The Great Philosophers

Friedrich Nietzsche: Influential, controversial, disturbing

Nietzsche is perhaps one the most famous philosophers of the 19th century, yet he remains one of the most misunderstood – and misquoted

Wednesday 08 December 2021 00:34
<p>German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche pictured circa 1885</p>

German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche pictured circa 1885

Friedrich Nietzsche (1844–1900) remains one of the 19th century’s most misunderstood and misquoted philosophers. However, his most notorious concept, that of the Superman, is in fact closer to Aristotle’s man of virtue than it is to some glorified Aryan hero.

Nietzsche was influential, controversial, disturbing, systematically misunderstood, and tremendous fun to read. It is his excellent prose that initially attracts many of us. You can easily spend an afternoon gorging on his words, by turns smiling at his wit and gasping at his dark pronouncements. You can then spend a lifetime working out his meaning.

Nietzsche’s short life began on 15 October – the birthday, too, of his namesake Friedrich Wilhelm IV, the King of Prussia – in Röcken, Prussia. His father, Ludwig, was a Lutheran minister and his mother, Franziska, was the daughter of a Lutheran minister.

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