Abstracts re: Nietzsche

Nietzsche, Friedrich. “On Truth and Lie in an Extra-Moral Sense.” 1873.

Available online here: http://oregonstate.edu/instruct/phl201/modules/Philosophers/Nietzsche/Truth_and_Lie_in_an_Extra-Moral_Sense.htm

In his article “On Truth and Lie in an Extra-Moral Sense,” Nietzsche predominantly debunks our Will to Truth. He strips the abstraction to its core in the light of deflating the value it claims to have brought our condition, that of the human species.

It begins with a Nietzsche puzzled by our will for objectivity, for the beyond and that which transcends the individual lifetime. In his questioning, he denudes our concept of progress, of intelligence and self-importance to uncloak, underneath this tenuous appearance; a crippled man, naked and afraid; he calls this creature the intellectual man. This Apollo, whose aversion for nature only grew into an aversion for him-self, explains the tenacity to which we hold onto this fabricated, limited, controlled and secured cloud of abstractions. Nietzsche stresses how these abstractions are but artistically created metaphors and interpretations that serve to fulfill our ideological needs, that of making sense, of rationalizing and creating meaning for our selves.
But out of an unnatural will to deceive, we’ve forgotten our nature. Indeed, we’ve forgotten that Truth, Reason, Morality have an origin in the development of mankind. We’ve mistaken their self-evidence for our intuition. They were once formulated, polished, taught and told but rephrased to the extent that these metaphors became worn out and devoid of all sensuous significance.

Nietzsche provides the example of the word “leaf” – its designation to all leaves, unequal, different, unique – all equated by this single notion of a leaf. This aim for the original, pure and single leaf from which all leaves seem to derive – is but a by- product of our own ignorance. This will to equate has incarcerated us within rules and regulations, laws and walls of classifications. We’ve consequently locked ourselves in a state where living securely, consistently and with repose is only possible through having forgotten our primitive state as creators. Indeed, what ever we create must remain accessible to an intuitive level. He speaks of the intuitive man, the Dionysian, and the striving and strident individual who wills not for mankind, but for himself. He’ll quickly mention the way the Greeks believed in their Olympian myths in fashion akin to that of suspension of disbelief when engaging with art. But us, as Nietzsche states, through our so sophisticated Language, which stands at the core of Nietzsche’s quandary in Truth and Lie, we’ve managed to trick ourselves into our own deceptive game. We’ve alienated ourselves to the extent that we’ve gotten to, in a groomed bourgeois fashion, overlook this intuitive man, this outcast, this soft and romantic artist; formulator of fiction. Indeed, we have grown hostile to the possibility of damaged done to this house of cards of truths.

By now; we are trembling, petrified, and when our curiosity peeks at the cracks of our abstract selves; we face the indifferent, the meaninglessness we wish so willfully to forget. But as Nietzsche perceived, only through individualization, will we ever aspire to overcome our nature, never by denying it.

As a side note, I strongly recommend watching Lars Von Tier’s film entitled Nymphomaniac, which consists of a lady explaining her sex addiction to an asexual man. The lady has chosen to face the reality she inhabits, as opposed to listening to the lies whistled by the old man, supposedly pure. The core is, we are sexual beings. We can’t deny our nature by aspiring to some conceptual purification. We must engage with ourselves, and not succumb to an abstraction of the self.


Evans, Fred. “Marx, Nietzsche, and the New Class.” The Journal of Speculative Philosophy 4.3 (1990): 249-266.

