On Truth and Lying in a Non-Moral Sense of the will in one. But when it is spoken , i.e. with the symbolism of sound, its effect is incomparably more powerful and. 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. Nietzsche's Rhetoric and Man's Worn Out Coins “On Truth and Lies in a Nonmoral Sense” was written in by German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche.
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Friedrich Nietzsche - On Truth and Lies in a Nonmoral. Sense. Once upon a time, in some out of the way corner of that universe which is dispersed. On Truth and Lies in a Nonmoral Sense (). 1. By Friedrich Nietzsche. 2. Once upon a time, in some out of the way corner of that universe which is dispersed. On Truth and Lie in an Extra-Moral Sense. Frederich Nietzsche. 1. In some remote corner of the universe, poured out and glittering in innumerable solar systems.
In my reading of this text, Nietzsche attempts to persuade his audience to see that intellect is merely human, and that it fabricates the illusion of truth—a reflection. Instead of relying on empirical evidence, he illustrates his points through analogical reasoning, thereby demonstrating the very ideas the text proffers: truth is something creative, not factual, logical, or otherworldly. It is nothing more than little moments of discovery. By using dialogic inquiry, figurative language, and illustration, Nietzsche demonstratively persuades his readers to accept that truth is an act of human creation, not a fact, and that metaphors are as close to the truth as man can ever get. He organizes the essay as a kind of question-and-answer self-dialogue. The reader is only a shadow thought of a future yet to come, at least in the act of writing, even more so in this case, as the essay was never published by the author.
We arrange things by genders, we designate the tree [der Baum] as masculine, the plant [die Pflanze as feminine: what arbi- trary transferences! How far-flung beyond the canon of certitude! We speak of a "serpent"; the term applies to nothing but its winding, and so it would apply equally to the worm. What arbitrary delimitations, what one-sided preferences for one trait or another of a thing! The various languages, juxtaposed, show that words are never concerned with truth, never with adequate expression; otherwise there would not be so many languages.
The "thing-in-itself" which would be pure, disinterested truth is also absolutely incomprehensible to the creator of language and not worth seeking. He designates only the relations of things to men, and to express these relations he uses the boldest metaphors.
First, he translates a nerve stimulus into an image! That is the first metaphor. Then, the image must be reshaped into a sound! The second metaphor. Imagine a person who is completely deaf and never has had a sensation of sound and music. How this person marvels at the Chladnean sound-figures in the sand, identifying their cause as the trembling of the strings, then swearing that now he must know what people call "sound.
When we speak of trees, colors, snow, and flowers, we believe we know something about the things themselves, although what we have are just metaphors of things, which do not correspond at all to the original entities. Like sound in the sand-figure, so the mysterious x of the thing appears first as a nerve stimulus, then as an image, and finally as a sound.
In any case, the origin of language is not a logical process, and the whole material in and with which the man of truth, the scientist, the philosopher, works and builds, stems, if not from a never-never land, in any case not from the essence of things. Let us think in particular of the formation of concepts. Every word becomes a concept as soon as it is supposed to serve not merely as a reminder of the unique, absolutely individualized original experi- ence, to which it owes its origin, but at the same time to fit countless, more or less similar cases, which, strictly speaking, are never iden- tical, and hence absolutely dissimilar.
Every concept originates by the equation of the dissimilar. Just as no leaf is ever exactly the same as any other, certainly the concept "leaf is formed by arbitrarily dropping those individual differences, by forgetting the distinguish- ing factors, and this gives rise to the idea that besides leaves there is in nature such a thing as the "leaf," i.
We call a person "honest. For we know nothing of an essential quality called honesty; what we know are numerous, individualized, hence dissimilar, actions which we equate by omitting the dissimilar and then referring to them as honest actions.
Last of all, we formulate out of them a qualitas occulta with the name "honesty. For even our distinction between individual and species is anthropomorphic and does not stem from the essence of things, although we also do not dare to say that it does not corre- spond to it. For that would be a dogmatic assertion, and as such just as unprovable as its opposite.
What is truth? Truths are illusions about which it has been forgotten that they are illusions, worn-out metaphors without sensory impact, coins which have lost their image and now can be used only as metal, and no longer as coins.
We still do not know where the desire for truth originates; for until now we have heard only of the obligation which society, in order to exist, imposes: to be truthful, i. Now, of course, man forgets that this is his situation; so he lies in the designated manner unconsciously and according to cen- turies-old habits— and precisely by this unconsciousness, by this for- getting, he arrives at his sense of truth.
The sense of being obliged to call one thing "red," another "cold," a third one "mute," gives rise to a moral feeling with respect to truth.
By contrast with the liar, whom no one trusts, whom all ostracize, man proves for himself the honorableness, the familiarity, the usefulness of truth.
As a "ratio- nal" being, he now puts his actions under the rule of abstractions; he no longer lets himself be carried away by sudden impressions, by intuitions; he first universalizes these impressions into less colorful, cooler concept's, in order to hitch the wagon of his life and actions to them. Everything that sets man off from the animal depends upon this capacity to dilute the concrete metaphors into a schema; for in the realm of such schemata, something is possible that might never succeed under the intuited first impressions: to build up a pyramidal order according to castes and classes, a new world of laws, privileges, subordinations, boundary determinations, which now stands oppo- site the other, concrete world of primary impressions, as the more solid, more universal, more familiar, more human, and therefore as the regulatory and imperative world.
