In ‘The Genealogy of Morals’ Nietzsche proclaims, “the deed is everything”. In a later publication he writes: “If I remove all the relationships, all the ‘properties’, all the ‘activities’ of a thing, the thing does not remain over” (Will to Power 558). These statements pertain to his larger criticism of traditional views of logic which presupposes the existence of things in order to function. The salient points of the critique are listed in ‘Nietzsche’s Perspectivism’ by Stephen D. Hales and Rex Welshon (p. 42), and they include:
1) Logic presupposes the existence of things
2) The things of logic are fictions invented by humans
3) Logic presupposes the persisting identity of things through time
4) Logic presupposes the identity of things at an instant
5) There is no identity through time; and
6) Nothing is self-identical either, or only ‘fictions’ are
To appreciate the motivation for this sort of radical departure with tradition, one would have to first become acquainted with Nietzsche’s anti-realism, which Hales and Welshon describe as such: “i) the world is dynamic and fluid ii) the ways we organize it for purposes of logic suit our ends and purposes iii) there is no reason to think that the organization of the world in our logic matches the contingent fluidity of the world” ( p. 48). Within this framework Nietzsche challenges the existence of ‘thingness’ beyond the utilitarian purposes of logic, which he believes was invented as a foundation for a variety of bundled effects and activities (WP 561), i.e. it becomes useful for communication purposes to consolidate various attributes under a single umbrella term, and then behave as if these terms possess solid and persisting characteristics throughout their usage as if real entities. But merely because it is useful for purposes of communication does not alone validate traditional logic’s mandatory presupposition of ‘thing-as-essence’.
In addition to a faith in ‘thingness’ traditional logic has perpetuated a faith in ‘bivalence’, the notion that every proposition has a truth-value. A truth-value is another example of ‘thingness’, one which presumes unchanging characteristics, so that together they tautologically support one another in as of yet unproven, non-essential sense. As Hales and Welshon state: … “Nietzsche maintains that bivalence is an unproven assumption, and speculates on various shades of values as an alternative in order to show that bivalence is not the only conceivable option (BGE 34)” (p. 51). Furthermore: “Rejection of bivalence does not mean a rejection of logic – there are plenty of wholesome multivalent logics that remain. Rather, if Michael Dummett is correct, what rejection of bivalence entails is a rejection of realism and an acceptance of anti-realism. Dummett’s point is that those who reject bivalence accept the possibility that, for at least some of their sentences, there is no fact of the matter that will determinately fix their truth-value” (p. 52).
This leads to the manner in which Nietzsche is able to critique as such without undermining his own reasoning, namely his endorsement of ‘perspectivism’, which is mentioned explicitly in ‘The Will to Power’, but which persists implicitly throughout his late mode of thought. It hinges in part on an ontological view that “subjects, objects and attributes are all fabricated distinctions that we invent to suit our ends. If [Nietzsche] is right, there is nothing “metaphysically” true that might be said about things in the world. Indeed, there is no perspective-independent world at all, as Nietzsche reminds us over and over: ‘[the world] is a mere fiction, constructed of fictitious entities’ (WP 568; cf. TI IV). Hence even if truth consists in correspondence, that correspondence cannot be to a thing-in-itself, or ‘real’ world. At best the correspondence would be to sets of entities whose elements vary from perspective to perspective” (p. 18).
Most criticisms of Nietzsche’s perspectivism is based on a misinterpretation of it as ‘strong perspectivism’, whereas Hales and Welshon argue he promotes a ‘weak perspectivism’. Strong perspectivism can be characterized as “the claim that every statement is true in some perspective, yet untrue in another. Hence, a statement that is true for one person is untrue for another if the perspectives occupied by the two persons are distinct with respect to the statement.” (p. 19); weak perspectivism, on the other hand is the thesis that ‘there is at least one statement such that there is some perspective in which it is true, and some perspective in which it is untrue. Note that it is consistent with weak perspectivism that some statements have the same truth value in all perspectives, that is, one can maintain that very many – nearly all – statements have their truth values absolutely.” (p. 31). Thus Nietzsche makes concessions to a small few absolute truths for humans, however these absolute truths are not outside of perspectives, rather the claim is that there are truths that are within all human perspectives, what Hales and Welshon call ‘cross-perspectival truths’ (p. 33). Thus this treatment of ‘absolute truth’ lacks metaphysical significance.
I had tried to make a similar argument to perspectivism, that the absolutist viewpoint of ‘relativism’ was not a definitive explanation because it required a unifying form of logic (i.e. bivalent logic) which undermined the multivalent quality signified by the term ‘relativism’, and took in its place the nominal appearance. There would have to be a multivalent logic to genuinely appreciate ‘relativism’, because its premises are fundamentally divergent from those presupposed in the unifying form of logic an absolutist argument requires. Relativism should not be reduced to merely the ‘other’ of absolutism, anymore than what is denoted by ‘irrationalism’ should be reduced to merely the ‘other’ of rationalism.
This is part of the conceit of bivalence and thingness which suppose essential qualities over and beyond their conceptual ones. In what way can one argue that ‘inductive thinking’ bears an essential relation to the phenomena of ‘thinking’, while negating the value of all other contradicting interpretations? How does one argue that ‘inductive thinking’ is a thing in the way a unicorn is not (which is to say how does one distinguish an essential thing from a conceptual one)? Traditional logic does so through a reliance on the thingness of bivalent logic, which itself needs justification, whereas a multivalent logic considers both to be conceptual, rejecting all thingness entirely.
This relates to my previous post question: how do you determine in this case a hierarchy of hunches, if the thingness of ‘truth value’ in bivalent logic is shown to be foundationless? Bivalent logic requires absolute truth value, mind-independent or cross-perspectivally; arguments for relativism, or doublethink, do not, because they depend on a multivalent logic which can accept contradictions, or shades of truth, cross-perspectivally. The conceptual thingness of multivalent truth only exists to describe (not prove) how a mode of thought can exist outside of bivalence: in the end, the bundle of effects and activities it consists of are the essential qualities, in that they manifest individually prior to a consultation of perspectives for the purposes of communication; thus the thingness of multivalent logic is not an obstacle in the way it is for bivalent logic, because in essence the conclusions of multivalence occur prior to and without consultation of an articulated multivalent form of logic, whereas the conclusions of bivalence presuppose the thingness of truth-value as the determining factor.
As Nietzsche had said, the deed is everything, the doing and becoming, and it is only afterwards the articulations of the doing and the becoming take hold, and rely upon a means of expression which distort the understanding of the essential reality. The scaffolding of explanations that follow include dependency on thingness and often bivalence, which become mistaken for essential qualities the further one pursues analytical thinking as a means of truth-discernment.