Nietzsche and Metaphysics

Nietzsche and Metaphysics

Nietzsche and Metaphysics

Nietzsche and Metaphysics

Synopsis

Poellner here offers a comprehensive interpretation of Nietzsche's later ideas on epistemology and metaphysics, drawing extensively not only on his published works but also his voluminous notebooks, largely unpublished in English. He examines Nietzsche's various distinct lines of thought on the traditionally central areas of philosophy and shows in what specific sense Nietzsche, as he himself claimed, might be said to have moved beyond these questions. He pays considerable attention throughout both to the historical context of Nietzsche's writings and to subsequent developments in philosophy--English-language as well as Continental.

Excerpt

Nietzsche's reflections on epistemological and metaphysical questions are usually considered, with some prima facie plausibility, to fall into two distinct groups. There are those in which he criticizes various views that have been held in the history of philosophy concerning the nature of metaphysical reality and the nature and scope of our knowledge. On the other hand, he also appears to put forward positive tenets about these matters which, it might seem, he intends to replace the inadequate conceptions criticized by him.

Statements belonging to the first category pervade Nietzsche's writings of all periods with remarkable consistency (although they do undergo significant development), while his apparent positive claims are not only more sparse, but also change dramatically at various points in his philosophical career. Moreover, at least some of them are, on the face of it, difficult to reconcile with the negative strictures which he arrives at in the critical strand of his thinking. For these reasons, it seems most appropriate to begin these inquiries with an extensive discussion of the critical aspects of his later thought and to proceed from this to an interpretation and assessment of his apparent positive tenets, since it is arguably only in the light of the former that we can hope to grasp the latter's import and purpose.

The critical reflections which will primarily concern us in this study are those in which Nietzsche raises a variety of objections against the claim that we possess knowledge, either probable or certain, of a metaphysical kind--knowledge about that which exists in itself in some ultimate sense. These objections, which are usually found in their most developed form in the writings of the later period, can also roughly be divided into two broad groups which I propose to call 'sceptical' and 'anti-metaphysical' arguments respectively. In the light of recurrent disputes in the literature concerning Nietzsche's attitude to metaphysics, this classification . . .

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