The Birth of Tragedy

The Birth of Tragedy - Friedrich Nietzsche, Michael Tanner, Shaun Whiteside Nietzsche is really speaking about the death of tragedy not its birth. He really doesn't like humanism in any of its variations. He says that it's our experiences which give us our understanding (a very Husserlian Phenomenological thing to say). The instinct, emotion, passion, the mysticism within us, and our intuitions are what really empower us (he says) not our reason. Music and dance lets the real person who lies within come to full actualization. Knowledge of the real world is not truth and it is the disclosure (as in the Homeric myths) that gives us our understanding (according to him).

The metaphor he uses to describe the development of tragedy throughout history could just as easily be applied to within a person in themselves and almost for sure could be used by Freudian psychology and its various off shots to explain the conscious verse unconscious selves within us and for both Freud and Nietzsche reaching into the unconscious will give us our true selves. In the end, he thinks the individual is master of his own domain and the primal instinct within us has been extinguished since the time of the Socratics, and we are all the worst for it.

The Republican's who embrace a neanderthal like Donald Trump would do well to read Nietzsche. They would understand how to frame their arguments better than they usually do. There is a part in this book where he'll speak about the special character of the Germans. Patriotism always means the group you belong to is special because you are in that group. By definition, you have to make some other group less special. Republicans under Donald Trump definitely are trying to do that. But, there is more than just the patriotism that would appeal to Republicans in this book. He also wants to feel his way to the right answer so that facts can be replaced with 'alternative facts' (whatever those are?) as long as you can feel the answer then it is better than knowing through reason.

Reason is definitely not a virtue for Nietzsche or any Republican who is a climate change denier Also, Republicans mock Freud, but seem to love to blame the victim too. Everything in their world view is the fault of the individual. (They loved thinking, refrigerator moms caused autism. They love blaming the mother when they can. Little realizing sometimes people are born that way and there is no one to blame except the universe. They believe that you are the master of your own fate. The captain of your own ship. Time and chance play no role in their world view).

This book is slightly different then the other ones of his that I've read recently. He doesn't show contempt for the reader, he wants to be taken seriously, and he doesn't hate women overtly (yes, he does mention 'feminine traits' as being bad, after all, 'virtus' originally meant 'manly excellence', so that which is worthy of being imitated was according to the man not from the woman, but overall that kind of thinking is within the time frame he was writing in. I'd be even able to site modern people who say stupid things like that such as a previous governor (Schwarzenegger) of California who said "don't be a sissy man" and that was within the bounds of most Republicans and they even like that kind of talk, but that's not what I think nor believe).

Nietzsche's fluency with Greek Gods and Titans was overwhelmingly elegant. He also seemed to be even more pessimistic than Schopenhauer within this book. I liked it when he quotes someone as to the one thing we should all know is "that we would have been better not to be born".

If you do read this one, I would suggest reading "Genealogy of Morals" first even though it was written latter. Nietzsche hasn't yet flushed out many of his thoughts within this book (Birth of Tragedy) and "Genealogy of Morals" will fill in those obvious gaps making this book easy to understand.