Nietzsche, Freidrich (1844—1900)
Nietzsche was a philosopher, social scientist, writer, and one of the world’s most influential thinkers. He was an atheist who announced the death of God and viewed Christianity as the suppressor of truth, knowledge, and intellectual growth. In The Antichrist (an attack on religion), he condemned the Christian church as depraved. He believed the priesthood promoted biblical myth and ‘faith’ to raise hope of life (heaven) after death. He felt Christianity had always been hostile to the pursuit of intellectual truth, and that the church had strongly discouraged education in the sciences.
Nietzsche's early thinking was influenced by that of Arthur Schopenhauer, who emphasized individual strength of will over collectivism. Schopenhauer described the "will to live", which results in all living creatures' fundamental drive and desire to avoid death and to procreate. Some analysts have suggested that Nietzsche’s neo-aristocratic philosophy had also been strongly influenced by Schopenhauer's anti-egalitarianism and pro-eugenics stances.
Nietzsche wrote extensively on traditional Western philosophy, religion, and morality. His sister rather arbitrarily edited his ideas posthumously. A generation later, Adolph Hitler and Nazism selectively advanced these reworked and misinterpreted ideas (e.g., of the übermensch) as the basis and justification for a German sense of superiority.
His wide-ranging yet incisive thought continues to influence philosophers, theologians, psychologists, and writers.