“Behind your thoughts and feelings there stands a mighty ruler, an unknown sage – whose name is Self. In your body he dwells. He is your body.”

                                                                                                                        Friedrich Nietzsche 

Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche (October 15, 1844 – August 25, 1900) was a 19th-century German philosopher, poet, composer and classical philologist.
He wrote critical texts on religion, morality, contemporary culture, philosophy and science, displaying a fondness for metaphor, irony and aphorism.

Nietzsche's influence remains substantial within and beyond philosophy, notably in existentialism, nihilism, and postmodernism.
His style and radical questioning of the value and objectivity of truth have resulted in much commentary and interpretation, mostly in the continental tradition.
His key ideas include the death of God, perspectivism, the Übermensch, the eternal recurrence, and the 'will to power'.
Central to his philosophy is the idea of "life-affirmation", which involves an honest questioning of all doctrines that drain life's expansive energies, however socially prevalent those views might be.

Nietzsche began his career as a classical philologist before turning to philosophy.
At the age of 24 he was appointed to the Chair of Classical Philology at the University of Basel (the youngest individual to have held this position), but resigned in 1879 due to health problems that plagued him most of his life.
In 1889 he became mentally ill, possibly due to atypical general paralysis attributed to tertiary syphilis.
He lived his remaining years in the care of his mother until her death in 1897, then under the care of his sister until his death in 1900.

Röcken Lutherischen Kirche
Nietzsches Geburtshaus
Born on October 15, 1844, Nietzsche grew up in the small town of Röcken, near Leipzig, in the Prussian Province of Saxony.
He was named after King Frederick William IV of Prussia, who turned 49 on the day of Nietzsche's birth. (Nietzsche later dropped his given middle name, "Wilhelm".)

Röcken Dorf
Nietzsche's parents, Carl Ludwig Nietzsche (1813–1849), a Lutheran pastor and former teacher, and Franziska Oehler (1826–1897), married in 1843, the year before their son's birth, and had two other children: a daughter, Elisabeth Förster-Nietzsche, born in 1846, and a second son, Ludwig Joseph, born in 1848. Nietzsche's father died from a brain ailment in 1849; his younger brother died in 1850.
The family then moved to Naumburg, where they lived with Nietzsche's paternal grandmother and his father's two unmarried sisters.
After the death of Nietzsche's grandmother in 1856, the family moved into their own house.
Nietzsche attended a boys' school and then later a private school, where he became friends with Gustav Krug, Rudolf Wagner and Wilhelm Pinder, all of whom came from very respected families.

Paul Deussen
In 1854, he began to attend Pforta in Naumburg, but after he showed particular talents in music and language, the internationally recognised Schulpforta admitted him as a pupil, and there he continued his studies from 1858 to 1864.
Here he became friends with Paul Deussen (see right) and Carl von Gersdorff.
He also found time to work on poems and musical compositions.

At Schulpforta (see left), Nietzsche received an important introduction to literature, particularly that of the ancient Greeks and Romans, and for the first time experienced a distance from his family life in a small-town Christian environment.
After graduation in 1864 Nietzsche commenced studies in theology and classical philology at the University of Bonn.
For a short time he and Deussen became members of the Burschenschaft Frankonia.
After one semester (and to the anger of his mother) he stopped his theological studies and lost his faith.
David Strauss
This may have happened in part because of his reading around this time of David Strauss's (see right) 'Life of Jesus', which had a profound effect on the young Nietzsche, though in an essay entitled 'Fate and History' written in 1862, Nietzsche had already argued that historical research had discredited the central teachings of Christianity.
Nietzsche then concentrated on studying philology under Professor Friedrich Wilhelm Ritschl, whom he followed to the University of Leipzig the next year.

There he became close friends with fellow-student Erwin Rohde. Nietzsche's first philological publications appeared soon after.

In 1865 Nietzsche thoroughly studied the works of Arthur Schopenhauer (see left).
He owed the awakening of his philosophical interest to reading his 'Die Welt als Wille und Vorstellung' (The World as Will and Representation) and later admitted that he was one of the few thinkers that he respected, dedicating to him his essay 'Schopenhauer als Erzieher' (Schopenhauer as Educator), one of his 'Untimely Meditations'.

In 1866 he read Friedrich Albert Lange's (see left below) 'History of Materialism'.
Schopenhauer and Lange influenced him. Schopenhauer was especially significant in the development of Nietzsche's later thought.

Lange's descriptions of Kant's anti-materialistic philosophy, the rise of European Materialism, Europe's increased concern with science, Darwin's theory, and the general rebellion against tradition and authority greatly intrigued Nietzsche.
Richard Wagner

The cultural environment encouraged him to expand his horizons beyond philology and to continue his study of philosophy.
In 1867 Nietzsche signed up for one year of voluntary service with the Prussian artillery division in Naumburg. However, a riding accident in March 1868 left him unfit for service.
Consequently Nietzsche turned his attention to his studies again, completing them and first meeting with Richard Wagner (see right) later that year.
With the publication of 'Menschliches, Allzumenschliches' - (Human, All Too Human) - in 1878 (a book of aphorisms on subjects ranging from metaphysics to morality and from religion to the sexes) Nietzsche's reaction against the pessimistic philosophy of Wagner and Schopenhauer became evident.
Nietzsche's friendship with Deussen and Rohde cooled as well.
In 1879, after a significant decline in health, Nietzsche had to resign his position at Basel.

(Since his childhood, various disruptive illnesses had plagued him, including moments of short-sightedness that left him nearly blind, migraine headaches, and violent indigestion. The 1868 riding accident and diseases in 1870 may have aggravated these persistent conditions, which continued to affect him through his years at Basel, forcing him to take longer and longer holidays until regular work became impractical.)

Because his illness drove him to find climates more conducive to his health, Nietzsche traveled frequently, and lived until 1889 as an independent author in different cities.


Although Nietzsche is widely known as the 'creator' of the 'Übermensch' he was hardly the firm heroic 'superman' of his writings.
However, Nietzsche was capable of macho activity when it was required.
In 1867, as he approached the age of 23, Nietzsche entered his required military service and was assigned to an equestrian field artillery regiment close to Naumburg, during which time he lived at home with his mother (?).
While attempting to leap-mount into the saddle, he suffered a serious chest injury and was put on sick leave after his chest wound refused to heal.
While his military career was cut short, so was his academic career cut short, as a result of his later poor health.
Fortunately, however, for Nietzsche, he was provided with a more than adequate pension, although he always complained that he was short of money.
He was not poor, however, as he was well able to travel widely round Europe, living for most of the time in hotels and guest-houses.
In fact he spent most of his life 'on holiday', apparently searching for the perfect climate for his health: filling his time with socializing, reading and writing.
As an indication that he was not poor, he had a nasty habit of releasing his writings, which for most of his life were ignored, in a series of short volumes, at ridiculously high prices, which had the effect of ensuring that only his most fervent followers were prepared to pay the exorbitant prices in order to discover the nature of Nietzsche's latest insights..
He spent many summers in Sils Maria, near St. Moritz in Switzerland, and many winters in the Italian cities of Genoa, Rapallo and Turin and in the French city of Nice.
In 1881, when France occupied Tunisia, he planned to travel to Tunis to view Europe from the outside, but later abandoned that idea (probably for health reasons).
His favourite area in Europe was the Engadin.

The Engadin 

The Engadin or Engadine (German: Engadin, Italian: Engadina, Romansh: Engiadina; tr: garden of the Inn) is a long valley in the Swiss Alps located in the canton of Graubünden in southeast Switzerland. It follows the route of the Inn River from its headwaters at Maloja Pass running northeast until the Inn flows into Austria, one hundred kilometers downstream. The Engadin is protected by high mountains on all sides and is famous for its sunny climate, beautiful landscapes, and outdoor activities.

Although he championed the 'Übermensch', who was often interpreted as a boisterous 'yea sayer', almost everyone who met Nietzsche was surprised by, and remarked upon his exquisite manners, his soft, gentle, well modulated voice, and his subtle sense of humour.


Nietzsche’s headaches began when he was 9 years old.
These headaches were usually very severe and had a major impact on his daily life and later on his professional activities.
They were almost always located on the right side, mostly frontal and above the right eye, but also at the right hemicranium, and were typically associated with gastrointestinal symptoms like nausea and vomiting.
Because of these headaches, he sometimes also kept his eyes closed to lessen the discomfort experienced from external light, suggesting photophobia, and he avoided physical activities and went to bed.
The headaches usually persisted for several hours or even days.
Often Nietzsche would have symptoms two or three times a week, but such outbreaks were usually associated with the sort of problems which were of particular concern to Nietzsche.
Such problems included dull, cloudy or wet weather, Cold weather or hot weather, delays in contacts with his publishers and printers, and even problems relating to his frequent travelling arrangements, such as an inability to find a porter or carriage for his bags, or missing a train connection.

Nietzsche’s visual problems also started at young age.
He mentioned them for the first time in 1856, when he was 12 years old.
As a child Nietzsche often complained about “bad light”, “tiredness of the eyes” and “episodes of eye weakness with altered vision”.
Nietzsche underwent repeated examinations by different ophtalmologists.

In 1882, Nietzsche began to show depressive symptoms with suicidal ideas.
These symptoms recurred intermittently and in 1887 Nietzsche described his mood as a persistent depression.
This depressive mood had a clear impact on his social and professional life. 
On several occasions Nietzsche expressed bizarre ideas that reflected delusions.
In 1883, he labelled his own mental state for the first time as madness and in several letters he expressed his worries about suffering from madness.

Nietzsche occasionally returned to Naumburg to visit his family, and, especially during this time, he and his sister (see left - Elizabeth Nietzsche) had repeated periods of conflict and reconciliation.
He lived on his pension from Basel, but also received aid from friends.
A past student of his, Peter Gast (born Heinrich Köselitz - see right), became a sort of private secretary to Nietzsche.
To the end of his life, Gast and Overbeck remained consistently faithful friends.
Malwida von Meysenbug remained like a motherly patron even outside the Wagner circle.

