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Episteme

Abstract

Everyone knows that Nietzsche’s thoughts on art do not remain static throughout the course of his writings. The author of this paper responds to Julian Young’s assessment of the ultimate progression of those thoughts. Is it true, as Young suggests, that Nietzsche, in 1888, returns to the pessimism that characterizes his first two works, his period of Wagner and Schopenhauer? No. Although Young picks up on the Apollonian strand of 1888 Nietzsche, the author argues that Young misses or ignores the positive, powerful Dionysian element that keeps Nietzsche’s final thoughts on art from sinking into nihilism. The artistic mood of these works is life-affirming and full of will-to-power, not disguised pessimism as Young believes. In works like Twilight of the Idols, art is not just a beautiful illusion; it is a necessary element of human existence. Existence is not endured via art: absurdity is affirmed by the aesthetic phenomenon.

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