TABLE OF CONTENTS
TITLE . . . . . . i
CERTIFICATION . . . . ii
DEDICATION . . . . . iii
ACKNOWLEDGEMENT . . . iv
TABLE OF CONTENT . . . . vi
INTRODUCTION . . . . viii
Biography And Background Of Nietzsche
1.1 Biographical Notes on Nietzsche . 1
1.2 Background to Nietzsche’s moral philosophy. 3
2.1 Ancient Period . . . . 12
2.2 Medieval Period . . . . 21
2.3 Modern Period . . . . 24
Apollo And Dionysius
3.1 The Apollonian and Dionysian factors in the
constitution of the superman (Ubermansch) . 28
3.1.1 Apollo. . . . . 29
3.1.2 Dionysius . . . . . 32
3.2 The death of God: an opportunity for crossing over
to Superman (Ubermansch) . 35
4.1 Superman and the will to power . . 41
4.2 Supermen: The last man to overcome . 48
Evaluation and conclusion
5.1 Evaluation . . . . 52
5.2 Conclusion . . . . 57
Bibliography . . . . . . . . 60
BIOGRAPHY AND BACKGROUND OF NIETZSCHE
1.1 BIOGRAPHICAL NOTES ON NIETZSCHE
Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche was born
on October 15th, 1844 at Rochken in Prussian Saxony. His father, a
Lutheran pastor, died in 1849, and the boy was brought up at Naumberg in the
feminine and pious society of his mother, his sister, a grandmother and two
He attended the famous Pforta School, and then went to the University at Bonn and at Leipzig.
He studied classical philosophy under
F.W. Ritschl at the University of Bonn and Leipzig
and discovered the philosophy of Schopenhauer.
Studying philosophy under Ritschl, he
became his star pupil and gained so great a reputation in it that on Ritschl’s
recommendation, he was appointed to the chair of classical philosophy at Basel University
at the age of twenty- four. Leipzig
proceeded to confer a doctorate degree on him without requiring a dissertation.
He taught at Basel for ten years (1869-79), becoming a Swiss
to do so. While at Basel,
he made and broke his friendship with Richard Wager, participated as an
ambulance orderly in the Franco-Prussian war.
The events of his Leipzig
years with the most profound influence on his later works were his discoveries
of Schopenhauer’s, ‘The World as Will and
Representation’ and F.A. Lange’s, ‘History
of Materialism’ and his personal relationship with Richard Wager.
A combination of bad health and
dissatisfaction, amounting to disgust with his professional duties led
Nietzsche to resign from his chair at Basel
in the spring of 1879. Moreover, for the next ten years, he led a wandering
life, seeking to discover from his terrible health problems and a near absence
of human companionship.
Early in 1889, Nietzsche collapsed in
the street of Turin.
He became insane. During this last period, he wrote nothing and was incapable
of conversation. He spent the last eleven and half years of his life, first in
an asylum, then in his mother’s care in Naumberg, and finally in Weimar, where
his sister took care of him after his mother’s death. He died in Weimar on August 25,
1.2 BACKGROUND TO NIETZSCHE’S MORAL PHILOSOPHY
The cry ‘God is dead’ is not very
runs through the history of modern philosophy starting from Descartes with his
enthronement of thought as a condition for being. It becomes clear that
Nietzsche was following an existing tradition. He took hold of what others have
said and drew the conclusion latent in them.
Hegel was the first to set the stage
for the assault upon God. He protested that the God of Christian experience was
an inadequate, premature, and not-yet-developed God. Hegel sets himself the
task of completing the good news of the gospel; would go beyond Christianity by
demonstrating that the only valid God was dialectically evolving. Thought or
spirit, which gradually inevitably attains and reveals itself in conceptual
clarity and complete self-consciousness through the entire scope of cosmic and
The Christian God is so transcendent
instituting a kind of master-slave relationship and “can only be experience or
thought of when the conscience is sick.”
Since he is so transcendent, he only “succeeds in enslaving and alienating his
worshippers” hence, Hegel sees Judaeo-christianity as
A backward religion; a religion of endless, hopeless
waiting, whose devotees are either wandering in a desert looking for a land
flowing with milk and honey or sighing in a vale of tears scanning the horizon
for the advent of the new heaven and earth beyond time.”
indifference to Christianity lies in the fact that it has succeeded in
producing “martyrs for the next world but never heroes of action in this.” Hegel therefore concluded that
Christianity was a social and historical failure. Applying his dialectics to Christianity,
he saw the Christian God as a mere antithesis of the evolution of spirit.
