Volume 25, Issue 2, Spring 2021
Tragic Rationality in Nietzsche’s Misreading of Plato in The Birth of Tragedy and Beyond
Shortly before the first publication of The Birth of Tragedy, Friedrich Nietzsche identified his philosophy as an “inverted Platonism.” Although, as Martin Heidegger warns, “we may not overlook the fact that the ‘inverted Platonism’ of his early period is enormously different from the position finally attained,” nonetheless, Nietzsche’s suspicion about otherworldly truths and optimistic faith in reason runs as a strong current throughout his works. I argue that Nietzsche’s view of Plato as the initiator of the “true world”—the world that must be overcome on Nietzsche’s valuation—and of Socrates as a proponent of logicality suffers from the same overly rationalistic thinking that Nietzsche himself impugns in Plato. To account for Nietzsche’s interest in setting up Plato as the origin of the system of thought he seeks to overcome, I analyze Nietzsche’s remarks on Plato’s Phaedo in the Birth of Tragedy.