Nietzsche VS Plato | Twilight of the Idols | Philosophy

Nietzsche’s negative critique of Platonism and the human rational capacity was of strident force and was something at the time of in-comparability to any other philosophical inquiry, in this video which is the first in the twilight of the idols video series I will most specifically be talking about chapter 3, called: ‘Reason’ in philosophy.

Part 1: Hatred of History

Nietzsche begins by bringing into light what he calls the idiosyncrasies of philosophers, he outlines that the philosophers of the past most specifically those of the platonists hated history, that they followed the mantra of mummification, that they took honour in dehistoricizing the past, most specifically: conceptualizing the history of mankind, that they kill anything living and stuff all that was a past living force with conceptual ideas of man which are of a believed “highest degree”

What he is specifically attacking here is the refutation of the senses and the hatred surrounding the idea of becoming, the past philosophers, such as the likes of Plato only believed in a metaphysics of being, that things themselves are causes of themselves, i quote: “what is does not become, what becomes, is not…” this is what you would call the platonic forms, Nietzsche did not believe in this doctrine of thought because he believed in the senses and that things were always becoming, passing, changing, appearing and growing unlike the platonistic perspective which believes in high degrees of perfection, unity and duration. the immovable metaphysical forms of godly nature.

Part 2: Reason & The Senses

In part two Nietzsche gives high respect for Heraclitus, the philosopher who did not step into the crowd of agreement but one who admired in the concept of becoming, heraclitus rejected the evidence presented when being tried to show things as if possessed by duration and unity even when the senses themselves show a reality of plurality and change, as for the quote: 

“No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it’s not the same river and he’s not the same man” 

Nietzsche concludes that the philosophers of the past would place an immoral stamp on the senses as being those which would deceive mankind, nietzsche concludes that it is the existence of ‘Reason’ which pounds the objections from the senses into oblivion, it is reason itself as the cause for our falsification for the evidence of the senses thus it is what WE MAKE (our conscious reasoning faculty) of the senses which bring upon the lie of unity duration ect…

Being is therefore an empty fiction, it is made up, we and everything else are constantly becoming, never being-itself with other perfect forms of existence.

I quote: “The ‘apparent world’ is the only one: the ‘real’ world has only been lyingly added…”

Part 3: Science & The Senses

Nietzsche praises the sciences for accepting the evidence given by the senses as valid and worthwhile and how such abilities are of an extreme delicate tool which no philosopher has ever given gratitude or respect.

The not-yet-sciences or those which “lie in abortion” for nietzsche are those of: metaphysics, theology, psychology and epistemology.

he also denigrates logic and the applied logic of mathematics as those whereby “reality does not appear”

overall by this point we can see how the senses are of extreme importance for nietzsche, not only as being of a human capacity but of those which can only allow the true expression of reality itself and how any other conjurings of the busy, reasoning and logical brain do not represent anything that lie in the domain of truth, nature or reality.

Part 4:  The Last for the First

Nietzsche in chapter 4 brings up another idiosyncrasy from the philosophers of the past, instead of mummifying the history man with concept and casting the senses as unreality and immoral, they also make the crucial mistake of: mistaking the last for the first, this simply means placing the ‘highest concepts’ at the beginning AS the beginning.

Nietzsche relates this to religion saying that they only do this to them giving and express reverence, “that the highest (being concepts) must not be allowed to grow out of the lower (being senses), must not have allowed to have grown at all”

That it is only moral if the highest first ranks of concept must only be the cause of itself or the causa sui, this is where nietzsche links platonic concepts which neglect the senses to the idea of God, that God (being these specific high ranking concepts) are causes of themselves, and therefore the most real being of all, I quote:

“Moral: everything of the first rank must be causa sui. All supreme values are of the first rank, all the supreme concepts – that which is, the unconditioned, the good, the true, the perfect – all that cannot have become, must therefore be causa sui. But neither can these supreme concepts be incommensurate with one another, be incompatible with one another… thus they acquired their stupendous concept ‘God’…”

Due to this disbelief in the idea of becoming, due to the belief of being and due to the rational convulsion over the acknowledgment of the senses did we come to the concept of God worship, the belief of purity and perfection.

Part 5: Error of Language & Will

In this section Nietzsche blames language as being an error which misleads us into thinking we have contact with a higher world, nietzsche blames language because not only does it belong in rudimentary psychology which believes in the idea of will and ego as cause (which he rejects) but also because the metaphysics of language is based on reason.

