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Friedrich Nietzche

In: People

Submitted By allyjojo131
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Ally Jones
Ms. Winslow
English II Honors
15 February 2012 Friedrich Nietzsche Life in Germany during 1840s is hard for someone growing up in the 21st century to relate to. Germany was a country of villages and farms. Jobs outside agriculture were rare. The price of food was extremely high and many people starved to death. Private organizations and churches were trying to help the starving people whereas the government did very little. The telegraph was gaining popularity and news was traveling much faster than ever before (Crisis Page). During this time thousands of Germans were immigrating to the United States (“Irish” 25f). There was a lot going on in Germany during the 1840s and on October 15th 1844 Friedrich Nietzsche was born. Nietzsche grew up in the small town of Röcken, in the Prussian province of Saxony. Nietzsche’s parents, Carl Ludwig, a Lutheran pastor and former teacher, and Franziska Oehler, married in 1843 and had two children. In 1849 Nietzsche’s father died from a brain ailment. The following year his younger brother, Ludwig Joseph also passed away. Nietzsche then moved to Naumburg. He lived with his grandmother there until she died in 1856 (“Friedrich” Page). In 1853 he enrolled in Knaben-bergenschule. He didn’t do very well in this school so he transfers to a private school. This prepared him for his time at Domgymnasium. He spent many hours studying in order to keep up with Greek. After graduation in 1864, Nietzsche commenced studies in theology, classical philology at the University of Bonn. While studying there he was exposed to religiously controversial literature that led to the end of his theological studies after just one semester and the loss of his faith. He had few friends and alliances throughout his life but the ones that he did have were long-standing and loyal. Some of his first friends included Wilhelm Pinder and Gustav Krug. Through Gustav Krug he met Clara and Robert Schuman. He found it difficult to maintain this friendship after his move to Basil (“Friedrich” Page). Friedrich Nietzsche was said to be musically inclined. He started increasingly associating with the music students at his school. He started to attend piano performances with his friends. These inspired him to attempt to compose his own music. His compositions were not very well received (“Friedrich” Page). At the age of fourteen Nietzsche wrote, “God gave us music so that we, first and foremost, will be guided upward by it. All qualities are united in music: it can lift us up, it can be capricious, it can cheer us up and delight us, nay, with its soft, melancholy tunes, it can even break the resistance of the toughest character. Its main purpose, however, is to lead our thoughts upward, so that it elevates us, even deeply moves us... Music also provides pleasant entertainment and saves everyone who is interested in it from boredom. All humans who despise it should be considered mindless, animal-like creatures. Ever be this most glorious gift of God my companion on my life's journey, and I can consider myself fortunate to have come to love it. Let us sing out in eternal praise to God who is offering us this beautiful enjoyment,” (Sabharwal Page). In the fall of 1867, he begins his year of obligatory military service. He tried to enlist into a Berlin regiment but they were no longer accepting “one year volunteers”. He ends up stationed close to Naumburg in a mounted field artillery unit so he can live at home while fulfilling his service. While serving in the military he continued to also pursue a career in writing. He composed drafts of an essay on Demokrit. He left this work unfinished but some of the notes from these drafts reveal the beginning of his methods and ideas are already in place. In 1868 Nietzsche suffers a mishap while on horseback resulting in a chest injury that brings his military service to an end (“Friedrich” Page). In 1872 he published his first book, The Birth of Tragedy Out of The Spirit Of Music. His friends and colleagues expressed little enthusiasm about this work. He remarked freely about the isolation he felt within the philological community. He attempted to obtain a position in Philosophy at Basil although unsuccessfully. Between 1873 and 1876, Nietzsche published separately four long essays. The four essays shared the orientation of a cultural critic challenging the developing German culture. In 1873 Nietzsche also accumulated the notes that were posthumously published as Capitol Philosophy in The Tragic Age of the Greeks. In 1882 he publishes one of his most famous works, The Gay Science. A second edition in 1887 as well as the publication of Thus Spoke Zarathustra and Beyond Good and Evil followed this. In The Gay Science, he experiments with the notion of power but does not advance any systematic theory. This is where he first proposes the idea of eternal recurrence, a concept that would become critical in his next work. Here also is the first occurrence of the famous formulation “God is dead”. He accuses us all of being the murderer of God (“Friedrich” Page). Friedrich Nietzsche struggled his whole with severe migraines, chronic nausea, digestive issues, and poor vision, that. These conditions worsened as he aged. He served as a medical orderly in 1870 where he contracted diphtheria; an acute infectious disease caused by the bacteria Corynebacterium diphtheria, as well as dysentery, which are a group of gastrointestinal disorders characterized by inflammation of the intestines, particularly the colon (“Medical” Page). It is suspected that he also contracted syphilis while serving as a medical orderly. Syphilis is a sexually transmitted disease caused by the bacterium Treponema pallidum. “Syphilis is passed from person to person through direct contact with a syphilis sore. Many people infected with syphilis do not have any symptoms for years, yet remain at risk for late complications if they are not treated. Although transmission occurs from persons with sores who are in the primary or secondary stage, many of these sores are unrecognized. Thus, transmission may occur from persons who are unaware of their infection. In the late stages of syphilis, the disease may subsequently damage the internal organs, including the brain, nerves, eyes, heart, blood vessels, liver, bones, and joints. Signs and symptoms of the late stage of syphilis include difficulty coordinating muscle