Art is a very ambiguous, controversial, and meaningful concept that provokes many debates and discussions among thinkers and philosophers; there is no single vision and perception of art and its power. Some thinkers believe that art can change the world making it better and more beautiful; others insist that artworks are very controversial and its power has a destructive influence on people’s outlook. Nietzsche underlines the parallel between artworks and the nature of existence (Nietzsche 229). Thus, his vision of art function is different, as he believes that artworks redeem the otherwise unbearable nature of existence that is painful and can be pleasurable only because of art. Thus, Nietzsche’s claim about art and its redemptive power is objective as it underlines the importance of art for the human life and implies the necessity of seeing aesthetics in artworks, but it is also subjective to a certain degree, as the philosopher is too pessimistic when it comes to the human existence and is limited by Dionysian and Apollonian forms of art.
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Redemptive Power of Art
According to Nietzsche, human existence is an absurd suffering, but art makes it worth living eternally (Nietzsche 224). Moreover, Nietzsche insists that the relationship between existence and art is seen in the following issues: the possibility of artistic redemption, the status of individuation, and the nature of the will (Nietzsche 224). Thus, I agree with the philosophers opinion that art has a redemptive power that uses Dionysian and Apollonian forms to explain that life can be meaningful and full of sense. Furthermore, Nietzsche believes that art is an optimistic and life-affirming approach to life that is full of pessimism and failures (Nietzsche 223). Consequently, the philosopher is right in underlying the importance of art for human life as it suggests perfection, virtues of artistic creativity and provides the direction for further activities. Finally, people should not pay too much attention to the pain and suffering but look for the sense and satisfaction in artworks.
According to Nietzsche, the logical inference is not the only means to perceive the world as there is also the science of aesthetics that involves the certainty of vision and continuous development of art taking into consideration the Apollonian and Dionysian duality (Nietzsche 222). It means that art as the direction of the science of aesthetics can change the world despite being based on the opposition between dreams and intoxication. These two different tendencies run parallel to each other, for the most part openly at variance, and they continually incite each other to new and more powerful births, which perpetuate an antagonism, only superficially reconciled by the common term art (Nietzsche 222). However, it is obvious that despite this opposition between Apollonian and Dionysian approaches, art remains balanced and harmonic as it provides satisfaction, joy, and happiness.
Nietzsche is right stating that the main desire of a human being is not only love but also the need to create something. Thus, this desire gives birth to art and its diverse forms. The philosopher is convinced that in a dream world, every man is created an artist, but the reality is very different (Nietzsche 223). the reality in which we live and have our being is also mere appearance, and that another, quite different reality lies beneath us (Nietzsche 223). Not without a reason, the philosopher looks for something meaningful and deep such as art and contrasts it to human existence (Nietzsche 224). Moreover, he believes that the artistic energies are natural forces, but humans are responsible for using this energy properly and making their lives meaningful.
Nietzsche’s claim about art is argumentative as it takes into consideration both Apollonian and Dionysian approaches to art comparing and contrasting them to understand the role of art and the meaning of human existence. Thus, Nietzsche’s aesthetic program is related to Greek consciousness (Nietzsche 225). Not without a reason, the philosopher believes that every form of art should be inspired by a Muse (Nietzsche 225). Despite the fact that Apollo is associated with the tonal music and lyre, and Dionysus is the patron god of Attic tragedy, both need a Muse to create something. Furthermore, the philosopher empowers art with the potential for continuous development that is not typical for human existence. Thus, Nietzsche associates human existence with war, terror, suffering, and pain, and contrasts art to it as something elevated, victorious, and triumphant (Nietzsche 225). It means that the philosopher does not support the barbaric rules and cruel actions of Greeks and determines art as something that is above the lack of balance and harmony in the society.
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Subjectivity of Nietzsches Claim about Art
I think that Nietzsche’s claim about art is subjective to a certain extent because the philosopher relies on art very much and has a pessimistic opinion about human life. In my opinion, art is important, but it is only a decoration of human life that can also be meaningless and empty. The worth of human existence cannot be evaluated with the help of art but through human actions, beliefs, and attitudes that can be depicted in artworks. Furthermore, Nietzsche’s claim about art also has many contradictions and difficulties. First, if the philosopher believes that pain has an impact on human life, then how can art be pleasurable and painful simultaneously? Second, if individuation is an illusion, then how can art spread it over other things? It is obvious that subjectivity of Nietzsche’s claim is in his inability to separate art from human existence.
Evidence that proves the subjectivity and relativity of Nietzsche’s claim is that the philosopher relies on art as a driving force of human life but continues to argue that life is absurd suffering (Nietzsche 226). To my mind, if life is meaningless and absurd, then art is not able to change or influence it. Moreover, it is difficult to understand the reasons why art and its Dionysian and Apollonian forms reinforce the necessity of living eternally. Consequently, life has a meaning and sense, but Nietzsche fails to admit this and is not aware that he admits it in his claims about art. Furthermore, the contradiction of Nietzsche’s claim is that he separates an artist from a simple man forgetting that an artist can also lose the interest to art and become an ordinary person.
I do not agree with Nietzsche’s idea that human existence is doomed to the horrors, as there are humans who are the creatures of art and provide its redemptive power. In addition, I am confused about philosopher’s vision of reality as an illusion. Without a doubt, people can have illusory dreams, thoughts, and intentions, but it does not mean that art is deprived of illusion. To my mind, the contrast of art to human existence is irrelevant as it is obvious that art is impossible without humans. Moreover, Nietzsche’s pessimistic perspective does not help to understand the interrelationship between human existence and art but proves that humanity has many problems that can be solved only with the help of art (Nietzsche 226). Finally, the ancient Greece cannot be used as an example that reflects the tendencies in all cultures as it was a rough place with a constant war; therefore, the feelings of suffering and pain were inevitable.
Nietzsche’s claim about art is limited with the time and space as it is impossible to determine the entity of human existence and art using only ancient Greek civilization that is characterized by many challenges and difficulties. Furthermore, his claim is deprived of rationality and truthfulness as he presents his arguments as the signs of intuition but not as a theory. In addition, Nietzsche analyses the redemptive power of art using only such forms of art as music and tragedy, but there are also different forms that should be taken into consideration (Nietzsche 227). I agree that music is the key to a human soul, but poetry and prose can also have the same power. It means that Nietzsche’s claim is restricted by the Apollonian and Dionysian duality that sounds more like a competition rather than a unity of harmony and balance. Finally, art cannot be the solution to the chaos of reality, but it can slightly decorate it with its creativity and heartedness.
In conclusion, it is necessary to say that Nietzsche’s claim about art and its redemptive power is objective as he regards art as something that makes human existence worth living eternally and underlines the importance of art for the human life. Furthermore, the philosopher relies on the science of aesthetics that involves the certainty of vision and continuous development of art taking into consideration the Apollonian and Dionysian duality. Thus, such approach presupposes the necessity of finding aesthetics in artworks. However, Nietzsche’s claim about art is subjective to a certain degree as it is limited by Dionysian and Apollonian forms of art, too pessimistic when it comes to human existence, and restricted by the ancient Greek time and space. Finally, Nietzsche’s claim about art does not mention who the creatures of art are and is full of pessimism about human existence.