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Critique of Walter Kaufmann’s “Nietzsche’s Attitude Toward Socrates” It would perhaps be thought to be better, indeed to be our duty, for

the sake of maintaining the truth even to destroy what touches us closely, especially as we are philosophers or lovers of wisdom; for while both are dear, piety requires us to honor truth above our friends. Aristotle, The Nicomachean Ethics, I,6 The publication of Nietzsche’s The Birth of Tragedy early in 1872 at once incited two remarkable points of issue within a number of nineteenth-century German philological and philosophical circles. Whereas one contention centered upon Nietzsche’s enthusiasm to establish the composer Richard Wagner as Aeschylus’ heir apparent, i. e., as the most qualified candidate who would be capable of reanimating the Dionysian spirit within the German Kultur – a vitriolic debate that forever contaminated Nietzsche’s career as a philologist – the other concerned his (Nietzsche’s) rather curious, negative-to-ambivalent disposition toward the Platonic Socrates. However, while later Nietzsche came to regret and publicly to rescind his own unabashed evaluation of the musical genius as perhaps the only living hero who could again symbolically deliver us from everything sub specie saeculi and thus convey us to the bosom of that all-inclusive aesthetic ground, which Schopenhauer had named das Ur-Eine; and, with his rambling The Case of Wagner (1888), himself concluded the first debate by characterizing Wagner’s art as “sick [krank]” [1] and identifying it as a “sanctuary” for the “layman” and the “art-idiot” [2], he never quite resolved his preoccupation with Socrates as both a thinker and personality. Indeed, not even in his Ecce Homo (1888) – that singularly unorthodox autobiography of a rapidly deteriorating but still lucid and vivacious intellect – did he come to terms with this “ugly Greek”. While this second controversy evidently abated by the turn of the twentieth century – with the generally-concurred-upon conclusion that Nietzsche did in fact attempt to abrogate and supersede the authority of Socrates’ metaphysically-grounded moralo-epistemic system – on at least two occasions, in 1948 with an article and in 1950 with his book entitled Nietzsche: Philosopher, Psychologist, Antichrist [3], Walter Kaufmann threatened to revive the dispute by audaciously proposing not only that Nietzsche viewed Socrates as “little less than an idol” [4], but that it is even “false to say that Nietzsche abominated Socratism, if the latter is taken to mean the [philosophical] outlook Socrates embodied” [5]. Surprisingly, after several decades this gauntlet of Kaufmann’s remains down: not only has a host of cognoscenti written at length (and some republished their pre-1950 major works) on Nietzsche without so much as venturing a passive observation concerning Kaufmann’s posture on this question, but what is even more startling is that many of them appear contented merely to point to – primarily by means of animadversions and loaded terms and phrases – but not expound the possibly worldwide (but certainly Western) cultural implications of Nietzsche’s manifestly unpropitious inclination toward Socrates. As a consequence, thus far we have read an impressive aggregate of vituperations that identify Socrates as Nietzsche’s “problem” [6], “villain” [7], and “arch-villain” [8], but ones which hardly enrich our understanding of the reasons why Nietzsche found his didactics both personally unpalatable and existencestagnating.

In the following text, therefore, I shall attempt to do what ought to have been done some time ago: I shall examine in detail and hope to rectify the (in my judgment) decidedly misleading text in Kaufmann’s above-cited book; namely, Chapter 13, entitled “Nietzsche’s Attitude Toward Socrates”. The governing principle here will be my understanding that Nietzsche not only did not subscribe to Socratism, but that perhaps most of his prominent philosophical conceptions in fact originated in and pivot around his colorful confutation of Socrates’ aesthetic/moral prescriptions: “‘To be beautiful everything must be intelligible’ ” [9], and “‘Knowledge is virtue’ ” [10]. My criticism, therefore, will be assiduously advocating the idea that the practical subversion of these culturally entrenched, libido-sublimating standards represented for Nietzsche a most imperative and urgent enterprise whereby morality can be returned to its historically incipient and existentially “rightful” function; that is, for morality to serve as an auxiliary, not as an “impediment”, to man’s selfexpression. Hence, I shall be ipso facto attempting to demonstrate that Nietzsche regarded Socrates as, essentially, a socio-culturally destructive phenomenon of world-historical proportions. Perhaps the immediate impression that one who is reasonably well versed in the scholarship on Nietzsche would form is that our detailed critique of Kaufman’s views on Nietzsche’s disposition toward Socrates is “untimely”. After all, though, indeed, the fourth edition of his book in question was published as recently as in 1974, his understanding of the subject derives from the original publication of 1950. Is there, then, any substantial need, now or in the foreseeable future, to take Kaufmann’s views to task? Is such an analysis, in the face of even more recent creative efforts to appropriate Nietzsche anew, worth doing after so many years? Two considerations, I believe, demand that we answer both queries in the affirmative. First, the merit to having such a critique available in the literature – other than to dispel the pretentions, perpetrated by Kaufmann himself, that he is the only one who has grasped Nietzsche properly – is entailed by the fact that his Nietzsche not only served to bring home the challenge of that thinker’s writings to an unfriendly or at least oblivious Anglo-American readership, but still serves as a useful primer on him (Nietzsche). In this respect, I think that any charge of “untimeliness” should carry no weight at all, insofar as here we are concerned with what has by now become a classic and thus persistently relevant statement on the topic under consideration. Second, since the 1974 reappearance of this position of Kaufmann’s there has been relatively little print devoted to Nietzsche’s regard of Plato’s teacher, which indicates that thus far Kaufmann has had perhaps the last word on the matter. While ostensibly promising to introduce a principal address on that same theme, Werner J. Dannhauser’s Nietzsche’s View of Socrates (also pub lished in 1974) disappoints by turning out to be a mare’s nest: insofar as it is primarily expository in content, the book offers little either toward providing a counterweight to Kaufmann’s influence or toward rediscovering Nietzsche. At the same time, many of the more noteworthy works on Nietzsche since 1974 – as, for instance, David B. Allison’s edition of The New Nietzsche (1977, 1985), Bernd Magnus’ Nietzsche’s Existential Imperative (1978), Richard Schacht’s voluminous Nietzsche (1983), Ofelia Schutte’s Beyond Nihilism (1984) – hardly so much as mention Socrates. In the opening pages to his highly acclaimed Nietzsche: Life as Literature (1985) Alexander Nehamas does discuss Nietzsche’s attitude toward the ancient Athenian, but he does not bring to fruition the dialectical significance of that relationship to Nietzsche’s philosophy in extenso. The still-influential post-structuralist

state my negation of them. in Part I of his essay Kaufmann charges that the prevailing impression in Philosophy concerning Nietzsche’s feelings toward Socrates is grounded in a “misconstruction” of his (Nietzsche’s) initial book. Kaufmann commences his “Nietzsche’s Attitude Toward Socrates” by asserting that – despite most commentators who have accepted it as an “unquestioned and unexamined” dogma that Nietzsche repudiated Socrates – Nietzsche’s concern with the ancient dialectician is a “focal point of his thought and reflects his views of reason and morality as well as the image of man he envisaged”. this explicit display of attitude must not be interpreted as implying that at the very time he was committing this work on paper Nietzsche was primarily either “for” or “against” anything. faithfully paraphrase several of its paragraphs at a time and. but his argument also (a) misses the meaning of the book’s Sections 16 through 25 – in which Nietzsche insists upon Germany’s return. Kaufmann promptly cautions us. emphasize its author’s “negative and critical note most strongly” (pp. is eminently mistaken. all of his “old friends and values are given up in a ‘twilight of the idols’ ” (Ibid). and each cited passages is immediately succeeded by the page number – relevant of course to Kaufmann’s book – on which it may be found. that it was “against . Admittedly. and ought to be expected to. however. from his first book to his last” (p. Rather. Indeed. just like Oscar Wilde. The “misconstruction” of Nietzsche’s literary debut to which he is referring could not well rest with those of us who have elected to proceed along the course that is brightly illumed by the preponderance of evidence. in a “quest for independence and freedom”. he most likely believed that “‘all men kill the thing they love’ – even that they should kill it”. i. Kaufmann proposes. through Wagner’s musicdramas. 391). Nietzsche’s “dialectic appears in his attitude toward [all] his heroes” such that. That is. many philosophical treatises have been. Of course. precisely due to its Hegelian dialectical arrangement. “in a general way”. Kaufmann’s claim that The Birth of Tragedy should be looked upon as such. and will be composed as objective investigations whose ultimate aim has been. translated into English 1983) – are even more parsimonious in their references to Socrates. in “Attempt at a Self-Criticism”. In fact. e. Each block of paraphrasis is numerically identified by a small Latin digit. Not only does he nowhere even intimate what could have been the subject that Nietzsche set out to comprehend in that endeavor. that it does not quite assume a definite stand. he explains. I shall. Yet. Following these prelusive general comments. to the terra-centric paideia of post-Homeric/pre-Euripidean tragic art – and (b) overlooks Nietzsche’s declaration. 391–2). is. he maintains further.. Negation: These considerations point directly to the genesis of the error in Kaufmann’s position.interpretations of Nietzsche – beginning with Gilles Deleuze’s Nietzsche et la Philosophie (1962. he was merely attempting to “comprehend” his subject at hand (p. The Birth of Tragedy does. a thorough reinvestigation of the subject would clearly reveal not only Nietzsche’s genuine attitude in question but also throw “new light” upon his “entire philosophy. I believe that here we satisfy the still-pressing need to set right Kaufmann’s position – a correction that the latter has been implicitly inviting since its editio princeps. we are told. 392). first. subsequently. (In order to present as concise and systematic an examination of the whole of Kaufmann’s Chapter 13 as possible.) i. but with his own forced elucidation of the book’s contents. this is to be anticipated in view of that school’s movement away from origins. In view of these facts. away from the widely-accepted idea that dialectics constitute the fundamental occasion for the rise of radical intellectual/practical thought. Thus. are. and will be to grasp some specific issue.

