Nietzsche Assignment (On Reason)

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One of Nietzsche’s basic concepts outlined in the Genealogy covers specific ideas on the existence of, ‘absolute truth’ or ‘pure reason’ related to his philosophy of perspectivism and the formation of morality. His ideas in general attack all forms of systematic philosophy e.g. Hegel’s dialectic in the Phenomenology of Spirit. In the preface, Hegel emphasizes that true knowledge is found in a form of objective disassociation where, “The true shape in which truth exists can only be the scientific system of such truth. To help bring philosophy closer to the form of Science [Wissenschaft], to the goal where it can lay aside the title ‘love of knowing’ and be actual knowing”

Nietzsche strongly criticizes this form of philosophical objectivity as being mere interpretation of truth based upon the system used; essentially using its claim to provide access to the truth while denying to observe things as they are in themselves (through the senses for example) it denies its own status as an interpretation, and therefore lacks honesty. In Nietzsche’s opinion, this form of dis-interested objectivity is utterly nonsensical, as human understanding of our own condition can never be that of a dis-interested observer.

Nietzsche proposes a radical understanding of objectivity. He sees humanity as having its beliefs centered in the place we occupy in this world i.e. our cultural and historically based perspectives, which we cannot escape in any evaluation. These evaluations are based in our will and passion and not in, ‘pure reason’. This idea is similar to Kierkegaard’s understanding of subjective truth, where truth is reached through passion and subjective thinking.

Nietzsche ideas on perspectivism lead directly into his understand of objectivism. In his terms, “the more affects we allow to speak about a thing, the more eyes, various eyes we are able to use for the same thing, the more complete will be our ‘concept’ of the thing, our ‘objectivity’. In this way, Nietzsche focuses on the importance of various, ‘eyes’ such as emotions and passion which shape our perspective in different ways, giving us a broader picture of any objective truth we are trying to reach, unlike the old objectivism which essentially castrated the senses in its desire to appear distanced from its study.

From this basic philosophy, Nietzsche constructs a system of morality based upon a collective understanding/perspective of values and knowledge in general. Through perspective understanding, an individual can be actively involved in his moral issues and use all his, ‘eyes’ to construct a system of morality which would come closer to objective truth than the classic system of objective observance. For Nietzsche, the truth can only be reached by means of numerous interpretations on a single idea; some interpretations being better than others.

It is possible to accept Nietzsche’s viewpoint regarding facts lack independence of interpretation, and that they are therefore incapable of providing the common object which earlier objective philosophies such as those of Kantian tradition followed. Similarly, his view that there is therefore no neutral standard which determines in every case which of our interpretations is right or wrong seems to be a worthy argument in making philosophy realize its own value as interpretation and not a ‘pure, will-less, painless, timeless, subject of knowledge’. While one may argue that judging which (or whos) interpretation is truer in essence would be problematic, its arguable that some interpretations and perspectives are better than others and that we can often know when this is the case.


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