Friedrich Nietzsche Essay, Research Paper
Some call Friedrich Nietzsche the father of the Nazi party. Was
Nietzsche’s ideas twisted and warped by a needy country? Nietzsche himself
despised the middle and lower class people. Was it Nietzsche’s Will to Power
theory that spawned one of the greatest patriotic movements of the twentieth
century? These are some of the questions I had when first researching
Friedrich Nietzsche for the following paper.
Friedrich Nietzsche, at one time called “the arch enemy of
Christianity”(Bentley, p.82), was born into a line of Protestant Clergyman on
October 15, 1844. During Nietzsche’s early years, he gave no indication that he
would not follow in his families’ clergy tradition. As a boy, Nietzsche
considered himself a devout Lutheran. At age six(two years after his father
passed away)Nietzsche, his mother and sister moved to the small town of Naumburg.
When Nietzsche was twelve he wrote ?I saw God in all his glory?(Bentley, p.82).
Later his description of his own mental state was one of Gottergebenheit; ?
surrender to God?(Bentley, p.82). At a very early age Nietzsche had already
displayed an aptitude for highly intellectual prowess. At fourteen, Nietzsche
left his home of Naumburg and went to an exclusive boarding school at the nearby
Schulpforta Academy. The school was famous for its grandeur of alumni that
included ?Klopstock and Fichte?(Brett-Evans, p.76). ?It was here that
Nietzsche received the thorough education in Greek and Latin that set him upon
the road to classical philology.?(Brett-Evans, p. 76) On many occasions
Nietzsche’s zeal to prove himself at the Pforta school spurned legendary tales.
One certain tale is when Nietzsche ?could not bear to hear of the courage of
Mucius Scaevol, who did not flinch when his hand was burnt off, without seizing
a box of matches and firing them against his own hand.?(Bentley, p.84) At the
age of twenty, Nietzsche left to attend Bonn University. By this time Nietzsche
had come to think of himself as an ?aristocrat whose great virtues are
fearlessness and willingness to assume leadership.?(Bentley, p.85) Ironically,
Nietzsche planned to study theology(to please his mother). At this time
Nietzsche no longer believed in Christianity, because ?with maturity he lost his
heavenly father?(Bentley, p.86). In 1868 Nietzsche was a student in Leipzig.
This is when he met Cosima and Richard Wagner. The latter was a world-renowned
musical artist. Both of these individuals were crucial to Nietzsche’s
development as a philosopher.
Theognis was a poet of the sixth century B.C. This man supplied
Nietzsche with the idea that an aristocracy ?should be scientifically bred like
horses?(Bentley, p.85) When Nietzsche was twenty, he had acquired a diverse
set of opinions and attitudes. He had been taught to ?admire strong
politicians and to think of himself as an aristocrat whose great virtues are
fearlessness and willingness to assume leadership.?(Bentley, p. 85) Despite
his own personal efforts to be bad and mean, Nietzsche remained innocent and
caring. The first major school of thought that Nietzche adhered to was because
of the writings of Schopenhauer. After purchasing Artur Schopenhauer’s The
World as Will and Idea, a book on metaphysics, Nietzsche wrote, ?I saw a mirror
in which I espied the whole world, life and my own mind depicted in frightful
grandeur. In this volume the full celestial eye of art gazed at me; here I
saw illness and recovery, banishment and refuge, Hell and Heaven.?(Bentley,
p.87) Nietzsche went back and forth with these opposites for the rest of his
life. Deviant from Schopenhauer’s class theory, Nietzsche’s ?endeavor was not
so much to elevate the practical man to the first rank as to merge
Schopenhauer’s first three ranks into one superhuman being.?(Bentley, p.89) As
Nietzsche did with all of his youthful inspirations, he turned against
Schopenhauer. ?The name of Schopenhauer was the flag under which he was proud,
for a time, to advance.?(Bentley, p.89) The second major influence in
Nietzsche’s development was the Wagners, Richard and Cosima. Nietzsche was
captivated by Richard Wagner. Nietzsche personally thought the reason behind
this was Wagner’s musical art and talent. Nietzsche’s sister Elizabeth was ?
closer to the truth in her belief that what held Nietzsche was Wagner’s
tremendous will power and instinct of command. Wagner, Nietzsche thought for a
time, was the highest of higher men and he held the key to a new epoch of art
and and new epoch of life.?(Bentley, p. 91) Wagner was the only man Nietzsche
knew that personified his will-to-power theory. In essence, Wager was
Nietzsche is given credit for the National Socialism movement in Germany
that began in the 1930’s. Far more damaging to his reputation has been the
course of German history from his death(1900) to 1945. ?To claim him, as
National Socialism did, as a prophet of the superiority of the Germanic race
and an advocate of German world domination is only possible by ignoring the
greater part of what he wrote.?(Brett-Evans, p.81) Matter-of-factly, Nietzsche
sternly despised anti-Semites. At certain times, there was not a harsher
critic of racist German nationlism. But some questions arise out of these
statements. What of the comments Nietzsche made concerning the ?will-to-power?
theory, the constant reference to the ?superman?, and his sometimes vigorous
patriotism? One of the most significant contributions Nietzsche made was in
the area of psychology not philosophy. One of the ?most significant
conclusions he came to in this field was that traditional morality consists of
different expressions for the same thing, that “good” actions and “bad” actions
can ultimately derive from the same motive.?(Brett-Evans, p.80) In truth I
believe that Friedrich Nietzsche was a visionary who was never able to replace
his earthly Father or his heavenly Father. This led to his strange emotional
relationship with women. His only friends were those women who he had failed
relationships with and men who he quarreled with. In the end, Nietzsche died of
syphilis that was allegedly contracted while in college.