Let’s dance! Nietzsche on music and dancing.

Photo by Engin Akyurt on Pexels.com

In his book The birth of tragedy, Friedrich Nietzsche, the philosopher of life, found two principles in nature. In Greek mythology, Apollo and Dionysus are both sons of Zeus. Apollo is the god of the sun, of rational thinking and order, and appeals to logic, prudence and purity. Dionysus is the god of wine and dance, of irrationality and chaos, and appeals to emotions and instincts. The Ancient Greeks did not consider the two gods to be opposites or rivals, although they were often entwined by nature.

So, how can these two principles teach us more about the body?

The body, like any form of life, is made of these two principles. The Dionysian part of the body refers to chaotic instincts as very different of rationality and logic, a cherished dichotomy to philosophy in general. In other words, the Dionysian part of the body is the energy of life and survival that can be materialized in reproduction, nutrition, breathing and movements. This is when life in us, the Dionysian part, gets to be creative. Simply put, this is when we dance our heart out like nobody is watching; this is when a child moves in all different ways; this when we also stop and stretch and lay down. Sometimes, we are awaken full of life and sometimes we are not. Often we want to move in a certain way. Those misunderstood tendencies are the Dionysian in us, this life energy that can’t be contained or else it will turn against us with self-hate, diseases and pain.

“One must still have chaos in oneself to give birth to a dancing star”. Friedrich Nietzsche.

The Apollonian part in us is the rational and order part that gives the Dionysian energy a certain form. It is the idea of form and technique in any given activity. A proper form or technique tends to turn a movement into an aesthetic and orderly activity. This is when sports science and experience advises on good form to prevent injuries, because the Dionysian energetic instinctive part of the body can be chaotic and dangerous.

“And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music”. Friedrich Nietzsche.

Nietzsche’s concept of the body as the symbol of the will

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Richard Arthur Spinello in his article “Nietzsche’s conception of the body” (link at the end of the post) writes the following:

“The term “body” is a metaphorical way of describing the self not as a soul or simple substance but as an aggregate of forces or drives. In these same works Nietzsche develops a strong critique of consciousness and a highly positive evaluation of our instincts and emotions, the most important of those inner forces which comprise the self.”

According to Nietzsche, the body is an instinctive or force structure where forces are permanently fighting each others. Those forces can be called desires which are of two types: active and reactive. Mainly speaking, active forces or desires represents creativity, love of life, freedom, affirmation of life and all tendencies that can be referred to as positive. The reactive forces are the opposite: they represent resentment, self-hate, jealousy and all negative tendencies. Sometimes, active ones take over reactive ones and produce a positive creative full of life action. Some other times, reactive ones win the fight and results in self-hate resentful attitude or action. The fight and its consequences depend on each individual drives, experiences and general attitude. That being said, Nietzsche believed that his concept of will of power – often mistaken as the will of evil power- comes from the body and its active forces. Therefore, the Nietzschean will of power means the power of the will to be active and creative in a life affirmation attitude.

Understanding the basics of the Nietzschean philosophy requires a different perspective of the human body. If one wants freedom and joy, then one must strengthen active desires. Taken into a different level, science tells that the human body is made of about 600 muscles, which means that humans are movement machines. Combining Nietzsche’s conception of the body with science gives us an idea on how to strengthen active desires; one way to do it is through movement as in being physically active.

One of the main reasons behind some diseases and pain lies in the imbalance of sedentary life and lack of movement.

If you are interested in Spinello’s full article that broader on Nietzsche’s philosophy of the body and not solely focused on movement like my post, click on the following link:

https://research.library.fordham.edu/dissertations/AAI8111318/#:~:text=The%20term%20%22body%22%20is%20a,aggregate%20of%20forces%20or%20drives.&text=Once%20this%20conception%20of%20the,the%20overman%2C%20and%20eternal%20return.

The body in philosophy

Photo by Guduru Ajay bhargav on Pexels.com

Philosophy is mainly linked to existential questions, abstract concepts and metaphysical issues. However, many philosophers (maybe all of them) mentioned, studied and conceptualized the body. Some did it in an attempt to understand the cause behind the being just like the pre-Socratic did by studying nature, the physis; others focused more on the human body.

The body as a philosophical concept is underrated and it deserves our attention to comprehend life, energy and fitness! While the latter is never linked to philosophy, philosophers talked about it in between the lines.

