What Nietzsche Meant by “God is Dead”

Philosophy Nietzsche BooksI’m thoroughly enjoying my first Coursera course. It’s on philosophy since The Enlightenment and last week we did Friedrich Nietzsche.  Of course, I’d heard Nietzsche’s infamous phrase “God is dead” before, but I did not know exactly what was behind it.

Now that I know, I wanted to share my class notes, because what Nietzsche meant by “God is dead” is surprisingly reassuring. Indeed, it can be summed up by the following phrase:

Don’t worry, be happy.

Of course, he also meant that –

  • There is no ideal.
  • There is no absolute standard.
  • There is no History.
  • There is no one pure notion of the good and the real.

Nietzsche blamed all philosophers since Plato for trying to convince us that there is an attainable ideal that we should strive to reach. But, the German philosopher insisted, we are nothing but distorted animals, and we will never reach the perfection we attach to God. Centuries of trying to do so has only left us with a senseless feeling of guilt.

Zarathustra Nietzsche

What’s more, morality is a construct and a mere symptom of our severe self-denial. It is also a way for the weak to keep the strong in check.

But, for Nietzsche, strength and especially intensity were highly desirable qualities. In fact, he believed that the value of any philosophy lied in its capacity to make people feel more alive and live with greater intensity and passion.  Whatever the philosophy.

So, don’t worry, be happy.  According to Nietzsche, it’s the smartest thing we can do. 



  1. Donna J Snyder

    Can I be there for the wine fueled discussion?

    Once upon a time I saw a quote from Nietzsche to the effect that the rules don’t apply to artists because we make something from nothing. Now I cannot find the source. Have you seen anything like that? Or did I dream it?

  2. Jonathan

    Masterful synthesis !
    I’ve reread the “”also spacht” a couple of times in life and rambled around the existentialists overwhelmed/overjoyed by Kant and Spinoza in their moralisms against ethos and faith, good and evil, towards a renewed collective of morals that become anti and yet betrayingly biblical. Were it not for Nietzsche’s take on the construct of a moral code without God (Dog) an appreciation for a pluralist and politheistic global construct we would have faced an endless war of credos.
    I would love to hear your take on nietzsche’s “”gay science””!

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