A Few Words on Nietzsche’s Method

Roberto Antonio Valenzuela mentioned that “Nietzsche was historically prescient, but that does not make his philosophy or his argumentation correct or noble.” He was right, of course, but I reminded him that a key point to keep in mind with Nietzsche is that he tended to shirk argumentation.  He tended not to put forth arguments, but rhetoric-driven bombastic statements.

Because he worked largely through rhetoric and not through logic and rarely bothered to develop rational arguments, Douglas J. Soccio referred to him, I think quite accurately, as an “anti-philosopher.” (See Archetypes of Wisdom for Soccio’s explanation of this point). Philosophers put forth and analyze arguments to provide rational answers to philosophical questions.  Nietzsche was not a philosopher.  His method was the precise inverse; he put forth answers to philosophical questions without bothering to develop rational arguments there-for.

His spirit was the spirit of the rhetorician, the on-paper orator, not the spirit of the rational philosopher. We can re-construct arguments from Nietzsche’s works, but we must keep in mind that Nietzsche did not primarily think in terms of arguments or write in terms of arguments. The arguments are implicit; the rhetoric and the sharp articulation of points is what is explicit in his writings.


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