While most of his contemporaries looked on the late 19th century with unbridled optimism, confident in the progress of science and the rise of the German state, Nietzsche saw his age facing a fundamental crisis in values. With the rise of science, the Christian worldview no longer held a prominent explanatory role in people’s lives, a view Nietzsche captures in the phrase “God is dead.”

However, science does not introduce a new set of values to replace the Christian values it displaces. Nietzsche rightly foresaw that people need to identify some source of meaning and value in their lives, and if they could not find it in science, they would turn to aggressive nationalism and other such salves. The last thing Nietzsche would have wanted was a return to traditional Christianity, however. Instead, he sought to find a way out of nihilism through the creative and willful affirmation of life.

Popular pages: Selected Works of Friedrich Nietzsche