Nietzsche and the Death of Socrates

Dionysus. Photo by Wouter Engler [CC BY-SA 4.0] from Wikimedia Commons

The Birth of TragedyThe Birth of Tragedy by Friedrich Nietzsche

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

It is not without significant trepidation that I approach this otherwise short work. The cover blurb tells me this is a "challenging work". Never truer words written. I was comfortable with the basic premise of Nietzsche's later work (written after 1888) - I understand this book represents the starting point for much of Nietzsche's later Apollonian (order) versus Dionysian (chaos) modes, but I was still not convinced about his critical position towards Socrates. How little I knew. 

There is too much in this work to make coherent comment, but suffice to say if one were to start reading Nietzsche, start with this one. Although it might not make so much sense unless one jumps in later when his ideas are more fully developed. Maybe. The thought that wouldn't leave me alone while reading this was Edward de Bono's idea about the Greek Gang of Three (Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle). This really challenged my thinking. At the same time, I can't help but think of the Socrates who was also a soldier and was learning to play music just before he drank the hemlock, whereas Plato as far as I know didn't do anything else and was keen to ban certain types of music. 

So lumping them altogether al la Edward de Bono might be clever but I am not convinced. I am also not convinced that de Bono (and yes, I am a fan of de Bono) was all that original. This is one of the great wonders of reading the original texts. I did identify with the varieties of self-consciousness versus meta-cognition issues that consistently arise in the work. But I was unprepared for the onslaught of the Fans of Shakespeare that dominate my thoughts recently. To have Carlyle, Bloom, Nietzsche, and then before I have even written this, Oscar Wilde, tell me how important Shakespeare is, and I realise once more how far behind I am in my reading.

View all my reviews