- Friedrich Nietzsche, The Twilight of the Idols (1889)
In On the Genealogy of Morality (1887), we see a similar sentiment expressed: 'art, in which precisely the lie hallows itself, in which the will to deception has good conscience on its side, is much more fundamentally opposed to the ascetic ideal than is science...'
This line from The Twilight of the Idols is thus a continuation of this basic view of art, but with something slightly new. Art does not merely justify existence by presenting appearance as appearance; the artistic impulse is connected to the life impulse in terms of its evaluative function. Against those who would assess the value of life as 'nil,' Nietzsche argues that the value of life cannot be accurately or objectively assessed. To do so, he argues, would require a perspective external to life. We have, as it were, too much 'skin in the game' to be objective in the evaluation of life. However, we can also make the following two points: (1) we are living beings, (i.e., we are expressions of life), and; (2) we are essentially valuing beings. We choose things not just because they satisfy immediate physiological needs or urges, but because we value them; we assess them as being worth choosing. So we cannot accurately assess the 'value' of life, but nonetheless, 'life itself evaluates through us when we establish values...'
In this latter formulation of the significance of art, it is in this way that art 'saves'. Art does not merely present life in terms of fluctuation and appearance; it also evaluates: '...what does all art do? does it not praise? does it not glorify? does it not select? does it not highlight? By doing all this it strengthens or weakens certain valuations...' Heidegger writes that a value for Nietzsche is a point of view - it is, we might say, a way of experiencing the world. The artist privileges certain values, while abolishing others. The artist thus transforms our experience of the world, and in so doing, transforms the world. The artist does not simply present the world; she creates it.