embarrassing”. it might be this book [. rather. and appraises its style and position as “ponderous.. the fact is that that same book represents nothing less than his programmatic discours d’ouverture to the intellectual community of his day. and the last thing it invites is silence [. does not exist in The Birth of Tragedy.. “arrogant and rhapsodic”. Kaufmann holds that. Nietzsche’s dialectic appears in his attitude toward his heroes” – that in a quest for independence he gives up all his friends and values. That Nietzsche himself (in view of his ambivalent feelings and premonitions immediatelypreceding and -succeeding the book’s appearance) most likely thought in these terms may be safely inferred from his letter to his former professor and mentor. Whereas concerning Wagner and Schopenhauer a contextual/attitudinal change indeed does develop in his later writings vis-à-vis The Birth of Tragedy. however. Friedrich Ritschl. As such. as well as (and here Kaufmann quotes from what he calls Nietzsche’s . but they are not what Kaufmann refers to. worldaesthetic Ursprung. I thought that if you had ever met with anything hopeful in your life. namely. “in a general way.] [13] These could hardly pass for the words of an author’s own description of a literary effort that aims at merely apprehending the nature of its topic. Such a dialectic. after all.] [Indeed]. they are the words of one who regards his own text as conveying a distinct sense of conviction and even mission. concrete dialectical methodologies do operate in The Birth of Tragedy.. and (b) their (Apollinian/Dionysian) collective commerce with the one. Rather. his “‘logical urge’”. man and myth at once” (pp.morality” [11] as a “principle of decay [.. That.]. which as an “‘unbridled flood displays a natural power such as we encounter to our awed amazement only in the very greatest instinctive forces’”. Kaufmann maintains.. the Apollinian and the Dionysian. But what about Kaufmann’s assertion that Nietzsche’s uneven style in The Birth of Tragedy “brings out his negative and critical note most strongly”? As we have stated already. 392–3).] and slander” that with The Birth of Tragedy his whole instinct turned [12]. wherein he complains (somewhat superciliously) about the latter’s “mute” reception of the work: You will not take amiss my astonishment at not having heard a single word from you about my recent book [which] [. according to Kaufmann. they are (a) the discursive interplay between the two primary artistic impulses.. his “‘divine naivete and assurance’” in life. it must not at all be surprising that Nietzsche should speak reverently regarding Socrates’ “superhuman dignity”. Though it is in “Attempt at a Self-Criticism” that Nietzsche also pronounces The Birth of Tragedy a “questionable” book.. Nietzsche’s vitiating disposition toward Socrates’ metaphysically-oriented model is one of those few constants that extend through his entire corpus. ii. and since we can point to no previous writing of Nietzsche’s in which we read anything positive regarding the teacher of Forms – anything that would make us suspect that he possibly could have at some time passed for one of Nietzsche’s heroes – one is left wondering as to what Kaufmann has in mind here.. Other.. Since the only negative attitude in the latter is the one toward Socrates (the thinker). is something of a manifesto. Socrates indeed was “little less than an idol” for Nietzsche may be observed from the fact that the latter regarded him as the “deity” who spoke through Euripides – “the equal of Dionysus and Apollo.

is. let us note Kaufmann’s failure to quote properly (in fact his conscientious presentation out of context of) Nietzsche’s own statement upon which his allegation rests. I believe. Socrates’ ” (p.. but an altogether newborn demon.. “the view that Nietzsche merely admired the man Socrates while hating the outlook he embodied is untenable” (p. not at all one of approval. insofar as therein – in opposition to the then-dominant myth-affirming tragic aesthetics – we “observe a monstrous defectus of any mystical disposition”. this is the reason why we hear Nietzsche uttering both “deity” and “demon” in the same breath. called Socrates. However. even a perfunctory examination of the primary text should reveal that that solemn appraisal is.” [14] What these words virtually force us to conclude is. “‘perfect awareness’” and absence of “‘natural awe’” in the face of imminent death (p. That Nietzsche greatly admired as well as deeply detested Socrates’ world-influential philosophy is a fact that we accept as a truism. Negation: Kaufmann’s argument here is as truly misleading as it is only apparently compelling. In order to reconcile the “patent fact” that Socrates was an idol for Nietzsche with the latter’s explicitly negative attitude toward that same metaphysician. Nietzsche’s own pronouncement conveys a depreciatory appraisal of the same individual. His choice of the term “deity”. is clearly a manifestation of abysmal dread in the face of a practically inexorable. have carefully distinguished between Socrates and Socratism. For even a “cursory inspection” of Section 15 of The Birth of Tragedy – the Section with which the original . Though Nietzsche does indeed point out that. then. rather than a case of obeisance. contrary to what Kaufmann would have us believe. likewise. destructive force. in its “unbridled” state. 393). while one of “awed amazement”. nor Apollo. We find additional evidence of the correctness of this view in Nietzsche’s regard of Euripides – that principal literary proponent of aesthetic Socratism – as the destroyer (Vernichter) of “the most beautiful of all temples”. only a mask: the deity that spoke through him was neither Dionysus nor Apollo. not at all a reflection of that admiration. Nietzsche declares Socrates a “monstrosity per defectum” for having turned the instinct/reason artistic mechanism upside down. in a sense. Such a profoundly injurious consequence has Euripides’ effect had upon this Attic-specific aesthetic expression that. too. the art of Aeschylean/Sophoclean tragedy. In his eyes. a mask only: the deity who spoke out of him was not Dionysus. but . iii. Indeed. Nietzsche’s ostensibly superlative description of that ancient Athenian dialectician’s logical nature. however. this capability/ inclination of Socrates’ displays the power that can be witnessed only in the greatest instinctive forces. as Kaufmann urges. brought forth out of context. some “serious students” of Nietzsche’s writings. Juxtaposed to this attenuated version of itself. it is essentially an ironic characterization of the Athenian “plebe” as one who has wrought an inestimable amount of artistic and moralocultural damage. 393). as Kaufmann reports. Socrates’ was in effect an “inartistic” personality. evident: while Kaufmann’s somewhat benign citation may well have been intended to incite the impression that Nietzsche esteemed Socrates so highly that he labelled him a “deity”. 393). he contends. as Nietzsche laments. rather. Beginning with his point that Nietzsche exalted Socrates.“loving poetry”) his manifestly “‘calm’” posture.. if he (Euripides) had been “punished by being changed into a dragon by the art critics of all ages – who could be content with so miserable a compensation?” [15] Kaufmann’s claim that Nietzsche speaks with reverence concerning Socrates’ “‘logical urge’ ” is. was . Nietzsche’s ad verbum passage provides us with a very different understanding of what its author meant to say: “Even Euripides was. For only a few lines above that passage.. As he quotes it: “‘Euripides.