'Peter Gast' - Johann Heinrich Köselitz (10 January 1854–15 August 1918) was a German author and composer. He is known for his long-time friendship with Friedrich Nietzsche, who gave him the pseudonym 'Peter Gast'. Gast was born in Annaberg, Saxony to Gustav Hermann Köselitz (1822–1910), the vice mayor (Vizebürgermeister), and his wife Caroline (1819–1900), a native of Vienna. 
From 1872, Gast studied music with Ernst Friedrich Richter at the University of Leipzig. He transferred in 1875 to the University of Basel, where he attended the lectures of Jacob Burckhardt, Franz Overbeck, and Friedrich Nietzsche. In Basel, a friendship developed between Gast and Nietzsche. Gast read for Nietzsche during the latter's intermittent spells of near blindness, and also took dictation. Gast was instrumental in the preparation of all of Nietzsche's works after 1876, reviewing the printer's manuscript and sometimes intervening to finalize the text formatting. Nietzsche's break with Wagner and his search for a 'southern' aesthetic with which he could immunize himself from the gloomy German north led him to over-appreciate Gast as a musician. As an amanuensis, however, Gast was invaluable; writing apropos 'Menschliches, Allzumenschliches'  Nietzsche claimed that Gast 'wrote and also corrected: fundamentally, he was really the writer whereas I was merely the author'. All the while, Köselitz worshipped his teacher, assisting him to the point of self-denial. Gast was financed by his father, and also intermittently supported by Nietzsche's friend Paul Rée. In addition to being a musician and the editor of Nietzsche's writings and letters, he worked as a writer under various pseudonyms, including: Ludwig Mürner, Peter Schlemihl, Petrus Eremitus.

Franz Camille Overbeck (16 November 1837 - 26 June 1905) was a German Protestant theologian. In Anglo-American discourse, he is perhaps best known in regard to his friendship with Friedrich Nietzsche; while in German theological circles, Overbeck remains discussed for his own contributions. Franz Overbeck was born in Saint Petersburg as a German citizen to Franz Heinrich Herrmann Overbeck, a German-British merchant, and his wife, Jeanne Camille Cerclet, who was born in Saint Petersburg to a French family. Consequently, his upbringing was European and humanistic: first taking place in Saint Petersburg, then in Paris from 1846 until the February Revolution of 1848, once again in Saint Petersburg, and after 1850 in Dresden. From 1856 until 1864, Overbeck studied theology in Leipzig, Göttingen, Berlin, and Jena. In 1859, he received his doctorate degree, after which he worked on his Habilitation on Hippolytus until 1864. After 1864, he taught as a Privatdozent in Jena. During his student time in Leipzig, he became close friends with Heinrich von Treitschke. After Nietzsche left Basel in 1879, he and Overbeck continued a personal friendship through regular correspondence. At the beginning of January 1889, Nietzsche sent letters to friends that exhibited symptoms of a mental collapse. After Overbeck received such a letter, he travelled to Turin the same day to retrieve the sick Nietzsche and his manuscripts. He continued to visit Nietzsche until the latter's death in 1900.

Malwida von Meysenbug (28 October 1816 - 23 April 1903) was a German writer, who was a friend of Friedrich Nietzsche and Richard Wagner. She also met the French writer Romain Rolland in Rome in 1890, and is the author of 'Memories of an Idealist'. She published the first volume anonymously in 1869. Von Meysenbug was born at Kassel, Hesse. Her father Carl Rivalier descended from a family of French Huguenots, and received the title of Baron of Meysenbug from William I of Hesse-Kassel. The ninth of ten children, she broke with her family because of her political convictions. Von Meysenbug introduced Nietzsche to several of his friends, including Helene von Druskowitz. She invited Paul Rée and Nietzsche to Sorrento, a town which overlooks the bay of Naples, in the autumn of 1876. There, Rée wrote The Origins of Moral Sensations, and Nietzsche began Human, All Too Human.

Malwida von Meysenburg died in Rome in 1903 and is buried in the Protestant Cemetery in the city.

Soon Nietzsche made contact with the music-critic Carl Fuchs.


Nietzsche stood at the beginning of his most productive period.
Beginning with 'Menschliches, Allzumenschliches' in 1878, Nietzsche would publish one book (or major section of a book) each year until 1888, his last year of writing, during which he completed five.

In 1882 Nietzsche published the first part of 'Die fröhliche Wissenschaft' ** - (The Joyful Science).
Lou Andreas Salomé
That year he also met Lou Andreas Salomé, (see right) through Malwida von Meysenbug and Paul Rée.
Nietzsche and Salomé spent the summer together in Tautenburg in Thuringia, often with Nietzsche's sister Elisabeth as a chaperone.
Nietzsche, however, regarded Salomé less as an equal partner than as a gifted student.
Salomé reports that he asked her to marry him, and that she refused, though the reliability of her reports of events has come into question.
Nietzsche's relationship with Rée and Salomé broke up in the winter of 1882/1883, partially because of intrigues conducted by Nietzsche's sister Elisabeth.
Amidst renewed bouts of illness, living in near isolation after a falling-out with his mother and sister regarding Salomé, Nietzsche fled to Rapallo.

Lou Andreas-Salomé (born Louise von Salomé or Luíza Gustavovna Salomé, Russian: Луиза Густавовна Саломе; 12 February 1861 – 5 January 1937) was a Russian-born psychoanalyst and author. Her diverse intellectual interests led to friendships with a broad array of distinguished western luminaries, including Nietzsche, Freud, and Rilke. Lou Salomé was born in St. Petersburg to an army general and his wife. Salomé was their only daughter; she had five brothers. Salomé's mother took her to Rome, Italy when she was 21. At a literary salon in the city, Salomé became acquainted with Paul Rée, an author. After two months, the two became partners. On 13 May 1882, Rée's friend Friedrich Nietzsche joined the duo. Salomé would later (1894) write a study, 'Friedrich Nietzsche in seinen Werken', of Nietzsche's personality and philosophy. The three travelled with Salomé's mother through Italy. Arriving in Leipzig in October, Salomé and Rée separated from Nietzsche after a falling-out between Nietzsche and Salomé, in which Salomé believed that Nietzsche was desperately in love with her.  A fictional account of Salomé's relationship with Nietzsche is described in Irvin Yalom's novel, 'When Nietzsche Wept'. A biography in Swedish on Lou Salomé, which also covers her relationship with Paul Rée, Rainer Maria Rilke, Friedrich Nietzsche and Sigmund Freud was edited in 2008 on Mita bokförlag by the Swedish author Mirjam Tapper. The title of the book is "Den blonda besten hos Nietzsche - Lou Salomé".

Here he wrote the first part of 'Also sprach Zarathustra: Ein Buch für Alle und Keinen' (Thus Spoke Zarathustra) *** in only ten days.

After severing his philosophical ties with Schopenhauer and his social ties with Wagner, Nietzsche had few remaining friends.

Now, with the new style of 'Zarathustra', his work became even more alienating and the market received it only to the degree required by politeness.

Nietzsche recognized this and maintained his solitude, though he often complained about it.
His books remained largely unsold.

In 1885 he printed only 40 copies of the fourth part of 'Zarathustra', and distributed only a fraction of these among close friends, including Helene von Druskowitz.
In 1883 he tried and failed to obtain a lecturing post at the University of Leipzig.
It was made clear to him that, in view of the attitude towards Christianity and the concept of God expressed in 'Zarathustra', he had become in effect unemployable at any German University.

The subsequent "feelings of revenge and resentment" embittered him. "And hence my rage since I have grasped in the broadest possible sense what wretched means (the depreciation of my good name, my character and my aims) suffice to take from me the trust of, and therewith the possibility of obtaining, pupils."
In 1886 Nietzsche broke with his editor, Ernst Schmeitzner.

He then printed 'Beyond Good and Evil' at his own expense, and issued in 1886–1887 second editions of his earlier works ('The Birth of Tragedy', 'Human, All Too Human', 'The Dawn', and 'The  Joyful Science), accompanied by new prefaces in which he reconsidered his earlier works. Thereafter, he saw his work as completed for a time and hoped that soon a readership would develop.
In fact, interest in Nietzsche's thought did increase at this time, if rather slowly and in a way hardly perceived by him.

Bernhard Förster
During these years Nietzsche met Meta von Salis, Carl Spitteler, and also Gottfried Keller.
In 1886 his sister Elisabeth married Bernhard Förster (see left) and traveled to Paraguay to found Nueva Germania, a "Germanic" colony.
Through correspondence, Nietzsche's relationship with Elisabeth continued on the path of conflict and reconciliation, but they would meet again only after his collapse.
He continued to have frequent and painful attacks of illness, which made prolonged work impossible. In 1887 Nietzsche wrote the polemic 'On the Genealogy of Morals'.
During the same year Nietzsche encountered the work of Fyodor Dostoevsky, with whom he felt an immediate kinship.

He also exchanged letters with Hippolyte Taine, and then also with Georg Brandes.
Brandes, who had started to teach the philosophy of Søren Kierkegaard in the 1870s, wrote to Nietzsche asking him to read Kierkegaard, to which Nietzsche replied that he would come to Copenhagen and read Kierkegaard with him.
However, before fulfilling this undertaking, he slipped too far into sickness.
In the beginning of 1888, in Copenhagen, Brandes delivered one of the first lectures on Nietzsche's philosophy.
Although Nietzsche had in 1886 announced (at the end of 'On The Genealogy of Morality') a new work with the title 'The Will to Power: Attempt at a Revaluation of All Values', he eventually seems to have abandoned this particular approach and instead used some of the draft passages to compose 'Götzen-Dämmerung, oder, Wie man mit dem Hammer philosophiert' (Twilight of the Idols) and 'Der Antichrist' (The Antichrist) - both written in 1888.
His health seemed to improve, and he spent the summer in high spirits.
In the fall of 1888 his writings and letters began to reveal a higher estimation of his own status and "fate."
He overestimated the increasing response to his writings, especially to the recent polemic, 'Der Fall Wagner' - (The Case of Wagner).
On his 44th birthday, after completing  'Götzen-Dämmerung'  and  'Der Antichrist', he decided to write the autobiography 'Ecce Homo'.
In the preface to this work—which suggests Nietzsche was well aware of the interpretive difficulties his work would generate—he declares, "Hear me! For I am such and such a person. Above all, do not mistake me for someone else."
In December, Nietzsche began a correspondence with August Strindberg, and thought that, short of an international breakthrough, he would attempt to buy back his older writings from the publisher and have them translated into other European languages.
Moreover, he planned the publication of the compilation 'Nietzsche Contra Wagner' and of the poems that composed his collection 'Dionysian-Dithyrambs'.

Mental Collapse & Death

On January 3, 1889, Nietzsche suffered a mental collapse.
Two policemen approached him after he caused a public disturbance in the streets of Turin. What actually happened remains unknown, but an often-repeated tale states that Nietzsche witnessed the whipping of a horse at the other end of the Piazza Carlo Alberto, ran to the horse, threw his arms up around its neck to protect the horse, and then collapsed to the ground.

In the following few days, Nietzsche sent short writings—known as the 'Wahnbriefe' (Madness Letters)—to a number of friends (including Cosima Wagner and Jacob Burckhardt).
To his former colleague Burckhardt, Nietzsche wrote: "I have had Caiaphas put in fetters. Also, last year I was crucified by the German doctors in a very drawn-out manner. Wilhelm, Bismarck, and all anti-Semites abolished."
Additionally, he commanded the German emperor to go to Rome to be shot, and summoned the European powers to take military action against Germany.

