Comparing and Contrasting the Philosophies of Nietzsche and Plato

Topics: Philosophy, Plato, Friedrich Nietzsche Pages: 5 (1883 words) Published: November 25, 2012
Chelsea Long
Philosophy 100-005
Prompt 2
Final Essay
Even though they were separated by thousands of years, hundreds of miles, and different cultures, the philosophical views of Friedrich Nietzsche and Plato can be examined and weighed against each other in many different ways. Friedrich Nietzsche, born in 1844, was a German philosopher whose main goal was to erect a new image for the people and to create a free spirit in them. Plato, born in 427 B.C., was a Greek philosopher whose main goal was to create a new way of thinking about the world itself, knowledge itself, philosophy itself, and the individual. Both philosophers have obvious similarities; their literary style of writing is perhaps the most apparent, but also their desire to create a new way of thinking for the people in which they hoped to influence.

Nietzsche thought that by standing outside of society and looking at it from a different view, one could take on the ideal of a free spirit. Analogous to this view is Plato’s view from the allegory of the cave which illustrates humans as being completely unaware of what the actual world is. Even though they lived in completely different societies, both philosophers thought that the view of the world that society holds shelters the individual from seeing the true nature of reality. However, the nature of said reality was very different for both philosophers. Nietzsche believed in a “what you see is what you get” kind of view of reality. His “amor fati” view of reality posed that in order to achieve an optimistic view; the individual must learn to love fate. This also involves accepting reality for exactly what it is and not creating a false sense of “reality”—what the person would “like” to see. Because of Nietzsche’s opinion that ‘God is dead” he believed that this life was all there was, so the best way to live was to realize the true actuality of the world, and to also use the love of what is real and actual to enjoy life. Plato, on the other hand, had a completely different concept of reality. His theory of the “forms” illustrated everything that we see in this world as just a less perfect model of the actual “form” of the thing or idea. Nothing that we see in this world is actual or perfect, but is just an imperfect imitation. Plato’s divided line interpretation presents the universe into the visible realm (images, copies, plants, animals) and the intelligible realm (mathematics, ideas, and the forms); literally a two-tiered view of reality. This differs greatly from Nietzsche’s philosophy. Nietzsche rejects this “two-tiered” view of reality; he believes that having this view of reality is actually detrimental and hinders the individual from living a full and optimistic life. Although their views on how the individual is shielded by society are similar, the view on reality of Nietzsche and Plato is one of the main differences in their philosophical outlooks. Nietzsche and Plato both put a considerable amount of emphasis on creating the individual and viewing life as a work of art that is a canvas for knowledge and value, thus asking the question: “What constitutes a virtuous life?” Both philosophers believe in turning ones back on the morals and values that society holds and exploring these morals and values for the individual themselves. One of the most famous Greek aphorisms is “know thyself.” Nietzsche and Plato both believe that creating ourselves as individuals will lead to happiness. However, the journey of self-discovery is different for each philosopher. Plato believes that knowledge is the most important factor in the creation of virtue and happiness. Seeking after knowledge leads to the affirmation of values and virtue, which then leads to happiness. By taking the time to learn and wonder and discover understanding for ourselves, we can achieve contentment. Nietzsche, on the other hand, believes that pure academic scholarship is not the way to liberate the free-thinkers of the future. Also,...
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