Available at: http://www.jstor.org.ezproxy.library.ubc.ca/stable/25669961


Scholars have often held that the philosophies of Marx and Nietzsche are quite contradictory in their scope. However, when it comes to the “new class,” a class system that is rooted in technocratic rationality, Evans suggests a synthesis of Marx and Nietzsche can be useful in countering the dominant “voices” of this technocratic class. This notion of “voices” is important for a Marx-Nietzsche synthesis, as voices shape the language and communication of society, which ultimately determines individual consciousness. While Marx is concerned with the voices of production, and Nietzsche with the voices of value codes, a Marx-Nietzsche synthesis creates a single political-philosophical voice of technocratic critique. Considering this new class of technocratic rationality appears as both a form of class ideology and nihilism, a Marxist perspective nevertheless has its limitations for it is only concerned with production and future events. Due to these limitations, Evans suggests Nietzsche’s emphasis on human existence in the present can not only give significance to Nietzsche’s concept of the Übermensch or, “Overman,” but also seeks to challenge Marxist theories of consciousness and emancipation while still remaining within the Marxist framework of class struggle. However, as different as Marx and Nietzsche are in their attempts to articulate man’s illusory existence, they make a powerful political-philosophical voice when their critiques are synthesized, for when it comes to this technocratic class, they are bound together by class struggle and nihilism.

Viewer Interest

This essay is useful for anybody wishing to incorporate the elements of class, particularly that of technocratic thinking, as Evans gives a compelling argument of how technology has become the vanguard of this “new class” dominance. Also, Evans spends a great portion of the essay summarizing Nietzsche’s concepts in an effort to construct his argument. The structure of this essay is very accessible, as Evans breaks his arguments into segments where he analyzes this new class from a Marxist perspective, a Nietzschean perspective, and finally, a combined perspective of both Marx and Nietzsche. Lastly, Evans concept of “voices” as channels of community discourse can be helpful for anybody wishing to write on Foucault.

Key Concepts

Marx: class struggle; proletariat/bourgeoisie; materialist conception of history
Nietzsche: nihilism; ascetic priest; ascetic values; “good” and “evil”; ressentiment; Übermensch
Foucault: discourse; bourgeoisie; technology

Relevance Rating
Marx: 9/10
Nietzsche: 9.5/10
Foucault: 6/10


Deleuze, Gilles.  Nietzsche & Philosophy. Trans. Hugh Tomlinson. New York: Columbia University Press, 1983.  Chapter 1: “The Tragic”

Discussing Nietzsche, Delueze explains what evaluation of values that Nietzsche takes upon himself leads us to. He remarks that  “Critical philosophy has two inseparable moments: the referring back of all things and any kind of origin to values, but also the referring back of these values to something which is, as it were, their origin and determines their value.” (1) Therefore, Deleuze seems to suggest that Nietzsche’s evaluation of values calls for referring back of these values to their origin or what determines their value. Delueze identifies this origin as the differential element. He seems to suggest that this differential is where our values originate and from where all our values derive their value. He states, “high and low, noble and base are not values but represent the differential element from which the value of values themselves derives.”(2) Therefore, Delezue argues, for Nietzsche genealogy entails dealing with this fundamental differential represented in high and low and noble and base.

Deleuze utilizes this differential to conceptualize what he calls the Nietzschean empiricism.  He suggests that Nietzsche takes a fundamentally different perspective in respect to this differential discussed above than the speculative philosophers like Hegel who engages in speculating oneself as an opposition to the other. In place of Speculation, “Nietzsche substitutes the practical element of difference, the object of affirmation and enjoyment. “ Delueze explains that in Nietzsche’s philosophy, focus is on our will to power that wants to “affirm its difference. In its essential relation with the other a will makes its difference an object of affirmation.”(9) Therefore, Nietzsche emphasizes enjoying and reveling in the pleasure of knowing that one is different from the other, which constitutes the Nietzschean empiricism. Deleuze claims that a speculative philosophy “is an exhausted force which does not have the strength to affirm its difference, … but rather reacts to the forces which dominate it” He analogies this difference between Nietzschen philosophy and speculative philosophy with that of noble and slave ideal by remarking that “[w]hile every noble morality develops from a triumphant affirmation of itself, slave morality from the outset says No to what is outside”, (10) distinguishing what he names as active and reactive. To portray master as someone who speculates how he differs from the slave, Deleuze argues, is to create a master after the slave’s image.