On January 6, 1889 Burckhardt showed the letter he had received from Nietzsche to Overbeck. The following day Overbeck received a similarly revealing letter, and decided that Nietzsche's friends had to bring him back to Basel.
Overbeck traveled to Turin and brought Nietzsche to a psychiatric clinic in Basel.
By that time Nietzsche appeared fully in the grip of a serious mental illness, and his mother Franziska decided to transfer him to a clinic in Jena under the direction of Otto Binswanger. From November 1889 to February 1890 the art historian Julius Langbehn attempted to cure Nietzsche, claiming that the methods of the medical doctors were ineffective in treating Nietzsche's condition.
Langbehn assumed progressively greater control of Nietzsche until his secretiveness discredited him.
In March 1890 Franziska removed Nietzsche from the clinic, and in May 1890 brought him to her home in Naumburg.
During this process Overbeck and Gast contemplated what to do with Nietzsche's unpublished works.
In January 1889 they proceeded with the planned release of  'Götzen-Dämmerung', by that time already printed and bound.
In February they ordered a fifty copy private edition of 'Nietzsche contra Wagner', but the publisher C. G. Naumann secretly printed one hundred.
Overbeck and Gast decided to withhold publishing 'Der Antichrist' and 'Ecce Homo' because of their more radical content.
Nietzsche's reception and recognition enjoyed their first surge.

In 1893 Nietzsche's sister Elisabeth returned from Nueva Germania (in Paraguay) following the suicide of her husband.
She read and studied Nietzsche's works, and piece by piece took control of them and of their publication.
Overbeck eventually suffered dismissal, and Gast finally cooperated.
After the death of Franziska in 1897 Nietzsche lived in Weimar, where Elisabeth cared for him and allowed people, including Rudolf Steiner (who in 1895 had written one of the first books praising Nietzsche - see right)) to visit her uncommunicative brother.
Elisabeth at one point went so far as to employ Steiner - at a time when he was still an ardent fighter against any mysticism - as a tutor to help her to understand her brother's philosophy.
Nietzsche's mental illness was originally diagnosed as tertiary syphilis, in accordance with a prevailing medical paradigm of the time.

Although most commentators regard his breakdown as unrelated to his philosophy Georges Bataille drops dark hints ("'man incarnate' must also go mad") and René Girard's postmortem psychoanalysis posits a worshipful rivalry with Richard Wagner.
The diagnosis of syphilis was challenged, and manic-depressive illness with periodic psychosis, followed by vascular dementia was put forward by Cybulska.
In 1898 and 1899 Nietzsche suffered at least two strokes, which partially paralysed him and left him unable to speak or walk.

After contracting pneumonia in mid-August 1900 he had another stroke during the night of August 24 / August 25, and died about noon on August 25.

Elisabeth had him buried beside his father at the church in Röcken bei Lützen.

His friend, Peter Gast (see right), gave his funeral oration, proclaiming: "Holy be your name to all future generations!"
Nietzsche had written in 'Ecce Homo' (at the time of the funeral still unpublished) of his fear that one day his name would be regarded as "holy".


Elisabeth Förster-Nietzsche
Therese Elisabeth Alexandra Förster-Nietzsche (July 10, 1846, Röcken, Prussia – November 8, 1935, Weimar, Germany), who went by her second name, was the sister of philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche and the creator of the Nietzsche Archive in 1894.
Förster-Nietzsche was two years younger than her brother.
Both were children of a Lutheran pastor in the German village of Röcken bei Lützen.
The two children were close during their childhood and early adult years.
There has been speculation that the relationship between Elizabeth and Fritz was so close that it was almost 'incestuous'.
Nietzsche himself only ever had one romantic relationship with a woman - Lou Andreas Salomé, and it is significant that Elizabeth did everything in her power to bring the relationship to an end.
An early believer in the superiority of the Teutonic races, she married a Volkisch philosopher, Bernhard Förster.
In the 1880s they went to Paraguay and founded Nueva Germania, a  pure Aryan colony, but the enterprise failed, and Förster committed suicide.
She next served as Nietzsche’s guardian at Weimar after his mental breakdown in 1889.
On his death (1900) she secured the rights to his manuscripts and renamed her family home the 'Nietzsche-Archiv'. 

Adolf Hitler and Elizabeth Förster Nietzsche
at the Nietzsche-Archiv
While Elisabeth gained a wide audience for her writings, in an effort to preserve her brother's reputation, she withheld Nietzsche’s self-interpretation, 'Ecce Homo', until 1908.
Meanwhile, she collected many of his notes under the title 'Der Wille zur Macht' (“The Will to Power”) and presented this work, first as part of her three-volume biography (1895–1904), then in a one-volume edition (1901), and finally in a two-volume edition (1906) that was widely considered Nietzsche’s magnum opus.
Elisabeth was a supporter of the NSDAP; her funeral in 1935 was attended by Adolf Hitler and other members of the Government of the Third Reich.

N I E T Z S C H E 'S   W O R K

Nietzsche's works remain controversial, and there is widespread disagreement about their interpretation and significance.
Part of the difficulty in interpreting Nietzsche arises from the uniquely provocative style of his philosophical writing.
Nietzsche frequently delivered trenchant critiques of Christianity in the most offensive and blasphemous terms possible given the context of 19th century Europe.

These aspects of Nietzsche's style run counter to traditional values in philosophical writing, and they alienated him from the academic establishment both in his time and, to a lesser extent, today.

A few of the themes that Nietzsche scholars have devoted the most attention to include Nietzsche's views on morality, his view that "God is dead" (and along with it any sort of God's-eye view on the world thus leading to perspectivism), his notions of the 'will to power' and 'Übermensch', and his suggestion of 'eternal recurrence'.

Der Wille zur Macht

A basic element in Nietzsche's philosophical outlook is 'der Wille zur Macht' - (the will to power), which provides a basis for understanding human behavior. In a wide sense of a term, the will to power is a more important element than pressure for adaptation or survival.
According to Nietzsche, only in limited situations is the drive for conservation precedent over the will to power.
The natural condition of life, according to him, is one of profusion.
In its later forms Nietzsche's concept of the will to power applies to all living things, suggesting that adaptation and the struggle to survive is a secondary drive in the evolution of animals, less important than the desire to expand one’s power.
Nietzsche eventually took this concept further still, and speculated that it may apply to inorganic nature as well.
He transformed the idea of matter as centers of force into matter as centers of will to power. Nietzsche wanted to dispense with the atomistic theory of matter, a theory which he viewed as a relic of the metaphysics of substance.

One study of Nietzsche defines his fully developed concept of the will to power as "the element from which derive both the quantitative difference of related forces and the quality that devolves into each force in this relation" revealing the will to power as "the principle of the synthesis of forces."

Nietzsche's notion of the will to power can also be viewed as a response to Schopenhauer's "Will."
Writing a generation before Nietzsche, Schopenhauer had regarded the entire universe and everything in it as driven by a primordial 'Will', thus resulting in all creatures' desire to avoid death and to procreate.
Nietzsche, however, challenges Schopenhauer's account and suggests that people and animals really want power; living in itself appears only as a subsidiary aim—something necessary to promote one's power.
Defending his view, Nietzsche describes instances where people and animals willingly risk their lives to gain power—most notably in instances like competitive fighting and warfare.
Once again, Nietzsche seems to take part of his inspiration from the ancient Homeric Greek texts he knew well: Greek heroes and aristocrats or "masters" did not desire mere living (they often died quite young and risked their lives in battle) but wanted power, glory, and greatness.

In this regard he often mentions the common Greek theme of 'agon' or contest.

In addition to Schopenhauer's psychological views, Nietzsche contrasts his notion of the will to power with many of the other most popular psychological views of his day, such as that of utilitarianism.
Utilitarianism—a philosophy mainly promoted, in Nietzsche's days and before, by British thinkers such as Bentham and Stuart Mill—claims that all people fundamentally want to be happy. But this conception of happiness found in utilitarianism Nietzsche rejected as something limited to, and characteristic of, English society only.
Also Platonism and Christian neo-Platonism–which claim that people ultimately want to achieve unity with 'The Good' or with 'God' – are philosophies he criticizes.
In each case, Nietzsche argues that the "will to power" provides a more useful and general explanation of human behavior.


Another concept important to an understanding of Nietzsche's thought is the Übermensch.

While interpretations of Nietzsche's Übermensch vary wildly, here is one of his quotations from  'Also sprach Zarathustra' - (Thus Spoke Zarathustra) (Prologue, §§3–4):

"I teach you the superman. Man is something that shall be overcome. What have you done to overcome him? … All beings so far have created something beyond themselves; and do you want to be the ebb of this great flood, and even go back to the beasts rather than overcome man?
What is ape to man? A laughing stock or painful embarrassment. And man shall be that to superman: a laughingstock or painful embarrassment. You have made your way from worm to man, and much in you is still worm. Once you were apes, and even now, too, man is more ape than any ape.... The superman is the meaning of the earth. Let your will say: the superman shall be the meaning of the earth.... Man is a rope, tied between beast and the superman—a rope over an abyss … what is great in man is that he is a bridge, and not an end."

Later Developments

By World War I, Nietzsche had acquired a reputation as an inspiration for right-wing German militarism. 
German soldiers received copies of 'Also sprach Zarathustra' as gifts during World War I.
Nietzsche's growing prominence was enhanced when his works became closely associated with Adolf Hitler and the Third Reich.

Many political leaders of the twentieth century were at least superficially familiar with Nietzsche's ideas, although it is not always possible to determine whether or not they actually read his work.
It is not known for sure if Hitler ever read Nietzsche, and if he did, his reading may not have been extensive, although he was a frequent visitor to the Nietzsche Archiv in Weimar (see left), and did use expressions of Nietzsche's, such as "lords of the earth" in 'Mein Kampf', and of course terms such as 'der Wille zur Macht' and  'Übermensch' were essential to Volkisch ideology.
More significant is the relationship of Nietzsche's 'Übermensch' to 'Die Geheimlehre' - (The Secret Doctrine), Theosophy, Blavatsky and the Vril.



 'Menschliches, Allzumenschliches'

(Human, All Too Human) - subtitled 'Ein Buch für freie Geister' - (A Book for Free Spirits), was originally published in 1878.
A second part, 'Vermischte Meinungen und Sprüche' (Assorted Opinions and Maxims), was published in 1879, and a third part, 'Der Wanderer und sein Schatten' (The Wanderer and his Shadow), followed in 1880.
Reflecting an admiration ofVoltaire as a free thinker, but also a break in his friendship with composer Richard Wagner two years earlier, Nietzsche dedicated the original 1878 edition “to the memory of Voltaire on the celebration of the anniversary of his death, May 30, 1778.
Instead of a preface, the first part originally included a quotation from Descartes’ Discourse on the Method.
Nietzsche later republished all three parts as a two-volume edition in 1886, adding a preface to each volume, and removing the Descartes quote as well as the dedication to Voltaire.
Unlike his first book, 'The Birth of Tragedy', which was written in essay style, 'Menschliches, Allzumenschliches' is a collection of aphorisms, a style which he would use in many of his subsequent works.
The aphoristic style was suited to many of the ideas and thoughts in the book, which are as short as a sentence, to as long as a few pages.
It was also likely due to Nietzsche’s decline in health at the time, when he was already frequently suffering from vision problems as well as painful migraine headaches that would have made reading and writing very difficult.
In 1879, a year after publishing the first installment, he was forced to leave his professorship at Basel University because of his deteriorating health.
The first instalments 638 aphorisms are divided into nine sections by subject, and a short poem as an epilogue.
The second and third instalments are an additional 408 and 350 aphorisms respectively.
This book represents the beginning of Nietzsche's "middle period", with a break from German Romanticism and from Wagner and with a definite positivist slant.
Note the style: reluctant to construct a systemic philosophy, Nietzsche composed these works as a series of several hundred aphorisms, ranging in length from a single line to a few pages. This book comprises more a collection of debunkings of unwarranted assumptions than an interpretation, though it offers some elements of Nietzsche's thought in his arguments: he uses his perspectivism and the idea of the will to power as explanatory devices, though the latter remains less developed than in his later thought.

In the first section Nietzsche deals with metaphysics, specifically its origins as relating to dreams, the dissatisfaction with oneself, and language as well.

'On the History of Moral Feelings' - in this section, named in honor of his friend Paul Rée’s Nietzsche challenges the Christian idea of good and evil as it was philosophized by Arthur Schopenhauer.

'Religious Life' - here Nietzsche attacks religious worship, asserting that "Christianity wants to destroy, shatter, stun, intoxicate."

'From the Soul of Artists and Writers' - Nietzsche uses this section to denounce the idea of divine inspiration in art, claiming great art is the result of hard work, not a higher power or “genius."
This can be interpreted as a subliminal attack on his former friend Wagner (a strong believer in genius) though Nietzsche never mentions him by name, instead simply using the term “the artist."

'Signs of Higher and Lower Culture' - here Nietzsche criticizes Darwin, as he frequently does, as naive and derivative of Hobbes and early English economists and without an account of life from the "inside" (and consider in this light Darwin's own introduction to the first edition of Origin) (consider also Nietzsche's critique to the effect that Darwinism, as typically understood, is trading in a new version of the Providential): Wherever progress is to ensue, deviating natures are of greatest importance. Every progress of the whole must be preceded by a partial weakening. The strongest natures retain the type, the weaker ones help to advance it.
Something similar also happens in the individual. There is rarely a degeneration, a truncation, or even a vice or any physical or "moral" loss without an advantage somewhere else. In a warlike and restless clan, for example, the sicklier man may have occasion to be alone, and may therefore become quieter and wiser; the one-eyed man will have one eye the stronger; the blind man may see deeper inwardly (if there is a "inward" in Nietzsche?) (isn't surface all?), and certainly hear better.
To this extent, the famous theory of the survival of the fittest does not seem to be the only viewpoint from which to explain the progress of strengthening of a man or of a race. (See 'Twilight of the Idols' for more of Nietzsche's critique of Darwin.)
Nietzsche writes of the “free spirit” or “free thinker” (Freigeist), and his role in society, a sort of proto-Übermensch, forming the basis of a concept he extensively explores in his later work 'Thus Spoke Zarathustra'.
A free spirit is one who goes against the herd, and “onwards along the path of wisdom” in order to better society.
"Better," for Nietzsche, appears to mean ordered toward the production of rare genius and is hardly to be confused with what "a newspaper reader," as Nietzsche might put it, would expect. The essential thing to keep in mind in considering Zarathustra, of course, is that Nietzsche presents Zarathustra as failing.

'Man in Society and Women and Child' - these two sections are made up of mostly very short aphorisms on man’s and women and child’s natures or "evolution," in Nietzsche's subtle and anti-Darwinian sense.
While section six is relatively mild, section seven, which is highly paradoxical, has resulted in Nietzsche’s "popular" reputation for misogyny, on account of shallow interpretations, or doctrinaire demands as to what may or may not be said.

'A Look at the State' - here Nietzsche studies power in a state, and speaks strongly against war and nationalism.
He also speaks on Europe’s Jews, worrying that “in the literature of nearly all present-day nations…there is an increase in the literary misconduct that leads the Jews to the slaughterhouse, as scapegoats for every possible public and private misfortune."
He continues, saying that they have “had the most sorrowful history of all peoples, and to whom we owe the noblest human being (Christ), the purest philosopher (Spinoza), the mightiest book, and the most effective code in the world."
Though not anti-Semitic, this would eventually be one of his works taken by the Nazis to paint Nietzsche as an early philosopher of Nazism.

'Man Alone with Himself' - like sections six and seven, Nietzsche’s aphorisms here are mostly short, but also poetic and at times could be interpreted as semi-autobiographical, in anticipation of the next volumes: “He who has come only in part to a freedom of reason cannot feel on earth otherwise than as a wanderer."
Nietzsche also distinguishes the obscurantism of the metaphysicians and theologians from the more subtle obscurantism of Kant's critical philosophy and modern philosophical skepticism, claiming that obscurantism is that which obscures existence rather than obscures ideas alone: "The essential element in the black art of obscurantism is not that it wants to darken individual understanding but that it wants to blacken our picture of the world, and darken our idea of existence."

Within his lifetime, prior to his mental breakdown in 1889, few of Nietzsche’s books sold particularly well, and 'Menschliches, Allzumenschliches' is no exception.
The first installment was originally printed in 1,000 copies in 1878, and sold only 120 of these, and still less than half of these by 1886 when it was resold as the complete two-volume set.
Though his friendship with Richard Wagner was nearly over, Wagner actually received a signed copy, though he never read it, saying Nietzsche would thank him for this one day.

It was first translated into English in 1909 by writer Helen Zimmern as part of a complete edition of Nietzsche’s books in English, but was never translated by Walter Kaufmann when he translated most of Nietzsche’s works into English in the 1950s and ‘60s. Finally, in the 1980s the first part was translated by Marion Faber and completely translated by R.J. Hollingdale the same decade.
'Menschliches, Allzumenschliches' was used by archivist Max Oehler, a strong supporter of Hitler, as supposed evidence of Nietzsche’s support for nationalism and anti-Semitism.
Oehler wrote an entire book, 'Friedrich Nietzsche und die Deutsche Zukunft', dealing with Nietzsche and his connection to nationalism (specifically National Socialism) and anti-Semitism, using quotes from 'Menschliches, Allzumenschliches'.
Oehler also had control of Nietzsche’s archive during the Nazi’s rule, which he shared with Nietzsche’s sister, Elisabeth Förster-Nietzsche, a Hitler supporter herself, until her death, when he took it over.

**  'Die fröhliche Wissenschaft'

The 'Die fröhliche Wissenschaft' (The Joyful Science) was first published in 1882 and followed by a second edition, which was published after the completion of 'Thus Spoke Zarathustra' and 'Beyond Good and Evil,' in 1887.
This substantial expansion includes a fifth book and an appendix of songs.
It was noted by Nietzsche to be "the most personal of all his books", and contains the greatest number of poems in any of his published works.
The book's title uses a phrase that was well known at the time.
It was derived from a Provençal expression (gai saber) for the technical skill required for poetry writing that had already been used by Ralph Waldo Emerson and E. S. Dallas and, in inverted form, by Thomas Carlyle in The dismal science. The book's title was first translated into English as 'The Joyful Wisdom'.
In 'Ecce Homo' Nietzsche refers to the poems in the Appendix of 'Die fröhliche Wissenschaft', saying they were, written for the most part in Sicily, are quite emphatically reminiscent of the Provençal concept of gaia scienza—that unity of singer, knight, and free spirit which distinguishes the wonderful early culture of the Provençals from all equivocal cultures.
The very last poem above all, "To the Mistral", an exuberant dancing song in which, if I may say so, one dances right over morality, is a perfect Provençalism.
This alludes to the birth of modern European poetry that occurred in Provence around the 13th century, whereupon, after the culture of the troubadours fell into almost complete desolation and destruction due to the Albigensian Crusade (1209–1229), other poets in the 14th century ameliorated and thus cultivated the gai saber or gaia scienza.
In a similar vein, in 'Beyond Good and Evil' Nietzsche observed that, love as passion—which is our European speciality—[was invented by] the Provençal knight-poets, those magnificent and inventive human beings of the "gai saber" to whom Europe owes so many things and almost owes itself. (Section 260)
An indicator of the deficiency of the original translation as 'The Joyful Wisdom' is that the German Wissenschaft never indicates "wisdom" (wisdom = Weisheit), but a propensity toward any rigorous practice of a poised, controlled, and disciplined quest for knowledge, and is typically translated as "science".
The book is usually placed within Nietzsche's middle period, during which his work extolled the merits of science, skepticism, and intellectual discipline as routes to mental freedom. The affirmation of the Provençal tradition is also one of a joyful "yea-saying" to life.
In 'Die fröhliche Wissenschaft', Nietzsche experiments with the notion of power but does not advance any systematic theory.
The book contains the first consideration of the idea of the eternal recurrence, a concept which would become critical in his next work Thus Spoke Zarathustra and underpins much of the later works.
"What if some day or night a demon were to steal after you into your loneliest loneliness and say to you: 'This life as you now live it and have lived it, you will have to live once more and innumerable times more' ... Would you not throw yourself down and gnash your teeth and curse the demon who spoke thus? Or have you once experienced a tremendous moment when you would have answered him: 'You are a god and never have I heard anything more divine.' " - [§341]
Here also is the first occurrence of the famous formulation "God is dead," first in section 108.
'After Buddha was dead, people showed his shadow for centuries afterwards in a cave,—an immense frightful shadow. God is dead: but as the human race is constituted, there will perhaps be caves for millenniums yet, in which people will show his shadow.—And we—we have still to overcome his shadow ! -' §108
Section 125 depicts the parable of the madman who is searching for God. He accuses us all of being the murderers of God. "'Whither is God?' he cried; 'I will tell you. We have killed him- you and I. All of us are his murderers..."


***  'Also sprach Zarathustra'

'Also sprach Zarathustra: Ein Buch für Alle und Keinen' - (Thus Spoke Zarathustra: A Book for All and None) is a philosophical 'novel' by German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, composed in four parts between 1883 and 1885.
Much of the work deals with ideas such as the "eternal recurrence of the same", the parable on the "death of God", and the "prophecy" of the Übermensch, which were first introduced in 'Die fröhliche Wissenschaft'

Described by Nietzsche himself as "the deepest ever written," the book is a dense and esoteric treatise on philosophy and morality, featuring as protagonist a fictionalized prophet descending from his mountain retreat to mankind, Zarathustra.
A central irony of the text is that Nietzsche mimics the style of the Bible in order to present ideas which fundamentally oppose Christian and Jewish morality and tradition.

