Friedrich Nietzsche was a philosopher extraordinaire who is among TJ's favorites, having 'read' some Nietzsche when he was a teenager. Nietzsche is considered to be one the most important thinkers of western hisotry. His most groundbreaking contributions deal with his historical analysis of Western morality and the psychological motivations which drove the philosophical thinking both in history and throughout the modern day. Most famous were his criticisms of Christianity, which he saw as the cultural inhabitant of European cultures, but his targets were ride ranging from philosophical Idealists, nationalists, and anti-Semites to materialists, positivists, feminists, democrats, and socialists.
Many people have misconceptions about Nietzsche and his philosophy. Mostly neckbeards on the internet think that by just watching quick ten minute video essays and looking up out-of-context quotes about Nietzsche, they've tapped into a completely esoteric trump card against equally unread and uninformed nobodies on the internet. Everyone, however, seems to make the same mistaken in thinking that Nietzsche was a Nihilist, despite his active rejection and assault of the concept. He still held that there did not exist any objective knowledge, truth, or meaning to anything, but he did not codify that premise into a world view as other self-affirmed Nihilists had. Nietzsche also criticized what he saw as the inherent Nihilism of Christianity and all 'other-worldly' beliefs. An additionally popular belief is that his philosophy inspired or informed the political and racial theories of Hitler and the Nazi Party. Although his literature was prominent in some party members' circles and was promoted by the German state at the time, Nietzsche's own views debasing nationalism (particularly German nationalism), racial purity, and anti-Semitism demonstrate that it was simply yet more poor readings of his work which resulted in misinterpretation or outright mutation. The most infamous example being Nietzsche's own Hitler fangirl sister deliberately reorganizing and rewriting aspects of Nietzsche's unpublished works 'The Will to Power' and 'the Anti-Christ' after his death to lax his criticisms of anti-Semites and Christianity while harshening his attacks on Jews (and giving shout-outs to Aryan greatness so she could get some of that Austrian sausage).
Nietzsche's most prolific writing period had been in the last two years of his sane life before suffering a mental collapse in Turin 1889, those of which becoming some of his most well-known works. Such a feat is given further context when one considers how that this was accomplished in spite of being plagued with agonizingly chronic migraines, fevers, nausea, advancing blindness, and numerous other mentally crippling ailments. In doing so, he demonstrated a sort of remarkably willful fortitude that many are not gifted with.
Nietzsche bibliography is reflective of the fundamental periods of his life. The years of 1870-1876 highlight his time as a young professor at the University of Basel. A recently de-converted Lutheran who had one been studying to become a minister like his late father, the young Nietzsche would mostly be influenced by his love of classical antiquity, his study of the pessimist Arthur Schopenhauer, and his close friendship with his idle, the German opera composer Richard Wagner. The work which reflects the most of this era was his debut publication, 'The Birth of Tragedy' which diagnosed the origin and decay of Greek tragedy as well as the influence Socrates and Euripides had in eroding both the Apollonian and Dionysian aspects of tragedy-- ultimately condemning all subsequent expressions of tragedy to a distinctly Socratic (i.e., moral and decadent) theme which devalued and minimalized Western art since.
1878-1882 represents Nietzsche's first period as a truly independent thinker and writer. Having rejected the pessimistic nihilism of Schopenhauer and the decadent theatrics of his now former friend Wagner, Nietzsche began to expand upon the intrigues he garnered from his observations of Greek tragedy to the psychological motivations of metaphysical and moralist beliefs. 'Human, All Too Human' ushers in this era with its deeply profound and analytical psychology, while 'The Dawn' and 'The Gay Science' initiate the ideas which he will cover and develop throughout his work.
1882 was one of the hardest times in Nietzsche's life. Struggling with a sense of purpose, failing health, and a collapsing social life, the young philologist turned philosopher needed a desperate out in order to survive this debilitating period. Eventually, Nietzsche found solace in the opera 'Carmen' which would profoundly affected the rest of his life. Nietzsche had also learned to channel all the hardships he had endured both from 1882 and his life in general to forge a new path in his seminal work, 'Thus Spoke Zarathustra'. This work, in particular, stands out from all the rest in that it is a poetic rather than a philosophical text (though it is saturated with Nietzsche's views translated into anecdotes and rhetorical monologues). In his autobiography 'Ecce Homo', Nietzsche states that his 'Zarathustra' was not only his own greatest work, but the greatest literary text ever written. All the rest of his books, he said, were merely footnotes to 'Zarathustra'.
1886-1888 exhibit Nietzsche's prime as a both a thinker and writer, producing six texts and thousands of aphorisms in the span of less than two years. These works stand out as his some of his most cutting and thought-provoking efforts-- his 'Beyond Good and Evil' and 'Genealogy of Morals' being some of the most influential. Nietzsche intended to dedicate the rest of his life to fully elaborating what he called the 'Transvaluation of all Values', an attempt at dismantling all preexisting value systems that the future might breed a new race of people capable of actualizing brand new, life-affirming values which would foster the exceptionality and potential of humanity's greatest. His attempt to do so began with his plan for a work called 'The Will to Power' but abandoned it later in 1888. Instead, he published his 'Antichrist' as the first of a four-book plan to once again tackle this project Transvaluation, but was ultimately thwarted by his mental breakdown in January of 1889. The modern publication of 'The Will to Power' is an agglomeration of Nietzsche's unpublished notes set to the original plan for the masterwork by his sister, Elizabeth, and close friend, Peter Gast. Elizabeth's contributions pertaining to her attempts at making Nietzsche's work palpable to National Socialism have largely been expunged. Modern translations are now widely available for those still interested in a posthumously complied notes/ideas of one of the 19th century's and Western history's most innovative thinkers.
- The Greek Music Drama (1870)
- The Greek State (1871)
- The Birth of Tragedy (1872)
- On Truth and Lies in a Nonmoral Sense (1873)
- Philosophy in the Tragic Age of the Greeks (1873)
- We Philologists (1874, published posthumously)
- Untimely Meditations (1876)
- Human, All Too Human (1878)
- The Dawn (1881)
- The Gay Science (1882)
- Thus Spoke Zarathustra (1883)
- Beyond Good and Evil (1886)
- On The Genealogy of Morality (1887)
- The Case of Wagner (1888)
- Twilight of The Idols (1888)
- The Antichrist (1888)
- Ecce Homo (1888)
- Nietzsche contra Wagner (1888)
- The Will To Power (unpublished manuscripts maliciously altered by his sister Elisabeth to fit her anti-Semitic worldview amended by modern editions)