Allison Farina Farina 1
As I sat down in the library to read Nietzsche’s “On Truth and Lies in a Nonmoral Sense” for the first time, I realized that giving the essay all of my attention wasn’t enough. The first paragraph starts off as if it were a fairy tale. It jumps right into the start of his entire essay with one statement: “There was a star upon which clever beasts invented knowing. That was the most arrogant and mendacious minute of “world history,” but nevertheless, it was only a minute.” (451) I knew this essay was going to be a challenge, and I was right. In the process of answering all his own questions, and questioning the answers he comes up with, he jumps around from one idea to another. It is confusing if trying to read it fast. You need to take the sentences one by one and think into each of them in order to understand it in the context of the rest of his essay.
I noticed while reading the essay he mentions “things” a lot. He fights the idea that certain words in our language can be associated with things. Taking a word with an assumed meaning cannot describe something else which we have not determined to be a truth. “If truth alone had been the deciding factor in the genesis of language, and if the standpoint of certainty had been decisive designations, then how could we still dare to say “the stone is hard,” as if “hard” were something otherwise familiar to us, and not merely a totally subject stimulation!” (453) I agree with him on this factor. I don’t think
that a word should be associated with an object because that causes confusion when other objects can fit into the description. A sentence later Nietzsche backs up my exact thoughts with the example of a snake and a worm. “We speak of a “snake”: this designation touches only upon its ability to twist itself and could therefore also fit a worm.” (453)
Still speaking of language, Nietzsche...