Friday, August 18, 2006

Nietzschean Phenomenological Fragments for Philosophical/Theological Friday

Reudiger Safranski, in Nietzsche: A Philosophical Biography, wites about what Nietzsche saw as necessary for “phenomenological attentiveness to the world of consciousness.” Nietzsche, according to Safranski, believed that “We become so caught up in our daily routines and ensnared in our many obligations and habits that anxiety and opportunity gain the upper hand. As a result we are not sufficiently composed to let the world work its magic. We fail to provide it with a stage on which to appear as an epiphany, rich and enigmatic" (pg 218). Th word magic here is unfortunate, but not destructive of what Safranski is attempting to convey.

According to Safranski, Nietzsche’s phenomenology is an attempt to overcome Kant's das ding an Sich (i.e., the thing-in-itself), the noumenon, or the subject/object distinction. He notes: “Usually this process is accomplished by juxtaposing a subjective interior and an objective exterior and then asking how to fuse back together what was artificially split by ascertaining how the world comes into the subject and the subject into the world." On this view, Nietzsche sought to demonstrate that our perceptions and thought processes function differently from how we generally imagine them to function. For him they function much more on pre-conscious level by forming "a series of discontinuous clarifications in a stream of acts not focused on the individual. Only secondary reflection, namely the consciousness of consciousness, splits the world into a world of ego and a world of objects." In other words, for Nietzsche, "the world consists of nothing but details." Hence, he contends, "there is no actual history, but only moments and events strung together and interpreted by consciousness.”

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