• Aleksander Kvam
    213
    nor grounded in something transcendent.John Doe

    what, like a god, or something?
  • ChatteringMonkey
    82




    could he mean that truth is false? — K

    He did believe that even truth is allways a falsification to some extend. I'd recomment to read "on truth and lies in an extra-moral sense" to understand where he's coming from, it's not that long... A crude summary of it would be that truth is an agreement on names for things and relations, and that we then forget that they are only conventions.

    But then he clearly also believes in some sense of truth, as is evident in numerous passages. So how do we reconcile these two? I think we need to take serious his statements that 'truth originates from it's opposite'. We begin with the most crude falsifications of the world, which then can eventially be refined into something that is progressively more accurate or less wrong. This is actually analoguous to how science works, e.g. we come up with an initial hypothesis and crude models, disproof and falsify them, and then come up with better models, rinse repeat...

    Also note that truth and untruth, is not to be confounded with 'the will to truth' and 'the will to decieve' which is what he is talking about in the quote in the opening post.
  • StreetlightX
    2.7k
    I'm not sure Nietzsche really holds to any unequivocal notion of truth -

    (cf. the famous: "What then is truth? A movable host of metaphors, metonymies, and anthropomorphisms: in short, a sum of human relations which have been poetically and rhetorically intensified, transferred, and embellished, and which, after long usage, seem to a people to be fixed, canonical, and binding. Truths are illusions which we have forgotten are illusions — they are metaphors that have become worn out and have been drained of sensuous force, coins which have lost their embossing and are now considered as metal and no longer as coins.)

    - and that he holds to a more or less pragmatic understanding of truth where truth simply is a variable plank in a larger assemblage of elements that allow one to live in some way or another (truth is as truth does, as it were). Raymond Geuss has a wonderful article (in his recent Changing the Subject) where he tries to disentangle some of the different ways in which Nietzsche talks about truth, depending on the context in which those discussions take place. If you can find it, it's a lovely read. A sampling:

    "There are three issues here, different contexts in which ‘truth’ arises as a problem and in which it must be treated. First, there is the question about ‘truths’ (with a small ‘t’), that is, garden-variety statements about the world which are significantly strongly warranted and deserve to be affirmed. Do such statements exist, and are they distinct from non-truths, or is every thing simply a matter of opinion, with no opinion having any priority over any other? The answer to this is, for Nietzsche, patently yes, they do exist. ... The second is what some philosophers, following Plato, might call the ‘more strictly “philosophical” question of “Truth” ’: What is the definition of truth? Is it, for instance, the correspondence of proposition to reality?

    ... Even a cursory reading of any one of the works of Nietzsche’s ... should suffice to indicate to the reader that Nietzsche does not propose to answer this question but rather wishes to destroy the complex of assumptions which one must make in order for the question to be at all a sensible one to raise. ... This brings one immediately to the third complex of issues concerning truth, and the one that is of by far the greatest interest to Nietzsche. This is what we might call the ‘ethics of truth’." Any attempt to treat Nietzsche on truth would need, I think, to attend to the multiplicity of these differing approaches.
  • frank
    1.3k
    We are really destined to be "over the rainbow" in a place which does not exist.TheWillowOfDarkness

    This is Schopenhauer's pessimism: that existence is a blind striving toward satisfaction. The ultimate satisfaction is the end to all striving; the end of desire, of wondering, of reaching, of trying, of questioning, and so the end of thought itself. The life force is a vector directed at death.

    So to the extent that life is a fountain of activity, life is a fountain of evils looking for resolution.

    I think Nietzsche is looking deeper, though. For Schopenhauer, there is only one Will that sprays itself across the universe as a multiplicity of beings. This is the primal illusion: that one is alone in striving.

    I'm all into Plotinus these days. He says that if you look around you and realize that you're seeing yourself, you have experienced the One.
  • schopenhauer1
    2k
    But this goes back to my thread on unity versus separation. Nietzsche is in a way MORE pessimistic than Schopenhauer in one way- that is to say, the separation that we have. Plotinus and Schopenhauer's philosophy has a unity (with individual manifestations). Nietzsche is saying we are shouts in a void.. monads or processes separated. The absurdist of absurd. It's good we are able to make an assemblage of a story to keep things seemingly integrated.. but it is just culture perhaps.
  • frank
    1.3k
    Schopenhauer was Kantian, so I've always assumed Nietzsche was as well.
  • John Doe
    113
    I'm not sure Nietzsche really holds to any unequivocal notion of truth -StreetlightX

    My feeling is that he does. On my reading at least, it's a mistake to think that he equivocates about truth simply because he lacks a univocal conception of truth.

