“there are no facts. . . ”: Nietzsche as Predecessor of Post-Truth?

  • Helmut Heit Department of Philosophy, Tongji University
Keywords: relativism, truth, certainty, perspectivism


In light of recent political events Nietzsche was (again) charged as proponent of unscrupulous power-politics and as predecessor of “post-truth.” A passage from his late notes is notoriously quoted to denounce him as figurehead of relativism, truth-denial and post-factual attitudes: “facts are precisely what there is not, only interpretations.” By means of an analysis of this passage and its 19h century contexts, the paper reconstructs Nietzsche’s criticism of absolute truth. He problematizes notions of truth on the basis of epistemological, physiological, historical, and sociological considerations, arguing in favour of self-reflexive, pluralistic, and modest epistemic attitudes, which are occasionally associated with relativism. Unlike certain cliché-versions of relativism Nietzsche denies that every “perspective” is equally valid, and develops and employs a variety of interpretational and argumentative standards. ese standards are not absolute, but allow human evaluations of knowledge-claims. The proposed alternative between “truth” or “post-truth” construes a false opposition and underestimates the need for informed value judgments in politics and culture. In conclusion it is argued that prosecutors and defendants of “post-truth” are similarly vulnerable for resentful dogmatic ideologies, because of unwillingness or inability to accept and employ a post-absolutist loss of certainty.

How to Cite
Heit, H. (2018). “there are no facts. . . ”: Nietzsche as Predecessor of Post-Truth?. Studia Philosophica Estonica, 11, 44-63. Retrieved from http://ojs.utlib.ee/index.php/spe/article/view/14404