Nietzsche's attack on metaphysical realism

Metaphysical realism claimed that there are dis-interested perspectives and that there are certain unchanging ways to perceive the world, and that these reflect the way the world is. The perceiver has to discover its properties, which would still be there independently from his/her presence, i.e. we might think that the world works on the basis of causality, so our knowledge is subject to the same conditions of the world out there. In essense, metaphysical realism claims that some theories are universally true. The presupposition of metaphysical realism is that there is an independent reality and the task of philosophy is to show how it is possible to know this reality.

Perspectivism is the denial of this position, claiming that there are no objective facts, only interpretations of them. Metaphysical realism is accused of relegating the realm of the sensible and of experience to an inferior status, and of attributing more value to truth than, say, art. Those who believe that our senses deceive us and are not reliable sources of knowledge construct an idea of guiding reason and faith which leads to a mystification and denial of the senses and ultimately life. Nietzsche claims that the idea of an independent reality is a fiction, but he also adds that this fiction is useful, in so far as it is seen as what ultimately structures our experience. Concepts are fictional, yet we cannot do without them because they are useful, in that sense they are necessarily true. See for instance morals: they are useful, they have a function for their believers, but they are neither universally true nor dis-interested.

'The falsest judgements (to which synthetic judgements a priori belong) are the most indispensable to us [...] Without measuring reality against the purely invented world of the unconditional and self-identical, mankind could not live (1886, #4). What is important about reason for Nietzsche is the use we make of it: "to what extent is it life-advancing".

Nietzsche's attack on morals

Morality is universal and essentially negative, reactive and hypocritical. It reacts to the position of others, has no creative evaluation of itself, and functions as a device.

Morality is the denial of life and of life instincts. 'If we were naturally good we wouldn't need morality, but because we are, we need it': this is how moralists justify their belief in an original sin and in so doing perpetuate their power. Morality is about guilt: it makes people feel responsible for their own suffering; it is a mechanism of control, a motivating force that is based on a responsive attitude, it disowns action and create impotence through the mechanism of guilt.

It thwarts the expression of life instincts and prevents people from flourishing. Some examples are: castration and ascetism. They are a response to guilt for having forbidden desires, limits to desire and ways to avoid gratifying opportunities, a strict regime that depresses the whole physical system. But actions are the best guide to beliefs, our behaviour shows our moral worth. Guilt and remorse are attempts to feel better about supposedly bad desires and actions, through self-inflicted suffering as some idea of reparation.

Good and evil: the slave mentality of his times, people attribute themselves names according to their power position, and political prominence results in the idea of spiritual superiority. The Church initially pitted the pure against the impure. There was no symbolic significance attached to this: it simply meant clean and related to diet, fasting, and dislike for physical action. On the one hand there was aristocratic chivalry, symbol of potency, on the other there was aristocratic priesthood, symbol of impotence. The good was the noble, the powerful the beautiful, the happy, the dear to the Gods.

The slave's revolt consists in turning the criterion of goodness upside down, and is the result of resentment: the fiction of not having deserved one's position in society, 'the pompous pretence of a silent, awaiting and abdicating attitude, as if the weakness of the weak - i.e. his essence, productivity and entire, inevitable reality - was the product of an arbtritary effect, something chosen, an action, a merit.'

Morality is bad for the health. It is not impartial, nor altruistic or free. It is a social construct with a function, that is the control and exploitation of vulnerability.

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