Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Nietzsche Wept: The Morality of Pity, Ambivalence, and the Gods
by Wiseman, Wendy A., Ph.D., University of California, Santa Barbara, 2010, 515; 3428027
Abstract (Summary)

The final line of Nietzsche's autobiography of 1888, Ecce Homo , reads "Have I been understood?--Dionysus versus the Crucified!--" Dionysus and the Crucified confront one another as mutually negating ideals, as highly condensed symbols of irreconcilable practices of life, orientations toward humanity, and hence as opposing moral visions. I argue that the "versus" that divides the names of the gods is the site of Nietzsche's agonistic struggle, his ambivalence regarding the possibility of love for the "human" in its suffering, abjection, and weakness--his ambivalence regarding the morality of pity. The magnetic tension that rivets these gods in Nietzsche's late vision reflects a tension that I find at the heart of his philosophy. The siren's song of compassion tempts Nietzsche to abandon his most basic "truths:" that "human beings are not equal," that "what is good is what increases one's feeling of power, the will to power," that what is "bad" is "all that is born of weakness," that morality is the enemy of (Dionysiac) life. These truths require the death of God--"God had to die." In the practice of the morality of pity, God remains alive; pity, the "evangelic practice" of the Crucified, "is God!" The tension that resounds in Nietzsche's challenge, "Have I been understood?-- Dionysus versus the Crucified," reveals the profoundly religious dimensions to his agon, which, I argue, reaches its disastrous dénouement in his last act, his pitying embrace of a pathetic old nag.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Carlson, Thomas A.
Commitee: Thomas, Christine, Weber, Elisabeth
School: University of California, Santa Barbara
Department: Religious Studies
School Location: United States -- California
Source: DAI-A 72/01, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Religion, Philosophy
Keywords: Ambivalence, Dionysus, Nietzsche, Friedrich, Pity, The Crucified, Tragedy
Publication Number: 3428027
ISBN: 9781124332673
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