Zarathustra at the marketplace. Nietzsche and the city of men

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Abstract

In the labyrinth of the Nietzschean interpretations, what is missing is a chapter which investigates Nietzsche's critique of the city of men. This is what the following research sets out to do: to reconstruct – through first-hand reading of the Nietzschean texts and the little bibliography on the topic – Nietzsche's reflections on the everyday rationale of city life. A posthumous note dating back to his early years suggests that Nietzsche had planned a work dedicated to the metropolis as part of the incomplete project of the Unzeitgemässe Betrachtungen. Although the content of this never-realised work is left to speculation, precious hints on the theme of the city are scattered around his published works and the posthumous fragments. What we are certain of is that Nietzsche observes city life with great care and reflects on living together in a very sensitive way, providing a rich and lively "phenomenological cross section" of the public dimension of modern people. Also sprach Zarathustra is the reference text. The reason is that Zarathustra's narrative is set in those very places which become the protagonists of the Nietzschean reflections: the square, the houses, the market. In one word: the city. Public and private spaces which are no longer in the background but rather reflect the thoughts of the people who inhabit them, thus becoming genuine "philosophical places". Human places which manifest the decadence of nineteenth-century people. The square is thus synonymous with conformism and massification, the houses shed light on the moral pettiness of people, the marketplace becomes the mouthpiece of a hypocritical and petty public life. Nietzsche seems to be well aware that the experience of modernity fully corresponds to the experience of the city. The city is the fascinating stage for the mise-en-scene of modern mankind. A mediocre and vice-ridden mankind, from which one might want to escape altogether. So far removed from the Übermensch preached by Zarathustra, but at once so close to us citizens of the twenty-first century. Helpful to make us reflect on our everyday living together and, from time to time, to call it into question.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication4th International Multidisciplinary Scientific Conference on Social Sciences and Arts (Vienna)
Pages435-450
Number of pages16
Publication statusPublished - 2017
Event4th International Multidisciplinary Scientific Conference on Social Sciences and Arts - Vienna
Duration: 28 Mar 20171 Apr 2017

Conference

Conference4th International Multidisciplinary Scientific Conference on Social Sciences and Arts
CityVienna
Period28/3/171/4/17

Keywords

  • Nietzsche
  • city.

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