As a precursor to both existentialism and postmodernism, Friedrich Nietzsche, like many of the most well-regarded thinkers, prided himself in his unorthodoxy. As an agitator and a radical, a hallmark of his life and philosophy was a systematic defiance of all that was conventional. His disdain for any sort of system, coupled with his poetic prose writing style, often led readers of his works to incoherency and paradox; continues an ongoing quest to accurately interpret and represent Nietzsche’s set of philosophical ideals. Another one of Nietzsche’s nonconformist concepts, “life-affirmation,” considers it necessary to question all of our most basic assumptions regardless of how socially prevalent they may or may not be.
“Christianity was from the beginning, essentially and fundamentally, life’s nausea and disgust with life, merely concealed behind, masked by, dressed up as, faith in ‘another’ or ‘better’ life.” — Friedrich Nietzsche, The Birth of Tragedy
Continuing this trend of eccentricity in his renowned On the Genealogy of Morality, Nietzsche bashes Christianity and Catholicism as a corrupter of virtue and a creator of “moral prejudices.” In another often-cited moment in his The Gay Science, Nietzsche proclaims that in an increasingly secularized Europe, “God is dead.” He goes on to explain that Christianity claims objective knowledge and truth in an entirely subjective world, all in an effort to safeguard against the possibility of a meaningless universe. Nietzsche posits that we must instead accept perspectivism (objectivity is impossible) and nihilism (an essentially meaningless universe), a couple of Nietzsche’s most vital contributions to philosophy.
Additional Nietzsche Readings:
More information about his life: The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy
A collection of his quotes: The Perspectives of Nietzsche
Summarizing his On the Genealogy of Morals: UNC’s Megan Wallace
Perspectivism and truth in his philosophy: St. Olaf College’s Nate Olson
An explanation of nihilism: Philosophy Talk