Ontology in the Nietzschean framework


Would you say that Nietzsche held any regard to the ontological question in his work? I know more or less his account on metaphysics, he seem to push the question aside as he considers it does not fit his approach, but sum all: does he keep some background of metaphysics (in a Kantian fashion maybe?) where he admits a reality before zooming out of the conceptual necessecity and investigating the question of life?



Posted 2019-05-23T20:01:39.160

Reputation: 255

I am not sure what is meant by "ontological question", but perhaps others do. Welcome! – Frank Hubeny – 2019-05-23T20:14:29.550

Hello, thanks :) ! Well, ontological as in "reality, what exists". Nietzsche does clearly refute any notion of truth, he transfers that question from the metaphysical to the axiological, but I am of the opinion that he does not disqualify reality. In other worlds, he might have done something similar to Schaupenhauer in a sense : the noumenal "is" but is not accessible. The question is relevant - although maybe out of his scope of investigation - because it might contribute to acknowledging if his answer to nihilism proceeds entirely from psychology or from some philosophical reasoning. – Gloserio – 2019-05-23T20:33:23.870

What he says is mostly negative: no substances, no causality, no being, only fleeting Heraclitean becoming driven by will to power, a la Schopenhauer. Look at the book Nietzsche's Ontology by Addis.

– Conifold – 2019-05-23T20:46:47.090

@Conifold: have not stumbled over that one in my researches, thanks, I'll give it a read ! Your point is what one would make of his general perspective, although you can argue that he had a notion of "reality". I've read somewhere that he engaged shortly with physics to found his eternal recurrence on the constance of energy in the univers - by which he might argue that the combinations of matter would be limited, hence the repetetive and eternal recurrence of all configurations. – Gloserio – 2019-05-23T21:00:09.837


He did. Unfortunately, he did not really understand what he read about physics, see Nietzsche’s Recurrence Revisited by Brush:"So the effect of Nietzche's argument is just the opposite of what he thought it should be. If there is eternal recurrence, so that the Second Law cannot always be valid, then the mechanistic world view is not refuted."

– Conifold – 2019-05-23T21:14:00.610

Clearly he was out his element. Eternal reccurence, being a notion most probably rooted in the oriental philosophies where time is rather circular than linear (hindouism), it's quite interesting to see how he shifted that notion from the spiritual understanding to a psychological understand - which he attempted to defend by physics. Obviously, one should not force the nietzschean eternal reccurence to bear more than it could. – Gloserio – 2019-05-23T21:21:29.113



Richardson's Nietzsche's System is considered as a valuable commentary on Nietzsche.

The first two sections of this book have as title : " Being" and "Becoming".

So, apparently, Nietzsche's scholars consider that Nietzsche's philosophy is not absolutely alien to the ontological question.


Posted 2019-05-23T20:01:39.160


1This is valuable, thank you ! – Gloserio – 2019-05-25T16:37:29.520


With respect to human beings, Nietzsche can coherently be read as having ontological commitments that are basically Aristotelian and teleological.

That is, he argues that it is pathetic when human beings fail to be as great as they can be, and in doing so he commits to objective conditions of flourishing for human beings. Some combinations of external circumstances—including cultural circumstances—and individual character reflect failure to flourish in a distinctly human way. Obsequious, self-negating behaviors are examples of this.

Occasionally, however, human beings transcend culture that discourages exceptional greatness, and maximize their distinctly human potential. He especially admires great artists in this way, as those who realize the human telos.


Posted 2019-05-23T20:01:39.160

Reputation: 5 348

I am confused by the terminology. Are you saying that Nietzsche is a moral realist? Otherwise, it is hard to see how these particular positions are ontological as opposed to ethical. Characterization of even Aristotle as a moral realist is disputable given his vagueness on the nature of the "second nature". And this is rather at odds with the usual understanding of Nietzsche's ethics, "“Whatever has value in our world now does not have value in itself, according to its nature — nature is always value-less..."

– Conifold – 2019-05-24T00:38:54.680

The ontological commitment I think Nietzsche has is to the universe being populated by some things with ends—us. Beyond that, I don’t know that he has many/any ontological commitments, so that one stands out to me. Contemporary moral realism often holds things like that “the good” exists independently. I think N is a realist about objective human flourishing, like Aristotle is. I am not sure whether that should mean he’s committed the existence of good in itself. – ChristopherE – 2019-05-24T00:46:32.350

Thanks for your reply. I would be of the opinion that he's not committed to good in itself, I think his ontological foundation is nature as a presupposate, which seem to bother some post-modern readers of Nietzsche who would attempt (maybe with some justification) to exclude even the reality of nature out of Nietzsche's corpus (all being interpretation, nothing "is" except as interpreted). However, I can't see how you would "upgrade" from the Schopenhauerian will to the Nietzschean will to power if maintain interpretation as a maya-like disnatured and objectified force. – Gloserio – 2019-05-24T07:32:00.597