'Also sprach Zarathustra' was conceived while Nietzsche was writing 'Die fröhliche Wissenschaft'; he made a small note, reading "6,000 feet beyond man and time," as evidence of this.
More specifically, this note related to the concept of the eternal recurrence, which is, by Nietzsche's admission, the central idea of 'Zarathustra'; this idea occurred to him by a "pyramidal block of stone" on the shores of Lake Silvaplana in the Upper Engadine, a high alpine region whose valley floor is at 6,000 ft. Nietzsche planned to write the book in three parts over several years.
He wrote that the ideas for 'Zarathustra' first came to him while walking on two roads surrounding Rapallo, according to Elisabeth Förster-Nietzsche in the introduction of Thomas Common's early translation of the book.

Although Part Three was originally planned to be the end of the book, and ends with a strong climax, Nietzsche subsequently decided to write an additional three parts; ultimately, however, he composed only the fourth part, which is viewed to constitute an intermezzo.
Nietzsche commented in 'Ecce Homo' that for the completion of each part: "Ten days sufficed; in no case, neither for the first nor for the third and last, did I require more" (trans. Kaufmann).
The first three parts were first published separately, and were subsequently published in a single volume in 1887.
The fourth part remained private after Nietzsche wrote it in 1885; a scant forty copies were all that were printed, apart from seven others that were distributed to Nietzsche's close friends. In March 1892, the four parts were finally reprinted as a single volume.
Since then, the version most commonly produced has included all four parts.
The original text contains a great deal of word-play.
An example of this is the use of words beginning über ("over" or "above") and unter ("down" or "below"), often paired to emphasise the contrast, which is not always possible to bring out in translation, except by coinages.
An example is Untergang, literally "down-going" but used in German to mean "setting" (as of the sun), which Nietzsche pairs with its opposite Übergang (going over or across).
Another example is Übermensch (overman or superman), discussed later in this article.
The book chronicles the fictitious travels and pedagogy of Zarathustra.

The name of this character is taken from the ancient prophet usually known in English as Zoroaster (Avestan: Zara?uštra), the Persian founder of Zoroastrianism.
Nietzsche is clearly portraying a "new" or "different" Zarathustra, one who turns traditional morality on its head.
He goes on to characterize "what the name of Zarathustra means in my mouth, the mouth of the first immoralist:"

Zarathustra has a simple characterisation and plot, narrated sporadically throughout the text.
It possesses a unique experimental style, one that is, for instance, evident in newly invented "dithyrambs" narrated or sung by Zarathustra.
Likewise, the separate 'Dithyrambs of Dionysus' was written in autumn 1888, and printed with the full volume in 1892, as the corollaries of Zarathustra's "abundance".
Some speculate that Nietzsche intended to write about final acts of creation and destruction brought about by Zarathustra. However, the book lacks a finale to match that description; its actual ending focuses more on Zarathustra recognizing that his legacy is beginning to perpetuate, and consequently choosing to leave the higher men to their own devices in carrying his legacy forth.
Zarathustra also contains the famous dictum "God is dead", which had appeared earlier in 'Die fröhliche Wissenschaft'.
In his autobiographical work 'Ecce Homo', Nietzsche states that the book's underlying concept is discussed within "the penultimate section of the fourth book" of  'Die fröhliche Wissenschaft'  (Ecce Homo, Kaufmann). It is the eternal recurrence of the same events.
This concept first occurred to Nietzsche while he was walking in Switzerland through the woods along the lake of Silvaplana (close to Surlej); he was inspired by the sight of a gigantic, towering, pyramidal rock.
Before Zarathustra, Nietzsche had mentioned the concept in the fourth book of  'Die fröhliche Wissenschaft' (e.g., sect. 341); this was the first public proclamation of the notion by him.
Apart from its salient presence in Zarathustra, it is also echoed throughout Nietzsche's work.
At any rate, it is by Zarathustra's transfiguration that he embraces eternity, that he at last ascertains "the supreme will to power".
This inspiration finds its expression with Zarathustra's 'Song of Midnight', featured twice in the book, once near the story's close:

O Mensch! Gib acht!
Was spricht, die tiefe Mitternacht?
"Ich schlief, ich schlief -,
Aus tiefem Traum bin ich erwacht: -
Die Welt ist tief,
Und tiefer als der Tag gedacht.
Tief ist ihr Weh -,
Lust - tiefer noch als Herzeleid:
Weh spricht: Vergeh! 
Doch alle Lust will Ewigkeit -,
- Will tiefe, tiefe Ewigkeit!"

(O man, take heed!
What says the deep midnight ?
I sleep - I sleep —
But from a deep dream I woke:—
The world is deep,
Deeper than day may deem.
Deep is its woe—
But Joy is deeper than woe:
Woe says: Go!
But all joy wants eternity—
Wants deep, deep eternity.")

Another singular feature of Zarathustra, first presented in the prologue, is the designation of human beings as a transition between apes and the "Übermensch" (in English, either the "overman" or "superman"; or, superhuman or overhuman.
The Übermensch is one of the many interconnecting, interdependent themes of the story, and is represented through several different metaphors.
Examples include: the lightning that is portended by the silence and raindrops of a travelling storm cloud; or the sun's rise and culmination at its midday zenith; or a man traversing a rope stationed above an abyss, moving away from his uncultivated animality and towards the Übermensch.
The symbol of the Übermensch also alludes to Nietzsche's notions of "self-mastery", "self-cultivation", "self-direction", and "self-overcoming". Expounding these concepts, Zarathustra declares:

"I teach you the overman. Man is something that shall be overcome. What have you done to overcome him?
"All beings so far have created something beyond themselves; and do you want to be the ebb of this great flood and even go back to the beasts rather than overcome man? What is the ape to man? A laughingstock or a painful embarrassment. And man shall be just that for the overman: a laughingstock or a painful embarrassment. You have made your way from worm to man, and much in you is still worm. Once you were apes, and even now, too, man is more ape than any ape.
"Whoever is the wisest among you is also a mere conflict and cross between plant and ghost. But do I bid you become ghosts or plants?
"Behold, I teach you the overman! The overman is the meaning of the earth. Let your will say: the overman shall be the meaning of the earth! I beseech you, my brothers, remain faithful to the earth, and do not believe those who speak to you of otherworldly hopes! Poison-mixers are they, whether they know it or not. Despisers of life are they, decaying and poisoned themselves, of whom the earth is weary: so let them go!"

— Thus Spoke Zarathustra, Prologue, §3, trans. Walter Kaufmann

The book embodies a number of innovative poetical and rhetorical methods of expression.
It serves as a parallel and supplement to the various philosophical ideas present in Nietzsche's body of work.
He has, however, said that "among my writings my Zarathustra stands to my mind by itself" (Ecce Homo, Preface, sec. 4, Kaufmann).
Emphasizing its centrality and its status as his magnum opus, it is stated by Nietzsche that:

'With [Thus Spoke Zarathustra] I have given mankind the greatest present that has ever been made to it so far. This book, with a voice bridging centuries, is not only the highest book there is, the book that is truly characterized by the air of the heights—the whole fact of man lies beneath it at a tremendous distance—it is also the deepest, born out of the innermost wealth of truth, an inexhaustible well to which no pail descends without coming up again filled with gold and goodness.'

— Ecce Homo, Preface, §4, trans. Walter Kaufmann

Since, as stated, many of the book's ideas are also present in his other works, 'Zarathustra' is seen to have served as a precursor to his later philosophical thought.
With the book, Nietzsche embraced a distinct aesthetic assiduity.
He later reformulated many of his ideas, in his book 'Beyond Good and Evil' and various other writings that he composed thereafter.
He continued to emphasize his philosophical concerns; generally, his intention was to show an alternative to repressive moral codes and to avert "nihilism" in all of its varied forms.
Other aspects of 'Thus Spoke Zarathustra' relate to Nietzsche's proposed "Transvaluation of All Values". This incomplete project began with 'The Antichrist'.

Nietzsche injects myriad ideas into the book, but there are a few recurring themes.
The overman (Übermensch), a self-mastered individual who has achieved his full power, is an almost omnipresent idea in Thus Spoke Zarathustra.
Man as a race is merely a bridge between animals and the overman. Nietzsche also makes a point that the overman is not an end result for a person, but more the journey toward self-mastery.
The eternal recurrence, found elsewhere in Nietzsche's writing, is also mentioned.
The eternal recurrence is the idea that all events that have happened will happen again, infinitely many times.
Such a reality can serve as the litmus test for an overman. Faced with the knowledge that he would repeat every action that he has taken, an overman would be elated as he has no regrets and loves life.
The 'will to power' is the fundamental component of human nature.
Everything we do is an expression of the will to power.
The will to power is a psychological analysis of all human action and is accentuated by self-overcoming and self-enhancement.
Contrasted with living for procreation, pleasure, or happiness, the will to power is the summary of all man's struggle against his surrounding environment as well as his reason for living in it.
The book in several passages expresses loathing for sentiments of human pity, compassion, indulgence and mercy towards a victim, which are regarded as the greatest sin and most insidious danger.
Part of Nietzsche's reactionary thought is also that the creature he most sincerely loathes is the spirit of revolution, and its hatred for the anarchist and rebel.
Many criticisms of Christianity can be found in 'Thus Spoke Zarathustra', in particular Christian values of good and evil and its belief in an afterlife.
Nietzsche sees the complacency of Christian values as fetters to the achievement of overman as well as on the human spirit.

The book inspired Richard Strauss (see left) to compose the tone poem 'Also sprach Zarathustra', which he designated "freely based on Friedrich Nietzsche."
Zarathustra's 'Midnight Song' is set as part of Gustav Mahler's Third Symphony (1895-96), originally under the title 'What Man Tells Me', or alternatively 'What the Night tells me' (of Man).
Frederick Delius (see right) based his major choral-orchestral work 'A Mass of Life' (1904-5) on texts from Thus Spoke Zarathustra.
The work ends with a setting of Zarathustra's 'Midnight Song' which Delius had composed earlier, in 1898, as a separate work.


Götzen-Dämmerung - (oder, Wie man mit dem Hammer philosophiert)

'Twilight of the Idols', or, 'How to Philosophize with a Hammer' was written in 1888, and published in 1889.

'Twilight of the Idols' was written in just over a week, between 26 August and 3 September 1888, while Nietzsche was on holiday in Sils-Maria.
As Nietzsche's fame and popularity was spreading both inside and outside Germany, he felt that he needed a text that was a short introduction to his work; - 'Götzen-Dämmerung' (Twilight of the Idols) is his attempt at this.
The title, 'Götzen-Dämmerung' is, of course, a pun on the title of Richard Wagner's opera, 'Götterdämmerung', (Twilight of the Gods).
Götze is a German word for "idol" or "false god".

