Post by rumpelstiltskin Post by mg Post by islander
Does anyone here know anything about Friedrich Nietzsche? While I have
heard the name and seen quotes attributed to him from time to time, I
really know nothing about him or his political philosophy. Basically,
he was a late 19th century German philosopher who supposedly had a
strong influence on western philosophy. His writings spanned a lot of
topics and it is not completely clear how much of what he believed was
biased by his sister who took responsibility for his writings after he
went crazy at age 44. She had a definite tendency to promote German
nationalism that may have had influence leading to both world wars.
So, why would anyone care about Nietzsche? My interest is in how his
thinking may still be influencing politics today, not in a good way.
Has anyone here developed any opinion about him and his writings?
A few quick internet searches indicates to me that studying Friedrich
Nietzsche could consume weeks or months (or years?). However, as a
"Liberalism turns men into cattle.” ~ Friedrich Nietzsche 
Friedrich Nietzsche was not in favor of Democracy. He equates
Democracy with Christianity
Nietzsche’s existential philosophy included such things as;
Popularized the idea that God is dead.
"God isn't dead" of course. "God" never was, so it's
only the belief in "God" that is now dead for many.
Without a Big Daddy to tell you what to do, you are
of course on your own to find a "purpose to life", and
anything you make up has to be a fiction because it
doesn't have any basis outside itself. Nevertheless,
the fiction is better than a fake "truth" such as "god"
because a fake truth may well lead you into your own
errors but that's better than following other people's
The only big thing I've read of Nietzsche is "Also
sprach Zarathustra" (translated into English as
"Thus spake Zarathustra". Zarathustra is Zoroaster,
a pre-Christian Jesus-type-oerson, whose religion
still persists in Northwestern Iran, in fact I worked
once with a guy who was a Zoroastrian from that
part of Iran where the religion survives. Although
many of the chapters of Nietzsche's book end
with the phrase "Also sprach Zarathustra", I'm not
sure to what extent Nietzsche's thoughts really
I'm not sure personally if I'd call what I know of
Nietzsche as a "philosophy" if that word implies
"truth". Maybe it could be seen as a way of living
without asserting its truth or falsehood. I read
"Also Sprach Zarathustra" as though it were a
novel, not a pretense to absolute truth like Kant.
GBS has a play "Man and Superman" inspired
by Nietzsche, so he'd done some thinking about
Nietzsche himself but I'm not sure if his
conclusions, if he had any, were any better than
mine. As Hamlet said to Horatio, "There are
more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than
are dreamt of in your philosophy."
For myself, although I sometimes find some of
what's called "philosophy" interesting, mostly it
flows off me like water off a duck's back. I'm a
much bigger fan of "art" which creates worlds
rather than trying to delineate the general world
in which we find ourselves.
Zarathustra was an early Persian prophet who is credited with the origin
of monotheism and the concept of forces for good and evil.
Zoroastrianism dominated the religious belief system in the region until
it was replaced by Islam, but a few followers still persist today.
Nietzsche evidently used Zarathustra in a work of fiction to promote his
ideas about the futility of morality. He was opposed to religion in the
context of the role of morality imposed by a deity as I understand it.
He evidently had strong feelings about how history repeated itself
despite our best efforts to emphasize good over evil. His notion of
ubermench was that humans could only strive to take it all in stride.
He evidently had only disdain for the mob and supported strong
leadership that was above morality which explains his influence on
German culture, ultimately resulting in German imperialism in WWI and
Nazism in WWII.
The reason that Nietzsche peaked my interest is the reference to him in
Pinker's "Enlightenment Now." Pinker argues that Nietzsche opposed the
ideals of the Enlightenment or at least did not support the notion of
progress based on an emphasis on human rights. This is not an argument
about religion since Pinker is an atheist himself. Rather it is a
criticism of Nietzsche's implied opposition to democratic rule and
acceptance of manipulation of the masses by autocratic rulers. Pinker
links Nietzsche's writings to emergence of alt-right and other white
supremacist movements in the US and Europe.
Personally, I find this interesting because Nietzsche's ideas have
persisted in political thought, perhaps not consciously, but as
justification for abuse of political power. Hitler is sometimes cited
as an example. As I mentioned earlier, I'm not sure how much of this
was Nietzsche and how much was his sister who promoted his ideas and
writings after he became disabled by whatever was wrong with his mind.
She was an enthusiastic supporter of Nazism.
One thing is very clear to me. Nietzsche was a very complicated person,
given to extreme ideas. It would be interesting to get the opinion of
psychologists about his sanity. Was he brilliant or just insane? How
did his illness progress? Here is one hypothesis: