9. The metaphysical world

Synopsis and my take on it:

It is true that there might be a metaphysical world; the absolute possibility of it is hardly (kaum or barely) to be disputed “I think that Nietzsche means the link between the outside world and the thing that perceives it in our “head”. The link is the “metaphysical world, “we look at everything through the human head and cannot cut this head off” Would there be a world without our head. Is N. referring to the famous tree allegory?1 There is not a world as we perceive it outside our human perception, think about colors we see vs the “real” colors2.  But everything that makes metaphysical assumptions “valuable, terrible, delightful for man” is caused by “passion, error, and self-deception;” If people try to explain this link human failure causes the outcome. the worst method of getting knowledge, “not the best” If you find this at the basis of religion and metaphysics than “they (the metaphysical world) have been refuted. Then there still always remains that possibility N refers here to the possibility of a metaphysical world; but there is nothing to be done with it”.  But is “it possible to let happiness, salvation, and life depend on the spider-thread of such a possibility.” This metaphysical world is “incomprehensible to us” It is impossible to envision the link between the real world and what we perceive, it’s like directly seeing gravity.  If it would be proved it would be irrelevant knowledge. “more irrelevant than the knowledge of the chemical analysis of water to the sailor in danger in a storm.” 

In one sentence:

The road to the real world can’t be explained

1 Philosopher George Berkeley, in his work, A Treatise Concerning the Principles of Human Knowledge (1710), proposes, “But, say you, surely there is nothing easier than for me to imagine trees, for instance, in a park […] and nobody by to perceive them […] The objects of sense exist only when they are perceived; the trees therefore are in the garden […] no longer than while there is somebody by to perceive them. (Wikipedia)

2 As we go about our daily lives, we tend to assume that our perceptions—sights, sounds, textures, tastes—are an accurate portrayal of the real world. Sure, when we stop and think about it—or when we find ourselves fooled by a perceptual illusion—we realize with a jolt that what we perceive is never the world directly, but rather our brain’s best guess at what that world is like, a kind of internal simulation of an external reality. (Read more)


Human, all too human a book for free spirits Part I, translated by Helen Zimmern 1909

  1. THE METAPHYSICAL WORLD.—It is true that there might be a metaphysical world ; the absolute possibility of it is hardly to be disputed. We look at everything through the human head and cannot cut this head off; while the question remains, What would be left of the world if it had been cut off ? This is a purely scientific problem, and one not very likely to trouble mankind ; but everything which has hitherto made metaphysical suppositions valuable, terrible, delightful for man, what has produced them, is passion, error, and self-deception ; the very worst methods of knowledge, not the best, have taught belief therein. When these methods have been discovered as the foundation of all existing religions and metaphysics, they have been refuted. Then there still always remains that possibility ; but there is nothing to be done with it, much less is it possible to let happiness, salvation, and life depend on the spider-thread of such a possibility. For nothing could be said of the metaphysical world but that it would be a different condition, a condition inaccessible and incomprehensible to us; it would be a thing of negative qualities. Were the existence of such a world ever so well proved, the fact would nevertheless remain that it would be precisely the most irrelevant of all forms of knowledge: more irrelevant than the knowledge of the chemical analysis of water to the sailor in danger in a storm.

Menschliches allzumenschlich 1878/80

  1. Metaphysische Welt. – Es ist wahr, es könnte eine metaphysische Welt geben; die absolute Möglichkeit davon ist kaum zu bekämpfen. Wir sehen alle Dinge durch den Menschenkopf an und können diesen Kopf nicht abschneiden; während doch die Frage übrig bleibt, was von der Welt noch da wäre, wenn man ihn doch abgeschnitten hätte. Diess ist ein rein wissenschaftliches Problem und nicht sehr geeignet, den Menschen Sorgen zu machen; aber Alles, was ihnen bisher metaphysische Annahmen werthvoll, schreckenvoll, lustvoll gemacht, was sie erzeugt hat, ist Leidenschaft, Irrthum und Selbstbetrug; die allerschlechtesten Methoden der Erkenntniss, nicht die allerbesten, haben daran glauben lehren. Wenn man diese Methoden, als das Fundament aller vorhandenen Religionen und Metaphysiken, aufgedeckt hat, hat man sie widerlegt. Dann bleibt immer noch jene Möglichkeit übrig; aber mit ihr kann man gar Nichts anfangen, geschweige denn, dass man Glück, Heil und Leben von den Spinnenfäden einer solchen Möglichkeit abhängen lassen dürfte. – Denn man könnte von der metaphysischen Welt gar Nichts aussagen, als ein Anderssein, ein uns unzugängliches, unbegreifliches Anderssein; es wäre ein Ding mit negativen Eigenschaften. – Wäre die Existenz einer solchen Welt noch so gut bewiesen, so stünde doch fest, dass die gleichgültigste aller Erkenntnisse eben ihre Erkenntniss wäre: noch gleichgültiger als dem Schiffer in Sturmesgefahr die Erkenntniss von der chemischen Analysis des Wassers sein muss.

Sources:

I will read a Dutch translation that is based on the work of researchers Colli and Montinari. I also use a translation from R.J.Hollingdale and the Gary Handwerk translation from the Colli-Montinari edition. Both are more modern than the copyright free translation I use here. This is a translation from 1909 by Helen Zimmern, who knew Nietzsche personally, but there was no critical study of Nietzsche’s work done back then and this translation suffers from that. The same goes for the translation from Alexander Harvey. My German is not good enough to pretend that I can translate it better than the professionals do but I will use the original as a referee.

  1. Menselijk al te menselijk een boek voor vrije geesten, translated by Thomas Graftdijk, 2000. Buy it here
  2. Human, all too human a book for free spirits, translated by R.J.Hollingdale, 1986
  3. Human, all too human a book for free spirits I V3, translated by Gary handwerk 1997
  4. Human, all too human a book for free spirits Part I, translated by Helen Zimmern 1909. Read it  here
  5. Human, all too human a book for free spirits, translated by Alexander Harvey, 1908. Read it here
  6. Menschliches allzu menschlich 1878/80. Read it here

 

 

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