Twilight of the Idols

by

Friedrich Nietzsche

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(428–347 B.C.E.) Plato was an ancient Greek philosopher. One of Nietzsche’s central goals in Twilight of the Idols is to challenge and dismantle the philosophers, moralists, and ideals that history has placed on a pedestal. Plato (and Socrates) bear the brunt of Nietzsche’s ire. In the section titled “‘Reason’ in Philosophy,” Nietzsche condemns ancient philosophers like Plato for teaching people to distrust their “senses” and view the physical world as an “illusion.” Nietzsche rejects Platonic philosophy because it separates the natural world from the ideal world—that is, it distinguishes between lived, sensory experiences and unattainable ideals. Nietzsche believes that this manner of thinking has taught humanity to devalue human instinct and, ultimately, life itself. Plato’s Theory of Forms argues that the physical world is less real than the world of ideas. In the section titled “How the ‘Real World’ at last Became a Myth,” Nietzsche summarizes how Platonic philosophy taught humanity to distrust their senses and ultimately reject “the real world.” Nietzsche thinks this is bad for society because when people no longer trust their instincts or believe in the world, they slip into decadence, nihilism, and ruin—which, according to Nietzsche, are precisely the ills that plague modernity.

Plato Quotes in Twilight of the Idols

The Twilight of the Idols quotes below are all either spoken by Plato or refer to Plato. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
History and the Decline of Civilization  Theme Icon
).
“Reason” in Philosophy Quotes

To talk about ‘another’ world than this is quite pointless, provided that an instinct for slandering, disparaging and accusing life is not strong within us: in the latter case we revenge ourselves on life by means of the phantasmagoria of ‘another’, a ‘better’ life.

Related Characters: Friedrich Nietzsche (speaker), Plato, Socrates
Page Number: 48
Explanation and Analysis:
How the “Real World” at last Became a Myth Quotes

6. We have abolished the real world: what world is left? the apparent world perhaps? … But no! with the real world we have also abolished the apparent world!

Related Characters: Friedrich Nietzsche (speaker), Plato
Page Number: 51
Explanation and Analysis:
What I Owe to the Ancients Quotes

Ultimately my mistrust of Plato extends to the very bottom of him: I find him deviated so far from all the fundamental instincts of the Hellenes, so morally infected, so much an antecedent Christian—he already has the concept ‘good’ as the supreme concept—that I should prefer to describe the entire phenomenon ‘Plato’ by the harsh term ‘higher swindle’ or, if you prefer, ‘idealism’, than by any other.

Related Characters: Friedrich Nietzsche (speaker), Plato
Page Number: 117
Explanation and Analysis:
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Plato Character Timeline in Twilight of the Idols

The timeline below shows where the character Plato appears in Twilight of the Idols. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
The Problem of Socrates
The Ideal vs. The Real  Theme Icon
2. Nietzsche considers Socrates and Plato to be symbols of a fallen ancient Greece. In particular, Nietzsche takes issue with these... (full context)
History and the Decline of Civilization  Theme Icon
The Will to Power   Theme Icon
The Ideal vs. The Real  Theme Icon
Christianity and the “Revaluation of All Values”  Theme Icon
...become “absurdly rational.” Nietzsche regards the “moralism” and subservience to dialectics of Greek philosophers from Plato onward as “pathologically conditioned.”  All that “reason = virtue = happiness” means is that people... (full context)
How the “Real World” at last Became a Myth
History and the Decline of Civilization  Theme Icon
The Will to Power   Theme Icon
The Ideal vs. The Real  Theme Icon
Christianity and the “Revaluation of All Values”  Theme Icon
...#1 states that wise people exist in and are themselves the real world (Nietzsche cites Plato’s “I, Plato, am the truth” as an example of this idea). Maxim #2: the real... (full context)
The Four Great Errors
History and the Decline of Civilization  Theme Icon
The Will to Power   Theme Icon
The Ideal vs. The Real  Theme Icon
Christianity and the “Revaluation of All Values”  Theme Icon
...actions or existence. Nietzsche derides the idea of “intelligible freedom” put forth by Kant and Plato. People aren’t the consequence of “a specific design, a will, a purpose,” therefore they ought... (full context)
Expeditions of an Untimely Man
The Ideal vs. The Real  Theme Icon
Christianity and the “Revaluation of All Values”  Theme Icon
...of nature, which is full of beauty (and procreation) disproves this assertion. Nietzsche adds that Plato, too, discredits Schopenhauer’s claim (Plato argued that beauty encourages procreation). (full context)
History and the Decline of Civilization  Theme Icon
The Will to Power   Theme Icon
The Ideal vs. The Real  Theme Icon
Christianity and the “Revaluation of All Values”  Theme Icon
23. Nietzsche expands on Plato’s views on beauty. Plato argued that Platonic philosophy would not exist had Athens “not possessed... (full context)
What I Owe to the Ancients
History and the Decline of Civilization  Theme Icon
The Ideal vs. The Real  Theme Icon
Christianity and the “Revaluation of All Values”  Theme Icon
...“too strange,” and they don’t know how to write. Nietzsche can’t bring himself to admire Plato the way most scholars do, and he calls Platonic dialogue a “frightfully self-satisfied and childish... (full context)