Perhaps no other recent thinker has been subjected to as much critical evaluation and interpretation than has Friedrich Nietzsche. Numerous books, papers, etc., have been written on various aspects of his thought, with an equally tremendous number of interpretations being exposed in these works. Walter Kaufmann, forexample, found Nietzsche to be something of a radical empiricist, denying metaphysical truths but not empirically derived truths. Martin Heidegger’s enormously influential interpretation named Nietzsche the ‘last metaphysician’ of the West, finding him to be battling metaphysics only to be trapped within metaphysics itself. And the explosion of French commentators on the scene, i.e. Deleuze,Derrida, Granier, Klossowski, and Kofman (to name but a few) have only further complicated the picture.
Despite these differences in interpretation, virtually all Nietzsche scholars would characterize Nietzschean thought as perspectival. The doctrine of perspectivism, that there is no [T]ruth but instead truths, no privileged vantage point but simply different perspectives, has provenvexing for a number of scholars. After all, it does seem that Nietzsche falls prey to some sort of performative contradiction in the assertion of his brand of perspectivism -- how can his view be true when all that exist are perspectives?
Is there a ‘solution?’ I think that the most fruitful inroads can be made through examining the issue of metaphor in Nietzsche’s works. Perspectivism, I want to argue, requires metaphoric thought, and metaphoric thought requires genealogical analysis. This paper is an examination of that metaphoric style and thought, and the structure of the genealogy that maintains it. Perhaps the most interesting result of this line of thinking is the idea that post-metaphysical philosophy is indeed possible, insofar as post-metaphysical thought cangenerate interpretations that derive concepts from active metaphorizing. Epistemology is replaced with an economy of forces, with an aesthetic. In this light, our understanding of ideas like the Will to Power and the Eternal Return must be reinterpreted as metaphoric, and this reinterpretation has certain implications both for the scholarship surrounding Nietzsche’s works, as well as our reading ofthe works themselves.
II. Why metaphor?
Without a notion of a metaphysical, real world, the Nietzschean world-view must by necessity do without many of the traditional philosophic answers as regards truth, objectivity, etc. Yet, this does not seem to bother Nietzsche -- in fact, he writes that “knowledge of [a metaphysical world] would be the most useless of all knowledge: moreuseless even than knowledge of the chemical composition of water must be to the sailor in danger of shipwreck.” The Kantian project of phenomenal and noumenal realms does not hold any value, as Nietzsche makes a quite Rortyian move in dismissing the noumenal -- after all, if we can’t access it, it isn’t much good.
Due to this rejection of traditional notions of truth, Nietzscheinstead explores a very different model -- that of all concepts as essentially metaphoric. Nowhere is this view more eloquently described than in his early, unpublished On Truth and Lies in a Nonmoral Sense. In this essay, Nietzsche describes all the truths of man as being illusory, or, better still, metaphoric. “Truths are illusions which we have forgotten are illusions... metaphors that have becomeworn out and have been drained of sensual force.”
What exactly does Nietzsche mean by the term metaphor? Here, Nietzsche considers all conceptualizing to be metaphoric -- it is an approximation, inexact, a convenient lie. In fact, Nietzsche writes that “we believe that we know something about the things themselves when we talk of trees, colors, snow, and flowers; and yet we...