Friedrich Nietzsche: A Perspectivist Thinker

David Maier weighs in on current trends
In an article for 3 Quarks Daily, Dave Maier asks how German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche is currently being interpreted:
Nietzsche is often described as a "perspectivist" about knowledge and truth. His remarks on the matter, however, render the issue far from straightforward. He clearly means to reject some form of absolutism, but which? And what does he leave in its place? One's answer to this question depends quite a bit on whether or not one wishes to see Nietzsche as an ally in contemporary disputes. Postmodern relativists, for example, see Nietzsche as a champion of their cause, breaking the chains of "objectivity" and liberating us from the logocentric hegemony of Western rationality or some damn thing. Defenders of metaphysical realism (or of Christianity, NIetzsche's explicit target) are generally happy to agree, allowing them to dismiss him along with his postmodern disciples as wild-eyed lunatics.

However, a recent trend in Nietzsche studies has been to claim him as an exponent of scientific rationality rather than as a critic (as in the work of Brian Leiter and Maudemarie Clark). On these latter readings, Nietzsche's "perspectivism" must then be understood as not at all relativistic, and indeed compatible with, as Leiter puts it, seeing a naturalistic or scientific perspective as "the true or correct" one. [Read More]

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