I'm trying to make sense of Beyond Good and Evil and Nietzsche's views at that time.

The claims he makes about truth and logic seem problematic to me:

"Granted, we will truth: why not untruth instead?" - page 5

It seems that, although Nietzsche may concede to the existence of absolute truth, he takes issue with human tendency to value it above all other things.

"We do not consider the falsity of a judgement as itself an objection to a judgment ... The question is how far the judgement promotes and preserves life" - page 7

Nietzsche seems to submit alternative metrics for determining the value of knowledge, which allow perspectives to attain a level of value greater than or equal to that of absolute knowledge. I've heard people say that he didn't believe in absolute truth or falsity at all. However, here he seems to acknowledge the existence of absolute truth, while arguing about its value.

"And we are fundamentally inclined to claim that the falsest judgments (which include synthetic judgments a priori) are the most indispensable to us, and that without accepting the fictions of logic, without measuring reality against the wholly invented world of the unconditioned and self-identical, without a constant falsification of the world through numbers, people could not life" - page 7

In this quote, I'm assuming that Nietzsche refers to objective reality with the word "reality," rather than perspective reality? Nietzsche makes a dig at the idea that the world can be perfectly described by mathematical models, which is quite reasonable. However, he also seems to denounce the idea that there is an objective reality which is bound to consistency with the rules of formal logic. Of course, much of logic is necessarily valid because of how it is defined, and cannot possibly be disputed. A rock cannot be both hard and not hard at the same time (law: x != (!x)). The statement "It is raining or it is not raining" is irrefutably true (law: x || (!x) == true). Nietzsche must not be disputing the validity of these laws, but instead synthetic a priori laws. I would guess that he is asserting that we should not quibble about whether or not our perspectives are logically sound at the finest level, because it is more important that those perspectives be life-affirming.

"synthetic judgments a priori do not have to be possible at all: we have no right to them, and in our mouths they are nothing but false judgments." - page 13

The way I understand them, synthetic a priori judgments are basically just truths which are not obvious by definition, but which can be proven with rigorous logic. Britannica states that "the truth or falsity of synthetic statements is proved only by whether or not they conform to the way the world is and not by virtue of the meaning of the words they contain." It seems that Nietzsche asserts that, since we cannot know "the way the world is" beyond our language-constrained perspectives, we cannot differentiate between synthetic and analytic a priori propositions.

My Question:

In these sections, Nietzsche seems to denounce both truth and logic. This seems problematic since without basic logic, one cannot interact with the world in any meaningful way. Is his rejection really of logic's ability to lead us to truth? Is his goal just to raise healthy skepticism?

Did he actually have a firm (one might say "absolute") opinion on the un-absolutism of reality/logic, or did he just decide that we could never see around our perspective lens, so we should find something better to value?

P.S. If Nietzsche rejects truth and logic literally, how could we even make sense of such a world (where contradictions are possible)?

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    There seem to be stacks of question in this question. Could you edit it down to make much clearer what single answerable issue you'd like to ask? (also for quotations, it's ideal to also give page numbers of some sort (though admittedly in Nietzsche's case, there's a lot of different editions floating around -- at least in English)).
    – virmaior
    Commented Oct 23, 2015 at 5:05
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    I am no scholar of Nietzsche, but I imagine that he would scoff at "to declare that all of reality is bound to the rules of logic is natural". Nothing is ever more 'natural' than the prejudice of one's culture. Logic is merely our most successful theory of how the world can be made comprehensible: what obligation does the world have to obey it? As a mathematician, I see the sense in what Nietzsche says here. It seems to me that if you don't take Nietzsche at his word because it sounds too iconoclastic, then you have identified the cause of your problems understanding what Nietzsche has to say. Commented Oct 23, 2015 at 8:04
  • @virmaior So, I tried to change the format into a "How well am I interpreting these quotes?" question. The question is still long, but answering it should be less confusing/overwhelming, right? I didn't want to split up the quotes regarding truth and logic, because I didn't want two different questions about basically the same thing (you can't believe in truth without logic or visa versa) getting conflicting answers.
    – ztforster
    Commented Oct 23, 2015 at 14:20
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    Not necessarily. Anything that makes it easier to follow and answer is better.
    – virmaior
    Commented Oct 24, 2015 at 6:04
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1 Answer 1


Even Nietzsche despite his proclivity for contradictory statements does not say 'granted we will truth, so why not untruth as well'.

Often, one is looking for significance rather than truth; there are many true statements such as: right at this moment it is not raining in England that are true but has no real significance, or that it's significance varies.

One also has to distinguish the practical thinking by which people unconsciously use to navigate the world which simply isn't formal logic. I've never thought, unless pushed by someone pushing formal logic, can it rain and not rain at the same time. Nor am I thinking about logic when I pick up a pen to write.

Synthetic a priori propositions are associated with Kant; they arose with him as he liked to point out; and Nietzsche is knocking him back because I assume he is clearing a space so he can make his voice heard.

I'd suggest that on the whole N is not disputing the validity of logic, and Kantian thinking but simply indicating a new direction in which thinking can move to without relying so much on either.

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