Nietzsche: Naturalism and Interpretation
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Christoph Cox argues that Nietzsche successfully navigates between relativism and dogmatism, accepting the naturalistic critique of metaphysics and theology provided by modern science, yet maintaining that a thoroughgoing naturalism must move beyond scientific reductionism. It must accept a central feature of aesthetic understanding: acknowledgment of the primacy and irreducibility of interpretation. This view of Nietzsche's doctrines of perspectivism, becoming, and will to power as products of an overall naturalism balanced by a reciprocal commitment to interpretationism will spur new discussions of epistemology and ontology in contemporary thought.
the composition of the image before the shot was taken; and by one's previous training in the various semiotic codes that allow one to see the image as representing such and such. The same is true of human vision itself, which not only has a spatially limited purview but also functions as part of an organism with a range of biological, cultural, and individual needs and desires that determine in advance horizons of significance. This analysis can be further extended to "perspectives" in the
more eyes, different eyes we can use to observe a thing, the more complete will our 'concept' of this thing, our 'objectivity,' be" (GM III: 12). Here we witness an interesting transformation. Instead of the skeptical relativism that might seem to result from such a perspectival thesis, Nietzsche tells us that "knowledge" and "objectivity" are still possible, provided that we understand them differently. Rather than conceiving of "knowledge" and "objectivity" as "contemplation without interest,"
] In so far as the word "knowledge" has any meaning [Sinn ], the world is knowable: but it is interpretable [deutbar ] otherwise, it has no meaning [Sinn ] behind it, but countless meanings [Sinne ]—"Perspectivism." (WP 481) This insight finds its way into the Genealogy, written shortly thereafter. Discussing the relationship of modern science to theology and metaphysics, Nietzsche asserts that the positivist's "renunciation of all interpretation" in the effort to discover unmediated "brute
historical method"—to distinguish the origin of something from its current purpose . He writes: [T]he cause of the origin of a thing and its eventual utility, its actual employment and place in a system of purposes, lie worlds apart; whatever exists, having somehow come into being, is again and again reinterpreted to new ends [auf neue Ansichten ausgelegt ], taken over, transformed, and redirected by some power superior to it; all events in the organic world are a subduing, becoming master [ein
altering the overall structure. And if these changes are significant enough, or if particular factions cease to remain subordinate to the whole, that whole is threatened or falls apart. Nietzsche writes: No subject "atoms." The sphere of the subject constantly growing or decreasing, the center of the system constantly shifting; in cases where it cannot organize the appropriate mass, it breaks into two parts. On the other hand, it can transform a weaker subject into its functionary without