Aesthetic Transformations: Taking Nietzsche at His Word (American University Studies)
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In this provocative work, Thomas Jovanovski presents a contrasting interpretation to the postmodernist and feminist reading of Nietzsche. As Jovanovski maintains, Nietzsche’s written thought is above all a sustained endeavor aimed at negating and superseding the (primarily) Socratic principles of Western ontology with a new table of aesthetic ethics - ethics that originate from the Dionysian insight of Aeschylean tragedy. Just as the Platonic Socrates perceived a pressing need for, and succeeded in establishing, a new world-historical ethic and aesthetic direction grounded in reason, science, and optimism, so does Nietzsche regard the rebirth of an old tragic mythos as the vehicle toward a cultural, political, and religious metamorphosis of the West. However, Jovanovski contends that Nietzsche does not advocate such a radical social turning as an end in itself, but as only the most consequential prerequisite to realizing the culminating object of his «historical philosophizing» - the phenomenal appearance of the Übermensch.
remarks further underscore Nietzsche’s point that the artistic reflection of the “pure primordial pain and its primordial re-echoing” requires a singular, selfabnegating predisposition, one that takes itself as both the ground for, and the manifestation of, its own art. Seen in its extreme, then, the Dionysian drive toward unity aims not only at the sublation of all particularity, but also at the negation of the Apollinian dimension itself. In this, we have emphasized, the Dionysian impulse does
of Enlightenment—yes, 00.qxd 5/9/07 6:53 AM Page xix preface xix Enlightenment—ideals. The preceding is an affirmation regarding which Jürgen Habermas, for one, shows a similar lack of insight when he observes that Nietzsche “bids farewell to the dialectic of enlightenment,” and so marks his “entry into post-modernity” (1987 85–6). Habermas might have been somewhat less willing to play into the hands of postmodernists had he seen the Übermensch as the highest and final expression of
Socrates in the Apology: Unlike Nietzsche, Socrates seeks no public attention, but wants only to explain why his conversations with many of the Athenian intellectuals managed to generate so much misunderstanding—and envy. Nor is Kaufmann’s idea that we should espy a similarity between each philosopher’s self-awareness in relation to his respective contemporaries and predecessors any more persuasive. History reveals that prejudice, a patronizing attitude, and speech devoid of false modesty are all
cultural commentator, an innocuous curmudgeon, and thus not even a self-respecting armchair revolutionist. Whether he intends to do so or not, Schacht supports, if not necessarily makes any more cogent, Kaufmann’s perception of Nietzsche as a parallel to, and the modern embodiment of, Socrates’ self-image as a veritable gadfly on the equine body of the Athenian republic. The already recognized significance of his project aside, Schacht leaves more than a few of us puzzled when by implicitly
toward the Übermensch must make certain that they satisfy still another precondition—namely, that they and their descendants be and remain of pure racial blood: There are probably no pure races but only races that have become pure, even these being extremely rare. What is normal is crossed races, in which, together with a disharmony of physical features (when eye and mouth do not correspond with one another, for example), there must always go a disharmony of habits and value-concepts.