In a round up of this subject, the principal problematic that always emerges about the body is its relation to the mind that you can check in my posts:

The mind body connection (part I) The mind body connection II The mind body connection III The mind body connection IV

On a more personal note, Spinoza and Descartes, although adversaries, taught me how to workout and you can check my posts on both of them:

What Spinoza taught me about my body

Descartes’ mechanism and the muscle-centric approach in fitness

Finally, why are we so eager to go through difficult physical contortions and put the body through ultimate tests? Check my post on Deleuze’s concept of the body without organs in this post:

Yoga or the deleuzian Body without Organs !

Finding Meaning in the Pursuit of Meaning

After studying philosophy and psychology by myself for a little less than a year. I’d like to share with you my views on life. If I were to gave myself labels for my ever-changing and evolving philosophy of life, at this moment I’d consider myself as a mix of the following philosophies: 1. Absurdism Finding […]

Finding Meaning in the Pursuit of Meaning

Before Philosophy

Let’s spend a little time today on what Jean Gebser means by “unperspectival” consciousness, which is also, in many respects, what Nietzsche means by “Dionysian” consciousness, rather than “Apollonian” consciousness. For Dionysian consciousness, a formula for being like cogito ergo sum (or “I think therefore I am”) is absurd. We could just as well say […]

Before Philosophy

Complete Pleasure And Philosophy Of The Epicureans!

Complete Pleasure And Philosophy Of The Epicureans! Epicureanism is a philosophical school of intelligence that contends that the quest for delight is the essential or most vital objective of this human existence.  An Epicurean endeavours to augment net delight (joy less the non-pleasure). Anyway upon at long last picking up this delight, satisfaction may stay […]

Complete Pleasure And Philosophy Of The Epicureans!

Imitation or Representation – Art Philosophy

Recently I mentioned the connections between art and philosophy — a branch of study referred to as aesthetics. On this point, which deals with beauty and taste, I’m content to go with the conventional wisdom that says beauty lies in the eye of the beholder. You like what you like. I like what I like. Sometimes […]

Imitation or Representation – Art Philosophy

Descartes’ mechanism and the muscle-centric approach in fitness

Rene Descartes was a 17th century French philosopher known for his concept of consciousness and the emancipation of man through thinking when he wrote: “Cogito ergo sum”, “I think therefore I am “.

Descartes was in Plato’s dualistic theory of the body and mind. According to Descartes, humans are made of two dimensions, the body and the mind, unlike nature and animals who are one-dimensional as pure machines. However, the human body in itself is a machine. Bodies are submitted to physical and mechanical laws; this is Descartes’ theory of the animal-machine.

The question is: is the muscle-centric approach to fitness mechanistic?

Fitness’ muscle-centric approach is focused on muscles as types, categories, functions, performance and their respective related types of exercises and nutrition. Although being direct consequences, fat loss and general health are not the main target in the muscle-centric fitness. The main target is optimizing muscles with strength and performance. In other words, this approach is very much cartesian mechanism.

Muscle-centric paradigm is thought of as new because it is applied now in some types of fitness but it is rooted in the 17th century philosophy. Whether one likes it or not, it is very efficient.

A Tribute to Schopenhauer “The World is my Idea”

“The World is My Idea” this is a truth which holds good for everything that lives and knows To Schopenhauer’s masterpiece the world as will and idea Schopenhauer is more closer to me than my father Schopenhauer is the essence of my soul I read and re-read his first page of the volume world as […]

A Tribute to Schopenhauer “The World is my Idea”

Is there anything essentially natural?

There is nothing called natural in itself. Any given repetitive behaviour is perceived as natural by its subject and by others. Therefore, is natural the synonym of repetition?

Rituals and habits are referred to as a second nature. Then, what is the first nature? Speaking of human nature, perhaps the first nature (the core human nature) is the ability to learn, to adapt, to repeat and to evolve. The Swiss philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau defines human nature as “perfectibility”, the capacity of becoming perfect.

This is the reason why breaking habits isn’t an easy task. It is shedding an “old nature”. The brain is a ritual machine, functioning with schemes and patterns followed by rewards if well repeated. Addiction is in this picture. To change habits, to shed the “old nature” requires thought changing and new habits.

Replace, repeat, reward!