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Title: The affirmation of Eros : passion and eternity in Friedrich Nietzsche's 'The Gay Science'
Author: Ryan, Thomas
ISNI:       0000 0004 7657 8124
Awarding Body: University of Warwick
Current Institution: University of Warwick
Date of Award: 2017
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This thesis analyses Nietzsche's use of eros in The Gay Science through the concepts of passion and eternity. Nietzsche deploys the conceptual resources of the Hellenistic schools, particularly Stoicism and Epicureanism, to articulate an "affirmative" rival to the Platonic sublimation of eros. However, the Stoic and Epicurean therapies prove insufficient remedies for Platonism: in all three cases, Nietzsche diagnoses a pathological fear of transience. Throughout The Gay Science Nietzsche develops an anti-Platonic and, in the end, anti-Hellenistic philosophical therapy. Traditional readings of Nietzsche rightly emphasise his antagonism with Plato, but in doing so overlook the richness of his engagement with later philosophical thought of antiquity. Stoicism provides the starting point for Nietzsche's attempt at an immanent affirmative ethics. Nietzsche comes to reject Stoic indifference as an evacuation of value from the world, but the terms of his rejection shed light on the criteria against which his develops his own ethics. Nietzsche's appraisal of Epicureanism above Stoicism in The Gay Science shows that an intimate relationship with worldly goods is a necessary condition of joy, but the terms of this comparison also exposes the limits of both Hellenistic philosophies: neither is able to evoke and maintain an erotic attachment to life. A reading of Plato's Symposium illuminates Nietzsche's rejection of a metaphysical treatment of eros. The first three chapters of the thesis show the failure of Stoicism (chapter one), Epicureanism (chapter two), and Platonism (chapter three) in forging a strong-enough attachment to what Nietzsche calls life. Chapter four explains Nietzsche's revaluation of the passions by means of a conceptual history of Leidenschaft. Nietzsche's praise of the Provençal troubadours, whose gaya scienza provides The Gay Science's subtitle, demonstrates the possibility of a life-affirming eros. A recuperation of eros requires the renovation of the concept of eternity, which has hitherto functioned as an escape path from transience. Chapter five figures Nietzsche's feud with the ancients in terms of this function of eternity in relation to the fear of death. Each of the three ancient conceptions arises from different refractions of a common fear of transience. The final chapter presents Nietzsche's alternative, anti-Hellenistic ethics of eternity: a youthful and voluptuous art of living. This youthful sensibility must be specified in terms of the eternal recurrence, a conception of eternity developed by Nietzsche in a sustained dialogue with classical and Hellenistic ethical thought. I demonstrate that Nietzsche's engagement with classical and Hellenistic thought feeds directly into the central doctrine of the eternal recurrence. By means of the attention paid to Nietzsche's eternity, the thesis arrives at a richer understanding of Nietzsche's middle-period ethics and of his relationship to antiquity.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: B Philosophy (General)