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Nietzsche on falsification, perspectivism and artistry

Nietzsche on falsification, perspectivism and artistry
Nietzsche on falsification, perspectivism and artistry
This thesis attempts to argue that Nietzsche’s falsification remarks should be understood in the context of a dynamic between falsification, perspectivism, artistry and honesty. Against the account of Clark (1990), I argue that, from the early essay On Truth and Lie in an Extra-Moral Sense (1873) onwards, Nietzsche does not affirm an all-pervasive falsification thesis; i.e., the thesis that all human beliefs are necessarily false. I also argue that Clark misreads Nietzsche when she interprets him as, up until 1887, associating truth with a ‘true world’ and asserting that falsification is a result of our lacking empirical access to such a world.

Instead, I argue that from Truth and Lie onwards Nietzsche identifies three strands of falsification which commonly pollute our epistemic dealings with the world – but which are mere contingent aspects of our cognition. These three strands are: our tendency to overestimate the status of our truths and to reify our concepts, along with structural aspects of our thought, into reality; the erroneous conception of knowledge – a particular type of belief in ‘objectivity’ – which has attained dominance; the obscuring nature of the conventional conceptual schema through which we (typically) encounter the world.

These strands of falsification are things which inhibit our ability to honestly confront the truths of Nietzsche’s naturalism. However, Nietzsche’s perspectivism works as a corrective against the first two of these strands by deflating the status of our knowledge claims and exposing the absurdity of the notion of ‘objectivity’ which has taken hold. The perspectivist call to develop a many-sided view of any given subject matter also helps prevent our enclosure within a conceptual schema.

Artistry, and in particular our adoption of the ‘techniques of artists’, also helps us to correct the falsifying aspects of the dominant conceptual schema. This is because Nietzsche associates artistry with selection and valuation and thinks that the techniques of artists are integral to developing new interpretations, i.e. alternatives to the dominant conceptual schema.

Perspectivism and artistry thus help to lift us out of falsification and lead to the individual developing their own understanding of the world – to rival the understanding embodied in the conceptual schemata of dominant perspectives. In doing this, they help us to develop our intellectual conscience and increase our ability to honestly confront the truths of Nietzsche’s naturalism; which the dominant perspectives obscure or directly falsify.

In addition to arguing that this dynamic between falsification, perspectivism, artistry and honesty is the key to understanding Nietzsche’s falsification remarks, I will argue that it is a theme which is consistently present in his work from Truth and Lie of 1873, through to 1888; again contra Clark (1990) and her developmental thesis.

By approaching the issue of falsification with the key Nietzschean themes of honesty, perspectivism and artistry in mind, I show that there is no need to attribute to Nietzsche a wildly implausible view about the necessary falsity of all human beliefs. Clark’s focus on Nietzsche’s alleged concern with truth and the ‘true world’ has led to a widespread mis-contextualizing of Nietzsche’s remarks on falsification. Reversing Clark’s influence on this point helps us to better understand Nietzsche on falsification. In addition to this, it also helps us understand artistry and perspectivism as correctives against falsification, and to see that honesty is Nietzsche’s key epistemic concern.
University of Southampton
Page, Jeremy
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Page, Jeremy
ba02de58-faf2-4dcb-a839-eb3d07244d18
Ridley, Aaron
64d82169-aa92-4352-975d-2ef8bb3f2cc7
Gregory, Alexander
4f392d61-1825-4ee5-bc21-18922c89d80f

Page, Jeremy (2017) Nietzsche on falsification, perspectivism and artistry. University of Southampton, Masters Thesis, 221pp.

Record type: Thesis (Masters)

Abstract

This thesis attempts to argue that Nietzsche’s falsification remarks should be understood in the context of a dynamic between falsification, perspectivism, artistry and honesty. Against the account of Clark (1990), I argue that, from the early essay On Truth and Lie in an Extra-Moral Sense (1873) onwards, Nietzsche does not affirm an all-pervasive falsification thesis; i.e., the thesis that all human beliefs are necessarily false. I also argue that Clark misreads Nietzsche when she interprets him as, up until 1887, associating truth with a ‘true world’ and asserting that falsification is a result of our lacking empirical access to such a world.

Instead, I argue that from Truth and Lie onwards Nietzsche identifies three strands of falsification which commonly pollute our epistemic dealings with the world – but which are mere contingent aspects of our cognition. These three strands are: our tendency to overestimate the status of our truths and to reify our concepts, along with structural aspects of our thought, into reality; the erroneous conception of knowledge – a particular type of belief in ‘objectivity’ – which has attained dominance; the obscuring nature of the conventional conceptual schema through which we (typically) encounter the world.

These strands of falsification are things which inhibit our ability to honestly confront the truths of Nietzsche’s naturalism. However, Nietzsche’s perspectivism works as a corrective against the first two of these strands by deflating the status of our knowledge claims and exposing the absurdity of the notion of ‘objectivity’ which has taken hold. The perspectivist call to develop a many-sided view of any given subject matter also helps prevent our enclosure within a conceptual schema.

Artistry, and in particular our adoption of the ‘techniques of artists’, also helps us to correct the falsifying aspects of the dominant conceptual schema. This is because Nietzsche associates artistry with selection and valuation and thinks that the techniques of artists are integral to developing new interpretations, i.e. alternatives to the dominant conceptual schema.

Perspectivism and artistry thus help to lift us out of falsification and lead to the individual developing their own understanding of the world – to rival the understanding embodied in the conceptual schemata of dominant perspectives. In doing this, they help us to develop our intellectual conscience and increase our ability to honestly confront the truths of Nietzsche’s naturalism; which the dominant perspectives obscure or directly falsify.

In addition to arguing that this dynamic between falsification, perspectivism, artistry and honesty is the key to understanding Nietzsche’s falsification remarks, I will argue that it is a theme which is consistently present in his work from Truth and Lie of 1873, through to 1888; again contra Clark (1990) and her developmental thesis.

By approaching the issue of falsification with the key Nietzschean themes of honesty, perspectivism and artistry in mind, I show that there is no need to attribute to Nietzsche a wildly implausible view about the necessary falsity of all human beliefs. Clark’s focus on Nietzsche’s alleged concern with truth and the ‘true world’ has led to a widespread mis-contextualizing of Nietzsche’s remarks on falsification. Reversing Clark’s influence on this point helps us to better understand Nietzsche on falsification. In addition to this, it also helps us understand artistry and perspectivism as correctives against falsification, and to see that honesty is Nietzsche’s key epistemic concern.

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Published date: September 2017

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Local EPrints ID: 425625
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/425625
PURE UUID: d8a29f4e-9c13-41a7-b1f8-2469aa403d6d

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Date deposited: 26 Oct 2018 16:30
Last modified: 13 Mar 2019 17:56

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Contributors

Author: Jeremy Page
Thesis advisor: Aaron Ridley
Thesis advisor: Alexander Gregory

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