Pious Nietzsche

Pious Nietzsche: Decadence & Dionysian Faith

Indiana Series in the Philosophy of Religion
Publisher: Indiana University Press | On the web
Year: 2007
e-ISSN: 9780253003577

Pious Nietzsche coverBruce Ellis Benson puts forward the surprising idea that Nietzsche was never a godless nihilist, but was instead deeply religious. But how does Nietzsche affirm life and faith in the midst of decadence and decay? Benson looks carefully at Nietzsche’s life history and views of three decadents, Socrates, Wagner, and Paul, to come to grips with his pietistic turn. Key to this understanding is Benson’s interpretation of the powerful effect that Nietzsche thinks music has on the human spirit. Benson claims that Nietzsche’s improvisations at the piano were emblematic of the Dionysian or frenzied, ecstatic state he sought, but was ultimately unable to achieve, before he descended into madness. For its insights into questions of faith, decadence, and transcendence, this book is an important contribution to Nietzsche studies, philosophy, and religion.

From the Introduction of the work:

The deeply religious nature of Nietzsche’s thought and his attempts to overcome his early religiosity in order to move to a new religiosity are the focus of this text. I contend that Nietzsche not only begins as a Pietist but also ends as one. Though the content of Nietzsche’s “new” Dionysian Pietism is different from the Pietism of his childhood, the form remains virtually unchanged. Both versions of Pietism are for Nietzsche matters “of the heart.”

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Table of Contents

Preface: Reading Nietzsche
List of Abbreviations

Introduction: Improvising Pietism

Part 1 From Christian Pietism to Dionysian Pietism
1. The Prayers and Tears of Young Fritz
2. The Euthanasia of Christianity
3.  The Piety of Zarathustra
Part 2 Profiles in Decadence
4.  Nietzsche’s Decadence
5. Socrates’ Fate
6.  Wagner’s Redemption
7.  Paul’s Revenge
Part 3 Nietzsche’s New Pietism
8. Deconstructing the Redeemer
9.  Nietzsche’s Musical Askêsis
10. We, Too, Are Still Pious