The formal harmony of such artistic works, Nietzsche argues, is in fact the sublimated expression of a violence that permeated Ancient Greek culture.In order to explain the nature of such violence, Nietzsche introduces two aesthetic categories: the Apollonian and the Dionysian.In effect, Nietzsche’s argument is that the great achievements of Greek culture were not the product of a harmonious rationality, but were in fact a direct consequence of the creative harnessing of inherently destructive forces present within the culture itself. (Nietzsche 1968a, section 7) Thus, Greek art attained its heights of expression because of a need to make the terrible, destructive Dionysian reality of life bearable: art attains its greatest potential when it both serves and expresses the needs of life.
Likewise, a new direction to Nietzsche’s thought is mooted in the form of a turn away from the aesthetic concerns of (1878) begins by making what seems to be a relatively trivial and general observation about the origins of important concepts: how can something originate in its opposite, such as truth in untruth, rationality in irrationality, or selflessness in selfishness? First, he highlights the role of what he terms ‘metaphysical philosophy’ in the traditional understanding of these questions.Thus, Nietzsche’s first book, (1872) represents an attempt to interpret the cultural significance of Ancient Greek tragic art (e.g. For the Nietzsche of The Birth of Tragedy, as for the later Nietzsche, Ancient Greek art represents one of the high points in the history of European culture.The question addressed by concerns how one is to make sense of this cultural achievement.Equally, such philosophising effectively claims to have a suprahistorical perspective.For metaphysical philosophy, Nietzsche argues, the word ‘true’ is taken to mean what cannot change.