The Use and Disadvantage of History for Life

The third chapter of the book argues that Nietzsche’s indictment of scientific and philosophic history is a continuation of the critique of modern culture and education he began in his essay on David Strauss. This chapter explains why Nietzsche thinks history and historiography properly used can promote a culture that enhances life, and shows why he thinks there is an antithesis between knowledge and life that must be managed by history and culture. When Nietzsche’s descriptions of the three modes of history featured in the essay (monumental, antiquarian, and critical) are read in the context of his broader critique of German historicism, the historical sickness he diagnoses in the Germans manifests itself as a distinctively antiquarian sickness. This chapter concludes that Nietzsche thinks the antiquarian degeneration of modern German culture can be cured by a generous application of monumental history, which promotes the active and noble virtues his time lacks.