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  • Friedrich Nietzsche

    Friedrich Nietzsche was a German philosopher of

    the late 19th century who challenged the foundations of traditional religion and traditional morality. He believed in life, creativity, health, and the realities of the world we live in, rather than those situated in a world beyond.

    Central to his philosophy is the idea of life-affirmation, which involves an honest questioning of all doctrines that drain life's energies, however socially prevalent those views might be.

    Often referred to as one of the first existentialist philosophers, Nietzsche's revitalizing philosophy has inspired leading figures in all walks of cultural life, including dancers, poets, novelists, painters, psychologists, philosophers, sociologists and social revolutionaries.

    In the small German village of Rcken bei Ltzen, located in a rural farmland area southwest of Leipzig, Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche was born at approximately 10:00 a.m. on October 15, 1844.

  • Early Life

    When Nietzsche was 4 years old, his father, Karl Ludwig Nietzsche died from a brain ailment, and the death of Nietzsche's two-year-old brother, Joseph, followed six months later. Nietzsche entered the University of Bonn in 1864 as a theology and philology student, and his interests soon gravitated more exclusively towards philology a discipline which then centered upon the interpretation of classical and biblical texts.

    Nietzsche quickly established his own academic reputation through his published essays on Aristotle, Theognis and Simonides. In Leipzig, he developed a close friendship with Erwin Rohde, a fellow philology student and future philologist, with whom he would correspond extensively in later years.

  • Momentous for Nietzsche in 1865 was his accidental discovery of Arthur Schopenhauer's The World as Will and Representation (1818) in a local bookstore. He was then 21.

    Schopenhauer's atheistic and

    turbulent vision of the world, in conjunction with his highest praise of music as an art form, captured Nietzsche's imagination.

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  • Later Life In 1867, at almost 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.

    He returned shortly thereafter to the University of Leipzig, and a year later, met the composer Richard Wagner at the home of Hermann Brockhaus, an Orientalist who was married to Wagner's sister, Ottilie.

    Nietzsche became a professor of classical philology at the University of Basel in Switzerland. He began teaching there in May, 1869, at the extraordinary age of 24.

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  • Nietzsche also cultivated his

    friendship with Richard Wagner and visited him often at his Swiss home in Tribschen, a small town near Lucerne. Never in outstanding health, further complications arose from Nietzsche's August-October 1870 service as a 25-year-old hospital attendant during the Franco-Prussian War. He witnessed the traumatic effects of battle, took close care of wounded soldiers, and contracted diphtheria and dysentery.

  • Nietzsche's enthusiasm for Schopenhauer, his studies in classical philology, his inspiration from Wagner, his reading of Lange, and his frustration with the contemporary German culture, coalesced in his first book The Birth of Tragedy which was published in January 1872 when Nietzsche was 27.

    Despite the unflattering review of The Birth of Tragedy, Nietzsche remained respected in his professorial position in Basel, but his deteriorating health, which led to migraine headaches, eyesight problems and vomiting, necessitated his resignation from the university in June, 1879, at age 34.

  • From 1880 until his collapse in January 1889, Nietzsche led a wandering, gypsy-like existence as a stateless person (having given up his German citizenship, and not having acquired Swiss citizenship), circling almost annually between his mother's house in Naumburg and various French, Swiss, German and Italian cities.

    His travels took him through Nice, the Swiss Alps, Leipzig (where he had attended university), Turin, Genoa, Recoaro, Messina, Rapallo, Florence, Venice, and Rome, never residing in any place longer than several months at a time.

  • Mental Breakdown

    On the morning of January 3, 1889, while in Turin, Nietzsche experienced a mental breakdown which left him an invalid for the rest of his life. Upon witnessing a horse being whipped by a coachman at the Piazza Carlo Alberto although this episode with the horse could be anecdotal he threw his arms around the horse's neck and collapsed in the plaza, never to return to full sanity.

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  • Some argue that Nietzsche was afflicted with a syphilitic infection (this was the original diagnosis of the doctors in Basel and Jena) contracted either while he was a student or while he was serving as a hospital attendant during the Franco-Prussian War;

    Some claim that his use of chloral hydrate, a drug which he had been using as a sedative, undermined his already-weakened nervous system;

    Some speculate that Nietzsche's collapse was due to a brain disease he inherited from his father;

    some maintain that a mental illness gradually drove him insane.

    The exact cause of Nietzsche's incapacitation remains unclear. That he had an extraordinarily sensitive nervous constitution and took an assortment of medications is well-documented as a more general fact. To complicate matters of interpretation, Nietzsche states in a letter from April 1888 that he never had any symptoms of a mental disorder.

  • The philosophy of NIHILISM

    (From Wikipedia): Nihilism (from the Latin nihil, nothing) is a philosophical position that argues that existence is without objective meaning, purpose, or intrinsic value.

    Nihilists generally assert that objective morality does not exist, so subsequently there is no objective moral value with which to logically prefer one action over another.

    Nihilists who argue that there is no objective morality may claim that existence has no intrinsic higher meaning or goal.

    They may also claim that there is no reasonable proof or argument for the existence of a higher ruler or creator, or posit that even if higher rulers or creators exist, humanity has no moral obligation to worship t