'Nietzsche's tone. A philologist's answer to the rise of linguistics'
in: Beiträge zur Geschichte der Sprachwissenschaft 11 (2001), 89-116
This article demonstrates the philosophical and linguistic relevance of reading Nietzsche as a philologist and of considering his relationship towards linguistics. His interest in linguistics was motivated by the presentation of the origin of language as a unifying principle. Music led him to experience the original unity particularly as a 'tone language' expressing shared feelings which later, more conceptual 'word languages' could not reach. He lost his belief in a unified origin at the time of the French-Prussian war. At this time, the influence of the State in his eyes advocated the acceptance of unproblematic knowledge and monolithic truth at the cost of Bildung and cultural diversity. Also linguistics abandoned the practical orientation of science, i.e.: the cultural inspirational force it used to exercise over individual people. This criticism was valid for what was left of philology as well. In Nietzsche's eyes, both sciences had to develop into natural sciences as a way of regaining contact with the living aspect of language, i.e. with the prolongation of culture. Unity should not be conceived as something already there in some original state, but as something to be produced. After his professorate in philology, in his project of a 'gaya scienza', Nietzsche stressed a complementary need: the importance of the power of 'the herd' to produce and sustain deviating individuals. His philosophical struggle for differences, for the recognition of unique experiences, appears to presuppose the linguistic coherence experienced through tones.