Even as a painting Friedrich Nietzsche appears ready to undermine our existence.
Much is said about the philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche (1844–1900; pictured). However, much is poorly understood. Nietzsche’s work stretches across multiple disciplines. He was scatty, polemic, and arrogant. His philosophy, therefore, was susceptible to being thin on the ground. Nevertheless, he was able to craft some powerful ideas. The ‘Will to Truth’ is one of them.
From Nietzsche’s early, unpublished works it’s easy to get the impression he was a truth-denier:
But Nietzsche furnished a more-mature notion of truth later in life. He did not claim that there is no such thing. Indeed, this argument is a truth-claim itself! Instead, he claimed that our beliefs do not fully correspond with how the world is.
That being said, Nietzsche was more interested in the psychology of truth than the semantics and epistemology of it.
We have a ‘Will to Truth’, we truth-seekers. With it we are driven towards overriding old values and discarding old beliefs in favour of the truth.
But seeking truth does not always pay: it can make us obsessive and deprive us of valuable illusions.
Nietzsche thought that our current valuing of truth is a holdover from Christianity—an ideology which perpetuated the idea that truth should be sought as a moral imperative. Ironically, he claimed, atheism is ‘one of its last stages of development’.
So let us finish on this thought: the Will to Truth might overcome itself—a paradoxical exercise to unmask our ‘true’ motives, so to speak, which will derail the truth of all that we made.