To simply explain, the main problem Nietzsche has in relation to Language is that it calls to mind it’s metaphysics which is that of reason, the problem with reason is that the person with reason (as of all of us) believe that the will or ego is it’s own cause because we believe we have our own autonomy which is basically the question of free will and this is what Nietzsche is very sceptical about because he is a biological determinist.

I quote: 

“in the ego as being, in the ego as substance, and which projects it’s belief in the ego substance on to all things – only thus does it create the concept ‘thing’… being is everywhere thought in, foisted on, as cause; it is only from the conception ‘ego’ that there follows the concept ‘being’

when he brings up that ego is creator of the concept ‘thing’ is very interesting as is something better talked about in another chapter from this book but for nietzsche right now the great fatal error in this case is the idea, i quote: “that the will is something which produces an effect- that will is a faculty”

To clarify, this really boils down to this fundamental core problem: will as cause is a fallacy for nietzsche because he doesn’t believe in free will and this belief in will as cause for past philosophers has made many philosophers live under a delusion of thought according to Nietzsche, this dilison of free will or will as cause has made past philosophers according to nietzsche believe in the ability to reason which is to conceptualise and create high ranking thought which leads to the denigration and validity of the senses, and thus, to view all in the world as being and not becoming. This belief in reason and will as cause for nietzsche allowed philosophers of the past to believe in the platonic forms of perfection and that Reason itself (because it is not empirical) has been ordained to us by a higher being or that we originate from transcendance, therefore, Language (for nietzsche) causes us to think we are in contact with a higher being because we believe in Will as Cause, ego as being and reason being associated with it and being part of language itself. To Nietzsche this idea is all a load of baloney because he is a biological determinist and rejects the platonic philosophy of being over becoming. In another video on this book series dig in a bit more to why he doesn’t believe in free will or will as cause.

In the end of this section nietzsche writes the following which solidifies his views on Language linked to Reason,  will as cause & God, saying: “I fear we are not getting rid of God because we still believe in grammar”

Part 6: Conclusion

In the final section Nietzsche writes out a compressed conclusion in four propositions, I will read this out to end:

proposition 1:

“the grounds upon which ‘this’ world has been designated as apparent establish rather its reality – another kind of reality is absolutely indemonstrable”

proposition 2:

“the characteristics of which have assigned to the ‘real being’ of things are the characteristics of non-being, of nothingness – the ‘real’ world has been constructed out of the contradiction to the actual world”

proposition 3:

“To talk about another world than this is quite pointless”

proposition 4:

“to divide the world into a ‘real’ and an ‘apparent’ world, whether in the manner of christianity or in the manner of kant is only a suggestion of decadence – a symptom of declining life… That the artist places a higher value on appearance that on reality constitutes no objection to this proposition. For ‘appearance’ here signifies reality ONCE MORE, only selected, strengthened, corrected… The tragic artist is not a pessimist – it is precisely he who AFFIRMS ALL that is questionable and terrible in existence, he is dionysian…”


3 thoughts on “Nietzsche VS Plato | Twilight of the Idols | Philosophy

  1. I have never heard Nietzsche described as not a believer in free will. His whole philosophy is based on creativity and that implies a creator/artist who DECIDES to create new values,etc… I’m not sure where you discovered this idea about him being a biological determinist.


    1. It’s not the idea that WE DECIDE but it is OUR WILL(S) which directs us, for Nietzsche we are a “string of fate” whereby our different wills direct us, he saw free will as an error and this is well preached in twilight of the Idols:

      “Men were thought of as ‘free’ so that they could become guilty; consequently, every action had to be thought of as willed, the origin of every action as lying in the consciousness.”

      he was an advocate for the sciences due to their reliance on the senses to understand the world, maybe claiming him to be a biological determinist is a bit far reaching into the scientific realm for him but he doesn’t believe in the idea of self causation.

      “A brazen wall of fate; we are in prison, we can only dream ourselves free, not make ourselves free”


    2. Nietzsche of course flirts with both of the aforementioned ideas, as his usual with such topics that require a certain asubjectivity on the part of the person. He seems to understand Darwinism in some under a more abstract lense that, although can be read through the scientifical process, can be described in pure words. This is what he does with great precision in fact, when he talks about the various populations of the world and foresees a future for them based on their axiomatic presuppositions (see where he talks about the Jews in the second untimely meditation).
      The factor someone can use that you call “decision” and “free will” is that which I’d call “vital will”. Conscious of the axioms of the time and space that confines you, you still decide to strive further than the rest of your peers in order to reach great heights. Nietzsche thus uses both determinism and free will in this sense, putting them in relation through the subjectivity of the perceiver


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