Athabasca University

Psychology Glossary of Terms


Glossary Home AU Home AU Psych Resources
Writing Help Positive Reinforcement Internal Validity
    Registered Student Login

A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z | Index

Apollonian aspect of human nature

For Nietzsche, the rational side of human nature, characterized by tranquility, orderliness, and predictability.
Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900) believed there are two sides to human nature: the Apollonian (rational) aspect, characterized by tranquility, orderliness, and predictability; and Dionysian (irrational) aspect, characterized by creative chaos, passion, and change. For Nietzsche, the best life involves a synthesis of these two tendencies, that is, controlled passion. His goal was to inject the Dionysian spirit into the lifeless rationalistic zeitgeist of his day (Enlightenment philosophy). Nietzsche saw himself primarily as a psychologist. Indeed, many of the terms he introduced in this context found their way into the writings of Sigmund Freud (1856-1939). For example, he referred to the animalistic urges of the Dionysian aspect as the id; the Apollonian aspect was said to sublimate those urges into works of art; and when the urges became too strong, the Apollonian aspect repressed them.
Further Reading:

Curry, B. (????). Perspectives of Nietzsche [On-line] Available:

Nietzsche, F. (2000). The birth of tragedy. (D. Smith, Trans.). New York: Oxford University Press. (Original work published 1872).

Nietzsche, F. (1998). The will to power. (R. Hollingdale & W. Kaufmann, Trans.). New York: Random House. (Original work published 1901).

Oxford Companion to Philosophy. (1995). Dionysian and Apollonian [On-line] Available:

Schacht, R. (1983). Nietzsche. Boston: Routledge & K. Paul.

Related Terms:

Dionysian aspect of human nature


Freud, Sigmund (1856 - 1939)

Id (Hergenhahn)

Nietzsche, Friedrich Wilhelm (1844 - 1900)

Repression (Hergenhahn)

Self-Instructional Resources:
Take a 1-item self-test over this concept.

Athabasca University, Canada's Open University

© Athabasca University.
Maintained by Information Architect
Last Modified: Thu Feb 9 13:56:48 2017