Early Influences

Nietzsche's early thinking was influenced by that of Arthur Schopenhauer, whom he first discovered in 1865. Schopenhauer puts a central emphasis on will and in particular has a concept of the "will to live." Writing a generation before Nietzsche, he explained that the universe and everything in it is driven by a primordial will to live, which results in all living creatures' desire to avoid death and procreate. For Schopenhauer, this will is the most fundamental aspect of reality – more fundamental even than being.
Another important influence was Roger Joseph Boscovich, whom Nietzsche discovered and learned about through his reading, in 1866, of Friedrich Albert Lange's 1865 Geschichte des Materialismus (History of Materialism). As early as 1872, Nietzsche went on to study Boscovich’s book Theoria Philosophia Naturalis for himself. Nietzsche makes his only reference in his published works to Boscovich in Beyond Good and Evil where he declares war on "soul-atomism"§ Boscovich had rejected the idea of "materialistic atomism" which Nietzsche calls "one of the best refuted theories there is." The idea of centers of force would become central to Nietzsche's later theories of will to power.