Life “How differently Dionysus spoke to me! How alien

Life affirmation is one of the
most important idea of Nietzsche’s philosophy. His intent is to affirm life
despite all sufferings and pains for people. So, it can be said that he wants
to avoid nihilism which is leaded by miseries. His first book, The Birth of Tragedy, is closely related
to life affirmation.

Nietzsche is also affected by Schopenhauer’s
philosophy exceedingly. According to Schopenhauer, the world of objects that we
represent is an only apparent world, on the contrary, the subjective world as
it is in itself is the world as “will”. He thinks that the world of different individuals
has no means except being a reflected dream image, which has its source in the principal
impulses of will. Also, pessimism is main tendency of his philosophy. It says
all existence of human being is fundamentally meaningless effort and misery.  In parallel with these, Schopenhauer also
asserts that death is indeed the aim of existence, and human beings do not have
another chance except being “resigned”.  

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In the Birth of Tragedy, Nietzsche
mentions how ancient Greek culture make sufferings meaningful and tolerable for
themselves. Nietzsche respects people of this culture because the ancient
Greeks were able to affirm life, even in tragedy. So, he also tries to find a way
to affirm life fervently. However, according to Schopenhauer, life is
fundamentally suffering, without meaning or goal.

In parallel with these, Nietzsche says, “How differently Dionysus spoke to
me! How alien to me at that time was precisely this whole philosophy of
resignation!” (1886, p.10). Nietzsche obviously rejects the idea of
“resignation” and passivism. Both Nietzsche and Schopenhauer think that life is
full of dissatisfactions and miseries in a pessimistic way. However, when Schopenhauer
defends “resignation”, Nietzsche lays emphasis on “affirmation”. For Schopenhauer,
people should “resign” to death, weakness and sickness; on the contrary, for
Nietzsche, people can “affirm” life, strength and health with all its pains and
sufferings. According to Nietzsche’s opinion, Schopenhauer’s pessimism is highly
nihilistic, but the real question is what is the meaning of nihilism in
Nietzsche according to BT?

According to Nietzsche, the
concept of nihilism is to limit human being from affirming life, but pessimism
is just a sense of being conscious about all the meaninglessness of life. In
his remark, if one can affirm life in face of the terror and horror of
existence, it is simply pessimism; on the contrary, if one cannot affirm life
in face of terror and horror of existence, it is clearly nihilism. Thus, Nietzsche
is obviously against Schopenhauer’s idea of pessimism because he thinks that
his pessimism causes nihilism.

On the other hand, ancient
Greeks are not nihilist. They do not deny the value of life and existence, and
they also affirm life despite of all its miseries and dissatisfactions.
Moreover, Apollonian and Dionysian pessimism leads to the rise of art and artistic
impulses, so they also they embrace life and affirm the existence because art give
them meaning and purpose even it is a meaning itself for them, but nihilism
ultimately has no meaning, goal or purpose. However, Nietzsche notices the
optimistic view of Greek philosophy ongoing since Socrates as a downfall for
ancient Greek culture. According to the optimistic view, reality is knowable,
intelligible, and ordered. Also, people can comprehend reality from the
philosophical and scientific perspective. The eighteenth century’s idea of the
“age of reason” and “age of Enlightenment” are also an example of philosophical
optimism in general. In this age, improvement of scientific knowledge of the
world has made human life better, more actualized, and happier. Similarly, in
ancient Greek culture, Socrates started to seek for reasons and intelligibility
and criticizes Apollonian and Dionysian influences, facts in everyday life such
as living unconsciously. In addition to all these, Nietzsche is impressed by
Socratic wisdom and thinks that the optimistic view about existence is
associated with how reality is knowable and intelligent and organized. So, for
Nietzsche, if a person knows reality more, it means that they also affirm life
more.  On the other hand, Nietzsche also
criticizes Socrates because his optimism is different from Greek pessimism although
they both affirm life. Socrates denies faith and believes that it can be changed
by help of the reason, but it is problematic for Nietzsche. In other words,
when life is chaos for pessimist, life is intelligible and ordered for the
optimists. It means that their approaches and attitudes are different, but the purpose
of life affirmation is the same. So, the question is how does the optimistic
worldview give rise to nihilism for Nietzsche’s project of life affirmation? To
answer this question, Nietzsche gives an example which is that Socrates happily
accepts his own death, and Plato also mentions the dying Socrates as an “ideal”.
Thus, according to Nietzsche, this “ideal” of the dying Socrates is ultimately
nihilistic. The ideal is also powerful in pre-Christian Rome. Nietzsche believes
that Socratic wisdom and philosophy of Plato are not sufficient to respond to
human suffering. Similarly, he criticizes the Christian morality as insufficient
to solve the problem of suffering as ultimately nihilistic response.As a result, in spite of the
general thought, Nietzsche is not a nihilist. He even tries to give solution to
this ancient problem. Human beings just try to find meaning in the questions
which are why is there something instead of nothing, and why existence instead
of non-existence? To answer these questions, in the ancient history,
philosophers concentrated on the proto-arche. For example, Thales answered water,
Heraclitus fire, and Pythagoras numbers. In the Middle Ages, it was God as a
controller of everything. For instance, St. Anselm says that God is that which
nothing greater can be thought about. In the arrival of modern period which
starts with Rene Descartes’ idea expressed in “Cogito, ergo sum!”, science started
to give meaning to everything. The meaning was seen buried in the human mind. Today,
with the linguistic, philosophers find meaning in language. According to this, Nietzsche
says people suggest what they have trust from the beginning is what they define
themselves. So, meaning is in fact simple metaphors which people were so busy
in that people already saw it as what should define themselves. In other words,
the creator becomes created by the creature. Nietzsche suggests that the
creator should keep himself as a creator and what he is, and he should not
design himself with what he has created. In brief, people are greater than all
these after worldly values and morals.