Can someone explain to me why Nietzsche is an important philosopher? To be honest, I am interested in analytic philosophy and I want to to how much valuable the Nietzsche's ideas are from analytical point of view? It seems to me that Nietzsche is more similar to psychology than philosophy if we ignore his ideas about ethic.

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    Carnap, for example, praised Nietzsche's "historical analyses of specific artistic phenomena, or an historical-psychological analysis of morals" in Elimination of Metaphysics, and Nietzsche's influence on analytic ethics has been considerable, see Robertson-Owen. His aesthetics and affinities to Wittgenstein are also explored. Danto's Nietzsche as Philosopher is a systematic analytic study.
    – Conifold
    Jun 9, 2023 at 22:22
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    To be fair, not many philosophers would be left standing "if we ignore [what they are mostly notable for]"
    – armand
    Jun 13, 2023 at 9:09
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    May I speak for all philosophers (professional + amateurs)? If I may then Nietzsche is like any other philosopher. Why? That, mon ami, is the right question.
    – Hudjefa
    Jun 13, 2023 at 13:05

2 Answers 2


Nietzsche is one of the most controversial geniuses of all time, and many consider him one of the smartest humans ever. Freud said that no one understand human psychology as deeply as he did, and no one had such depth of introspection. Heidegger said that Nietzsche was the highest point of metaphysics in the Western philosophical canon. Oswald Spengler considered Nietzsche to be the greatest philosopher ever, and in agreement with Spengler I would say that Nietzsche's historical writings are what make him important and great. "Genealogy of Morals" and "Birth of Tragedy" are his 2 greatest texts. In those books Nietzsche is onto some revolutionary stuff. He discovered some mechanisms due to which civilizations flourish and die. His discovery of the Apollonian - Dionysian dynamic in Ancient Greece is not just important for ancient Greek scholarship, it is a set of tools that can be used to analyze all civilizations. Nietzsche was actually one of the greatest historians of all time, just as great as Gibbon, Mommsen or Braudel.

On a sidenote, a fascinating and controversial contemporary Russian philosopher Alexander Dugin continued in Nietzsche's footsteps and discovered a new philosophical logos, the logos of Cybele (in addition to the Nietzschean Appolo - Dionysis).

Others (mostly in the analytic philosophy camp) think he is overrated and wrong about everything. Bertrand Russell thought that every single one of Nietzsche's theories is 100% wrong, and he also thought that Nietzsche was not a philosopher but a poet / writer whose only value was in the beauty of his prose.

I sort of agree to some extent with Russell, and I find reading Nietzsche hard because his writing style is extremely annoying. Everyone praises "Zarathustra", but I was barely able to finish it because it was just obnoxiously annoying. Phrases like "infinity, I want to marry you for I am in love with thee", "above all I love that which is written with blood, write with blood and you will know that blood is spirit", "let your hope be to give birth to the overman", "love and death are infinite, to want love is to want death, thus i tell you , you small spirited men..." , etc etc, are annoying af.

For as long as humankind exists, there will always be arguments about Friedrich Nietzsche. He is a thinker of immense complexity and great depth. Together with Plato, Schopenhauer and Rousseau he was one of the greatest writers, and he will provoke, annoy, fascinate, inspire, and enlighten you.

The most important thing is that you read him and make your own conclusions and don't listen anyone else's opinions (including my own).

  • "Nietzsche was actually one of the greatest historians of all time, just as great as Gibbon, Mommsen or Braudel" I'm a Nietzsche fan, but that's a bonkers claim.
    – CriglCragl
    Jun 13, 2023 at 11:39
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    @DennisKozevnikoff, Thank you so much for your explanations, I agree that Nietzsche is a great thinker for continental philosophers, but I was more interested in his impact on analytic philosophers.
    – Arian
    Jun 13, 2023 at 12:22
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    Jesus understood human nature better than Nietzche or Freud. Nietzche was unconsciously enmeshed in infantile associations that Freud maps to early life development of the ego ideal. Jesus understands ego ideal better than Freud! Samson, strong man of Israel, smites the wicked with a jawbone of an ass. Jesus on the cross and says, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do." Jesus transcends the inanity of humanity. Nietzche's ego ideal rejects Christianity as "slave morality" and celebrates ideal "master morality". Jesus tried to transform the ego ideal of sadistic master morality. Jun 13, 2023 at 14:34
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    @SystemTheory Nietzsche does not call master morality ideal, only that it's superior to slave morality.
    – rus9384
    Jun 14, 2023 at 6:35
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    In men's peer counselling (intersubjective self-psychology) I had a friend and mentor who became an enemy. This friend had a mother who was "Christian in name only". She was so hostile and demanding that he complained of rage and contempt issues well into his eighties. He died in 2018. He once remarked, "I want to cheer with the crowd of Romans (Masters) while the Christians (Slaves) are put to death!" He told me he wanted to see his (Christian) mother dead which is why he went to her funeral. I thought superior mother/Roman abuses inferior son/Christian and the son identifies with "Romans". Jun 14, 2023 at 13:53

Why is Nietzsche an important philosopher?

