chapter  5
18 Pages

Mechanism and Beyond

This chapter focuses on Nietzsche's relation to the research programme as 'mechanism'. The starting-point for understanding Nietzsche's attitude is his assertion that what is essential about modern science is not its content but its method. What is this method which has given rise to a scientific outlook dominated by mechanism? In Beyond Good and Evil, Nietzsche says that method 'must be essentially economy of principles'. In one late notebook entry, Nietzsche suggests that 'mechanistic theory must be considered an imperfect and merely provisional hypothesis'. Causality is only one of the concepts Nietzsche wants to eliminate from mechanistic theory. As we have seen, Nietzsche identifies mechanistic materialism as arising out of a research programme which can be characterized in a way that enables us to assess the progress achieved by its current version, as well as to foresee the directions still to be undertaken.