Aesthetic Transformations: Taking Nietzsche at His Word (American University Studies)

Aesthetic Transformations: Taking Nietzsche at His Word (American University Studies)

Thomas Jovanovski

Language: English

Pages: 202

ISBN: 0820420026

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


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.

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Nietzsche against the universal and impersonal character of Kant’s “aesthetic problem” (GM III 6) and against the “woman’s aesthetics” of “the receivers of art [who] have formulated their experience of ‘what is beautiful’ ” (WP 811). He encapsulates the nature of his “active” aesthetics with the following staccato description of why artists produce beauty: ‘Beauty’ is for the artist something outside all orders of rank, because in beauty opposites are tamed; the highest sign of power, namely

celebrating the Apology as “ ‘a masterpiece of the highest rank’ (I 2),” but here we can also readily discover evidence which shows that “Nietzsche himself derived his picture of the ideal philosopher from the Apology, and Socrates became his model” (397–98). Analysis: The first half of the preceding paraphrasis shows Kaufmann grasping for straws—and coming up empty-handed. Consequently, it is difficult to form any tangible responses to such fleshless points as, say, his claim that because

the two camps in question, we must now point to an ironic parallel between Nietzsche and a large section of writers of metaphysics: The principal reason why Nietzsche’s philosophy is extraordinarily widely appealing is the same reason that religion holds a strong sway over so many throughout the world. Much as do religious leaders, spiritualists, and psychologists, Nietzsche attempts to satisfy an intrinsic void and yearning in the human character, the yearning to be whole, or complete. There is,

that we ought to attach seminal importance to Nietzsche’s aesthetics? 00.qxd 5/9/07 xxvi 6:53 AM Page xxvi aesthetic transformations Not at all, once we realize that philosophy in the later Nietzsche becomes an artistic initiative with decisive practical applications, and that its highest expression is nothing other than his recorded thought. His image of the perturbing influence his Zarathustra might have exercised on some of the world’s most celebrated authors, and his appraisal of

goals for oneself) . . . The homogenizing of European man is the great process that cannot be obstructed: one should even hasten it. The necessity to create a gulf, distance, order of rank, is given eo ipso—not the necessity to retard this process. As soon as it is established, this homogenizing species requires a justification: it lies in serving a higher sovereign species that stands upon the former and can raise itself to its task only by doing this. Not merely a master race whose sole task is

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