Nietzsche & Rosenzweig (Birth of Tragedy & Chorus) (Modern Jewish Philosophy Ur-Text)


Of course it can’t, but by way of an exercise, if it all could come back to one single text, then Nietzsche’s The Birth of Tragedy is the ur-text of modern Jewish philosophy. About this I’ve already commented in a more general way, relating to topoi such as dynamics, polarities, and embodiment. With Buber, I’ve already placed the importance of Nietzsche’s text as to its contribution to a discourse of vision and revelation, and also, in Nietzsche’s case, to a theory of ritual place as the platform for the appearance of a god. About Buber as a theorist of a certain kind of ritual, I’ve written before (in The Shape of Revelation, and in an essay that you can find on the publication page here at the blog).

But what about Rosenzweig, and Nietzsche? I found it here. I didn’t go looking for it. Remember how for Rosenzweig in The Star of Redemption the figure of redemption is the community-chorus, as it sings out its expressive assertion from Psalm 115 that yes, God is good. Now what goes underlooked in the case of Nietzsche is the implicit theory of a certain kind of a ritual, a Dionysian ritual as theater, as chorus of satyrs.

It’s in section 7 of The Birth of Tragedy. The chorus of satyrs, “fictitious natural beings” who occupy a “fictitious natural state,” fictitious but not aribitrary. The satyr and his chorus live in “a religious acknowledged reality under the sanction of myth and cult.” They live “ineradicably,” “behind all civilizations” and beyond natural histories and changings of the generations, “eternally the same.” It’s art that “saves” the Hellene, the art of the chorus, the mingling of bodies for Nietzsche, the mingling of voices for Rosenzweig, and, for Rosenzweig, the silence that comes after, that’s what redeems “tragic man,” that’s what redeems the world. (Birth of Tragedy, Kaufmann translation 58-9).

About zjb

Zachary Braiterman is Professor of Religion in the Department of Religion at Syracuse University. His specialization is modern Jewish thought and philosophical aesthetics.
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