Friedrich Nietzche

Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche was born October 15, 1844 in a small town in the Prussian Province of Saxony. His parents had two children after him, a girl named Elisabeth and a boy named Ludwig who died at the age of two. Nietzsche's father died a year after the death of his younger son, when Nietzsche was five years old. As a boy, Nietzsche studied at the internationally known Schulpforta, which introduced him to the literary world, and allowed him to experience life away from the small-town Christian environment of his hometown.

            At the University of Bonn, Nietzsche studied theology and classical philosophy and for a short time he became a member of the Burschenschaft Frankonia. In his 1862 essay Fate and History, he argued that historical research discredited the fundamental teachings of Christianity. In 1864 after one semester at Bonn, Nietzche stopped his theological studies and lost his faith. He then studied philology under Professor Friedrich Wilhelm Ritschl, whom he followed to the University of Leipzig. After being inspired by the works and theories of Schopenhauer, Darwin, and Friedrich Albert Lange, specifically Darwin’s opposition to tradition and authority, he began to expand his studies in philology and continued his studies in philosophy as well.

            He became a professor of philology at the University of Basel in 1869 at the age of twenty-four, although he had not yet completed his doctorate or received his teaching certificate. Before he moved to Basel, he renounced his Prussian citizenship and remained officially stateless for the rest of his life. Although he was no longer a citizen, Nietzsche served as a medical orderly for Prussia in the Franco-Prussian War of 1870 to 1871 contracted diphtheria and dysentery. It was speculated by some that he may have also contracted syphilis, which could have been the cause of his eventual madness.

            From 1873 to 1876, Nietzsche published four separate essays which were...