Nietzsche, on Spinoza, to Overbeck

“I am utterly amazed, utterly enchanted! I have a precursor, and what a precursor! I hardly knew Spinoza: that I should have turned to him just now, was inspired by “instinct.” Not only is his overtendency like mine—namely to make all knowledge the most powerful affect—but in five main points of his doctrine I recognize myself; this most unusual and loneliest thinker is closest to me precisely in these matters: he denies the freedom of the will, teleology, the moral world-order, the unegoistic, and evil. Even though the divergencies are admittedly tremendous, they are due more to the difference in time, culture, and science. In summa: my lonesomeness, which, as on very high mountains, often made it hard for me to breathe and make my blood rush out, is now at least a twosomeness. Strange! Incidentally, I am not at all as well as I had hoped. Exceptional weather here too! Eternal change of atmospheric conditions!—that will yet drive me out of Europe! I must have clear skies for months, else I get nowhere. Already six severe attacks of two or three days each!! — With affectionate love, Your friend”
– Friedrich Nietzsche, in a postcard to Franz Overbeck, Sils-Maria, July 30, 1881


About dontdontoperate

28 year old originally from Barrie, Ontario, Canada. H.B.Sc. from UofT with a major in chemistry and a double minor in philosophy and math. M.Sc. from UofT in physiology and neuroscience. Finished my Ph.D. in biomedical engineering at McMaster in the fall of 2013.
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6 Responses to Nietzsche, on Spinoza, to Overbeck

  1. Seba says:

    Thanks for posting this letter. I ve been looking it for some time!

    • dontdontoperate says:

      No problem! Nietzsche and Spinoza are two of my favourite philosophers. I feel like when I first discovered Nietzsche, I felt the same way he did when he discovered Spinoza. Plus I think it’s cute.

  2. Forrest says:

    This is fantastic! I’m currently doing a BA in philosophy and taking an early modern class. We’ve spent about 2 weeks on Spinoza, and a few days back, it just hit me how he so totally foreshadows Nietzsche. Now I basically read him as a kind of closet-Nietzschean who could not express his true ideas in the context of his culture. Thanks for the post.

  3. Wolfgang says:

    Thank you so much for posting this letter. My only two beloved philosophers are Spinoza and Nietzcshe.

  4. EYAR says:

    I first ‘met’ Nietzsche and then -years later- Spinoza and thought:
    Nietzsche might have concealed he had read Spinoza, his ideas resemble his’ so much. I am glad to finally read here on a simple postcard, that Nietzsche generously confirms this idea of resemblance and of having read Spinoza.
    “On very high mountains” one could easily become megalomanic…

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