"But not to perish from internal distress and doubt when one inflicts great suffering and hears the cry of suffering : that is great, that belongs to greatness." The Gay Science, Fourth Book, 325

How can suffering being great be justified?


1 Answer 1


As the epigram to Joyous Science, Nietzsche quotes Emerson to the extent that (paraphrased):

For sages and poets, every experience (positive or negative) is profitable, all days sacred, all human beings “divine”.

Every interaction with the world is an encounter with it, and increases or decreases our powers, causes a change in the forces that contain and constitute our body and mind. If we are “ready” and have the right frame of mind — perhaps an ethicoaesthetic “evaluating” frame rather than a moralizing, interpreting one — we can be prepared for many kinds of events and unexpected encounters, able to turn accidents into opportunities.

More broadly the joyous science of poetry is a means of electrifying and intensifying the mystery of life, of feigning interest in order to produce fascination with life, to seduce us into believing in the value of life. To make meaning of our hardship, to create something beautiful and aesthetically justified from suffering: this is the long work of the poet or the sage, a self-guided conquest of the inner galaxies of the emotions, the chemistry of feelings; and in this sort of work we need every kind of experience (to have felt every point of view...)

  • Thank you immensely! Fantastic response, though my turmoil surrounding this question has already been appeased. I diverge at the point of that profitability, that acquireance of value. I believe that is disagreeing with the idea of being, and even more so with becoming. I witness happening. I witness Dao. Apr 21, 2019 at 22:25
  • i would like to upvote, but i don't see a need to equivocate on 'poetry' and "the joyous science". are they the same? if so, what is philosophy?
    – user38026
    Apr 23, 2019 at 2:33
  • @another_name yes, joyous science is an expression referring to poetry; as dismal science refers to economics
    – Joseph Weissman
    Apr 23, 2019 at 11:27
  • i'll take your word for it i guess!
    – user38026
    Apr 23, 2019 at 13:13
  • are you saying that poetry is the same as philosophy tho?
    – user38026
    Apr 23, 2019 at 14:49

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