Whoever feels the breath of that cold- ness will scarcely believe that even the concept, bony and cube- shaped like a die, and equally rotatable, is just what is left over as the residue of a metaphor, and that the illusion of the artistic trans- ference of a nerve stimulus into images is, if not the mother, then the grandmother, of any concept.
Within this dice game of concepts, however, "truth" means: to use each die as designated, count its spots accurately, forming the correct labels, and never violating the caste system and sequence of rank classifications. As the Romans and Etruscans carved up the sky into rigid mathematical sectors and assigned a god to each delimited space as in a temple, so every nation has such a mathematically divided conceptual sky above it and understands by the demand for truth that each conceptual god must be sought only in his own sphere.
In this respect man can probably be admired as a mighty architectural genius who succeeds in building an infinitely complicated conceptual cathedral on foundations that move like flowing water; of course, in order to anchor itself to such a foundation, the building must be light as gossamer—delicate enough to be earned along by the wave, yet strong enough not to be blown apart by the wind.
As an architectural genius, man excels the bee; for it builds out of wax which it collects from nature, while man builds out of the much more delicate material of the concepts, which he must fabricate out of his own self. In this respect he is quite admirable, but not because of his desire for truth, for pure knowledge of things. If someone hides an object behind a bush, then seeks and finds it there, that seeking and finding is not very laudable: but that is the way it is with the seeking and finding of "truth" within the rational sphere.
If I define the mammal and then after examining a camel declare, "See, a mammal," a truth is brought to light, but it is of limited value. I mean, it is anthropomorphic through and through and contains not a single point that would be "true in itself," real, and universally valid, apart from man.
The investigator into such truths is basically seeking just the metamorphosis of the world into man; he is struggling to understand the world as a human-like thing and acquires at best a feeling of assimilation. Just as the astrologer observes the stars in the service of men and in connection with their joys and sorrows, so such an investigator observes the whole world as linked with man; as the infinitely refracted echo of a primeval sound, man; as the reproduction and copy of an archetype, man.
He thus forgets that the original intuitive metaphors are indeed metaphors and takes them for the things themselves. Only by forgetting that primitive metaphor-world, only by the hardening and rigidification of the mass of images that originally gushed forth as hot magma out of the primeval faculty of human fantasy, only by the invincible belief that this sun, this window, this table is a truth-in-itself, in short, only insofar as man forgets himself as a subject, indeed as an artistically creative subject, does he live with some calm, security, and consistency.
If he could even for one moment escape from the prison walls of this belief, then his high opinion of himself would be dashed immediately. Even this costs him effort: to admit to himself that the insect or the bird perceives a completely different world than man does, and that the question which of the two world-perceptions is more right is a completely senseless one, since it could be decided only by the criterion of the right perception, i.
For between two absolutely different spheres such as subject and object, there can be no expression, but at most an aesthetic stance, I mean an allusive transference, a stammering translation into a com- pletely foreign medium. For this, however, in any case a freely fic- tionalizing and freely inventive middle sphere and middle faculty is necessary.
The word "appearance" contains many seductions; and so I avoid it as much as possible. For it is not true that the essence of things appears in the empirical world.
A painter who had lost his hands and sought to express the picture he envisaged by means of song, would still reveal more by this exchange of spheres than the empirical world reveals of the essence of things.
Even the relation of a nerve stimulus to the produced picture is intrinsically not a nec- essary one; but when the same image has been produced millions of times and has been passed down through many generations of men, indeed ultimately appearing to all mankind as the result of the same occasion, in the end it has for man the same significance as if it were the only necessary image and as if that relationship of the original nerve stimulus to the produced image were a strictly causal relation- ship—just as a dream, eternally repeated, absolutely would be felt ON TRUTH AND LYING and judged as reality.
But the hardening and solidification of a met- aphor is not at all a guarantee of the necessity and exclusive justifi- cation of this metaphor. Certainly, every person who is familiar with such meditations has felt a deep distrust for that sort of idealism, as often as he has very clearly convinced himself of the eternal coherence, omnipresence, and infallibility of the laws of nature.
He drew the conclusion: every- thing here, as far as we can penetrate, to the heights of the telescopic world or to the depths of the microscopic world, is constructed so securely, endlessly, regularly, and without gaps; science will have to dig successfully in these shafts forever, and everything it finds will coincide and not contradict itself.
How little this resembles a product of fantasy; for if it were that, it would surely betray its illusoriness and unreality at some point. Against this reasoning, the following can be said: if we had, each taken singly, a varying sensory percep- tion, we could see now like a bird, now like a worm, now like a plant; or if one of us saw the same stimulus as red, another as blue, while a third heard it even as a sound, then no one would speak of such a regularity of nature, but they would grasp it only as a highly subjec- tive formation.
What, then, is for us a law of nature? It is not known to us as such, but only in its effects, i. All these relations thus always refer back only to one another and are abso- lutely incomprehensible to us in their essence; what we add to them— time, space, hence relations of succession and numbers— is all we know about them. Everything marvelous that we admire in the laws of nature and that promotes our explanation and could mis- lead us into distrusting idealism, consists exclusively of the mathe- matical stringency and inviolability of time- and space-perceptions.
But we produce these perceptions within ourselves and out of our- selves with the same necessity as a spider spins its web. If we are compelled to grasp all things only under these forms, then it is not surprising that in all things we really grasp only these forms: for they all must carry the laws of number in themselves, and number is the very thing that is most astonishing about things.
All the regularity which so impresses us about the course of the stars and in the chem- ical process coincides fundamentally with the properties which we ourselves project into things, so that we impress ourself with it. Only the fixed persistence of these original forms explains the possibility that later a structure of concepts was to be constructed again out of the metaphors them- selves. For this is an imitation of the time-, space- and number-rela- tions on the ground of the metaphors.
As the bee simultaneously builds the cells and fills them with honey, so science works incessantly at the great columbarium of the concepts, the sepulcher of intuition, forever constructing new and ever higher levels, buttressing, cleaning, renovating old cells, and striving especially to fill this enormous towering edifice and to arrange the whole empirical, i.
If even the man of action binds his life to reason and its concepts in order not to be swept away by the current and to lose himself, the researcher builds his hut right next to the towering structure of sci- ence in order to help with it and to find shelter himself under the existing fortification. And he does need shelter; for there are terrible powers which constantly press upon him, and which run counter to scientific truth with truths of quite another kind and under a differ- ent aegis.
That drive to form metaphors, that fundamental desire in man, which cannot be discounted for one moment, because that would amount to ignoring man himself, is in truth not overcome and indeed hardly restrained by the fact that out of its diminished prod- ucts, the concepts, a regular and rigid new world is built up for him as a prison fortress.
It seeks a new province for its activities and a different riverbed and generally finds it in myth and in art.
It con- stantly confuses the categories and cells of the concepts by presenting new transferences, metaphors, and metonyms; constantly showing the desire to shape the existing world of the wideawake,person to be variegatedly irregular and disinterestedly incoherent, excjting and eternally new, as is the world of dreams. Actually, the wideawake person is certain that he is awake only because of the rigidly regular web of concepts, and so he sometimes comes to believe that he is dreaming when at times that web of concepts is torn apart by art.
Pascal is right when he states that if we had the same dream every night we would be as preoccupied with it as by the things we see ON TRUTH AND LYING every day: "If the craftsman were certain to dream every night for a full twelve hours that he is a king, then I believe," says Pascal, "he would be just as happy as a king who dreamed every night for twelve hours that he is a craftsman.
When any tree may begin anytime to speak as a nymph, or a god in the guise of a bull can abduct a maiden, when the goddess Athena herself is suddenly seen driving through the mar- ketplaces of Athens on a beautiful team of horses in the company of Pisistratus— as the honest Athenian believed— then at any moment, as in a dream, anything is possible, and all nature crowds around man as if it were only the masquerade of the gods, who only make a joke of deceiving man in all forms.
Man, however, has an unconquerable tendency to let himself be deceived and he is as if enchanted with happiness when the rhapso- dist tells him epic legends as true or the actor in a drama plays the king more regally than any real monarch does. As long as it can deceive without harm, the intellect, that master of deception, is free and released from its usual servile tasks, and that is when it cele- brates its Saturnalia; never is it more luxuriant, richer, prouder, more skillful and bold.
With creative nonchalance it scrambles the meta- phors and shifts the boundary-stones of abstraction, so that, e. Otherwise busy with melancholy business, it has now cast off the mark of subservience in order to show a poor devil who is avid for life the path and the means of attaining it.
And like a servant whose master is setting out on a campaign seeking booty and plun- der, it has now become the master and can wipe the look of poverty from its features. Though it precedes many of his more well-known writings, it is considered by some scholars to be a cornerstone of his thought.
In this essay, Nietzsche attempts to view the entirety of human existence from a great distance and concludes by rejecting altogether the idea of universal constants. The essay is an investigation of the epistemological nature of objective truth and, most extensively, the formation of concepts through the generalization of unique stimuli.
In many ways his argument reflects the influences which he encountered during his time at the Universities of Bonn and Leipzig where he studied philology, the interpretation of ancient and biblical texts. Nietzsche highlights that there was a universe that existed before man and his intellect, and there will continue to be the same universe, almost entirely unaffected, after man has died out.
The intellect operates out of preservation to deceive man into believing he has an importance in the universe which he simply lacks. However, it is only in forgetting that these designations were made arbitrarily that man can believe himself to possess any notion of truth.
Even language, proposes Nietzsche, is lacking in truth because words are merely imperfect metaphors for a unique stimulus. Likewise, the concepts of time and space which govern the empirical sciences are manmade inventions, but do not necessitate truth. Thus, in the first part of his essay, Nietzsche proposes that there is no universal objective truth, and that the concepts of language are powerless to communicate total truth.