Sociology Index

Friedrich Nietzsche

Among distinguished sociologists, a German philosopher, Friedrich Nietzsche has been read as the precursor of such varied phenomena as Nazism and postmodernism. Friedrich Nietzsche became the youngest ever to hold the Chair of Classical Philology at the University of Basel in 1869 at the age of 24. Nietzsche appears to have been outraged by the lack of reflexivity among philosophers and scientists who failed to apply to their own thoughts the rigorous questioning they applied to those of others, a reaction which led him to dispute the supposed rationalism, scientism, and humanism of modern Western societies.

Friedrich Nietzsche upheld the ideals of individualism, self-reliance, competition, and elitism. Beyond Good and Evil is one of the final books by German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche. One of the most well-known and influential explorations of moral and ethical philosophy ever conceived.

Friedrich Nietzsche adopts a polemic approach to past philosophers who, in his view, lacked critical sense in accepting flawed premises in their consideration of morality. The metaphysics of morality, Friedrich Nietzsche argues, should not assume that a good man is simply the opposite of an evil man, rather merely different expression of humanity’s common basic impulses.

Nietzsche’s work moves beyond conventional ethics to suggest that a universal morality for all human beings in non-existent, and perception, reason and experience are not static, but change according to an individual’s perspective and interpretation. Philosophic traditions such as Truth, self-consciousness and free will are merely inventions of Western morality and that the “will to power” is the real driving force of all human behaviour.

Nietzsche was opposed to antisemitism and nationalism, although his sister attempted to associate his work with fascism and Nazism. The three terms that summarize both the reasons for the continuing controversy over his thought, and the results of his own self-questioning, are 'nihilism', 'will to power', and 'superman'. Among those said to have been influenced by his works are Max Weber and Paul Michel Foucault. Most of his books are available in good modern translations. Arthur Schopenhauer strongly influenced Nietzsche's earliest philosophical thought.

Nietzsche's thought and his ideas have had a profound impact in 20th and early-21st century thinkers, especially in schools of continental philosophy such as existentialism, postmodernism and poststructuralism, and also art, literature, psychology, politics and popular culture. Amongst the best-known are The Gay Science, Thus Spoke Zarathustra, Beyond Good and Evil, On the Genealogy of Morals, and Ecce Homo.