Die (Nicht-)Dialektik des Tragischen in Nietzsches Denken


The Non-Dialectic of Tragic in Nietzsche’s Thinking

Based on the dialectical interpretation of tragedy in classical philosophy, one could read Nietzsche’s conception of the tragic in a dialectical manner. A dialectical reading of Nietzsche's The Birth of Tragedy generally considers the Apollonian and the Dionysian as contrasting, but mutually dependent powers. However, beginning with the fifth chapter of this book, Nietzsche gives a different account of the tragic, emphasizing the affirmative character of the Dionysian. Following this idea, I argue that Nietzsche proposes a non-dialectical conception of tragic, which abandons the project of justifying life, i.e., of condemning it and giving it an alien meaning. Instead, the tragic consists for Nietzsche in affirming life as it is. This conception overcomes the pessimism that informs the dialectical conception of the tragic: suffering and finitude are no longer seen as opposed to life and thus in need of justification, but they essentially belong to it. This raises the question of what is still tragic in the absolute affirmation of life, if the dialectic dichotomy is repealed.

Keywords: Nietzsche, tragedy, dialectic, Dionysian, Apollonian, justification of life, affirmation of life

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