we may infer that it could be nothing other than this one event. not only prompts a regeneration but even guarantees the infinity of art. music. which stands as the “profound experience” that. and folk wisdom that at last had metamorphosed him into an almost novus homo. Nietzsche does appear to be squarely contradicting himself concerning the character of aesthetic Socratism. Kaufmann’s error becomes evident when we put Nietzsche’s statement in focus: though the Socratic ethic/aesthetic phenomenon does indeed incline toward the dissolution of Dionysian tragedy. Unless we accept the idea that in Sections 14 and 15 Nietzsche is referring to two markedly different personalities. From this . we should be compelled to interpret his attitude as. indeed. had rendered the old rationalist somewhat more sympathetic to the Dionysian art impulse. Socrates’ imprisonment and his imminent execution. is precisely the reason why “interpreters have almost invariably ignored § 15” (p. 395). Negation: Kaufmann’s understanding that Nietzsche looked upon Socratism as not only not inartistic but as even indispensable for the regeneration of art is in some respects correct. it would be decidedly beneficial to dichotomize his understanding of Socratism as: (a) the systematic intellectual thought that was publicly pronounced by the free Socrates (Sf) and (b) the collection of Aesopean fables that were put into verse and set to music by the imprisoned Socrates (Si). in the closing paragraphs of Section 14 and in the first (but very brief) paragraph of Section 15 of The Birth of Tragedy. it is not unlikely that Socrates asked himself. then. [18] In order to grasp correctly Nietzsche’s remarks here. it also betrays a serious misapprehension of Nietzsche’s direction of thought. besides an instance of hopeless ambivalence. however. That Nietzsche did in fact regard Si as being qualitatively distinct from Sf is. Within such a poignantly dissonant context. “a profound experience in Socrates’ own life impels us to ask whether [. repeatedly ordered by one and the same dream apparition. 394). For while in prison.] the birth of an ‘artistic Socrates’ is altogether a contradiction in terms” [16]. “spread over posterity like a shadow that keeps growing in the evening sun”. In view of this information. consented to “practice the music for which he had but little respect”. While such a characteristic must be judged as pernicious in any scholarly venture. the work with which Nietzsche attempted not only to vindicate his extraordinary installment as professor of classics at the University of Basle. in Nietzsche’s eyes. as he terms it. one of conspicuously unembarrassed vacillation and flagrant contradiction. theoretical/rationalistic tendency. Kaufmann insists. clearly communicated in the concluding few paragraphs of Section 14.. perhaps “what is not intelligible to me is not necessarily unintelligent? Perhaps there is a realm of wisdom from which the logician is exiled?” [17] Based on these “suggestive questions”. Socrates. This.. but also to make a decisive impression in the realm of Universitätsphilologie and klassische Bildung.manuscript apparently ended – ought to show that here Nietzsche brings to a conclusion his “long analysis of the problem of Socrates” (pp. After all. which does not originate but only culminates with Socrates – through its optimism and “elemental passion for knowledge”. only a few days prior to his execution. 393–4) thus: Socratism – that history-altering. reveals that this is not quite the case. the “birth”. of the truly artistic Socrates never took place until Socrates was jailed. the same trait becomes virtually unreasonable in The Birth of Tragedy. it may be concluded that Socrates’ influence. at once guarantees the “infinity and continuation of art” and serves as a prophylaxis against “race suicide” by decisively neutralizing the weakening element of “unrestrained pessimism” over the “‘instinctive lust for life’ ” (p. At the same time. It was this his eventual realization of the deep import of myth. A more scrupulous examination of the same text. I believe. Admittedly.

[19] By grossly overemphasizing the indigenous Apollinian inclination of Old Attic tragedy. eventually. Nor is this a minor critical observation. is indeed not a contradiction in terms. This explains why at one point he announces that. the old. Not that this new. Kaufmann would have been right on target had he understood Nietzsche to mean (a) that only with respect to this novel. as Socrates insisted. classical tragedy per se was rapidly reduced to a mere artistic curiosity. this “reformed art”. and (b) that the same aesthetics may be regarded as a preventative against “race suicide”. in the strict sense of the term. as he puts it. life. a universal Völkermord could very likely occur if the world’s sum of energy were not. By radicalizing the character-representing precedent of tragedy. i. but also serves as an essential piece of evidence that lends credence to our above-made claim that Socrates had no less than superseded the Apollinian aesthetic impulse. but as. even superseding it entirely. did not (from behind his Euripidean Fassade) merely “dilute” the symbolic fate-and-libido-affirming tendency of either tragedy or its music. Respectively. as the only true form of artistic Socratism. Nevertheless.perspective. since it not only contributes to our distinction between Sf and Si. Accordingly. the “natural” Dionysian-Apollinian contrapositional interplay had succumbed to another. Dionysian/Socratic opposition spelled the end of art in toto. anti-tragic aesthetics can Socrates be considered the “guarantor” of art. Sf. which from Sophocles onward constitutes a “victory of the phenomenon over the universal”. he. e. It is this feat that. but of the vigorous truth to nature and the artist’s imitative power” [20]. “artificial” such arrangement: “This is the new opposition: the Dionysian and the Socratic – and the art of Greek tragedy was wrecked on this.” [21] Simply put. insofar as Sf had exerted his logical influence within tragic art to such an anti-Dionysian degree that. True. employed in the service of knowledge but expended in the realization of sheer egoistic pursuits. whose tonal Malereien and architectonic Anschein aim at a perceptual/apolitical world/life transformation. as Nietzsche urges. “indescribably magnificent expression” of the rationalistic tendency that had been in effect well prior to his appearance. Aeschylean/Sophoclean tragedy was rendered “inartistic” – though a relatively large part of it was preserved in the Euripidean drama – and.. makes Socrates both (a) the “one turning point and vortex of so-called world-history” and (b) stand as the highest. therefore. Hence. Nietzsche would be correct: Si. . a contextual inconsistency of this type arises immediately and necessarily only when the adjective “artistic” is attached to Sf – if by “artistic” we understand Nietzsche to mean that aesthetic expression in which the Dionysian impulse is accorded precedence. it frightened even the wine-god himself “from the tragic stage” [22]. transfigured them. therefore. In fact. is of decisive value as effective protection against mankind’s vicissitudes and limitations in life. in Nietzsche’s words. with the advent of aesthetic Socratism. Apparently.and earth-accepting. what above all Nietzsche credits Socrates with is his unprecedented success in spreading a “common net of thought over the whole globe” [23]. he rendered the spectators “no longer conscious of the myth. the Dionysian-Socratic resultant genre irremediably vitiates itself insofar as it involves the type of creative spirit that is neither inclined to nor capable of reaching that truly aesthetic. insofar as in The Birth of Tragedy we can discern Nietzsche’s implicit distinction between the Apollinian artistic drive and aesthetic Socratism. true. it is evident that he thought of Sf as not only reformulating the Apollinian phenomenon’s ultimate grounds. expression of the Dionysian/tragic dithyramb.

a social catastrophe of world-wide proportions could well happen if the Apollinian. This is in fact why no society guided by the sun-god’s “transfiguring mirror” and insistence upon measured restraint ever has. then we shall see how the hunger for insatiable and optimistic knowledge that in Socrates appears exemplary has turned into tragic resignation and destitute need for art [. For the periphery of the circle of science has an infinite number of points.] is. [. When they see to their horror how logic coils up at these boundaries and finally bites its own tail – suddenly the new form of insight breaks through. e’er half their time and inevitably. Whatever discrepancy this point effects is fully resolved at the end of Section 15. for.. concealed in the essence of logic. set the culturo-intellectual context for the rise of much of the world’s “religion and science”. however.A few lines below these passages. Having experienced the error of Socrates’ . as its own theoretical pursuit has today shown it to be. has (wherever established) effected – in the form of metaphysical/theoretical convictions – a large. and thus insulated the Greeks’ “sensitive soul” from suffering and pessimism by (through their own lives) justifying existence. in Section 15 Nietzsche indeed does praise Socrates for being the teacher of a decidedly transformed. Insofar as Socrates’ “lifepromoting/preserving” reformed art is primarily delusive. however. suffers shipwreck. present in the world wherever art did not appear in some form – especially as religion and science”. needs art as a protection and remedy. Whereas. therefore. element were to no longer be. It was. and while there is no telling how this circle could ever be surveyed completely. through that “common net of thought”. The same of course applies to those societies that have adhered to the Socratic/Alexandrian pronounced principle of reason – but with an unavoidable.. and was. and were. Kaufmann. which currently are effectively dissuading mankind from self-destruction? Indeed he was.. and as such he ought to be regarded as significantly contributing to the preservation of the human species. he also identifies him as a worldexemplar of the futility in any and all attempts to escape or even assuage life’s nature through sheer reason. it is by nature limited. But was it not. that is. noble and gifted men nevertheless reach. a palpably different outcome: unadulterated Socratism. or had. In effect. after all. self-referential body of intellectual thought as a most expedient manner whereby to avoid facing the “terror and horror of existence”.. suffered any largescale dire consequences. spurred by its powerful illusion. at least in this respect.. insofar as it wholly neutralizes the Dionysian thrust. we come across the first indication that Nietzsche’s uncharacteristic commendation of Socrates is in fact not quite what it appears to be. through the Apollinian impulse toward beauty that the Olympian divine order evolved.] The meaning of these remarks should be evident.] science. merely to be endured. speeds irresistibly toward its limits where its optimism. not necessarily the Socratic. left unmediated by Apollo’s soothing constraint. wherever the Dionysian urges are. misinterprets Nietzsche’s text when he claims that it identifies Socrates as the ultimate savior... a “blissful affirmation of life”. Socrates who.. [.] let us look at the highest spheres of the world around us. For here we read that “a gruesome ethic of genocide [. wherein Nietzsche looks at Socratism as a gross distortion of the Apollinian phenomenon. he (Socrates) accomplished nothing more than what already was accomplished by the Apollinian art drive. tragic insight which. as we learn from Section 3 of The Birth of Tragedy. such boundary points on the periphery from which one gazes into what defies illumination. then.

