(1844-1900) German philosopher who rejected the accepted absolute moral values and the “slave morality” of Christianity. He argued that “God is dead” and therefore people were free to create their own values. His ideal was the Übermensch, or “Superman”, who would impose his will on the weak and worthless. Nietzsche claimed that knowledge is never objective but always serves some interest or unconscious purpose.
His insights into the relation between thought and language were a major influence on philosophy. Although he has been claimed as a precursor by Nazism, many of his views are incompatible with totalitarian ideology. He is a profoundly ambivalent thinker whose philosophy can be appropriated for many purposes.
He published Morgenröte/The Dawn 1880–81, Die fröhliche Wissenschaft/The Gay Science 1881–82, Also sprach Zarathustra/Thus Spoke Zarathustra 1883–85, Jenseits von Gut und Böse/Between Good and Evil 1885–86, Zur Genealogie der Moral/Towards a Genealogy of Morals 1887, and Ecce Homo 1888.
Nietzsche was born in Röcken, Saxony; he attended Bonn and Leipzig universities and was professor of Greek at Basel, Switzerland, 1869–80. He had abandoned theology for philology, and was influenced by the writings of Arthur Schopenhauer and the music of Richard Wagner, of whom he became both friend and advocate. Both these attractions passed, however, and ill health caused his resignation from the university. He suffered a permanent breakdown in 1889 from overwork and loneliness, and spent his later years in northern Italy, in the Engadine, Switzerland, and in southern France.