College of Liberal Arts & Social Sciences Theses and Dissertations

Graduation Date


Document Type


Department/Program Conferring Degree



Nietzsche. Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, Heraclitus


In my dissertation I attempt to answer one question: What is the precise nature of Nietzsche’s view of Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle? I answer this question over four chapters. Each chapter is a self-contained essay that explores the contours of Nietzsche’s ambivalence toward these figures. In Chapter I I show how Nietzsche’s ambivalence toward Socrates is a manifestation of Nietzsche’s ambivalence toward reason. In Chapter II I argue that Nietzsche’s ambivalence toward Plato culminates in four features of Plato’s philosophy: (1) his political philosophy, (2) his metaphysics and epistemology, and (3) his dramatic style. In Chapter III I argue that there are four areas of inquiry that help clarify Nietzsche’s ambivalence toward Aristotle: (1) philosophical methods, (2) ethics, (3) free will, and (4) Greek tragedy. Despite Nietzsche’s attack on Aristotle for misunderstanding the nature of Greek tragedy, I show that Nietzsche owes multiple debts of gratitude for what he seemingly gleaned from the Macedonian philosopher. Finally, in Chapter IV, despite Nietzsche’s objections, I show that the classical Greek philosophers are just as responsible, if not more responsible, than their archaic predecessors for Nietzsche’s intellectual development through a comparative analysis of Nietzsche’s engagement with Plato and Heraclitus.