existential primer

Friedrich Nietzsche
thus spake the radical individual

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It is my opinion that Friedrich Nietzsche and Søren Kierkegaard were the first of The Existentialists. Other thinkers, Hegel and Husserl for example, contributed to existentialism but are not existentialists. Nietzsche does mark the outer edge of existentialism, but I consider no other writer as important to the school of thought.

Few other names in philosophy hold such deep meaning in Western society as Nietzsche. Variously linked by scholars to nihilism, existentialism, and the Nazis (though he died two decades before National Socialism took root in Germany) Friedrich Nietzsche is one of the most misunderstood philosophers in history. He embraced no formal school of philosophy; he was stridently independent. As for the misappropriation of his works by Nazi sympathizers and others... I believe people will find support for their ideals in any book.

Nihilism is the complete disregard for all things that cannot be scientifically proven or demonstrated. Nietzsche did not claim that nothing exists that cannot be proven, nor that those things should be disregarded. What Nietzsche did suggest was that many people used religion, especially Judeo-Christian teachings, as a crutch for avoiding decisive actions. Nietzsche's contribution to existentialism was the idea that men must accept that they are part of a material world, regardless of what else might exist. As part of this world, men must live as if there is nothing else beyond life. A failure to live, to take risks, is a failure to realize human potential.

Revising Never Ends, Nor Should It…

Do not use this site as a study guide. The Existential Primer is a “living” academic project, unlike a static text. This primer is only a shallow introduction to the thinkers profiled. The incomplete nature of this website might result in misunderstanding the profiled individuals. These pages are revised often because scholarship is never ending. Consult any citations included because within them is where you will find the experts. Read their works!

NOTE: Citations are not in MLA or APA format to prevent “borrowing” from The Existential Primer. Full lists of citations appear at the end of each page. Present tense is used when referencing a published work, while past tense is favored on these pages because the major figures are… dead. Inline citations take the form (Author p. page) with no year. A title is included if there might be confusion as to the work. Quoted long passages appear indented with the <blockquote> tag and cited in the format:

Work; Author, p. Page


Friedrich Nietzsche was born in Röcken, Prussia, on 15 October 1844. This date was the same as the birth date of Prussian king Frederick William IV. Friedrich's father Karl Ludwig Nietzsche was a tutor in the royal court and was quite pleased by the timing of his son's birth.

There was at all events one advantage in the choice of this day to my birth; my birthday throughout the whole of my childhood was a day of public rejoicing.
- from Ecce Homo

Friedrich Nietzsche's life unquestionably trained him for his role as an "anti-Christian" philosopher. He descended from a long line of clergymen, including his father, giving him the theological background to challenge the familiar religious institutions. Biographers indicate there were at least 20 clergyman in the Nietzsche family within five generations. His paternal grandfather, Friedrich August Ludwig Nietzsche, was even granted an honorary doctorate in 1796 for his work Gamaliel, a defense of Christianity. It was assumed Friedrich would be a minister. As a child, Nietzsche was called the "little minister" by schoolmates. He spent much of his time alone, reading the Bible. Nietzsche's father died in 1849. The young man withdrew deeper into religion.

NietzscheFriedrich received a scholarship to Schulpforta, an elite prepatory school with only 200 students, in October 1858. The scholarship was intended to fund Nietzsche's training for the clergy. His mother, Franziska, and his young sister, Elisabeth, were dedicated to Friedrich's success, certain of his future.

At the age of 18, Nietzsche lost his faith in traditional religion. His faith received a fatal blow when he found philosophy. In 1865 Nietzsche discovered Schopenhauer's World as Will and Idea. The work forever changed Nietzsche's view of the world. Schopenhauer's philosophy was rather dark for its time; it became a part of Nietzsche's world-view as it was well-suited to his nature.

It seemed as if Schopenhauer were addressing me personally. I felt his enthusiasm, and seemed to see him before me. Every line cried aloud for renunciation, denial, resignation.

Nietzsche was conscripted into the military at the age of 23. While he had hoped to avoid the draft, he had no such luck. He was not destined to be in the military however, soon falling (or thrown) from a horse. Nietzsche's shoulder and chest were injured, possibly torn muscles, and he was released from service having not yet completed training. Curiously, Nietzsche continued to idealize the military and its orderly way of life despite not wanting to serve in the army. His respect for the individual gave way at times to a need for order.

The University of Basle appointed Nietzsche to a chair when he was 25 years old. As a professor of classical philology, Nietzsche spent his days lecturing and analyzing Latin and Greek works. He later recalled this as a most un-heroic contribution to mankind, wishing he had pursued a more active and socially valuable career, such as medicine. Nietzsche was never satisfied with his own value, always seeking to be more. It should be noted that war with Napoleon provided Nietzsche an opportunity to take leave of the University and join the medical corps. At the time, he stated (paraphrased), "Duty to Germany comes first," according to biographer Marc Sautet. Nietzsche had renounced his Prussian citizenship to teach at the University of Basle, which was in Switzerland.

Richard Wagner

In 1869, composer Richard Wagner invited Nietzsche to spend a winter holiday with him in Tribschen. Wagner was living with another man's wife and was not known for his conformity. Somehow, Wagner appealed to Nietzsche's sense of adventure. Nietzsche was so taken by Wagner that he decided his first book would be a tribute to Wagner's music. Unfortunately, the writing of this work was delayed by war in 1870, when Germany and France went to war.

