Without question, Friedrich Nietzsche is the go-to guy for those who want to sound smart at a cocktail party. He’s a philosophical superstar, ‘ the grandfather of postmodernism’, an inspiration to thinkers such as Jacques Derrida, Michel Foucault, Gilles Deleuze, Sarah Kofman, and Paul de Man. Nietzsche’s popularity lies, according to PhD candidate Karl Laderoute, in his rebelliousness and bombastic style. His aphoristic writing – with its lack of fully articulated argument – spurs students to think critically, to develop their own views, interpret actively, recognize implicit biases and consider how science, poetry, history, and philosophy operate and intersect.
Nietzsche’s famous epistemological ‘perspectivism’ suggests that ‘knowing’ is simply interpretion from a limited point of view. As very finite beings, humans can only engage in a limited number of cognitive processes at once. This limitation means that we can only consider phenomena, broadly construed as anything happening in the world, in small doses and in particular ways. In other words, says Laderoute, we always examine a phenomenon from some particular perspective, in which some set of interests is at play.
Listen as we discuss the implications of Nietzche’s powerful world view: