Early Greek Philosophy & Other Essays Collected Works, Volume Two

By Friedrich Nietzsche

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Fragmente der Vorsokratiker",
_Benn's, Burnet's_ and _Fairbanks'_ books we may regard as the
peristyle through which we enter the temple of Early Greek Philosophy.
Nietzsche's essay then is like a beautiful festoon swinging between the
columns erected by Diels and the others out of the marble of facts.

Beauty and the personal equation are the two "leitmotive" of
Nietzsche's history of the pre-Socratian philosophers. Especially
does he lay stress upon the personal equation, since that is the
only permanent item of interest, considering that every "System"
crumbles into nothing with the appearance of a new thinker. In this
way Nietzsche treats of _Thales, Anaximander, Heraclitus, Parmenides,
Xenophanes, Anaxagoras._ There are also some sketches of a draft for
an intended but never accomplished continuation, in which Empedocles,
Democritus and Plato were to be dealt with.

Probably the most popular of the Essays in this book will prove to be
the one on TRUTH AND FALSITY. It is an epistemological rhapsody on the
relativity of truth, on "Appearance and Reality," on "perceptual flux"
versus--"conceptual conceit."

Man's intellect is only a means in the struggle for existence, a means
taking the place of the animal's horns and teeth. It adapts itself
especially to deception and dissimulation.

There are no absolute truths. Truth is relative and always imperfect.
Yet fictitious values fixed by convention and utility are set down as
truth. The liar does not use these standard coins of the realm. He is
hated; not out of love for truth, no, but because he is dangerous.

Our words never hit the essence, the "X" of a thing, but indicate only
external characteristics. Language is the columbarium of the ideas, the
cemetery of perceptions.

Truths are metaphors, illusions, anthropomorph isms about which one has
forgotten that they are such. There are different truths to different
beings. Like a spider man sits in the web of his truths and ideas. He
wants to be deceived. By means of error he mostly lives; truth is often
fatal. When the liar, the story-teller, the poet, the rhapsodist lie to
him without hurting him he--loves them!--

The text underlying this translation is that of Vol. I. of the
"Taschenausgabe." One or two obscure passages I hope my conjectures may
have elucidated. The dates following the titles indicate the year when
these essays were written.

In no other work have I felt so deeply the great need of the science of
Signifies with its ultimate international standardisation of terms, as
attempted by Eisler and Baldwin. I hope, however, I have succeeded in
conveying accurately the meaning of the author in spite of a certain
_looseness_ in his philosophical terminology.

The English language

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