Still romanticizing the life of soldiers, Nietzsche went to volunteer for military service. This time the army refused him due to his poor eyesight, in addition to his weak upper body. Nietzsche found it possible to serve as a medic, allowing him as close to medicine as his nature would ever allow. As he quickly learned, Nietzsche did not like the sight of blood, and the suffering of others made him ill. He eventually fell ill, possibly due to stress, and was sent home.

The Birth of Tragedy out of the Spirit of Music was published in 1872. With the publication of The Birth of Tragedy, Nietzsche returned to Baasle to lecture. The work became a subject of ridicule in academic circles, but the nobility and nationalists loved it. Nietzsche became a celebrity, a standing he put to work on behalf of his friend Wagner. The two men were able to convince the government to fund the construction of the Bayreuth theatre, which would feature Wagner's works.

The Bayreuth was completed in 1876. On 12 August 1876, the Emperor arrived to hear Wagner's The Ring of the Nibelung, a work Wagner considered his masterpiece. To his dismay, Nietzsche found he hated the work. He made an excuse to depart, and promptly took a vacation to reconsider his opinion of Wagner's music and Prussian culture in general. At least Nietzsche was not alone: the long, multi-day performance proved a failure financially and in terms of attendance. Wagner's public star faded... at least for a bit.

Ready to Die

Physically and mentally, Nietzsche collapsed in 1879. He was certain death was near and even arranged his funeral with his sister's assistance.

Promise me that when I die only my friends shall stand about my coffin, and no inquisitive crowd. See that no priest or anyone else utter falsehoods at my graveside, when I can no longer protect myself; and let me descend into my tomb as an honest pagan.

Nietzsche recovered from this primarily emotional collapse, but he knew he had come close to death. The experience changed Nietzsche for a time. He enjoyed life and the universe around him. For a time, he was happy. The books The Dawn of Day and The Joyful Wisdom were published in the early 1880s, reflecting Nietzsche's new optimism.

His mood came crashing down with a smash... the sound was that of his heart as it hit bottom. Nietzsche fell in love, but was rejected. The result was another emotional spiral downward. His only goal was to be completely alone with his misery. The result of Nietzsche's bitterness was Thus Spake Zarathustra, published in 1883. Written in anger, the work presents the ideal man as everything Nietzsche was not. It was the ultimate paradox of philosophy: the thinker never able to live according to his beliefs. Still, Zarathustra stood apart as a masterpiece. The author knew it was a great work.

This work stands alone. Do not let us mention the poets in the same breath; nothing perhaps had ever been produced out of such a superabundance of strength. If all the spirit and goodness of every great soul were collected together, the whole could not create a single one of Zarathustra's discourses.

No matter what Nietzsche might have thought, the book was a failure. His publisher would not print the entire work, so the author paid for the printing. Forty copies were sold and seven were given away. Nietzsche's great work mattered only to the writer. It mattered a lot to Nietzsche -- the work would dominate his thoughts for the remainder of his career. Yet even his friends and supporters found the work odd, at best.

While pondering the ignorance of the critics, his sister left Nietzsche. She had been his friend and companion for most of his life, so the loss was very painful. Worse, she married an anti-Semite, a man Nietzsche despised. Contrary to popular myth, Nietzsche was not an anti-Semite -- just a nationalistic Prussian in his early years. His sister begged Nietzsche to move with her and her husband to Paraguay with the intention of forming a commune. Nietzsche would do nothing of the sort.

The Last Collapse

Nietzsche's final collapse came in 1889. On 3 January 1889, Nietzsche spotted a coach driver beating his horse. Nietzsche considered this cruel, and rushed the man. He did not reach the coach, collapsing. He was taken back to his apartment, but he had collapsed mentally. He was later found by friends, playing the piano with his elbows, singing wildly. Friedrich was taken to an asylum, but was quickly reprieved by his mother, who took him home. She did not agree with her son's works, but loved him nonetheless. She cared for him like a child, as he was incoherent and reduced to an infantile state. His mother died in 1897, and Nietzsche's care fell to his sister, now living in Weimar.

Elisabeth took it upon herself to get her brother's works published. She did an excellent job promoting him, and he rose again in public opinion. Near death and incoherent, Nietzsche became the leading German thinker. Finally, Nietzsche seemed oddly at peace, though not aware of his fate. On one occasion he found his sister crying. "Lisbeth, why do you cry? Are we not happy?" he is reported to have asked. His sister also recorded an incident when Nietzsche overheard a discussion of books. "I too have written some good books," Nietzsche told the room... then faded back into silence. Nietzsche died in 1900, apparently unaware of his former self.