Negation: We may immediately proceed to point (c) after we. Having made that perhaps inevitable accession. first. as it is manifested in Apollo’s drive toward an audio-visual superficiality. however. and (b) misapprehends Nietzsche’s irony behind his only ostensible praise of the ancient thinker. a confirmation that reason as well as all Apollinian iridescence requires a tragic yea-saying to life – than the world’s savior as such. all of Nietzsche’s passages relating to Socrates. 395). 397]. concerning (a). as it is expressed through the Dionysian destruction of the principium individuationis. J. Knight and Richard Oehler. Had Kaufmann been more careful to notice that Sf had eventually superseded its own mother-ground. and his alleged admission that nature had endowed him with the fiercest passions. he understood neither its fate/earth-affirming character nor its internal Wechselspiel: while Apollo soothes life’s intrinsic ferocity. For Nietzsche. Socrates is much more of a profound revelation of how life ought not to be lived – i. concerning (b).“monstrous” optimism-through-reason. iv. then. and. Kaufmann concedes that the Röckenite’s admiration for the Athenian did not at all prevent him from stressing the latter’s “physical ugliness” and “plebeian descent”. in Section 15 Nietzsche effects a “self-portrait” with the statement: “‘the Socrates who practices music’ ”. and (c) maintains that Nietzsche’s admiration for Socrates prevented him no more than the Platonic Alcibiades from stressing the physical ugliness of Socrates no less than his plebeian descent. which Sf had made “the real task for every person of higher gifts” – he would have been less hasty to claim that the text might as well have ended with Section 15. Dionysus serves as an anchor to that evidently universal tendency to symbolically transcend life. At the time that Socrates set for himself the task of “improving” tragedy. Such a balance of course does not exist in the Socratic/Euripidean drama. His flat nose and thick lips. admit that I cannot understand how the statement in question implies that Nietzsche’s “features mingle with those of Socrates” (p. (c) In his endeavor to examine. Kaufmann does not even attempt an interpretation regarding the possible meaning and motive(s) behind Nietzsche’s at-times immoderate ad hominem remarks.e.. are all emphasized on the page preceding the praise of the Lebensphilosoph. art par excellence. (b) claims that. the world is now ready and crying for a return to the “wisdom” of the Dionysian-Apollinian rough balance in tragic art. Nor should this be surprising. These points further fortify our positive evaluation of the significance of Sections 16 through 25 to the thematic thrust of the preceding fifteen Sections of The Birth of Tragedy. for unless one grants that Nietzsche’s vituperation is in effect an expression of his deep indignation with Socrates’ world-historical . In the remaining few paragraphs of Part I of his essay. [p. and that Si was implicitly appealing for a new artistic direction – that is. Kaufmann’s error in his intepretation of Sections 14 and 15. as he claims. therefore. H. not necessarily mutually exclusive in Si) artistic directions taken by the same person at two qualitatively disparate periods in his life. for a “savior” from the “hunger for knowledge”. but does not explain how. insofar as “the following celebration of the rebirth of tragedy weakens the book” [24]. acknowledge that Kaufmann’s critical stand against Knight and Oehler is indeed well taken. is twofold: he (a) fails to distinguish between Sf and Si as two different (though. judging by such Platonic dialogues as the Phaedo and the Crito. Kaufmann (a) advances several parsimonious critical observations against two indeed questionable Nietzschean commentators: A.

this quest for self-identity in no manner contradicts the “fact” that Socrates is “the very embodiment of Nietzsche’s highest ideal: the passionate man who can control his passions”. to confess it frankly. in ‘will’. is among the Greeks almost a refutation. 399). one is left with no cogent explanation whatever. in itself an objection. Was Socrates a Greek at all? Ugliness is often enough the expression of a development that has been crossed. thwarted by crossing. how ugly he was. we can still see for ourselves. As it should be anticipated.changes in both the realm of art and that of morality. 398).and intellectually-decadent convictions. But the criminal is a decadent. Socrates belonged to the lowest class: Socrates was plebs. On the contrary. A foreigner who knew about faces once passed through Athens and told Socrates to his face that he was a monstrum – that he harbored in himself all the bad vices and appetites. nor engaged himself in any rhetorical fencing . To be certain. a superficial manifestation of his morally. what he regards as the most distinctive vicissitude in Nietzsche’s personality. On the basis of the considerations he brings forth in Part I of his Chapter 13. The anthropologists among the criminologists tell us that the typical criminal is ugly: monstrum in fronte. a more scrupulous inspection of all of Nietzsche’s acrimonious texts concerning Socrates ought to reveal that very likely he regarded the latter’s somatic appearance from even a phrenologist’s viewpoint: Socrates’ “ugliness” was essentially an explicit. more often than not. And Socrates merely answered: ‘You know me. sir!’ [25] And: Ugliness signifies the decadence of a type. respectively – should lend support to this idea: In origin. such men “live. Two choice quotations – one from the Twilight of the Idols and the other from his notes. Was Socrates a typical criminal? At least that would not be contradicted by the famous judgment of the physiognomist which sounded so offensive to the friends of Socrates. monstrum in animo. as Kaufmann insists. [26] v. at the outset of Part II Kaufmann claims that we may expect the point to be at hand when “Nietzsche’s passionate admiration should have been shaken by a ‘Brutus crisis’ – a deliberate attempt to maintain ‘independence of the soul’ by turning against the idolized Socrates” (p. Indeed. on the threshold of what Nietzsche called decadence” (p. But ugliness. he not only highly esteemed but even emulated some of Socrates’ more prominent comportmental qualities. Negation: Nietzsche’s disdain for Socrates’ moral and metaphysical inclinations must not be perfunctorily interpreted as necessarily implying that he also abhorred the latter’s personal character and public demeanor. Or it appears as declining development. We know. to speak psychologically. And as evidence for this. contradiction and lack of coordination among the inner desires – signifies a decline in organizing strength. however. is so close to me that almost always I fight a fight against him’ ” (Ibid). Yet. Nietzsche adopted neither pesty questioning of. Kaufmann reproduces the following ostensibly re vealing passage: “‘Socrates.

.’ ” [29] . happiness equals instinct”. Certainly Nietzsche himself nowhere says so. we cannot fail to notice a parallel between his relationship with his academic colleagues and that of Socrates with the professional community of his time: We [Zarathustra and scholars] are alien to each other. which was poignantly expressed in the latter’s last words to his will’s executor: “Crito. Nor can the point be properly conjectured. Of course one could well advance that the disparity between Kaufmann’s “idolized” and my “esteemed” is only a matter of subjective interpretation. e. First. After all. Indeed. as he died: ‘To live – that means to be sick a long time. i. is of course an indispensable prerequisite for the objectification of the “wholeness” of the idea with which his own philosophy culminates – the Übermensch. Nevertheless. then. We may.. it is highly questionable whether. Nietzsche could do (as he did) nothing other than repudiate both Socrates’ metaphysics and his taedium vitae. one simply cannot cogently make the case. Second.” [28] It is difficult to determine precisely what it could have been that prompted Kaufmann to think that it is possible to reconcile Nietzsche’s formula: “as long as life is ascending. Nietzsche in fact “idolized” Socrates. the wisest men of all ages have judged alike: it is no good [. agree with Kaufmann that Nietzsche did in fact admire Socrates’ resolute endurance in disciplining his passionate propensities. in an evidently autobiographical passage. as did that “dialectical despot” when communicating not only with the Athenian literary and artistic celebrities but even with the populace in the agora. there is a host of evidence which. it would be an error to view X’s admiration of certain traits of Y’s personality as an idolization of Y. Thus they muffled the sound of my steps [. in his writings Nietzsche virtually naturaliter assumes the role of a philosophical enfant terrible. a “Viehbremse” upon the necks of men. in Thus Spoke Zarathustra.] [27] Clearly. contradicting) his own philosophical position – have idolized Socrates. and their virtues are even more distasteful to me than their falseness and their loaded dice. They did not want to hear how someone was living over their heads. should render null and void the idea that Nietzsche ever experienced this type of crisis. a quality such as fortitude in character. That is why they developed a grudge against me. as attempts Kaufmann. Kaufmann has resorted to a hyperbole. moreover. that Nietzsche’s pointedly unflattering language concerning Socrates represents his (Nietzsche’s) undergoing a “Brutus crisis”.. and so they put wood and earth and filth between me and their heads. These few considerations notwithstanding.with. however. Indeed. reconciling the mutual extraneousness of reason and the instincts. And when I lived with them. it is quite unlikely that Nietzsche could – without grossly compromising (indeed. in my opinion. the German intelligentsia. Surely. for if we accept the lexical definition of “idolization” as the extreme form of “estimation”. we ought to offer a cock to Aesclepius.. and to such “artificial” conceptions as the soul and a supraterrestrial province. Not only the shrill tone but even the sheer volume of that revilement speak plainly against any such notion. Insofar as he was convinced that it is primarily the suppression of the sexual urges that leads to a pronounced sense of morality. evidently. with his (Nietzsche’s) appraisal of the moral philosopher as an avowed enemy of the earth and everything earthly: “Concerning life. But perhaps not.] Even Socrates said... it is only as a way of establishing himself as a history-altering iconoclast in his own right that we can properly grasp what Nietzsche’s almost constant “fight” against Socrates was about. as Kaufmann proposes. I lived above them.