Nietzsche criticizes the culture of the day as unsophisticated and nihilistic.
In contrast to all these alleged representatives of cultural "decadence", Nietzsche applauds Caesar, Napoleon, Goethe, Thucydides and the Sophists as healthier and stronger types.
The book states the transvaluation of all values as Nietzsche's final and most important project, and gives a view of antiquity wherein the Romans for once take precedence over the ancient Greeks.
The book is divided up into several sections:


Maxims and Arrows

Single sentence aphorisms on a variety of topics.

The Problem of Socrates

He establishes early on in the section The Problem of Socrates that the value of life cannot be estimated and any judgment concerning it only reveals the person's life-denying or life-affirming tendencies.
He tries to show how philosophers from Socrates onwards were "decadents," employing dialectical rationality as a tool for self-preservation as the authority of tradition breaks down.

Reason in Philosophy

Nietzsche does not believe that one should refute the senses, as Plato did.
This goes against Nietzsche's ideals of human excellence in that it is a symptom of personal decadence.
By decadence, Nietzsche is referring to a fading of life, vitality and an embrace of weakness.
In Nietzsche's view if one is to accept a non-sensory, unchanging world as superior and our sensory world as inferior, then one is adopting a hate of nature and thus a hate of the sensory world - the world of the living. Nietzsche postulates that only one who is weak, sickly or ignoble would subscribe to such a belief.
Nietzsche goes on to relate this obsession with the non-physical realm to Christianity. Nietzsche indicates that the belief in the Christian God is a similar decadence and hate of life.

How the "True World" Finally Became Fiction

In this section, Nietzsche demonstrates the process by which previous philosophers have fictionalized the apparent world, casting the product of the senses into doubt, and thereby removing the concept of the real world.

Morality as Anti-Nature

The Four Great Errors

In the chapter 'The Four Great Errors', he suggests that people, especially Christians, confuse the effect for the cause, and that they project the human ego and subjectivity on to other things, thereby creating the illusionary concept of being.
In reality, motive or intention is "an accompaniment to an act" rather than the cause of that act. By removing causal agency based on free, conscious will, Nietzsche critiques the ethics of accountability, suggesting that everything is necessary in a whole that can neither be judged nor condemned, because there is nothing outside of it.
What people typically deem "vice" is in fact merely "the inability not to react to a stimulus."
In this light, the concept of morality becomes purely a means of control: "the doctrine of will has been invented essentially for the purpose of punishment, that is of finding guilty."
Men were thought of as free so that they could become guilty: consequently, every action had to be thought of as willed, the origin of every action as lying in the consciousness... ...Today, when we have started to move in the reverse direction, when we immoralists especially are trying with all our might to remove the concept of guilt and the concept of punishment from the world and to purge psychology, history, nature, the social institutions and sanctions of them, there is in our eyes no more radical opposition than that of the theologians, who continue to infect the innocence of becoming with 'punishment' and 'guilt' by means of the concept of the 'moral world-order'. Christianity is a hangman's metaphysics.


'And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music.'

~Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche


My first acquaintance with Nietzsche's writings belongs to the year 1889.
Previous to that I had never read a line of his.
Rudolf Steiner
Upon the substance of my ideas as these find expression in 'The Philosophy of Spiritual Activity', Nietzsche's thought had not the least influence.
I read what he had written with the feeling of being drawn on by the style which he had developed out of his relation to life.
I felt that his soul was a being that was impelled by reason of inheritance and attraction to give attention to everything which the spiritual life of his age had brought forth, but which always felt within: “What has this spiritual life to do with me There must be another world in which I can live; so much does life in this world jar upon me.”
This feeling made him a spiritually incensed critic of his time; but a critic who was by his own criticism reduced to illness – who had to experience illness, and could only dream of health – of his own health.
At first he sought for means to make his dream of health the content of his own life; and thus he sought with Richard Wagner, with Schopenhauer, with modern positivism to dream as if he wished to make the dream in his soul into a reality.
One day he discovered that he had only dreamed.
Then he began with every power belonging to his spirit to seek for realities – realities which must lie “somewhere or other.”
He found no roads to these realities, but only yearnings.
Then these yearnings became to him realities.
He dreamed again, but the mighty power of his soul created out of these dreams realities of the inner man which, without that heaviness which had so long characterized the ideas of humanity, floated within him in a mood of soul joyful but resting upon foundations contrary to the spirit of the age, the “Zeitgeist.”
It was thus that I viewed Nietzsche.
The freely floating weightless character of his ideas attracted me.
I found that this free-floating element in him had brought to maturity many thoughts that bore a resemblance to those which had shaped themselves in me by ways quite unlike those of Nietzsche's mind.
Thus it was possible for me to write in 1895 in the preface to my book 'Nietzsche, ein Kämpfer gegen seine Zeit',
As early as 1886 in my little volume, 'The Theory of Knowledge in Goethe's World-Conception', the same sentiment is expressed” – that is, the same as appears in certain works of Nietzsche.
But what attracted me particularly was that one could read Nietzsche without coming upon anything which strove to make the reader a “dependant” of Nietzsche's.
One could gladly experience without reserve his spiritual illumination; in this experience one felt oneself to be wholly free; for one had the impression that his words began to laugh if one had attributed to them the intention of being assented to, as is the case when one reads Haeckel or Spencer.
Thus I ventured to explain my relationship to Nietzsche in the book mentioned above by using the words which he himself had used in his book on Schopenhauer:

Goethe and Schiller Institute - Weimar
I belong among those readers of Nietzsche, who, after having read their first page from him, know for a certainty that they will read every page and listen to every word which he has ever uttered. My confidence in him continued from that time on ... I understood him as if he had written for me, in order to express me intelligibly, but immodestly, foolishly.

Elizabeth Förster-Nietzsche
Shortly before I began the actual writing of that book, Nietzsche's sister, Elizabeth Förster-Nietzsche, appeared one day at the Goethe and Schiller Institute.
She was taking the preliminary steps toward the establishment of a Nietzsche Institute, and wished to learn how the Goethe and Schiller Institute was managed.
Fritz Koegel
Soon afterward there came to Weimar the editor of Nietzsche's works, Fritz Koegel, and I made his acquaintance.
Later I got into a serious disagreement with Frau Elizabeth Förster-Nietzsche.
Her emotional and lovable spirit claimed at that time my deepest sympathy.
I suffered inexpressibly by reason of the disagreement.
A complicated situation had brought this to pass; I was compelled to defend myself against accusations; I know that it was all necessary, that the happy hours I was permitted to spend among the Nietzsche archives in Naumburg and Weimar should now lie under a veil of bitter memories; yet I am grateful to Frau Förster-Nietzsche for having taken me, on the first of many visits I made to her, into the chamber of Friedrich Nietzsche.

Friederich Nietzsche and
Frau Elizabeth Förster-Nietzsche - Villa Silberblick - Weimar
There he lay on a lounge enveloped in darkness, with his beautiful forehead-artist's and thinker's forehead in one.
It was early afternoon.
Those eyes which in their blindness yet revealed the soul, now merely mirrored a reflection of the surroundings which could find no longer any way to reach the soul.
One stood there and Nietzsche knew it not.
And yet one could have believed, looking upon that brow permeated by the spirit, that this was the expression of a soul which had all the forenoon long been shaping thoughts within, and which now would fain rest a while.
Friederich Nietzsche - Weimar

An inner shudder which seized my soul may have signified that this also underwent a change in sympathy with the genius whose gaze was directed toward me and yet failed to rest upon me.
The passivity of my gaze so long fixed won in return a comprehension of his own gaze: his longing always in vain to enable the soul-forces of the eye to work.
And so there appeared before my soul the soul of Nietzsche, hovering above his head, boundless in its spiritual light; surrendered wholly to the spiritual worlds, longing after its environment but failing to discover it; and yet chained to the body, which would have to do with the soul only so long as the soul longed for this present world. Nietzsche's soul was still there, but only from without could it hold to the body, that body which so long as the soul remained within it had offered resistance to the full unfolding of its light.

I had ere this read the Nietzsche who had written; now I perceived the Nietzsche who bore within his body ideas drawn from widely extended spiritual regions – ideas which still sparkled in their beauty even though they had lost on the way their primal illuminating powers.
A soul which from previous earthly lives bore rich wealth of light, but which could not in this life cause all its light to shine.
I had admired what Nietzsche wrote; but now I saw a luminous form behind that which I had admired.
In my thoughts I could only stammer over what I then beheld; and this stammering is in effect my book, 'Nietzsche as the Adversary of His Age'.
That the book is no more than a stammering conceals what is none the less true, that the form of Nietzsche I beheld inspired the book.
Frau Förster-Nietzsche then requested me to set Nietzsche's library in order.
In this way I was enabled to spend several weeks in the Nietzsche archives at Naumburg.
In this way also I formed an intimate friendship with Fritz Koegel.
It was a beautiful task which placed before my eyes the books in which Nietzsche himself had read.
His spirit lived in the impressions which these volumes made upon me – a volume of Emerson's filled throughout with marginal comments showing all the signs of an absorbing study; Guyau's writing bearing the same indications; books containing violent critical comments from his hand – a great number of marginal comments in which one could see his ideas in germinal form.
Eugen Dühring
A penetrating conception of Nietzsche's final creative period shone clearly before me as I read his marginal comments on Eugen Dühring's chief philosophical work.

Eugen Karl Dühring (12 January 1833, Berlin – 21 September 1921, Nowawes in modern-day Potsdam-Babelsberg) was a German philosopher and economist, a socialist who was a strong critic of Marxism.

Dühring there develops the thought that one can conceive the cosmos at a single moment as a combination of elementary parts.
Thus the history of the world would be the series of all such possible combinations.
When once these should have been formed, then the first would have to return, and the whole series would be repeated.
If anything thus exists in reality, it must have occurred innumerable times in the past, and must occur again innumerable times in future.
Thus we should arrive at the conception of the eternal repetition of similar states of the cosmos. Dühring rejects this thought as an impossibility Nietzsche reads this; he receives from it an impression, which works further in the depths of his soul and finally take form within him as “the return of the similar,” which, together with the idea of the “superman,” dominates his final creative period.
I was profoundly impressed – indeed shocked – by the impression which I received from thus following Nietzsche in his reading.
For I saw what an opposition there was between the character of Nietzsche's spirit and that of his contemporaries.
Dühring, the extreme positivist, who rejects everything which is not the result of a system of reasoning directed with cold and mathematical regularity, considers “the eternal repetition of the similar” as an absurdity, and sets up the idea only to show its impossibility; but Nietzsche must take this up as his solution of the world-riddle, as an intuition , arising from the depths of his own soul.
Thus Nietzsche stands in absolute opposition to much which pressed in upon him as the content of the thought and feeling of his age.
This driving pressure he so receives that it pains him deeply, and it is in grief, in inexpressible sorrow of spirit, that he shapes the content of his own soul.
This was the tragedy of his creative work.
This reached its climax while he was sketching the outlines for his last work, 'Willen zur Macht, eine Umwertung aller Werte'.
Nietzsche was impelled to bring up in purely spiritual fashion everything which he thought or experienced in the depth of his soul.