1844 October 15 Born in Röcken, Saxony, to Karl and Franziska Nietzsche. The family is important, with a long history in the church clergy.
1849 Father, Karl Ludwig Nietzsche, dies. Friedrich Nietzsche later blames both himself and, to a greater degree, the Revolution of 1848.
1854 The King of Prussia, Friedrich Wilhelm IV, tours Naumburg, where Nietzsche now lives. Nietzsche, raised to respect the power of the church, shows nearly equal respect for the king.
1858 October Receives a scholarship to Schulpforta, an elite school with only 200 students. Nietzsche is expected to become a clergyman, as was his father, grandfather, numerous uncles, and other relatives.
1864 Passes the Schulpforta exit exams and enrolls as a theology and classics (philology) student at the University of Bonn.
1869 Forms close friendship with composer Richard Wagner.
1869 Offered the chair of classics at University of Basel, in Switzerland, based upon published works.
1869 Receives doctorate from a Leipzig university.
1871 January 18 The German Empire is formed.
1872 The Birth of Tragedy is published. Nietzsche is 27. Most scholars consider the work sloppy, while the nobility are impressed. The work is a promotion of Richard Wagner, some believe, more than a serious study of philology.
1873 August The first volume of Untimely Meditations is published, a direct attack of Friedrich David Strauss.
1874 Year of Crisis: European Economic Depression. Many banks failed, resulting in businesses closing and families loving all their money. Communism and socialism became increasingly popular ideas. Nietzsche steadfastly supports authoritarian power -- Otto von Bismark.
1874 February Publishes a second volume of Untimely Meditations.
1874 October The third volume of Untimely Meditations is published: Schopenhauer as Educator.
1876 August 12 The Bayreuth theatre opens. Nietzsche and Wagner had convinced the German Reich to fund the theatre's construction. The guests include nobility, as well as Piotr Ilitch Tchaikovsky. This moment marks a break with Wagner... the concerts are a disappointment for Nietzsche -- and the Reich, which withdraws financial support.
1879 Resigns teaching position in Basle due to poor health.
1879 Publishes Assorted Opinions and Maxims: Against Illusion. This work marks Nietzsche's break from Birth of Tragedy, a work he admits was, at least in part, too idealistic.
1881 August Declared "everything recurs" while at Sils Maria, Switzerland. This idea is not original, but Nietzsche receives accolades for this recycled theory.
1882 Publishes The Gay Science.
1883 Starts work on Thus Spoke Zarathustra.
1883 February 13 Richard Wagner dies.
1885 Completes draft of Thus Spoke Zarathustra.
1886 Publishes Beyond Good and Evil. Nietzsche considers the book a companion to Thus Spoke Zarathustra. Only 114 copies are sold in six months.
1887 The Genealogy of Morals is published, a sequel to Beyond Good and Evil.
1888 Writes The Case of Wagner, Twilight of the Idols, and The Anti-Christ.
1888 September 30 Formulates the "Law Against Christianity" for The Anti-Christ.
1889 January 3 Suffers a mental breakdown after seeing a coachman beat his horse. Nietzsche rushed to challenge the man, but collapsed.
1890 May Nietzsche joins his mother in Naumburg, where she cares for him for the next seven years.
1897 Nietzsche's mother, Franziska, dies. His sister Elizabeth becomes his caregiver. Elizabeth sees that her brothers works are collected and published. Amazingly, they are a success!
1900 August 25 Dies famous. His sister's efforts made his a celebrity in Germany shortly before his death.



Walter Kaufmann has noted that the major existentialists share a preoccupation with dread and death.

If we consider this striking preoccupation with failure, dread, and death one of the essential characteristics of existentialism, Nietzsche can no longer be included in this movement. The theme of suffering recurs often in his work, and he, too, concentrates attention on aspects of life which were often ignored in the nineteenth century; but he makes much less of dread and death than of man's cruelty, resentment, and hypocrisy -- of the immorality that struts around masked as morality.
- Existentialism; Kaufmann, p. 21


In the story of existentialism, Nietzsche occupies a central place: Jaspers, Heidegger, and Sartre are unthinkable without him, and the conclusion of Camus' The Myth of Sisyphus sounds like a distant echo of Nietzsche.
- Existentialism; Kaufmann, p. 21


While I do consider Nietzsche among The Existentialists, unlike others contributing so much to the ideas explored by existentialism, I recognize that he is indeed on the edges of this school of philosophy. It is important to recognize that many scholars consider Nietzsche outside of existentialism and defend this view quite logically. Again, I turn to Kaufmann for one of the best descriptions of Nietzsche's roles in both literature and philosophy.

Existentialism suggests only a single facet of Nietzsche's multifarious influence, and to call him an existentialist means in all likelihood an insufficient appreciation of his full significance. To be sure, his name is linked legitimately with the names of Jaspers, Heidegger, and Sartre; but it is linked no less legitimately with the names of Nicolai Hartmann and Max Scheler, and with Spengler, and with Freud and Adler, and with Thomas Mann and Hermann Hesse, with Stefan George no less than with Rilke, and with Shaw and Gide as well as with Malraux. Almost everyone of these writers saw something different in him

Existentialism without Nietzsche would be almost like Thomism without Aristotle; but to call Nietzsche an existentialist is a little like calling Aristotle a Thomist
- Existentialism; Kaufmann, p. 22



Nevertheless, his father was a minister; a long line of clergymen lay behind each of his parents; and he himself remained a preacher to the end. He attacked Christianity because there was so much of its moral spirit in him.... With perhaps one disastrous exception, Nietzsche remained pious and Puritan, chaste as a statue, to the last: therefore his assault on Puritanism and piety. How he longed to be a sinner, this incorrigible saint!
- The Story of Philosophy; Durant, p. 402-3


To be sure, Nietzsche was, no less than Kierkegaard, an apostle of passion and a critic of hypocrisy, but he did not extol passion at the expense of reason, and he repudiated Christianity not because he considered it too rational but because he considered it the archenemy of reason; and his caustic critique of faith, both in the Antichrist and elsewhere, reads like a considered censure of Kierkegaard among others.
- Existentialism; Kaufmann, p. 19


Will to Power

According to Wm S. Sahakian's History of Philosophy, Nietzsche developed a philosophy based upon his extrapolation of Charles Darwin's Theory of Evolution. Nietzsche believed that the Judeo-Christian morality ran counter to the natural instincts of human nature. Accordingly, Nietzsche sought to replace these values with a philosophy advocating the maximum development and expression of animalistic instincts. The primary human instinct, according to Nietzsche, was the "Will to Power." By advocating this philosophy, Nietzsche was rejecting the belief that sympathy was the proper and natural -- via societal pressures -- foundation for moral systems. In effect, Nietzsche abandoned the theory of Darwin that humans had developed a sympathetic society to ensure survival.

