The great German nihilist and (in my eyes) true existentialist philosopher Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche (15 October 1844 – 25 August 1900) took great issue with the concept of objectivity. His problem, effectively, was that it was impossible. We do not see the world objectively, we see what we see, what we see is of us, it is part of us, it is our perspective and our prejudice. Nietzsche has a deep aversion to what he calls the ‘prejudice of the philosopher’. This is the grand lie of a writer attempting an impersonal approach to expressing views and assumptions which Nietzsche believes to in fact be very personal in origin. Philosophers were seen by Nietzsche as taking these essentially dogmatic perspectives and attempting to paint them onto the universe as truth, as if they (the philosopher) were guiding the reader through the world-in-itself, rather than through their world. Wether it be Spinoza cladding his philosophy with the ‘hocus-pocus of mathematical form”(Beyond Good and Evil 5) or Kant luring us on ‘dialectical bypaths’(ibid) to the categorical imperative, such philosophers have the arrogance to display their opinions as truths, but not the ‘courage which also lets this be known, whether to warn an enemy or a friend, or, from exuberance, to mock itself” (ibid).
Nietzsche’s writing room in the Swiss Alps. My favourite photograph.
So this is me attempting to ‘let it be known’ that my writing is my perspective, it is how I see things and how I feel, and I claim none of it to contain objective truth. I claim no certainty, just feeling. This is how I feel. I often feel that if we were all just a little less sure of ourselves the world would perhaps be a far more hospitable place. I can not relate to those who feel they are right, right beyond reproach, and right in a way that makes everyone else wrong. They are the only sane person in a world of insanity. The only smart person in a world of fools. The only right in a world of wrong.
We should all be humble enough to admit that we are probably wrong about almost everything. Just consider all the people through out history who now appear to have been wrong in almost all their factual claims: Socrates, Jesus, others. Knowledge and truth evolves, all we consider to be true now may one day all be seen as false. This is a progression, and this progression is noble. It happens only through the work of those who forge new thought. The Socrates’s, the Jesus’s, the Einstein’s and Darwin’s. Their work is noble, and it is noble without it having to all be right in the way that too many of us posit rightness. Just because an idea has been or will be evolved beyond does not make that idea worthless. In fact, that is where the value of good ideas lies: they are part of the growth, part of progress. A good idea, an interesting perspective, an interesting conclusion, they are gifts to humanity. It does not have to be and it cannot be, eternally and universally true, it can and should only be true for a certain time, for a certain society, from a certain perspective.
The goal in our thought and in our writing should be to contribute, not to conclude. The obsession with being a full stop, with ending the question, ending the debate, is a false obsession that I dare say is built on arrogance and the want to dominate and control, rather than the want to share and develop. This is what thinking and writing is for: it is for the greater good, for the movement forward. Its eternity lies in it being part of the eternal train of thought, rather than being a single immutable truth.
So, all I wish to say is that we are all probably wrong about almost everything, as much as we are ever right about anything, and that is fine. In fact that is great, that is wonderful! Whilst Nietzsche would probably have hated this, I feel his value and the value of all those who play with great ideas lies in how they give to humankind, it lies in their contribution. It is our contributions that give us value. It is our contributions that push things forward. All that matters is our contributions.
These are mine.