Beyond Good and Evil

14

Nowadays in perhaps five or six heads the idea is dawning that even physics is only an interpretation and explication of the world (for our benefit, if I may be permitted to say so) and not an explanation of the world. But to the extent it rests upon a faith in the senses, it counts for more and must continue to count for more for a long time yet, that is, as an explanation. Physics has eyes and fingers on its side; it has appearance and tangibility on its side. That works magically on an age with basically plebeian taste - persuasively and convincingly - indeed, it follows instinctively the canon of truth of eternally popular sensuality. What is clear, what is "explained"? Only whatever lets itself be seen and felt - every problem has to be pushed that far. By contrast, the reluctance to accept obvious evidence of the senses constituted the magic of the Platonic way of thinking, which was a noble way of thinking - perhaps among human beings who enjoyed even stronger and more discriminating senses than our contemporaries have, but who knew how to experience a higher triumph in remaining master of these senses and to do this by means of the pale, cool, gray, conceptual nets which they threw over the colourful confusion of sense, the rabble of the senses, as Plato called them. That form of enjoyment in overcoming this world and interpreting the world in the manner of Plato was different from the one which today's physicists offer us, as well as the Darwinists and anti-teleologists among the physiological workers, with their principle of the "smallest possible force" and the greatest possible stupidity. "Where human beings have nothing more to look at and to grip, there they have also no more to seek out"- that is, of course, an imperative different from the Platonic one, but nonetheless for a crude, diligent race of mechanics and bridge builders of the future, who have nothing but rough work to do, it might be precisely the right imperative.

Friedrich NietzscheBeyond Good and Evil: Part I - Aphorism #148916 years ago 

15

In order to carry on physiology in good conscience, people must hold to the principle that the sense organs are not phenomena in the sense of idealistic philosophy: as such they could not, in fact, be causes! And so sensualism at least as a regulative hypothesis, if not as a heuristic principle.- What's that? And other people even say that the outer world might be the work of our organs? But then our bodies, as a part of this outer world, would, in fact, be the work of our organs! But then our organs themselves would, in fact, be - the work of our organs. It seems to me that this is a fundamental reductio ad absurdum [absurd conclusion] provided that the idea of causa sui [something being its own cause] is fundamentally absurd. Consequently, is the exterior world not the work of our organs -?

Friedrich NietzscheBeyond Good and Evil: Part I - Aphorism #1534736 years ago 

16

There are still harmless observers of themselves who believe that there are "immediate certainties," for example, "I think," or that superstition of Schopenhauer's, "I will," just as if perception here was able to seize upon its object pure and naked, as "thing in itself," and as if there was no falsification either on the part of the subject or on the part of the object.12 However, the fact is that "immediate certainty," just as much as "absolute cognition" and "thing in itself," contains within itself a contradictio in adjecto [contradiction in terms]. I'll repeat it a hundred times: people should finally free themselves of the seduction of words! Let folk believe that knowing is knowing all of something. The philosopher must say to himself, "When I dismantle the process which is expressed in the sentence 'I think,' I come upon a series of daring assertions whose grounding is difficult, perhaps impossible - for example, that I am the one who thinks, that there must be some general something that thinks, that thinking is an action and effect of a being which is to be thought of as a cause, that there is an 'I', and finally that it is already established what we mean by thinking - that I know what thinking is. For if I had not yet decided these questions in myself, how could I assess that what just happened might not perhaps be 'willing' or 'feeling'?" In short, this "I think" presupposes that I compare my immediate condition with other conditions which I know in myself in order to establish what it is. Because of this referring back to other forms of "knowing," it certainly does not have any immediate "certainty" for me. Thus, instead of that "immediate certainty," which the people may believe in the case under discussion, the philosopher encounters a series of metaphysical questions, really essential problems of intellectual knowledge, as follows: "Where do I acquire the idea of thinking? Why do I believe in cause and effect? What gives me the right to speak of an 'I,' and indeed of an 'I' as a cause, finally even of an 'I' as the cause of thinking?" Anyone who dares to answer those metaphysical questions right away with an appeal to some kind of intuitive cognition, as does the man who says "I think and know that at least this is true, real, and certain"- such a person nowadays will be met by a philosopher with a smile and two question marks. "My dear sir," the philosopher will perhaps give him to understand, "it is unlikely that you are not mistaken but why such absolute truth?"-

12. . . . Schopenhauer : Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1860), an important German philosopher whose work had a significant influence upon Nietzsche.

Friedrich NietzscheBeyond Good and Evil: Part I - Aphorism #1615416 years ago 

17

So far as the superstitions of the logicians are concerned, I will never tire of emphasizing over and over again a small brief fact which these superstitious types are unhappy to concede - namely, that a thought comes when "it" wants to and not when "I" wish, so that it's a falsification of the facts to say that the subject "I" is the condition of the predicate "think." It thinks: but that this "it" is precisely that old, celebrated "I" is, to put it mildly, only an assumption, an assertion, in no way an "immediate certainty." After all, we've already done too much with this "it thinks": this "it" already contains an interpretation of the event and is not part of the process itself. Following grammatical habits we conclude here as follows: "Thinking is an activity. To every activity belongs someone who does the action, therefore -." With something close to this same pattern, the older atomists, in addition to the "force" which created effects, also looked for that clump of matter where the force was located, out of which it worked - the atom. Stronger heads finally learned how to cope without this "remnant of earth," and perhaps one day people, including even the logicians, will also grow accustomed to cope without that little "it" (to which the honourable old "I" has reduced itself).

Friedrich NietzscheBeyond Good and Evil: Part I - Aphorism #1711296 years ago 

18

It's true that the fact that a theory can be disproved is not the least of its charms: that's precisely what attracts more sophisticated minds to it. Apparently the theory of "free will," which has been refuted hundreds of times, owes its continuing life to this very charm alone - someone or other comes along again and again and feels he's strong enough to refute it.

Friedrich NietzscheBeyond Good and Evil: Part I - Aphorism #186206 years ago