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Reasoning and Perspectivism: The Means to Freedom and Truth

Essay by review  •  September 7, 2010  •  Essay  •  4,728 Words (19 Pages)  •  1,978 Views

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"Truth has had to be fought for every step of the way, almost everything else dear to our hearts,

on which our love and our trust in life depend, has had to be sacrificed to it.

Greatness of the soul is needed for it: the service of truth is the hardest service."#

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"Be more then man, or thou'rt lesse then an Ant"

- An Anatomy of the World, John Donne.#

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Reasoning and Perspectivism: The Means To Freedom and Truth

Throughout human history, the desire for freedom and a knowledge of truth has represented one of the most fundamental pursuits of mankind. However, despite beliefs to the contrary, it is the stipulation of this essay that the whole of mankind has been successful in achieving neither of these endeavors. In his book, The Genealogy of Morals, Friedrich Nietzsche suggests that in order to achieve freedom, we must first sacrifice our misplaced belief in truth: "Ð''Nothing is true, everything is permitted.' Here we have real freedom, for the notion of truth itself has been disposed of." # In other words, actual truth does not exist, and it is only once man is able to recognize this that he can realize freedom# from himself. Contrastingly, I# believe that only by first realizing our freedom may we be allowed to perceive the existence of truth. It is thus the intention of this essay to challenge Nietzsche's contention by demonstrating a means by which to achieve both freedom and truth within the framework of Nietzsche's own philosophy.

In order to achieve any understanding of actual truth, we must first achieve a number of foregoing conditions, to include the realization of our freedom, or free will. The presented argument will contend that Nietzsche fails to consider the other potential half of humanity, the other half being found in our potential to rise above other animals by realizing the potential of our reasoning. In order to attain this potential, we must first win a struggle against the domination of our reasoning by our animal instincts and even by reasoning turned against itself. This struggle, its constituents, and the means by which to overcome it are detailed within the first half of the essay. Having overcome this struggle, we may subsequently employ Nietzsche's own presented idea of perspectivism as a means which allows us to go beyond certain limitations of his theory. Ultimately, this will allows us to pursue an inclusive understanding of truth while still in correlation with generally all of Nietzsche's ideas, despite that Nietzsche himself suggests that this is not possible.#

As cited above#, the fundamental essence of the struggle we shall be addressing is that man must "Be more then man, or thou'rt lesse then an Ant" #. For the purposes of this essay, in strict contrast to a religious context, this quote is interpreted to mean that if man cannot rise above the confines instilled upon his will by his animalistic instincts, then he is reduced in function to the natural autonomy of an ant, whose given lack of potential to be otherwise renders mankind the lesser by virtue of contrasting probable achievement. It is precisely the potential of man's reasoning that separates homo sapiens from all other animals; through reasoning an individual has the potential to transcend the limitations Nietzsche prescribes. Indeed, man is the only animal that possesses even the potential to achieve both freedom and truth. Thus, if man is able to realize the potential he has been given, he can transcend beyond the bounds of all other animals, achieve freedom and an understanding of truth, and thus become Ð''more than man'. However, if man does not realize the potential that he alone bears, then he is essentially rendered inferior to all other animals, and hence Ð''lesse then an Ant', by virtue of comparison between each animal's potential.

Nietzsche and many of his contemporaries would disagree both with this interpretation and its implications. For example, in Civilization and Its Discontents, Freud argues that mankind's animalistic instincts are in fact stronger than reason, noting that aggression is an instinctual disposition that forces civilization into a high expenditure of energy and that people can be bonded together in only so long as there are other people to whom they may direct their aggressiveness:

"The advantage which a comparatively small cultural group offers of allowing this instinct an outlet in the form of hostility against intruders is not to be despised. It is always possible to bind together a considerable number of people in love, so long as there are other people left over to receive the manifestations of their aggressiveness."#

According to Freud, civilization, in the name of the same reason man's instincts surmount, inhibits mankind's instinctive aggressiveness and forces it back upon mankind's ego, where it becomes the superego. This superego produces a form of conscience or guilt which works to disarm the desire for aggression; thus threatened external happiness is exchanged for permanent internal unhappiness, by the tension of guilt.

In similar, indeed, one might say, suspiciously foregoing, fashion, Nietzsche cites remarkably comparable characteristics in both slave morality and ascetic ideals; natural aggressive instincts, once allowed to roam free, are turned in by modern society, resulting in resentment, guilt, and a bad conscious:

"All instincts that are not allowed free play turn inward... Hostility, cruelty, the delight in persecution, raids, excitement, destruction all turned against their begetter. Lacking external enemies and resistances, and confined within an oppressive narrowness and regularity, man began rending, persecuting, terrifying himself, like a wild beast hurling itself against the bars of its cage. This languisher, devoured by nostalgia for the desert, who had to turn himself into an adventure, a torture chamber, an insecure and dangerous wilderness - this fool, this pining and desperate prisoner, became the inventor of "bad conscience"."#

Subsequently,

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