Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Birth of Tragedy Sections 1-6

It seems as if the greatest concern for the reader must be to consider how literally Nietzsche is speaking in this section. He appears to be speaking largely figuratively, but he also is engaging in a critique of the idea of the Greeks as the inherently rational and enlightened culture which stands as one of the origins of European thought. He is using the example of Dionysus and Apollo to illustrate his conception of the divide which emerges naturally, one which stands as his own analogue to the representation/will distinction which is central to the philosophy of Schopenhauer. His aim, however, is to bring the insights of Schopenhauer to the realm of the Greeks and, in doing so, to engage in a critique of the popular conception of Greek culture in the same stroke. In this short selection, it still seems unclear from whence the Apollonian/Dionysian distinction emerges; he seems to presume it as a distinction which emerges from existence itself, but it is still unclear why this is the case. His self-criticism in the preface seems to suggest that he was also unsatisfied with the lack of clarity of the writing in his work. It is interesting that his writing became clearer as he moved towards the aphorism as a primary means of writing.

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