Friedrich Nietzsche (15 October 1844 – 25 August 1900) was a German philosopher, cultural critic, composer, poet, philologist, and a Latin and Greek scholar whose work has exerted a profound influence on Western philosophy and modern intellectual history.
Friedrich Nietzsche began his career as a classical philologist before turning to philosophy. He became the youngest ever to hold the Chair of Classical Philology at the University of Basel in 1869 at the age of 24. Nietzsche resigned in 1879 due to health problems that plagued him most of his life; he completed much of his core writing in the following decade.
In 1889 at age 44, he suffered a collapse and afterward, a complete loss of his mental faculties. He lived his remaining years in the care of his mother until her death in 1897 and then with his sister Elisabeth Förster Nietzsche. Nietzsche died in 1900.
Nietzsche’s body of work touched a wide range of topics, including art, philology, history, religion, tragedy, culture and science. His early inspiration was drawn from figures such as Arthur Schopenhauer, Richard Wagner, and Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. His writing spans philosophical polemics, poetry, cultural criticism and fiction while displaying a fondness for aphorism and irony.
Prominent elements of his philosophy include his radical critique of truth in favor of perspectivism; his genealogical critique of religion and Christian morality and his related theory of master-slave morality; his aesthetic affirmation of existence in response to the “death of God” and the profound crisis of nihilism; his notion of the Apollonian and Dionysian; and his characterization of the human subject as the expression of competing wills, collectively understood as the will to power.
He also developed influential concepts such as the Übermensch and the doctrine of eternal return. In his later work, he became increasingly preoccupied with the creative powers of the individual to overcome social, cultural and moral contexts in pursuit of new values and aesthetic health.