Nietzsche, the Inverted Platonist

For Nietzsche (1844-1900), philosophers are prophets or seers who only appear after the twilight of the gods at a time when humanity is in desperate need of new myths. These fortuitous individuals are not the bearers of truth but of their truth. They do not impose their vision of the world to compliant and gullible disciples. They do not reveal a new ‘clearing of Being’ where man would become reunited with his metaphysical half. The task of the new philosopher is, more prosaically, to help humanity come to terms with the idea that philosophy, conceived as pure intellectual activity, leads neither to wisdom nor happiness. Blinded by their quest of the Absolute, philosophers have belittled the value of life by conferring supremacy to the artificial notions of “truth” and “good”. This conscious denial of man’s vital forces and their subsequent transformation into spurious abstractions has shut the door to any access to immediate self-knowledge as philosophy developed into convoluted strategies of self-concealment and self-justification. Nietzche was the first philosopher to denounce the vacuity of most philosophical assumptions and by doing so he became the destroyer of dangerous false idols.

Among all philosophers, Socrates is the one who best understood the formidable power of our natural instincts to the point of seeing in them the worst enemy of reason. For Nietzsche, he was no less than a monster, standing for ‘a moment of the most profound perversity in the history of values.’ The aristocratic Plato fell under the spell of his plebeian master and first, embraced his moral utilitarianism before transforming Socratism into a metaphysical system, as if to prove to himself that ‘reason and instinct move of themselves towards one goal, towards the good, towards ‘God’. (191) In Twilight of the Gods, Nietzsche condemns Plato as ‘a coward before reality’, responsible for the decadence of the Greek instinct. (X, 2) This relentless struggle against Socratic ‘moralism’ and Platonic ‘metaphysics’ is the cornerstone of the Nietszchean project of the revaluation of values. The following chart clearly highlights Nietzsche’s claim that his philosophy is, indeed, ‘inverted Platonism’.

Plato                                                                                                                       Nietzsche

World of Being / Metaphysics                                                           World of Becoming / Physics

Everlasting World of Forms                                             Ever-changing World of Nature and Instincts

Truth lies in the World of Forms                                      ‘Truth’ is an illusion kept alive by philosophers

Truth can only be attained through the                               ‘Truth’ is to be substituted for personal values
Knowledge of the Form of the Good

The Philosopher-Guardian                                                                             The Overman

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