Nietzsche, Friedrich was born on October 15, 1844 in Rocken.
Nietzsche, Friedrich was born on October 15, 1844 in Rocken.
185864, received a primarily classical education at the renowned Pforta school. After a brief spell at the University of Bonn, where he intended to study Philology and Theology, went to the University of Leipzig to study Philology under Ritschl. fnffs. Ancient Greek thought, particularly Heraclitus.
1869-1879, taught philosophy. University of Basel; since 1879, survived on a sparse pension, living ascetically and wandering restlessly, mainly between Sils Maria in the Ober-Engadine, Nice and Turin: 1889, collapsed, was taken back to Germany and died soon after.
Main publications:The now authoratative edition of Nietzche’s collected works is the Nietzsche Werke: Kritische Gesamtausgabe (KGW), 30 vols, ed. Giorgio Colli and Mazzino Montinari, Berlin: de Gruyter, 1967 - 78.(1872) Die Gebürt der Tragödie (English translation, The Birth of Tragedy, trans. W. Kaufmann. New York: Viking Press, 1954).(1873-1876) Unzeitgemässe Betrachtungen: Bd 1. Dark Strauss, der Bekenner und Schriftsteller, 1873
The enigma of Friedrich Nietzsche, one of twentieth-century Europe’s most influential philosophers, does not lie in the now well-documented politically motivated abuse of his writings by his sister Elizabeth Forster-Nietzsche but in the fact that his philosophy is simultaneously familiar and remote. The post-structuralist genealogical stratagems of Michel Foucault and Derrida's dissolution of fixed meaning make Nietzsche’s nihilism and perspectivism strangely familiar. Yet that familiarity is disconcerting, for Nietzsche’s voice also speaks in the now unfamiliar philosophical languages of Schopenhauer.
Lange. Spir and Teichmuller.
Nietzsche’s notoriety rests upon such singular doctrines as the will to power, the eternal recurrence, nihilism and the announcement of God’s death, iconoclastic expression, mastery of aphoristic form, and a deployment of contradiction and inconsistency which for many compromised his philosophical status. Nietzsche’s reception is now an autonomous field of study and recent scholarship has come to question the ‘received’ view of him as an unorganized thinker, suggesting that his written corpus gains its coherence in its very plurality. His responses to nihilism and to art’s relation to existence clearly vary but the questions to which his different responses are an answer arc invariably the same.
Nietzsche’s early university experiences set his lifelong philosophical preoccupations: first, interpreting Ancient Greek culture as a response to the existential problematic of finitude.
Second, pursuing the philosophical and cultural consequences of post-Kantian metaphysical scepticism: and third, maintaining intellectual integrity whatever the cost. His thought is an instance of a Lebensphilosophie: philosophy without experience is empty and experience without philosophy is blind. A combination of his knowledge of Greek thought, his discovery of Schopenhauer and a reading of the history of philosophy by Kuno Fischer established his primary philosophical Leitmotifen.
First, reality is an endless Becoming. Second, as instrumentalist devices language and reason reflect the world not as it is but how our needs require us to perceive it. Third, within religion, ethical codes and scientific practice humanity has institutionalized its values, projected and mistaken them as aspects of beingin-itself.
Fourth, the existential predicament is grasped as the imminent risk of having one’s belief in reason as a criterion of truth and reality exploded by the unintelligibility of flux and of having, as a consequence, to stare into the presence of nihilism. And, fifth, there is the question of how one can live with a knowledge of the latter abyss. When read as a continuous response and reappraisal of thse Leitmotifen, the alleged inconsistencies of Nietzsche’s thinking virtually vanish.
A rtistenmetaphysik is the name Nietzsche gives to his first response to these Leitmotifen as expressed within The Birth of Tragedy (1872) and the Untimely Meditations (1873-1876).
Combining an assumed universal existential predicament with the hermeneutical axiom of looking at one’s own through the eyes of the foreign, he contends that the relevance of Greek aesthetic practice lies in its transformation of the existential predicament without recourse to otherworldly metaphysics. The Dionysian arts of music and drama do so by ecstatically succumbing to flux, the Apollonian plastic arts by deliberately denying the actuality of becoming with the illusion of timeless beauty, and tragic drama by reconciling its audience to the horror of every open finitude with a closed and graspable image of it.
The Artistenmetaphysik is an inverted Platonism: metaphysical truth is vacuous whilst art as living within appearance is understood as the means of suppressing awareness of the futility of existence. Socratic reasoning is attacked for atrophying the aesthetic impulse.
