Contemptuous of the self congratulation and cultural triumphalism that followed Prussia’s victory in the Franco Prussian war, Nietzsche in his Thoughts out of Season was far from simply preferring French culture to German. The cultural philistine is present in every era, or at least every democratically minded one. Baudelaire had been vitriolic about the coarseness of his own epoch. In this book Nietzsche’s remedy for the faults in the Zeitgeist are Schopenhauer’s philosophy and Wagner’s music. Untimely men resist received wisdom. In modern circumstances any higher culture must be unseasonable in this sense. In the chapter on Strauss, Nietzsche hones in on the suggestion that culture philistinism can be identified with weakness, a seminal idea that lent itself to further development. Commonly the philistine was thought of as a being of rude health and strength, compared to the delicate and sickly artistic personality, here the tragic soul. Did Nietzsche’s eventual rejection of the Schopenhauerian aesthetic really come from greater understanding? How much did he retain of his earlier views in his mature philosophy of beauty and art? In his later work Nietzsche describes a chain of misunderstandings. Kant misunderstood the aesthetic experience, Schopenhauer misunderstood Kant’s teaching, and Wagner misunderstood Schopenhauer’s. Nietzsche came to see that he himself had strictly speaking misrepresented both Schopenhauer and Wagner. When talking of both these untimely figures he had really been talking about himself. I shall argue his mature view was the product of growing older, but not inevitably wiser, and that all these so called misunderstandings were in their own way legitimate. Nietzsche’s later perspective was just more appropriate to a different period of life.
Instead of the appreciation of art, the focus of his later aesthetics is on its creation. This approach raises the question of why producer’s viewpoint should be considered better than the consumer’s. Is not consumption the ultimate purpose of production?