German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche turns 172

Today marks the 172nd birthday of famed German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche. Philosophical Library welcomes you to join us in celebrating by looking back on the life of this author, poet, philosopher and scholar. Born on October 15, 1844, Friedrich’s formative years were heavily marked with familial tragedy. At the tender age of five, Friedrich endured the death of his father at the hands of a brain ailment and had the misfortune of losing his two-year old brother only six months later. With the loss of his loved ones, his family moved to Naumburg, Germany to live with his grandmother and aunts. Only after the death of his grandmother did his family settle into a home of their own.

“He who has a why to live can bear almost any how.” – Friedrich Nietzsche

When it came to his education, Friedrich attended an all boy’s school and, afterward, a private school. At the age of ten, he received a scholarship to attend a prestigious monastery. While his grades were not nearly up to the standard needed to matriculate, having a father who once worked for the state granted him this opportunity. During his years of study, Friedrich gained a linguistic foundation in the areas of Latin, French, Hebrew and Greek. He wrote poetry and musical pieces, leading him to conduct a music and literature club. His interests steered him toward subjects and authors deemed unsuitable for the masses and was encouraged to ground himself with more socially accepted works. By 1864, he focused his attention on becoming a minister and began studying theology and philology at the University of Bonn; however, he would later lose his faith, arguing that the basic teachings of Christianity can be debunked by historical research.

“The surest way to corrupt a youth is to instruct him to hold in higher esteem those who think alike than those who think differently.” – Friedrich Nietzsche

Friedrich Nietzsche went on to study philology at the University of Leipzig and was greatly influenced by the works of Schopenhauer, Friedrich Albert Lange’s take on the philosophy of Immanuel Kant and Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution. The break from tradition and resistance of authority heavily peaked his interest and thus motivated him to broaden his studies to include philosophy. At the age of twenty-four, he was offered the position of Professor of Classical Philology at Switzerland’s University of Basel. Along with a strong academic career and many publications, Friedrich had a background in the military and served for a year as a medic in the Franco-Prussian War, an experience that revealed to him the horrors of battle. He continued to publish many works for the remainder of his life.

“He who fights with monsters might take care lest he thereby become a monster. And if you gaze for long into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you.” – Friedrich Nietzsche

Philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche is well known for his controversial beliefs that challenge Christianity, religion and morality. Having been greatly interested in the more progressive thinkers, Friedrich developed his theories based on these influences. Though he spent years committing his thoughts on paper for the public, he penned many private thoughts as well. In a compilation titled Friedrich Nietzsche Unpublished Letters, the reader is allowed a viewing into the daily life of the author. With several correspondences written to his inner circle, including his sister, we gain a deeper look into the man behind the pen. A valuable addition to the collection of anyone wishing to access the author on a more personal level, Friedrich Nietzsche Unpublished Letters makes for an interesting read. To purchase this title, please click here.

“That which does not kill us makes us stronger.” – Friedrich Nietzsche


Friedrich Nietzsche. (n.d.). In Wikipedia. Retrieved October 13, 2016, 2016, from

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