Nietzsche and drawing near to the personalities of the pre-Platonic Greeks

Continental Philosophy Review 44 (4):417-437 (2011)
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This essay focuses on and attempts to uncover the truly radical character of Nietzsche’s early “philological” work, specifically asking after the benefit he claims the study of classical culture should have for our present, late-modern historical moment. Taking up his study of the Pre-Platonic thinkers in 1873’s Philosophie im tragischen Zeitalter der Griechen , the first section analyzes Nietzsche’s statement that history’s principle task is the uncovering of Persönlichkeiten . I argue that it is not at all the subjective character of a psychologized individual that Nietzsche has in mind, but rather the moment of persönliche Stimmung or ‘being attuned’ to the world, which grounds and gives rise to thinking. In the second section, I show that the phusis or ‘nature’ to which the thinker is exposed in this attunement is comparable to the tension between the Dionysian and Apollonian natural forces in tragic poetry, as Nietzsche understands it. This dynamic conception of phusis does not provide a metaphysical substrate or an objectively real ground to which we might return via that Greeks, but is rather essentially phenomenal , i.e. it is nothing other than the movement into and out of appearance, which always entails and requires its reception by the human being to whom it appears. In the final section of the essay, this origin proves for Nietzsche not to be located in a distant past moment. Rather, it is the abyssal origin of the tradition that is always already effective in our present moment, informing our contemporary conceptions of our world and ourselves



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Sean D. Kirkland
DePaul University

References found in this work

Sein und Zeit.Martin Heidegger - 1928 - Annalen der Philosophie Und Philosophischen Kritik 7:161-161.
Sein und Zeit.Martin Heidegger - 1981 - Philosophy and Rhetoric 14 (1):57-58.
Sein und Zeit.Martin Heidegger - 1929 - Mind 38 (151):355-370.
Wahrheit und methode.Hans-Georg Gadamer - 1973 - Bijdragen 34 (2):118-122.

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