Lessons from Nietzsche’s self-isolation at Sils Maria


I often tell my friends, philosophy saved my life and taught me to face the utter dilemmas of life. During my initial reading of philosophical discourse, I came across the word self-isolation, which is pre-requisite and quintessential for reading philosophy. Perhaps, during my course on Frederich Nietzsche; I learned how the philosopher has used the heights of mountain Alps at Sils Maria to produce his great intellectual scholarship, which came to dominate the course of the twentieth century. His self-Isolation at three major northern European cities of Nice, Genoa and Turin—all with the alpine experience played a major role in the Intellectual development of the famous German philosopher. It was the summers of 1881, when Frederich Nietzsche rented a beautiful room at Durisch family house in Sils Maria, Switzerland, where the philosopher have spent seven consecutive self-isolation summers from 1881-1888. 

As an illustration, Nietzsche’s intimacy with the famous Alpine ranges shows that philosopher was weather gentle, who was in eternal love with nature. Moreover, by reading his famous letters during his self-isolation at Sils Maria, which he wrote to his mother and sister clearly shows the intensity of love philosopher had for this place. As philosopher said during his first stay at Sils Maria “here I feel better than anywhere else on earth”. One of the major reason behind migrating to Alpine ranges was his health because he was suffering from Migraine related headache convoyed with severe vomiting. During his summer stays at the Sils Maria, Nietzsche maintained a strict routine, which included daily exercise with restricted meal times. His daily hikes were accompanied by his notebook, where he used to note down the philosophical thoughts crossing his mind. 

It was august 1881, 6000 feet above the ground, when the notion of Eternal Recurrence came across his mind and became the cornerstone of his philosophy. It was the imitation of natural beauty that led him to anticipate about the famous notion of Eternal Return, which is the central theme of his Gay Science. Basically, through the notion of the eternal recurrence, Nietzsche proposes a proselytization, which opines that “the mission is to live one’s life in such a way that one wants it again and to do this, it is necessary to find out what gives one the highest feeling”. As a matter of fact, his famous work ‘Gay Science” speculated about the necessity of becoming to know our being and life. As Nietzsche writes:

“The heaviest weight what if some day or night a demon were to steal into your loneliest loneliness and say to you: this life as you now lived it and have lived it you will have to live once again; and there will be nothing new in it, but every pain, every joy and every thought and a sigh and everything unspeakably small or great in your life must return to you, all in the same succession and sequence”. 

With these words, Nietzsche attempts to explain his life and being during long summer days of self-isolation at Sils Maria. In contrast, Nietzsche spent eight consecutive summers at Sils Maria, reading, thinking and producing some of the great works of philosophy. Perhaps, each work reflects his loneliest thinking paradigm and complicated ideas throughout his self-isolation at Sils Maria. Similarly, it was the years of self-isolation at beautiful Mount Alps, which compelled Nietzsche to revolt against modernity and modern condition of human species. He took the side of nature and explained the degeneracy of artificial development or artificial man, which has displaced being from human. Moreover, with the artificial development man has not only displaced being but God too, which represents decadence of human realm. 

Conceivably, Nietzsche’s self-isolation years at Sils Maria offers a great lessons to everyone to rethink about the modern technologies, which has brutally failed to cure humanity from deadly pandemics like Coronavirus.

Perhaps, his great lessons from Sils Maria have compelled me to rethink and deconstruct the patterns of emerging technologies, which is going to benefit few class mainly the super-breed—the riches. Hence, it is a great time for everyone to self-isolate themselves in order to re-direct our approach to modernity and modern condition—perhaps, it is the best time to discover and understand our post-modern condition.