chapter  15
28 Pages

The Philosophy of Praxis and Emancipation: Feuerbach, Marx, Marcuse

S c h o p e n h a u e r be l ieved that to o b t a i n a f u l l u n d e r s t a n d i n g of the

h u m a n c o n d i t i o n w a s necessari ly to achieve a state o f p r o f o u n d

r e s i g n a t i o n , a n d to r e l i n q u i s h the w i l l - t o - l i v e . H e f o u n d such resig-

n a t i o n r e a l i z e d m o s t c o m p e l l i n g l y i n the v i s i o n o f t ragedy, w h e r e

( a c c o r d i n g to h i m ) heroes die p u r i f i e d by s u f f e r i n g , w h e n the w i l l - t o -

l ive has a l r e a d y e x p i r e d i n t h e m ( W o r l d , I .235). T h i s , as w e s h a l l see,

is w h a t N i e t z s c h e w o u l d so i n f l u e n t i a l l y react against — n o t just i n

S c h o p e n h a u e r b u t i n the entire W e s t e r n p h i l o s o p h i c a l t r a d i t i o n , w h i c h ,

he b e l i e v e d , has a l w a y s tended to p e s s i m i s m : ' I n every age the wisest

have passed the i d e n t i c a l judgement o n l i fe : i t i s w o r t h l e s s . . . ' E v e r y -

w h e r e a n d a l w a y s the wisest express a w o r l d - v i e w ' f u l l o f d o u b t , f u l l

o f m e l a n c h o l y , f u l l o f wear iness w i t h l i f e , f u l l o f o p p o s i t i o n to l i f e '

( T w i l i g h t , p . 29). It is i n this sense that , f o r N i e t z s c h e , W e s t e r n

p h i l o s o p h y is decadent - a n d n o t just recent ly , but f r o m its i n c e p t i o n .

F o r h i m , as w e have a l ready seen, Socrates a n d P l a t o were f o u n d i n g

decadents , agents o f the dec l ine a n d degenera t ion o f G r e e k cu l ture

a n d of a d e a t h - w i s h — 'Socrates w a n t e d to d i e ' — a n d a re lated e r o t i c i s m :

'Socrates w a s also a great e r o t i c ' (pp. 34, 32; cf. B i r t h , p . 85). A s f o r

P l a t o , he w a s 'so m o r a l l y in fec ted , so m u c h a n antecedent C h r i s t i a n

. . . a c o w a r d i n the face o f rea l i ty [who] flees i n t o the i d e a l ' . T h e

C h r i s t i a n G o d comes to s tand o n l y f o r ' d e c l i n i n g , d e b i l i t a t e d , w a r y ,

c o n d e m n e d l i f e ' ( T w i l i g h t , p p . 1 0 6 - 7 , 4 5 —