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Nietzsche’s Diagnosis of Socrates in The Birth of Tragedy: Voyeurism and the Denigration of Difference

From the book Nietzsche and the Politics of Difference

  • Glen Baier


This chapter contends that Nietzsche’s commitment to the politics of difference commences with The Birth of Tragedy. At the core of that work is an assessment of Socrates which highlights his eagerness to denigrate difference. The chapter links this characterisation of Socrates to Nietzsche’s analysis of the model of “vision” which dominates the Socratic perspective: Socrates is a voyeur seeking fulfilment of a personal erotic fantasy. As voyeur, Socrates demands to see all, and to “correct being”. The chapter analyses how Nietzsche explains this fantasy as symptomatic of Socrates’ deep-seated unwillingness to face the actuality of ontological diversity and thus denigrates difference.

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