Another guest post about a favourite philosopher. This one should meet the approval of our resident Nietzsche expert Dr Roy Jackson! The author, Victoria G, is a year 10 pupil at Malcolm Arnold Academy, and she makes a strong case for why everyone should like Nietzsche – I am sure Roy will agree..
My Favourite Philosopher: Nietzsche
Friedrich Nietzsche was a German philosopher, cultural critic and one of the most influential of all modern existentialist and postmodernist thinkers. He is intermittently enchanting, wise and very helpful. Though a paradoxical thinker, he is riddled with many problems which he struggled with throughout his life. He didn’t get on with his family; women kept on rejecting him; his books didn’t sell; at 44 he had a mental break down; and at the age of 56, he died insane and infected with syphilis.
His philosophy was full of heroism and grandeur- he wanted his work to teach us how to become who we really are. He is the father of Nihilism which teaches that there is no ultimate meaning to human existence. Personally, I consider Friedrich Nietzsche to be a magnificent philosopher who is born ahead of his time or as he expresses it, he is one of those happy unfortunates who are doomed to a ‘posthumous birth.’ Despite many of his works being strongly conflicting to my fundamental beliefs on life and religion, I still consider his written critiques about human existence, religion, morality, modern culture, and science to be very instrumental in questioning the value and objectivity of truth and how life should be interpreted. Nietzsche is not primarily a philosopher but also a poet. A poet with the task to preach a new philosophy in accordance with reality and science.
Notably, his thoughts can be centred around 4 main recommendations: Own up to envy; don’t be a Christian; never drink alcohol; and God is dead. Moreover, Nietzsche thought envy was a big part of life however the lingering effects of Christianity (Nietzsche was anti-Christian) teaches us to feel ashamed of our envious feelings. We hide them from ourselves and others in fear that they are an indication of evil but Nietzsche proclaims that there is nothing wrong with envy as long as we use it as a vehicle to what we really want. People should strive to be an ÜBERMENSCH (superman) which would mean facing up to our true desires, putting up a heroic fight to honour them, and only then mourn failure with solemn dignity.
From his 4 main thoughts, I find ‘don’t be a Christian’ to be the most fascinating and rigorous teaching mainly because I myself am a Christian. He calls into question our human ideals as embodied in our ordinary morality, as expressed in Christian civilization. His views on Christianity were harsh, raw, and surprisingly gratifying. ‘In the entire New Testament, there is only person worth respecting: Pilate, the Roman governor.’ At first sight I thought it so bizarre, so absurd and the epitome of blasphemy but Nietzsche true target was more subtle and more thought-provoking: he resented Christianity for protecting people from their envy. He believed that Christianity had emerged in the late Roman Empire in the minds of timid slaves, who had lacked the courage to get hold of what they really wanted and so had clung to a philosophy that made a virtue of their cowardice. In the Christian value system, sexlessness turned into purity; weakness became goodness; and submission to people one hated became obedience.
Another aspects of Nietzsche which intrigues me is his views on education. He believes universities are killing the humanities, turning them into dry academic exercises rather than using them for what they were always meant to be; guides to life. Nietzsche to me is a liberator. A divine poet. A great philosopher. He remains an endearing guide, endlessly fascinating, and obscure in his concepts.
 The antichrist 1888