Nietzsche on Truth

1 minute read

Truth is 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 have forgotten that they are illusions, metaphors which have been worn by frequent use and have lost all sensuous vigour

--Friedrich Nietzsche from his work, "On Truth and Lies in a Nonmoral Sense"

Cornel West, a philosopher and activist, talks about how philosophy is the pursuit of 'Big T Truth' through the discovery of 'little t truth' in the documentary The Examined Life by Astra Taylor. What he specifically touches on is the point that we will never truly be able to capture 'Big T Truth', which I believe to all of us is what we would consider to be "Universal Truths" or The Truth(Reality as it is). For people like West, we can only get closer and closer with more nuanced discoveries, 'little t truth', that prove previous theories wrong, etc; however, we'll never actually be able to achieve The Truth. We see this all around us, for in science, math, and in every field: facts are updated, theories are changed, and our understanding advances(but we never finish).

Nietzsche himself, within this quote, talks about the barriers between our language and what is actual reality. We construct our reality via language, our method of classifying and ordering the physical world around us. For many philosophers and linguists, the argument is that we can never truly know what the Truth/Reality/Fact is 100% because of the 'Human Condition.' Language, concepts of understanding, and the basis that humans are not perfect beings, all of this feeds into this theory, which is most commonly known as Relativism. This is a general idea that is a big issue of contention between the Analytic and Continental Schools of philosophy.

These are the questions then:

  • Will our discoveries of 'little t truth' ever yield to the unveiling "Big T Truth?"
  • Are we as humans capable of creating a method of understanding Reality for what it really is?

Material to think about for the day.


PS: thanks for sticking around to see my official 10th post on, here's to many more!