32 pages 1 hour read

Friedrich Nietzsche

The Gay Science

Nonfiction | Book | Adult | Published in 1882

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Symbols & Motifs

Light

In The Gay Science, Nietzsche develops light as a motif, in which light, or moving into the light, represents knowledge and awareness,while darkness represents a lack thereof. This motif culminates with Nietzsche’s image of individuals, and their knowledge, as a tree, which needs light to grow.

Nietzsche calls for individuals to dig out of the well of darkness that their lack of knowledge has led them down. As light and dark is a classic binary, Nietzsche only need hint at this motif now and again to strike up the epic, religious, and poetic references he wants to connect to his philosophy.

After declaring God dead, Nietzsche proposes an image of the kind of fearless, selfish thinker capable of transforming human knowledge, saying that such an individual does what’s in their power “to bring light to the earth, we want to be ‘the light of the earth!’” (128). In the closing pages of “Book Fourth,” Zarathustra states,“Therefore must I descend into the deep, as thou doest in the evening, when thou goest beyond the sea and givest light also to the netherworld, thou most rich star!” (153).

Nietzschecelebrates knowledge as light that penetrates the darkness of unintelligence, as though itcuts through layers.

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