Do Nietzscheans think not lying to yourself has intrinsic value? It's just a guess, that they might, even though Nitezsche claimed "everything is permitted".

I don't think it works completely in the abstract and universal sense (I'm not scared of water), but I also wondered if some ethical value/s could be taken from it. Perhaps e.g. humans are only malicious by way of lying to themselves (this isn't going to hurt them that much, I have to put myself first)

Perhaps those sorts of lies are preferable only to be freer from ideology and its distortions: which I think is critical theory (lite).

Our educated people of today, our “good people”, do not tell lies—that is true; but that is not to their credit. … [That] would demand of them what one may not demand, that they should know how to distinguish true and false in themselves. All they are capable of is a dishonest lie; whoever today accounts himself a “good man” is utterly incapable of confronting any matter except with dishonest mendaciousness (GM III, 19)

SEP (emphasis mine).

Malice has a root 'bad' (mallus) and mendacious 'fault' (mendum). Obviously different (latinate) concepts: but how are they related?

  • Considering that the question is answered (in the negative) in the post, what exactly is this "just a guess" based on? Especially since Nietzsche is closer to virtue ethics (albeit with an unorthodox selection of virtues) than to deontology with permissions and prohibitions.
    – Conifold
    Aug 21, 2019 at 20:31
  • @Conifold what is a better word than prohibition that includes 'virtue ethics'?
    – user38026
    Aug 21, 2019 at 20:55
  • Did Nietzsche see lying to oneself as self-demeaning for the supermen? He did value honesty.
    – Conifold
    Aug 21, 2019 at 21:02
  • probity? i'll check the link @Conifold
    – user38026
    Aug 21, 2019 at 21:14
  • 1
    Not exactly. More the guts to stare the truth in the eye. "Truth is ugly. We have art so as not to die before the truth".
    – Conifold
    Aug 21, 2019 at 23:55

1 Answer 1


Let's run this by some of his themes. I think you see lots of 'No, but...'.

  • The very notion of 'intrinsic value' is not going to apply to an enterprise intended to re-evaluate all values. If he did value that, he would have to try to take himself beyond that value. So to the extent this position has value, that value is changeable and not intrinsic.

  • One of the themes of one of his arcs (in The Gay Science) is to make 'art' of the self. Art has 'truth' in it, but it is also partly built of lies. In a painting of the seashore, there is no seashore, and in a good one, there is not even an honest image of one, there is instead an underhanded and manipulative representation of one that affords the artist an effect upon the viewer. At its best, it is a false presentation that points at a deeper truth. If this is what art is, then he openly prescribes lying to yourself. But generally in a way that points at something honest.

  • If we have yet to esteem the power of lies, and power is the main goal of all life, we should clearly lay claim to this power. If it increases your power over yourself, surely you should lie to yourself, particularly if by knowing it is a lie the 'you' the power-over is being had (sorry for that grammar) buys in and is not disempowered while the 'you' having greater power is legitimately better off.

  • The Superman is not an honest man, even to himself, at least if the Creators are examples of prematurely born Supermen. He largely identifies each Creator he mentions with a single Big Lie: the search for a single principle, the debt to a transcendental being, the sacrifice of the individual to their culture, fulfillment through emptiness, the strength in weakness... He does not see these as facts, or truths. They contain much falsehood, and eventually lead directly into absolute waste. But meanwhile, they leverage great things in the Creator himself and in a large number of other people and increase our access to power both individually and collectively. And each Creator is not cynical -- he believes his own Big Lie. So he is lying to himself.

  • interesting answer, thanks. in a way, it worked for me
    – user38026
    Aug 22, 2019 at 4:50
  • nietzsche was the overman, imvho. anyway, i've accepted this
    – user38026
    Aug 22, 2019 at 21:27
  • I am pretty sure he did not consider himself to be such. He seems to make a distinction between 'we finest of men' and Creators, whom he may or may not have meant to be 'overmen', (but probably did).
    – user9166
    Aug 22, 2019 at 23:03
  • do you have a reference for your first claim?
    – user38026
    Aug 23, 2019 at 21:38

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