Nietzsche Vs. Hobbes


ANDREW LANGILLE GRADE 13 PHILOSOPHY COURSE,
How are the philosophies of Nietzsche and Hobbes different on topics of
Christianity, Human Nature, and Morality.
The philosophies of Nietzsche and Hobbes' are radically different, Hobbes'
philosophy is dominated by loyalty to the crown, riddled with references to the Christian
scriptures, and a belief that life is ?nasty, brutish, and short?(Leviathan, 133); while
Nietzsche's philosophy was dominated by the pessimistic Schopenhauer, a belief that the
human race was a herd, and that ?God is dead?(Thus Spoke Zarathustra, S. 13). Hobbes
and Nietzsche look at the world completely differently. Hobbes was a Christian who
defended the bible, while Nietzsche called ?Christianity the one great curse?(The
Anti-Christ, s. 62). On the topic of human nature Hobbes thought life to be a ?warre...of
every man, against every man?(Leviathan, 232) while Nietzsche took a nihilistic
approach and declared that ? human nature is just a euphemism for inertia, cultural
conditioning, and what we are before we make something of ourselves...?(Human, all to
Human, 67). On morality these two philosophers have opposing views, Hobbes views on
morality were straight out of Exodus, while Nietzsche holds that ?morality is a hindrance
to the development of new and better customs: it makes stupid [people]?(Daybreak, s.
19). These two philosophers lived at different times, in different locations, and their
differing philosophies reflect the lives that they lived.
Thomas Hobbes was born into an English upper class family in 1588, his father
was the parish priest. Thomas was educated by his uncle until he was fifteen, when he
was sent to Oxford to continue his studies. In 1608 he finished his formal education and
took up with the son of Lord Cavendish, they undertook an adventure which saw them
travel across Europe. Hobbes remained in England until the start of the English civil war
when he fled to France. The civil war took place from 1642 till 1649, this conflict had a
profound affect on Hobbes, particularly the execution of Charles I in 1649. All his
writings after this event reflect Hobbes' quest to find a peaceful, stable form of
government. Hobbes died in 1679.
Fredrich Nietzsche was born into a upper class family in Germany, on 15 October
1844, his father was tutor for the royal family and also a priest. Nietzsche father died
when he was twelve, this had life-long impact on him. At age eight-teen he discovered
the philosopher Schopenhauer, the basis for much of his early work, and gave up
Christianity. He was educated at the University of Bonn, at the age of twenty-five
Nietzsche was appointed Professor of Philosophy at the University of Basle. He became
close friends with composer Richard Wanger, who's work he enthusiastically supported.
Nietzsche most productive years were to be his last, he drove insane by syphilis and died
at the dawn of this century.
Nietzsche declared in that ?modern Christian civilization is sick and must be
overcome?(The Anti-Christ, 156), Hobbes would have found that excerpt to be repugnant
having declared that ?God...when he speaks to any subject...he ought to be obeyed?
(Leviathan, 492). Hobbes was a Christian, while Nietzsche was a atheist, their views on
Christianity are completely opposite. Nietzsche held the belief throughout his life that
?Christianity has taken the side of everything weak, base, ill-constituted, it has
made an ideal out of opposition to the preservative instincts of a strong life; it has
depraved the reason even of the intellectually strongest natures by teaching men
to feel the supreme values of intellectuality as sinful, as misleading, as
temptations,?(The Anti-Christ, S. 5)
Professor Howard Rainer of Davis University states that ?Nietzsche was
uncompromisingly anti-Christian, for Christianity was the most potent force against those
values which he prized most highly.? Nietzsche felt that Christianity would hinder the
emergence of the ?overman?(The Will to Power, 546), a human being that follows their
own path and not the herd's. Hobbes while being a Christian to the end, had a rather
pessimistic view of it; Professor Ian Johnston of Malaspina University states that ?
Hobbes believed the public religion of the artificial state must serve the need for security
to protect the selfish economic interests of the individuals composing it.? Hobbes view of
Christianity was quite radical for his time and he publicly scorned for his belief that
Christendom was