The Themes of Affirmation and Illusion in The Birth of Tragedy and Beyond

Came, Daniel (2013) The Themes of Affirmation and Illusion in The Birth of Tragedy and Beyond. In: The Oxford Handbook of Nietzsche. Oxford University Press. ISBN 019877673X

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A unifying theme in Nietzsche’s early works (1870–6) is the claim that ‘illusion’, ‘deception’ and ‘lies’ are necessary to make tolerable one’s experience of the world. e central mes- sage of Nietzsche’s first published work, e Birth of Tragedy (1872), is that the affirmation of life requires ‘illusion’ which allows us to cope with the ‘insight into the horrible truth’ of our condition (BT 7). In a recent book (Reginster 2006), Bernard Reginster argues that Nietzsche overcame this early position in his later works. e early position, in Reginster’s view, fails to underwrite a genuine affirmation of life, which requires a affirming life ‘as it is’, in its very ‘terrifying and questionable character.’ The argument of this essay is that, contra Reginster and May, both in the early and the later works illusion is a necessary condition of the a rmation of life. The position of the later Nietzsche is basically the position of The Birth of Tragedy: one must falsify—whether by evasion or explicit falsehood—the horrors of life to some degree in order to affirm it.

Additional Information:The final published version can be accessed online at
Keywords:Nietzsche, Schopenhauer, affirmation of life, illusion, art, aesthetics, Bernard Reginster, Simon May
Subjects:V Historical and Philosophical studies > V500 Philosophy
Divisions:College of Arts
ID Code:30432
Deposited On:13 Sep 2018 14:06

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