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On Truth and Lie in a Rhetorical Sense: Semantic Perils in Nietzschean Thought

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journal contribution
posted on 21.05.2017, 05:58 by David Lane
A dominant theme for Friedrich Nietzsche, one that he often employs to punctuate and dramatise key theoretical concerns, is the distinction between “truth” and “lie.” While Nietzsche’s “truth/lie thematic” finds expression through a number of concepts on the nature of human deceit, its role within his philosophy may be organised in accordance with three major fields of investigation: morality (where the lie is exaggerated and polemicised), the critique of knowledge (which advances the notion of truth as fiction), and aesthetics (where the lie is recast into a positive sense).
Although this tripartite framework is heuristic, its value for the exami-nation of the truth/lie thematic is twofold: it clarifies the essential problems in Nietzsche’s philosophical treatment and application of this theme – which upon a cursory analysis appear confused and unproductive – while at the same time providing a perspective that foregrounds the cumulative effect of his thought – a dissolution of the conventional semantic integrity distinguishing “truth” from “lie.” This paper examines the semantic innovation in Nietzsche’s truth/lie thematic, an approach that calls into question the positions of interpretation adopted in his philosophy.


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