Nietzsche, the Closet Optimist ; the Troubled Philosopher Had So Much Faith in 'Self-Fashioning'

By Thomas D'Evelyn | The Christian Science Monitor, January 31, 2002 | Go to article overview

Nietzsche, the Closet Optimist ; the Troubled Philosopher Had So Much Faith in 'Self-Fashioning'


Thomas D'Evelyn, The Christian Science Monitor


Nietzsche once wrote: "I know my fate.... I am no man, I am dynamite." The son of a Lutheran pastor, Friedrich Nietzsche (1844- 1900) identified with the anti-Christ. A firm believer in science, he spent his last decade a madman, in all likelihood the victim of syphilis. An even greater paradox: Though an ardent anti-anti- Semite and a fierce critic of German nationalism, he became a hero to the Third Reich.

The best way to know Nietzsche is to read him not as a philosopher - as one would read Locke or Kant - but as a writer. Or, read him as you would listen to good music. Be patient, listen hard and often. As Rudiger Safranski makes clear in his new biography, for Nietzsche, music was "authentic reality."

In "Nietzsche: A Philosophical Biography," translated by Shelley Frisch, Safranski allows us to read Nietzsche over his shoulder. He provides an ideal companion for understanding the man.

Nietzsche's life was full of highs and lows, and so vulnerable to sensationalism. Safranski puts those highs and lows into the context of the philosopher's thinking. Indeed, Nietzsche came to link physical suffering with mental triumph. Even before he left his teaching post, regular bouts of illness and pain caused him to fear he would die, like his father, of brain disease.

It was then, a full decade before his final troubles, that Nietzsche developed his mature aphoristic style, one of the wonders of German language. And yet Nietzsche's style is not so radical a departure from tradition. Safranski notes the irony that this great enemy of traditional morality speaks as a moralist:

"You should become master of yourself and also master of your own virtues. Previously, they were your masters, but they must be nothing more than your tools, just some tools among others. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

Nietzsche, the Closet Optimist ; the Troubled Philosopher Had So Much Faith in 'Self-Fashioning'
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.