Plato and Nietzsche
Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900), philosopher and critic of religion, morality / ethics and culture, had a life-lasting involvement with the work of Plato. He approached the Platonic corpus as the inaugural ground of an entire moral, ideological and cultural mindset, which he called "Platonism." The starting line of this outlook lies in the Platonic discrimination between the so called "two worlds." The real world is not the realm of phenomena but the unalterable world of Ideas, which is accessible to the intellect and commensurate with absolute truth. According to Nietzsche, this distinction grounds the entire conceptual framework of Western metaphysics which was later on lent by Christianity a more popular appeal. Christianity came to enrich metaphysics with egalitarian elements, the ascetic ideal and the purported value of "compassion." Platonism, therefore, denotes the evolution of Platonic philosophy into an extensive moral, religious, ideological and political system bearing the traits of a world-historical force. This system, the argument goes, finds its culmination in Nietzsche's contemporary European "nihilism": the "devaluation of all values."
As Nietzsche himself often acknowledges, this interpretative approach can be deeply simplifying. It concerns itself more with the ways in which the Platonic thought was received and allowed to exercise its significant impact than with Plato's texts themselves. In other parts of his work, Nietzsche expresses admiration for the character and creative work of Plato and his body of work. Zarathustra's figure, invented by Nietzsche himself, bears many Socratic characteristics. Throughout the twentieth century, Nietzsche's critique had a significant impact on other versions of criticism directed towards Plato, such as those of Heidegger and Derrida.