Frau Elizabeth Förster-Nietzsche - Nietzsche Archive 
To create a world-concept from the spiritual events in which the soul itself participates – this was the tendency of his thought.
But the positivistic world conception of his age, the age of natural science, swept in upon him. In this conception there was nothing but the purely materialistic world, void of spirit.
What remained of the spiritual way of thought in the conception was only the remains of ancient ways of thinking, and these no longer found him.
Nietzsche's unlimited sense for truth would expunge all this.
In this way he came to think as an extreme positivist.
A spiritual world behind the material became to him a lie.
But he could create only out of his own soul – so create that true creation seemed to him to have meaning only when it holds before itself in idea the content of the spiritual world. Yet this content he rejected.
The natural-scientific world-content had so firmly gripped his soul he would create this as if in spiritual fashion.
Lyrically, in dionysiac rush of soul, does his mind soar aloft in 'Zarathustra'.
In wonderful fashion does the spiritual hover there, but it is a wonderful spiritual dream woven out of the stuff of material reality.
The spirit strews this about in its effort to escape because it does not find itself but can only live in a seeming reality in that dream reflected from the material.
In my own mind I dwelt much during those Weimar days in the contemplation of Nietzsche's type of mind.
In my own spiritual experience this type of mind had also its place.
My spiritual experience could enter sympathetically into Nietzsche's struggles, into his tragedy. What had this to do with the positivistic forms in which Nietzsche proclaimed the conclusions of his thought?
Others looked upon me as a “Nietzschean,” merely because I could unreservedly admire what was entirely opposed to my own way of thinking.
I was impressed by the way in which Nietzsche's mind revealed itself; in just this aspect I felt myself close to him, for in the content of his thought he was close to no one; as to the experience of the spiritual way of thought he felt himself isolated both from men and from his age.
For a long time I was in frequent intercourse with the editor of Nietzsche's works, Fritz Koegel. We discussed in detail many things pertaining to the publication of Nietzsche's works.
I never had any official relation to the Nietzsche archives or the publication of his works.
When Frau Förster Nietzsche wished to offer me such a relationship, this led to a conflict with Fritz Koegel which at once rendered it impossible that I should have any share in the Nietzsche archives.
My connection with the Nietzsche archives constituted a very stimulating episode in my life at Weimar, and the final rupture of this relationship caused me deep regret.
Out of the various activities in connection with Nietzsche, there remained with me a view of his personality – that of one whose fate it was to share tragically in the life of the age of natural science covering the latter half of the nineteenth century and finally to be shattered by his impact with that age.
He sought in that age, but nothing could he find.
As to myself, I was only confirmed by my experience with him in the conviction that all seeking for reality in the data of natural science would be vain except as it directed its view, not within these data, but through them into the world of spirit.

It was thus that Nietzsche's work brought the problem of natural science before my mind in a new form.

Goethe and Nietzsche stood in perspective before me.
Goethe's strong sense for reality directed him toward the essential being and processes of nature.
He desired to remain within nature.
He restricted himself to pure perceptions of the plant, animal, and human forms.
But, while he kept his mind moving among these forms, he came everywhere upon spirit.
For within the material he found everywhere dominant the spirit.
All the way to the actual perception of the spirit living and controlling he would not advance.
A spiritual sort of natural science was what he constructed, but he paused before arriving at the knowledge of pure spirit lest he should lose his hold upon reality.

Nietzsche proceeded from the vision of the spiritual after the manner of myths. Apollo and Dionysos were spiritual forms which he experienced in vital fashion.
The history of the human spiritual seemed to him to have been a history of co-operation and also of conflict between Dionysos and Apollo.
But he got only as far as the mythical conception of such spiritual forms.
He did not press forward to the perception of real spiritual being. Beginning with the spiritual in myth, he made a path for himself to nature.
In Nietzsche's thought Apollo had to represent the material after the manner of natural science; Dionysos had to be conceived as symbolizing the forces of nature.
But thus was Apollo's beauty dimmed; thus was the world-emotion of Dionysos paralyzed into the regularity of natural law.
Goethe found the spirit in the reality of nature; Nietzsche lost the spirit-myth in the dream of nature in which he lived.
I stood between these two opposites.
The experiences of soul through which I had passed in writing my book 'Nietzsche as the Adversary of His Age' could at first make no advance; on the contrary, in the last period of my life in Weimar, Goethe became once more dominant in my reflections.
I wished to indicate the road by which the life of humanity had expressed itself in philosophy up to the time of Goethe, in order to conceive the philosophy of Goethe as proceeding out of this life.
This endeavour I made in the book 'Goethe's Weltanschauung' which was published in 1897.
In this book it was my purpose to bring to light how Goethe, wherever he directed his eyes to the understanding of nature, saw shining forth everywhere the spiritual; but I did not touch upon the manner in which Goethe related himself to spirit as such.
My purpose was to characterize that part of Goethe's philosophy which expressed itself vitally in a spiritual view of nature.
Nietzsche's ideas of the “eternal repetition” and of “supermen” remained long in my mind.
For in these was reflected that which a personality must feel concerning the evolution and essential being of humanity when this personality is kept back from grasping the spiritual world by the restricted thought in the philosophy of nature characterizing the end of the nineteenth century.
Nietzsche perceived the evolution of humanity in such a way that whatever happened at any moment has already happened innumerable times in precisely the same form, and will happen again innumerable times in future.
The atomistic conception of the cosmos makes the present moment seem a certain definite combination of the smallest entities; this must be followed by another, and this in turn by yet another – until, when all possible combinations have been formed, the first must again appear. A human life with all its individual details has been present innumerable times; it will return with all its details in innumerable times.
The “repeated earth-lives” of humanity shone darkly in Nietzsche's subconsciousness.
These lead the individual human life through human evolution to life-stages at which overruling destiny causes men to pass, not to a repetition of the earth-life, but by ways spiritually determined to a traversing in many forms through the course of the world.
Nietzsche was fettered by the natural-scientific conception.
What this conception could make of repeated earth-lives – this exercised a fascination upon his mind.
This he vitally experienced; for he felt his own life to be a tragedy filled with the bitterest experiences, weighed down by grief.
To live such a life countless times – this was what he dwelt upon instead of the liberating experience which is to follow upon such a tragedy in the further unfolding of future lives.
Nietzsche felt also that in the man who is living through one earthly existence another man is revealed, a superman, who is able to form but a fragment of his whole life in a bodily existence on earth.
The natural-scientific conception of evolution caused him to view this superman, not as the spirit dominant within the sense-physical, but as that which is shaping itself through a merely natural process of evolution.
As man has evolved out of the animal, so will the “superman” evolve out of man.
The natural scientific view drew Nietzsche's eyes away from the spiritual man to the natural man, and dazzled him with the thought of a higher “natural man.”
What Nietzsche had experienced in this way of thought was present in the utmost vividness in my mind during the summer of 1896.
At that time Fritz Koegel gave me his collection of Nietzsche's aphorisms concerning the “eternal repetition” to look through.
The opinions I formed at that time of this process of Nietzsche's thought were expressed in an article published in 1900 in the 'Magazin für Literatur'.
Certain statements occurring in that article fix definitely my reactions at that time to Nietzsche and to natural science.
I will transcribe those thoughts of mine here, freed from the polemics with which they were there associated.
There is no doubt that Nietzsche wrote these single aphorisms in a series without any order ... I still maintain the conviction I then expressed, that Nietzsche grasped this idea when reading 'Eugen Dühring's Kursus der Philosophie als streng Wissenschaftlicher Weltanschauung und Lebensgestaltung' (Leipzig, 1875) and under the influence of this book. On page 84 of this work the thought is quite clearly expressed; but it is there as energetically opposed as Nietzsche defends it. This book is in Nietzsche's library. It was read very eagerly by Nietzsche, as is evident from numerous pencil marks on the margins ... Dühring says: ‘The profound’ logical basis of all conscious life demands in the strongest sense of the word an inexhaustibleness of forms. Is this endlessness, by virtue of which ever new forms will appear, a possibility? The mere number of the parts and of the force elements would in itself preclude the unending multiplication of combinations but for the fact that the perpetual medium of space and time promises a limitlessness in variations. Moreover, of that which can be counted only a limited number of combinations is possible. But from that which cannot according to its nature be conceived as enumerable it must be possible for a limitless number of states and relationships to come to pass. This limitlessness, which we are considering with reference to the destiny of forms in the universe, is compatible with any sort of change and even with intervals of approximation to fixity or precise repetitions (italics are mine) but not with the cessation of all variation. Whoever would cherish the conception of an existence which contradicts the primal state of things ought to reflect that the evolution in time has but a single true tendency, and that causality is always in line with this tendency. It is easier to abandon the distinction than to maintain it, and it then requires but little effort to leap over the chasm and imagine the end as analogous with the beginning. But we ought to guard against such superficial haste; for the once given existence of the universe is not merely an unimportant episode between two states of night, but rather the sole firm and illuminated ground from which we may infer the past and forecast the future ... ‘Dühring feels also that an everlasting repetition of states holds no incentive for living.’ He says: ‘Now it is self-evident that the principle of an incentive for living is incompatible with the eternal repetition of the same form ...’”
Nietzsche was forced by the logic of the natural-scientific conception to a conclusion from which Dühring turned back because of mathematical considerations and the repellent prospect which these represented for human life.
To quote further from my article:
“... if we set up the postulate that with the material parts and the force-elements a limited number of combinations is possible, then we have the Nietzschean ideal of the ‘return of the similar.’
“Nothing less than a defence of a contradictory idea taken from Dühring's view of the matter occurs in Aphorism 203 (Vol. XII in Koegel's edition, and Aphorism in Horneffer's work, Nietzsche's Lehre von der ewigen Wiederkunft(5)). The amount of the all-force is definite, not something endless: we must beware of such prodigality in conceptions! Accordingly the number of stages, modifications, combinations, and evolutions of this force, though vast and practically immeasurable, is yet always definite and not endless: that is, the force is eternally the same and eternally active – even to this very moment already an endlessness has passed, which means that all possible evolutions must already have occurred. Therefore, the momentary evolution must be a repetition, and likewise that which brought it forth and that which arises from it, and so on both forwards and backwards! Everything has been innumerable times insofar as the sum total of the stages of all forces is repeated ...
And Nietzsche's feeling in regard to these thoughts is precisely the opposite of that which Dühring experienced. To Nietzsche this thought is the loftiest formula in which life can be affirmed. Aphorism 43 (in Horneffer; 234 in Koegel's edition) runs: ‘Future history will ever more combat this thought, and never believe it, for according to its nature it must die forever! Only he remains who considers his existence capable of endless repetitions: among such, however, a state is possible to which no Utopian has ever attained.’ It can be proven that many of Nietzsche's thoughts originated in a manner similar to that of the eternal repetition. Nietzsche formed an idea opposite to any idea then present before him. At length this same tendency led to the production of his masterpiece, 'Umwertung aller Werte'.”

