Was Nietsche a Pessimist

Was Nietzsche a Pessimist?

The composition of Germany in the 19th century was experiencing fundamental changes. "The Year of Revolutions," 1848, witnessed the uprising of popular democratic ideas, which began in France spread to many nations in Europe, resulting in the fall of several thrones. In 1870 Napoleon III made war on Prussia allegedly to avenge a pretended insult from the Prussian monarch. The injustice of Napoleon's cause and Bismarck's guile united all the German states (except Austria) in a war against a common enemy. In less than a year the French were beaten. Napoleon was captured and compelled to abdicate the throne. Alsace and Lorraine were taken from France and added to Germany. Germany united to form the German Empire, with King William of Prussia as the first emperor.

Sutton highlights that what ensured for philosophers such as Schopenhauer was a period of ‘cultural pessimism.’ A crisis in religiosity in 19th century Germany arose; works of the likes of Darwin was at the forefront of pious debate en masse juxtaposed with the Age of Reason, the Enlightenment. Riessen points to how it was ‘cultural pessimism’ which leant itself as the biggest problem faced by Nietzsche.[1] Cultural pessimism, defined by Schopenhauer was the acceptance worthlessness of life. False beliefs about happiness cover the reality of disillusionment. It would be better, Schopenhauer argued, to seek nothing positive from a world which owes nothing to.[2] The basis of this thesis, writes Laing, influenced Nietzsche and helped him develop an interest on the issue.[3]
However, the acknowledgment of cultural pessimism did not necessitate acceptance from Nietzsche. Indeed, Nietzsche’s own theories were in stark contrast to Schopenhauerism by embracing an ideal of ‘nihilism’ in order to counter the problem of cultural pessimism. Nihilism sought the acceptance of a ‘culturally pessimist’ society but advocated a means to form new ends. Nihilism requires a radical repudiation...