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Famous Philosophers: What Did Friedrich Nietzsche Believe?

Updated on June 19, 2013
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Nietzsche's General Views

  • Nietzsche believed that each man and woman should develop their own moral values and not rely on anything or anyone to tell them how to live.
  • Nietzsche believed that we must overcome ourselves and become what he called the "ubermensch" meaning overman or superman. By this he meant that humans have to work on improving themselves (through learning more about their minds and bodies) so that they can transcend the limitations of the human condition. This must not be confused at all with Nazist views that only some people are "ubermensch" and everyone else is inferior. Nietzsche firmly believed that every human was capable of overcoming themselves and becoming "ubermensch."
  • He believed that everyone is capable of being a "god" to themselves (the perfect form of themselves that they must fight to achieve). He spoke of mankind being in between animal and "ubermensch" and it was up to each man and woman to decide how far along the line they will travel to become a 'god'.
  • Nietzsche was strongly against pity.
  • Nietzsche was born severely ill and only became even more ill throughout his life. Thus, he did not care for any views about physical or mental superiority, he instead thought that it is personal battles with oneself that matters.
  • Nietzsche believed that all morals need to be constantly questioned. He criticised the German society fiercely in his books.

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Nietzsche and Religion

  • Nietzsche absolutely hated anything that enslaved mankind. This included things such as patriotism, religion and current leaders.
  • Nietzsche was completely learned in theology and knew so much that he earned the nickname "the little preacher" as a child.
  • However, after he grew up, Nietzche found that all religions were fraught with problems concerning morality.
  • He hated the fact that religions such as Christianity gave "moral absolutes" dictating what is right and wrong for everyone without considering circumstances. For the same reason, he opposed the philosopher Immanuel Kant vehemently for his views of deontology - i.e. that actions such as murder and lying are always wrong regardless of how or why the murder was done.
  • Nietzsche wrote a book entitled "The Anti-Christ" critising Christianity for the values that it encourages. Pity is a point of focus and Nietzsche argues that Christianity's inclination towards pity only prolongs misery to where otherwise it would not have existed i.e. by not helping something that is falling, you save yourself from later picking that something up again and again.

Friedrich's Illnesses

"Every two or three weeks, I spend about 36 hours in bed... In real torment" - Fredrich Nietzche

He:

  • Was born with severe myopia.
  • Suffered from frequent head aches.
  • Contracted dysentery and diphtheria during the Franco-Prussian war (the 1870 war).
  • Possibly contracted syphilis as a student in a brothel.
  • He never stated what his illness was but talked many times of being very ill (mentioning symptoms specific to syphilis).

Arguments Against Nietzsche

Concerning Pity

  • Nietzsche is against pity of any kind because helping someone that is in a weaker position will only prolong its suffering in the long run. However, many times a person is in a pitiable situation due to unfortunate events that were not in his control and without the help that pity provides they may never regain their strength. Would it not be moral to help these people at the very least? Often it only takes a little help for a person to get back on his feet and be a useful member of society again - not helping that person would have resulted in the much less efficient outcome of his demise. Therefore, if looking at morality through the perspective of how best a society would work, pity should definitely be encouraged, certainly because the weak may have the potential to be very strong indeed.

Do you agree with anything that Nietzsche believes?

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