...Nietzsche both wished he was as stupid as a cow so he wouldn’t have to contemplate existence, and pitied cows for being so stupid that they couldn’t contemplate existence. That’s the kind of cognitive dissonance that generates big ideas. Nietzsche’s contributions to philosophy included challenging the nature of truth and morality, famously declaring God to be dead, and grappling with the problem of meaninglessness and nihilism. But his body of work came at a terrible price. In his personal life, he was a hot mess, the quintessential example of how too much profundity can literally break your brain...

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Self-affirmation theory is a link between self-esteem and cognitive dissonance theory.