The anatomy of Nietzsche's transformation of Dionysus
This dissertation considers the construction and conception of Dionysus in the philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche, especially the components of his thought that present the god to the modern era. The structure of the dissertation provides four 'genealogical moments' in Nietzsche's adoption and transformation of the deity. These moments are intended to distinguish Nietzsche's Dionysus from earlier Romantic and Renaissance treatments of the god, and to demonstrate the interdisciplinary elements of his composition.
The first two chapters articulate the combination of philosophical and philological influences that seize Nietzsche's attention and become part of the philosophical structure of Dionysus. They argue that Nietzsche's Dionysus is a response to the tradition of German Idealism, especially the problematic of subjectivity. Arthur Schopenhauer's influence is critical, though Nietzsche reaches back to Greek philosophy before Plato in order to find a suitable cosmological perspective in which to ground his figure of Dionysus. Employing and transforming Schopenhauerian notions of subjectivity, I argue that Nietzsche creates an image of Dionysus that he supports with Heraclitean Becoming and Democritean Atomism.
The final two chapters argue that Nietzsche's transformation of Dionysus is complete once he reconfigures the purpose of the deity, making him a radical critique of nineteenth-century historical method. Nietzsche's Dionysus also emerges out of a particular matrix of the nineteenth-century Zeitgeist , wherein Nietzsche is influenced by the historical methods of his colleague Jacob Burckhardt and attempts to evince the anthropological mechanisms of philology. Finally, I argue that Nietzsche's reconstitution of history in terms of psychological modalities of being solidifies Dionysus in his modern form and represents Nietzsche's overall response to the Idealist metaphysical problematic of subjectivity.