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Summary of Thus spoke zarathustra
On Nietzsche's position in modern philosophy
Nietzsche cannot be assigned to any philosophical school; he was too independent in his thinking for that. In addition, he lived in a time that was not shaped by schools, in which rather old structures of thought were overcome and individual figures emerged. Nietzsche, the fanatical reader, thought the philosophy of the 19th century to the end - in order to overcome it. He criticized the enlightenment's belief in reason, which took the rationally acting subject as the starting point for their social theories. Nietzsche considered it an illusion to construct everything human on the basis of reason, because reason is only part of the human being: whoever puts it on a pedestal disregards the body and the passions. The body, the intoxication, the impulse belong to the human being just like the rationality. With this the philosopher took the basic idea Sigmund Freuds in advance. In addition, Nietzsche rejected German idealism. Especially Hegel had tried to explain the whole of reality on a single principle. Nietzsche attacked all kinds of supposedly self-contained structures of thought, systems that exclude important parts of reality. With that he fits best into the society of such thinkers as Arthur Schopenhauer and Soeren Kierkegaard: Together with these, Nietzsche formed a kind of romantic reaction against the rigid Hegelian-style thought structures. And it was Nietzsche who, as the first modern thinker, made it clear what effects the disintegration of all metaphysical or religious structures of thought has on people. "God is dead": He brought the end of all hopes to the point. Modern man is left to himself, absolute certainties and a universal morality no longer exist, especially not a Christian one. With Nietzsche, nihilism made its entrance and with it thoughts that are still relevant today: How can life be lived properly, well and meaningfully when no higher meaning, no orientation is given?
Nietzsche himself spoke of 18 months of "pregnancy" until the first part of Zarathustra was "born". In 1881 in Sils-Maria in the Engadine - his favorite place where he found peace after his collapse in health - the thought of eternal return "came over" him on a hike. Nietzsche explicitly called this experience an "enlightenment". Some interpreters see the figure of Zarathustra as the philosopher himself, who descends from the mountain into the valley in his favorite landscape, the Upper Engadine, in order to bring wisdom to people. The first part of Zarathustra flowed out of his pen, the received thoughts were almost forced onto paper, and the experience of enlightenment led to the proclamatory, non-argumentative style. He wrote it in Rapallo, Italy, another favorite place of the restless traveler. Parts two and three were also created in just a few weeks, only the fourth part tormented him longer. After the third part, Nietzsche wrote in a letter: "It is done," but then wrote a fourth. At times he even had five or six in mind, but this probably failed due to the lack of success of the parts that had already been published. Nietzsche's opinion of his text is not characterized by any self-criticism; he believed that he had "brought the German language to perfection". The book's misogynistic tendencies are probably based on a short, unhappy love affair Lou Andreas-Salomé.
The first parts of Zarathustra sold so badly that Nietzsche got into trouble with his publisher. But shortly before the turn of the century, the work suddenly met the spirit of the fin de siècle, which turned against educational philistinism and decadence and enthusiastically embraced the idea of the superman: Zarathustra experienced a boom. Nietzsche's style filled a gap in the literary work of the time and anticipated the expressionist style of the early 20th century. Numerous writers from Thomas Mann to Robert Musil were influenced by him. Richard Strauss gave his famous tone poem the title Also Spoke Zarathustra. But also the murderer of the Austrian heir to the throne - the assassination act triggered the First World War - read it regularly, and German soldiers strengthened their will to persevere by reading it. The "superman" and the "will to power" became a kind of myth in which everyone could read what they wanted to read in it. When Nietzsche was first received as a serious philosopher after the First World War, Zarathustra hardly played a role in specialist discussions, but continued to play a role among the public. Nazi ideology took up the idea of the superman. In the GDR, Nietzsche was hushed up because of this ideological proximity, and many in the West also remained suspicious of him. The Nietzsche archive in Weimar did not become fully accessible until the 1980s. This led to a reassessment in connection with the history of the work and the biography of Nietzsche.
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