Nietzsche ponderingThe perspectives of Nietzsche

Truth and Knowledge

There are no facts, only interpretations.

from Nietzsche's Nachlass, A. Danto translation.

Enemies of truth.-- Convictions are more dangerous enemies of truth than lies.

from Nietzsche's Human, all too Human, s.483, R.J. Hollingdale transl.

Linguistic danger to spiritual freedom.-- Every word is a prejudice.

from Nietzsche's The Wanderer and his Shadow,s. 55, R.J. Hollingdale transl.

Man and things.-- Why does man not see things? He is himself standing in the way: he conceals things.

from Nietzsche's Daybreak, s. 483, R.J. Hollingdale transl

Mystical explanations.-- Mystical explanations are considered deep. The truth is that they are not even superficial.

from Nietzsche's The Gay Science, s.126, Walter Kaufmann transl.

Metaphysical world.-- It is true, there could be a metaphysical world; the absolute possibility of it is hardly to be disputed. We behold all things through the human head and cannot cut off this head; while the question nonetheless remains what of the world would still be there if one had cut it off.

from Nietzsche's Human, All Too Human, s.9, R.J. Hollingdale transl.

Just beyond experience!-- Even great spirits have only their five fingers breadth of experience - just beyond it their thinking ceases and their endless empty space and stupidity begins.

from Nietzsche's Daybreak, s. 564, R.J. Hollingdale transl

What then is truth? A mobile army of metaphors, metonyms, and anthropomorphisms -- in short, a sum of human relations, which have been enhanced, transposed, and embellished poetically and rhetorically, and which after long use seem firm, canonical, and obligatory to a people: truths are illusions about which one has forgotten that is what they are; metaphors which are worn out and without sensuous power; coins which have lost their pictures and now matter only as metal, no longer as coins.
We still do not know where the urge for truth comes from; for as yet we have heard only of the obligation imposed by society that it should exist: to be truthful means using the customary metaphors - in moral terms, the obligation to lie according to fixed convention, to lie herd-like in a style obligatory for all...

'On truth and lie in an extra-moral sense,' The Viking Portable Nietzsche, p.46-7, Walter Kaufmann transl.

Truth.-- No one now dies of fatal truths: there are too many antidotes to them.

from Nietzsche's Human, all too Human, s.516, R.J. Hollingdale transl.

What are man's truths ultimately? Merely his irrefutable errors.

from Nietzsche's The Gay Science, s.265, Walter Kaufmann transl.

Because we have for millenia made moral, aesthetic, religious demands on the world, looked upon it with blind desire, passion or fear, and abandoned ourselves to the bad habits of illogical thinking, this world has gradually become so marvelously variegated, frightful, meaningful, soulful, it has acquired color - but we have been the colorists: it is the human intellect that has made appearances appear and transported its erroneous basic conceptions into things.

from Nietzsche's Human, all too Human, s.16, R.J. Hollingdale transl.

The reasons for which 'this' world has been characterized as 'apparent' are the very reasons which indicate its reality; any other kind of reality is absolutely indemonstrable.

from Nietzsche's Twilight of the Idols, ch.3, s.6, Walter Kaufmann transl.

The total character of the world, however, is in all eternity chaos--in the sense not of a lack of necessity but a lack of order, arrangement, form, beauty, wisdom, and whatever names there are for our aesthetic anthropomorphisms...Let us beware of attributing to it heartlessness and unreason or their opposites: it is neither perfect nor beautiful, nor noble, nor does it wish to become any of these things; it does not by any means strive to imitate man... Let us beware of saying that there are laws in nature. There are only necessities: there is nobody who commands, nobody who obeys, nobody who trespasses... But when will we ever be done with our caution and care? When will all these shadows of God cease to darken our minds? When will we complete our de-deification of nature? When may we begin to "naturalize" humanity in terms of a pure, newly discovered, newly redeemed nature?

from Nietzsche's The Gay Science, s.109, Walter Kaufmann transl..

