Birth of an Artistic Socrates: The Motivations and Form of Nietzsche's Classicism 1869-1872 Public Deposited

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  • March 21, 2019
  • Taylor, William O.
    • Affiliation: College of Arts and Sciences, Department of English and Comparative Literature
  • Friedrich Nietzsche's The Birth of Tragedy (1872) expresses a form of classicism as it argues that Greek tragedy is a singular and exemplary art form moderns need to emulate. This classicism becomes even clearer when his lectures On the Future of Our Educational Institutions, delivered at the same time The Birth of Tragedy is published, are read alongside it. These lectures propose the creation of new schools to create artists through the study of the ancient Greeks. Nietzsche's classicism is often supposed to have developed during his school years. This study demonstrates that Nietzsche never shows any signs of classicism while a student and that the Greeks are little more than an academic subject for him during these years. It is not until he completes his education that Nietzsche abruptly announces his classicist project centered on the Greeks. As the sudden nature of this classicism has never been recognized before, the motivations for it have never been questioned. This study uncovers three motivations for Nietzsche's classicism: his love of music, his need for existential meaning, and his feeling of having no other career option than to be a professor of philology. This provides a new and more nuanced picture of Nietzsche's thinking on the value he proposes that the ancient Greeks have for modernity.
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  • In Copyright
  • Downing, Eric
  • Doctor of Philosophy
Degree granting institution
  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Graduation year
  • 2013

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