Knowing, Being, and Interpretation in the Later Nietzsche

Dissertation, University of California, Santa Cruz (1994)
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Abstract

This dissertation challenges the view, prevalent in the literature, that Nietzsche's later philosophy ultimately retains a Kantian distinction between the world as it is known and the world as it really is. According to the neo-Kantian reading, Nietzsche's doctrine of "perspectivism" presupposes the existence of a pre-given world upon which there are perspectives, a noumenal world that the doctrines of "becoming" and "will to power" are taken to describe. It has often been remarked that this ontological conception is inconsistent with Nietzsche's perspectival epistemology, but that, nevertheless, Nietzsche seems to maintain these inconsistent views. In contrast, I provide a reading of Nietzsche's epistemology and ontology that invalidates the charge of inconsistency and shows that he thoroughly repudiates the Kantian dualisms of appearance and reality, scheme and content. I argue that Nietzsche's language of "perspective" ought to be read within the broader and richer language of "interpretation" and show that interpretations, for Nietzsche, are not construals of some primary ontological ground, but rather reconstruals of interpretations already on hand. I suggest that becoming and will to power are not doctrines about what the world is really like, but claims about perspectival interpretation itself. Thus, the doctrine of becoming foregrounds the partiality and ever-shifting character of perspectives and interpretations, while the doctrine of will to power describes the constant struggle of interpretations and the ways in which some interpretations come to dominate. ;The first chapter situates Nietzsche's remarks on truth within the context of a history of European thought conceived as a struggle between being, on the one hand, and becoming and appearing, on the other. Chapter 2 then offers a general characterization of the later Nietzsche's epistemological and ontological position, showing that it issues from a twin commitment to naturalism and to the primacy and irreducibility of interpretation. The third chapter argues against both metaphysical realist and common sense realist forms of the neo-Kantian view. The final chapter focuses on the doctrine of perspectivism and more fully develops my anti-dualist reading of Nietzsche's theories of knowing and being

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Christoph Cox
The New School

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