I was wondering if someone could please explain Nietzsche's perspectivism to me. I used to think that it was similar to Descartes' method of thinking. That everything was subjective because everything is experienced through human consciousness which is unreliable and subjective in itself. However, I recently learned that Nietzsche was very much a materialist, and thought that it was more to do with culture than consciousness. Someone please explain to me the differences, and clear some things up.

  • Nietzsche point of view is hardly "similar to Descartes' one... His "perspectivism" or "relativism" is stated e.g into Daybreak: Reflections on Moral Prejudices (1881) : "one of Nietzsche’s clearest, intellectually calmest, and most intimate, volumes, providing many social-psychological insights in conjunction with some of his first sustained critical reflections on the cultural relativity at the basis of Christian moral evaluations" as well as into On the Genealogy of Morals, A Polemic (1887) : ... 1/2 Sep 1, 2016 at 7:26
  • ... "Nietzsche focusses upon the truth-oriented ascetic ideals that underlie and inform prevailing styles of art, religion and philosophy, and he offers a particularly scathing critique of the priesthood: the priests are allegedly a group of weak people who shepherd even weaker people as a way to experience power for themselves. The third essay also contains one of Nietzsche’s clearest expressions of “perspectivism” (section 12)—the idea that there is no absolute, “God’s eye” standpoint from which one can survey everything that is." 2/2 Sep 1, 2016 at 7:27

2 Answers 2


See :

From now on, my philosophical colleagues, let us be more wary of the dangerous old conceptual fairy-tale which has set up a "pure, will-less, painless, timeless, subject of knowledge", let us be wary of the tentacles of such contradictory concepts as "pure reason", "absolute spirituality", "knowledge as such": - here we are asked to think an eye which cannot be thought at all, an eye turned in no direction at all, an eye where the active and interpretative powers are to be suppressed, absent, but through which seeing still becomes a seeing-something, so it is an absurdity and non-concept of eye that is demanded. There is only a perspectival seeing, only a perspectival "knowing" [emphasis added]; the more affects we are able to put into words about a thing, the more eyes, various eyes we are able to use for the same thing, the more complete will be our "concept" of the thing, our "objectivity". But to eliminate the will completely and turn off all the emotions without exception, assuming we could: well? would that not mean to castrate the intellect?

Here perspective in seeing and knowing means : "to take into account" the point of view of the subject seeing and knowing, that means : emotions, values, prejudices,...

See also Perspectivism.


When N. critisizes the values of christian/ jewish church, he is showing how its virtues (e.g. ascetism, waiting for after the life after death), were developped in certain period when the community and the church were harassed by a greater power. The priesthood the developed the idea that the necessities of the time were actually a virtue and a spiritual way to get an upper hand of the domineering neighbours. Necessity was turned into a virtue.

N mostly critisized christianity but he wrote similar analyses on other major religions as well. It follows from these analyses that we should be sceptical about the virtues which are offered for us. N wrote many other analyses of how things are dependent on perspective, but this is definitely a major aspect.

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