Professor Sahakian views the ethics of power developed by Nietzsche as rejecting the social instinct praised by Darwin, replacing social drive with egoism and individualism. The ethics of power are derived from Nietzsche's belief that the strongest of the human species desire not only to survive, but to gain power over others. The best human instinct is the Will to Power in this ethical system. Watching young boys play, for example, Nietzsche would observe each wanted to lead the group, until a strong leader emerged from within this micro society.

The Superman

The Master Morality was first explored by Nietzsche in his work Thus Spake Zarathustra, published between 1883 and 1885. In the story, Zarathustra teaches people are the Superman, an idealized person who defines his own morality.

Nietzsche's fictional Superman rejects faith and immortality, assuming that either "God is dead," or that the Creator is no longer active in human development. By rejecting faith, this Superman and his ideal society become responsible for their own morality. Curiously, Nietzsche concluded that no person had yet reached such a level, noting that even the greatest of men is "all-too-human."

Master Morality, Slave Morality

Nietzsche hypothesized moral systems developed from within a society. The societal systems, and their cultures, were examined in Genealogy of Morals, published in 1887. In this book, Nietzsche discussed the Master Morality of aristocratic cultures, such as the Roman Empire, and the Slave Morality of Jewish communities. Nietzsche recognized that the two cultures were actually components of one greater society / culture, but the moral systems were markedly different.

The aristocratic class, or ruling class, became leaders through their naturally superior abilities and stronger aggressive instincts, according to Nietzsche. This has improperly led to a belief that Nietsche thought a race could be naturally superior; his only claim was the individuals can be born superior. As proof, slaves could become citizens and even senators in Rome. These natural leaders, according to Nietzsche, would highly value sexuality based upon Darwin's theories that the strong wish to procreate and continue their power.

Another mark of the ruling class would be an acceptance of aggression and the use of force. As these rulers express power openly, they view the pursuit of power and the defense of self as honorable. For this reason, Nietzsche speculated that these leaders would not hold a grudge against enemies. In fact, they would not view competitors for power as enemies, but rather as opponents in a great game of human ability. These rulers welcome competition, believing that it builds character and teaches valuable lessons. After a battle, they study their failures and openly admit the strengths of others. Nietzsche wrote that such leaders do not see a right and wrong, only a superior and inferior combatant.

In stark contrast to the ruling class, the subservient populations embrace a moral code based upon a mythical equality of individuals. Knowing this, the aristocrats claim to acknowledge this equality in various empty manners -- such as equality under the law, which applies seldom in reality. The subservient, slave class eventually realizes that life cannot be equal, so a religion is developed promising that they are actually superior to those in power on earth.

Nietzsche hypothesized the slave class embraced democracy and the principle of equality in order to bring the naturally superior class down to their own level. Sin and evil are artificial constructs, created by the slaves and adopted by the leaders of this class, who often become leaders in the aristocratic class -- proving they do not believe in this religious myth. The slaves demean sex, human desire, and teach humility instead of respect for power and authority. Nietzsche believed this was a repression of resentments. A minority of religious leaders are either true believers or individuals seeking power, but unable to admit this due to their own repressed natures.

Eternal Recurrence

Nietzsche theorized that while time might be infinite, the possible combinations of happenings was statistically limited. Therefore, some events were bound to repeat. He went further by suggesting that even material objects would be recreated by nature, due to the limited number of possibilities. These cosmic cycles were called Eternal Recurrence by Nietzsche, a consoling substitute for immortality.


The Birth of Tragedy

In the consciousness of the truth he has perceived, man now sees everywhere only the awfulness or the absurdity of existence... and loathing seizes him. The Birth of Tragedy, ch. 7 (1872)

Human, All Too Human

Because men really respect only that which was founded of old and has developed slowly, he who wants to live on after his death must take care not only of his posterity but even more of his past. Assorted Opinions and Maxims, aph. 307 (published as first supplement to Human, All Too Human, 1879)

The irrationality of a thing is no argument against its existence, rather a condition of it. Human, All Too Human, aph. 332 (1878)

Arrogance on the part of the meritorious is even more offensive to us than the arrogance of those without merit: for merit itself is offensive. Human, All Too Human, aph. 332 (1878)

Thus Spake Zarathustra

Once spirit was God, then it became man, and now it is even becoming mob. Thus Spoke Zarathustra, part 1, "Of Reading and Writing" (1883)

Distrust everyone in whom the impulse to punish is powerful! Thus Spoke Zarathustra, part 2, ch. 29 (1883)

These people abstain, it is true: but the bitch Sensuality glares enviously out of all they do. Thus Spoke Zarathustra, part 1, "Of Chastity" (1883)

