Bruce Ellis Benson
In The Birth of Tragedy, Nietzsche insists that Socrates would only truly be a philosopher if he were to become a musician. For Nietzsche, music—and all art—reveals what philosophy cannot and affects us in ways that dialectic could never reach. It reveals the tragic, gives us insights, brings us joy, and takes us out of ourselves. By becoming musicians—in a broad sense—we transform ourselves. Although Nietzsche may have called himself an “immoralist”—and certainly didn’t believe in good and evil—he has a strong sense of what it would mean to be a “better” human being, through art.
Bruce Ellis Benson is Professor of Philosophy at Wheaton College and Visiting Professor at Katholieke Universiteit Leuven (Belgium). His philosophical work is influenced by Hegel, Edmund Husserl and Phenomenology, and the hermeneutics of Hans-Georg Gadamer. He is the co-founder of the Society for Continental Philosophy and Theology. Benson has served as Visiting Scholar at the New School for Social Research, New York. He is the author of Pious Nietzsche: Decadence and Dionysian Faith (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2008), The Improvisation of Musical Dialogue: A Phenomenology of Music (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003); Graven Ideologies: Nietzsche, Derrida, and Marion on Modern Idolatry (Downers Grove, Ill.: IVP, 2002). He is at work on a study of art and improvisation.