Friedrich Nietzsche

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Nietzsche, Friedrich

 

Born Oct. 15, 1844, in Röcken, near Lützen, Saxony; died Aug. 25, 1900, in Weimar. German philosopher; representative of irrationalism and voluntarism; poet.

Nietzsche studied at the universities of Bonn and Leipzig. From 1869 to 1879 he was a professor of classical philology at the University of Basel. His creative activity was interrupted in 1889 by mental illness.

Nietzsche abandoned classical philology for philosophy. He was influenced by A. Schopenhauer, as well as by Wagner’s aesthetics and art. In his first work, The Birth of Tragedy Out of the Spirit of Music (1872), which was devoted primarily to an analysis of classical tragedies, Nietzsche developed the idea of a typology of culture, which had been suggested by J. C. F. von Schiller, F. W. J. von Schelling, and German romanticism. He compared two principles of being and culture: the “Dionysian,” or “vital,” orgiastic and violent, tragic principle; and the “Apollinian,” or contemplative, logically articulated, strictly intellectual principle. Nietzsche saw the ideal in a balance between these polar principles. The Birth and Tragedy contained the seeds of Nietzsche’s teaching on being as spontaneous becoming. This teaching was later developed into the doctrine of the “will to power” as the yearning of every living being for self-affirmation. It was also expressed in Nietzsche’s Utopian philosophy of history, which sought the ideal in pre-Socratic Greece.

Nietzsche’s conservative, romantic ideas and his voluntarism (Untimely Meditations, 1873) predetermined the philosopher’s development toward irrationalism. His use of the essay form for his early works was indicative of this trend in his development. Structurally, the works Human, All-too-human (1878), The Dawn (1881), The Gay Science (1882), and Beyond Good and Evil (1886) are chains of fragments or aphorisms. Nietzsche’s philosophy also found expression in poetry, legends, and myths (for example, Thus Spoke Zarathustra, 1883–84). He endeavored to overcome the rationalism of the philosophical method, presenting his concepts not as a system but as polysemantic symbols. This is true of his concepts of “life” and the “will to power” (being in its dynamic quality), passion, the instinct for self-preservation, and the energy moving society.

Nietzsche’s philosophy combines heterogeneous, often conflicting motifs into a whole that is often difficult to unravel. His anarchistic criticism of modern bourgeois reality and culture is expressed in a universal despair in life, a despair recognized by Nietzsche as a manifestation of “nihilism.” In his myth of the “overman,” or “superman,” he presents the cult of a strong personality who overcomes the bourgeois world individualistically, operates beyond all moral norms, and is extremely cruel. But this cult of the overman is combined with the romantic idea of the “man of the future” who has left behind the contemporary world with its sins and falseness.

In trying to affirm the existence of a “natural,” completely unfettered course of life in opposition to existing social relations, Nietzsche undertook an ultraradical critique of all values, including Christianity (The Antichrist, 1888). He attacked democratic ideology for reinforcing the “herd instinct,” and he preached aesthetic “immoralism.” Nietzsche’s world view approached the fin-de-siècle mood of “decadence” (neoromanticism, literary impressionism). This tendency is especially noticeable in his lyric poetry.

Although contradictory and defying the unity of a system, Nietzsche’s philosophy influenced various trends in 20th-century bourgeois thought, including the “philosophy of life,” pragmatism, and existentialism, each of which has its own interpretation of his thought. He exerted considerable influence on turn-of-the-century writers, both in Germany (S. George, H. Mann, T. Mann, H. Hesse, and G. Benn) and in other countries—K. Hamsun (Norway), A. Strindberg (Sweden), A. Gide (France), U. Sinclair and J. London (USA), and Iqbal (India). He also influenced the Russian symbolists V. Ivanov, A. Belyi, and V. Briusov. His work, which was essentially a revelation of self and an affirmation of the tendencies of bourgeois culture in the epoch of imperialism, was a prototype of reactionary tendencies in 20th-century philosophy, politics, and morals. The ideology of German fascism used Nietzschean philosophy. Beginning with F. Mehring and G. V. Plekhanov, Marxist philosophers have sharply and consistently criticized the ideas of Nietzsche and Nietzschean philosophy.

