The Pious Antichrist: Nietzsche as a Religious Thinker
Os, A.C. van
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What are, according to Nietzsche, the aspects of religion that a society must preserve, and which must it abandon? Nietzsche has traditionally been characterised as an atheist, but this interpretation necessarily overlooks his far more ambiguous attitude to religion, as well as who Nietzsche’s Death of God passage is addressed to. Following Nietzsche’s own approach, an analysis of the ideas as well as of its author reveals that Nietzsche’s entire project has been dominated by his religious preoccupation. From The Birth of Tragedy in 1972 to Ecce Homo in 1888, Nietzsche continuously focuses on religious individuals as a means to criticise, study, and validate abstract religious phenomena; Dionysus/Apollo becomes Dionysus versus the Crucified. A closer analysis reveals that the latter opposition must not be understood as Nietzsche’s identification with the first at the expense of the latter, but rather equally with both. Despite his destructive criticism of religion, Nietzsche has the methodological means to constructively analyse religious phenomena, and he accordingly arrives at criteria for healthy religions.