He who cannot obey himself will be commanded. That is the nature of living creatures. Thus Spoke Zarathustra, part 2, "Of Self-Overcoming" (1883)

You may have enemies whom you hate, but not enemies whom you despise. You must be proud of your enemy: then the success of your enemy shall be your success too. Thus Spoke Zarathustra, part 1, "Of War and Warriors" (1883)

Beyond Good and Evil

Almost everything we call "higher culture" is based on the spiritualization and intensification of cruelty -- this is my proposition.... That which constitutes the painful voluptuousness of tragedy is cruelty; that which produces a pleasing effect in so-called tragic pity, indeed fundamentally in everything sublime up to the most highest and most refined thrills of metaphysics, derives its sweetness solely from the ingredient of cruelty mixed in with it. Beyond Good and Evil, aph. 229 (1886)

It is always consoling to think of suicide: in that way one gets through many a bad night. Beyond Good and Evil, ch. 4, aph. 157 (1886)

There is in general good reason to suppose that in several respects the gods could all benefit from instruction by us human beings. We humans are -- more humane. Beyond Good and Evil, aph. 295 (1886)

On the Genealogy of Morals

All in all, punishment hardens and renders people more insensible; it concentrates; it increases the feeling of estrangement; it strengthens the power of resistance. The Genealogy of Morals, essay 2, aph. 14 (1887)

Oh, how much is today hidden by science! Oh, how much it is expected to hide! The Genealogy of Morals, essay 3, "What Do Ascetic Ideals Mean?" aph. 23 (1887)

Everyone who has ever built anywhere a "new heaven" first found the power thereto in his own hell. The Genealogy of Morals, Essay 3, aph. 10 (1887)

Ecce Homo

The man of knowledge must be able not only to love his enemies but also to hate his friends. Ecce Homo, Foreword (1888)

I know my fate. One day there will be associated with my name the recollection of something frightful -- of a crisis like no other before on earth, of the profoundest collision of conscience, of a decision evoked against everything that until then had been believed in, demanded, sanctified. I am not a man I am dynamite. Ecce Homo, "Why I Am a Destiny" (1888)

After coming into contact with a religious man I always feel I must wash my hands. Ecce Homo, "Why I Am a Destiny" (1888)

Twilight of the Idols

The moment Germany rises as a great power, France gains a new importance as a cultural power. Twilight of the Idols, "What the Germans Lack," aph. 4 (1889)

The Germans -- once they were called the nation of thinkers: do they still think at all? Nowadays the Germans are bored with intellect, the Germans mistrust intellect, politics devours all seriousness for really intellectual things -- Deutschland, Deutschland üuber alles was, I fear, the end of German philosophy. Twilight of the Idols, "What the Germans Lack," aph. 1 (1889)

The most spiritual human beings, assuming they are the most courageous, also experience by far the most painful tragedies: but it is precisely for this reason that they honor life, because it brings against them its most formidable weapons. Twilight of the Idols, "Expeditions of an Untimely Man," aph. 17 (1889)

When one does away with oneself one does the most estimable thing possible: one thereby almost deserves to live. Twilight of the Idols, "Expeditions of an Untimely Man," aph. 36 (1889)

As regards the celebrated "struggle for life," it seems to me for the present to have been rather asserted than proved. It does occur, but as the exception; the general aspect of life is not hunger and distress, but rather wealth, luxury, even absurd prodigality -- where there is a struggle it is a struggle for power. Twilight of the Idols, "Expeditions of an Untimely Man," aph. 14 (1889)

Nothing is beautiful, only man: on this piece of naïvety rests all aesthetics, it is the first truth of aesthetics. Let us immediately add its second: nothing is ugly but degenerate man -- the domain of aesthetic judgment is therewith defined. Twilight of the Idols, "Expeditions of an Untimely Man," aph. 20 (1889)

To live alone one must be an animal or a god -- says Aristotle. There is yet a third case: one must be both -- a philosopher. Twilight of the Idols, "Maxims and Arrows," aph. 3 (1889)

Two great European narcotics, alcohol and Christianity. Twilight of the Idols, "What the Germans Lack," aph. 2 (1889)

I fear we are not getting rid of God because we still believe in grammar. Twilight of the Idols, "'Reason' in Philosophy," aph. 5 (1889)

To die proudly when it is no longer possible to live proudly. Death of one's own free choice, death at the proper time, with a clear head and with joyfulness, consummated in the midst of children and witnesses: so that an actual leave-taking is possible while he who is leaving is still there. Twilight of the Idols, "Expeditions of an Untimely Man," aph. 36 (1889)

The Anti-Christ

What is good? -- All that heightens the feeling of power, the will to power, power itself in man. The Anti-Christ, aph. 2 (1895)

The "kingdom of Heaven" is a condition of the heart -- not something that comes "upon the earth" or "after death." The Anti-Christ, aph. 34 (1895)

The anarchist and the Christian have a common origin. The Anti-Christ, aph. 57 (1895)

Wherever there are walls I shall inscribe this eternal accusation against Christianity upon them -- I can write in letters which make even the blind see... I call Christianity the one great curse, the one great intrinsic depravity, the one great instinct for revenge for which no expedient is sufficiently poisonous, secret, subterranean, petty -- I call it the one immortal blemish of mankind... The Anti-Christ, aph. 62 (1895)

Against boredom the gods themselves fight in vain. The Anti-Christ, aph. 48 (1895) Nietzsche refers to Schiller's Maid of Orleans, act 3, sc. 6: "Against stupidity the gods themselves fight in vain."

