Ambiguity and the Absolute
Nietzsche and Merleau-Ponty on the Question of Truth
Publication Year: 2013
Published by: Fordham University Press
Title Page, Copyright
In 1636, as he was still reeling from the death of his first child, an infant boy named Rumbartus, a young Rembrandt composed one of his most direct and explicit works, the remarkable etching Abraham Caressing Isaac. This was not his first attempt at unraveling the mysteries attached to the most famous infanticide in Western culture. ...
Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900) and Maurice Merleau-Ponty (1908-1961) could hardly be more different men or, indeed, different thinkers. Initially, it seems only contrasts can be drawn between them. Jean-François Lyotard calls Merleau-Ponty “one of the least arrogant of all philosophers,” a description hardly anyone would apply to Nietzsche (Lyotard 1989, 189). ...
1. Nietzche on Self-Differentiation and Genealogy
In this chapter, I examine the role of predicative truth in Nietzsche’s genealogical accounts of 1887. My general claim is that Nietzsche identifies the origin of the vicissitudes of mankind as an essential property of both the self and reality (that is to say, in phenomenological terms, the world) that I call self-differentiation. ...
2. The Incorporation of Truth and the Symbiosis of Truth and Life
I have shown in Chapter 1 that the asymptotical structure is an essential feature of the will to power. I have also argued that determinacy, in the form of sublimation, was an essential feature of truth. This presents us with a paradox: the very nature of conceptual knowledge is in contradiction with the nature of reality. ...
3. The Self-Becoming of the World and the Incompleteness of Being
The relationship between the value of self-becoming and Being has just been clarified in modal terms. It is now apparent that Being is in the full sense only when the potential and the actual are connected. We now need to ask what consequences can be expected from achieving our individual task of self-becoming, ...
Transition: Vicious Circles, Virtuous Circles, and Meeting Merleau-Ponty in the Middle
Nietzsche’s efforts are all directed toward health and against sickness. In this sense, the concept of self-becoming represents the crux of Nietzschean ethics. However, Nietzsche’s fundamental monism envisages both the individual’s self and the very structure of reality as “fate” and it does not allow for any event in the individual to be considered separately ...
4. The Origin of Truth
Merleau-Ponty’s masterwork The Visible and the Invisible was originally to be entitled The Origin of Truth (P2, 44; SNS, 97n15/118n2) or Genealogy of Truth. For Merleau-Ponty, the question of the origin of truth synthesized both the critical and the positive aspects of his project. ...
5. Existential Reduction and the Object of Truth
The phenomenological reduction is the locus of normativity in Merleau-Ponty’s philosophy. It is assigned the task of discriminating between the true and the false within the phenomenal world. Thanks to it, Merleau-Ponty conquers the chance to build—beyond a descriptive phenomenology—a philosophy of perception. ...
6. Merleau-Ponty’s “Soft” Ontology of Truth as Falsification
It is now clear that Merleau-Ponty’s reformulation of the Husserlian reduction as existential reduction gave priority to phenomenality over phenomena and to the “one” over the multiple. In Merleau-Ponty’s view, this amounts to a reduction to the ontological. In Chapter 4, we had encountered this “one” as the zone of subjectivity ...
The parallel between Nietzsche’s and Merleau-Ponty’s treatments of the question of truth leads to a single ontological claim: Being is self-falsification through truth, and the phenomenon of truth is its essence. As regards Nietzsche, I argued in Chapter 3 that he views Being as the very movement by which the indeterminate presents itself as determinate. ...