Friedrich Nietzsche

Werner J. Dannhauseer, "Friedrich Nietzsche" in History of Political Philosophy, eds. Leo Strauss and Joseph Cropsey. University of Chicago Press, Chicago, 1987.


The young Nietzsche thought of the philosopher as a physician of culture. His own philosophy is both a diagnosis of the sickness or crisis of his time, the nineteenth century, and the search for a cure. In his first published book, The Birth of Tragedy,  Nietzsche placed his hope in a revival of German culture through the music of Richard Wagner. His second book, Untimely Considerations, known in English as Thoughts out of Season, consists of four essays published separately between 1873 and 1876. One of these is again a tribute to Wagner. Nietzsche soon ceased to believe in the cure he had suggested, repudiating Wagner and losing faith in the possibility of a German cultural revival. He thus entered into the second stage of his development, a stage characterized by disillusionment and a turning to Western positivism. Symbolic of this is the dedication of his third book, Human, All Too Human, to Voltaire. Nietzsche’s final position is articulated in Thus Spoke Zarathustra and the books following it. Nietzsche, however, never repudiated but only deepened the view of his time as sick and critical, a view which is to be found in the writings of his first stage of development; and the problems he raised at this stage are problems with which he never ceased to wrestle.