Who is your favourite German philosopher and why?

Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900) is for me the most interesting philosopher of modern times.He almost predicted the 20th century. It is also important for the present. Nietzsche’s questions are our questions.

God is dead

Until the Enlightenment, God and the hereafter were meaningful.

Nietzsche observes after the Enlightenment in the late 19th century: “God is dead! God remains dead! And we killed him.” [1

Nihilism

God and the hereafter have become implausible.Nihilism is also zero for Nietzsche’s philosophy: there is no absolute morality, no absolute truth and no good or evil. But nihilism is only a beginning for Nietzsche and it must be overcome.

Philosophy of questioning

In a world without meaning, we have to find meaning in Nietzsche, as we do later in existentialism.It is important not to simply replace the old dogmas with new ideologies. He therefore questions socialism, nationalism and the belief in progress of his and our time.

Personal development

Instead, it focuses on personal values.For Nietzsche there are 3 stages of development for a human[2:

  1. The camel: Authorities determine life
  2. The Lion: It’s about the freedom to say no
  3. The child: Own values and goals are important

According to Nietzsche, most people live and die as camels.A few come to the lion and believe they are at the end point. The lion, however, has a negative freedom, which is limited to saying no to authorities. Only the child has an affirmative, i.e. positive freedom.

Suffering and pain

Achieving goals is more important for Nietzsche than just being happy.He even thinks that hurdles along the way can be meaningful. This attitude certainly has to do with his own life of illness, pain and suffering.

Will to power

According to Nietzsche, complaints and risks should not be avoided or stoicically endured.They should be welcomed. Only in this way can “you become who you are”[3.He calls this “will to power.” He sets this will in contrast to traditions and social norms.

Superman

This ideal of man who has overcome himself is the “superhuman”.Nietzsche’s idea of the development of values and goals lies in art, culture, creativity and love. The latter is a misunderstood word in Nietzsche’s mouth.

Difficulties with Nietzsche

Nietzsche’s philosophy is controversial and difficult to reconcile.It is therefore often read very selectively. For almost every argument, Nietzsche finds a quote taken out of context and also for the counter-argument.

National socialism

His name and phrases taken out of context were misused in the Third Reich by his sister for the “philosophy of National Socialism”.Nietzsche was actually a critic of nationalism, mass movements and anti-Semitism. Examples of misunderstood concepts are “The Superman” and “The Will to Power”.

Getting to know Nietzsche

In this answer, too, I have of course only selectively picked out what is important to me from Nietzsche.If you ask other Nietzsche fans you get different answers. For an easy introduction to Nietzsche and other philosophers, I recommend the podcast Philosphize This.(eng.)

Footnotes

[1 Nietzsche – The Death of God

[2 Nietzsche, Friedrich, So spoke Zarathustra, The Speeches of Zarathustra, Of the Three Transformations

[3 Ecce homo (Nietzsche) – Wikipedia

[4 Nietzsche Reception in National Socialism – Wikipedia

Leave a Reply