Thursday, May 29, 2008


Nietzsche on Emotional Incontinence

Friedrich Nietzsche, Morgenröte § 157 (tr. R.J. Hollingdale, Daybreak):
Cult of 'natural sounds'. - What does it indicate that our culture is not merely tolerant of expressions of pain, of tears, complaints, reproaches, gestures of rage or of humiliation, but approves of them counts them among the nobler inescapables? - while the spirit of the philosophy of antiquity looked upon them with contempt and absolutely declined to regard them as necessary. Recall, for instance, how Plato - not one of the most inhuman philosophers, that is to say - speaks of the Philoctetes of the tragic stage. Is our modern culture perhaps lacking in 'philosophy'? Would those philosophers of antiquity perhaps regard us one and all as belonging to the 'rabble'?

Kultus der "Naturlaute". — Wohin weist es, dass unsere Kultur gegen die Äußerungen des Schmerzes, gegen Tränen, Klagen, Vorwürfe, Gebärden der Wut oder der Demütigung, nicht nur geduldig ist, dass sie dieselben gut heißt und unter die edleren Unvermeidlichkeiten rechnet? — während der Geist der antiken Philosophie mit Verachtung auf sie sah und ihnen durchaus keine Notwendigkeit zuerkannte. Man erinnere sich doch, wie Plato — das heißt: keiner von den unmenschlichsten Philosophen — von dem Philoktet der tragischen Bühne redet. Sollte unsrer modernen Kultur vielleicht "die Philosophie" fehlen? Sollten wir, nach der Abschätzung jener alten Philosophen, vielleicht samt und sonders zum "Pöbel" gehören?
But where does Plato ever mention Philoctetes? The name Philoctetes doesn't appear in the index of Edith Hamilton and Huntington Cairns, edd. The Collected Dialogues of Plato, Including the Letters (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1961). On the Greek expedition to Troy, Philoctetes was bitten by a snake. The Greeks could not stand his cries of pain and the stench of his wound, so they marooned him on the island of Lemnos. Sophocles' play Philoctetes survives.

Perhaps Nietzsche was thinking of Plato, Republic 10.7.605c-e (tr. Paul Shorey):
I think you know that the very best of us, when we hear Homer or some other of the makers of tragedy imitating one of the heroes who is in grief, and is delivering a long tirade in his lamentations or chanting and beating his breast, feel pleasure, and abandon ourselves and accompany the representation with sympathy and eagerness, and we praise as an excellent poet the one who most strongly affects us in this way.

I do know it, of course.

But when in our own lives some affliction comes to us, you are also aware that we plume ourselves upon the opposite, on our ability to remain calm and endure, in the belief that this is the conduct of a man, and what we were praising in the theater that of a woman.

οἱ γάρ που βέλτιστοι ἡμῶν ἀκροώμενοι ῾Ομήρου ἢ ἄλλου τινὸς τῶν τραγῳδοποιῶν μιμουμένου τινὰ τῶν ἡρώων ἐν πένθει ὄντα καὶ μακρὰν ῥῆσιν ἀποτεί νοντα ἐν τοῖς ὀδυρμοῖς ἢ καὶ ᾄδοντάς τε καὶ κοπτομένους, οἶσθ’ ὅτι χαίρομέν τε καὶ ἐνδόντες ἡμᾶς αὐτοὺς ἑπόμεθα συμπάσχοντες καὶ σπουδάζοντες ἐπαινοῦμεν ὡς ἀγαθὸν ποιητήν, ὃς ἂν ἡμᾶς ὅτι μάλιστα οὕτω διαθῇ.

Οἶδα· πῶς δ’ οὔ;

῞Οταν δὲ οἰκεῖόν τινι ἡμῶν κῆδος γένηται, ἐννοεῖς αὖ ὅτι ἐπὶ τῷ ἐναντίῳ καλλωπιζόμεθα, ἂν δυνώμεθα ἡσυχίαν ἄγειν καὶ καρτερεῖν, ὡς τοῦτο μὲν ἀνδρὸς ὄν, ἐκεῖνο δὲ γυναικός, ὃ τότε ἐπῃνοῦμεν.
Related posts:

<< Home
Newer›  ‹Older

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?