Nietzsche on truth There is no pre-established harmony between the furtherance of truth and the well-being of mankind

. (Human, all too Human §517) Over immense periods of time, the intellect produced nothing but errors. A few of these proved to be useful and helped to preserve the species: those who hit upon or inherited these had better luck in their struggle for themselves and their progeny… [Later, however, a] subtler honesty and scepticism came into being, [and did so] wherever two contradictory sentences appeared to be applicable to life because both were compatible with the basic errors, and it was therefore possible to argue about the higher or lower degree of utitlity for life; also wherever new propositions, though not useful for life, were also evidently not harmful to life: in such cases there was room for the expression of an impulse to intellectual play, and honesty and scepticism were innocent and happy like all play. Gradually, the human brain became full of such judgements and convictions, and a ferment, struggle, and lust for power developed in this tangle […] The intellectual fight became an occupation, an attraction, a profession, a duty, something dignified - and eventually knowledge and the striving for the true found their place as a need among other needs [… ] Thus knowledge became a piece of life itself, and hence a continually growing power - until eventually knowledge collided with those primeval basic errors […] A thinker is now that being in whom the impulse for truth and those life-preserving errors clash for their first fight, after the impulse for truth has proved to be also a life-preserving power. (The Gay Science §110) We see that science also rests on a faith; there simply is no science ‘without presuppositions’. The question whether truth is needed must not only have been affirmed in advance, but affirmed to such a degree that the principle, the faith, the conviction finds expression: ‘Nothing is needed more than truth, and in relation to it everything else has only second-rate value’. This unconditional will to truth – what is it? Is it the will not to allow oneself to be deceived? Or is it the will not to deceive? […] Note that the reasons for the former principle belong to an altogether different realm from those for the second. One does not want to allow oneself to be deceived because one assumes that it is harmful, dangerous, calamitous to be deceived. In this sense, science would be a long-range prudence, a caution, a utility; nut one could object in all fairness: How is that? Is wanting not to allow oneself to be deceived really less harmful, less dangerous, less calamitous? What do you know in advance of the character of existence to be able to decide whether the greater advantage is on the side of the unconditionally mistrstful or of the unconditionally trusting? But if both should be required, much trust as well as much distrust, from where would science then be permitted to take its unconditional faith or conviction on which it rests, that truth is more important than any other thing, including every other conviction? Precisely this conviction could never have come into being if both truth and untruth constantly proved to be useful, which is the case. Thus – the faith in science, which after all exists undeniably, cannot owe its origin to such a calculus of utility; it must have originated in spite of the fact that the disutility and dangerousness of ‘the will to truth’, of ‘truth at any price’ is proved to it constantly. […] Consequently, ‘will to truth’ does not mean ‘I will not allow myself to be deceived’ but – there is no alternative – ‘I will not deceive, not even myself’; and with that we stand on moral ground. For you only have to ask yourself carefully, ‘Why do you not want to deceive?’ especially if it should seem – and it does seem! – as if life aimed at semblance, error, deception, simulation, delusion, self-delusion […] Charitably interpreted, such as resolve might perhaps be a quizotism, a minor slightly mad enthusiasm; but it might also be something more serious, namely, a principle that is hostile to life and destructive. –‘Will to truth’ – that might be a concealed will to death. […] But you will have gathered what I am driving at, namely, that it is still a metaphysical faith upon which our faith in science rests – that even we seekers after knowledge today, we godless anti-metaphysicians still take our fire, too, from the flame lit by a faith that is thousands of years old, that Christian faith which was also the faith of Plato, that God is the truth, that truth is divine. (The Gay Science §344) The will to truth that will still tempt us to many a venture, that famous truthfulness of which all philosophers so far have spoken with with respect – what questions has this will to truth not laid before us! What strange, wicked, questionable questions! […] Indeed we came to a long halt at the question about the cause of this will – until we finally came to a complete stop before a still

