Contemporary Literary and Cultural Theory
EN3000 – Fall/Winter 2011/2012 – Nemanja Protic
Lecture 6 – Critique of Metaphysics I & II: Nietzsche & Derrida – Oct 20
- Public reason
- Private reason
- He believes that eventually the division between public and private reason will
- Agrees that there is a division but he believes that people’s freedom is their right
o For him, the state is an embodiment of the idea and the political realm.
- Metaphysics and politics are directly related.
- Everything is about an abstract/pure thought – human knowledge is at the center
Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900)
- Born on October 15 , 1844 in Prussian Saxony.
- His father died in 1849 and he was brought up in a ‘feminine and pious society of
his mother, his sister, a grandmother and two aunts.’
- Studied philology in Bonn and Leipzig.
- Became a university professor before finishing his doctorate, but negative
reactions to his first published work soon saw him disillusioned with the academic
world, which he left in 1879.
- Was sick most of his life with various illnesses; spent most of his life between
1879 and 1889 travelling through Europe, trying to find a suitable climate for his
- In 1889, he suffered a mental collapse after seeing a whipping of a horse in the
streets of Turin, Italy.
- He spent most of his last 10 years uncommunicative in care of his sister
Elisabeth, who took control of some of his last writings and edited/published them
On the Unity and Liability of History
- Hegel is the historical man/Napoleon is unhistorical.
o Unhistorical person is someone who disagrees with and discredits
everything that came before them.
o If we only dedicate ourselves to the historical we become a fossil.
o History is contingent – a series of events that cause one another.
o History as a whole is that whole dialectical process.
Nietzsche - Privies life over knowledge.
o In Nietszche’s first work, N distinguished between two forces in art and in
- Attacks metaphysics from the outside – he doesn’t agree with the terms they
outline – he goes outside of them with ‘life’ – life is greater than the metaphysical.
- Coupled with the refusal is his critique of science – science is just another way of
holding on and pushing forward the apollonian principle of life – once we put all
our faith in science we see only half of the reality.
- These systems are viewed as illusions to Nietzsche.
Apollonian and Dyonisian
Terms for the twin principles which the German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche
detected in Greek civilization in his early work… The Birth of Tragedy (1872). Nietzsche
was challenging the usual view of Greek culture as ordered and serene, emphasizing
instead the irrational element of frenzy found in the rites of Dionysus (the god of
intoxication known to the Romans as Bacchus). He associated the Apollonian tendency
with the instinct for form, beauty, moderation, and symmetry, best expressed in Greek
sculpture, while the Dionysian… instinct was one of irrationality, violence, and
exuberance, found in music. This opposition has some resemblance to that between
classicism and Romanticism. In Nietzche’s theory of drama, the Apollonian (in dialogue)
and the Dianysian (in choric song) are combined in early Greek tragedy.
- There are two forces which participate in life and art – they exist in Greek
“The joyous necessity of the dream experience has been embodied by the
Greeks in their Apollo:… He, … the deity of light, is also ruler over the beautiful illusion
of the inner world of fantasy. The higher truth, the perfection of these states [of sleep
and dreams] in contrast to the incompletely intelligible everyday world… is at the same
time the symbolical analogue of the soothsaying faculty and of the arts generally, which
make life possible and worth living. But we must also include in our image of Apollo that
delicate boundary which the dream image must not overstep lest it have a pathological
effect… We must keep in mind that measured restraint, that freedom from the wilder
emotions, that calm of the sculptor god… And so, in one sense, we might apply to
Apollo the words of Schopenhauer…: ‘Just as in a stormy sea that, unbounded in all
directions, raises and drops mountainous waves, howling, a sailor sits in a boat and
trusts in his frail bark: so in the midst of a world of torments the individual human being
sits quietly, supported by and trusting in the principium individuationis.” In fact… we
might call Apollo himself the glorious divine image of the principium individuationis,
through whose gestures and eyes all the joy and wisdom of ‘illusion,’ together with its
beauty, speaks to us.”
- On the one hand we have the world of dreams which is the world of beauty.
- He says Hegel only focuses on Apollonian because everything is about life. Dionysus (Nietzsche)
“In the same work Schopenhauer has depicted for us the tremendous terror
which seizes man when he is suddenly dumbfounded by the cognitive form of
phenomena because the principle of sufficient reason, in some one of its
manifestations, seems to suffer an exception. If we add to this terror the blissful ecstasy
that wells from the innermost depths of man, indeed of nature, at this collapse of the
principium individuations, we steal a glimpse into the nature of the Dionysian, which is
brought home to use most intimately