Ambiguity and the Absolute: Nietzsche and Merleau-Ponty on the Question of Truth

Ambiguity and the Absolute: Nietzsche and Merleau-Ponty on the Question of Truth

FRANK CHOURAQUI
Copyright Date: 2014
Published by: Fordham University Press
Pages: 304
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt13wzz07
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    Ambiguity and the Absolute: Nietzsche and Merleau-Ponty on the Question of Truth
    Book Description:

    Friedrich Nietzsche and Maurice Merleau-Ponty, Chouraqui argues, are linked by how they conceive the question of truth. Although both thinkers criticize the traditional co ncept of truth as objectivity, they both find that rejecting it does not solve the problem. What is it in our natural existence that gave rise to the notion of truth? The answer to that question is threefold. First, Nietzsche and Merleau-Ponty both propose a genealogy of "truth" in which to exist means to make implicit truth claims. Second, both seek to recover the preobjective ground from which truth as an erroneous concept arose. Finally, this attempt at recovery leads both thinkers to ontological considerations regarding how we must conceive of a being whose structure allows for the existence of the belief in truth. In conclusion, Chouraqui suggests that both thinkers' investigations of the question of truth lead them to conceive of being as the process of self-falsification by which indeterminate being presents itself as determinate. The answer to that question is threefold. First, Nietzsche and Merleau-Ponty both propose a genealogy of "truth" in which to exist means to make implicit truth claims. Second, both seek to recover the preobjective ground from which truth as an erroneous concept arose. Finally, this attempt at recovery leads both thinkers to ontological considerations, regarding how we must conceive of a being whose structure allows for the existence of the belief in truth. In conclusion, Chouraqui suggests that both thinkers' investigations of the question of truth lead them to conceive of being as the process of self-falsification by which indeterminate being presents itself as determinate.

    eISBN: 978-0-8232-5414-9
    Subjects: Philosophy

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-viii)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. ix-x)
  3. List of Abbreviations
    (pp. xi-xiv)
  4. Preface
    (pp. xv-xviii)
  5. Introduction
    (pp. 1-20)

    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). Nietzsche’s radical temperament gave birth to a “hammer” philosophy that most consider irreconcilable with both Merleau-Ponty’s moderate personality and his entire philosophical edifice, which is often based upon subtle differences of degree and emphasis. In the Anglo-American world, Nietzsche was often denied the status of philosopher, at least...

  6. 1 Nietzsche on Self-Differentiation and Genealogy
    (pp. 21-64)

    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. I mean self-differentiation as the ability of reality to present itself as different from what it is, thereby—paradoxically—uncovering its very structure as self-differentiation. Nietzsche, I claim, attributes these characteristics both to humans and to reality itself.

    In the case of humans, this ability is expressed...

  7. 2 The Incorporation of Truth and the Symbiosis of Truth and Life
    (pp. 65-97)

    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. In this chapter, I will examine how Nietzsche addresses this discrepancy by an enigmatic recourse to the “incorporation” [Einverleibung] of truth. Nietzsche’s invitation for us to incorporate truth amounts to an effort on his part to save us from the path that leads toward...

  8. 3 The Self-Becoming of the World and the Incompleteness of Being
    (pp. 98-114)

    The relationship between the value of self-becoming and Being has just been clarified in modal terms. It is now apparent that Beingisin 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, for if one needs to become oneself for the sake of Being, the benefits must be expected on a higher level than the mere individual herself. If I am right to interpret this individual ethics as drawing its value from the nature of the will to power,...

  9. Transition: Vicious Circles, Virtuous Circles, and Meeting Merleau-Ponty in the Middle Between Metaphysics and Ontology
    (pp. 115-125)

    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 from the overall fate of the world itself. The human is the locus of self-differentiationquasickness in the world. As a result, self-becoming attains a cosmological status: by becoming healthy again, man makes the world healthy again. The existence of the human is thus...

  10. 4 The Origin of Truth
    (pp. 126-149)

    Merleau-Ponty’s masterworkThe Visible and the Invisiblewas originally to be entitledThe Origin of Truth(P2,44;SNS, 97n15/118n2) orGenealogy of Truth. For Merleau-Ponty, the question of the origin of truth synthesized both the critical and the positive aspects of his project. Finding the origin of truth meant finding what the truth criticized by phenomenology was a falsificationof. It also meant finding what object we now must assign to our philosophical endeavors. Finally, it meant finding the authentic truth expressed (wrongly) by the objective truth of traditional philosophy. As I have argued in Chapter 2, Nietzsche too...

  11. 5 Existential Reduction and the Object of Truth
    (pp. 150-173)

    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. This is made possible by the fact that the reduction gives the philosopher access to the openness of perception as such, irrespective of a conceptual content that constantly and “in principle” always “fills it” (S, 14/27).¹ The reduction enables Merleau-Ponty to conceive of perception as a foundation and to complete in his own way the...

  12. 6 Merleau-Ponty’s “Soft” Ontology of Truth as Falsification
    (pp. 174-220)

    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 that structures perception and constitutes the “syntax” of history. In Chapter 5, we encountered it as phenomenality, intentionality, or transcendence. In his last and unfinished work,The Visible and the Invisible, Merleau-Ponty describes this “one” as an “existential eternity” (VI, 267/315).¹ This places us resolutely on the ground of...

  13. Conclusion
    (pp. 221-234)

    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. I argued that this self-falsification of the indeterminate is the movement of truth. With regard to Merleau-Ponty, I came to the same conclusion in Chapter 6: Being is self-falsification. These claims of Nietzsche and Merleau-Ponty raise several questions that I shall briefly address below. First,...

  14. Notes
    (pp. 235-276)
  15. Bibliography
    (pp. 277-286)
  16. Index
    (pp. 287-304)
  17. Back Matter
    (pp. 305-310)