Was it becaue he just didn't breakout as a writer or was it because of the dominance of certain philosophical narratives that made his philosophy unacceptable ?

he did attack everything ever

  • This isn't really a philosophy question... Apr 26, 2022 at 3:28
  • @TedWrigley for eg. in a world dominated by idealism, realist questions like "does the external world exist"" was discarded by philosophy eg. Heidegger who determined it wasn't even a valid question. Years later, in a different world, the Neo Kantians (Harman) revived this because of a changed academic landscape. What dominant philosophical ideas stopped Nietzsche from ganing acceptance ?
    – Ash Rivers
    Apr 26, 2022 at 5:08
  • 1
    Yeah... I'm not sure there's an answer to this beyond the fact that NIetzsche broke new ground, and ground-breaking philosophy often takes a generation or two to gain traction. It's usually the students of the students of the originator who bring the originator some prominence. Nietzsche died unfortunately young; if he'd held out to his seventies (the post WWI era) he'd have seen his work take root. Apr 26, 2022 at 6:03

2 Answers 2


In Nietzsche's lifetime publicly being an atheist was controversial. Proclaiming to Christians that 'God is dead' and we must become gods is still a controversial and confrontational framing:

"God is dead. God remains dead. And we have killed him. How shall we comfort ourselves, the murderers of all murderers? What was holiest and mightiest of all that the world has yet owned has bled to death under our knives: who will wipe this blood off us? What water is there for us to clean ourselves? What festivals of atonement, what sacred games shall we have to invent? Is not the greatness of this deed too great for us? Must we ourselves not become gods simply to appear worthy of it?" -The Gay Science

Nietzsche is considered a foundational existentialist, and a paradigmatic member of Continental philosophical thought. The methods of these approaches are still viewed with suspicion in the English speaking world, dominated by Analytic philosophy.

Nietzsche was not interested in being popular, the last thing he was willing to do was pander to the crowd. His whole approach was about challenging accepted verities, and sacred cows.

He was also very disagreeable in person. He feuded with or alienated all the most significant public figures in his life.

He is considered widely misunderstood and misinterpreted, even now, and he is at least partly responsible for that through making ambiguous and contradictory statements. People can pick and choose phrases to support many contradictory stances, including ones Nietzsche would have hated.

Honestly the bigger question is how he was able to publish anything in his time, and gain any audience fir his work. The last victim of the Spanish Inquisition Cayetano Ripoll, was executed in 1826, Nietzsche was born in 1844. It's entirely possible that if more people had known what he was thinking and writing, he would have been lynched.

Edit to add:

The association Nietzsche's sister made of his work with Nazism and antisemtism, lastingly influenced how his work was received. But obviously not until after his death, so not relevant to the question. But I think it illustrates Nietzsche's unwillingness to bend to the currents of his time: he rejected Wagner, and refused to go to his sisters wedding, over his stance on those issues. He could have been dramatically more popular in his time by playing to the gallery. It's of lasting importance to understanding his work, that he did not.


What CriglCragl said is mostly sufficient, but I think the necessary answer comes in when you look at his reception of his early works including some work from before Birth of Tragedy (BoT), but mainly when BoT hit, and then the Untimely Meditations and Human, All-Too-Human... These three books created a domino effect for Nietzsche amidst his fellow academics, scholars, and especially the majority of his contemporaries in philology. Nietzsche's "philology" went against the typical trends, and he also dropped some of the academic/scholarly format and voice within his writings.

There are some interesting exchanges between Cosima Wagner and Nietzsche that also indicate a push to dampen down some of Nietzsche's rhetoric in a early lecture of his that became attached to some of his published work.

So more the latter: his philology and philosophy went against the trends of the day.

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