movements, paralysis, numbness, gradual blindness, and dementia. This damage may be serious enough to cause death” “STD” Page). This combination of health issues would prove to be an issue in the future and made his work intolerable. In the April of 1882 Nietzsche’s friend, Paul Rée, introduced him to Lou Andreas Salomé. He regarded Salomé as a gifted student. They spent the following summer together, frequently chaperoned by Nietzsche’s sister Elisabeth. He instantly fell in love with her. He pursued Salomé with the help of his sister and his friend Rée. Over a seven month period Nietzsche proposed three different times, being denied each time (Leventhal Page). That following winter was the end of Nietzsche’s relationship with, both, Paul Rée and Lou Salomé. He blamed his sister for the failed relationship. After this Nietzsche’s depression was worse than ever and he frequently had suicidal thoughts. He isolated himself and cut ties with his mother and sister. Nietzsche’s name became better known after the publication of Thus Spoke Zarathustra in 1883, where he states that “God Is Dead.” Spark Notes says “Thus Spoke Zarathustra is one of the strangest books in the Western philosophical tradition,” and explains that “We can approach Nietzsche's philosophy as a whole, and Zarathustra in particular, by grasping the principle of the will to power as the fundamental drive of all things. Everything must obey something, and if one can't obey oneself, one must obey someone else. True freedom is only granted to those who can command themselves. The will to power does not apply only to beings, but also to ideas: religion, morality, truth, and other concepts are all subject to the same struggle for power that dominates life. Because all things are characterized by a constant struggling, striving, and overcoming, nothing can remain fixed in place for too long. All things are constantly changing; permanence and fixity are mere illusions.” His ideas and theories were hard to comprehend at the time and he often felt like no one fully understood him. In one of Nietzsche’s most famous quotes he says, "Where has God gone? I shall tell you. We have killed him - you and I. We are his murderers. But how have we done this? How were we able to drink up the sea? Who gave us the sponge to wipe away the entire horizon? What did we do when we unchained the earth from its sun? Whither is it moving now? Whither are we moving now? Away from all suns? Are we not perpetually falling? Backward, sideward, forward, in all directions? Is there any up or down left? Are we not straying as through an infinite nothing? Do we not feel the breath of empty space? Has it not become colder? Is it not more and more night coming on all the time? Must not lanterns be lit in the morning? Do we not hear anything yet of the noise of the gravediggers who are burying God? Do we not smell anything yet of God's decomposition? Gods too decompose. God is dead. God remains dead. And we have killed him.” This did not go over very well with many people and he lost some of his original followers. On the other hand, there was an upcoming interest for this type of literature so he also gained new followers (“Friedrich” Page). There’s a common tale of Nietzsche’s first sign of mental illness. It is said that on January 3, 1889 he witnessed a horse being whipped down the street. He ran to the horse and threw his arms around the horse’s neck in order to protect it and then collapsed (“Friedrich” Page). This was extremely strange to the witnesses because whipping your horse, the main form of transportation at the time, was completely acceptable. It is clear that he struggled with depression his whole life. He frequently wrote about how alone and misunderstood he felt. The depression definitely did not help his mental stability but what is believed to be the cause of his mental breakdown is syphilis. As I earlier stated, the late stages of syphilis can cause damage to the main organs including the brain. It is common for symptoms of syphilis not to show up until ten to twenty years after the disease is contracted. Shortly after the horse incident, he began to send letters containing all kinds of nonsense to his close friends. They figured out very quickly that something was wrong. His friends decided to go get Nietzsche and “bring him back to a psychiatric ward in Basel.” His mother later had him transferred to a different ward. The doctors’ methods were “unsuccessful in curing Nietzsche’s condition” and he progressively got worse. He lived under the care of his sister Elisabeth for the last few years of his life. He had at least two strokes which left him partially paralyzed and unable to speak or walk. He caught pneumonia in August of 1900 and was frailer than ever. He had another stroke late at night on August twenty-fourth. Around noon on August 25, 1900 Friedrich Nietzsche died (“Friedrich” Page). Nietzsche’s work is still criticized today, especially by the Christian community. There have been many shirts and bumper stickers saying things like “Nietzsche is Dead,” poking fun at his “God is Dead” ideas. This controversy will most likely never end, and in that way he is still alive. His theories and ideas are still studied and respected by philosophers all over the world, whether they agree or not. Nietzsche was confident in his beliefs even when they brought social rejection. He had a unique outlook on life that made him stand out from other writers of his era, that will most likely never be matched.
Works Cited
“Friedrich Nietzsche.” A&E Television Networks. 2010. 24 Jan. 2012 <http://www.biography.com>.
Garland, Henry. “Friedrich Nietzsche.” The Oxford Companion to German Literature. Vol. 2. Ed. Mary Garland. New York: Oxford, 1986. 660-670.
“The Crisis of the 1840s.” Garden of Proserpine. 2008. 3 Feb. 2012. <http://www. gardenofproserpine.de>.
“Irish and German Immigration.” US History. 2012. 3 Feb. 2012 <http://www.ushistory.org>.
Sabharwal-Schwaegermann, Ingrid. “Nietzsche and Music.” 3 Feb. 2012 <http://www.f-nietzsche.de>.
“Medical Dictionary.” The Free Dictionary. 2012. 3 Feb. 2012 <http://www.medical-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com>.
“STD Facts.” Center for Disease Control and Prevention. 2012. 3 Feb. 2012 <http://www.cdc.gov>.
Nietzsche, Friedrich. “Thus Spoke Zarathustra.” SparkNotes. 2012. 11 Feb. 2012. <SparkNotes.com>.
Leventhal, Robert. “Chronicle of a Relationship.” Off the Record and Online. 2001. 3 Feb. 2012. <http://rsleve.people.wm.edu>.

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