Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche was a German philosopher, poet, composer, cultural critic, 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 key ideas include the "death of God", the Übermensch, the eternal recurrence, the Apollonian and Dionysian dichotomy, perspectivism, and the will to power. Central to his philosophy is the idea of "life-affirmation", which involves questioning of all doctrines that drain life's expansive energies, however socially prevalent and radical those views might be. His influence remains substantial within philosophy, notably in existentialism, post-modernism, and post-structuralism, as well as outside it. His radical questioning of the value and objectivity of truth has been the focus of extensive commentary, especially in the continental tradition.
Nietzsche began his career as a classical philologist before turning to philosophy. In 1869, at the age of twenty-four 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 the summer of 1879 due to health problems that plagued him most of his life. At the age of forty-five in 1889 he suffered a collapse and a complete loss of his mental faculties. The breakdown had been ascribed to atypical general paralysis attributed to tertiary syphilis, but this diagnosis has since come into question. 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.
His sister Elisabeth Förster-Nietzsche, acted as curator and editor of Nietzsche's manuscripts during his illness. She was married to a prominent German nationalist and antisemite, Bernhard Förster, and she reworked some of Nietzsche's unpublished writings to fit her husband's ideology, often in ways contrary to Nietzsche's opinions, which were strongly and explicitly opposed to antisemitism and nationalism (see Nietzsche's criticism of anti-Semitism and nationalism). Through Förster-Nietzsche's editions, Nietzsche's name became associated with German militarism and Nazism, but twentieth century scholars have worked hard to counteract the abuse of Nietzsche's philosophy by this ideology and rediscover the original writings of Nietzsche, unedited by his sister.
O noon of life! A time to celebrate!
Oh garden of summer!
Restless happiness in standing, gazing, waiting:—
I wait for friends, ready day and night.
You friends, where are you? Come! It's time! It's time!
Was it not for you that the glacier's grayness
today decked itself with roses?
The stream is seeking you, and wind and clouds
with yearning push themselves higher into the blue today
to look for you from the furthest bird's eye view.
For you my table has been set at the highest point.
Who lives so near the stars?
Who's so near the furthest reaches of the bleak abyss?
My realm—what realm has stretched so far?
And my honey—who has tasted that? ...
There you are, my friends! —Alas, so I'm not the man,
not the one you're looking for?
You hesitate, surprised! —Ah, your anger would be better!
Am I no more the one? A changed hand, pace, and face?
And what am I—for you friends am I not the one?
Have I become another? A stranger to myself?
Have I sprung from myself?
A wrestler who overcame himself so often?
Too often pulling against his very own power,
wounded and checked by his own victory?
I looked where the wind blows most keenly?
I learned to live
where no one lives, in deserted icy lands,
forgot men and god, curse and prayer?
Became a ghost that moves over the glaciers?
—You old friends! Look! Now your gaze is pale,
full of love and horror!
No, be off! Do not rage! You can't live here:
here between the furthest realms of ice and rock—
here one must be a hunter, like a chamois.
I've become a wicket hunter! See, how deep
my bow extends!
It was the strongest man who made such a pull—
Woe betide you! The arrow is dangerous—
like no arrow—away from here! For your own good! ...
You're turning around? —O heart, you deceive enough,
your hopes stayed strong:
hold your door open for new friends!
Let the old ones go! Let go the memory!
Once you were young, now—you are even younger!
What bound us then, a band of one hope—
who reads the signs,
love once etched there—still pale?
I compare it to parchment which the hand
fears to touch—like that discoloured, burned.
No more friends—they are... But how can I name that? —
Just friendly ghosts!
That knocks for me at night on my window and my heart,
that looks at me and says, 'But we were friends? '—
—O shrivelled word, once fragrant as a rose!
O youthful longing which misunderstands itself!
Those yearned for,
whom I imagined changed to my own kin,
they have grown old, have exiled themselves.
Only the one who changes stays in touch with me.
O noon of life! A second youthful time!
O summer garden!
Restless happiness in standing, gazing, waiting!
I wait for friends, ready day and night.
You friends, where are you? Come! It's time! It's time
The song is done—the sweet cry of yearning
died in my mouth:
A magician did it, a friend at the right hour,
a noontime friend—no! Do not ask who it might be—
it was at noon when one turned into two....
Now we celebrate, certain of victory, united,
the feast of feasts:
friend Zarathustra came, the guest of guests!
Now the world laughs, the horror curtain splits,
the wedding came for light and darkness....
Out of a brotherly love we occasionally embrace this or that somebody (because we cannot embrace everybody): but we must never let our somebody know it.
Why does man not see things? He always gets in the way: he conceals things.
When we cannot stand certain people, we try to have suspicions about them.
Women are quite capable of entering into a friendship with a man, but to keep it going—that takes a little physical antipathy as well.