A difficult question because of the prior one of framing: Who is Nietzsche? Is he a philosopher at all?

Witness some of his most well known sayings

  1. There are various eyes. Even the Sphinx has eyes: and as a result there are various truths, and as a result there is no truth.

  2. I say unto you: one must still have chaos in oneself to be able to give birth to a dancing star. I say unto you: you still have chaos in yourselves.

  3. Where is the lightning to lick you with its tongue. Where is the frenzy with which you should be inoculated. Behold. I give you the Ubermensch. He is this lightning. He is this frenzy.

  4. He who fights with monsters might take care lest he thereby becomes a monster. And if you gaze for long into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you.

  5. There are no facts, only interpretations.

  6. One cannot refute Christianity; one cannot refute a disease of the eye.

  7. The very word "Christianity" is a misunderstanding—at bottom there was only one Christian, and he died on the cross. The "Gospels" (good tidings) died on the cross. What, from that moment onward, was called the "Gospels" was the very reverse of what he had lived: "bad tidings," a Dysangelium

  8. God is dead
    And we killed him

Do they sound like things a sane person would say? You need to decide...

If you're brought up in the analytic tradition, especially its narrower version you would write these and such off as a madman more than as a philosopher.

But if you are more 'normal' and by normal I mean one whose sensibilities are not deadened by modern education and lifestyle these and such statements would evoke a slight shiver in the spine — Dunno what hes saying... But it seems significant... And frightening!!

So no as a framing problem calling Nietzsche philosopher completely misses the point

Poet may be a bit more accurate. In fact it is accurate in the more mundane sense as well: Nietzsche didn't start as a philosopher but as an admirer of the musician Wagner. And his break with Wagner is very much a part of his growing up not merely into adulthood but to an extent transcending the human sphere altogether.

On the net you'll find opinions like this

Nietzsche evaluates Wagner's philosophy on tonality, music and art; he admires Wagner's power to emote and express himself, but largely disdains what the philosopher deems his religious biases. It is easy to suspect that Nietzsche's views must be motivated by a personal quarrel with Wagner.

I believe this imposes the small-minded view of the author onto Nietzsche

Nietzsche's problem with Wagner was far deeper than a personal feud. He saw with a musician-poet's feeling that Wagner was enormously powerful, that he would have an enormous impact on German society.

And that it would not be a good influence — Wagner became for Nietzsche the symbol and archetype of a decadent Germany and thence Europe. So a mysterious half century before the Nazis he saw who their court musician would be.

Here we reach a viewpoint of Nietzsche that moderns simply have no framing or category for — the old testament prophet.

Those nuts were supposed to have disappeared 3000 years ago (if at all they existed). How could one appear in super ultra genteel Europe?

Yet that is the most accurate view of Nietzsche — unpleasant to look at (and likely to smell) but terrifying in the accuracy of his darkest prophesies

If you take his most quoted and misunderstood statement "God is dead" which 90% of stupid modern philosophers take as celebratory and proves that Nietzsche was a atheist but rather hear it through the powerful reading of Jordan Peterson, you'll see the terrifying accuracy of his prophesying. He is saying Beware! If you kill God the Nazis will come! Or rather Jordan Peterson is saying that Nietzsche is prophesying that 50 years before the Nazis but its clearly plausible enough. A more philosophic less polemic/poetic version.

The other current thinker — more historian than philosopher — who has a right appreciation of Nietzsche in our current times is Tom Holland. His magnum opus Dominion is basically a tour de force showing that modern western civilization is essentially a Christian one and the more we pretend to be secular/liberal/democratic and all the other modern good stuff, the more inexorably Christian we become and remain. And Nietzsche is an important needle that weaves that story.

God is Dead — Three fallacies

God is dead — arguably Nietzsche's most quoted line — is most misunderstood.