I found this chapter to be most helpful in terms of laying out how Nietzsche differs from other philosophers especially from thinkers like Hegel. The concept of differential, affirmation and enjoyment were really useful for the purpose of coming up for my paper topic.


Rydenfelt, Henrik. “Valuation and the Will to Power: Nietzsche’s Ethics with Ontology”. Journal of Nietzsche Studies 44.2 (2013): 213-224. JSTOR. Web. 18 Mar. 2014.

Available online here: http://muse.jhu.edu/journals/journal_of_nietzsche_studies/v044/44.2.rydenfelt.html

Rydenfelt writes this article in response to the perceived incompatibility in Nietzsche’s views about value, which he interprets as Nietzsche on the one hand holding some kind of “positive” ethical stance in his writings, but on the other remaining rather nihilistic about value, suggesting there is no possibility of justifying any moral beliefs. As such, Rydenfelt’s goal is “to sketch and defend an interpretation of Nietzsche’s ethical views that would – to the extent that it is possible – incorporate both the antirealistic or nihilistic aspects of [Nietzsche’s] metaethics and the “positive” ethical valuations undeniably present in his writings” (213). He sets out to do so by focusing primarily on the relation between value and the will to power.
The reader is first presented with some reasons for holding that Nietzsche does in fact have a “positive” ethics, referring in particular to Genealogy of Morals. For example, his writings contain evaluative commentary and “have not been found lacking moral judgment” (214). Furthermore, the project of the revaluation of values itself suggests that Nietzsche prefers certain values over others, which certainly presupposes some normative belief. When considering Nietzschean virtues, Rydenfelt says that such things are valuable because of their capacity to allow an individual to achieve “greatness, health, creativity,” etc. But this in turn begs the question of why such achievements should be valued in the first place. The reason, according to Rydenfelt, is that “Nietzsche attributes no intrinsic value to (the achievement of) power, but claims instrumental value to what increases power.” (214) He goes on to conclude that “when (r)evaluating values, it is quite evidently not the power of values per se that is being studied […] Nietzsche seems to base his evaluation [of values] on their capacity for increasing the power of those who adopt them. Thus […] values are to be evaluated as means to attain more power.” (215)
A major incoherence arises when we consider that there is value to what increases power, for as Rydenfelt puts it, “instrumental value seems to be derived from something that as such is of no value whatsoever” (220). How can something possibly be instrumentally valuable if it does not lead to anything that is intrinsically valuable? Thus we are back in a place where nothing is of value, yet normative valuations are still made. Primarily for this reason, Rydenfelt concludes that the perceived inconsistency whereby Nietzsche adheres to certain ethical evaluation while remaining nihilistic about value is in fact real, and stems from the fact that Nietzsche himself was somewhat inconsistent in his own ethical views (220).
Overall I think Rydenfelt’s argument is strong. However, there are some points that I feel he needlessly complicates, and others that deserve more attention. For instance, it is not really clear to me what he is trying to say in contesting the claim that “the will to power is not as central to [Nietzsche’s] conception of reality as conventionally thought” (216). He glosses over a complex notion in only a few sentences, and confuses the issue more than anything. I also am not sure I agree with his assertion that Nietzsche never says that power nor the drive for power is intrinsically valuable – I think that the intrinsic value of power is certainly at least implied in his writings, if not stated directly. Nevertheless, this article provides some thought-provoking insight and would make a good read for anyone interested in Nietzsche’s concept of will to power, particularly as it relates to his ethics.

Guay, Robert. “Nietzsche on Freedom.” European Journal of Philosophy 10:3 (2002): 302-327.

Available online here: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/1468-0378.00164/full

The object of Robert Guay’s article “Nietzsche on Freedom” is to explain the nature and function of freedom in Nietzsche’s writings. First, Guay argues that an interpretation of Nietzsche, identifying freedom as “purely subjective determination” (302) fails because it fails to match Nietzsche’s indication that freedom is a process, a pursuit, rather than mere impulsiveness (303). Instead, Guay argues that an account that explains freedom in terms of “constraints that are self-imposed” is supported textually in a number of areas (304). Guay further notes that this is suggested by and connected to the idea in the Genealogy of Morals of the person who can make promises.

