Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche was born on 15th October, 1844 in the Saxon village of Rocken to Karl Ludwig and Franziska Nietzsche (Julian 3). Friedrich Nietzsche had two siblings; a sister called Elizabeth and a brother who died an infant. Several autobiographies have depicted Friedrich’s love and admiration for his village (Julian 3). Sadly, Friedrich’s father died while he was still young, leaving sole responsibility to his mother. Upon the demise of his father, Friedrich relocated to Naumburg, Saxony. Fortunately, it was at Naumburg where he discovered and started to hone his abilities.
Friedrich enrolled into the prestigious Schulpforta, and was fortunate to get Prussia’s unique preparatory education in classical languages, theology and human studies. He also developed interest in literary works, playing the piano, music composition and poetry. He learnt most of these works through his friends, Friedrich Hölderlin and Paul Deussen (Julian 16). In 1864, he joined Bonn University and studied philology and classical languages. Feeling motivated, he accompanied his professor to Leipzig University and concentrated on the exploration of ancient texts. It was at University of Leipzig where Nietzsche started to show his prowess when he contributed to Theognis, a Greek poet and Professor Ritschl, who acknowledged him and convinced him to relocate to Basel. Moreover, it was at the University of Leipzig where he learnt and discovered Schopenhauer, who influenced his philosophical works going head to head with Richard Wagner.
Later during his philosophical work, he travelled to several other cities such as Genoa, Nice, and other places such as the Swiss Alps. That said, his philosophical work was greatly influenced when he was in Basel and Leipzig. Unfortunately, Nietzsche started to suffer from digestive problems which worsened over time. He later succumbed to his ailments on 25th August, 1900 in Italy (Julian 20).
Friedrich Nietzsche’s Works
Friedrich Nietzsche’s works were mainly influenced by his friend Richard Wagner. His works belong to the branch of Western philosophy. Many of them were written in German and have been translated into other languages. It is important to note that Nietzsche focused mostly on the analysis of problems. Nietzsche’s main philosophical works include the following: the death of God, Nihilism, Revaluation of Values, Will to Power, Eternal Recurrence or Eternal Return, and the Human Exemplar or Übermensch (Lawrence 25). Firstly, in the death of God and Nihilism, Nietzsche focuses on the weight and meaning of values and its relation to human existence. He fronts an argument of human life having no purpose and the need for humans to find something to give it purpose. Accordingly, he argues that God is dead and humans have placed much faith in illogical concepts. For him, there is no logical structure because humans do not have a purpose and since God died, values have vanquished and we should rely on our knowledge (Lawrence 19).
Übermensch, translated as overman or superman came into existence after the prologue of Thus Spoke Zarathustra. Nietzsche imagined a man capable of influencing the minds, thoughts and values of other men. He uses one of his works, Eternal Recurrence, to imply that life never ends without a beginning or end, emphasizing that an overman must position himself to supersede pain and suffering. In essence, he believes that past experiences should make man live a better life (Lawrence 30). Lastly, Will to power is also one of the major works of Nietzsche, where he stresses that the will to power distinguishes man from inanimate objects and man should strive to improve his life and surroundings. The philosophy is mainly base on metaphysics, organic and psychological constructions.
Criticisms to Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche’s works
Heidegger criticizes the concept of Nihilism advanced by Nietzsche. According to him, the concept of nihilism advances the importance of western metaphysics and values. He argues that nihilism has been influenced by historical occurrence which makes Nietzsche’s concepts inconsequential. He has advanced his criticism through his philosophy ‘Beings’, and argued for metaphysics in that Nietzsche’s comprehension of being represents the final victory of beings over being. Additionally, he fronts an argument on what beings are: their essence and existence.
George Santayana has vehemently critiqued one of George Nietzsche philosophy, the Superman, through his philosophy of “The Ethics of Nietzsche”. Santayana adopts a position that Nietzsche condemned things that he disliked (Santayana 50). For instance, he argues that Nietzsche elevated his own morality above others, even God. In his work, Zarathustra had more powers such as dancing but failed to harness it, more so, he was bigger than his own philosophy. Santayana is disapproving of Nietzsche’s criticism and condemnation of Christianity wholesomely, while at the same time agreeing that it provided comfort, values and influences morals. He fails to recognize Christian heroes and saints who had many followers. He argues that Nietzsche’s attitude is more foolish and naive than Rousseau, who commanded a large following. However, he begs the modern world to forgive Nietzsche’s naivety and stupidity. To him, Nietzsche wants us to make the world about ourselves, our power and values (Santayana 90).
Hinman, Lawrence. Nietzsche, Nihilism, and the Death God: Ethics Matters. San Diego, CA: University of San Diego. 2014. Print
Julian, Young. Friedrich Nietzsche: A Philosophical Biography. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. 2010. Print
Santayana, George. The German Mind: A Philosophical Diagnosis. New York, NY: Apollo Editions, 1968. Chapters 12-13.