It might be fair to say that everyone’s thinking has been influenced at one point or another by Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche, or at least someone who was influenced in turn by Nietzsche. Nietzsche (1844-1900) was one of the most influential men of the 19th century, a German philosopher, poet, and composer who wrote at length about everything from religion to science. In addition to the importance of his work, he was a deft writer and polemic, ensuring his continuing popularity among readers. Nietzsche's influence remains substantial within and beyond philosophy today, most notably in existentialism, nihilism and postmodernism, all thriving movements in the 21st century. As his quote about the nonexistence of facts suggest, Nietzsche was open to questions about everything considered objective, a radical viewpoint that still gains plenty of traction among students, even as it continues to be subjected to all kinds of debate and interpretation. Ironically, Nietzsche’s groundbreaking work went in lockstep with poor health, including various mental maladies. Despite being a well-respected philologist and clearly one of Europe’s most creative thinkers, he suffered a mental breakdown in his mid-40s that is still controversial today, and he only lingered for about another decade before dying in 1900 at the age of 55.
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