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Friedrich Nietzsche


How did he impact Existentialism? Friedrich Nietzsche was one of the most influential of all modern existentialist and postmodernist thinkers. He is considered the father of Nihilism, which teaches that there is no ultimate meaning to human existence. Nietzsche was born in 1844 in the Prussian province of Saxony. His father was Carl Ludwig, a Lutheran pastor and teacher. He died in 1900 at the age of 56 insane and infected with syphilis. His attempt to expose the motives of Western religion and philosophy sent a clear and blunt message to theologians, philosophers, psychologists, and all modern thinkers. His written critiques about human existence, religion, morality, modern culture, and science challenged and questioned the value and objectivity of truth and how life should be interpreted. Nietzsche’s existential philosophy included such things as;

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Popularized the idea that God is dead. Insisted that without God, life is meaningless. Was convinced that Christian virtues made weak people. That meekness was a liability. Did not believe in values or truth. Believed that all people should strive to be a superman. Personal power was essential. Logically disputing and discriminating truth from opinion and error was his esteemed virtue. Believed good and evil kept the world as it was and in a state of eternal occurrence. Praised the Greek ideals of Dionysius who exalted life in its most irrational and cruel features, and that the proper task of the superman was to exist beyond and not effected by good and evil. Viewed that freedom and greatness is desiring to love self and life as it is, was, and embracing the fate of what self and life will be in the future to come. Convinced that a person only lives once and then they exist no longer so they must be aggressive in living the short life they have

Existentialism is the philosophical and cultural movement which holds that the starting point of philosophical thinking must be the experiences of the individual. Moral and scientific thinking together do not suffice to understand human existence, so a further set of categories, governed by a norm of "authenticity", is necessary to understand human existence. ("Authenticity", in the context of existentialism, is being true to one's own personality, spirit or character.)

Existentialism began in the mid-19th century as a reaction against the then-dominant systematic philosophies, such as those developed by Hegel and Kant. Søren Kierkegaard, generally considered to be the first existentialist philosopher, posited that it is the

individual who is solely responsible for giving meaning to life and for living life passionately and sincerely ("authentically"). Existentialism became popular in the years followingWorld War II and influenced a range of disciplines besides philosophy, including theology, drama, art, literature and psychology.

Existentialists generally regard traditional systematic or academic philosophies, in both style and content, as too abstract and remote from concrete human experience. Scholars generally consider the views of existentialist philosophers to be profoundly different from one another relative to those of other philosophies. Criticisms of existentialist philosophers include the assertions that they confuse their use of terminology and contradict themselves.

Existential 1. of or relating to existence, esp human existence 2. (Philosophy) Philosophy pertaining to what exists, and is thus known by experience rather than reason; empirical as opposed to theoretical 3. (Philosophy / Logic) Logic denoting or relating to a formula or proposition asserting the existence of at least one object fulfilling a given condition; containing an existential quantifier 4. (Philosophy) of or relating to existentialism Logic (Philosophy / Logic) a. an existential statement or formula b. short for existential quantifier

Existentialism is often described as the belief in "existence before essence" -- that is, that before any structure or form that dictates the nature of the world and humanity, we exist. Existentialists examine what it means to exist as a human being in the world, and existentialists believe that understanding who we are as human beings is the key to understanding the world. The term existentialism is a broad one; the diverse forms it takes generally have some common themes: Existentialists think about and try to answer the question that Walker Percy asks, "Who am I and why am I here?" I do exist, and what does that mean, if anything? Do I have a purpose in life, or does life have a meaning? One thing that existentialists keep in mind is death -- our existence implies at the same time our imminent non-existence, our impending death. This is also called nothingness -- the nothingness of our life now and then (in the future, and upon our death). Existentialists believe we are aware of this on either a conscious or subconscious level (or a mix of the two). How does that affect our actions, why we act, how we should act? According to Kierkegaard, this brings an underlying sense of anxiety or dread in all that we do. Most existentialists believe in free will and human freedom and that we create our own reality.

Sartre put the three random characters in his play, No Exit, together in their afterlife in a hotel room -- a room they could never exit -- with no purpose, no agenda, no reason. They are free to create a heaven or a hell for the rest of eternity in the (essentially) empty room, just as we are free to create our own "heaven" or "hell" in this world with the life we have been given by the choices we make. Frederich Nietzsche (1844-1900): Atheistic Existentialist Major Work: "Thus Spake Zarathustra" "God is dead...and He died of pity." For Nietzsche, religion emerged in order to bring comfort and consolation to weak people lacking courage to create their own values. Human culture is decadent due to the "herd morality" and due to Christianity's emphasis on peace, love, forgiveness, meekness and humility, which is nothing but weakness.

The distinctive of the human animal is the "will to power", the basic drive to be the best, the most powerful. In encounter with each other and our fundamental aggression, we flee conflict and sublimate our basic drive for power. The "authentic" human will be the "Ubermensch", the Superman who will submit to no rules, refuse the will of the community or the common good, the individualist, the conqueror with the courage to define his own morality and values in his own interest. (Is it possible that a thinking person would fail to classify this nut as a sociopath?) This is philosophical crime at its most heinous. It was largely from his (some say "mis-") reading of this book that Adolf Hitler developed his view of "Biological Heroism", whereby he attempted genocide of the Jewish people and establishment of the "Aryan" race. A quote from Nietzsche: "Don't believe those who speak to you of super-terrestrial hopes...they are poisoners, whether they know it or not." Thus Nietzsche grounds religion in the human needs of the insecure person. Although Nietzsche was openly hostile to Christianity and religion in general, despised Christian virtues, ridiculed theology and and the metaphysical systems of others, he indulged in a theoretical system of his own, which revived the Greek notion of the eternal recurrence of all things. He died insane, after spending the last eleven years of his life believing himself to be Jesus Christ. Conclusion You don’t identify with anyone other than yourself, or you are misidentifying. Weird, right? So, a good existentialist doesn’t identify with their parents, siblings, race, linguistic group, countrymen, fellow living things, etc.