WORKS

Werke, vols. 1–19. Leipzig, 1903–13. Vol. 20 (index). Leipzig, 1926.
Werke: Kritische Gesamtausgabe in 30 Bd., vols. 1—. Buffalo, N.Y., 1967.
Gesammelte Briefe, 2nd ed., vols. 1–5. Leipzig, 1902–09.
In Russian translation:
Poln. sobr. soch., vols. 1–9. Moscow, 1909–12.

REFERENCES

Davydov, Iu. N. Iskusstvo i elita. Moscow, 1966.
Vertsman, I. E. “Estetika Nitsshe.” Problemy khudozhestvennogo poznaniia. Moscow, 1967.
Oduev, S. Tropami Zaratustry. (Vliianie nitssheanstva na nemetskuiu burzhuaznuiu filosofiiu). Moscow, 1971.
Mann, T. “Filosofiia Nitsshe v svete nashego opyta.” Sobr. soch., vol. 10. Moscow, 1961.
Faiginger, G. Nitsshe kak filosof. Moscow, 1902.
Trubetskoi, E. N. Filosofiia Nitsshe. Moscow, 1904.
Bertram, E. Nietzsche. Berlin, 1918.
Jaspers, K. Nietzsche, 3rd ed. Berlin, 1950.
Wolff, H. M. Fr. Nietzsche: Der Weg zum Nichts. Bern, 1956.
Kaufmann, W. Nietzsche: Philosopher, Psychologist, Antichrist. New York, 1956.
Heidegger, M. Nietzsche, vols. 1–2. Stuttgart, 1961.
Pütz, P. F. Nietzsche. Stuttgart, 1967.
Ries, W. Grundzüge des Nietzsche-Verständnisses in der Deutung seiner Philosophie. Maulburg, 1967.
Reichert, H. W., and K. Schlechta. International Nietzsche: Bibliography. Chapel Hill, N. C, 1968.
Müller-Lauter, W. Nietzsche. Berlin-New York, 1971.

A. V. MIKHAILOV

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
(13.) In Apocalittici e integrati, Eco's rejects Niezsche's nihilism; see "I nichilisti fiammeggianti" (Eco, 1964: 361-364).
Harrison's ritual thesis, with its echoes of Bergson's theory of duree, Niezsche's writings on Dionysus and Apollo, William James' concepts of "monarchical deism" and enquiries into mystical experience, as well as Freud and Jung's notions of the unconscious and "dream or phantasy thinking", participates in a cultural and intellectual shift that Sanford Schwartz associates with technological modernity in The Matrix of Modernism: Pound, Eliot, and Early Twentieth-Century Thought.
As a way of demonstrating the effects of such abstraction in the context of the 'political uncanny', I want to turn to Derrida's defence of Heidegger's anti-metaphysical position in Of Spirit, which, significantly enough, turns on a description of the Unheimlich in the final section of An Introduction to Metaphysics, written in 1934, a section which ends notoriously enough with references to Niezsche's transvaluation of all values and the suggestion that 'the works that are being peddled about nowadays as the philosophy of National Socialism' have nothing to do with 'the inner truth and greatness of this movement (namely the encounter between global technology and modern man)'.
Brobjer extracts passages from an 1.874 letter from Nietzsche to Erwin Rohde, in which Niezsche calls the impulse behind the first Unzeitgemasse Betrachtungen (including "Vom Nutzen und Nachteil der Historie fur das Leben") "dilettantishly immature" and "polemical, negative" (assessments echoed in the tenth section of the essay itself).
7:"Es ist ein wahres Ungluck dass man das Wort Drama i mmer mit'Handlung' ubersetzt hat--Das Wort Drama ist dorischer Herkunft: und nach dorischem Sprachgebruch bedeutet es 'Ereigniss', 'Geschichte'--also kein Thun, sondern ein Geschehen ..."; quoted from Friederick Niezsche, Der Fall Wagner, which Brandes had sent to Strindberg earlier.