The Mask of Enlightenment

The Mask of Enlightenment: Nietzsche’s Zarathustra, Second Edition

Foreword by Michael Allen Gillespie
Copyright Date: 2004
Published by: Yale University Press
Pages: 288
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  • Book Info
    The Mask of Enlightenment
    Book Description:

    This landmark study is a detailed textual and thematic analysis of one of Nietzsche's most important but least understood works. Stanley Rosen argues that inZarathustraNietzsche lays the groundwork for philosophical and political revolution, proposing a change in humanity's condition that would be achieved by eliminating the decadent existing race and breeding a new race to take its place. Rosen discusses Nietzsche's systematically duplicitous rhetoric of esoteric messages inZarathustra,and he places the book in the contexts of Greek, Christian, Enlightenment, and postmodernist thought.

    eISBN: 978-0-300-14591-5
    Subjects: Philosophy

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
    (pp. vii-x)
    Michael Allen Gillespie

    Friedrich Nietzsche loved the mountains, and those who want to understand his texts must be mountain climbers. He recognized that few would be up to the task. This is especially true of the readers and interpreters of his greatest workThus Spoke Zarathustra. After all, the very idea of the book, as he tells us inEcce Homo, came to him on the shores of Silvaplana, a mountain lake “6000 feet above man,” and anyone who has visited his beloved Sils Maria knows that everything only goes up from there (KGW VI 3,333; KSA VI, 335).

    Coming to terms with...

    (pp. xi-xxiv)
    (pp. 1-22)

    The title of this book refers in the first instance to the role of rhetoric in the revolutionary movement known as the Enlightenment. Speaking very generally, but not inaccurately, the various versions of the Enlightenment constitute an attempt to free mankind from the superstitions of religion and traditional philosophy, or metaphysics, as well as from the monarchical or aristocratic political and social institutions for which they provide the foundation. As such, the Enlightenment is a radicalization of the sixteenth- and seventeenth-century revolt against ancient thought by modern scientists and philosophers. The symbolic general of the modern army is Descartes, who...

    (pp. 23-77)

    Part One begins with a long preface that sets the stage for the entire work. The major themes of Nietzsche’s teaching are introduced in a series of connected dramatic episodes that illustrate Zarathustra’s destiny as prophet of the death of God and the coming of the superman. A careful analysis of this preface gives us a coherent view of the inner unity of what appear in the sequel to be discontinuous meditations, revelations, and dreamlike events. We are thereby prepared for the subsequent peripeties in Zarathustra’s prophetic career, peripeties that arise from the misunderstandings engendered by its very success.


    (pp. 78-133)

    The last sentence of the Preface reads: “Thus began Zarathustra’s descent.” Kaufmann’s translation implies that the descent begins with the conclusion of the Preface. In fact, however, Zarathustra’s descent began at the start of the Preface, which is a general introduction, whereas the speeches of Part One are an initial stage of the development of the doctrine. In this connection, we have to consider Zarathustra’s location. We are told at the end of the first section that he is now sojourning in the city of the Motley Cow. This odd name combines two apparently contrasting characteristics. The cow, like the...

    (pp. 134-173)

    Part Two takes as its motto the passage from the last section in Part One, in which Zarathustra says: “Only when you have all denied me will I come to you again” and love you with a different love. This is an echo of Matthew 10:33 and Mark 8:38. Jesus warns those who will deny him or be ashamed of him that he will deny or be ashamed of them. One could say that the love of Jesus remains the same during his first and his second coming; correlatively, he demands constancy from his disciples. Not so with Zarathustra. The...

    (pp. 174-206)

    This will be the shortest part of my commentary. Part Three ofZarathustrais the most intensely poetic, the part that gives the greatest support to those for whom the work is one of inspiration rather than discursive forethought. The reader will recall Nietzsche’s previously cited assertion that this “is the most interior of all that I have thus far written; it hovers over the heavens: ‘of the last happiness of the solitary.’” Since I am concerned with Nietzsche’s thought rather than with his poetic diction, I shall provide an analysis of his metaphors only when this contributes to our...

    (pp. 207-244)

    Part Four has a motto taken from Part Two, Section 2 (“On the Blessed Isles”). The passage warns against the folly of loving from a height that is not above pity, and quotes the devil as saying that God died of his pity for mankind. So presumably this will be the theme of the last part. Nietzsche does not explain in his Notebooks or correspondence what led him to add this part, which was apparently intended as an intermezzo between Part Three and a subsequent addition. It is therefore not clear how many parts Nietzsche intended to add to the...

    (pp. 245-250)

    From the very beginning of the European tradition, both poets and philosophers have spoken of the illusory, dreamlike character of human life. In general, the poets have lamented the insubstantiality of this dream, whereas the philosophers have taken it as the necessary, even trivial, consequence of a higher or deeper truth. Modern science, which begins with a synthesis of classical atomism, experimentation, and mathematical modeling, brings a new note of exaltation to the reductive analysis of the myth of the given. Recognition that life is a dream is obliterated by the apparent access to ultimate mastery of nature. Not much...

  12. NOTES
    (pp. 251-262)
  13. INDEX
    (pp. 263-264)