more basic question. We asked about the value of this will. Suppose we want truth: why not rather untruth? and uncertainty? even ignorance? (Beyond Good and Evil §1) The falseness of a judgement is for us not necessarily an objection to a judgement; in this respect our new language may sound strangest. The question is to what extent it is life-promoting, life-preserving, species-preserving, perhaps even species-cultivating. And we are fundamentally inclined to claim that the falsest judgements (which include the synthetic judgements a priori) are the most indispensable for us; that without accepting the fictions of logic, without measuring reality against the purely invented world of the unconditional and self-identical, without a constant falsification of the world by means of numbers, man could not live – that renouncing false judgements would mean renouncing life and a denial of life. To recognize untruth as a condition of life – that certainly means resisting accustomed value-feelings in a dangerous way; and a philosophy that risks this would by that token alone place itself beyond good and evil. (Beyond Good and Evil §4) Nobody is very likely to consider a doctrine true merely because it makes people happy or virtuous – except perhaps the lovely ‘idealists’ who become effusive about the good, the true, and the beautiful and allow all kinds of motley, clumsy, and benevolent desiderata to swim around in utter confusion in their pond. Happiness and virtue are no arguments. But people like to forget – even even sober spirits – that making unhappy and evil are no counter-arguments. Something might be true while being harmful and dangerous in the highest degree. Indeed, it might be a basic characteristic of existence that those who would know it completely would perish, in which case the strength of a spirit should be measured according to how much of the ‘truth’ one could still barely endure – or to put it more clearly, to what degree one would require it to be thinned down, shrouded, sweetened, blunted, falsified. (Beyond Good and Evil §39) Henceforth, my dear philosophers, let us be on guard against the dangerous old conceptual fiction that posited a ‘pure, will-less, painless, timeless knowing subject’; let us guard against the snares of such contradictory concepts as ‘pure reason’, ‘absolute spirituality’, ‘knowledge in itself’: these always demand that we should think of an eye that is completely unthinkable, an eye turned in no particular direction, in which the active and interpreting forces, through which alone seeing becomes seeing something, are supposed to be lacking; these always demand of the eye an absurdity and a nonsense. There is only a perspective seeing, only a perspective ‘knowing’; and the more affects we allow to speak about one thing, the more eyes, different eyes, we can use to observe one thing, the more complete will our ‘concept’ of this thing, our ‘objectivity’, be. But to eliminate the will altogether, to suspend each and every affect, supposing we were capable of this – what would that mean but to castrate the intellect? (On the Genealogy of Morals, Essay 3, §12) It seems, if I have not misheard, that Christians have a sort of criterion for truth called ‘the proof of strength.’ ‘Faith makes blessed: therefore it is true.’ – We should begin by pointing out that this blessedness has not been proven, only promised: blessedness is conditional on ‘faith’ – you will become blessed because you have faith... But whether this really takes place, given that the priest’s promises involve a ‘beyond’ which is inaccessible to verification – how can that be proven? – So the would-be ‘proof of strength’ is itself basically just another article of faith that the result promised by faith will come to pass. In short: ‘I have faith that faith makes blessed; – consequently it is true.’ – But this brings us to the end. This ‘consequently’ would be the absurdum itself as criterion of truth. – But let us suppose, just to be accommodating, that blessedness has been proven through faith – not just desired, not just promised from out of the somewhat dubious mouth of a priest: in this case, would blessedness, – or, to put it technically, pleasure – ever be a proof of truth? This is so far from being the case that it is practically a counter-proof, but in any event there is the greatest suspicion against ‘truth’ when pleasurable sensations are invoked to answer the question ‘what is true?’ The proof of ‘pleasure’ is a proof of ‘pleasure,’ – nothing more; how in the world could it ever be established that true judgements are more enjoyable than false ones, and are necessarily followed by pleasant sensations according to some pre-established harmony? – The experience of all rigorous, of all profoundly constituted spirits teaches the opposite. We have had to wring the truth out of ourselves every step of the way, we have had to give up almost everything that our heart, our love, our trust in life relied on. It requires greatness of soul: the service of truth is the hardest service. – So what does it mean to be honest in spiritual matters?

That you are strict with your heart, that you look down on ‘beautiful feelings,’ that you make your conscience from every yes and no! – – – Faith makes blessed: consequently it lies... (The AntiChrist §50)

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