Allzumenschliches. And. similar passages should “render absurd” any claim that Nietzsche really detested Socrates (p. While in the several passages in the Dawn. from “The Wanderer and His Shadow” – Kaufmann brings to our notice a rather lengthy block which proposes that “‘the time will come when. All Too Human – or. All Too Human. to develop oneself morallyrationally. (b) Correlatively. All Too Human. In search of support for his governing thesis. Kaufmann discerns a sonus of “respectful critique”. said. these and other. 400). one will take up the memorabilia of Socrates rather than the Bible’”. hardly obscure. thrown into its wheels. the passage in question does not quite come from Human. Negation: Whereas there is nothing inappropriate in Kaufmann’s citation from the Untimely Meditations – though I cannot understand in what respect (if any) the statement “Socrates could not have lived among us” points to Nietzsche’s positive attitude toward the same Athenian – his reference to Socrates’ memorabilia (from Human. but also by the fact that “‘he had the greater intelligence’ ” (Ibid). 400). and the aversion to original men has increased to such a degree that Socrates could not have lived among us’ ” (p. After all. Socrates is distinguished by not only “‘the gay kind of seriousness and that wisdom full of pranks’”. Kaufmann misstates the aim of his Chapter 13. as Kaufmann claims that it does. in one night. in The Gay Science he says that “Nietzsche’s admiration for Socrates reaches its apotheosis” (p. insofar as he overlooked to explicate the meaning of at least one (among several) relevant. 401). along with Vermischte Meinungen und Sprüche and Menschliches. It is of course true that in later editions we find the text of Der Wanderer und sein Schatten. All Too Human) is at once misinterpreted and misleading. from the Untimely Meditations he quotes Nietzsche as “enlisting” Socrates on his (Nietzsche’s) side regarding the then-existing socioacademic circumstances: “‘the conditions for the origin of genius have not improved in modern times. things go forward swiftly. – and did not say’ ” (Ibid). of course. the development of philosophical science. which merely in passing refer to Socrates. for example. As such. from the latter-named work he quotes: “‘I admire the courage and wisdom of Socrates in all he did. [30] . When Kaufmann quotes the above. Kaufmann next appeals to a few fragmentary passages from some of Nietzsche’s more noteworthy writings. was destroyed. First. unpropitious pronouncements that are to be found in the essay which goes under that heading. Kaufmann’s persistently selective mode of quoting from Nietzsche’s writings is deceptive on two counts: (a) As I have pointed out in my immediatelyabove paraphrasis of his text. until then so wonderfully regular but. he is implicitly attempting either to negate or at least to balance all of the other. as it may be expected. wherein he claims to subject to inquiry all of Nietzsche’s references to Socrates. For if he did intend to do literally that – indeed. appearing under the last title. but also as swiftly downwards. Thus. only ostensibly laudatory remark and then identifies its source as being Human. even if he meant to address only Nietzsche’s more significant remarks concerning Socrates – then he proved himself to be quite careless in the realization of that task. insists Kaufmann. more precisely. and conspicuously vitiating passage(s): With the Greeks. From Human. makes it burst. all to swift. but from “The Wanderer and His Shadow”. Such a stone was Socrates. however. contrasted to Jesus. the movement of the whole mechanism is so intensified that a single stone.vi.

Regarding Kaufmann’s citation from The Gay Science: “I admire the courage and wisdom of Socrates in all he did. who had lived cheerfully and like a soldier in the sight of everyone. the high priest. a point we have granted already. the Section wherein this Nietzsche’s admission of respect for Socrates is to be found. For upon closer inspection of the passage itself – which in Kaufmann’s eyes represents “as striking a tribute as Nietzsche. . Socrates. whereas the latter consistently appealed to blind faith. said – and did not say”. “‘one who is unable to loosen his own chains may yet be a redeemer for his friend’ ”. my friends. Although Thus Spoke Zarathustra comprises no specific references to either Socrates or Socratism. Socrates suffered life! And then he still revenged himself – with this veiled. Kaufmann has misinterpreted the passage under consideration. When Nietzsche observes that in order for one to develop oneself “morallyrationally” one may well wish to select Socrates’ memorabilia over the Bible. Did a Socrates need such revenge? Did his overrich virtue lack an ounce of magnanimity? – Alas. however.Surely these words cannot justifiably be regarded as reflecting an even remotely idolizing disposition on Nietzsche’s part toward Socrates. his inmost feeling. should have been a pessimist? He had merely kept a cheerful mien while concealing all his life long his ultimate judgment. 402). “the view that Nietzsche merely admired the man Socrates while hating the outlook he embodied is untenable”. Of much more pressing importance (even requirement). After all. For that characterization. pious. moreover. “respectful critique”. and blasphemous saying. not only (a) did the former emphasize a host of cogent. but. (b) he (Socrates). as it were. last statement to Crito – the one pronouncement which immediately encapsulates his (Socrates’) lifelong weariness with the earth and his hope for the otherworldly: Is it possible that a man like him. appear to “recall Socrates’ claim that he was but a barren midwife”. ever paid to anyone” [32] – and the text from which it is extracted. not Jesus. we observe that what this admiration of Nietzsche’s is directed at is nothing other than Socrates’ fortitude in both mind and word. or any one else. Indeed. gruesome. But such contextual assistence cannot be properly derived from Section 340 of The Gay Science. we must overcome even the Greeks! [33] vii. Second. a “close reading” of “On Free Death” leaves “no doubt that we are confronted with another juxtaposition of Socrates and Christ” (p. While in “On the Friend” Nietzsche’s words. Proceeding to the Dawn: Kaufmann’s claim that in this book one finds Nietzsche being engaged in a “respectful critique of Socratic doctrines” is questionable at best. we should indeed be cautious against perfunctorily embracing its out-of-context message. should have been for Kaufmann to find in Nietzsche’s writings and to bring forth at least several choice passages which would provide unqualified support to his declared (above-quoted) objective – namely. Kaufmann claims that “two of its chapters cannot be properly understood apart from Nietzsche’s admiration for Socrates: ‘On the Friend’ and ‘On Free Death’ ” (p. he is not quite recommending that choice but merely reporting a fact. sounds entirely out of harmony with Nietzsche’s own depiction (in the same writing) of Socrates and Plato as the two most noteworthy “heirs” to that “universal madness and presumption that there exists knowledge as to the essential nature of an action” [31]. to determine oneself morally-rationally one not only may but in fact ought to prefer Socrates to Jesus. may well be taken as the principal moralo-philosophical compass. 403). rational justifications for his metaphysics and morality. It is here that Nietzsche in fact deplores the Athenian’s abovecited. of the Christian movement worldwide – a twofold reason for choosing Socrates.