The word "Christianity" is already a misunderstanding -- in reality there has been only one Christian, and he died on the Cross. The Anti-Christ, aph. 39 (1895)

The Will to Power

I assess the power of a will by how much resistance, pain, torture it endures and knows how to turn to its advantage. The Will to Power, book 2, note 362 (1888)

Extreme positions are not succeeded by moderate ones, but by contrary extreme positions. The Will to Power, aph. 55 (1888)


The idealist is incorrigible: if he is thrown out of his heaven he makes an ideal of his hell. Miscellaneous Maxims and Opinions, no. 23 (1879)

The strongest knowledge (that of the total unfreedom of the human will) is nonetheless the poorest in successes: for it always has the strongest opponent, human vanity. Assorted Opinions and Maxims, aph. 50 (1879)

The press, the machine, the railway, the telegraph are premises whose thousand-year conclusion no one has yet dared to draw. The Wanderer and His Shadow, aph. 278 (1880)

To exercise power costs effort and demands courage. That is why so many fail to assert rights to which they are perfectly entitled -- because a right is a kind of power but they are too lazy or too cowardly to exercise it. The virtues which cloak these faults are called patience and forbearance. The Wanderer and His Shadow, aph. 251 (1880)

Existence really is an imperfect tense that never becomes a present. The Use and Abuse of History, sct. 1 (1874)

Not necessity, not desire -- no, the love of power is the demon of men. Let them have everything -- health, food, a place to live, entertainment -- they are and remain unhappy and low-spirited: for the demon waits and waits and will be satisfied. Daybreak, aph. 262 (1881)

The worst readers are those who behave like plundering troops: they take away a few things they can use, dirty and confound the remainder, and revile the whole. Assorted Opinions and Maxims, aph. 137 (1879)

Let us beware of saying that death is the opposite of life. The living being is only a species of the dead, and a very rare species. The Gay Science, aph. 109 (rev. ed., 1887)

Only the most acute and active animals are capable of boredom.-- A theme for a great poet would be God's boredom on the seventh day of creation. The Wanderer and His Shadow, aph. 56 (1880)

What is wanted -- whether this is admitted or not -- is nothing less than a fundamental remoulding, indeed weakening and abolition of the individual: one never tires of enumerating and indicating all that is evil and inimical, prodigal, costly, extravagant in the form individual existence has assumed hitherto, one hopes to manage more cheaply, more safely, more equitably, more uniformly if there exist only large bodies and their members. Daybreak, aph. 132 (1881)


Gane, Laurence and Chan, Kitty; Introducing Nietzsche (New York: Totem Books, 1998) ISBN: 1-84046-075-X [Amazon.com]

Kaufmann, Walter Arnold; Nietzsche: Philosopher, Psychologist, Antichrist (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1974)

Mencken, H. L.; The Philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche (Tuscon: See Sharp Press, 1908, 2003)

Nietzsche, Friedrich Wilhelm; On the Advantage and Disadvantage of History for Life (Indianapolis: Hackett Pub. Co., 1980)

Nietzsche, Friedrich Wilhelm; Ansell-Pearson, Keith and Large, Duncan; The Nietzsche Reader (Oxford: Blackwell, 2006)

Nietzsche, Friedrich Wilhelm; Levy, Oscar; and Roth, Samuel; My Sister and I Trans. Levy, Oscar (New York: Boar's Head Books, 1951)

Sautet, Marc; Nietzsche for Beginners (New York: Writers & Readers, 1990) ISBN: 0-86316-118-9 [Amazon.com]

Solomon, Robert C., and Higgins, Kathleen Marie; What Nietzsche Really Said (New York: Schocken Books, 2000)

Strathern, Paul; Nietzsche in 90 Minutes (Chicago: Ivan R. Dee, 1996) ISBN: 1-56663-121-1 [Amazon.com]

Steinhart, Eric; On Nietzsche (Belmont, Calif.: Wadsworth, 2000) ISBN: 0-534-57606-0 [Amazon.com]

Tanner, Michael; Nietzsche (New York: Oxford University Press; 1994) ISBN: 0-19-287680-5 [Amazon.com]

Wicks, Robert; Nietzsche (Oxford: Oneworld, 2002)

Complete source list.

Books: Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche

Ansell-Pearson, Keith. On the Genealogy of Morality and Other Writings. Trans/ed. Carol Diethe and Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, Aug 1994. 0521406102 [Amazon.com] 0521404592 [Amazon.com]

Belliotti, Raymond Angelo. Stalking Nietzsche. Greenwood Press CT, Jan 1999. 0313307008 [Amazon.com]

Breazeale, Daniel. Nietzsche: Untimely Meditations. Trans/ed. R. J. Hollingdale and Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche. Cambridge University Press, Nov 1997. 0521585848 [Amazon.com]

Cox, C. Nietzsche: Naturalism and Interpretation. University of California Press, Nov 1999. 0520215532 [Amazon.com]

Hales, Steven D. Nietzsche's Perspectivism. Trans/ed. Rex Welshon. University of Illinois Press, Apr 2000. 0252025350 [Amazon.com] 0252068661 [Amazon.com]

Kostka, Alexandre. Nietzsche and An Architecture of Our Minds. Trans/ed. Irving Wohlfarth. Getty Research Institute, Jul 1999. 0892364858 [Amazon.com]

