Friedrich Nietzsche is one of the most interesting figures in philosophy, yet also the most misunderstood.
When reading his philosophical works, we must fully understand it before we can take away what Nietzsche intended. The philosophy of Nietzsche is complex on its first read. His language does not mean what you would typically expect, making his meaning difficult to grasp. Yet, once you do understand it, it is almost impossible to ignore.
To introduce you to some of his ideas, we have some of his most misinterpreted quotations and what they mean. These ideas are not only thought-provoking but also inspirational; applicable to the everyday life of both philosophers and non-philosophers.
“How little it takes to make us happy! The sound of a bagpipe. Without music, life would be a mistake. The German even imagines God as singing songs.”
The philosophy of Nietzsche puts great importance on the enjoyment of life. In this quote, Nietzsche points out that bagpipes rarely cause happiness in those who hear them but reminds us of the importance of music.
He speaks of the German imagining God as singing songs, making light of the fact that we see ‘good’ things as being light and joyful. For a German (typically seen as the most stern) to see the good as singing songs, he is pointing out that music brings joy to all who hear it.
“We love life, not because we are used to living but because we are used to loving.”
It is easy to get passive in our everyday lives. We rarely divert from our daily routines and become used to this being ‘life’. Yet, this does not make us happy, and this is made clear in this quote by Nietzsche.
The parts we’re not used to are the parts we love: the love of family, friends, and being with others. We must make more time for those we love, and live the lives we love to live.
“Thoughts are the shadows of our feelings – always darker, emptier and simpler.”
We overthink when our feelings are overwhelming. We begin to think the worst and overlook the complexities of the situation and of the feelings of others, inflating the situation in our thoughts and it feels worse than it really is.
This quote in Nietzsche’s philosophy reminds us that these thoughts are not our reality. They are merely a shadow of the way we truly feel. We must recognise our feelings and understand that our thoughts are not a true reflection.
Take time to separate your feelings from your thoughts. If you are sad about something, it is natural to overthink the worst parts, but this is not reality. Address the situation head on and in its full truth, not in the darkness of what your thoughts have developed it to be.
“That God became man indicates only this: that man should not seek his salvation in eternity, but rather establish his heaven on earth.”
Nietzsche was critical of the existence of God, even questioning whether ‘man was one of God’s blunders, or if God was one of man’s’, yet, this quote is very poignant. The idea God is intrinsically connected with man means that heaven can exist on Earth and this is what we should strive for.
Instead of waiting for heaven once we pass on, we must create a heaven for ourselves while we are alive to enjoy it. Make time for the things you love, for the people you love, and make sure you get the most enjoyment out of life that you can.
“Marriage: that I call the will of two to create the one who is more than those who created it.”
The philosophy of Nietzsche emphasises the significance of marriage. Not only is it important as an expression of love, but as the bringing together of two people as one. Once united, the individuals are stronger than they were before.
This is not only relevant in marriage but in all relationships. When together, we must love and support one another in all endeavours as this is what makes us more than what we are when we are alone. We are stronger together than we are apart.
“And we should consider every day lost on which we have not danced at least once. And we should call every truth false which was not accompanied by at least one laugh”
Nietzsche stresses how important it is to enjoy life. We waste days that we live without laughter and enjoyment.
Philosophy has some incredible benefits for both adults and children. There are many areas of philosophy to be read, and each has a different perspective on life, love, and everything in between.
Nietzsche’s philosophy can be confusing, but when we can incorporate it into everyday life, we live a life that is more fulfilling. Taking pleasure in the small things, and in each other, gives us joy and happiness that is incomparable than trying to do everything by ourselves.
We hope that this introduction to Nietzsche’s philosophy has given you some thought-provoking ideas to live by. Even better, perhaps it has inspired you to read more.
- The Portable Nietzsche edited and translated by Walter Kraufmann
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