By positing the illusion of an intelligible world of Being, the desire to create a reality according to our needs is negated. Nietzsche was haunted by the question: what creative resources will European thought retain if the Socratic faith is rendered empty and nihilism looms?
The ‘experimentalist’ phase of Nietzsche's thinking—Human All Too Human (1878-1880), Daybreak (1881) and The Gay Science (1882)— exposes the shortcomings of this aesthetic. As all illusions are temporary, Apollonian aesthetics can only exacerbate the existentialist predicament.
The loss of its spell will make the return to
Dionysian actuality even more painful. The Artistenmetaphysik entails a needlessly pessimistic view of becoming. Finitude per se is not the problem, but our evaluation of it.
Accordingly. Nietzsche’s experimentalische Denken criticizes religious and moral systems which alienate individuals from actuality by perpetrating the illusion of fixed truths. Art is condemned for beautifying such truths and extending their influence subsequent to the collapse of their supporting beliefs. Experimentalism quests for both historical and non-European exemplars of ‘this-worldly’ lifestyles which promote values affirming rather than denying the existential predicament.
Yet this experimentalism requires what it criticizes, namely, the imaginative capacity to speculate about what is not seen but might be the case, an imaginative capacity which is condemned in art as capable of estranging one from actuality. In addressing this problem. Thus Spoke Zarathustra (1883-1885) announces Nietzsche’s final phase of thinking, which centres around the notions of the will to power, radical nihilism, perspectivism and the eternal recurrence.
Within Thus Spoke Zarathustra notions of existential alienation, willing, becoming and creativity are fused into a unified monistic ontology in which artistic creativity becomes the transforming vehicle of mankind’s being as a mode of becoming. Pain, suffering and contradiction are no longer seen as objections to existence but as an expression of its actual tensions. This does not rid the individual of his suffering but transforms his evaluation of it- 1° Nietzsche’s thinking the importance of the creative individual lies in his being an embodiment of the life-transforming process which constitutes all becoming.
In subsequent writings, the will to power |S developed into a Leibniz-like monadology without the latter’s central organizing principle.
Within this ontology of flux, inanimate and animate beings are presented as different densities o Kraftzentren combining an interchanging for the sake of the greater power, i.e. unhindered activity. This account of becoming is the ground both of Nietzsche’s repudiation o unchanging things and selves and of his affirm3' tion of perspectivism: the world does not exist apart from the totality of perspectival interactions which make it up. This Interpretationsphilosoph operates both as critical hermeneutic and as an aesthetic prescription for the new ' anschauung.
If there is no absolute truth °r ground, the question arises as to what values prompt a belief in their existence. The absence
meaning-in-itself is no cause for pessimism since it liberates us from the canons of culturally transmitted meaning to the end of creating our own purposes and values. The dynamic is that of having to overcome the need for received meaning in order to take responsibility for legislating one’s own.
The eternal recurrence gains its ethical force in this context for, as well as being a hypothesis about how within infinite time endless but numerical finite configurations of energy must repeat themselves, it also serves as an existential prohibition. Without taking on the creative responsibility for one’s perspective one is eternally condemned to a repetition of the same disillusionment, as adopted faith after faith is broken within the vortex of the abyss. Art as the means of projecting meaning and value into existence thereby returns to pride of place within Nietzsche’s analysis of the existential predicament.
Despite the enormous impact of Nietzsche’s thought upon European art and literature, his philosophical reception continues to be distorted by the ideological consequences of bis sister’s politically inspired editorial meddling ar>d its strange legitimization by Marxist intellectuals desirous of perpetuating the myth of Nietzsche as a philosophical precursor of fascism, "hat is not in question, however, is that the piety °l his metaphysical nihilism and his endeavour to contemplate existence without recourse to religious apologetics affects the direction of Heideggei'ian thought and, because of that, subsequently shapes French post-structuralism and deconstruction. In its account of disclosive meaning, hermeneutics now assumes what Nietzsche’s aPhoristic devices demonstrate. As words can communicate as clearly through the unsaid as through the said, the aphoristic rather than the systematic style is better suited to invoking the instated realms of thought behind assertions.
Nietzsche’s major contribution to this sea-change ln twentieth-century European philosophical sensibility is only now beginning to receive the acknowledgemcnt it truly merits.
Ontology: epistemology: Greek and Christian thought. Theory of values; nihilism. Aesthetics; cultural theory.