Peter Gast,
It was then clear to me that in certain of his thoughts which strove to reach the world of spirit Nietzsche was a prisoner of his conception of nature.
For this reason I was strongly opposed to the mystical interpretation of his thought of repetition.
I agreed with Peter Gast, who wrote in his edition of Nietzsche's work: “The doctrine – to be understood in a purely mechanical sense – of limitedness and consequent repetition in cosmic molecular combinations.”
Nietzsche believed that a lofty thought must be brought up from the foundations of natural science.
That was the way in which he had to sorrow because of his age.
Thus in my glimpse of Nietzsche's soul in 1896 there appeared before me what one who looked toward the spirit had to suffer from the conception of nature prevailing at the end of the nineteenth century.


In the 1890s Steiner collaborated in complete editions of the works of Arthur Schopenhauer and the writer Jean Paul and wrote numerous articles for various journals.
In 1896, Elisabeth Förster-Nietzsche asked Steiner to help organize the Nietzsche Archiv in Naumburg.
Her brother by that time was 'non compos mentis'.

Annie Besant
Förster-Nietzsche introduced Steiner into the presence of the catatonic philosopher; Steiner, deeply moved, subsequently wrote the book 'Friedrich Nietzsche, Fighter for Freedom'.
In 1899 Steiner began speaking regularly to the members of the Theosophical Society in Berlin, becoming the head of its newly constituted German section in 1902.
By 1904, Steiner was appointed by Annie Besant to be leader of the Theosophical Esoteric Society for Germany and Austria.
The German Section of the Theosophical Society grew rapidly under Steiner's leadership as he lectured throughout much of Europe on his spiritual science. During this period, Steiner maintained an original approach, replacing Madame Blavatsky's terminology with his own, and basing his spiritual research and teachings upon the Western esoteric and philosophical tradition. In 1912 there was a formal split from Annie Besant, when Steiner and the majority of members of the German section of the Theosophical Society broke off to form a new group, the Anthroposophical Society.

Adolf Hitler
Dietrich Eckart
In 1919, the political theorist of the National Socialist movement in Germany, Dietrich Eckart, publicly criticized Steiner.
In 1921, Adolf Hitler attacked Steiner in an article in the right-wing Völkischer Beobachter newspaper that included accusations that Steiner was a tool of the Jews.
Increasingly ill, his last lecture was held in September 1924.
He continued work on his autobiography during the last months of his life; he died on 30 March 1925.
Steiner's Christocentric 'philosophy', derived from an essentially Jewish Tradition made his teachings incompatible with Völkisch Natioanlist philosophy.

Alfred Baemler

Adolf Hitler meets Elizabeth Forster-Nietzsche
Weimar 1934

'Nietzsche and National Socialism stand on the other side of the traditions of the German bourgeoisie.
What does that mean?
The spiritual forces which have formed the German bourgeoisie in the last several centuries have been Pietism, the Enlightenment, and Romanticism. Pietism was the last truly revolutionary religious movement on Lutheran soil.
It led men from a hopeless political reality back into their own selves and gathered them together in small private circles.
It was a religious individualism which strengthened the inclination toward concern with self, toward psychological analysis and biographical examination.
Every apolitical state-alien tendency necessarily had to find support and nourishment in Pietistic Germany.
The wholly different individualism of the Enlightenment also worked in this direction.
This individualism was not of a religious-sentimental character.
It believed in reason, it was rational, but it was "political" only in that it denied the feudal system; it was unable to erect an enduring political system of its own and was capable only of breaking the path for the economic system of capitalism.
Man was viewed as a wholly individual entity, cut off from all original orders and relations, a fictitious person responsible only to himself. In contrast, Romanticism saw man again in the light of his natural and historical ties.
Romanticism opened our eyes to the night, the past, our ancestors, to the mythos and the Volk. The movement that led from Herder to Gorres, to the brothers Grimm, Eichendorff, Arnim, and Savigny, is the only spiritual movement that is still fully alive.
It is the only movement with which Nietzsche had to wrestle....

When we call National Socialism a world view we mean that not only the bourgeois parties but also their ideologies have been annihilated.
Only ill-willed persons could maintain that everything that has been created by the past must now be negated.
Rather, we mean that we have entered into a new relationship with our past, that our view has been cleared for what was truly forceful in this past but which had been clouded by bourgeois ideology. In a word, we have discovered new possibilities for understanding the essence of German existence.
Precisely in this Nietzsche has preceded us.
We hold a view of Romanticism that is different from his. But his most personal and lonely possession, the negation of bourgeois ideology as a whole, has today become the property of a generation....

The foundations of Christian morality -- religious individualism, a guilty conscience, meekness, concern for the eternal salvation of the soul -- all are absolutely foreign to Nietzsche.
He revolts against the concept of repentance: "I do not like this kind of cowardice about one's own action; one should not leave one's own self in the lurch before the assault of unexpected disgrace and vexation.
Rather, an extreme pride is in order here.
For, finally, what is the use! No deed can be undone by repentance." What he means here is not a reduction of responsibility, but rather its intensification.
Here speaks the man who knows how much courage, how much pride, is necessary to maintain himself in the face of Fate.
Out of his amor fati Nietzsche spoke contemptuously about Christianity with its "perspective of salvation." As a Nordic man he never understood for what purpose he should be "redeemed." The Mediterranean religion of salvation is alien to and far removed from his Nordic attitude.
He can understand man only as a warrior against Fate. A mode of thought which sees struggle and work only as a penance appears incomprehensible to him.
"Our real life is a false, apostatic, and sinful existence, a penalty existence." Sorrow, battle, work, death, are merely taken as objections to life. "Man as innocent, idle, immortal, happy -- this concept of 'highest desirability' especially must be criticized."
Nietzsche turns passionately upon the monastic vita contemplativa, against Augustine's "Sabbath of all Sabbaths." He praises Luther for having made an end of the vita contemplativa. The Nordic melody of strife and labor sounds strong and clear here. The accent with which we pronounce these words today we heard from Nietzsche for the first time.

We call Nietzsche the philosopher of heroism. But that is only a half-truth if we do not regard him at the same time as the philosopher of activism. He considered himself the world-historical counterpart to Plato.
"Works" result not from the desire for display, not from the acknowledgment of "extramundane" values, but from practice, from the ever repeated deed. Nietzsche employs a famous antithesis to make this clear:
"First and above all there is the work. And that means training, training, training! The accompanying faith will come by itself -- of that you can be certain."
Nietzsche opposes the Christian proscription of the political sphere, of the sphere of action altogether, with the thesis that also overcame the contrast between Catholicism and Protestantism (work and faith): "One has to train oneself not in the strengthening of value feelings, but in action; One has to know how to do something." In this way he re-established the purity of the sphere of action, of the political sphere.

Nietzsche's "values" have nothing to do with the Beyond, and therefore cannot be petrified into dogma. In ourselves, through us, they rise struggling to the surface; they exist only as long as we make ourselves responsible for them. When Nietzsche warns, "Be true to the Earth !" he reminds us of the idea that is rooted in our strength but does not hope for "realization" in a distant Beyond.
It is not enough to point out the "this-worldly" character of Nietzsche's values if one at the same time does not want to refute the notion that values are "realized" by action. Something inferior is always attached to the "realization" of given values whether these values are of a mundane or extramundane character....

Nietzsche's Nordic and soldierly valuation opposes that of the Mediterranean world and that of the priests.
His critique of religion is a criticism of the priest, and arises from the point of view of the warrior, since Nietzsche demonstrates that even the origin of religion lies in the realm of power.
This explains the fateful contradiction in a morality based on the Christian religion.
"To secure the rule of moral values, all kinds of unmoral forces and passions have to be enlisted. The development of moral values is the work of unmoral passions and considerations."
Morality, therefore, is the creation of unmorality.
"How to bring virtue to rule: This treatise deals with the great politics of virtue."
It teaches for the first time "that one cannot bring about the reign of virtue by the same means used to establish any kind of rule, least of all through virtue."
"One has to be very unmoral to make morality through deeds."
Nietzsche replaces the bourgeois moral philosophy with the philosophy of the will to power -- in other words with the philosophy of politics.
If in doing so he becomes the apologist for the "unconscious," this "unconscious" is not to be understood in terms of depth psychology.
Here the concern is not with the instinctive and unconscious drives of an individual. Rather, "un conscious" here means "perfect" and "able."
And beyond that, "unconscious" also means life as such, the organism, the "great reason" of the body.

Consciousness is only a tool, a detail in the totality of life. In opposition to the philosophy of the conscious, Nietzsche asserts the aristocracy of nature.
But for thousands of years a life-weary morality has opposed the aristocracy of the strong and healthy.
Like National Socialism, Nietzsche sees in the state, in society, the "great mandatory of life," responsible for each life's failure to life itself.
"The species requires the extinction of the misfits, weaklings, and degenerates: but Christianity as a conserving force appeals especially to them."
Here we encounter the basic contradiction: whether one proceeds from a natural life context or from an equality of individual souls before God.
Ultimately the  ideal of democratic equality rests upon the latter assumption.
The former contains the foundations of a new policy.
It takes unexcelled boldness to base a state upon the race.
A new order of things is the natural consequence. It is this order which Nietzsche undertook to establish in opposition to the existing one.

In the face of the overpowering strength of the race, what happens to the individual ?
He returns - as a single member in a community.
The herd instinct is basically altogether different from the instinct of an "aristocratic society," composed of strong, natural men who do not permit their basic instincts to languish in favor of a mediocre average - men who know how to curb and control their passions instead of weakening or negating them.
This again must not be understood from an individualistic point of view.
For a long time emotions will have to be kept under "tyrannical" control.
This can be done only by one community, one race, one people....

If there ever was a truly German expression, it is this: One must have the need to be strong, otherwise one never will be.
We Germans know what it means to maintain ourselves against all opposition.
We understand the "will to power" -- even if in an altogether different manner than our enemies assume.
Even in this connection, Nietzsche has supplied the deepest meaning: "We Germans demand something from ourselves that nobody expected from us - we want more."

If today we see German youth on the march under the banner of the swastika, we are reminded of Nietzsche's "untimely meditations" in which this youth was appealed to for the first time.
It is our greatest hope that the state today is wide open to our youth.
And if today we shout "Heil Hitler!" to this youth, at the same time we are also hailing Nietzsche.'

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1 comment:

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