Near the end of the nineteenth century, Friedrich Nietzsche boldly announced that God is dead.
There are no absolute truths, he said; the only reality is this world of life and death, conflict and change, creation
and destruction. For centuries, religious ideas had given meaning to life in the western world; but with their collapse,
humanity faced a grave crisis of nihilism and despair.
Nietzsche proposed to replace restrictive traditional morals with the idea of humans as creative beings whose energy,
strength and intelligence enable them to give purpose and meaning to their lives. He rejected democratic ideals,
believing that they ignore human differences and that conflict and creative competition are essential to life's development.
His own creative work has exercised a powerful influence on the development of literature since his day.
University of Illinois
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