Sunday, April 25, 2010

Being and Beauty

In the last section that we read for Nietzsche, during the sixth section he discusses a Kantian conception of Aesthetics. I found Kant’s position on this quite interesting, but not as interesting as Nietzsche’s take on it. To make his point, Nietzsche talks about the way in which Kant talks about beauty. Nietzsche says, “Kant like all philosophers, instead of envisaging the aesthetic problem from the point of view of the artist (the creator,), considered art and the beautiful purely from that of the “spectator,”” In This way Nietzsche makes an Aesthetic revolution in the same way that Kant himself made a metaphysical revolution.

Nietzsche instead of relying on the concept of beauty totally from the perspective of the bystander looks at it from the perspective of the creator. Kant’s view of beauty also leads him to make the claim, “that is beautiful which gives us pleasure without interest.” Nietzsche turns this on its head and criticizes Kant. Nietzsche says that the interest that we have in a thing is what makes it so beautiful to us. It is that interest that makes us care about the thing at all. And I think in many ways he is right. I don’t tend to think that things are beautiful unless I find some interest or stake in them. Nietzsche says that this allows us to experience things, “first hand”.

This experiencing of things first hand is what Kant himself calls experience, and says he in the critique of pure reason is the actual truth. It seems like this “interest” that Nietzsche talks about here is along the same lines of what Heidegger will come to mean by the word, “Dasein” in “being and time”. This Dasein is the ground of existence, and it means to care. We care for things and about people. But, This section from Nietzsche struck a chord with me. It seems like what Nietzsche is saying makes sense with what Heidegger says about objects that are immediate for us. He says that when objects are not being used or employed by us we forget about them, until we need them. It seems here that what Nietzsche is saying is that to find a thing beautiful we must have it in our immediate interest we must in some way be caring about it to find it beautiful. It seems like Heidegger would agree with him, and I know that I do. It seemed like an interesting connection I wanted to share.


  1. I have trouble clearly gleaning a clear conception of Aesthetics from the text, but find your reading of it a very interesting one. Nietzsche does seem to suggest we need a more encompassing, involved conception of beauty, which shouldn't be surprising. Nietzsche realized that beauty presented itself differently to the artist and the spectator Kant introduced. Nietzsche offers an informed perspective, as he himself was both a spectator (as his early adoration of Wagner exhibits) and a creator (as evidenced by both his literary pursuits and musical compositions). As we've read Nietzsche, I've enjoyed listening to some of his music. I find it helps greatly to humanize a man whose ideas seem rather foreign (though convincing). Here is one of his compositions, which I find rather beautiful (perhaps because of my interest in it).

  2. This idea of beauty is fascinating. A few posts above this one Will applauds Nietzsche's grasp of context. I think with the issue of beauty it is necessary to address beauty from the perspective of the spectator as well as the artist. for example,only a spectator can comment on whether or not something is beautiful that has not creator, i.e. spontaneous order.


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