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Beauty and utility

Nietzsche, Twilight of the Idols, 1889, Kaufmann translation, “Skirmishes of an Untimely Man”, sec. 22.

I take a single case. Schopenhauer speaks of beauty with a melancholy fervor—why, in the last resort? Because he sees in it a bridge on which one will go farther, or develop a thirst to go farther … It is for him a momentary redemption from the “will”—it lures on to redemption forever … Particularly, he praises beauty as the redeemer from “the focal point of the will,” from sexuality—in beauty he sees the negation of the drive toward procreation … Queer saint! Someone contradicts you; I fear it is nature. To what end is there beauty at all in tone, color, fragrance, or rhythmic movement in nature? What is it that beauty evokes?— Fortunately, a philosopher contradicts him too. No lesser authority than that of the divine Plato [Symposium, 206 b-d] (—so Schopenhauer himself calls him) maintains a different proposition: that all beauty incites procreation,—that just this is the proprium of its effect, from the most sensual up to the most spiritual …

…and what does procreation incite? Not death? Decay? Allowed to stand too long, beauty ferments and becomes sublime, …undercuts itself. Nature has movement enough to squander on this, her most supreme end, for which procreation is only necessary—scarcely sufficient.

Posted by luno in aesthetics, Nietzsche (Friday July 22, 2005 at 12:37 pm)

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