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The Canine in Conversation
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a photograph of F Nietzsche
figure 1  


Nietzsche's dog. Pain.

“I have given a name to my pain and call it 'dog': it is just as faithful, just as obtrusive and shameless, just as entertaining, just as clever as any other dog—and I can scold it and vent my bad moods on it, as others do with their dogs, servants, and wives.”reference 1 This description of Friedrich Nietzsche's experience of pain both conveys a vivid sense of his suffering and captures many essential social qualities of dogs. The adjectives—obtrusive, shameless, entertaining, and clever—may not be comprehensive, but they are apt. And the equation of dogs with wives and servants seems an ironic acknowledgement of dogs' status as second-class citizens. That he vents his bad moods on his pain is equivalent to kicking the dog.

1. Nietzsche, Friedrich Wilhelm, and Walter Arnold Kaufmann. 1974. The Gay Science. 1st ed. New York: Random House.

About the illustration: A classic photograph of Nietzsche. I cannot discover the original source, though it is reproduced many times on the nets. Last updated: April 15, 2008
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