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"Courage in the Face of Reality": Nietzsche's Admiration for Thucydides

John Zumbrunnen
Polity
Vol. 35, No. 2 (Winter, 2002), pp. 237-263
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3235499
Page Count: 27
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"Courage in the Face of Reality": Nietzsche's Admiration for Thucydides
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Abstract

In Twilight of the Idols Nietzsche describes Thucydides as his recreation from and cure for Platonism. He attributes to Thucydides "courage in the face of reality" as well as "self control" and "control over things." In this article, I explore Nietzsche's admiration for Thucydides. I begin by considering Nietzsche's reliance upon the austere artistry of the History for relief from Platonism. I then turn to consider three key terms in Nietzsche's praise of Thucydides: reality, control, and courage. Building on my reading of these terms, I argue that Nietzsche's admiration for Thucydides anticipates recent "postmodern" and "constructivist" readings of the History and that Nietzsche can, in turn, help us to take fuller advantage of the resources the History has to offer for our thinking about politics and, in particular, democratic politics.

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