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 Nietzsche - Beyond Good and Evil
Part I - Aphorism # 16

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