We have arranged for ourselves a world in which we can live - by positing bodies, lines, planes, causes and effects, motion and rest, form and content; without these articles of faith nobody could now endure life. But that does not prove them. Life is no argument. The conditions of life might include error.

from Nietzsche's The Gay Science, s.121, Walter Kaufmann transl..

Over immense periods of time the intellect produced nothing but errors. A few of these proved to be useful and helped to preserve the species: those who hit upon or inherited these had better luck in their struggle for themselves and their progeny. Such erroneous articles of faith... include the following: that there are things, substances, bodies; that a thing is what it appears to be; that our will is free; that what is good for me is also good in itself.

from Nietzsche's The Gay Science, s.110, Walter Kaufmann transl..

Origin of the logical.-- How did logic come into existence in man's head? Certainly out of illogic, whose realm originally must have been immense. Innumerable beings who made inferences in a way different from ours perished; for all that, their ways might have been truer. Those, for example, who did not know how to find often enough what is "equal" as regards both nourishment and hostile animals--those, in other words, who subsumed things too slowly and cautiously--were favored with a lesser probability of survival than those who guessed immediately upon encountering similar instances that they must be equal. The dominant tendency, however, to treat as equal what is merely similar--an illogical tendency, for nothing is really equal--is what first created any basis for logic.

In order that the concept of substance could originate--which is indispensible for logic although in the strictest sense nothing real corresponds to it--it was likewise necessary that for a long time one did not see or perceive the changes in things. The beings that did not see so precisely had an advantage over those who saw everything "in flux." At bottom, every high degree of caution in making inferences and every skeptical tendency constitute a great danger for life. No living beings would have survived if the opposite tendency--to affirm rather than suspend judgement, to err and make up things rather than wait, to assent rather than negate, to pass judgement rather than be just-- had not been bred to the point where it became extraordinarily strong.

from Nietzsche's The Gay Science, s.111, Walter Kaufmann transl..

Cause and effect: such a duality probably never exists; in truth we are confronted by a continuum out of which we isolate a couple of pieces, just as we perceive motion only as isolated points and then infer it without ever actually seeing it. The suddenness with which many effects stand out misleads us; actually, it is sudden only for us. In this moment of suddenness there are an infinite number of processes which elude us. An intellect that could see cause and effect as a continuum and a flux and not, as we do, in terms of an arbitrary division and dismemberment, would repudiate the concept of cause and effect and deny all conditionality.

from Nietzsche's The Gay Science, s.112, Walter Kaufmann transl..

To renounce belief in one's ego, to deny one's own "reality" -- what a triumph! not merely over the senses, over appearance, but a much higher kind of triumph, a violation and cruelty against reason -- a voluptuous pleasure that reaches its height when the ascetic self-contempt and self-mockery of reason declares: "there is a realm of truth and being, but reason is excluded from it!"
But precisely because we seek knowledge, let us not be ungrateful to such resolute reversals of accustomed perspectives and valuations with which the spirit has, with apparent mischievousness and futility, raged against itself for so long: to see differently in this way for once, to want to see differently, is no small discipline and preparation for its future "objectivity" -- the latter understood not as "contemplation without interest" (which is a nonsensical absurdity), but as the ability to control one's Pro and Con and to dispose of them, so that one knows how to employ a variety of perspectives and affective interpretations in the service of knowledge.
Henceforth, my dear philosophers, let us be on guard against the dangerous old conceptual fiction that posited a "pure, will-less, painless, timeless knowing subject"; let us guard against the snares of such contradictory concepts as "pure reason," absolute spirituality," "knowledge in itself": these always demand that we should think of an eye that is completely unthinkable, an eye turned in no particular direction, in which the active and interpreting forces, through which alone seeing becomes seeing something, are supposed to be lacking; these always demand of the eye an absurdity and a nonsense. There is only a perspective seeing, only a perspective "knowing"; and the more affects we allow to speak about one thing, the more eyes, different eyes, we can use to observe one thing, the more complete will our "concept" of this thing, our "objectivity," be. But to eliminate the will altogether, to suspend each and every affect, supposing we were capable of this -- what would that mean but to castrate the intellect?

from Nietzsche's The Genealogy of Morals, s III.12, Walter Kaufmann transl.