Socrates did have both a “goal” (in the form of a philosophical system) and a horde of followers. and some very memorable critical references to that thinker – should suddenly. why is it that the latter is never named? Is it not rather odd to believe that Nietzsche – who in virtually all of his previous writings had made numerous. for no evident reason. there are several factors that determine the “rightness” of death’s arrival. when “he who has a goal and an heir [. in conformity with the second part of this point. neither would he escape from jail – even when the success of that escape was virtually guaranteed. we may now briefly examine whether Kaufmann’s notion concerning that of Socrates’ is correct.. that he desires his readers to know precisely whom his argument concerns – we find Nietzsche explicitly referring to (and only to) “the Hebrew Jesus”. Socrates’ influence. and (iii) “one must cease letting oneself be eaten when one tastes best” [34]. Hence it should be much more convincing and accurate to think that at least the last-named chapter concerns none other than Jesus. e. After all. the former did while the latter did not die in correspondence with Zarathustra’s doctrine – “at the right time!” Since we know with certainty Nietzsche’s view regarding the timing of Jesus’ demise.. (a) Concerning “On Free Death”: by asserting that here “we are confronted with a juxtaposition of Socrates and Christ”. If we are to believe the Apology. Kaufmann does not assert that Socrates figures explicitly in these two texts. it is of course debatable. would be of primarily an implicit nature.. if Kaufmann is correct in urging that these two texts can be suitably comprehended principally in relation to Socrates. we are compelled to appraise Kaufmann’s position as quite accurate: (i) Socrates’ death certainly did prove to be an impetus and a promise to a whole host of those who had survived him. according to Nietzsche. In “On Free Death”. the question at once presents itself.. “down to the present moment and even into all future time. albeit unnamed person(s).Negation: But. refrain from at least mentioning his name? that is. (ii) As to whether death came to Socrates at the time that he desired it. and -propagated (primarily verbally) by those followers that his execution hardly lessened its effect. Socrates’ significance. his message apparently was so well-structured. i. Even so. according to the Crito. has spread over posterity like a shadow that keeps growing in the evening sun”. from reverence for his goal and heir [. As Nietzsche writes. it appears to me that no responsible interpretation of these texts could substantiate Kaufmann’s position. therefore. i.] will hang no more dry wreaths in the sanctuary of life”. (iii) And who would seriously dispute . (ii) death comes when the person himself/herself desires it. -received. he did make a rather lengthy statement to the effect that he was not quite ready to pass from existence. however. but that the latter “cannot be properly understood apart from Nietzsche’s admiration for Socrates”. if it indeed were him that Nietzsche had in mind at the time he was committing those chapters on paper. Moreover. however – as if to emphasize that he does not wish to be misunderstood. Perhaps it could have been somewhat easier to approve of Kaufmann’s claim if Nietzsche had therein made no explicit reference to anyone at all.. Indeed.]. namely: (i) when death is “a spur and a promise to the survivors”. Kaufmann is in effect claiming that. as we have quoted him above. and yet.. Nevertheless. But our critique here may in fact be somewhat unfair. e. As we have already cited Nietzsche’s apt description. for then it would have been somewhat more realistic to maintain that his mouthpiece’s (Zarathustra’s) words and/or attitude could have either indirectly concerned or at least been inspired by a certain. the one who precipitated the world’s “calamity” by merely having “died too early”. when we put the known (according to Plato’s Phaedo) circumstances of Socrates’ execution up against these standards. real.

Aside from his famous (or. it would appear that he did expire at the right time. the circumstances surrounding Jesus’ life immediately preceding his crucifixion should. misleads us by attaching the latter’s name to a text that has hardly anything to do with him. at least to Nietzsche’s ears. I urge that if there is indeed any connection between the two. I believe. that is. meet all three of these criteria. the principal criteria for dying at the right time. then. therefore. as well as his (Socrates’) belief that he was about to embark for a state of heavenly happiness [36]. It is. for his departure reportedly did not conform to Zarathustra’s immediately-above directive – that one’s “dying be no blasphemy against man and earth”. therefore. who insists upon a positive relationship between “On Free Death” and Socrates. But are we not here contradicting ourselves? If the above three are. also. however. Socrates and Jesus may safely be regarded as comprising undoubtedly the most influential group of what Nietzsche calls preachers of “slow death” and of those who display great “patience with the earthly” [35]. that I ask of the honey of your soul. hardly convincing to claim that the phrase “Some cannot loosen their own chains and can nevertheless redeem their friends” necessarily recalls Socrates’ self-appraisal as something of an infertile intellectual . I think not. according to the New Testament. these standards. (b) But what about Zarathustra’s speech “On the Friend”? Could perhaps it. insofar as its answer points to the one element without which. it should have to be one of implicit exemplariness. is that either Nietzsche is here conspicuously inconsistent or that Kaufmann. as Kaufmann emphasizes. all squarely contradict Zarathustra’s declaration: “to earth I want to return that I may find rest in her who gave birth to me. and thus activates. your spirit and virtue should still glow like a sunset around the earth: else your dying has turned out badly. And yet Nietzsche unequivocally tells us that so far as he (Nietzsche) is concerned. then. justifiably claim that Socrates had ceased to exist “at the right time”? Hardly. these standards would be rendered much less noteworthy. We turn to Zarathustra’s counsel in one of the closing paragraphs of “On Free Death”: “That your dying be no blasphemy against man and earth. in opposition to Kaufmann. What these points indicate. and the tragic deaths of both Socrates and Jesus evidently do entirely satisfy all three of them. arises a paradox. from Nietzsche’s viewpoint. it would follow that he as well had died at the right time. as it were. why is it that – judging by Nietzsche’s view of the timing of Jesus’ demise – they are nevertheless to be pronounced as having died much too early? This is a significant question. in his haste to demonstrate in Nietzsche’s written thought an affinity for Socrates. my friends.the idea that Socrates ceased letting himself be “consumed” just when he did “taste the best”? In the light of these criteria. In your dying. Hence it is the combination of both of these elements whereby we may properly evaluate the “rightness” of one’s expiration. refer to Socrates? Again. “On Free Death” may well be regarded as pointing to Socrates as a perfect example of how not to die.” [37] In a word. as I have emphasized. There. providing that this is indeed the course of reasoning that Kaufmann follows toward his conclusion concerning Socrates’ significance to Nietzsche’s chapter in question. infamous) last request. Socrates’ quip relating to Crito’s concern over how to bury the philosopher’s corpse.” It is the first part of this passage that renders valid. In fact. by offering a radical model whereby one may “properly” meet one’s own end. Could we. Insofar as. that “melancholic Hebrew” had passed on much too early.

therefore. in my opinion. “Some cannot loosen their own chains and can nevertheless redeem their friends”. had he suggested that Zarathustra’s speech entitled “The Leech” would be one section in Nietzsche’s magnum opus that might well make us recall Socrates. but not that he himself constitutes the same. accept Kaufmann’s point that this chapter simply “cannot be properly understood apart from Nietzsche’s admiration for Socrates”? Not at all. however. does recall Socrates. In view of the above considerations. Even if we proceeded further. again.” Here is a locution that would appear to be practically ad verbum comprised in Nietzsche’s assertion: “Have you ever seen your friend asleep – and found out how he looks? What is the face of your friend anyway? It is your own face in a rough and imperfect mirror. for they present not the latter’s but Nietzsche’s own viewpoints.” Are we. It appears to me that these two texts would be equally clearly apprehended or badly misapprehended if the reader never had even so much as heard of Socrates. narrower. In the light of that text thereof. It is. The evidence notwithstanding. though it may have been a corruption. however. Could we. has world-history or even literature ever recorded anyone “stricter. we conceded that Nietzsche’s comment. only in this sense that this argument of Kaufmann’s ought to be taken. He would have sounded somewhat more convincing. I think. and harder” in “matters of the spirit” than Socrates? Was he not in fact a “fool” on his own rather than a great “sage according to the opinion of others”? [38] Yet. was not Socrates (the thinker) the very paragon of the archetype of the “conscientious in spirit”? Except perhaps for Jesus. Insofar as the “conscientious in spirit” is only one of seven (I estimate the two kings as one) “higher” personalities who harbor within themselves the promise of an even higher future for the human species. revolutionary philosophical conviction. for example. we would be compelled to do precisely that. in the light of this evidence. for the sake of the argument. however. they must not be thus perfunctorily taken as meaning that Nietzsche is thereby necessarily referring to him. which are in close harmony with the thrust of his unique. There is. viii. the answer is most likely no. was a necessary and fruitful ingredient in the development of . to advance that Herbert’s poem in fact exerted a significant influence upon Nietzsche’s composition of “On the Friend”? According to Kaufmann’s line of reasoning. for this intellectual parallel is more of a sheer coincidence than an instance of actual influence.“midwife”. Specifically with regard to both of Zarathustra’s speeches in question. As Kaufmann puts it: In the preface to Beyond Good and Evil we are told that the influence of Socrates. even if. we may say that Socrates could at best be subsumed under (or brought forth as a perfect example of) the archetype “conscientious in spirit”. Kaufmann has steered his readers as well as himself wrong. Hence I maintain that Socrates be evaluated as essentially a tertium quid vis-à-vis the letter and spirit of those same writings. in that chapter a paragraph that bears a striking resemblance to a line from George Herbert’s poem “Jacula Prudentum”: “The best mirror is an old friend. even with that concession. I propose the following observation: that Nietzsche even implicitly refers to Socrates anywhere in Thus Spoke Zarathustra is doubtful at best. Insofar as in this text Nietzsche makes numerous observations on the subject of friendship – including the immediately-above one – chances are excellent that some other statements of his should at least equally effectively call to mind what a whole host of other persons have said on the same topic. these characteristics should merely remind us of the person of Socrates.

