Early Greek Philosophy & Other Essays Collected Works, Volume Two

By Friedrich Nietzsche

Page 39

strongly; whereas a complete enumeration of all possible
propositions handed down to us--as is the custom in text-books--merely
brings about one thing, the absolute silencing of the personal element.
It is through this that those records become so tedious; for in systems
which have been refuted it is only this personal element that can still
interest us, for this alone is eternally irrefutable. It is possible
to shape the picture of a man out of three anecdotes. I endeavour to
bring into relief three anecdotes out of every system and abandon the


There are opponents of philosophy, and one does well to listen to them;
especially if they dissuade the distempered heads of Germans from
metaphysics and on the other hand preach to them purification through
the Physis, as Goethe did, or healing through Music, as Wagner. The
physicians of the people condemn philosophy; he, therefore, who wants
to justify it, must show to what purpose healthy nations use and have
used philosophy. If he can show that, perhaps even the sick people
will benefit by learning why philosophy is harmful just to them. There
are indeed good instances of a health which can exist without any
philosophy or with quite a moderate, almost a toying use of it; thus
the Romans at their best period lived without philosophy. But where is
to be found the instance of a nation becoming diseased whom philosophy
had restored to health? Whenever philosophy showed itself helping,
saving, prophylactic, it was with healthy people; it made sick people
still more ill. If ever a nation was disintegrated and but loosely
connected with the individuals, never has philosophy bound these
individuals closer to the whole. If ever an individual was willing to
stand aside and plant around himself the hedge of self-sufficiency,
philosophy was always ready to isolate him still more and to destroy
him through isolation. She is dangerous where she is not in her full
right, and it is only the health of a nation but not that of every
nation which gives her this right.

Let us now look around for the highest authority as to what
constitutes the health of a nation. I he Greeks, as _the_ truly
healthy nation, have _justified_ philosophy once for all by having
philosophised; and that indeed more than all other nations. They could
not even stop at the right time, for still in their withered age
they comported themselves as heated notaries of philosophy, although
they understood by it only the pious sophistries and the sacrosanct
hair-splittings of Christian dogmatics. They themselves have much
lessened their merit for barbarian posterity by not being

