Essay: Friedrich Nietzsche

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Friedrich Nietzsche

Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche

Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche (1844 -- 1900) was a German philosopher and classical philologist. He had criticized nihilism in Europe, Christianity and challenged the contemporary philosophical concepts on morality/ethics, politics, culture and science. He is poetic in his arguments, adroitly using metaphors and aphorism. His contributions are immense on the future sciences of psychology, sociology, political science and anthropology; his philosophical contributions are substantial in existentialism, post-modernism and post structuralism. He made his name in emphasizing ethics and criticizing the European Historical ideals. His first major work Birth of Tragedy is a critique on ancient Greece and Socrates who is considered the founder of Western Civilization.

Richard Wagner (1813-1883) and Schopenhauer (1788-1860) influenced Nietzsche (Russel). Wagner's book Tristan and Isolde is significant in the start of modern music. Nietzsche rejected Wagner's Aesthetics and Romanticism; he also criticized Rousseau and Kant. However he (Nietzsche) regarded himself as the successor of Schopenhauer. He inherited anti-Christianity from Schopenhauer; he also conferred to the idea of Schopenhauer Nihilism in Europe. To distinguish his concept of nihilism he named it Dionysian pessimism, which forms the central part of Birth of Tragedy.

The Birth of Tragedy was published in 1871. It was a critique on Wagner emphasis on music as a divine function like religion. He used the metaphors of Apollo and Dionysus (ancient Greek Gods) to develop his idea of art and nature. Apollo is the god of sun, of dream and of reason; whereas Dionysius is the god of wine, ecstasy, and intoxication. The Birth of Tragedy had 25 chapters out of which the first 15 chapters explain the tragedy of nihilism (meaninglessness) in Greek life in which Apollonian met with the Dionysian (Dutton).

Difference between Apollonian and Dionysian Concepts

Nietzsche used the ancient Greek life to compare it with the contemporary meaningless life of Europe. The Greek philosophers initiated the thought process towards Utopia and giving meaning to life. However, the ideas of Socrates and Plato were embryonic in nature. The nihilism of Greek life was expressed poetically by using the Apollonian and Dionysian principles. Apollonian is linked with most clearly expressed through the arts of painting and sculpture; Dionysian principle, however, is more in touch with the cruel realities of nature and is most clearly expressed through ecstatic music and dance. The meaningless life of Greece used music and intoxication for dissonance or a mean to forget the tragedies of life; happiness was derived through fatalism and pleasure/intoxication. Actually Nietzsche was criticizing Christianity which failed to solve people's problems, instead gave an easier solution to suffer through out one's life cursing fate. He called the followers of Christianity, slaves. This life had no meaning. It falsely attached the sufferings with pleasures in the life after death. Nietzsche called it a tragedy whose birth was linked with the arguments of Socrates. His critic on Socrates was a critique on Christianity.

Apollonian principle was linked with dreams which can be combined with Dionysian principle to give a divine meaning to life, which is above the concept of materialism (emerging in the agricultural societies of Europe). Nietzsche's arguments were a step towards existentialism and the self-fulfilling prophecy of psychology. In the last 10 chapters of the Birth of Tragedy, Nietzsche talks about the combination of Apollonian and Dionysian principles to create a life of purpose as explained by Aristotle. He uses the metaphor of noble wine. Nietzsche believes in creating one's own fate by converting dreams into reality through the combination of Apollonian and Dionysian principles (Hawley).

Phenomenon of Music in the eyes of Nietzsche

Socrates was a rebel. He criticized the existing meaningless life of Athens in ancient Greece. He wrote little but his teachings reached us through Plato. Almost 60% population of Athens was slaves. Women were not allowed to vote. A small majority of bourgeoisie elected the Congress, which used to take decisions for the whole population. War was an important part of their life especially with the Spartans. Socrates is one of the founders of Western Civilization; his most important contribution was the introduction of the new method of dialectic method of inquiry which he applied to the examination of ethics (good or bad). The dialogues between Socrates and Plato talked of… [END OF PREVIEW]

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