All in all, punishment hardens and renders people more insensible; it concentrates; it increases the feeling of estrangement; it strengthens the power of resistance.
The unselective knowledge drive resembles the indiscriminate sexual drive—signs of vulgarity!
The strongest knowledge (that of the complete non-freedom of the human will) is nonetheless the poorest in results: for it always has the strongest opponent, human vanity.
The "kingdom of heaven" is a condition of the heart—not something that comes "above the earth" or "after death."
There is an innocence in lying which is the sign of good faith in a cause.
Honest towards ourselves and towards anyone else who is our friend; brave towards the enemy; magnanimous towards the defeated; polite—always: this is how the four cardinal virtues want us to act.
The poet conveys his thoughts in festive solemnity on the carriage of rhythm: usually because they are unable to walk on their own feet.
The condition that gives birth to a rule is not the same as the condition to which the rule gives birth.
Nothing has been purchased more dearly than the little bit of reason and sense of freedom which now constitutes our pride.
We mention nature and forget ourselves in it: we ourselves are nature, quand même—. As a result, nature is something entirely different from what comes to mind when we invoke its name.
What an age experiences as evil is usually an untimely reverberation echoing what was previously experienced as good—the atavism of an older ideal.
The aphorism, the apothegm, in which I am the first among the Germans to be a master, are the forms of "eternity"; it is my ambition to say in ten sentences what everyone else says in a book—what everyone else does not say in a book.
You lack the courage to be consumed in flames and to become ashes: so you will never become new, and never young again!
One is most duplicitous toward one's god: he is not allowed to sin.
Some rule out of a lust for ruling; others, so as not to be ruled:Mto these it is merely the lesser of two evils.
In our interactions with people, a benevolent hypocrisy is frequently required—acting as though we do not see through the motives of their actions.
Some men have sighed over the abduction of their wives, but many more have sighed because no one wanted to abduct theirs.
We seldom break a leg as long as we are climbing wearily upwards in our lives, instead we do it when we start going easy on ourselves and choosing the comfortable paths.
All truth is crooked, time itself is a circle.
A small garden, figs, a little cheese, and, along with this, three or four good friends—such was luxury to Epicurus.
The moment Germany rises as a great power, France gains a new importance as a cultural power.
Everything good is the transmutation of something evil: every god has a devil for a father.
One has observed life poorly, if one has not also witnessed the hand that mercifully—kills.
The snake that cannot shed its skin perishes. Likewise those spirits who are prevented from changing their opinions; they cease to be spirits.
To predict the behavior of ordinary people in advance, you only have to assume that they will always try to escape a disagreeable situation with the smallest possible expenditure of intelligence.
Women are supposed to be deep—why? Because one can never get to the bottom with them. Women are not even shallow.
"What must I do to become blessed?" That I do not know, but I say to you: "Be blessed and then do whatever you please."
Madness is a rare thing in individuals—but in groups, parties, peoples, and ages it is the rule.
Do you want to go on together? Or go ahead? Or go it alone? ... You have to know what you want and that you want. Fourth question of conscience.
And what was too nasty to feed a dog—that is precisely what you threw down before your god. Did he perhaps die of what you fed him?
Nothing in life possesses value except the degree of power—assuming that life itself is the will to power.
What we do in our dreams we also do when we are awake: we invent and make up the person we are dealing with—and immediately forget that we have done it.
Phlegmatic natures can be inspired to enthusiasm only by being made into fanatics.
That whatever a man says, promises, or resolves in passion he must stick to later on when he is cold and sober—this demand is among the heaviest burdens that weigh on humankind.
Generally speaking, the greater a woman's beauty, the greater her modesty.
Your rank is way down below his when you seek to establish the exceptions and he seeks to establish the rule.
I fear animals regard man as a creature of their own kind which has in a highly dangerous fashion lost its healthy animal reason—as the mad animal, as the laughing animal, as the weeping animal, as the unhappy animal.
With deep men, as with deep wells, it takes a long time for anything that falls into them to hit bottom. Onlookers, who almost never wait long enough, readily suppose that such men are callous and unresponsive—or even boring.
The English are a nation of consummate cant.
This is the crux of the moral pessimists: if they really wanted to promote their neighbor's redemption, then they would have to resolve themselves to spoiling existence for him, and thus to being his misfortune; out of pity, they would have to—become evil!
Oh, how much is today hidden by science! Oh, how much it is expected to hide!
The abdomen is the reason why man does not readily take himself to be a god.
What is the strongest cure?—Victory.
The relatives of a suicide hold it against him that out of consideration for their reputation he did not remain alive.
Contentment even protects against colds. Has any woman who knew herself to be well dressed ever caught a cold?—I am assuming that she was barely dressed.
We must be cruel as well as compassionate: let us guard against becoming poorer than nature is!