Nietzsche on truth and lies in a nonmoral sense

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nietzsche on truth and lies in a nonmoral sense

On Truth and Lies in a Nonmoral Sense by Friedrich Nietzsche

On Truth and Lie in an Extra-Moral Sense) is an (initially) unpublished work of Friedrich Nietzsche written in 1873, one year after The Birth of Tragedy. It deals largely with epistemological questions of truth and language, including the formation of concepts. Every word immediately becomes a concept, inasmuch as it is not intended to serve as a reminder of the unique and wholly individualized original experience to which it owes its birth, but must at the same time fit innumerable, more or less similar cases—which means, strictly speaking, never equal—in other words, a lot of unequal cases. Every concept originates through our equating what is unequal. According to Paul F. Glenn, Nietzsche is arguing that concepts are metaphors which do not correspond to reality. Although all concepts are human inventions (created by common agreement to facilitate ease of communication), human beings forget this fact after inventing them, and come to believe that they are true and do correspond to reality. Thus Nietzsche argues that truth is actually: 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 this 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. These ideas about truth and its relation to human language have been particularly influential among postmodern theorists, and On Truth and Lies in a Nonmoral Sense is one of the works most responsible for Nietzsches reputation (albeit a contentious one) as the godfather of postmodernism.
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Partially Examined Life podcast - Nietzsche - On Truth & Lies in a Nonmoral Sense

Nietzsche – “On Truth and Lie in a Nonmoral Sense”

Nietzsche begins the essay on a misanthropic note. He rails against the arrogance of humanity in thinking so highly of our own intelligence and place in the vast space and time of the cosmos. He paints this within a Hobbesian view of a competitive, individualistic state-of-nature humanity. Truth comes second, as a social pact to use the same language in reference to an alleged access to the same bare reality. All language is metaphor.

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In some remote corner of the universe, poured out and glittering in innumerable solar systems, there once was a star on which clever animals invented knowledge. After nature had drawn a few breaths the star grew cold, and the clever animals had to die. One might invent such a fable and still not have illustrated sufficiently how wretched, how shadowy and flighty, how aimless and arbitrary, the human intellect appears in nature. There have been eternities when it did not exist; and when it is done for again, nothing will have happened. For this intellect has no further mission that would lead beyond human life.

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It was written in , one year after The Birth of Tragedy , [2] but was published by his sister Elisabeth in when Nietzsche was already mentally ill. The work deals largely with epistemological questions about the nature of truth and language, and how they relate to the formation of concepts. Nietzsche's essay provides an account for and thereby a critique of the contemporary considerations of truth and concepts. These considerations, argues Nietzsche, arose from the very establishment of a language :. According to Paul F. Glenn, Nietzsche is arguing that "concepts are metaphors which do not correspond to reality. These ideas about truth and its relation to human language have been particularly influential among postmodern theorists, [4] and "On Truth and Lies in a Nonmoral Sense" is one of the works most responsible for Nietzsche's reputation albeit a contentious one as "the godfather of postmodernism.

3 thoughts on “On Truth and Lies in a Nonmoral Sense by Friedrich Nietzsche

  1. But in an uncertain world, what is the measure of truth and where does the complex, conflicted human impulse for knowledge originate in the first place?

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