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Re-philology and its three components

Keywords: philology, identity, normativity, research methodology, Friedrich Nietzsche

For about a century, philology as a discipline has been eroding. This has largely been due to the emancipation of some of its subdisciplines, but a marginalisation of the humanities in the contemporary society has catalysed the process, too. This essay attempts to analyse the nature of philology relying on the vision outlined by Friedrich Nietzsche in his inaugural lecture „Homer and classical philology”. According to Nietzsche, philology consists of three subdisciplines: history, language science, and aesthetics, all mixed together in a rather unsystematic way. For Nietzsche, philology has always had pedagogical aims, too, and for this reason it has never been a purely scientific enterprise, but has contained a strong normative component. The essay argues that philology is still needed as a discipline, because it engages in collective identity building, which is a prerequisite for every well-functioning society. Modern philology, or re-philology as the essay puts it, needs to be defined more precisely, incorporating only these fields of study that can produce synergy if combined. These fields are 1) the study of language usage discourse and rhetorics, i.e. all fields that are concerned with using language as a tool of persuasion; 2) humanities that deal with the study of culture and history; and 3) ethics that addresses the basic essential questions for humanity. The goal of re-philology is to provide ideological narratives for building inclusive collective identities in the modern diverse societies


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