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Sunday, June 28, 2009

what troubles Nietzsche

Only as creators!— This has given me the greatest trouble and still does: to realize that what things are called is incomparably more important than what they are. The reputation, name, and appearance, the usual measure and weight of a thing, what it counts for—originally almost always wrong and arbitrary, thrown over things like a dress and altogether foreign to their nature and even to their skin—all this grows from generation unto generation, merely because people believe in it, until it gradually grows to be part of the thing and turns into its very body: what at first was appearance becomes in the end, almost invariably, the essence and is effective as such! How foolish it would be to suppose that one only needs to point out this origin and this misty shroud of delusion in order to destroy the world that counts for real, so-called "reality"! We can destroy only as creators!— But let us not forget this either: it is enough to create new names and estimations and probabilities in order to create in the long run new "things."

Nietzsche The Gay Science §58

This aphorism and other similar thoughts (like GS §76, §55) are what inspired the name for this blog. My own take varies in emphasis but if anything is required of philosophy it's reframing. I agree with Nietzsche in this context that we can only create (we don't simply uncover "truth" by destroying idols). But also, our creations are deeply situated; our options are limited. Newton and Leibniz "discovered" calculus around the same time.* The historical moment provided the context for what they could discover/create.

Perhaps this is so troubling to Nietzsche because while we can uncover this or that individual prejudice we're fairly bound by the others and by our time. So even as we attempt to gain these small bits of freedom by recreating the world in our own image we remain inevitably bound to the cliché reality.

Or maybe that's just what troubles me.

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