(017) Nietzsche’s “Beyond Good and Evil”, One Paragraph at a Time
I’ve struggled immensely in all my attempts to read and comprehend Nietzsche’s “Beyond Good and Evil”. These blog posts are my attempt to better understand this material. I encourage any corrections or criticisms in the comments.
Chapter One: On the Prejudices of Philosophers
17. With regard to the superstitions of logicians, I shall never tire of emphasizing a small, terse fact, which is unwillingly recognized by these credulous minds — namely, that a thought comes when “it” wishes, and not when “I” wish; so that it is a PERVERSION of the facts of the case to say that the subject “I” is the condition of the predicate “think.”
Nietzsche accuses logicians of being credulous in their belief that the subject “I” is the condition of the predicate “think”. Thoughts seem to manifest themselves whenever they wish to, not when the subject wishes them to.
ONE thinks; but that this “one” is precisely the famous old “ego,” is, to put it mildly, only a supposition, an assertion, and assuredly not an “immediate certainty.” After all, one has even gone too far with this “one thinks” — even the “one” contains an INTERPRETATION of the process, and does not belong to the process itself.
The statement “one thinks”, presupposes the existence and involvement of a true “I”. But the “one” that is referenced is still an interpretation of a process, not part of the process itself. This interpretation happens after the fact. How can one be certain to what degree, if at all, the “I” was involved in the process of “thinking”.
One infers here according to the usual grammatical formula — “To think is an activity; every activity requires an agency that is active; consequently”… It was pretty much on the same lines that the older atomism sought, besides the operating “power,” the material particle wherein it resides and out of which it operates — the atom. More rigorous minds, however, learnt at last to get along without this “earth-residuum,” and perhaps some day we shall accustom ourselves, even from the logician’s point of view, to get along without the little “one” (to which the worthy old “ego” has refined itself).
A soul-atomism that was previously mentioned runs along similar logical lines as the notion that “the activity of thinking must necessarily require an acting thinker who possesses a kind of agency to think”. Nietzsche criticized the soul-atomism of Christianity, and here criticizes the “ego-atomism” of those he implies possess less rigorous minds. Nietzsche is hopeful that someday we will learn to philosophize without reference to the “ego”.