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Zarathustra's Response to Schopenhauer

Zarathustra's Response to Schopenhauer
Zarathustra's Response to Schopenhauer
What would Arthur Schopenhauer have made of Thus Spoke Zarathustra? Would he have recognized any of his doctrines, or himself, in it? An important recurring character in Thus Spoke Zarathustra is the Soothsayer (der Wahrsager), who appears in Part II, speaking of a “great mournfulness come over humankind”, and in Part IV to tempt Zarathustra to Mitleid (compassion or pity) for the higher humans. It has become conventional to regard the Soothsayer as representing Schopenhauer. This chapter challenges this orthodoxy. First, it is the identification is at best over-simple. The Soothsayer has many roles: in his first appearance he expresses not pessimism, but a reaction to pessimism; then in Part IV his main function is to assist Zarathustra in transcending pessimism and overcoming compassion. Secondly, rather than being condensed into one character, Schopenhauer’s philosophy pervades the whole. That is not surprising, given the dialogue with Schopenhauer evident in Nietzsche’s other works of the early 1880s constitute a precisely aimed response to Schopenhauer. Fixating on the Soothsayer figure can distract us from this fact
83-103
Cambridge University Press
Janaway, Christopher
61c48538-365f-416f-b6f7-dfa4d4663475
Ansell-Pearson, Keith
Loeb, Paul
Janaway, Christopher
61c48538-365f-416f-b6f7-dfa4d4663475
Ansell-Pearson, Keith
Loeb, Paul

Janaway, Christopher (2022) Zarathustra's Response to Schopenhauer. In, Ansell-Pearson, Keith and Loeb, Paul (eds.) Nietzsche’s ‘Thus Spoke Zarathustra': A Critical Guide. Cambridge University Press, pp. 83-103.

Record type: Book Section

Abstract

What would Arthur Schopenhauer have made of Thus Spoke Zarathustra? Would he have recognized any of his doctrines, or himself, in it? An important recurring character in Thus Spoke Zarathustra is the Soothsayer (der Wahrsager), who appears in Part II, speaking of a “great mournfulness come over humankind”, and in Part IV to tempt Zarathustra to Mitleid (compassion or pity) for the higher humans. It has become conventional to regard the Soothsayer as representing Schopenhauer. This chapter challenges this orthodoxy. First, it is the identification is at best over-simple. The Soothsayer has many roles: in his first appearance he expresses not pessimism, but a reaction to pessimism; then in Part IV his main function is to assist Zarathustra in transcending pessimism and overcoming compassion. Secondly, rather than being condensed into one character, Schopenhauer’s philosophy pervades the whole. That is not surprising, given the dialogue with Schopenhauer evident in Nietzsche’s other works of the early 1880s constitute a precisely aimed response to Schopenhauer. Fixating on the Soothsayer figure can distract us from this fact

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Accepted/In Press date: 27 April 2021
Published date: 23 June 2022

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 451922
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/451922
PURE UUID: 15aaab0b-8254-47cd-8d7e-9999a01b77d9
ORCID for Christopher Janaway: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0002-9600-8837

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Date deposited: 03 Nov 2021 17:34
Last modified: 28 Jun 2022 01:38

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Contributors

Editor: Keith Ansell-Pearson
Editor: Paul Loeb

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