Breaking Down the Neurotic-Psychotic Artifice: The Subversive Function of Myth in Goethe, Nietzsche, Rilke and Walter Benjamin

Dissertation, Emory University (1988)
  Copy   BIBTEX


This dissertation re-examines the principal philosophical thrusts of the German Enlightenment period, from the perspective of their totalizing-mythological function, and investigates how this function is criticized by the non-totalizing function of myth found within the primary mythical images in the work of Goethe, Nietzsche, Rilke, and Walter Benjamin. ;Utilizing the revolutionary book by Hans Blumenberg on the function of myth in German Idealism and Romanticism, I instigate a discourse between Blumenberg's totalizing work on myth and the negative-dialectical work on myth as proposed by Theodor Adorno. I locate the German origins of this negative-dialectical myth-making in the work of Goethe, specifically his non-totalizing image, Wilhelm Meister. I locate the development of this use of myth in Nietzsche's Zarathustra, and, finally, trace a similar function at work in Rilke's Malte and Walter Benjamin's historical materialist. ;Contrary to Habermas, who argues that Nietzsche opened up two roads to postmodernity, one leading to the "ontologization of aesthetics" and the other to the "totalizing critique" of reason , I put forth the argument that the Nietzschean "two roads" metaphor is useful but needs to be re-shaped, configuring one road toward the mythological history and historical mythology of Rilke and Walter Benjamin, and another road the Theodor Adorno's "thorough critique" of reason. ;The need to revise Habermas's "two roads to post-modernity" theory mythographically, rests on the primary investigation of this dissertation: to trace by de-scription the practical incarnation of the word on German soil . I define this process of "practical incarnation" as that word which subversively desires to de-scribe and trans-figure the neurotic -psychotic structure that has defined the parameters of Western discourse, at least since neo-Platonic Christianity influenced cultural codifications of the West. Finally, I maintain that the primary image of criticism which emerges from the dialectical work of the writers herein, is the image of man-child, a classless, non-totalizing image implicit in Goethe's Wilhelm Meister, and developed in the Kind-Mensch constellation in the work of Nietzsche, Rilke, and Walter Benjamin



External links

  • This entry has no external links. Add one.
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server

Through your library


Added to PP

421 (#50,833)

6 months
85 (#69,147)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Citations of this work

No citations found.

Add more citations

References found in this work

The idea of natural history.Theodor W. Adorno - 1984 - Telos: Critical Theory of the Contemporary 1984 (60):111-24.
The Actuality of Philosophy.Theodor W. Adorno - 1977 - Telos: Critical Theory of the Contemporary 1977 (31):120-133.
The actuality of philosophy.Theodor W. Adorno - 2000 - In O., Connor & B. (eds.), The Adorno Reader. Blackwell. pp. 120-133.
The Effective Power of Art: On Benjamin's Aesthetics.Sandor Radnoti - 1981 - Telos: Critical Theory of the Contemporary 1981 (49):61-82.
Nietzsche Et la Solitude.Herbert Roeschl - 1958 - Société Française d'Études Nietzschéennes.

Add more references