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Art Issue in Nietzsche’s “The Birth of Tragedy”

In the essay “The Birth of Tragedy”, Nietzsche talks about such an issue as art. He tries to find connections between German and Greek art. In this work, he states that progression in the field of art is closely connected with the Apollonian and Dionysian duality. After naming Apollo and Dionysus, Nietzsche revolves his arguments. He contrasts Apollo and Dionysus as dreams and drunkenness. “This deep and happy sense of the necessity of dream experiences was expressed by the Greeks in the image of Apollo” (1). For Nietzsche, dreams represent the realm of beautiful forms and symbols, an orderly place of light and appearance. Drunkenness, on the other hand, is that state of wild passions where the boundaries between “self” and “other” dissolve. “So stirred, the individual forgets himself completely” (2). “The Gay Science” presents philosophers’ views on God’s existence and his influence on society. Nietzsche states that “God is dead”, however, he provides an example of Buddha, who also was dead, but “his shadow was still shown for centuries in a cave – a tremendous, gruesome shadow” (3). Thus, he showed that even the dead God rules our lives. The work “The Fallen Idols” reveals Nietzsche’s critical stance towards dialectics and Socrates as a thinker. In his opinion, with Socrates “Greek taste changes in favor of dialectics” (4). This is very bad since this resulted in “the plebs come to the top; the noble taste is vanquished” (5).

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Karl Marx in his work “Manifesto of the commune party” provides a range of statements, where he shows the rotten nature of the bourgeoisie. According to his views, the bourgeoisie gives great power to a limited number of countries and makes a bunch of other nations dependent on the selected few states “as it has made the country dependent on the towns, so it has made barbarian and semi-barbarian countries dependent on civilized ones, nations of peasants on nations of bourgeois, the East on the West” (6). Marx also puts an emphasis, that bourgeoisie is rather unstable, because it is very vulnerable when crises happen. “In these crises, a great part not only of the existing products but also of the previously created productive forces, are periodically destroyed” (7). Further, he concludes, that when a bourgeoisie society takes measures to emerge from the crisis, a new wave of problems is on the way. “How does the bourgeoisie get over these crises? On the one hand by enforced destruction of a mass of productive forces; on the other hand, by the conquest of new markets… That is to say, by paving the way for more extensive and more destructive crises” (8). Marx compares bourgeoisie with despotism. He says that people are “organized like soldiers and slaves”. “As privates of the industrial army they are placed under the command of a perfect hierarchy of officers. They are daily and hourly enslaved by the machine, by the overseer…” (9). Finally, he airs a view that in bourgeoisie society there is no “bond between man and man, only naked self-interest or cash payment” (10).

In the work “Phenomenology of spirit” Hegel tries to explain the nature of consciousness. According to him, “self-consciousness is in and for itself in and through being in and for itself for another self-consciousness” (11). The unity of self-consciousness is shown in its duplication. “The movement of self-consciousness in its relation to another self-consciousness has been presented in the way, as the doing of the one” (12). Self-consciousness must do two things: to cancel out the other otherness and to become recognized. The process of recognition is called master and servant self-consciousness. When the unity is dissolute, it results in forming of two opposed forms of conciseness: “one, the independent consciousness, to which being-for-self is the essence; the other, the dependent consciousness, to which life or being for another is the essence: the former is the master, the latter is a servant” (13). “The master is the consciousness existing for itself” (14). One who proves to be the master puts risks on his life, but will never surrender during the struggle. The master forces the servant to produce material goods for the enjoyment of the master. The servant’s ability to create has stable quality, whereas the master’s consumption depends on the servant’s production. By these statements, Hegel concludes that “by dominating the servant, the master is dominated” (15). The case of Major Hassan, an Army psychiatrist who shot dead 13 people, may be viewed through Hegel’s work. It is a vivid example of how the master and the servant relationship may cause unpredictable actions. Mr. Hasan was an American Muslim. It is also should be noted that he considered himself a Muslim first and an American second. Discrimination, treatment not fitting an American officer, harassment in the army because of his faith, and inability to resist all this caused the suppression of his “American consciousness”.

End Notes

  1. Baird, Kaufmann. From Plato to Derrida, 5th Ed. New York: Prentice-Hall, 2008. Page 1016, top.
  2. Baird, Kaufmann. From Plato to Derrida, 5th Ed. New York: Prentice-Hall, 2008. Page 1016, bottom.
  3. Baird, Kaufmann. From Plato to Derrida, 5th Ed. New York: Prentice-Hall, 2008. Page 1021, bottom.
  4. Baird, Kaufmann. From Plato to Derrida, 5th Ed. New York: Prentice-Hall, 2008. Page 1024, top.
  5. Baird, Kaufmann. From Plato to Derrida, 5th Ed. New York: Prentice-Hall, 2008. Page 1024, top.
  6. Baird, Kaufmann. From Plato to Derrida, 5th Ed. New York: Prentice-Hall, 2008. Page 1001, middle.
  7. Baird, Kaufmann. From Plato to Derrida, 5th Ed. New York: Prentice-Hall, 2008. Page 1002, top.
  8. Baird, Kaufmann. From Plato to Derrida, 5th Ed. New York: Prentice-Hall, 2008. Page 1002, top.
  9. Baird, Kaufmann. From Plato to Derrida, 5th Ed. New York: Prentice-Hall, 2008. Page 1002, bottom.
  10. Baird, Kaufmann. From Plato to Derrida, 5th Ed. New York: Prentice-Hall, 2008. Page 1000, top.
  11. Baird, Kaufmann. From Plato to Derrida, 5th Ed. New York: Prentice-Hall, 2008. Page 912, bottom.
  12. Baird, Kaufmann. From Plato to Derrida, 5th Ed. New York: Prentice-Hall, 2008. Page 913, middle.
  13. Baird, Kaufmann. From Plato to Derrida, 5th Ed. New York: Prentice-Hall, 2008. Page 915, middle
  14. Baird, Kaufmann. From Plato to Derrida, 5th Ed. New York: Prentice-Hall, 2008. Page 915, middle
  15. Baird, Kaufmann. From Plato to Derrida, 5th Ed. New York: Prentice-Hall, 2008. Page 911, middle.

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