In Guay’s account, Nietzsche’s idea of freedom ironically requires constraints in order to be free, because without self-imposed constraints people will simply be following externally influenced impulses. Guay acknowledges that others may have a problem with an explanation of Nietzsche’s account of which relies on constraint, because of the asceticism it seems to imply. Guay counters that Nietzsche does acknowledge the “ascetic heritage” (307) of self-constraint, and argues that for Nietzsche a lack of any constraint makes “our individuality something arbitrary or inconsequential” (309). However, and as Guay attributes to Nietzsche’s “novelty and radicalism,” (310) the content of these constraints cannot be determined generally, because if they were they would no longer be “self-originating,” (310) and so would be a constraint on one’s freedom. Guay also notes the problem of determining what actions would be results of truly free action. However, he references Nietzsche’s enigma regarding freedom, which makes determining what the constraints or content of freedom are circular.

Importantly, Guay references that “the doing is everything” (312), becoming free is a process, is practical, and so the act of doing it, rather than a outline for it is of more importance, perhaps most important for Guay is the enterprising nature of the process, the interconnected “self-invention” and “self-discovery” (313). Thus, freedom is also what allows us to add meaningfulness in life, which cannot be assumed, but must ‘become’ (314), and furthermore, this does not provide an endpoint, but merely new beginnings. Finally, and in summary, Guay argues that freedom for Nietzsche is a way by which we add meaning to our lives, and that by this freedom, we must affirm and re-affirm our meaningful lives, in contrast to the failures of prior normative frames which stress outside truths and guidance.

The article as a whole provides a compelling argument and some useful interpretation and clarification across works. However, the article is harmed somewhat by lengthy passages which are significantly less clear, and obfuscate things, without seeming to add significant value.


Visker, Rudi. “Can Genealogy be Critical? A Somewhat Unromantic Look at Nietzsche and Foucault.” Man and World 23 (1990): 451-452.

Available online here: http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2FBF01271587?LI=true

The central problem of genealogy as critical technique is that one cannot mount a critique of reason (even applied to a specific area like morality or discipline) by employing reason. Visker argues that Nietzsche and Foucault get around this by employing problematics (frameworks used to formulate new problems/questions) other than genealogy.

The genealogies of Nietzsche and Foucault are deliberately anti-teleological in that they are filled with contingencies and accidental reversals, so as to expose the shaky foundations of some contemporary systems. Yet it seems that such critique only takes place when the authors lapse into teleological history. For example, Nietzsche slips into a teleological framework when he talks of a pure, innocent noble class being corrupted by cunning slaves. Similarly, Foucault occasionally lapses into phrases like “the bodies themselves” – betraying a metaphysics where the virgin body is corrupted by disciplinary power.

It seems that genealogy is trapped in a dilemma: imply that there is a necessary causal chain leading to current systems, thus justifying them (the opposite of what it wants to do as a problematic), or imply that there is no such link (but then what is the point of genealogy if there is no underlying logic behind its narrative?). Either way, it fails to be critical.

Visker, however, suggests a third possibility: limit genealogical criticism to those current systems whose justification for existence relies on erasing their pasts.  In other words, force morality or discipline to adopt paradigms that incorporate their true origins, thus either inducing major change or perhaps even destroying them completely. For such systems, a genealogical critique is possible without lapsing into teleology because the mere description of their history is enough to perform the critical function.

My Evaluation: The topic is interesting but the argument meanders and is rather unfocused. There are also a number of references to other philosophers without much contextual information to support them. In addition, this is a conference paper and so the format seemed somewhat different from your typical journal-published paper. That being said, if you are focusing on rhetorical techniques or the genealogical framework in particular, this paper is probably worth a read because it tackles a big-picture issue that is relevant to both Nietzsche and Foucault.

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