Nietzsche: Christianity and Truth

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Bermel, Nicole
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Anti-Metaphysician , Perspectivism , Transcendental Reality , Christianity , Self-Referential Paradox
Nietzsche, as a self proclaimed “godless anti-metaphysician,” (GS, 344)[1] is one of the most interesting and perplexing philosophers of the nineteenth century. Many modern philosophers believe, however, that Nietzsche’s works are inconsistent. They argue that Nietzsche’s perspectivism is guilty of a self-referential paradox because it seems to assert its own truth while rejecting the existence of objective truth. In her book, Nietzsche on Truth and Philosophy, Maudemarie Clark proposes that, despite this seeming inconsistency, one can make sense of how Nietzsche proposes his perspectivism as ‘truth’ by recognizing that Nietzsche redefines truth as that which satisfies our cognitive interests.[2] She argues that early in Nietzsche’s works, when he rejects the real world, he inconsistently presupposes a transcendental reality. In his later works, however, Nietzsche revaluates his own theory and corrects this problem by rejecting the distinction between the real and apparent worlds and recognizing that truth is limited to our experiences. I argue, however, that Nietzsche’s critique of Christianity poses fundamental problems to Clark’s project. Nietzsche’s ethical critique of Christianity charges that Christianity encourages the ascetic ideal and is, thus, life denying. Nietzsche, therefore, appears to attack the ascetic ideal as being life-denying because it is delusional. Clark nonetheless maintains that in his last six published works[3], he has rejected metaphysical claims and contends that the ascetic ideal is merely untrue according to his new definition of truth. I believe, however, that Clark’s explanation of Nietzsche’s new truth does not ultimately overcome a Christian’s objection to it. Clark’s consistent reading of Nietzsche has little textual support, and her explanation of what he means by truth fails to resolve what critics call an incommensurability problem because it is unable to compare two utterly different perspectives.