Personal                              -                      Universal
Individual                           -                      Collective
Subjective                           -                      Objective

Is it [...] impossible to present a view as true, by which one can live, without also presenting it as a view that is true necessarily, by which all must live?

[Alexander Nehamas]
Nietzsche: Life as Literature, p. 36

The Poincaré map is a dimensional compression technique whereby three dimensions are displayed in two dimensional space. Unlike a photograph, which implies the third dimension through perspective, the Poincaré map involves the third dimension in its creation.

It is interesting to speculate on the nature of the patterns revealed by Poincaré maps. The map itself is created by using a line drawn through the origin as a reference for defining the y-axis of the map. Different maps are produced for each of the infinite selections of lines through the origin. Patterns appear and disappear depending on the selection of the reference line.

One interpretation might be that our concept of "order" is incorrect. We generally perceive of "order" as an absolute (i.e., the quest for the "true" nature of things). Poincaré maps imply that order is not an absolute, but rather, something that can only be understood relative to an observer.

An observer using one reference line might see order, while another observer using a different reference line might see chaos, or a completely different pattern. In other words, the nature of a system is a matter of perception and/or beliefs.

[David S. Walonick]
'General Systems Theory'

The history of philosophy is to a great extent that of a certain clash of human temperaments.

Undignified as such a treatment may seem to some of my colleagues, I shall have to take account of this clash and explain a good many of the divergencies of philosophers by it. Of whatever temperament a professional philosopher is, he tries when philosophizing to sink the fact of his temperament. Temperament is no conventionally recognized reason, so he urges impersonal reasons only for his conclusions.

Yet his temperament really gives him a stronger bias than any of his more strictly objective premises. It loads the evidence for him one way or the other, making for a more sentimental or a more hard-hearted view of the universe, just as this fact or that principle would. He trusts his temperament.

Wanting a universe that suits it, he believes in any representation of the universe that does suit it. He feels men of opposite temper to be out of key with the world’s character, and in his heart considers them incompetent and 'not in it,' in the philosophic business, even tho they may far excel him in dialectical ability.

Most of us have, of course, no very definite intellectual temperament, we are a mixture of opposite ingredients, each one present very moderately. We hardly know our own preferences in abstract matters; some of us are easily talked out of them, and end by following the fashion or taking up with the beliefs of the most impressive philosopher in our neighborhood, whoever he may be.

But the one thing that has counted so far in philosophy is that a man should see things, see them straight in his own peculiar way, and be dissatisfied with any opposite way of seeing them.

[William James]
Pragmatism and Other Writings, p. 9

Nietzsche is so suspicious of Plato and Socrates because he believes that their approach is essentially dogmatic. He attributes to them the view that their view is not simply a view but an accurate description of the real world which forces its own acceptance and makes an unconditional claim on everyone’s assent.

Apart from objecting to their specific ideas, he objects even more to the fact that philosophers “are not honest enough in their work,” that they write as if they had reached their ideas in an objective and disinterested manner, motivated only by the search for truth.

But according to him these same philosophers “are all advocates who resent that name, and for the most part even wily spokesmen for their prejudices which they baptise ‘truths’ - and very far from having the courage of the conscience that admits this, precisely this, to itself; very far from having the good taste or the courage which also lets this be known, whether to warn an enemy or friend, or, from exuberance, to mock itself.”

It is in the interest of dogmatic approaches to hide their specific origins; in this way that are enabled to make universal claims. 

Having an origin is being part of history, and this implies that it is at least possible also to have an end. It is just this possibility that, according to Nietzsche, dogmatism must render invisible, since it aims to be accepted necessarily and unconditionally - not as the product of a particular person or idiosyncrasy but as the result of a discovery about the unalterable features of the world.

This is one of the reasons, as we shall see, why Nietzsche engages in the practice he calls “genealogy,” for genealogy reveals the very particular, very interested origins from which actually emerge the views that we have forgotten are views and take instead as facts.

Nietzsche’s opposition to dogmatism does not consist in the paradoxical idea that it is wrong to think that one’s beliefs are true, but only in the view that one’s beliefs are not, and need not be, true for everyone.

[Dogmatism and metaphysics] are attempts to project one’s own views on the world, and they are just as much attempts to hide precisely this projection from themselves as well as from their audience.

They lack “the courage of the conscience” that either in warning or in mockery admits that the view being projected is nothing more than a reading onto the world of the conditions under which its own author can thrive, and which need not be the right conditions for everyone else […] 

Accepting a view is therefore not simply a question of assenting to a set of propositions, as the matter is sometimes put. It also involves accepting the values that are the preconditions of that view and the mode of life that is implied and made possible by those values.

And since Nietzsche believes that there is no mode of life that is proper, desirable, or indeed possible for everyone, he also holds, very consistently, that there is no set of views that commands universal assent by virtue of depending merely on the features of the world in itself or of human beings as such.

[Alexander Nehamas]
Nietzsche: Life as Literature, p. 32-4

What makes one regard philosophers half mistrustfully and half mockingly is […] that they display altogether insufficient honesty, while making a mighty and virtuous noise as soon as the problem of truthfulness is even remotely touched on. 

