Examine Nietzsche’s statement in The Birth of Tragedy that it is only as an ‘Aesthetic Phenomenon’ that existence can be ‘justified’ to eternity.
According to the qualities of ‘eternity’ and ‘existence’ that Nietzsche and Schopenhauer prescribe; it is by definition that something can only be justified in the phenomenal world: the world of ‘existence’. Although this statement describes existence justifying itself to eternity, The Birth of Tragedy tends to illustrate the inverse: eternity justifying itself appearing through existence. However the movement between the states of the ‘physical’ and ‘virtual’ is not directional in the empirically spatiotemporal manner that Schopenhauer takes on. Unlike transcendentalist ideas, what Nietzsche depicts is an apparent duality born in the fusion of the minds twofold reality that has knowledge and perception only of existence. Aesthetic phenomenon offers us “delight in semblance” and simultaneously offers a greater, metaphysical delight in “the destruction of the visible world of semblance” (BT: 24). The requirement that a phenomenon must be ‘aesthetic’ is universal in the sense that there is no requirement as to what an ‘aesthetic’ thing is. Supposedly it can be anything phenomenal “even the ugly and disharmonious is an artistic game which the will, in the eternal fullness of its delight, plays with itself.” (BT:24) Clearly there are degrees of ‘aesthetic’ quality that render more delight, but the delight is equally achievable in the interpretation as it is in the ‘phenomenon’ that is acting as a trigger. Maybe it is more appropriately imagined that ‘eternity’ justifies itself in the phenomenal: because the ‘justification’ takes place when an object awakens a sense of the ‘eternal’, so it is really a matter of seduction, and how effectively this ‘aesthetic phenomenon’ allows the noumenal to thrust itself upon the perceiver. But to say that this takes place wholly on account of how ‘aesthetic’ the phenomenon is, would be to ignore how easily the perceiver is seduced, or how he perceives all together. It is clear that different people find beauty in different things. It is also clear that some may find beauty in nothing, as with meditation. But that brings into question whether we can really have a ‘nothing’ in human experience, for even the most isolated and detached human experience cannot be fully impartial to the world of experience. The point however; is that although ‘aesthetic phenomenon’ is a necessity; it is the openness and imagination of the perceiver that allows the object to justify existence to the eternal. For beauty can exist in everything, but only on occasion do we see beauty to such high intensity that it awakens a recognisable feeling of the ‘eternal’. For Nietzsche, art is a more powerful form of ‘aesthetic phenomenon’, than naturally occurring beauty; the human is more familiar with art, often because it relates more to qualities in the realm of human experience, be it situational or emotional. This familiarity lures the perceiver into a greater degree of belief, acting as a catalyst to the erosion of self identity, as they more easily forget the self, and become overwhelmed by the ‘will’. Nietzsche places ‘attic tragedy’ at the peak of this process, as he mentions the audience become the play, and the combination of two separate art forms allows the birth of a new less physically obsessed, and more enchanting work of art. The degree, to which the audience can recreate the moment that the artist felt in creating the piece, depends partly on the artist’s ability to transfigure the feeling into an ‘aesthetic phenomenon’, but also on the audience’s ability to empathise (hence humanistic art is more effective). This ‘empathy’ or ‘mitleiden’, requires the demolition of the concept of the ‘individual’ and the rise of the innate primordial unity, in order for this eternal intensity, that Schopenhauer, quite carelessly called the ‘will’, to overtake. It is because...
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