Myth, Perspective, and Affirmation in Nietzsche’s Birth of Tragedy

Document Type


Publication Date



While the Apollonian and Dionysian in Nietzsche’s Birth of Tragedy are often understood as a rehashing of Schopenhauerian metaphysics, recent accounts have shown that his use of these concepts is at odds with such a metaphysics, interpreting them instead as myths. I follow this insight that Nietzsche is engaging in mythmaking in BT, but I argue that proponents of this view have missed an important dimension of that mythmaking: that Nietzsche presents multiple narratives of Apollo and Dionysus from different perspectives, each of which offers different senses of tragic affirmation. This perspectival feature of BT sheds light on the more formal ‘perspectivism’ articulated in the Third Essay of On the Genealogy of Morals, as Nietzsche uses perspective in both cases to generate an epistemic alternative to the life-denying features of modern science. Thus, the metaphysical discussions of the early Nietzsche are inseparable from the development of a stylistic practice that constitutes a radical rejection of metaphysics for the later Nietzsche, and this style is part of a project of generating a more life-affirming approach to knowledge.




Article Location