his influence led to the misconception that reason and instinct aim naturally for the good (191) [p. constitutes “the worst. And Nietzsche feels that he is only keeping the faith with this Socratic heritage when he calls attention to the dangers of the modern idealization of equality. [40] This passage not only illuminates the error of Kaufmann’s interpretation.’ recognized the irrational component of moral judgments. This point is reinforced by a number of passages in which Socrates’ philosophico-moral system is flagrantly derided. he is still the ideal philosopher. and one which means “standing truth on her head” – but the vehement reaction to it that profoundly contributed to that development: [The] fight against Plato or. Although Socrates. as “vivisectionists” of the prevalent virtues of their time. ‘which smells of the plebs’ (190). it is his calling to be a fearless critic and diagnostician – as Socrates was. [Indeed. as Kaufmann quotes him. it was not Plato’s “invention” – which. Yet the positive tone of Nietzsche’s description here is one more piece of evidence in support of the widely-held notion that he implicitly did distinguish between Socrates and Socratism. 404]. indeed say “let us not be ungrateful” to “Plato’s invention of the pure spirit and the good as such” [39]. 403–4]. 403]. it clearly figures centrally in Section 212. we do in fact encounter a favorable critique of the old dialectician. Nietzsche’s depiction of philosophers as constantly finding themselves in opposition to their today. For.’ We must keep this programmatic preface in mind when we read Nietzsche’s violent objection to the Socratic identification of the good with the useful and agreeable.. Negation: Although in Beyond Good and Evil many of Nietzsche’s references to Socrates are virtually as caustic as they are in any of his other writings..’ the fight against the Christian-ecclesiastical pressure of millennia – for Christianity is Platonism for ‘the people’ – has created in Europe a magnificent tension of the spirit the like of which had never yet existed on earth: with so tense a bow we can shoot for the most distant goals. Section 212 in Beyond Good and Evil] shows conclusively that Nietzsche has not really changed his mind about Socrates. while it points to its author’s guarded gratitude to . more accurately.Western man: ‘let us not be ungrateful . but also verifies our above-made claim that Nietzsche regarded Socrates as the moralo-intellectual “high priest” of the Christian movement world-wide. And though Socrates’ name is merely mentioned once. [This same Section also reveals that a true philosopher] must always stand opposed to his time and may never conform. as “disagreeable fools and dangerous question marks”. In the Preface to Beyond Good and Evil we find that Nietzsche does. most durable. and he challenges us to have the courage to be different and independent [p. ‘that great ironist. Short of the valuecreating philosopher of the future who has never yet existed – and does not live today – there is none greater than Socrates [pp. are all aspects that may be correctly ascribed to Socrates’ reported character and self-imposed objective. one is compelled to concur with Kaufmann. according to Nietzsche. here. As concerns Nietzsche’s statement “let us not be ungrateful” (to Plato’s conception of the good). But Kaufmann either genuinely misunderstands or willfully contorts the meaning of the latter part of the same text when he claims that “the influence of Socrates. and most dangerous of all errors”. though it may have been a corruption. was a necessary and fruitful ingredient in the development of Western man”. to speak more clearly and for ‘the people. so rich in secrets.

however. Plato. on the basis of that one. As concerns those notes that specifically relate to Nietzsche’s treatment of Socrates. in Section 191 we come across a brief part that would appear to at once recall the closing paragraphs of Section 14 in The Birth of Tragedy and implicitly lend further support to our above-formulated distinction between Sf and Si: Socrates himself. next. were men of instinct and never could give sufficient information about the reasons for their actions? In the end. for giving up the instincts? One has to see to it that they as well as reason receive their due – one must follow the instincts but persuade reason to assist them with good reasons. in the Preface to The Case of Wagner. like all noble men. privately and secretly. as Kaufmann hopes. contract such a disease [the ideas of pure spirit and the good]? Did the wicked Socrates corrupt him after all? Could Socrates have been the corrupter of youth after all? And did he deserve his hemlock?’ [42] It is thus surprising that in spite of these revealing rhetorical inquiries Kaufmann. As if to substantiate this point explicitly. then. they nevertheless “contain no departure from Nietzsche’s previous position“ (p. Nietzsche. mitigate Nietzsche’s subsequent criticism of Socrates in Sections 190 and 191 of Beyond Good and Evil. then.. as a physician one might ask: ‘How could the most beautiful growth of antiquity. [43] What we notice. while in prison awaiting his own execution. could hardly convincingly be said to comprise such positive overtones that would. the same difficulty and incapacity. to be sure.the passion-curbing/sublimating element of Socrates’ ethic/aesthetic standards – lest some of the most bestial. e. he encouraged himself. ix. to those notes of Nietzsche’s that appear under the editorial title of The Will to Power. is that. natural drives be unleashed to the possible detriment of all of mankind – it also. that Socrates had by himself made this momentous discovery “in the end”. Kaufmann maintains that though most of them address Socrates’ “alleged decadence”. explains that he himself was “‘no less than . before his subtle conscience and self-examination. what did he do his life long but laugh at the awkward incapacity of noble Athenians who. too: in himself he found. 405). and (b) wish to characterize the Preface. contextually “programmatic” to its author’s position on the same subject. Nietzsche writes: Indeed. i. Moreover. The Preface in question. taken-out-of-context passage – “‘let us not be ungrateful’ ” – should (a) insist to have here discovered a sanguine view concerning “the great ironist”. expresses his acknowledgment that those (including himself) “whose task is wakefulness itself. with the taste of his talent – that of a superior dialectician – had initially sided with reason. according to Nietzsche – just as Kaufmann cites him – Socrates did eventually see “through the irrational element in moral judgments”. Turning. namely. and in fact. But is that any reason. Yet the fundamental point that Kaufmann apparently misses here is the same one he misses with reference to Section 14 of The Birth of Tragedy. are the heirs of all that strength which has been fostered by the fight against this [Plato’s] error” [41]. he laughed at himself. Kaufmann claims that although at times they do indeed “yield an unexpected meaning”. and more pertinently. the mother-text of these abrasive statements.

] Socrates was a misunderstanding. including the Christian. from the remaining four divisions of the same chapter Kaufmann juxtaposes (again. Kaufmann interprets these lines to mean that Wagner “resembled the Athenians who let themselves go. was a misunderstanding. would appear to convey a propitious regard of Socrates. out of context) several choice passages to relay what Nietzsche says.. another disease. in opposition to the instincts – all this too was a mere disease. Thus. to happiness. 406). even a superficial examination of virtually any of them ought to persuade most readers of the truly unfavorable disposition that their author maintains toward the teacher of the Theory . and of course “decadent” (11). is developed in the Götzen-Dämmerung. As concerns Kaufmann’s reference to Nietzsche’s notes (in The Will to Power) regarding Socrates. while Nietzsche emulates Socrates. Negation: These considerations not only provide us with a good vantage point from which to evaluate Kaufmann’s understanding of “The Problem of Socrates”. once having comprehended this tendency. bright. if not quite what he means: Just as in Nietzsche’s first book. Kaufmann then proceeds to qualify his claim by sprinkling the rest of this part of his essay with disembodied terms and passages from “The Problem of Socrates”. As Nietzsche writes: I have given to understand how it was that Socrates fascinated: he seemed to be a physician. and by no means a return to ‘virtue’. yet. for exchanging one “tyrant” for another by establishing uncompromising rationality in place of the unchecked expression of the instincts. rationality at any price. that is. that is. but also afford us a glimpse at how misleadingly he quotes out of context.] Yet ‘to have to fight the instincts – that is a formula for decadence’ (11).. For right alongside these phrases which. the philosopher in him resisted it (p.. Nietzsche is here in effect censuring Socrates for moving to the opposite extreme from the one that he had initially set out to “improve”. he quotes some of Nietzsche’s characterizations of the ancient philosophers as: “buffoon” (5). After all. the four divisions of the primary text in question also comprise an explicit note of disapproval – an element to which Kaufmann does not draw our attention. as the very force that saved Western civilization from an otherwise inescapable destruction. his personal artifice of selfpreservation’ (9): ‘one had only one choice: either to perish or – to be absurdly rational’ (10). for example. This idea of “the decadent philosopher who cannot cure his own decadence but struggles against it”. [44] Clearly..Wagner. a decadent’ ”. “erotic” (8). Moreover. conscious. in an attempt to demonstrate the world-historical significance of Socrates’ lifestyle and demise. Socrates ‘understood that all the world needed him – his means. we are told further. life. Socratism itself is decadent and cannot produce a real cure. without instinct. Socrates himself realized this: ‘In the wisdom of his courage to die. cautious. 406–7]. I believe he would have done much better not to have referred to them at all. a child of this time. Is it necessary to go on to demonstrate the error in his faith in ‘rationality at any price’? [. The most blinding daylight. when synthesized as they are above. his cure. a savior.’ he recognized that for himself no ultimate cure was possible – except death (12) [pp. cold. Socratism is considered dialectically as something necessary – in fact. by thwarting death it can only make possible an eventual regeneration which may not come about for centuries. In this way alone could the excesses of the instincts be curbed [. the whole improvement-morality. to ‘health’. the model philosopher” (Ibid).

