After Nietzsche: Notes Towards a Philosophy of Ecstasy by Jill Marsden

By Jill Marsden

This ebook explores the innovative chances for philosophy created by means of Nietzsche's sustained mirrored image at the phenomenon of ecstasy. From The beginning of Tragedy to his experimental "physiology of art," Nietzsche examines the cultured, erotic, and sacred dimensions of rapture, hinting at how an ecstatic philosophy is discovered in his elusive doctrine of everlasting go back. Jill Marsden pursues the consequences of this legacy for modern Continental notion through analyses of such voyages in ecstasy as Kant, Schopenhauer, Schreber, and Bataille.

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Extra info for After Nietzsche: Notes Towards a Philosophy of Ecstasy

Sample text

Rather, as a taste for all that is problematic, philosophy is a passion. The legacy of Nietzsche’s philosophy will concern this appeal to affectivity. It is this that is to be understood if philosophy is to be renewed. 1 The conviction that a non-foundational philosophy must be fundamentally ecstatic is undoubtedly paradoxical but it is scarcely fortuitous that after Nietzsche this prospect should have claimed the imagination of so many thinkers. The concept of an ecstatic or self-transcending existence was most explicitly formulated by existentialist thinking to define the inner constitution of a ‘groundless’ subjectivity and to mark it apart from the ‘objective reality’ of classical epistemology.

Nietzsche claims that the noble mode of evaluation ‘acts and grows spontaneously’, engaging its opposite only to affirm itself triumphally (GM I, 10). However, because active forces are non-teleological, unpredictable and excessive, they escape apprehension by consciousness (whereas reactive forces can be understood in relation to superior forces). Modern thought attends almost exclusively to the reactive aspect of forces, overlooking the ‘essential priority of the spontaneous, aggressive, encroaching, form-giving forces’ that give ‘new interpretations and directions’ (GM II, 12).

This means that any cultural product – artistic or otherwise – is estimated in terms of the mode of existence that it presupposes. In his retrospect on The Birth of Tragedy, Nietzsche comments that the aim of this ‘audacious book’ was ‘to look at science in the perspective of the artist, but at art in the perspective of life (BT ‘Attempt’, 2). Such an orientation leaves open the possibility that science might prove itself to be the progeny of superabundance and, by the same token, that art might show itself to be the botched and decadent offspring of declining vitality.

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