Transcendental aspects, ontological commitments and naturalistic elements in Nietzsche's thought

Inquiry 52 (2):179 – 214 (2009)
Nietzsche's views on knowledge have been interpreted in at least three incompatible ways - as transcendental, naturalistic or proto-deconstructionist. While the first two share a commitment to the possibility of objective truth, the third reading denies this by highlighting Nietzsche's claims about the necessarily falsifying character of human knowledge (his so-called error theory). This paper examines the ways in which his work can be construed as seeking ways of overcoming the strict opposition between naturalism and transcendental philosophy whilst fully taking into account the error theory (interpreted non-literally, as a hyperbolic warning against uncritical forms of realism). In doing so, it clarifies the nature of Nietzsche's ontological commitments, both in the early and the later work, and shows that his relation to transcendental idealism is more subtle than is allowed by naturalistic interpreters while conversely accounting for the impossibility of conceiving the conditions of the possibility of knowledge as genuinely a priori.
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DOI 10.1080/00201740902790243
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