|Philosophical Aphorisms: Critical Encounters
with Heidegger and Nietzsche
Daniel Fidel Ferrer
|Ferrer, Daniel Fidel (1952- ) Philosophical Aphorisms:
Critical Encounters with Heidegger and Nietzsche / Daniel Fidel Ferrer.
Includes bibliographical references and index.
1. Ontology. 2. Metaphysics. 3. Philosophy,
German. I. Ferrer, Daniel Fidel, 1952-. II.
Nietzsche, Friedrich Wilhelm, 1844-1900.
III. Heidegger, Martin, 1889-1976.
|Dedication and Acknowledgements
To my larger family: José Ferrer, Juana Espinosa
Fradera Ferrer, Efrain Ferrer, Ernesto Bartoleme
Ferrer, Gustie Ruth Lindstrom Ferrer, Ernesto
Bartoleme Ferrer, Jr., Joseph and Helen Longrich
Ferrer, Alice Amanda Ferrer, Dolores Juanita
Ferrer, Louise (Reavis) Ferrer, Shobha Ferrer,
Vandana Dayal, Ashmita Rita Ferrer, Marguerita
Ruth Ferrer, Ernesto Jo Ferrer, Laurie and
Daniel Large, and Scott Young.
To Dr. Gupta and family. To Timothy Bagley.
To Richard Pulaski and Harvey Williams. To
Dr. Alfred Denker. To Dr. Holger Zaborowski.
To Samara Anarbaeva, working with the German
and English text. To Central Michigan University
Libraries and staff.
This text was started in the summer of 1974.
Table of Contents
|Prelude Preface Introduction
|An Experiment with the Philosophical Aphorism
|Aphorisms Martin Heidegger and the new other
|Aphorisms: recent and new developments
|Aphorisms: Heidegger on Zarathustra
|Aphorisms on Martin Heidegger's Nietzsche
|Martin Heidegger and Nietzsche's Overman:
Aphorisms on the Attack
|Martin Heidegger Contra Hegel - outlined
|The relationship between Being and Time (1927) and Contributions to Philosophy (Vom Ereignis) (1936-1939)
|Martin Heidegger as Interrogator
|Literature and General References
|Prelude Preface Introduction
"…it is my ambition to say in ten sentences
what everyone else says in a book - what
everyone else does not say in a book."
Nietzsche. Twilight of the Idols, section
'Skirmishes of an untimely man' #51, 1888.
Following Nietzsche's methodology and ambition,
I want to say in this "book" more
than anyone else said anywhere at any time.
The key insight was in ascertaining Nietzsche's
depth and understanding of the methodology
of aphorisms. All of the great philosophers
Plato, Aristotle, Descartes, Kant, Schelling,
Hegel, Nietzsche, and Heidegger uniquely
and creatively altered the very nature of
philosophy through the fundamental and radical
transformation of the essential nature of
the philosophical methodology. I am going
to try to follow their pathway in my own
Nietzsche used different methodologies, but
it was the aphorism that Nietzsche became
the dedicated master. The aphorism has a
long history from the early times, for example,
Aphorism written in 400 BC by Hippocrates
(460-377 BC) or the Latin writer Valerius
Marcus Valerius (43 AD- 104 AD) on up to
our age. Aphorisms or something close to
them have been used in India (sutras) and
perhaps China and Japan (koan) for a long
time. Recently, in China the Quotations from
Chairman Mao Tse-tung was printed in the
100s of millions. Supposedly, every adult
in China was to have copy. Of course, some
writers, philosophers, and thinkers are more
self-conscious about using the aphorism as
a methodology as opposed to selecting quotes
or quips (I think of Bob Hope). In addition,
we have ancient wall graffiti or the phenomena
of car bumper-stickers as examples of the
This writing project is not a question of
scholarship or the kindred use of poetry.
I have already learned to walk, run, dance,
fly on earth, but I am also ready to go weightless.
These writings are attempts to go from peak
to peak in the whole process of self-education.
Before I could 'give' anything to the educated,
I must first educate myself and it is this
process that is documented in these writings.
These writings were not produced by first
thinking everything through and then writing
down the story and its explanation for some
common average person (the 'one'). This is
not a book similar to a history lesson. The
voyage on these seas was a different process.
Every rock I turned up and/or went around
is in here. All the steps and jumps are in
here. Sometimes where I fell down is all
part of the process and these up-jumps from
the ground are also somehow found 'in' these
writings. Stumbling is perhaps the rule in
attempts at genuine philosophical thinking.
The nature of philosophical thinking should
reveal itself here because I have tried to
be at the "roots" (in the very
soil) of thought. Remember what the Austrian
philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein (1889-1951)
remarked in the Preface to his Philosophical
Investigations (circa 1949),
"The best that I could write would never
be more than philosophical remarks; my thoughts
were soon crippled if I tried to force them
on in any single direction against their
natural inclination. -- And this was, of
course, connected with the very nature of
the investigation." I have tried to
follow these instructions and not to 'force'
my thoughts into some direction or to somehow
help the reader understand these writings.
If a reader does not understand my aphorisms
is that my fault, the reader's, the grammar,
the language, or just a simple lack of depth?
Some of these aphorisms are written in blood
and the reader may get bloody reading and
unpacking these aphorisms. Sometimes, you
have to break eggs. You may see the Nietzschean
hammer breaking the eggs. Well, so be it
- so much for eggs. Dangerous thoughts may
revolt and break things. Aphorisms may unfurl
and leap off the page and attack you - do
not sit down and take it - use your gray
matter and attack back. Aphorisms may be
like a snake or spider or big cat crouched
and waiting to leap on your back in the dark
when you least expect (reach up and bite
you). On the other hand, were you expecting
the hidden dragon? Nietzsche said, "I
no longer pay regard to readers: how could
I write for readers? ... But I take note,
for me." (KSA XII, p. 450, KGW VIII-2,
p. 114, MGW XIV, 373f.). How do I write for
you - the reader? Let us be clear on who
writes and who reads the text. This is not
an explaination of some old dry, historical
philosopher. This is my living thought. I
have tried to pack them up as well as I could.
We have grown accustomed to having everything
done for 'us', so that no thinking is required.
Well, not this time; you have to engage in
philosophical thinking when reading these
writings (or, so I hope). This so called
"book" is not like a normal book
that is nicely wrapped up and made easy for
you. I make no pretense of offering anything
'great' in these writings, but perhaps as
you unriddle your own thoughts, it may all
be 'worth it' for you to read these writings;
on the other hand, you may not 'gain' anything
but actually 'lose' something as you read
these aphorisms. Perhaps it is something
you should 'lose'. This so called "book"
is not designed to help you understanding
Heidegger or Nietzsche - perhaps all books
that do attempt that are indeed a real folly
of a concept.
Be careful, since honesty governs any good
strategic reading. After reading these aphorisms,
you and I may both be at a loss for words,
thoughts, and deeds. As Ludwig Feuerbach
said, there is more to life than just interpreting
the world, since the trick is to change the
world. Maybe we just need to change a few
minds. What is important is beyond the simple
details. While it is in some sense undeniable
that we are what we 'read', on the other
hand, we make the "text" disappear
under our interpretation, since the 'understanding'
is limited as a type of thinking, as a type
of methodology for philosophical thought.
Will the incessant noise in your head alarm
you? Or are you just another complacent reader
of philosophy? Are you looking for the rational
foundation of truth as if Descartes, Leibniz,
and Kant were still alive and well? Keep
looking. Wisdom can be put on a platter and
given to the MTV crowd and everyone will
go home happy (bête noire). Confronting the
popular with philosophy always meets with
mixed or shall we tell the truth - with bad
results. The greatest good (athondon and
summum bonum) and the absolute idea are not
given here. Values should all be twisted
out and left behind with metaphysics.
This articulation of philosophical writing
is only for the faithful (semper fidelis).
As a consequence, perhaps you can leave right
now, since these peaks are very high and
you may not yet be ready for such high altitudes.
8000 meter peaks are not for everyone as
we shall see. Pondering the profound is not
for everyone on every day, since some days
are to live the unexamined life. As Nietzsche
once suggested you must hear all of this
with your third ear and only then will you
'hear' or 'see' it right. Is all of this
"my philosophy" - perhaps not!!
Yes and no. You can try to unriddle the riddle
or perhaps it will unriddle you in the knot
of philosophizing. I am talking to 'you'
the "reader" or perhaps you did
not 'hear' this right. The finger is pointing
toward a philosophical text that is not a
just a typical philosophical text. Do you
have the ability to "see" where
this finger is pointing or is that to clear
for you? Given the subtle and perhaps difficult
nature of philosophical thought, it may seem
like capturing this in language is, without
a doubt, a little problematic for any reader
and of course let us not forget the writer
and thinker of these aphorisms. Nietzsche
said, "That for thousands of years European
thinkers thought merely in order to prove
something - today, conversely, we suspect
every thinker who"wants to prove something"
Beyond Good and Evil, part five, #188). This
is not your philosophy as taught in university
departments as if you were looking for the
proof of God's existense or the proof for
moral laws and triumph of good or evil
- no is this more complex than this simple
sandbox version of philosophy and philosophizing,
where you learn about proof and logic.
Given these dangerous questions marks and
general red marks from the hammer, what should
we make of this medley of thoughts? Heidegger
wants us to think one thought - these aphorisms
are a flood of thoughts and ideas about other
thoughts and ideas; and what may all this
mean?---so how does Heidegger write 100+
volumes about a single thought. Can we nitimur
in vetium? Who are my predestined readers?
Where are they? I am not sure I have given
everyone the right answers in this text,
but perhaps I have given some of the right
Aphorisms, aphorismus, aphorismos -- not
just a definition or short statement of a
principle; but more than that, aphorisms
are thoughts and ideas encapsulated in language.
The thinking process is some how created
and caught in language. But in the case of
aphorisms, the claim is that they are closer
and more directly linked to thinking. That
is, thoughts not strained into some formal
or systematic book or essay that is a re-presentation
of some thoughts that are forced and re-worked
into a pseudo-structure of a written "book".
Yes, the aphorism methodology is an anti-book
format. These are not philosophical "works"
(Werke). Wittgenstein's Investigations and
Heidegger's Contributions are not really
investigations or contributions - both of
them deny that the titles of those works
speak to the methodology question of what
they are attempting to do with their philosophical
"writings". Heidegger says his
'writing' is not "giving the impression
that it is dealing with "scholarly contributions"
aimed at some "progress" in philosophy."(GA
65, first few sentences). Hence, even the
title of his philosophical writing in this
case is exceedingly problematic. Heidegger
says, "Future thinking is a thinking
that is underway." (GA 65, first page).
Aphorisms do not have an internal formal
structure, so they are not completed and
hence, come to a formal end (a book's pseudo-conclusion).
In the other words, we can always continue
to think more thoughts and add more aphorisms.
Aphorisms are a perfect example of thinking
that is constantly underway and starting
over; thinking that begins over and over
every time that I start a new aphorism. Aphorisms
are a keen example of thinking that is flowing
and underway. The issue of when to come to
an end will be taken up in the conclusion
of this writing project.
Immanuel Kant's Critique of Pure Reason (1781)
is one of the major works in the history
of philosophy; however, it is complex and
difficult to understand. Kant says he was
working out the method, that is, the proper
method for metaphysics.
"It is a treatise on the method, not
a system of the science itself; but it catalogs
the entire outline of the science of metaphysics,
both in respect of its boundaries and in
respect of its entire internal structure."
(Critique of Pure Reason, p. Bxxii).
Kant said this in the preface and I am not
sure he carried it through in his completed
"book", but the method issue is
certainly one of the central purposes of
his project. The second part is called the
'Doctrine of Method' and includes a discussion
of one of Kant's key concepts (now generally
forgotten): "architectonics". Kant
said in the introduction, "Transcendental
philosophy is here the idea of a science,
for which the critique of pure reason is
to outline the entire plan architectonically,
i. e., from principles, with a full guarantee
for the completeness and certainty of all
the components that comprise this edifice."
(Critique of Pure Reason, p. A13). Do you
feel the weight and metaphysical heaviness
of the Kantian thought and methodology? This
seems almost a complete opposite to the use
of the methodology of aphorisms. Can we now
make the point that perhaps in contrast to
metaphysical thinking, the aphoristic methodology
may be able to lead us out of metaphysical
thinking, or at least prepare some of the
ground for those modern anti-metaphysical
tendencies? Can we attempt to break out of
the metaphysical web by using the pseudo-structure
of a philosophy "book" or "work"
or "contributions" to philosophy?
Kant said something that needs to be read
and re-read, and then re-read again; since
this sounds like the great critical thinker
that is in fact - Kant (not what the current
reading of Kant would have us believe). Kant
is reported to have said the following in
his lectures on Logic (note this was published
late in Kant's lifetime). "How should
it be possible to learn philosophy anyway?
Every philosophical thinker builds is own
work, so to be speak, on someone's else's
ruins, but no work has ever come to be that
was to be lasting in all its parts. Hence,
one cannot learn philosophy, then, just because
it is not yet given. But even granted that
there is a philosophy actually at hand, no
one who learned it would be able to say he
was a philosopher, for subjectively his cognitions
of it would always be only historical."
(Lectures on Logic, "The Jäsche Logic",
first published in 1800, et. p. 538). Kant
right above this remark hits the nail on
the head, when he says, "No one at all
can call himself a philosopher who cannot
philosophize. Philosophizing can be learned,
however, only through practice…" (Lectures
on Logic, "The Jäsche Logic", first
published in 1800, et. p. 538). This all
points us toward a deeper understanding of
what it means to philosophize, by having
critical encounters and to confront philosophers
and thinkers with task of thinking itself.
Critical thinking is design to engage a philosopher
at the deepest level of their thought. Philosophy
is philosophizing, and I hope this is an
example of real authentic philosophy. Kant
must speak to us across 200 years of human
history; and indeed, his thinking is not
dead. Let Kant speak.
Readers must be long and perhaps a touch
of silence would have helped when you reading
this text. Light feet are needed for any
serious climbing and for reading aphorisms.
You ask about the Hegelian system of metaphysics
during the day, but wouldn't you rather read
Georg Christoph Lichtenberg (1792-1799) late
at night. Some of these aphorisms are heavy
thoughts (the weight of ages and years of
metaphysic's preponderance) and others; I
hope, should be light and flutter from the
peaks. I am not entirely happy with Nietzsche
or Heidegger or a number of other thinkers
(why do this at all if everything is fine).
Hence, a polemical stance may yet see the
light of day or maybe just stars at night.
Who would really want someone to be a "disciple"?
Way too low for Heidegger and Nietzsche.
Philosophers and disciples are a contradiction
in terms. Does our will to life, will to
our love, will to philosophy - only just
mean a will to more of the same? Hint or
answer - which do you crave now?
Nietzsche said, "A new species of philosophers
is coming up: I venture to baptize them with
a name that is not free of danger. As I unriddle
them, insofar as they allow themselves to
be unriddled - for it belongs to their nature
to want to remain riddles at some point -
these philosophers of the future may have
a right - it might also be a wrong - to be
called attempters. This name itself is in
the end a mere attempt and, if you will,
a temptation." (Beyond Good and Evil:
Prelude to a Philosophy of the Future, part
2, #42). Can you hear with your third ear
the call for you to join ranks with the "attempters"?
This prize is what Nietzsche wants us to
become. Hyperborean Maxims, perhaps this
is all what we must say and let the light
of truth appear in the darkness night. Underneath
this text is riddle that we all must now
search for and this is the finger directing
you to think for yourself. Are you still
looking for the rational foundation to our
thinking? Look no further! Through these
writings and ponderings have I finally found
myself under a rock? Now that these writings
have been put on paper, are they finally
'done"? Will I not re-work these and
re-publish them in another few years? Are
you having trouble with your reading or have
you realized you need to re-think everything
you held close. You found them and then just
kept them as a book in a library. The more
books you have the more important you think
you are based on the volumes of others' work?
Where are your volumes?
You readers of these aphorisms may advance,
may gain an advantage over me, you may fall
backwards into a philosophical abyss of relativism,
or take wings and fly… Values need to be
shaken like a good martini not stirred. The
cup must be first empty, then full, and then
empty again. Perhaps all that can be said
in the end is that we must transverse some
dangerous and novel question marks. Some
unforgotten thoughts are now lost in the
dustbin of history. Some aphorisms may require
a long time to read and decipher - well,
so be it. Aphorisms can also be a place and
location for pondering, brooding, and ruminating.
To muse is not a bad thing.
Are you ready for the refutations, the antithesis,
and the final contradiction to all you have
thought before (fixed ideas)? - It can now
be thrown out in all of the bath water of
philosophy. Be prepared for an entirely new
beginning, a new way of thinking and philosophizing!
Let us start shortly. Do you shudder at so
much brevity in one place? All this may drive
you mad one day. Where is our third ear when
we need it?
Who would want to start with the Megarian
poet Theognis (600 BC), for example, in the
new so-called public institutions of universities
and their philosophy departments? Why do
we sub hoc signo - Nietzsche and Heidegger,
and of course all philosophy? Somewhere as
a reader of those aphorisms, (yes - you)
you may find them utterly unendurable - remember
the aphorisms were not written "for"
you. Try to be light again; you deserve to
gain some altitude on the mountain.
Do you not like parables or is it reality
shows that light up your life? What life
could that be? I hope you take everything
to heart and then drive a stake into the
heart and perhaps become a martyr - at least
your becoming will be your own. The Buddha's
shadow is still seen on the cave wall - only
Marx has completely left the cave. Perhaps
all writing is the way of Schadensfroh.
Meister Eckhart (1260-1327) said he wanted
to ask God to rid himself of God, so you
may ask God to make you an unbreakable heart
or to rid yourself of these questions marks.
Fat chance! Reading aphorisms is like getting
in and out of cold water or it is just like
reaching the summit of a mountain and tarrying
too long at the top - a very dangerous thing
to do, since reaching the top is optional
and returning is not. Perhaps too high an
altitude has not been good for rational arguments.
But what makes humans strive for the heights
no matter what else? What drives people to
the mountain tops? What drives people to
philosophical thinking? The underlying interrogative
nature of humanity breaks out.
Heidegger's case is like a door, which has
a sign overhead that says, "no entrance"
on one side and on the other side says, "no
exit". Perhaps Heidegger's fundamental
philosophical thinking has an entrance, but
we have problem that it has no easy exit
or maybe no exit at all. Although Heidegger
taught many courses on Hegel, he never published
a single large written monograph on Hegel
and the smaller projects he did publish are
not of the same caliber as many of his other
publications. Heidegger has made a point
that once you enter Hegel's system you are
caught by his assumptions. Are Hegel's assumptions
and presuppositions different than Heidegger's
assumptions and presuppositions? Hegel's
system is so closely tied to his assumptions
so that it is difficult to get any philosophical
space or breathing room for thinking. Heidegger
is more ambiguous about his assumptions.
Where can we find an exit from Heidegger?
Has Heidegger given us more philosophical
breathing room for thinking and has he allowed
Heideggerians to move into the Heidegger
house; hence, the extreme amount of published
writing about Heidegger? Help? Where is the
Put Heidegger and Nietzsche directly in front
of us and go directly to confront them -
we cannot "go around" like our
neo-Kantians friends have done with Kant.
Even a Heideggerian leap will not help us
to engage them. Has Heidegger succeeded in
actually overcoming or overturning Hegel?
Heidegger said let us put Hegel in front
of us and then run in the opposite direction.
In which direction does Heidegger want us
to run? Why do we assume that there is some
kind of progress and direction toward a better
something in philosophy (or is the differences
between Hegel and Heidegger just a simple
matter of taste? Answer: no)? Progress is
always an underlying assumption and presupposition
for philosophers. Is Heidegger better than
Hegel for us, since he is more recent?
Immanuel Kant said, "One can begin to
calculate just after the building of the
city of Rome, at which time the seven sages
in Greece flourished through their epigrams,
which the Orientals already had long ago.
Aphorisms are what one calls many thoughts
compressed into a few words." (Metaphysik
L2, 1790-1791, AK 28: 535, et. p 302).
We will attempt to follow Kant's lead. You
see there is reason to again and again return
to Kant. As Heidegger said, as long as there
is philosophy on the planet we need Kant.
All philosophers need to be our dialogue
- although we have taken Heidegger and Nietzsche
to be named in our dialogue most of all.
Remarks on this specific text (which you
hold in your hand).
"the text finally disappeared under
(Beyond Good and Evil: Prelude to a Philosophy
of the Future, part two, #38). Nietzsche
italicized this remark for good reason. On
one hand the text is just the text, on the
other hand, the text is insufficient, what
has not been said is filled with treasures.
The unthought is what is between the lines
- you the reader may reside in the hermeneutical
This "book" was written over a
long period of time. Of course, it includes
other thinkers than just Heidegger and Nietzsche.
Some the text is more or less than aphorisms.
Some of these are closer to scholia than
to the form of aphorisms. Perhaps I have
taken philosophical license with the format
and methodology of some of these pages. For
my readers you may take a step back and re-think
the methodology of thinking. Part of the
thrust of this "book" and this
writing project is to look into the process
of the thinking, language, and writing it
all down on paper or on the computer. Note
the recent interest in blogs. The anti-philosophy
movements within philosophy itself are attempts
to get closer to the roots of thinking and
language. So many parts of this "book"
are not about the contents, but more about
the 'how' and the 'processes' of thinking
(philosophizing). This text can be viewed
as attempts at philosophizing. Have these
attempts ripened enough to be published?
I am the author and I say "yes";
but others may have different ideas - that
is ok, since the ripening process may be
more of an art than a science. A note of
caution: the process of reading this text
may not be to read it through in a short
time, since it may be hard to digest these
thoughts and questions in a brief time.
By now you may have guessed and solved the
riddle that this "book" was not
written to enlighten or inform you about
some subject or topic. I did not research
Heidegger or Nietzsche and then come up with
a book about them. If you want to understand
Heidegger and Nietzsche, there are other
places to look for 'information' about them
and their ideas. This is my encounter and
dialogue with them and other philosophers.
Perhaps a better title of this writing project
could be: Dialogues with Philosophers. I
am not going to give you arguments on Heidegger's
or Nietzsche's ideas or their philosophical
positions - you must go elsewhere if you
want to read about their ideas. This is an
unsystematic work by choice. As the author,
I want to be clear to you the reader of what
I expect of you - engage this "book"
and then attempt your own dialogue.
Although this is not a proper preface or
introduction I will leave with a remark from
Heidegger about the texts found in the Will
"These passages are for the most part
not simple, incomplete fragments and fleeting
observations; rather, they are carefully
worked out "aphorisms," as Nietzsche's
individual notations are customarily called.
But not every brief notation is automatically
an aphorism, that is, an expression or saying
which absolutely closes its borders to everything
inessential and admits only what is essential."
(Nietzsche volume 1, et p. 11).
I hope that only what is essential is included
in this text. All of the rest can be thrown
Please enjoy these musings in the spirit
that they were written. But if omissions,
errors or defects are found within, please
forgive them a little and have a little forbearance.
|An Experiment with the Philosophical Aphorism
This paper is an experiment with the philosophical
aphorism and is inspired by an intensive
reading and consideration of the ideas of
Friedrich Nietzsche. The contents and ideas
are not necessarily Nietzschean. Rather,
it is a Nietzschean "methodology"
that is attempted.
Nietzsche is the anti-system thinker par
excellence. In the Twilight of the Idols
he explains: "I mistrust all systematizers
and I avoid them. The will to a system is
a lack of integrity." ('Maxims and Arrows',
#26) If we are to follow this Nietzschean
instinct, we must try to not write an essay
'about' Nietzsche, but rather use his method
and attempt our own philosophy. But what
is Nietzsche's method? Nietzsche experimented
with several different kinds of methodology.
His greatest advancement is his effectiveness
and skillful use of the aphorism.
He is not the first one to use this method.
Perhaps Gaius Catullus or Marcus Martialis
made the first attempts in this direction.
More recently, this method has been used
by a diverse group of thinkers. The French
thinkers Sebastien-Roch-Nicolas Chamfort
and Francois de la Rochefoucauld are well
known for their aphorisms. The Germans like
F. W. J. Schelling, Ludwig Feurbach, Arthur
Schopenhauer, Georg Lichterberg, Raoul Anernheimer,
Hugo Hofmannsthal, Arthur Schnitzler, Richard
Beer-Hofmann, Karl Kraus, Hermann Bahr, Rudolf
Schroder, Marie Ebner-Eschenbach, and Max
Horkheimer use the aphoristic methodology.
However, it is the philologically trained
Nietzsche whose name has become almost synonymous
with the use of the aphorism, and has made
it the most acclaimed and fitting instrument
of wit and wisdom.
Walter Kaufmann calls Nietzsche's method
monadological, but it is much more than this
and richer. Nietzsche experimented with many
forms of the aphorism; he also called them
riddles, parables, epigrams, interludes,
In a similar way, Ludwig Wittgenstein writes
in the Preface to the Philosophical Investigations,
The best that I could write would never be
more than philosophical remarks; my thoughts
were soon crippled if I tried to force them
on in any single direction against their
natural inclination. -- And this was, of
course, connected with the very nature of
Wittgenstein's anti-method methodology and
problem of forcing his thoughts in a 'single
direction' during the writing of the Philosophical
Investigations may lead to an aphoristic
methodology, which is close to Wittgenstein's
"method" during this phase.
With philosophical systematizers like Hegel
or Spinoza, it is possible to try to re-present
their systems, because they have an order,
regularity and an attempted consistent position;
but this is not the case with Nietzsche.
Therefore, we cannot just re-present an aphorism
or give a definition for a concept in Nietzsche's
philosophy, for Nietzsche makes us attempt
our own philosophy.
Again, Wittgenstein thinks in a similar way,
"I should not like my writing to spare
other people the trouble of thinking. But,
if possible, to stimulate someone to thoughts
of his own." (Philosophical Investigations).
Thus, the object of this experiment with
the aphorism is to employ Nietzsche's anti-methodological
method as way of doing philosophy; for we
are in search of Zarathustra's new love.
As Nietzsche's says,
One repays a teacher badly if one always
remains nothing but a pupil.
Now I bid you lose me and find yourselves;
and only when you have all denied me will
I return to you.
Verily, my brothers, with different eyes
shall I then seek my lost ones; with a different
love shall I then love you.
(Thus Spoke Zarathurstra, "On the gift-giving
The following are some of Nietzsche's general
pronouncements about the methodology of aphorisms:
It is aphorisms. It is aphorisms? - may those
who would reproach me thus reconsider a little
and then ask pardon of themselves. (Gesammelte
Werke (pub. 1920-29) MGW, XXI, #80)
Readers of aphorisms. The worst readers of
aphorisms are the author's friend if they
are intent on guessing back from the general
to the particular instance to which the aphorism
owes its origin; for with such pot-peeking
they reduce the author's whole effort to
nothing; so that they deservedly gain, not
a philosophic outlook or instruction, but
- at best, or at worst, - nothing more than
the satisfaction of vulgar curiosity. (Mixed
Opinions and Maxims, #129)
Praise of aphorisms. A good aphorism is too
hard for the tooth of time and is not consumed
by all millennia, although it serves every
time for nourishment: thus it is the great
paradox of literature, the intransitory amid
the changing, the food that always remains
esteemed, like salt, and never loses its
savor, as even that does. (Mixed Opinions
and Maxims, #168)
In other cases, people find difficulty with
the aphoristic form: this arises from the
fact that today this form is not taken seriously
enough. An aphorism, properly stamped and
molded, has not been "deciphered"
when it has simply been read; rather, one
has then to begin its exegesis, for which
is required an art of exegesis. (On the Genealogy
of Morals, preface section 8).
The aphorism, the apothegm, in which I am
the first among the Germans to be a master,
are the forms of "eternity"; it
is my ambition to say in ten sentences what
everyone else says in a book - what everyone
else does not say in a book. (Twilight of
the Idols, "Skirmishes of an untimely
man" section #51).
Whoever writes in blood and aphorisms does
not want to be read but to be learned by
heart. In the mountains the shortest way
is from peak to peak: but for that one must
have long legs. Aphorisms should be peaks
- and those who are addressed, tall and lofty.
(Thus Spoke Zarathustra, "On Reading
The question to provide here is how to approach
these forms of "eternity" (not
eternal of course, but some long lasting).
There is more to this methodology than just
a short form of a book. Part of this methodology
is an attack on logic, since the approach
does not follow a logical form of syllogism.
Aphorisms are not some variety of syllogistic
argument. In addition, aphorisms are not
short philosophical essays, since there is
not a clear format connecting ideas. Conversely,
there does indeed seem to be some affinity
with poetry and some aphorisms are poetic.
Aphorisms are nuggets of some kind of "eternity".
We all need something otherwise why we read
anything at all.