from horse. Still he/she had not served 25 years when he/she was appointed Professor of language and Greek literature at the University of Basel, city in which locked deep friendship with Wagner, whose music influenced his thinking, but that will break later. You will be forced to abandon its Chair for health losses, in 1879. Since then, and thanks to a small pension that was happening the University, he/she traveled by Switzerland, Italy, and Tunisia. In one of his stays in Rome, suffered a sentimental failure when the Russian André-Salomé Lou, refused his proposal of marriage. In 1889, while in Turin, he/she was afflicted by a severe crisis of madness. Through one of his friends, he/she was interned in a clinic in Basel, where he/she was diagnosed "cerebral softening". His mother, and after her death, her sister lavished le care during his eleven years of prostration. He/She died in Weimar. The reason for his cerebral palsy seems to be due to the evolution of ancient syphilis, although others believe might be a wrong hereditary effect.

His work and his thought.

The work of Nietzsche can be framed in the lively stream, and presents, consciously eschewing and intuitionistic, as for all clamping system is a trap for the reason. In the background of influences is evolutionism with Darwin (more as a sense that as a letter), and the schopenhaueriano of the 'will' concept, which Nietzsche loses the pessimistic tone of Schopenhauer, and becomes a will to power.

Three stages can be seen in the works of Nietzsche. The first of these stages correspond to the works: the origin of tragedy (1872) and untimely considerations (1873-76). In the first, he/she proposes a new interpretation of classicism and, consequently, a new notion of decadence. Greek classicism is composed of two opposing forces: the Dionysian (symbolized in Dionysus, God baquico) is the celebration of life, drunkenness, the frenzy, the affirmation of existence beyond reason, and the Apollonian, (personified in the God Apollo), representing the balance, size, clarity, shape, the regulatory idea (see Apolineo and Dionysian). The two impulses are combined in Aeschylus and Sophocles with predominance of the Dionysian. The arrival of Euripides ("the sacrilegious") means the irruption of the Apollonian, internalize and intellectualizing the fears of the Greek soul, initiating the decline. The same is true in philosophy with Socrates and Plato. Platonic thought, setting the world of separate Ideas, start the path of dualism, that after the judeo-Christian religion will lead to intolerable extremes for Nietzsche. This grim strength of reason against the life, which slows its expansion without limits, is one of the great evils that Greek philosophy has inflicted on Western, ballasted civilization of "Rationalism". We can consider this first stage as akin to the romanticism represented by previous to Parsifal Wagner's music. For Nietzsche, this work means the surrender of Wagner before Christianity, so it will break with him and be launched against all kinds of abuse.

In the second stage, they are human, too human (1878), Aurora (1881), and the gay Science (1882), allegedly on atheism and, despite the repudiation that had been shown by the exercise of reason, he/she is interested in the study of the natural sciences. It is a stage marked by the reading of the French illustrated, with special sympathy for Voltaire.

The third stage is represented by the works thus spoke Zarathustra (1883-85), beyond good and evil (1886), genealogy of morals (1887), and the edited posthumously: Ecce homo, Twilight of the idols, the Antichrist, the Wagner case, the will to power (1906) (it is necessary to note that this last work, edited by his sister, is clipped and so manipulatedthat does not represent the real thinking of Nietzsche). This is the most original stage. He/She proposes the "transmutation of all values" attempt that actually looks in all of his writings, but to achieve this it is necessary to run as opposed to the will to power. In his opinion there is to destroy the old Christian morality, as Christianity is "the worst lie of seduction that there has been in history", with his preaching of the existence of more than. This has created a "slave morality", against which there is to build a "morality of gentlemen". With the emphatic phrase "God is dead" marks the beginning of the evolution that he/she proposes for the man, directing him to fill the position of God (see the "Death of God" at the entrance to Dios in contemporary philosophy). "I preach and teach not against everything that weakens, which depletes. And I teach the if front of everything which strengthens, which builds up force, what justifies the intimate feeling of force". "I will preach the Superman". A new man, personification of the domain will, for which will not count the old morality of submission, they will install beyond good and evil. In his devastating effort, Nietzsche does not look on democracy rather than a precipitate, lowered, of Christian morality. Equal rejection deserves you socialism. And the State will say that it is "the coldest monster of all monsters".

Along with the idea of Superman, gets the notion of the eternal return, obeying a revelation that underwent while he/she contemplated the Majesty of the mountains of the upper Engadine in Switzerland. According to this idea of the eternal return, what exists now disappears to reappear in the future, because the number of elements that makes up the universe is limited.

The interpretation of the thought of Nietzsche

The ambiguity of many of its expressions, and falsifications carried out by her sister in the edition of his posthumous writings, are the origin of the interpretation and use of the Nietzschean thought. The Hitler Germany, for example, saw the concept of the "Superman" the prototype of Aryan man; the Marxist thinker Lefebvre, understood as the "total man", fruit of the classless society. Not nazi interpretation, might also as evidenced by the great works of K. Jaspers and K. Löwith, published in 1930. Heidegger published his studies on Nietzsche which currently constitute one of the reference points required for any interpretation. Numerous studies in recent years, especially in France, represent an authentic "Nietzschean Renaissance" within contemporary culture.


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King, J. M., L'enjeu des signes. Lecture of Nietzsche, Paris, 1971.

MASSUH, V., Nietzsche and the end of religion, Buenos Aires, 1969.

VALADIER, p., Nietzsche and the criticism of Christianity, Madrid, 1974.