Monty Python and the German philosopher (Frederick Nietzsche)

There's nothing Nietzsche couldn't teach ya 'bout the raising of the wrist'

Frederick Nietzsche, born 172 years ago tomorrow (15 October), appears in the third verse of Monty Python's Philosophers Song (full and correct title actually The Bruces' Philosophers Song).

'There's nothing Nietzsche couldn't teach ya 'bout the raising of the wrist', we are told, before learning, in rhyming style, that 'Socrates himself was permanently pissed'.

It may not be the most accurate measure of the German thinker's popular appeal, but there's no doubt he is one of those philosophers most people have heard of and a name that students still like to drop.

His work is often cited as an inspiration for Hitler and the rise of fascism, but in fact there is little evidence that Hitler read much, if any, of his work (again, it seems more of a case of name-dropping).

The National Socialists did, however, undoubtedly try and appropriate some of his work and, sadly, were aided in this by Nietzsche’s sister, Elisabeth, who became the curator and editor of his manuscripts after his death.

She was a supporter of German nationalism and published doctored versions of her brother's work. 

Contemporary scholars challenged these works, however, and the originals were soon made available. But not before a dark and lasting link had been established.

Forget the father of fascism tag though, he's actually the precursor of pop. That's according to an interesting if slightly tongue in cheek 2012 Huffington Post article. The theory is based on Nietzsche's most famous quote: 'What doesn't kill you makes you stronger'.

The HuffPo piece argues that with almost all of the best pop based on heartbreak and how to survive it, it is all, essentially, Nietzschean - and Adele is his ubermensch.

Read the whole thing here.

And if you want to be reminded of just what a massive boozehound Nietzsche was(n't) and where he ranked in the philosopher's league table of drinking, here are the Python chaps (as The Bruces) doing their thing.

Previous/Next Posts