Hellenism, with its serene gods of immanence and order, was the thesis of
evolving thought. Christianity, with its tragically
crucified God, was the antithesis of the two- the reformed, the mature the
The Christian God had to die in order
to pass into its opposite. All modern atheism will thus be seen to be rooted in
Hegel’s rejection of God of the master-slave relationship. God reduces man from
being a hero to being a beautiful soul.
Profoundly influenced by Hegel, Feuerbach
(1804-1872) makes God “the myth that destroys man’s own efforts, against which
man must fight to reconquer his proper nature from which he has been
alienated.” Hegel having demolished God, Feuerbach drew the logical conclusion
in Hegel’s work in a heroic manner. He continued the process of the reduction
of God to the being of man and, indeed, of all theology to anthropology.
Expressing this fact, Vincent Miceli writes;
Feuerbach was acclaimed for having swept the heavens
of the phantom of God…. Restored divinity to its rightful owner-liberated humanity-
and rendered the thousands of years’ discussions about God henceforth
God is for Feuerbach ‘merely the projected
essence of man’ and in proportion as God becomes more ideally human; the
greater becomes the apparent between God and man. To enrich God, man must
become poor; that God may be all, man must become nothing.” Feuerbach’s contention is that the Christian
idea of man far from librating man actually succeeded in enslaving him to an
So man can only grow and enrich himself by
taking back what he has given to God.
To have a replacement for God, Feuerbach looks to the essence of man. He
It is the essence of man that is the Supreme Being…The
turning point in history will be the moment when man becomes aware that the
only God of man is man himself “Homo
It must be observe that Feuerbach
does not divinized individual man in his particularity but Humanity.
Receiving his keys to his communist
kingdom from his German masters Hegel and Feuerbach, Karl Marx (1818-1883)
reduced the problem of God to a human problem. The only meaning there is the
adventure of man lies in his achievement of complete independence. But, man
according to Marx, “can only be his own master when he owes his existence to no
one but himself”.
So the salvation of man itself
demands, as it were a “priori,” the death of God and by this denial, man’s
existence is asserted.
With the total obliteration of God, the highest being then enthroned in the
universe becomes man. With this, man becomes the only reality: the only meaning
of the universe of evolution of history. Man, liberated from the divine
shackle, is now free to create himself fully in solidarity with his fellow men
and he does this by his work. Work, the only firm of man’s being rips man
suddenly, violently, irrevocably from God, from the transcendent and from the
existing bourgeois world, with all its form of self-alienation.
Work transforms the isolated
individual of the bourgeois society into the social man of communist humanism.
Work renders man capable of developing all his powers to their fullest
capacities, it perfects his whole nature; it inserts him organically as equal
among equals, into classless community of concord.
History begins, therefore, with the
denial of God and advances through the revolutionary destruction of bourgeois
society to the enthronement of man as his own god in the communist community.
While Hegel thought of nations as the vehicles of dialectic movement, Marx
In a parallel thrust, Schopenhauer
proclaimed ‘Pure Will’ to be the essence of being and thing-in-itself and to be
the transcendental assignment of man: being metamorphoses into a will-to-life,
a will-to-will, and a will-to-power. The objectivization of being as primordial
will thus resolves itself into the forms and modes of this will. The will thus
becomes the ‘primordial being’ Urwesen
and the primordial source of that which is ‘Urguelle
des seienden,’ the prime mover of all activity. This will have neither goal
nor end outside of itself and its action.
Nietzsche begins from Schopenhauer,
but his avowed aim is the formation of a new man who in turn will mould the
future. Schopenhauer, in Nietzsche’ eyes is the first avowed and trenchant
has produced. He was a man who regarded the absence of God from existence as
something understandable, palpable and indisputable. Nietzsche intends to fill
the void left by the disappearance of God and this is the point of the doctrine
of ‘The Superman.’ He, however, parts Company entirely with the quietistic
pessimism of Schopenhauer.
Nietzsche believes that Schopenhauer held honest atheism that freed European
thought after so many centuries, from the lie of the belief in Christian God.
In Nietzsche’s view, the traditional schema of the universe, the maps by which
western man has oriented his life, are beginning to dissolve and lose their
He sees in the nineteenth century
European, an advert of nihilism “the radical rejection of values, meaning and
desirability”. This nihilism is as a result of suspicion, by the west, of all
interpretation of the world. Nietzsche’s
revolt against Christianity is that its morality is slave morality, which is a
defensive reaction to the values of the more powerful. The
slave morality begins when resentment itself becomes creative and gives birth
Nietzsche starts his campaign against
the Christian morality with his extirpation of the Christian God and in his
peace. Nietzsche substituted the superman and his will-to-power.