Thought for 21.11.2012 (Nietzsche)

I won’t make a habit of posting entire sections of Nietzsche’s ‘Beyond Good and Evil’ but I was required to for philosophy class. It captured my attention more than anything other eloquent rhetorical-argumentative polemic on our failure (perhaps of time, perhaps of discipline or perhaps of technology) to assimilate new concepts, seeing what we wish to see. In addition life as self-creation and self-enhancement: ‘one is much more of an artist than one realises.’

And so it goes.



Anyone who has studied a particular science will find that its development serves as a guide to understanding the oldest and most common processes in ‘knowledge and cognition’. In both cases,  the first things to develop are over-hypotheses, fabrications, a tried-and-true ‘belief’, a lack of scepticism or patience – only later,  and never completely, do our sense learn to be fin, a tried-and-true ‘belief’, a lack of scepticism or patience – only later,  and never completely, do our sense learn to be fine, loyal, cautious organs of cognition. On any given occasion, our eye finds it easier to reproduce an image that it has produced many times, rather than retain what is divergent and new about an impression: the latter requires more fortitude, more ‘morality’. It is painful and difficult for the ear to hear something new; we are bad at listening to strange music. When listening to another language, we arbitrarily try to form the sounds we hear into words that sound more familiar and more like our own: that is why, for example, when Germans heard the word arcubalista, they fashioned it into word ‘Armbrust’.[i] New things also find our sense averse or hostile; and in general, with even the ‘simplest’ sensory processes, it is the emotions, such as fear, love and hatred, or the passive emotions associated with laziness, which dominate.

Just as a reader today scarcely distinguishes all the individual words (let alone syllables) on a page (of every twenty words he randomly selects five or so instead, and ‘guesses’ the meaning that probably corresponds to those five words), so we scarcely see a tree exactly and completely, with regard to its leaves, branches, colour, shape: it is so much easier for us to dream up something approximating a tree. Even in the middle of our strangest experiences, we still do the same thing: we fabricate the greatest portion of the experience and can barely be forced not to observe any one event as its ‘inventor’. All of this is to say that we  are from time to time immemorial fundamentally – accustomed to lying. Or; to put it more virtuously and hypocritically, more pleasant in short: we are all artists much more than we realize.

When holding a lively conversation, I often see the face of my conversation partner in terms of the thought that he is expressing, or that I believe I called for him, with a degree of clarity and precision that goes far beyond the power or my visual faculty – have been added by my imagination, The person was probably making a completely different face, or none at all.

[i] Crossbow 


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