of the Week. Nov. 18th, 2002.
Kids Philosophy Slam now features a philosopher of the week. Included
with this new offering is a brief biography and famous quotes
of the featured philosopher, ideas for classroom discussions,
and links to related philosopher sites! There will be a new philosopher
of the week each and every week through March!
Nietzsche was the son of a Lutheran preacher, but during college
he began to questions his Christian upbringing. He decided that
the Christian faith took away people's desire to excel. Society's
problems were caused by the Christian belief that being poor and
submissive was good, and being rich and strong was wicked. Traditional
values (represented primarily by Christianity) had lost their
power in the lives of individuals. He expressed this in his proclamation
"God is dead." He was convinced that traditional values
represented a "slave morality," a morality created by
weak and resentful individuals who encouraged gentleness and kindness
because the behavior served their interests. Nietzsche claimed
that new values could be created to replace the traditional ones,
and his discussion of the possibility led to his concept of the
overman or superman. He believed that perfection was the artistic
warrior hero of ancient Greece. People were not created equal.
There were men and supermen. These supermen, higher beings, were
the key to the future. Only by combining strength, intellect,
and creativity would human beings reach their full potential and
make the world better. Nietzsche said that Plato started the decay
of society by coming up with the idea of another reality behind
this one. Fear of eternal hell made people repress their natural
passions, abilities and differences. Nietzsche believed in the
idea of "eternal recurrence", meaning that life is the
only reality, but that it will be repeated forever. He encouraged
people to live life as a work of art. His "supermen"
were lovers of life who would welcome the chance to repeat it
in every detail. Although Nietzsche explicitly denied that any
overmen had yet arisen, he mentions several individuals who could
serve as models. Among these models he lists Jesus, Greek philosopher
Socrates, Florentine thinker Leonardo da Vinci, Italian artist
Michelangelo, English playwright William Shakespeare, German author
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Roman ruler Julius Caesar, and French
emperor Napoleon I. People who took his ideas and used them to
their own ends has used Nietzsche's name over the years. Some
people even saw Hitler as a "Nietzschian".
Classroom Discussion Questions
How would Nietzsche have answered the question, what is the meaning
Are there any examples of Nietzsche's supermen in modern
society? Why or why not?
Who are some examples of modern supermen or models,
Why do you think that Nietzsche chose these men (da Vinci,
Shakespeare, etc) as examples of models of supermen?
learn more about Friedrich Nietzsche, follow these links: