Nietzsches “Sprachkritik” as “Kulturkritik”: A Reading of Human, All Too Human

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Présidence : Maria João Branco

In the first chapter of Human, All Too Human, «On First and Last Things», Nietzsche adopts a critical stance against metaphysics. In the development of metaphysics, language played a central role according to Nietzsche. In § 11, Nietzsche explores the question of human belief in language and its relation to the rise of science and the development of human culture. The critique of language Nietzsche carries out in this paragraph takes its roots in his early 1870 thoughts about language, especially those exposed in On Truth and Lie in an Extra-Moral Sense. The analysis of Human, All Too Human § 11 brings interesting elements in order to understand how the critique of language underlies Nietzsche’s critiques of metaphysics and of culture in this book. Another important aspect of Nietzsche’s critique of language is the foundational role it plays in science. The relation Nietzsche perceives between language and science in § 11 helps in understanding the title of the paragraph: «Language as a supposed science». I will thus focus on two main questions : 1) what is the critique of language Nietzsche develops in § 11 and how does it relate to his earlier thoughts on language? and 2) how does this critique of language underlie his critique of culture and his understanding of its development?

Philip Mills