Getting Beyond Good and Evil: Reconciling Naturalism and Skepticism in Nietzsche's Middle Period

Title: Getting Beyond Good and Evil: Reconciling Naturalism and Skepticism in Nietzsche's Middle Period
Authors: Girard, David
Date: 2016
Abstract: Philosophers such as Clark and Leiter propose that Nietzsche’s position on the concept of truth, while controversial in his early and middle periods, developed into something far less radical in his later works. They claim that Nietzsche should be understood as a naturalist who contends that we can attain truth, and that his falsification thesis, along with skeptical interpretations of it, is incoherent due to self-contradiction. I challenge these thinkers and what I call the naturalist interpretations because if Nietzsche’s middle period is incoherent then little or nothing can be seen as valuable in GS, Z, or BGE. In order to defend Nietzsche from his alleged self-contradiction I examine positions offered by Clark & Dudrick and Berry who attempt to offer a coherent interpretation of his middle period. While neither provides a convincing position, they help me reveal that what Nietzsche calls “strong skepticism” is integral towards his project. Strong skepticism is the notion that we should continuously perpetuate inquiry, while also creating new values. Nietzsche’s project is to get beyond good and evil, which can be achieved by recognizing untruth as a strong skeptic. To get beyond good and evil, Nietzsche asserts that the thing-in-itself must be properly rejected along with any other metaphysical faith. In so doing philosophers of the future can create new values by being honest about their personal judgements as well as recognizing that falsification is necessary for getting around in the world. Ultimately, I conclude that Nietzsche is neither a skeptic nor a naturalist, and instead utilizes elements from both without committing to either.
CollectionThèses, 2011 - // Theses, 2011 -