on The Birth of Tragedy, pts. 14-18

from the text:

1. " 'Virtue is knowledge; sin is only committed out of ignorance; the virtuous man is a happy man'; in these three basic forms of optimism lies the death of tragedy. For the virtuous hero must now be a dialectician; there must now be a necessary, visible connection between virtue and knowledge, faith and morality; the solution by transcendental justice in the plays of Aeschylus is now debased to the shallow and impertinent principle of 'poetic justice', with its usual deus ex machina" (70).

2. In a dream, Socrates was impelled by a figure to 'make music' (see Phaedo, 60e5ff).
"The words spoken by the figure who appeared to Socrates in a dream are the only hint of any scruples in him about the limits of logical nature; perhaps, he must have told himself, things which I do not understand are not automatically unreasonable. Perhaps there is a kingdom of wisdom from which the logician is banished? Perhaps art may even be a necessary correlative and supplement of science?" (71) (compare to what Azar Nafisi said)

3. "Thus people feel shame and fear in the face of the Greeks - unless there be one individual who reveres truth above all else and is therefore able to admit even this truth to himself: that the Greeks are chariot-drivers who hold the reins of our culture, and every other culture, in their hands, yet the chariot and the horses are almost always made of too-puny stuff and unequal to the glory of their drivers, who then regard it as a joke to drive such a vehicle into the abyss - and then jump across it themselves with the leap of Achilles" (72).

4. "At present, however, science, spurred on by its powerful delusion, is hurrying unstoppably to its limits, where the optimism hidden in the essence of logic will founder and break up. Fr there is an infinite number of points on the periphery of the circle of science, and while we have no way of foreseeing how the circle could even be completed, a noble and gifted man inevitable encounters, before the mid-point of his existence, boundary point on the periphery like this, where he stares into that which cannot be illuminated. When, to his horror, he sees how logic curls up around itself at these limits and finally bites its own tail, then a new form of knowledge breaks through, tragic knowledge, which, simply to be endured, needs art for protection and as medicine" (75).
Written on August 27, 2007