Nietzsche & Marx Question Our Reality

How Do We Really Know Truth?

Jakub Ferencik

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Nietzsche’s ambitious project concerning morality and our place in the world continues. In my previous post on Nietzsche, I showed where Nietzsche believes our morality originates and why it is so difficult for us to trace it. In this post, I will focus on why Nietzsche (and Marx) believe that ‘truth’ is relative to our narratives about the world.

We cannot completely rely on memory in order to find something as universal as epistemic certainty or ‘objective morality.’

Photo by Ken Theimer on Unsplash

Some have called Nietzsche’s approach to epistemology (the study of knowledge; how we ‘know’ things to be ‘true’) “evolutionary epistemology,” that is a set of beliefs and values that can help promote survival in a competitive world.

Nietzsche argues that (1) perspective and (2) projection are key to our episteme. Perspective has a lot to do with our interpretation and conceptualization of language and our environments.

We exist in a historical place that must interpret events based on our experience and perception. However, Nietzsche does not argue that we are imprisoned to our perceptions as Christians were to slave morality, for example.

In fact, on a number of occasions, Nietzsche argues that in order to arrive at some ‘truth,’ or ‘wisdom,’ we must reverse perspective. Nietzsche is not saying that truth does not exist; rather, he is arguing that the only attainable knowledge is that which is “within our own perspective.”

Nietzsche is arguing that we ought to take the stance of a scientist who is conducting an experiment. If we are to test a hypothesis, we must, in theory, if not in practice, believe the hypothesis. In order to assess its validity, we must assume the position we are taking, either to validate or invalidate it. In a similar way, Nietzsche analyzes our knowledge of morality and assumptions about our place in the world.

In order to combat this Western conception of objectivity that justified colonialism, slavery, and evangelism, we must open our senses to different experience and perspectives.

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Jakub Ferencik

Author of “Up in the Air,” “Beyond Reason,” & "Surprised by Uncertainty" on AMAZON | MA McGill Uni | RA for EUROPEUM Prague | 700+ articles with 1+ mil. views