A genealogy of death
Classical German philosophy saw both the completion of modernity and the beginnings of post-modernity. One could point to Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit for the former, and Nietzsche’s aphoristic attack on modernity in The Birth of Tragedy for the latter. Nietzsche’s criticism of modernity presents it as the latest stage in a story beginning with the Socratic and Platonic privileging of the “Apollonian” values of reason, clarity and knowledge over Dionysian mysteries. The critique of Platonism that one finds in late classical German thought is both its most influential and pernicious export. It describes a world where will precedes reason, where dark unknowable secrets are accessed through the passions, and clarity and distinctness are suspect. There are many lenses through which one can view German thought’s distinctive tenor, but perhaps the most telling is an examination of the view of death in German thought. We will begin by contrasting this view with Plato’s and then turn to a more contemporary critic, the Mexican philosopher and journalist Jorge Portilla.
Permission to deposit the published version was given through direct contact with the publisher. For more information please see the faculty member's entry in Project INDEX -- EDH 7/13/23