Nietzsche’s Olympian Synthesis

Nietzsche’s Olympian Synthesis

Aristocracy - Nietzsche III

“On its political sickbed, a people usually regenerates itself and finds its spirit again, which had been lost gradually in the seeking and claiming of power. Culture owes its highest achievements to politically weakened times.”
– Nietzsche, Human, All too Human

“The representations of Dionysus appear irrational or subconscious, those of Apollo rational and conscious. Furthermore, Apollo is a god of boundary drawing – both ethical and conceptual – he is the god of the principium individuationis. Apollo, therefore represents a sense of unity but also of restriction. Dionysus, by way of contrast, expands his horizons by transcending boundaries – hence for the Dionysian religious type ‘intoxication’ is the transcendence of the mundane and of all imposed limits.[27] Being essentially a dyad, the two function as the different ends of the same planar polarity; in truth neither can exist without the other – Apollo and Dionysus represent what Nicholas Cusanus termed as the coincidenta oppositorum, the co-existence of opposite qualities and attributes. There is in truth no clear boundary between the Apollonian nature and the Dionysian nature; there is always within one an element of the other, for as Nietzsche says “There is no Dionysian appearance (schein) without an Apollonian reflection (wierderschein).” It is from this fluctuating tension between the two poles that most contradictions in Nietzsche’s philosophy arise, such as his elitism and pro-aristocratic bias as an Apollonian element radically contradicting the orgiastic oneness of the Dionysian. As Nietzsche’s philosophy develops, the figure of Apollo disappears and seemingly fades; but this disappearance is illusory. As his theories mature, Nietzsche merged the figure of Apollo into his rendition of Dionysus. Thus Nietzsche’s conception of Dionysus becomes singular at a higher level of understanding, where the two forces work in harmony and are no longer divided at the conceptual level – Dionysus and Apollo merge as one, and this composite force Nietzsche now refers to solely as ‘Dionysus’. Seen in this light, the Apollonian individual is only apparently the opposite of the Dionysian whole, but is in actuality only the temporary result of the Dionysian activity.


A preview of what is to come in the second volume of Aristokratia.

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