Author: Edvard Munch
Media: oil, canvas
FRIEDRICH NIETZSCHE SHORT BIOGRAPHY
Friedrich Nietzsche was born in Rocken, Saxony (the present-day Germany) on Oct. 15, 1844. He came from a line of Protestant churchman – his father and grandfathers were Lutherman ministers. He studied Classical literature and language at the universities in Bonn and Leipzig. At the age of 24, Nietzsche became a professor at the University of Basel in Switzerland.
After reading the works of the German philosopher Schopenhauer, Nietzsche became a philosopher and began living a life of solitude. He agreed with Schopenhauer that there is no God and life is filled with pain and suffering, but Nietzsche came to his own conclusion that humans must get everything out of life and set out to find out how to best do that.
Nietzsche was totally against religion, in particular Christianity.
Nietzsche proclaimed that “God is dead” in his most famous work, “Thus Spake Zarathustra,” (1883-1892) saying that most people do not believe in God and religion is no longer the foundation for morals. “Thus Spake Zarathustra” was not successful when it was first published, but is now considered a masterpiece in world literature. In 1896, the composer Richard Strauss composed a tone-poem called “Also Sprach Zarathustra” based on Nietzsche’s words.Nietzsche’s works “Beyond Good and Evil” (1886) and “The Genealogy of Morals” (1887) dealt with the origins of moral values. Nietzsche believed that in early civilization the theory of perpetual elimination of the weak by the strong and the incompetent by the competent was correct. But then the Judeo-Christian religion disagreed and said that thought was wrong and the weak and meek shall inherit the earth. What happened was the geniuses, innovators and creators were made equal to the common masses. Nietzsche believed that Christianity’s emphasis on the afterlife make humans less capable of handling life right now.
Nietzsche believed that religious “morality” killed the genius of innovation and could end culture and civilization. Since there is no God, there must be HUMAN creations and realizations. Humans have the “will to power” in politics, culture and everywhere. Nietzsche’s ideal was the super-human-being or the “OVERMAN” or “SUPERMAN”, which is a superior individual who controls his/her passions and uses them in a creative way. The SUPERMAN’S will to power would set him/her apart from the herd of inferior masses. Nietzsche was famous for his much quoted line “What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger.”
In 1889, Nietzsche tragically suffered a nervous breakdown and was overcome by mental illness in his mid forties, allegedly brought on by tertiary syphilis. The actual breakdown started in Turin, where Nietzsche collapsed with his arms around the neck of a horse that was being whipped by a coachman. He became hopelessly insane and on August 25, 1900 at the age 56, Nietzsche died.