They pose as having discovered and attained their real opinions through the self-evolution of cold, pure, divinely unperturbed dialectic (in contrast to the mystics of every rank, who are more honest and more stupid than they - these speak of 'inspiration'): while what happens at bottom is that a prejudice, a notion, an 'inspiration', generally a desire of the heart sifted and made abstract, is defended by them with reasons sought after the event - they are one and all advocates who do not want to be regarded as such, and for the most part no better than cunning pleaders for their prejudices, which they baptize 'truths' - and very far from possessing the courage of the conscience which admits this fact to itself, very far from possessing the good taste of the courage which publishes this fact, whether to warn a foe or a friend or out of high spirits and in order to mock itself.

The tartuffery, as stiff as it is virtuous, of old Kant as he lures us along the dialectical bypaths which lead, more correctly, mislead, to his 'categorical imperative' - this spectacle makes us smile, we who are fastidious and find no little amusement in observing the subtle tricks of old moralists and moral-preachers.

Not to speak of that hocus-pocus of mathematical form in which, as in iron, Spinoza encased and masked his philosophy - 'the love of his wisdom', to render that word fairly and squarely - so as to strike terror into the heart of any assailant who should dare to glance at that invincible maiden and Pallas Athene - how much timidity and vulnerability this masquerade of a sick recluse betrays!

[Friedrich Nietzsche]
Beyond Good and Evil, 5

Learning transforms us, it does that which all nourishment does which does not merely ‘preserve' - : as the physiologist knows. 

But at the bottom of us, “right down deep', there is, to be sure, something unteachable, a granite stratum of spiritual fate, of predetermined decision and answer to predetermined selected questions. In the case of every cardinal problem there speaks an unchangeable ‘this is I'; 

about man and woman, for example, a thinker cannot relearn but only learn fully - only discover all that is ‘firm and settled' within him on this subject. 

One sometimes comes upon certain solutions to problems which inspire strong belief in us; perhaps one thenceforth calls them one's 'convictions'. Later - one sees them only as footsteps to self-knowledge, signposts to the problem which we are - more correctly, to the great stupidity which we are, to our spiritual fate, to the unteachable 'right down deep'.

[Friedrich Nietzsche]
Beyond Good and Evil, 231

The kind of blogging I do has to be based in personal obsession, in spats and rivalry, in a kind of light, oblique but perpetual autobiography.

There has to be a subject for all this data to make any sort of situated sense, and that subject has to be seen to have a body, clothes, a way to wear those clothes, and so on.

As soon as I get tugged out of that embodied, situated world I get bored and anxious and mistrustful.

I want to know always who's speaking, how old they are, what culture they were raised in, what their vested interests are, and so on.

For me, the Anon is suspicious because I can't see what s/he looks like or what life his/her comment is rooted in. For the Anons (or some of them), I'm the suspicious one, because my comments are far too obviously rooted in an ego, a persona.


An interpretation can appear to be binding on everyone only if the fact that it is an interpretation remains hidden. And this can be achieved only if the interpretation in question is presented as a view that is objectively true of the world and is addressed to all human beings simply as human beings, as rational agents, or […] as children of God.

To say of a view that it is an interpretation is not to say that it is false. It is, rather, to say that it is a view that, like all views, is produced by specific interests, for specific purposes, and that it is appropriate for specific types of people. 

And though this does not make the issue of truth irrelevant, the ultimate question to be asked of an interpretation concerns the interests it promotes: for what type of person is it appropriate? Whom does it benefit? […] interpretation is always an effort to reveal and make obvious the character, the type of person, and the type of life which a view promotes and elevates.

Nietzsche believed that the goal of every philosophical view is to present a picture of the world and a conception of values which makes a certain type of person possible and which allows it to prosper and to flourish. 

“We seek picture of the world in that philosophy in which we feel freest; i.e., in which our most powerful drive feels free to function […]”

[…] asceticism denies the radical contingency of history, the fact that every institution is subject to change, revision, and even elimination. But even more important, it denies that many modes of life are possible at the same time, and that this pluralism, despite its undeniable dangers, holds greater promise than the uniform levelling that Nietzsche finds to be implicit in Christianity and in all other absolutist codes.

[Alexander Nehamas]
Nietzsche: Life as Literature, p. 126-9

Consider the historical horizon of Nietzsche. 

His conceptions of decadence, militarism, the transvaluation of all values, the will to power, lie deep in the essence of Western civilization and are for the analysis of that civilization of decisive importance. But what, do we find, was the foundation on which he built up his creation? Romans and Greeks, Renaissance and European present, with a fleeting and uncomprehending side-glance at Indian philosophy - in short "ancient, mediæval and modern" history. 

Strictly speaking, he never once moved outside the scheme, not did any other thinker of his time.

What correlation, then, is there or can there be of his idea of the "Dionysian" with the inner life of a highly-civilized Chinese or an up-to-date American? What is the significance of his type of the "Superman" - for the world of Islam? Can image-forming antitheses of Nature and Intellect, Heathen and Christian, Classical and Modern, have any meaning for the soul of the Indian or the Russian? 

What can Tolstoi - who from the depths of his humanity rejected the whole Western world-idea as something alien and distant - do with the “Middle Ages," with Dante, with Luther? What can a Japanese do with Parzeval and "Zarathustra," or an Indian with Sophocles? And is the thought-range of Schopenhauer, Comte, Feuerbach, Hebbel or Strindberg any wider? 

Is not their whole psychology, for all its intention of world-wide validity, one of purely West-European significance?

[Oswald Spengler]
The Decline of the West, Vol. 1, p.24

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