Nietzsche as Phenomenalist?

In Marco Brusotti, Günter Abel & Helmut Heit (eds.), Nietzsches Wissenschaftsphilosophie. deGruyter (2012)
During the second decade of the 20th century Hans Kleinpeter, an Austrian scholar devoted to the development of the modern science, published some brief papers on Nietzsche’s thought. Kleinpeter has been one of the main upholders of Mach’s epistemology and probably the first who connected his ideas with the philosophy of Nietzsche. In his book on Der Phänomenalismus (1913) he described a new world view that arose in the 19th century, a perspective that ‒ according to him ‒ completely contrasted the mechanistic and metaphysical world view of the old school of scientific inquiry. The main outcome of the scientists whose name was related with this perspective (e.g. Clifford, Maxwell, Kirchoff and, obviously, Mach himself) has been the refusal of the absolute value of any “truth”. Kleinpeter’s statements on this topic are a good example of the rising of a Scientific Philosophy, whose development involved many scientists and thinkers that later set up the Verein Ernst Mach and the Wiener Kreis. On the other hand, his interest on Nietzsche is a relevant case of reception of the latter’s thought, that Kleinpeter puts into the context of the contemporary epistemology. In fact, he considers Nietzsche as one of the main upholders of the phenomenalistic world view, and states that he «took part at the same renewal of philosophical investigation that arose from the latest results of scientific inquiry» during the 19th century. A renewal whose main outcomes has been presented by John Stallo in his book on The Concepts and Theories of Modern Physics (1881), which Kleinpeter translated in German and published in 1901. According to Kleinpeter, in Nietzsche’s writings (mostly unpublished) one can find a theory of knowledge quite close to the one presented by both Mach and the new born Pragmatism, i.e. the complete refusal of an absolute truth and, therefore, the development of an antimetaphysical world view. In my paper I’ll discuss the main statements presented by Kleinpeter on this topic and show which of Nietzsche’s ideas has actually been in compliance with the main outcomes of late 19th century science. Thus, I’ll carry out a reconstruction of an unfamiliar side of the first period of reception of the philosophy of Nietzsche and its relevance to the development of a new (scientific) world view.
Keywords Friedrich Nietzsche  Hans Kleinpeter  Ernst Mach  Phenomenalism  Scientific Philosophy  20th Century Philosophy  Philosophy of Science  Epistemology
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