    (cf. the famous: "What then is truth? A movable host of metaphors, metonymies, and anthropomorphisms: in short, a sum of human relations which have been poetically and rhetorically intensified, transferred, and embellished, and which, after long usage, seem to a people to be fixed, canonical, and binding. Truths are illusions which we have forgotten are illusions — they are metaphors that have become worn out and have been drained of sensuous force, coins which have lost their embossing and are now considered as metal and no longer as coins.)StreetlightX

    In short, I doubt that for Nietzsche the "What is Truth?" question allows for a singular answer, pragmatic or postmodern. This paragraph is certainly indicative of Nietzsche's views about how particular truths, particular manifestations of the will to truth, etc. function under certain (sickly) conditions. But I don't think he's making a strong claim about truth beyond (like Wittgenstein) attempting to diagnose how truths function in particular circumstances. Now, this may lead to reading him as a sort of pragmatist...

    - and that he holds to a more or less pragmatic understanding of truth where truth simply is a variable plank in a larger assemblage of elements that allow one to live in some way or another (truth is as truth does, as it were). Raymond Geuss has a wonderful article (in his recent Changing the Subject) where he tries to disentangle some of the different ways in which Nietzsche talks about truth, depending on the context in which those discussions take place.StreetlightX

    ...but I have concerns with that label. As your quote from Geuss indicates, Nietzsche seems to be aiming for a complex understanding of the multivocality of truth (and the ethics of truth) that nevertheless does not equivocate or reject truth. This is a way of thinking about truth which I think the whole global academic establishment seems not to have caught up with yet. (Whereas they've already successfully mined and catalogued similarly complex positions held by other great philosophers like Kant, Hegel, Heidegger, etc.)

    Any attempt to treat Nietzsche on truth would need, I think, to attend to the multiplicity of these differing approaches.StreetlightX

    Truth as multiplicity. Leading me to feel that the original quote -- "One can see that in this book pessimism, or, to put it more clearly, nihilism, is taken to be the truth." -- remains puzzling.
  • John Doe
    113
    He did believe that even truth is allways a falsification to some extend. I'd recomment to read "on truth and lies in an extra-moral sense" to understand where he's coming from, it's not that long...ChatteringMonkey

    Thanks for the recommendation. I have actually read almost everything published/unpublished he has written and of course all the major works several times. Personally, I want to resist the temptation to read too much into an early essay ("On Truth and Lies...") which Nietzsche chose not to publish. My own feeling is that the Theory folks make too much of that essay. If you have any recommendations on secondary literature I'd be happy to take a look.

    But then he clearly also believes in some sense of truth, as is evident in numerous passagesChatteringMonkey

    I think I want to say senses of truth; it's a fools errand to get stuck in the antimony that Nietzsche either has a view of truth or rejects truth.

    We begin with the most crude falsifications of the world, which then can eventially be refined into something that is progressively more accurate or less wrong.ChatteringMonkey

    My problem with this is that it's just a variation on the determinatio est negatio of Spinoza and Hegel. It just seems off to suggest that his views were that simple and he failed to credit Spinoza and Hegel (quite the contrary!).

    Also note that truth and untruth, is not to be confounded with 'the will to truth' and 'the will to decieve' which is what he is talking about in the quote in the opening post.ChatteringMonkey

    It's an important distinction, to be sure, but re-read the opening quotation. He says nihilism and pessimism "is taken [by Nietzsche in the book] to be the truth" so we have to be careful dissecting what he means here. Again, if he meant "the will to truth" then I'm certain he would have said so.
  • StreetlightX
    2.7k
    In short, I doubt that for Nietzsche the "What is Truth?" question allows for a singular answer, pragmatic or postmodern. This paragraph is certainly indicative of Nietzsche's views about how particular truths, particular manifestations of the will to truth, etc. function under certain (sickly) conditions. But I don't think he's making a strong claim about truth beyond (like Wittgenstein) attempting to diagnose how truths function in particular circumstances... Nietzsche seems to be aiming for a complex understanding of the multivocality of truth (and the ethics of truth) that nevertheless does not equivocate or reject truth.John Doe

    I pretty much agree with all of this, so perhaps I shouldn't have poisoned the well by dragging in the word 'pragmatic', which, when it comes to N, is indeed too flippant a label. Perhaps it can be put this way: that Nietzsche doesn't have a theory of truth so much as a 'meta-theory' of truth (too formal, again?), one which understands truth - whatever it is in its specificity - as something which has a variable role or function in an ars vitae, which will always differ depending on what motivation underlies those roles (and I'd add here that one can substitute the word 'will-to-power' for the word 'motivation' in the formulation above, to emphasise the impersonal, non-ego-centered sense of 'motivation' I have in mind; the differing wills motivate 'in' us, as it were).

    I think, moreover, that this means that there's nothing particularly all that 'special' about truth: lies, illusions, fictions, and fables can all play similar roles to truth, and that truth is just one historically privileged and thus contingent locus of 'life-bearing' powers, if you will.
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