Firstly it is a running theme in German literature/philosophy for nearly 2 centuries before Nietzsche. Nietzsche picks up from this unambiguously Christian feeling and uses it multiple times:

  • Zarathustra encounters an aged ascetic and misanthrope who expresses love of God — a "saint" Note the sarcasm

    [Zarathustra] saluted the saint and said What should I have to give you! But let me go quickly that I take nothing from you! And thus they parted from one another, the old man and Zarathustra, laughing as two boys laugh.

    But when Zarathustra was alone, he spoke thus to his heart: Could it be possible! This old saint has not heard in his forest that God is dead!
    Thus spake Zarathustra

    Clearly the distaste is not for God but the misanthropic ascetic saint
  • God is dead.
    God remains dead.
    And we have killed him.
    How shall we comfort ourselves, the murderers of all murderers?

    The Gay Science
  • After Buddha was dead people showed his shadow for centuries afterwards in a cave, — an immense frightful shadow. God is dead: but as the human race is constituted, there will perhaps be caves for millenniums yet, in which people will show his shadow. — And we — we have still to overcome his shadow!

    This prodigious event is still on its way, still wandering; it has not yet reached the ears of men. Lightning and thunder require time, the light of the stars requires time, deeds, though done, still require time to be seen and heard. This deed is still more distant from them than the most distant stars – and yet they have done it themselves.

    The Gay Science

So the three fallacies are:

  1. Nietzsche celebrates/loves the 'AntiChrist'
    How can one doubt that when one of his last books is called The Antiȟrist?
    Well, there are many niggles here. For one the German Der AntiChrist can be translated as The AntiChrist. Or The Anti Christ-IAN See wiki. Further (tnx haxor comments) the German version has the subtitle Fluch auf das Christentum ie. rant on Christianity (ideology and/or group). So its clear in the original he's aiming at Christianity as he found it and not the original Jesus. So the progression is: The Christian predecessors of Nietzsche take the standard version of Christ crucified on the cross and being resurrected and emphasize the death and hence the pathos. Nietzsche takes it from Jesus the son and pushing it on the Father makes it far more momentous...
  2. God is dead is a celebration
    No it's not!
    It foretells Calamity — its much more like apocalyptic.
    Brings me to the 3rd and most egregiously wrong way of reading it...
  3. Imperative = Declarative
    Even a child who has done basic English knows the difference between the declarative mood — It is raining — and the imperative mood — Do come in!.
    As the lines God is dead, We killed him makes amply clear, he's pretending to talk declaratively but is in fact using poetic license to be very strongly admonishing
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    @ScottRowe Why cure? Why treat it as a disease? Remember that disease is dis-ease. Who took away your ease? What did that persons doings have to do with Christianity. Remember faux ... religions kill more than the bonafide ones
    – Rushi
    Jun 9, 2023 at 17:33
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    The meaning of "God is dead" is not "if you kill God the Nazis will come." JP is extremely untrustworthy. First of all "God is dead" is saying God is already dead, so there is no question of killing him later; there's no "if." What it means is that philosophy has already destroyed God, i.e. removed the rational support for belief in God, and Nietzsche says we must become Gods ourselves (overmen, unconcerned with morality of the past) to replace the void this leaves in our lives. Nietzsche views the Overman with approval - it's not a warning about the Nazis.
    – causative
    Jun 9, 2023 at 17:46
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    @causative Yeah its fashionable to calumniate JBP. But he's not relevant to this argument. If you listen to his clip from 30 seconds or so on its straight quoting Nietzsche (Gay Science). Hear the full quote and see if your interpretation or mine fits better. In any case you can elide JBP completely and get the same from the Holland short clip just as effectively
    – Rushi
    Jun 9, 2023 at 17:52
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    @Rusi Yes, well, the quote from your video is Nietszche talking about the problems with having killed God and what we have to do next. Nietzsche is not saying "God could still be alive if we still believe!" No, he's saying God is dead, and he'll stay dead, and he thinks now we must deal with the consequences (by becoming Overmen).
    – causative
    Jun 9, 2023 at 17:55
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    @Rusi Nietzsche says "God is dead" several different times in his writing, and they aren't all put in the mouth of a "madman." The "madman" represents Nietzsche himself. Nietzsche doesn't ever suggest it's an option to bring God back to life by believing in him. The only option he presents, each time he brings up the subject, is to fill the void ourselves, by becoming Overmen. For instance, he has Zarathusra say "dead are all the gods: now do we desire the overman to live."
    – causative
    Jun 9, 2023 at 18:22

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