The Fragility of a Perspective

I happened to stumble across an old post on a blog, whose author (glynos) no longer seems to be around. I feel it has something valuable to say, so I am sharing it here:

"I used to be a staunch determinist before coming across Nietzsche. I was adamant that it was the only philosophical argument that was uncontestable. I even managed to convert a few people to determinism and almost felt an obligation to explain it to the majority of people I met. It occured to me a while back how fragile a perspective can be. How one can be so certain of something, to the nth degree, and yet with time and 'knowledge,' how that perspective can gradually change.
I've yet to come across a detailed critique from Nietzsche that negates determinism, but that's not important. A lot of people even consider Nietzsche to be a determinist. The one thing that seems clear is that he never considered it a topic that important to discuss, particularly in his major works. He sums it up brilliantly when he says, "We have arranged for ourselves a world in which we can live - by positing bodies, lines, planes, causes and effects, motion and rest, form and content; without these articles of faith nobody could now endure life. But that does not prove them. Life is no argument. The conditions of life might include error."
I don't like getting too much into the "how can you ever prove 'x's existence" type of philosophy. Frankly it bores me and leads to the least worthwhile type of discussions. I do however think it's important to realise the nature of certain beliefs and to understand why they have come about. Cause and effect, like any other notion, is completely dependant on its being understood, contemplated, discussed and accepted. It has no intrinsic value in itself. As we evolve there's every possibility that the idea will be wiped out, or replaced, or changed beyond recognition. Despite all of my reasoning, sense, knowledge and experiences so far (which indicates that cause and effect / determinism IS undeniable), it's important to realise that one's perspective is so fragile that it can potentially be revolutionised by simply words, a collection of audible patterns being processed by the brain, or an assemblance of shapes in the forms of letters being processed by the brain (a classic case of cause and effect in itself).
Does anyone else find themselves tying their self up in knots?"

[my emphasis]

Well, this is how Nietzsche can teach you humility!


Qasim Aziz said…
Despite the apparent preposterous looking assertion that there is a streak of mysticism (Western academics may prefer to it call romanticism) in Nietzsche's thought. I have always maintained this thesis.
Take the case of Rumi for instance. Nietzsche and Rumi may stand poles apart in their general outlook on life but its their point of intersection that defines for me their relationship. In pursuance of your argument that Nietzschean perspectivism may teach us humility; Rumi has something to add aswell.See the similarity which may be overlooked easily. Rumi writes,

''That's why you see things in two ways.
Sometimes you look at a person
and see a cynical snake.

Someone else sees a joyful lover,
and you're both right!

Everyone is half and half,
like the black and white ox.

Joseph looked ugly to his brothers,
and most handsome to his father.

You have eyes that see from that nowhere,
and eyes that judge distances,
how high and how low.

You own two shops,

and you run back and forth.

Try to close the one that's a fearful trap,

getting always smaller. Checkmate,
this way. Checkmate that.

Keep open the shop
where you're not selling fishhooks anymore, You are the free-swimming fish.''

In talking about the fragility of a perspective Nietzsche is no more different from most of the mystics. Nonetheless, his way of reiterating it surely is; which deceives most of us. :-)
Alec Lindsay said…
Either that or else Nietzsche (and glynos) want us to hurl ourselves into fantasy for the sake of a better discussion. I don't mind that. I even think it may be the better way.