Perspectivism and Truth in Nietzsche’s Philosophy: A Critical Look at the Apparent Contradiction

2457 Words10 Pages
Perspectivism and Truth in Nietzsche’s Philosophy: A Critical Look at the Apparent Contradiction

“There are no truths,” states one. “Well, if so, then is your statement true?” asks another. This statement and following question go a long way in demonstrating the crucial problem that any investigator of Nietzsche’s conceptions of perspectivism and truth encounters. How can one who believes that one’s conception of truth depends on the perspective from which one writes (as Nietzsche seems to believe) also posit anything resembling a universal truth (as Nietzsche seems to present the will to power, eternal recurrence, and the Übermensch)? Given this idea that there is no truth outside of a perspective, a transcendent truth, how can a philosopher make any claims at all which are valid outside his personal perspective? This is the question that Maudemarie Clark declares Nietzsche commentators from Heidegger and Kaufmann to Derrida and even herself have been trying to answer. The sheer amount of material that has been written and continues to be written on this conundrum demonstrates that this question will not be satisfactorily resolved here, but I will try to show that a resolution can be found. And this resolution need not sacrifice Nietzsche’s idea of perspectivism for finding some “truth” in his philosophy, or vice versa. One, however, ought to look at Nietzsche’s philosophical “truths” not in a metaphysical manner but as, when taken collectively, the best way to live one’s life in the absence of an absolute truth.

By looking at one of Nietzsche’s specific postulations of perspectivism, we can get a better idea of precisely how this term applies to his philosophy and how it relates to the “tru...

... middle of paper ...

...’s lack of a direct response to this apparent contradiction ensures that this matter will continue to be hotly debated well into the future. For this seemingly simple contradiction of positing truths when one has denied all absolute truths, Nietzsche gives a very complex and personal answer.

Bibliography

PRIMARY TEXTS

Friedrich Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evil, trans. R. J. Hollingdale (London: Penguin Books, 1990).

Friedrich Nietzsche, The Will to Power, trans. Walter Kaufmann and R. J. Hollingdale, ed. Walter Kaufmann (New York: Random House, 1967).

SECONDARY TEXTS

Clark, Maudemarie, Nietzsche on Truth and Philosophy (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990).

Solomon, Robert C., ‘Nietzsche ad hominem: Perspectivism, personality, and ressentiment,' in The Cambridge Companion to Nietzsche (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996), 180-222.

    More about Perspectivism and Truth in Nietzsche’s Philosophy: A Critical Look at the Apparent Contradiction

      Open Document