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The Wisdom of Silenus: Suffering in The Birth of Tragedy

The Wisdom of Silenus: Suffering in The Birth of Tragedy <p>Abstract:</p><p>This article discusses Nietzsche’s response in <i>The Birth of Tragedy</i> (<i>BT</i>) to what he calls the wisdom of Silenus, that “the very best thing is utterly beyond your reach: not to have been born, not to <i>be</i>, to be <i>nothing</i>. However, the second best thing for you is to die soon.” I begin by analyzing the view that Silenus expresses a proto-Schopenhauerian truth about the world as “Will.” I then review Bernard Reginster’s interpretation of the wisdom of Silenus as an early form of Nietzschean nihilism. As an alternative to these readings, I argue that, for Nietzsche, Silenus’s wisdom addresses a crucial, existential dimension of ancient Greek tragic culture. I conclude by pointing out that, in <i>BT</i>, Nietzsche locates nihilism not in the wisdom of Silenus, but in the advent of Socratism.</p> http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png The Journal of Nietzsche Studies Penn State University Press

The Wisdom of Silenus: Suffering in The Birth of Tragedy

The Journal of Nietzsche Studies , Volume 49 (2) – Dec 5, 2018

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Publisher
Penn State University Press
Copyright
Copyright © The Pennsylvania State University.
ISSN
1538-4594

Abstract

<p>Abstract:</p><p>This article discusses Nietzsche’s response in <i>The Birth of Tragedy</i> (<i>BT</i>) to what he calls the wisdom of Silenus, that “the very best thing is utterly beyond your reach: not to have been born, not to <i>be</i>, to be <i>nothing</i>. However, the second best thing for you is to die soon.” I begin by analyzing the view that Silenus expresses a proto-Schopenhauerian truth about the world as “Will.” I then review Bernard Reginster’s interpretation of the wisdom of Silenus as an early form of Nietzschean nihilism. As an alternative to these readings, I argue that, for Nietzsche, Silenus’s wisdom addresses a crucial, existential dimension of ancient Greek tragic culture. I conclude by pointing out that, in <i>BT</i>, Nietzsche locates nihilism not in the wisdom of Silenus, but in the advent of Socratism.</p>

Journal

The Journal of Nietzsche StudiesPenn State University Press

Published: Dec 5, 2018

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