Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche (October 15, 1844 – August 25, 1900) was a 19th-century German philosopher, poet, composer and classical philologist. Nietzsche’s influence remains substantial within and beyond philosophy, notably in existentialism, nihilism and postmodernism; His style and radical questioning of the value and objectivity of truth have resulted in much commentary and interpretation, mostly in the tradition of continental philosophy. Central to his ideas is the concept of “life-affirmation”, which involves an honest questioning of all doctrines that drain life’s expansive energies, however socially prevalent those views might be.
Some of his key ideas:
1. “God Is Dead”: Nietzsche claimed the death of God would eventually lead to the loss of any universal perspective on things, and along with it any coherent sense of objective truth. Instead we would retain only our own multiple, diverse, and fluid perspectives. This view has acquired the name “perspectivism”. Alternatively, the death of God may lead beyond bare perspectivism to outright nihilism, the belief that nothing has any inherent importance and that life lacks purpose.
2. The Übermensch: A concept posited in Thus Spoke Zarathustra (Also Sprach Zarathustra) as a goal for humanity to set for itself. There is no overall consensus regarding its precise meaning, nor on the importance of the concept in Nietzsche’s thought.
3. The Eternal Recurrence: A concept which posits that the universe has been recurring, and will continue to recur, in a self-similar form an infinite number of times across infinite time or space. Nietzsche contemplates the idea as potentially “horrifying and paralyzing”, and says that its burden is the “heaviest weight” imaginable (“das schwerste Gewicht”).
4. Will To Power (der Wille zur Macht): A term, that in its widest sense, describes the will to power is a more important element than pressure for adaptation or survival. The natural condition of life, according to Nietzsche, is one of profusion. In its later forms Nietzsche’s concept of the will to power applies to all living things, suggesting that adaptation and the struggle to survive is a secondary drive in the evolution of animals, less important than the desire to expand one’s power. Nietzsche eventually took this concept further still, and speculated that it may apply to inorganic nature as well.
“Art is essentially the affirmation, the blessing, and the deification of existence.” – Friedrich Nietzsche