Quote of the Day : Friedrich Nietzsche

“We have art in order not to die of the truth.”

Friedrich Nietzsche

The Origins of the Quote

These words express a powerful thought. The words of Fredrich Nietzsche are amongst is much quoted, and they are a translation from the German original, sometimes rendered, “We have art lest we perish from the truth.”  These are not from his contemporary published works, but from one of a series of notebooks, the avid writer-philosopher habitually carried with, where he penned thoughts. Elizabeth, his sister, forever interested in her brother’s works went onto publish these excerpts posthumously. The particular one in question is from the spring and summer of 1888, which suddenly gained popularity. The polarity in Nietzsche’s thoughts has been debated – about how much was he really given into art and to what end. Especially when it is argued that his sister intercepted many of his ideas. 

Getting to Know the Man behind the Characters

Friedrich Nietzsche, the classical German scholar, socio – cultural critic, avaunt garde philosopher, and one of the most influential of thinkers of the century. The constant endeavour was to reveal the underlying motives held by traditional Western religion and morality. It was a philosophy that deeply affected generations of philosophers, psychologists, theologians, artists from different fields like- poets, novelists, and playwrights. Through his famous expression “God is dead,” He inquired the consequences of the triumph of the Enlightenment’s secularism. His powerful and unsettling observation paved the agenda for many of Europe’s most celebrated thinkers, after his death. Ironically Nietzsche proclaimed to be an ardent foe of nationalism, anti-Semitism, and power politics, his name was later irrevocably associated with fascists to propagate the very things he loathed.

The density of his words is attractive to contemporary readers and thinkers. There are many who are not a fan of his writing nor his thoughts. This was unfortunately due to the mixing of his writing, some misappropriations, a lack of understanding of the complex thought and ideologies. But if one was to remove the association with Hitler, the Nazi’s and all that they have come to be synonymous with in the history of the world, he can be surprisingly relevant to contemporary times. He has the bold, millennial irreverence, and a compelling need to express himself, no matter what.

Some Final Thoughts

The words love or hate him- but you cannot ignore him, ring true for non-other than Nietzsche. Every one who has had some contact with literature and philosophy would have at some point of time encountered his teachings and philosophy. Our pick is not only for the thought he expresses and the dialogue that ensues, but for the simple absolution of his words. It was a time when philosophy and theology were passionately felt and their understand and expression were extremely personal in nature. Nietzsche of course with his classical didactic style, achieves this effortlessly, with a brilliant economy of words. Dealing with the concept of truth and art he opens a barrage of thoughts, and makes a case for the art. But is this a skillful manipulation to bend the mind, the possibilities of inferences are many.

Check out our Quote of the Day archive where we bring you quotes hand picked by me, Divvya Nirula. Sharing the stories, people, moments behind the inspiration and thought provoking words.