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A study in ambiguity : Nietzsche and Merleau-Ponty on the question of truth

By Frank Chouraqui


This thesis seeks to make a contribution to the history of modern\ud continental philosophy by establishing a structural link between the thoughts of\ud Friedrich Nietzsche and Maurice Merleau-Ponty. I argue that this link lies in the\ud question of truth: both thinkers criticise the traditional concept of truth as\ud objectivity. However, they both find in the existence of this very concept a\ud problem that its rejection alone does not solve. What is it in our natural axistence\ud that gave rise to the notion of truth? It is this questioning which I call the\ud "question of truth". I locate three ways in which the question of truth informs\ud Nietzsche and Merleau-Ponty's thoughts. Firstly, both thinkers propose a\ud genealogy of the concept of "truth," one in which they suggest that our natural\ud existence is structured in a pre-objective way: existing means making implicit truthclaims.\ud Further, they each explain the appearance of our belief in truth in terms of\ud a radicalisation of this implicit attribution of truth (Chapters I and IV). Secondly,\ud both thinkers seek to recover the pre-objective ground from which truth as an\ud erroneous concept arose. They propose strikingly similar methods to do so\ud (Chapters II and V). This ground, once uncovered, must be examined. This\ud investigation leads both Nietzsche and Merleau-Ponty to ontological\ud considerations. They both ask how we must conceive of a Being whose structure\ud allows for the existence of the belief in truth, or as I argue, error. As a conclusion,\ud I suggest that both thinkers' investigations of the question of truth lead them to\ud conceive of Being in a similar way, as the process of self-falsification by which\ud indeterminate Being presents itself as determinate (Chapters III and VI)

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