Wednesday, July 30, 2008

The Smartest Man to Ever Live Had a Killer Mustache

From Friedrich Nietzsche's "On Truth and Lying in a Non-Moral Sense":

"Only through forgetfulness could human beings ever entertain the illusion that they possess truth...What is a word? The copy of a nervous stimulation in sounds. To infer from the fact of the nervous stimulation that there exists a cause outside us is already the result of applying the principle of sufficient reason wrongly...

[The creator of language] designates only the relations of things to human beings, and in order to express them he avails himself of the boldest metaphors. The stimulation of a nerve is first translated into an image: first metaphor! The image is then imitated by a sound: second metaphor!...We believe when we speak of trees, colours, snow, and flowers, we have knowledge of the things themselves, and yet we possess only metaphors of things which in no way correspond to original entities...

What, then, is truth? A mobile army of metaphors, metonymies, anthropomorphisms, in short a sum of human relations which have been subjected to poetic and rhetorical intensification, translation, and decoration, and which, after they have been in use for a long time, strike a people as firmly established, canonical, and binding; truths are illusions of which we havce forgotten that they are illusions, metaphors which have become worn by frequent use and have lost all sensuous vigor...human beings forget that this is how things are; thus they lie unconsciously in the way we have described, and in accordance with centuries-old habits--and precisely because of this unconsciousness, precisely because of this forgetting, they arrive at the feeling of truth."

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