The Dawn of Dayby Friedrich Nietzsche
When Nietzsche called his book The Dawn of Day, he was far from giving it a merely fanciful title to attract the attention of that large section of the public which judges books by their titles rather than by their contents. The Dawn of Day represents, figuratively, the dawn of Nietzsche's own philosophy. Hitherto he had been considerably influenced in his outlook, if… See more details below
When Nietzsche called his book The Dawn of Day, he was far from giving it a merely fanciful title to attract the attention of that large section of the public which judges books by their titles rather than by their contents. The Dawn of Day represents, figuratively, the dawn of Nietzsche's own philosophy. Hitherto he had been considerably influenced in his outlook, if not in his actual thoughts, by Schopenhauer, Wagner, and perhaps also Comte. Human, all-too-Human, belongs to a period of transition. After his rupture with Bayreuth, Nietzsche is, in both parts of that work, trying to stand on his own legs, and to regain his spiritual freedom; he is feeling his way to his own philosophy. The Dawn of Day, written in 1881 under the invigorating influence of a Genoese spring, is the dawn of this new Nietzsche. "With this book I open my campaign against morality," he himself said later in his autobiography, the Ecce Homo.
Just as in the case of the books written in his prime-The Joyful Wisdom, Zarathustra, Beyond Good and Evil, and The Genealogy of Morals-we cannot fail to be impressed in this work by Nietzsche's deep psychological insight, the insight that showed him to be a powerful judge of men and things unequalled in the nineteenth or, perhaps, any other century. One example of this is seen in his searching analysis of the Apostle Paul (Aphorism 68), in which the soul of the "First Christian" is ruthlessly and realistically laid bare to us. Nietzsche's summing-up of the Founder of Christianity-for of course, as is now generally recognised, it was Paul, and not Christ, who founded the Christian Church-has not yet called forth those bitter attacks from theologians that might have been expected, though one reason for this apparent neglect is no doubt that the portrait is so true, and in these circumstances silence is certainly golden on the part of defenders of the faith, who are otherwise, as a rule, loquacious enough. Nor has the taunt in Aphorism 84 elicited an answer from the quarter whither it was directed; and the "free" (not to say dishonest) interpretation of the Bible by Christian scholars and theologians, which is still proceeding merrily, is now being turned to Nietzsche's own writings. For the philosopher's works are now being "explained away" by German theologians in a most naïve and daring fashion, and with an ability which has no doubt been acquired as the result of centuries of skilful interpretation of the Holy Writ.
Nor are professional theologians the only ones who have failed to answer Nietzsche; for in other than religious matters the majority of savants have not succeeded in plumbing his depths. There is, for example, the question of race. Ten years ago, twenty years after the publication of The Dawn of Day, Nietzsche's countrymen enthusiastically hailed a book which has recently been translated into English, Chamberlain's Foundations of the Nineteenth Century. In this book the Teutons are said to be superior to all the other peoples in the world, the reason given being that they have kept their race pure. It is due to this purity of race that they have produced so many great men; for every "good" man in history is a Teuton, and every bad man something else. Considerable skill is exhibited by the author in filching from his opponents the Latins their best trump cards, and likewise the trump card, Jesus Christ, from the Jews; for Jesus Christ, according to Chamberlain's very plausible argument, was not a Jew but an Aryan, i.e. a member of that great family of which the Teutons are a branch.
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