This article argues that Nietzsche's Birth of Tragedy is an attempt to forge a mode of discourse that draws equally upon the resources of tragic drama, opera, and philosophy, and thereby attempts to disclose their internal relatedness, in order both to exemplify and to enable the attainment of a nonelitist species of perfectionism—one that has both an individual and a cultural dimension (with the latter finding expression in a willingness to question and reconfigure existing boundaries between the moral, the political, and the aesthetic domains, among others). The article thereby contributes to an interpretative tradition initiated in recent work by James Conant and Stanley Cavell, by extending its range of textual application.

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