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Analysis of ‘The Birth of Tragedy’

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Margaret B.
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  1. Introduction
  2. Nietzsche's understanding of Metaphysics
  3. Apollo as 'the god of all plastic energies'
  4. Apollinian techniques
  5. Conclusion

In his work 'The Birth of Tragedy', Nietzsche argues that, ?it is only as an aesthetic phenomenon that the existence of the world is eternally justified (Sect. 5, p. 52)?. Simply put, Nietzsche maintains that, without the guidance and creation of art, the terrible truths of the world threaten to lead to nihilism and the view that life is not worth living. In his discussion of art, Nietzsche favors the form of the Greek tragedy, which through its incorporation of both the Dionysian and the Apollonian elements, exposes the pessimistic truths of the world while nevertheless affirming life. For Nietzsche, the Apollonian techniques alone are insufficient for justifying life and the world. For the purpose of this paper, I will begin by briefly outlining what Nietzsche means, and for what reasons, when he says that the world can only be justified as aesthetic phenomena. Then, I will discuss Nietzsche's concept of the Apollonian in relation to the Dionysian, followed by an account of what, according to Nietzsche, the faults of the Apollonian techniques are. Finally, I will assess why, for Nietzsche, art has to convey a pessimistic metaphysical truth about pain and suffering to be authentic

[...] 35) For, dreams, Nietzsche maintains, by their very nature, have the power to heal in sleep the terrors of the day (Ibid.). However, he warns, dreams run the risk of crossing that ?delicate boundary? between appearance and reality; of deceiving the mind into accepting these beautiful illusions as reality. For this reason, Nietzsche attributes to Apollo the ?veil of m?y??; that which hides the chaos and torments of the natural world and, in its place, creating a ?calm repose? on the man wrapped up in it. [...]


[...] He compares this duality in art to procreation, which depends on the duality of both sexes to continue; hence, art, like procreation, requires both Apollinian and Dionysian elements to achieve its end (Ibid.). He attributes the pessimistic metaphysical truths of the world to the Dionysian, and the world of beautiful illusions to the Apollinian. With this, Nietzsche outlines the development of the Apollinian: Olympian divine order of joy gradually evolved through the Apollinian impulse toward beauty, just as roses burst from thorny bushes.? (Sect p - 43). [...]

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