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The Antichrist by Nietzsche: Summary & Analysis

Instructor: Rahman Johnson

Rahman is a TV News Anchor with a Master's Degree in Strategic Communications and Leadership.

'The AntiChrist' by Nietzsche is a deep exploration of symbolism and a repudiation of Christianity. Through this novel, the author sought to destroy religious beliefs and archetypes. Learn what these are in this lesson, and then test your knowledge with a quiz.

Matter of Controversy

Friedrich Nietzsche was one of the most celebrated and debated modern philosophers of the 19th century. During his life he was credited with writing 19 published manuscripts. The most famous of his published works is The Antichrist. The book was written in 1888 but was not published until 1895 because of its controversial subjects. However, before we can really try to understand his thoughts and writings, let's to take a look at Nietzsche the man.

Who was Nietzsche?

Friedrich Nietzsche was born in October of 1844 in Prussia near Saxony. When he was just five years old, his father died from a brain tumor. Nietzsche and his family went to live with his grandmother in Naumburg. Even as a child, Nietzsche was very good at music and languages. He went to a prestigious prep school to hone his talent. During his time there he started writing music and composing poems. As he learned more in school he began to question his faith, and by age 20 he was writing essays about his new beliefs and findings.

One of Nietzsche's greatest influences was Professor Arthur Schopenhaur. He was also influenced by the music and writing of Richard Wagner and the theories of Charles Darwin. By age 24, with no doctorate or teaching credentials, Nietzsche became a professor of Classical Philosophy at the University of Basel in Switzerland.

Nietzsche served in the Franco-Prussian War for a year. During his time there he contracted diphtheria, dysentery and syphilis. He continued to write and lecture at the university after he returned from the war until a riding accident and effects from his other ailments made teaching impossible. After the university he lived primarily off of his pension and aid from friends until he had a severe mental breakdown in 1889. His bouts of mental illness were attributed to syphilis.

Nietzsche died after contracting pneumonia and from the affects of a stroke in 1900. After his death, his sister published some of Nietzsche's works, and it is speculated that she edited some of his writing with her Nazi beliefs. She was married to an anti-Semite Third Reich sympathizer, whose beliefs were in stark contrast to Nietzsche's true thoughts.

The Antichrist: What's it All About?

The Antichrist is probably the most well-known work of German Philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche. He used this book to speak on his disdain for organized religion. One of his most talked about and enduring lines from the book is 'God is dead.' He believed that people should not turn to traditional Christian values but more toward science or nationalism. Nietzsche's title, The Antichrist, had less to do with the Bible and more to do with his view of the 'slave morality' of Western Christianity.

The Antichrist goes on to say that Christianity put weakness where virtue should be. He felt that the civilization was moved to feel sorry for people and that sentiment made people weaker. He felt the best course of action was strength. If people could be stronger through self-reliance and things that were tangible, then society as a whole could be stronger.

Nietzsche believed that each person should make their own way through individual experience. He felt that this goal should not be an aspiration that a person should hope to achieve, but one that should be lived in daily life.

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