What are some misconceptions about smart people

Psychology - Friedrich Nietzsche: You should become who you are!

Friedrich Nietzsche: You should become who you are!

Nietzsche came to Basel 150 years ago. He foretold our society of self-actualizers.

Humans are different from animals. For example, in the fact that he can ask questions. Even questions to which he never gets an answer. Friedrich Nietzsche was such a questioner. He drove this game so far that he himself could throw buckets of mockery at his own activity.

For example: "In some remote corner of the universe, which was poured out flickering in countless solar systems, there was once a star on which clever animals invented knowledge." But, according to Nietzsche, this is a hopeless endeavor, because his thought ends like this: "After a few breaths of nature, the star froze and the clever animals had to die." Such sentences have made the thinker with the over-the-nose world famous, posthumously notabene.

All his life Nietzsche (1844-1900) was desperate because of the lack of interest in his books. It was only after his death that generations of philosophers worked on him and thousands upon thousands of readers delighted in his crystal clear language. It has become an icon, even a kind of transfer image for the philosopher himself.

Hardly anyone is quoted as much as he is. Hardly anyone has so many misunderstandings. Hardly anyone is able to polarize as much as he does 120 years after his death.

Not human, just dynamite

He himself is to blame for the misunderstandings and misinterpretations. Someone who writes so many quotable sentences is at risk of abuse or misunderstanding. Someone who writes of himself that he is not human, but dynamite, and believes that human history will be divided into a before and after him, need not be surprised if his enemies simply attest to megalomania.

And he has made a few enemies for himself. Anyone who unmasked God as a human invention and cheerfully proclaimed his death needed some courage at the end of the 19th century, perhaps even a little delusion. There are different strategies to really do justice to this thinker. Reading the complete works involves dangers and is only recommended for people in an athletic condition. Many people have already drowned in Nietzsche's sea from contradicting insights. It is easier to contact someone who has survived this swimming exercise.

Caution is always required with Nietzsche. It is seldom to be pinned down on clear statements.

(Source: Benjamin Mortzfeld. Literary scholar, historian and exhibition organizer.)

Benjamin Mortzfeld is one of those. He is not a philosopher by nature, but a literary scholar, historian and exhibition organizer. However, for the exhibition that the Historical Museum opens next Tuesday (see box), he has made himself a specialist in how Nietzsche can be easily explained.

So it's time to let him explain some of the great Nietzschean terms to you.

How do you basically proceed with Nietzsche?

Benjamin Mortzfeld: Caution is always required with Nietzsche. It is seldom to be pinned down on clear statements. The more you know, the harder it gets. For almost every passage you will find a different one in which it contradicts itself. But the core is this: Questioning everything because there are no final certainties.

What does he mean when he says, "God is dead"?

This is meant figuratively: people no longer orient their lives according to God. You free yourself from it. In this sense, God is dead. Nietzsche sees this as happy news. Free spaces are created. The whole moral box is gone, we have no one left to put the blame on. We are solely responsible for what we do.

What exactly is the "superman"?

A superman is someone who outgrows himself, who realizes the talents that are in him. If someone can live out their own potential in spite of external resistance and moral norms, then they have achieved superhuman status. The superman is thus the self-realized human being. Perhaps we are therefore living in an age of the superman, especially as everyone says they are realizing themselves. The question is what that means exactly. I doubt whether that means having traveled to every continent on the planet. Nietzsche is concerned with the creative and intellectual potential. In order to free these, one has to overcome oneself and external constraints. It is a feat. This is what Nietzsche means when he says: "You should become who you are!"

What is the "will to power"?

This is a problematic term in Nietzsche's work. Mainly because his sister Elisabeth Förster-Nietzsche published a collection of texts she had compiled with this title after his death. So the book does not come from Nietzsche at all. He himself never says exactly what "the will to power" should be. And so everyone puts in what they would like to have. I myself would interpret the term as follows: The will to power is a kind of driving force in the world. It is precisely not the thirst for power of Napoleon, Hitler or Trump that is meant, but a kind of life force or basic energy that is inherent in everything.

Was Nietzsche an anti-Semite?

There are clearly anti-Semitic tendencies in Nietzsche. As about everything else, he is also critical of Judaism. However, he did not really want to destroy Judaism, but Christianity. When his sister married an anti-Semite, Nietzsche condemned this by saying that he was an anti-Semite himself.

Was he a misogynist?

I would cautiously disagree with that. Take that famous quote: “You go to women? Don't forget the whip! " This is not what Nietzsche says, but a character in "Zarathustra", namely an old woman. To claim that this is Nietzsche's opinion is naive. The second famous quote reads: "Woman was God's second mistake." But I have to ask: What or who was the first mistake?