In the interests of, among other things, more exegetical philosophizing, and less unprovoked and thoughtless writing, I offer the following brief analysis of the relationship between truth and value in the philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche.

Friedrich Nietzsche's work On the Genealogy of Morals is an effort to consider morality and the moral concepts from an historical perspective. Nietzsche hopes, specifically, to apprehend the historical value of morality. In the preface to the work, Nietzsche already staets, "We need a critique of moral values, the value of these values themselves must first be called in question" (GM, Pf. 6). Truth, a moral concept, needs to be considered from the standpoint of values. It is, in Nietzsche's views, one of the sad fact of modern philosophy that truth has been evaporated of its real substance, its moral and political value. After so many technicians working on the supposed problems of truth, truth has been over-cooked, boiled to redundancy, and is now dry, stale, and inadequate. Everywhere we do not see the moral value of the value of truth.

At the end of the Genealogy Nietzsche finally arrives at his stunning critique of the value of truth, "The will to truth requires a critique... The value of truth must for once be experimentally called into question" (GM, III 24). What is the value of truth, of the will to truth? What is its origin, why do we have it, and what are its effects? Near the end of the third essay, Nietzsche again invokes the critique of the will to truth: "In us the will to truth becomes conscious of itself as a problem" (GM III, 27). For Nietzsche, as for other fin de siecle writers on the borders of philosophy(such as William James or Franz Kafka), truth must be considered from the standpoint of values. The problem of the will to truth is the value of its objects of desire. Is the truth valuable, are truths really valuable? The problem is set by Nietzsche within an essay on 'the meaning of asceticism', in which he faults both asceticism and science for their lack of positive ethical and political content. "This pair, science and the ascetic ideal, both rest on the same foundation... the overestimation of truth (more exactly: on the same belief that truth is inestimable and cannot be criticized)" (GM III, 25). What neither the ascetic nor the scientist undertakes is a critique of the value of truth, an analysis of the value of truth. Nietzsche, of course, despises truth and finds it worthless-this will later become clear in his The Will to Power. Nietzsche wants to rid us of truth, of the will to truth, of the idea that the true is in and of itself valuable-the truth concept is genetically part of the unfortunate moral crisis of his Europe. For Nietzsche, the question of truth, of the value of truth, and hence of the truth or falsity of our ideals, is to be determined on another level--an ethical and political level. Nietzsche's revaluation of all values won't be settled by logical argument, but by all kinds of rhetorical appeals (and only classical logic where appropriate), thus giving rise to Nietzsche's famously wild style of argumentation and discourse.

Nietzsche is part of a philosophical counter-tradition that wants to abandon the epistemological concept of truth and the word "truth" altogether. Nietzsche sees the word's tortured past and wants to relieve us of this genetic mutant-his aim is, literally, to slay truth. Nietzsche sees truth as part of the genetic history of the modern world, a world which for whatever reasons he detested. The truth concept, according to Nietzsche, has base origins in the Christian life-denying slave morality that rejects the excellent virtues that Nietzsche is proud of and wants to see cultivated. These slave moralities are represented in philosophical terms by bad Europeans such as Rene Descartes and Immanuel Kant. Nietzsche announces that what is named "good" is really "bad" (GM I). Christian Europe has undermined the aristocratic virtues that Nietzsche so admired. Writing of Beyond Good and Evil: "This book is in all essentials a critique of modernity, not excluding the modern sciences, modern arts, and even politics... All those things of which our age is proud are experienced as contradistinctions to the nobleman" (Ecce Homo BGE, 2). The philosophers of modernity treat truth as a figure of a morally-insensitive (i.e., not morally aware) epistemology, that is, a science of knowledge which does not critique (i.e., apprehend) the particular value of our values, such as truth. It is precisely this treatment of truth, this recipe for an ascetic and scientific world, that Nietzsche sees the world shipwrecking upon.

Nietzsche's critique of the will to truth has all kinds of moral, ethical, and political results that I will not touch on here. I only suggest this reading of his treatment of a traditionally epistemological (at least within the analytic academy of 19c. and 20c. philosophy) as a means to situate Nietzsche's larger fury, which is, of course, much better known than the genealogical quest that motivates Nietzsche's outrage at the success of pathetic and weak philosophies.

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