Friedrich Nietzsche

Friedrich Nietzsche biography
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Friedrich Nietzsche biography

Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche (October 15, 1844 – August 25, 1900) philosopher, poet, musician, and philologist. He was born in Röcken, Saxony-Anhalt, Germany. Friedrich Nietzsche is considered one of the most important contemporary thinkers of the nineteenth century. His parents were Carl Ludwig Nietzsche, Lutheran pastor and private preceptor in the German duchy of Saxony-Altenburg, and his mother Franziska Oehler. The family had to endure the death of his father in 1849 and that of the younger brother the following year. After these sad events the family moved to Naumburg due to economic problems, so they went to the maternal grandmother’s house.

The terrible death of his father because of a problem that affected his brain was very tragic for a four-year-old, Friedrich had to see his father suffer for months and then lost his brother who looked bright and happy, a victim of a sudden seizure attack which killed him in seconds. These situations were key to the subsequent development of Nietzsche’s philosophical thinking. When the grandmother died in 1856, the family got a house of their own. During this time the young Nietzsche attended a private school, the prestigious Pforta school, where he established a friendship with Gustav Krug and Wilhelm Pinder. While at school Nietzsche wrote his first kind of philosophical treatise: On the origin of evil.

In 1854 he began attending the Domgymnasium in Naumburg, but then, thanks to his talent for music and language, he was admitted to the renowned Schulpforta, where he continued his studies until 1864. He became friends with Paul Deussen and Carl von Gersdorff. In his free time, he wrote poems and musical compositions. The literary education he received was of great help, especially in the study of the Greek and Roman classics. Now, during this period he was under the influence of the poet Ernst Ortlepp. When he finished, he began studying theology and classical philology at the University of Bonn.

He was a member of the Burschenschaft Frankonia with Deussen. But he abandoned theology and devoted himself to philology alone with the guidance of Professor Friedrich Wilhelm Ritschl. The following year he moved with Ritschl to the University of Leipzig. There he would establish an intimate friendship with the student Erwin Rohde, who helped him to open his field of thought and also promoted the writing of several texts on philology, which would be published a little later. He began to read the works of Arthur Schopenhauer. He scrutinized the work of Friedrich Albert Lange: History of materialism. Both experiences paved the way for him to start in the discipline of philosophy, overcoming his interest in philology.

In 1865, he contracted syphilis it is said that one of the reasons was a visit to a brothel while he was traveling through Cologne. In 1867 he carried out one year of voluntary military service with the Prussian artillery division of Naumburg. But the following year he suffered an accident that excluded him from military service and then he focused on the study. Richard Wagner was a man he met at that time and was fundamental in his development. Then, Nietzsche was a professor of classical philology at the University of Basel. In 1869 the University of Leipzig granted him a Ph.D. for the quality of his research.

Immediately the University of Basel appointed him professor of classical philology and the following year he was promoted to honorary professor. By this time he had been rejected by the poet Lou Andreas-Salomé, an issue that affected his emotional health. Nietzsche renounced his German citizenship, spent the rest of his life officially without nationality. But that did not stop in 1870 serving on the Prussian side during the Franco-Prussian war as a sanitarian because he was not accepted as a combatant. There he witnessed the traumatic effects of the battle. He contracted diphtheria and dysentery, diseases that ruined his health for life.

Back in Basel, Friedrich Nietzsche witnessed the establishment of the German Empire and the rise of Otto von Bismarck, expressed skepticism. By that time, he met Franz Overbeck, a professor of theology, also met the historian Jacob Burckhardt. He also received the influence of the philosopher Max Stirner, whose influence will be notable in him. If we talk about the work of this German philosopher we must say that his first book was The birth of tragedy in the spirit of music. However, the work was not well received among his philologist colleagues. But, Wagner went publicly in defense of Nietzsche.

Among the divisions that have been proposed for the works of Nietzsche, it is divided into the first period of criticism of culture and another with a more metaphysical and hermetic tone. His hermeneutic work is oriented within Western rationality and morals that always prejudice, error or mere sublimation of impulses vital. Nietzsche announces The «death of God» this must be interpreted not so much in a biological sense as in a hermeneutic one: they are the different versions of the world, or ways of living it, which are confronted.

Friedrich Nietzsche has been critical of the society that he labeled as decadent and announced the arrival of a superman, he has a greater capacity for the truth about the world, and his way of living has greater value and risk capacity. The philosopher developed the doctrine of the eternal return, according to which the structure of time would be circular so that each moment will be repeated eternally. Hence the idea that, if each moment must be repeated eternally, its end is only in itself, and not in the future.

During his life he was an author who wrote a significant number of texts such as Fatum and history (1862), Freedom of will and fatum (1868), Homer and classical philology (1869), Socrates and tragedy (1870) , On the future of our educational institutions (1872), On truth and lie in extramoral sense (1873), Human, too human. A book for free spirits (1878), Thus spoke Zarathustra. A book for all and for none (1883), The genealogy of morality. Controversial writing (1887), Ecce homo. How to become what one is (1889), among others.



“There is always some madness in love. But there is also always some reason in madness.”

But all the diseases that undermined his health also impacted his mental state. The last eleven years of his life he spent in seclusion, first in a center in Basel and later in another in Naumburg, it was said that he suffered from madness, although nowadays it is said that he was branded as crazy because at that time there was no knowledge about his disease. Nietzsche died on August 25, 1900.



  • Existentialism
  • Contemporary philosophy

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