CONTINENTAL PHILOSOPHY eJOURNAL
Nietzsche views the Western philosophical tradition as organized around a conception of philosophy deriving from Socrates. According to this (loosely) Socratic philosophical canon: (1) Philosophy, as the “love of wisdom,” aims for knowledge of timeless and non-empirical truths, including truths about the good and the right; (2) Knowledge of the truth is the overriding value in philosophy and is also essential for living well; and (3) Philosophical knowledge is acquired through the exercise of reason, understood as a faculty that can operate independently, in whole or in part, of a posteriori evidence. This paper explores Nietzsche's reasons for rejecting this conception of philosophy on each count, especially as developed in his book, Twilight of the Idols. Nietzsche's replacement of metaphysical speculation with psychological diagnosis is compared to Carnap's own critique of metaphysics, and helps explain Carnap's high appraisal of Nietzsche compared to other major figures in post-Kantian German philosophy. Nietzsche's rejection of the traditional philosophical canon is contrasted with that of other critics of the tradition, including Marx, Quine, Heidegger, and Wittgenstein. The reaction against naturalism in recent Anglophone philosophy is offered, finally, as a case study in support of Nietzsche's skepticism about the philosophical canon.
In "The Human Story: A New History of Mankind's Evolution" (2004) the evolutionary psychologist Robin Dunbar speculates on the development of some mental abilities exclusive to humans as they evolved from pre-human species. His account somewhat limits the role of language, and the main emphasis falls on another phenomenon associated to humanization: the development of so-called Theory of Mind, a term current in contemporary evolutionary psychology which covers some of the ground of what is called intersubjectivity in phenomenological philosophical traditions. In this paper I will argue that the theory of Theory of Mind needs further refining, and further dialogue with relevant disciplines of the humanities, in order to take into account the complex semiotics of human experience and communication.