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 Class Forums - Spring 2013
 PHIL 200-002 - Friedrich Nietzsche
 Nietzsche on Socrates
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Jordan Kemp
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Posted - Jan 17 2013 :  1:37:49 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Well, in an interesting collision of the two PHIL 200 sections, I have a question to put to the class. In Ecce Homo, "The Birth of Tragedy" (p. 271 in the Kaufmann translation) Nietzsche discusses his own work The Birth of Tragedy.

In the course of his discussion, he says the following: "Socrates is recognized for the first time as an instrument of Greek disintegration, as a typical decadent. "Rationality" against instinct. "Rationality" at any price as a dangerous force that undermines life."

My question for the class is this: do you think this is Nietzsche attacking Socrates' own philosophy and opinions, or is this Nietzsche performing his role as Antichrist by attacking one of the core figures in Western Philosophy, possibly in the hopes of undermining the rest of the Western tradition? Personally, I think it is the latter, but I am interested in hearing other opinions.

[Lightly edited to enhance readability -TT]

Beth Bortz
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1 Posts

Posted - Jan 18 2013 :  2:06:03 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
I believe that Nietzsche was attacking Socrates. I'm not a genius when it comes to philosophy, but from what I can grasp, Nietzsche was saying that Socrates' beliefs were not held up. He is mocking him for doing things rationally rather than instinctively. Nietzsche believes that Socrates will rationalize something to the point of recklessness. As I said, I'm new to philosophy, so feel free to tell me if I've missed the point.

[Lightly edited to enhance readability -TT]
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David Berger
Journeyman

75 Posts

Posted - Jan 25 2013 :  10:46:31 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
I'll have more to say once I have more thoroughly familiarized myself with this text, but I may be able to answer your question with my fairly substantial background knowledge of Nietzsche's philosophy.

Nietzsche thought that whatever we consider moral is best decided upon by oneself. Socrates, on the other hand, thought we could discover all manner of "Truth" through rational discourse. Whatever it is, it's out there and we just have to figure it out. The idea of truth left behind by Plato is the idea of something objective, which may or may not be attainable. It is such idealistic conceptions of truth and morality that Nietzsche disagrees with. I agree with Nietzsche insofar as I don't think we'll ever find such objective truths for everyone to agree on.

I think these are the main aspects of Plato's writing that Nietzsche is critical of, and noting this allows him to make the point of decadence, tracing his philosophical issues back to Plato/Socrates.

Upon reading The Birth of Tragedy, I am sure the answer to your question will become much clearer.

[Very lightly edited to enhance readability -TT]
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David Berger
Journeyman

75 Posts

Posted - Jan 28 2013 :  2:29:24 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Today's reading shed a little light on your question. I took note of Nietzsche's statement of "skeptics, the only honorable type among the equivocal, quinquivocal tribe of [Greek] philosophers!"

The Skeptics were responding to predecessors such as Plato, who wanted to find the underlying Truth of reality (postulated in his theory of Forms), or the Stoics, who spoke of inert "Natural Laws" as constant truths and ways of testing the realness of what appears. (Comprehensive presentation).

The Skeptical assertion is that we can never truly know this underlying nature, if there even is one! They show directly how there is no proof for some of the Stoic assertions, as there is always room for some doubt. Even if we could somehow sort of sneak up on reality from behind...we would then be observing another appearance. For a skeptic, questions like those asked by Plato/Socrates, while they may provide insight regarding these appearances, will not get you closer to any objective truth.

Skeptics are referred to (and this would to a degree be a suitable term to describe Nietzsche) as anti-philosophical philosophers.

I hope this provides some insight regarding your question.

[Very lightly edited to enhance readability -TT]
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David Berger
Journeyman

75 Posts

Posted - Feb 04 2013 :  10:48:26 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
"The concept of the 'beyond,' the 'true world' invented in order to devaluate the only world there is"..."the concept of the 'soul,' the 'spirit,' finally even the 'immortal soul,' invented in order to despise the body, to make it sick, 'holy'".

-Nietzsche
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