Krell, David Farrell. The Good European: Nietzche's Work Sites in Word and Image. Trans/ed. Donald L. Bates. University of Chicago Press, Apr 1999. 0226452794 [Amazon.com]

Lowith, Karl. Nietzsche's Philosophy of the Eternal Recurrence of the Same. Trans/ed. J. Harvey Lomax. University of California Press, Jul 1997. 0520065190 [Amazon.com]

Nietzsche, Friedrich Wilhelm. The Anti-Christ. Introduction by H. L. Mencken. FQ Classics, Nov 2007. 1599866315 [Amazon.com]

Nietzsche, Friedrich Wilhelm. The Antichrist. Trans/ed. Anthony Mario Ludovici. Prometheus Books, Nov 2000. 1573928321 [Amazon.com]

Nietzsche, Friedrich Wilhelm. The Anti-Christ. Trans/ed. H. L. Mencken. See Sharp Press, Aug 1999. 1884365205 [Amazon.com]

Nietzsche, Friedrich Wilhelm. Basic Writings of Nietzsche. Trans/ed. Walter Arnold Kaufmann. Modern Library, Dec 2000. 0679783393 [Amazon.com]

Nietzsche, Friedrich Wilhelm. Basic Writings of Nietzsche. Trans/ed. Walter Kaufmann. Modern Library, Oct 1992. 0679600000 [Amazon.com]

Nietzsche, Friedrich Wilhelm. Beyond Good and Evil. Trans/ed. R. J. Hollingdale. New York: Penguin, Apr 2003. 014044923X [Amazon.com]

Nietzsche, Friedrich Wilhelm. Beyond Good and Evil: Prelude to a Philosophy of the Future. Trans/ed. Robert C. Holub and Marion Faber. Oxford University Press, Jan 1999. 0192832638 [Amazon.com]

Nietzsche, Friedrich Wilhelm. Beyond Good and Evil: Prelude to a Philosophy of the Future. Trans/ed. Helen Zimmern. Dover Publications, Sep 1997. 048629868X [Amazon.com]

Nietzsche, Friedrich Wilhelm. Beyond Good and Evil: Prelude to a Philosophy of the Future. Trans/ed. Walter Kaufmann. Vintage Books USA, Dec 1989. 0679724656 [Amazon.com]

Nietzsche, Friedrich Wilhelm. Beyond Good and Evil. Trans/ed. Helen Zimmern. Prometheus Books, Oct 1989. 087975558X [Amazon.com]

Nietzsche, Friedrich Wilhelm. Beyond Good and Evil: Prelude to a Philosophy of the Future. Trans/ed. R. J. Hollingdale and Michael Tanner. New York: Penguin Books, Feb 1987. 0140445137 [Amazon.com]

Nietzsche, Friedrich Wilhelm. The Birth of Tragedy; <trans/ed.> Smith, Douglas (Oxford University Press, Apr 2000) 0192832921 [Amazon.com]

Nietzsche, Friedrich Wilhelm. The Birth of Tragedy: And Other Writings. Trans/ed. Raymond Geuss and Ronald Speirs. Cambridge University Press, May 1999. 0521639875 [Amazon.com]

Nietzsche, Friedrich Wilhelm. The Birth of Tragedy. Dover Publications, May 1995. 0486285154 [Amazon.com]

Nietzsche, Friedrich Wilhelm. The Birth of Tragedy Out of the Spirit of Music. Trans/ed. Shaun Whiteside and Michael Tanner. New York: Penguin Books, Jan 1994. 0140433392 [Amazon.com]

Nietzsche, Friedrich Wilhelm. Birth of Tragedy. New York: Random House Trade, Apr 1967. 0394703693 [Amazon.com]

Nietzsche, Friedrich Wilhelm. The Complete Works of Friedrich Nietzsche: Human, All Too Human. Trans/ed. Gary Handwerk. Stanford University Press, Sep 1997. 0804726655 [Amazon.com]

Nietzsche, Friedrich Wilhelm. Ecce Homo: How One Becomes What One is. Trans/ed. R. J. Hollingdale and Michael Tanner. New York: Penguin Books, Apr 1993. 0140445153 [Amazon.com]

Nietzsche, Friedrich Wilhelm. The Gay Science: With a Prelude in Rhymes and an Appendix of Songs. Trans/ed. Walter Kauffmann. Vintage Books USA, Jan 1974. 0394719859 [Amazon.com]

Nietzsche, Friedrich Wilhelm. Hammer of the Gods. Trans/ed. Stephen Metcalf. Creation Books, Mar 1996. 1871592461 [Amazon.com]

Nietzsche, Friedrich Wilhelm. Human, All Too Human: A Book for Free Spirits. Trans/ed. Stephen Lehmann. University of Nebraska Press, Dec 1996. 0803283687 [Amazon.com]

Nietzsche, Friedrich Wilhelm. Human, All Too Human: A Book for Free Spirits. Trans/ed. R. J. Hollingdale and Richard Schacht. Cambridge University Press, Nov 1996. 0521567041 [Amazon.com]

Nietzsche, Friedrich Wilhelm. Menschliches, Allzumenschliches. Konemann, Feb 1998. 3895080365 [Amazon.com]

Nietzsche, Friedrich Wilhelm. Natural Law and Human Dignity. Trans/ed. Ernst Bloch and Dennis J. Schmidt. MIT Press, Sep 1987. 0262521296 [Amazon.com]