Last Page Next Page

Text Comparison with The Birth of Tragedy; or, Hellenism and Pessimism

Page 10
And it was for this reason that five years after its appearance, my brother wrote an introduction to it, in which he very plainly expresses his doubts concerning the views it contains, and the manner in which they are presented.
Page 11
_ constructing and destroying.
Page 12
Fritsch, in Leipzig, under the title _The Birth of Tragedy out of the Spirit of Music.
Page 16
And what then, physiologically speaking, is the meaning of that madness, out of which comic as well as tragic art has grown, the Dionysian madness? What? perhaps madness is not necessarily the symptom of degeneration, of decline, of belated culture? Perhaps there are--a question for alienists--neuroses of _health_? of folk-youth and youthfulness? What does that synthesis of god and goat in the Satyr point to? What self-experience what "stress," made the Greek think of the Dionysian reveller and primitive man as a satyr? And as regards the origin of the tragic chorus: perhaps there were endemic ecstasies in the eras when the Greek body bloomed and the Greek soul brimmed over with life? Visions and hallucinations, which took hold of entire communities, entire cult-assemblies? What if the Greeks in the very wealth of their youth had the will _to be_ tragic and were pessimists? What if it was madness itself, to use a word of Plato's, which brought the _greatest_ blessings upon Hellas? And what if, on the other hand and conversely, at the very time of their dissolution and weakness, the Greeks became always more optimistic, more superficial, more histrionic, also more ardent for logic and the logicising of the world,--consequently at the same time more "cheerful" and more "scientific"? Ay, despite all "modern ideas" and prejudices of the democratic taste, may not the triumph of _optimism,_ the _common sense_ that has gained the upper hand, the practical and theoretical _utilitarianism,_ like democracy itself, with which it is synchronous--be symptomatic of declining vigour, of approaching age, of physiological weariness? And _not_ at all--pessimism? Was Epicurus an optimist--because a _sufferer_?.
Page 24
Add to this awe the blissful ecstasy which rises from the innermost depths of man, ay, of nature, at this same collapse of the _principium individuationis,_ and we shall gain an insight into the being of the _Dionysian,_ which is brought within closest ken perhaps by the analogy of _drunkenness.
Page 26
_ Considering the incredibly precise and.
Page 29
The same impulse which embodied itself in Apollo has, in general, given birth to this whole Olympian world, and in this sense we may regard Apollo as the father thereof.
Page 43
Oh, these Greeks! we have sighed; they will upset our æsthetics! But once accustomed to it, we have reiterated the saying of Schlegel, as often as the subject of the chorus has been broached.
Page 63
What was it that thus forcibly diverted this highly gifted artist, so incessantly impelled to production, from the path over which shone the sun of the greatest names in poetry and the cloudless heaven of popular favour? What strange consideration for the spectator led him to defy, the spectator? How could he, owing to too much respect for the public --dis-respect the public? Euripides--and this is the solution of the riddle just propounded--felt himself, as a poet, undoubtedly superior to the masses, but not to two of his spectators: he brought the masses upon the stage; these two spectators he revered as the only competent judges and masters of his art: in compliance with their directions and admonitions, he transferred the entire world of sentiments, passions, and experiences, hitherto present at every festival representation as the invisible chorus on the spectators' benches, into the souls of his stage-heroes; he yielded to their demands when he also sought for these new characters the new word and the new tone; in their voices alone he heard the conclusive verdict on his work, as also the cheering promise of triumph when he found himself condemned as usual by the justice.
Page 64
And here had happened to him what one initiated in the deeper arcana of Æschylean tragedy must needs have expected: he observed something incommensurable in every feature and in every line, a certain deceptive distinctness and at the same time an enigmatic profundity, yea an infinitude, of background.
Page 77
Page 82
Page 87
For if it endeavours to excite our delight only by compelling us to seek external analogies between a vital or natural process and certain rhythmical figures and characteristic sounds of music; if our understanding is expected to satisfy itself with the perception of these analogies, we are reduced to a frame of mind in which the reception of the mythical is impossible; for the myth as a unique exemplar of generality and truth towering into the infinite, desires to be conspicuously perceived.
Page 90
How unintelligible must _Faust,_ the modern cultured man, who is in himself intelligible, have appeared to a true Greek,--Faust, storming discontentedly through all the faculties, devoted to magic and the devil from a desire for knowledge, whom we have only to place alongside of Socrates for the purpose of comparison, in order to see that modern man begins to divine the boundaries of this Socratic love of perception and longs for a coast in the wide waste of the ocean of knowledge.
Page 93
Page 103
which, in order to be at all endured with its longing for nothingness, requires the rare ecstatic states with their elevation above space, time, and the individual; just as these in turn demand a philosophy which teaches how to overcome the indescribable depression of the intermediate states by means of a fancy.
Page 106
had been merely formed and moulded therein as out of some most delicate and impressible material.
Page 116
The substance of tragic myth is first of all an epic event involving the glorification of the fighting hero: but whence originates the essentially enigmatical trait, that the suffering in the fate of the hero, the most painful victories, the most agonising contrasts of motives, in short, the exemplification of the wisdom of Silenus, or, æsthetically expressed, the Ugly and Discordant, is always represented anew in such countless forms with such predilection, and precisely in the most youthful and exuberant age of a people, unless there is really a higher delight experienced in all this? For the fact that things actually take such a tragic course would least of all explain the origin of a form of art; provided that art is not merely an imitation of the reality of nature, but in truth a metaphysical supplement to the reality of nature, placed alongside thereof for its conquest.
Page 121
'" 2.
Page 122
At any rate the portico[2] which inherited well-nigh all its fundamental conceptions from Heraclitus, shows traces thereof.