chapter  3
8 Pages

Opposites in Nietzsche post-1878

The denial of metaphysical opposites

In Chapter 2 we saw that opposites play a fundamental role in Nietzsche’s early philosophy; Nietzsche upholds opposites that are aesthetic, metaphysical and psychological in nature. However, from Human, All Too Human (1878) Nietzsche’s attitude towards opposites changes dramatically; he no longer insists on their promotion but emphatically denies their value for life. Nietzsche’s attitude towards opposites from his ‘middle’ period onwards is ambiguous for, in direct contrast with his early works, Nietzsche repudiates opposites because they presuppose a metaphysical reality; and yet it is my assertion that he still values psychological opposites. Nietzsche rejects his previously held notion that opposites are an inextricable blend of the aesthetic, metaphysical and psychological, in favour of one that is purely psychological.1 In this chapter I shall address the apparent contradictions found within Nietzsche’s view of opposites. We shall decide whether Nietzsche’s argument for psychological opposites is coherent and valid when viewed from the wider context of his dismissal of metaphysics, or if his argument is itself trapped within the very metaphysical confines of which he is critical. We shall also re-examine Nietzsche’s earlier conception of opposites in light of this later conception to determine what, if anything, can be recovered from it in the wake of his rejection of metaphysics.