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Nietzsche, Friedrich (1844–1900)

The 19th-century German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche was victimized, posthumously, by the distortion of his work by Nazi propagandists, but in subsequent decades, scholars have convincingly shown his critical thinking to be completely incompatible with, and opposed to, Hitler's National Socialism. Influenced by his formal training in philology, Nietzsche's first work is a critique of the metaphysical prejudices that inform epistemological language. In Beyond Good and Evil (1886), he attacks philosophical idealism and Descartes’ classic thesis, “I think, therefore I am,” rejecting the effect of a “grammatical illusion” that falsely presupposes that all action (thinking) has a subject (“I”). Nietzsche's refutation is an assault on the illusions of a free consciousness and the unity of the thinking subject, as well as on all philosophic positions based ...

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