Nietzsche, Friedrich Wilhelm. Nietzsche: The Gay Science. Trans/ed. Josefine Nauckhoff and Adrian Del Caro. Cambrdige: Cambridge University Press, Jan 2002. 0521636450 [Amazon.com]

Nietzsche, Friedrich Wilhelm. Nietzsche: The Great Philosophers. Trans/ed. Richard Schacht. Prentice Hall, Mar 1993. 0024066818 [Amazon.com]

Nietzsche, Friedrich Wilhelm. A Nietzsche Reader. Trans/ed. R. J. Hollingdale. New York: Penguin Books, Oct 1978. 0140443290 [Amazon.com]

Nietzsche, Friedrich Wilhelm. Nietzsche Set. Konemann, Feb 1998. 3895084239 [Amazon.com]

Nietzsche, Friedrich Wilhelm. On the Genealogy of Morals. Oxford University Press, Jan 1999. 019283617X [Amazon.com]

Nietzsche, Friedrich Wilhelm. On the Genealogy of Morals. Trans/ed. Walter Kaufmann. Vintage Books USA, Dec 1989. 0679724621 [Amazon.com]

Nietzsche, Friedrich Wilhelm. Philosophical Writings. Trans/ed. Reinhold Grimm and William Bruce Armstrong. Continuum International Publishing Group, Dec 1986. 0826402798 [Amazon.com] 082640278X [Amazon.com]

Nietzsche, Friedrich Wilhelm. Philosophy and Truth: Selections from Nietzsches Notebooks of the Early 1870s. Trans/ed. Daniel Breazeale. Prometheus Books, Apr 1990. 1573925322 [Amazon.com]

Nietzsche, Friedrich Wilhelm. Philosophy in the Tragic Age of the Greeks. Trans/ed. Marianne Cowan. Regnery Publishing, Jul 1996. 0895267101 [Amazon.com]

Nietzsche, Friedrich Wilhelm. Philosophy of Nietzsche. Trans/ed. Geoffrey Clive. Plume Books, Mar 1984. 0452006996 [Amazon.com]

Nietzsche, Friedrich Wilhelm and Walter Kaufman. The Portable Nietzsche. New York: Penguin Books, Jan 1977. 0140150625 [Amazon.com]

Nietzsche, Friedrich Wilhelm. The Pre-Platonic Philosophers. University of Illinois Press, Nov 2000. 0252025598 [Amazon.com]

Nietzsche, Friedrich Wilhelm. Thus Spoke Zarathustra. Trans/ed. Adrian Del Caro. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, Jul 2006. 0521602610 [Amazon.com]

Nietzsche, Friedrich Wilhelm. Thus Spake Zarathustra. NTC/Contemporary Publishing Company, Jun 2001. 1853267767 [Amazon.com]

Nietzsche, Friedrich Wilhelm. Thus Spake Zarathustra. Dover Publications, Jun 1999. 0486406636 [Amazon.com]

Nietzsche, Friedrich Wilhelm. Thus Spoke Zarathustra: A Book for All and None. Trans/ed. Walter Kaufmann. Modern Library, Sep 1995. 0679601759 [Amazon.com]

Nietzsche, Friedrich Wilhelm. Thus Spake Zarathustra. Trans/ed. Thomas Common and H. James Birx. Prometheus Books, Nov 1993. 0879758619 [Amazon.com]

Nietzsche, Friedrich Wilhelm. Thus Spoke Zarathustra. Trans/ed. Walter Kaufmann. New York: Penguin Books, Mar 1978. 0140047484 [Amazon.com]

Nietzsche, Friedrich Wilhelm. Thus Spoke Zarathustra: A Book for Everyone and No One. Trans/ed. Walter Kauffmann. New York: Penguin Books, Nov 1961. 0140441182 [Amazon.com]

Nietzsche, Friedrich Wilhelm. Twilight of the Idols. Trans/ed. Duncan Large. Oxford University Press, Jul 1998. 0192831380 [Amazon.com]

Nietzsche, Friedrich Wilhelm. Unfashionable Observations. Trans/ed. Richard T. Gray. Stanford University Press, Oct 1998. 0804734038 [Amazon.com]

Nietzsche, Friedrich Wilhelm. Unfashionable Observations. Trans/ed. Richard T. Gray. Stanford University Press, Apr 1995. 0804723826 [Amazon.com]

Nietzsche, Friedrich Wilhelm. Unmodern Observations: Unzeitgemasse Betrachtungen. Trans/ed. Arrowsmith, William. Yale University Press, Feb 1990. 0300043112 [Amazon.com]

Nietzsche, Friedrich Wilhelm. Unpublished Writings from the Period of 'Unfashionable Observations'. Trans/ed. Richard T. Gray. Stanford University Press, May 1999. 0804736480 [Amazon.com]

Nietzsche, Friedrich Wilhelm. Will to Power. Trans/ed. Walter Kaufmann. New York: Random House Trade, Sep 1987. 0394704371 [Amazon.com]

Strong, Tracy B. Friedrich Nietzsche and the Politics of Transfiguration. University of Illinois Press, Feb 2000. 0252068564 [Amazon.com]

Thomas, Douglas. Reading Nietzsche Rhetorically. Guilford Publications, Dec 1998. 157230426X [Amazon.com]

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