about those several passages that he adduces as proof of just such an affinity? But those few quotations could hardly properly be accepted as cogent or even noteworthy evidence in favor of that notion. it is a view that is advocated perhaps solely by Kaufmann. “Why I Am So Clever”. if the latter were accepted as legitimate. I also believe that Kaufmann was uncomfortably aware of exactly what these notes communicate. one could with relative ease deceive us into looking at “parallels” between even ideologically mutually exclusive works. Nietzsche’s response to this his own rhetorical question/title. indeed. Still further. receives a more startling reply: ‘There is altogether no prouder nor. isolating. as we are told. it is essentially in the spirit of Socrates’ claim to wisdom “in terms of the foolishness of his contemporaries”. Yet. We have quoted already Kaufmann’s assertion that though at times these notes do in fact “yield an unexpected meaning”. Specifically with reference to Kaufmann’s and my interpretation of Nietzsche’s attitude toward Socrates: while it is true that practically all of the notes in question would for Kaufmann “yield an unexpected meaning”. he claims. 408).of Forms. indeed a suspicious fashion whereby to convince. Part III of Kaufmann’s Chapter 13 is principally an attempt to establish “Ecce Homo as Nietzsche’s Apology” (p. What. parallels Socrates’ self-imposed task: “‘I have never pondered questions that are none’ ” (Ibid). according to Kaufmann. that we can properly grasp Nietzsche’s heading of his first chapter. But the degree of this inconsistency is intimately related to the respective view that one holds concerning a given Nietzschean subject. insofar as they explicitly contradict his position – indeed he would be hard-pressed to find a single one in his favor – for me they express a very much anticipated and affirmative meaning. “the leitmotif of the Apology”. After all. as Kaufmann states. Similarly. “Why I Am So Wise”: “Nietzsche answers his own provocative question in terms of ‘the disparity between the greatness of my task and the smallness of my contemporaries’ (EH-V 1). however. more subtle kind of book: here and there they attain the ultimate that can be attained on earth – cynicism’ (3). constitutes. so far as my research has discovered.’ and of the ‘sarcastic assurance’ of the ‘great ironist’ who vivisected the virtue of his age. “Why I Write Such Good Books”. Kaufmann continues. do indeed possess the lively characteristic of being at variance with some of their writer’s conceptions that would appear to have been established already in other. We are reminded of that Socratic ‘wisdom full of pranks which constitutes the best state of the soul of man. His wisdom. and then juxtaposing a small number of contextually similar passages in order to pass them off as representative of the overall texts within which they are to be found. x. one that is consistent with my understanding of his other works. in order to complete his position that there are . consists in his opposition to his time – and we have seen that he felt close to Socrates in this respect” (p. a highly inadequate. at the same time. Some of the notes. Discovering. which is undoubtedly the reason why he did not even attempt to analyze a single one of them. [Ibid]. for incidental. Negation: Whether these chapters signify even a remotely emulative (to say nothing of an ideological) affinity of the later Nietzsche for the Socrates of the Apology is in itself an entirely far-flung speculation at best. Thus. the succeeding chapter. previous writings. contextually similar passages can well be found in other than only genuinely complementary literary endeavors. He knew that to do so would turn out to be not so much futile as selfcontradictory – that he would be paddling his leaky canoe upstream of Nietzsche’s polemic rapids. it appears to me. 409). where Socrates informs us that he “scorns farflung speculations” by confining his inquiries “to a few basic questions of morality”. they nevertheless “contain no departure from Nietzsche’s previous position” concerning Socrates. throws us back to the Apology. Nietzsche’s third chapter.

nevertheless feels compelled to call to public attention (as well as confess to himself) the unfortunte fact that he has remained largely unnoticed. we may safely conclude that.” [45] The respective objectives at which the writers of the Apology and Ecce Homo aim. secondary consequence. The manifestly irreconcilable ideological disparity between these two thinkers is thus still further explicated: if Nietzsche is. if the latter is taken to mean the . Antichrist in order to lay to rest his daring but erroneous assertion that it is “false to say that Nietzsche abominated Socratism. This is why. the work of a profoundly distressed author. at least two passages – again. between the Apology and Ecce Homo there exists no noteworthy similarity either in message or in presentation. concerning Nietzsche’s imminent psychological breakdown. to make your first and chief concern not for your bodies nor for your possessions. even more the pride of my instincts. revolt at bottom – namely. In the latter’s own words to the Athenian populace: “I spend all my time going about trying to persuade you. Psychologist. au fond. I propose that Ecce Homo be in effect evaluated as. according to his own declaration.” [47] In a word. After all. further testify against Kaufmann’s interpretation. and “The last thing I should promise would be to ‘improve’ mankind. the second is an explicit renunciation of all those – including above all Socrates – who have sought and/or seek to “ameliorate” man’s lot through a system of supraterrestriallygrounded moral instructions. Kaufmann is here forcing a notion that cannot be justified by any hard evidence. the Apology communicates Socrates’ attempt to clarify the public’s misunderstanding and envy that just such a recognition had visited upon him. Socrates. is indigenous to the personalities of undoubtedly most intellectual pioneers in perhaps all the disciplines of knowledge. history has shown that a ruthlessly truthful bias. I mean that Ecce Homo reveals the Qual of one who. if anything. namely: “I am a disciple of the philosopher Dionysus”. contrary to what Kaufmann urges. do not mistake me for someone else. to say: Hear me! For I am such and such a person. as he proclaims himself to be. then. one that is devoid of any mauvaise honte. More to the point. Nor does Kaufmann’s idea of a similarity between the two authors’ selfperception vis-à-vis their respective contemporaries and immediate predecessors reinforce his argument. in the Preface to this his eccentric autobiography. insofar as this is a parallel characteristic of merely incidental. from the Preface to Ecce Homo – implicitly but effectively counsel us against drawing any significant parallels between Nietzsche’s and Socrates’ philosophical persuasions.” [46] Whereas the former quotation implies that Nietzsche has firmly attached himself to the moralo-aesthetic expression that is in essence antipodal to the one that was espoused and advocated by the Platonic Socrates. but for that highest welfare of your souls. young and old. That is. By this I do not intend to imply that the book reveals much. Above all. Moreover. though deeply convinced of his own mission and worth as a thinker. it now appears indispensable to openly declare exactly who he is: “I have a duty against which my habits. whereas Ecce Homo represents Nietzsche’s plea for as wide a recognition as possible. I have virtually punctatim examined Kaufmann’s Chapter 13 of his Nietzsche: Philosopher. Nietzsche points out that since his talk with some of the “educated” ones has convinced him that he does “not exist” as an intellectual of any distinction.indications of Nietzsche’s “admiration” for Socrates in all of his (Nietzsche’s) works. would be among the first of those who would. In opposition to this idea of Kaufmann’s. the last to “improve” (in the traditionally moral sense) mankind. therefore.

care must be taken to set the record straight by attempting to save him from some of the more current. however.[philosophical] outlook Socrates embodied”. with Richard Rorty – was also not insignificantly helped by the fact that Kaufmann had already rendered the intellectual climate more conducive to the study of Nietzsche’s corpus. I am inclined to believe that that objective has now been realized. my insistence here that Kaufmann’s interpretation of Nietzsche’s Socrates cannot stand. Charity dictates that we ought to recognize Kaufmann’s creation of a clearing for many of the excellent writings that have appeared during the 1970’s and ‘80’s. deconstructionist criticism in literary studies. well-intentioned but overzealous and thus misleading endeavors – such as that by Schacht – which still insist on overcorrecting Nietzsche’s intellectual thought by severely blunting its socio-political implications. In this vein. At the same time. Now that Nietzsche has become discussible again. my goal is not at all to undervalue Kaufmann’s achievement in Nietzschean scholarship. it is not unlikely that the American reception of the French retrieval of Nietzsche. my present critique could also be appraised as something of a counterweight to other. by no means attempts to negate the recognition which should be given to the much broader aim and importance of his project: to repudiate the Nietzsche-myth that had long prevented a hearing for Nietzsche in English-speaking philosophy. No. acclaimed but decidedly innocuous Kaufmann – influenced undertakings – such as. Apollinian Nietzsche. and the closely related “end of philosophy” theme – associated. Indeed. . more recently. Schacht’s breathless Nietzsche and Nehamas’ rather elegant Nietzsche: Life as Literature – which portray an all-too-sunny. for example. but only to undermine his conception of a Socratic Nietzsche.