Nietzsche’s Aesthetic Theodicy

Robert R. Williams

in Tragedy, Recognition, and the Death of God

Published in print September 2012 | ISBN: 9780199656059
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780191744846 | DOI:
Nietzsche’s Aesthetic Theodicy

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After the death of the moral God, both Hegel and Nietzsche continue to grapple with the theodicy question, not as a defense of the justice and goodness of God in the face of evil, but understood in a broader sense of reconciling human beings to a world that presents tragic conflicts and suffering. Nietzsche’s aesthetic theodicy embraces a vision of the world as a tragic sublime beyond morality and practical reason, to wit, joyous fatalism, that wishes the present to be repeated eternally. But what is Nietzsche’s aesthetic theodicy? How is it related to metaphysics and theology? There is no consensus. This chapter examines the views of Karl Löwith, Will Dudley, and Michel Haar. In the latter case Haar offers a careful analysis of the complexity of Nietzsche and the question of metaphysics. In spite of his critique of metaphysics, Nietzsche’s aesthetic theodicy continues it. Nietzsche’s world view is close to Hegel’s in valuing becoming as the primary category and in regarding being as an abstraction. In this respect both claim to be and are influenced by Heraclitus. Both draw upon Heraclitus to dissolve the fixed oppositions of the Kantian frame. What is less clear is whether Nietzsche’s eternal recurrence and joyous fatalism, which are Dionysian, are compatible with the Kantian frame, which is basically Apollinian. Although Nietzsche, like Hegel, is a fan of Heraclitus, he fails to resolve the question.

Keywords: theodicy after death of God; Karl löwith; Will Dudley; Michel Haar; a theodicy of tragic sublime; Heraclitus; Heraclitean paradoxes; Apollinian Kantian frame; Dionysian mediations

Chapter.  13562 words. 

Subjects: History of Western Philosophy

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