Weimar Travel Tip:
Library of Friedrich Nietzsche
Library of Friedrich Nietzsche
The German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche owned an extensive private library, which has been preserved after his death. Today this library consists of some 1,100 volumes, of which about 170 contain annotations by him, many of them substantial. However, fewer than half of the books he read are found in his library.
Nietzsche, who had been a student and a professor of philology, had a thorough knowledge of the Greek philosophers. Among modern philosophers, his reading included Kant, Mill and Schopenhauer, who became major targets of criticism in his philosophy. He also mentions reading Hegel at the age of twenty. Late in life he read Spinoza, whom he called his "precursor", in particular for his criticisms of free will, teleology and his thoughts on the role of affects, joy and sadness. Nietzsche, however, opposed Spinoza's theory of conatus, for which he substituted the "will to power" (Wille zur Macht); and he replaced Spinoza's formula "Deus sive Naturae" (God or Nature) by "Chaos sive Naturae". Nietzsche also admired the French moralists of the 17th century such as La Rochefoucauld, La Bruyère and Vauvenargues, whose books he received from his sister in 1869. He also admired Pascal and, most of all, Stendhal. He also read Eduard von Hartmann's "Philosophy of the Unconscious", and alludes to it in some of his works.
Nietzsche read in 1883 Paul Bourget's Essais de psychologie contemporaine, from which he borrowed the French term décadence. Bourget had an organicist conception of society. Nietzsche had already encountered organicist theories in Rudolf Virchow's Die Cellularpathologie (1858) and in Alfred Espinas's Des sociétés animales (1887; Die thierischen Gesellschaften, Braunschweig, 1879).
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