While discussing the history of tragedy as a form of art in Ancient Greece, Nietzsche lays the ground for a broad cultural dichotomy in Western civilization between the Dionysian and the Apollonian (loosely defined: reality undifferentiated by forms versus reality as differentiated by forms).
Nietzsche argues life involves a struggle between these two poles, each battling for control over the existence of humanity.
The tragedy of Ancient Greece was considered by Nietzsche to be the highest form of art, due to its mixture of both Apollonian and Dionysian elements into one seamless whole, allowing the spectator to experience the full spectrum of the human condition.
The issue at stake is, therefore, to experience and understand the Dionysian side of life without destroying the obvious values of the Apollonian side.
Questions to consider:
* What in this world today could be counted as a resemblance of the Dionysian - be it a pale, partial version of the ancient Greek experience?
* Is Nietzsche's identification of the Theoretical Man as an optimist grounded? Western civilization is also familiar with Ecclesiastes' bitter proverb: For with much wisdom comes much sorrow; the more knowledge, the more grief.
* Is it possible for the individual to cultivate a Dionysian approach to life while being part of a society that has seemed to forgotten it altogether?
* To what extent do art and some religious experiences reveal truths that are not constituted as knowledge?
Reading (the page numbers relate to the uploaded edition - Ian Johnston's translation):
Chapter 15 (pp. 52 - 55): On how the Apollonian has taken over the Dionysian in world history starting with Socrates, going into modern civilization through the sciences and the arts.
Recommended reading: Chapter 7 (pp. 28-33) - Nietzsche's account of truth in the Greek tragedy as an interplay of the Dionysian and the Apollonian.
A copy of the book is available for download in the Files section.