On the one hand, N espouses that people shall almost ignore the needs of other people to achieve one's own greatness. But on the other hand he describes kindness as

"Kindness and love, the most curative herbs and agents in human intercourse".

  • 3
    Can one? It's far from the only flat-out contradiction in his corpus.
    – Mary
    Jan 31 at 22:19
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    Do you have quote/s on him ignoring the needs of others? His mental breakdown was precipitated apparently by seeing a horse beaten in the street.
    – CriglCragl
    Feb 1 at 2:23
  • There is no contradiction. Empathy makes kindness a non zero sum game: watch happy people tends to make us happy, all the more if they're happy because of us. Great leaders tend to be able of sincere care to the people they lead, which is a key factor in inspiring them and achieve greatness. Nobody likes to follow a mean individual who will drop them at the first occasion. For an example see the depiction of Nelson Mandela and his effect on the character of Francois Pienaar in the movie Invictus.
    – armand
    Feb 1 at 4:39
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    (cont.) For a counter example, the last few months of US politics... What Nietzsche dismisses about kindness (in a very vague nutshell, corrections welcome) is the moral injunction to show kindness, all too often in his view the way for mediocre people to tame a great person: "this great painter neglects wife and kids to pursue his creation, shame on him!". For Nietzsche this should not stop the great artist in his path, nor should he affect to show kindness to please the crowd. But if kindness is coming from the bottom of his heart, if he trully desires to be kind, it's all for the better.
    – armand
    Feb 1 at 4:48
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    The full quote: "Economy of kindness. Kindness and love, the most curative herbs and agents in human intercourse, are such precious finds that one would hope these balsamlike remedies would be used as economically as possible; but this is impossible. Only the boldest Utopians would dream of the economy of kindness."
    – sand1
    Aug 15 at 11:46

I assume, when you refer to his espousal of the idea that one must ignore the needs of other people to achieve one's own greatness, that you're referring to Nietzsche's ideas of slave and master morality, in particular the latter "virtue". I believe this to be an instance of the conflicting nature of philosophy and reality which yields reality paramount, solely for the sake of one's psyche.

It might be argued that Nietzsche suffered existentially his entire philosophical career; yet, such suffering was visible especially physically during the few years preceding his demise. As is summarized by many texts on the causes of and conditions around Nietzsche's passing, he suffered a "long sickness" - a period of utter desperation, pain, and melancholy. Nietzsche had, in some ways, reasoned himself into his depressive state, a result of his hyper-rational philosophy, including that which you claim is his espousal of self-centered gain. It was during such periods of sickness that Nietzsche "yearned for the emotional solace" that values such as kindness - and others that he believe constituted slave morality - offered. In short, the way of reconciling these ideas is to understand that one - motivation by sole egocentric gain - led to the other - existential suffering and the realization of the importance of communal values.

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    Direct quotes & references would improve this answer.
    – CriglCragl
    Aug 15 at 14:29
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    Is there any evidence that Nietzsche actually advocated the master morality for modern people (according to this article, Nietzsche scholar Walter Kaufman denied that he did), or was his defense of master morality more about saying that it worked well for the ancient classical world, and that it was undermined by the slave morality? It may be that he thought in the modern world we need a new ethos which is different from either one.
    – Hypnosifl
    Aug 15 at 16:45

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