Nietzsche: Moralist or Realist? – A Response to the Response
First of all: Yes, if there was ever not a fence sitter, it was Nietzsche. As he himself said, he philosophized with a hammer, whacking away with bold blows almost like a fiery preacher would do against sin and the devil. Perhaps there was still too much of his father in him.
But now I’m getting into psychology. All I want to say that my comments on Nietzsche were indeed misleading without your important reminder. That doesn’t change the fact, however, that Nietzsche’s own goal was primarily to observe, admit, and embrace reality, not to moralize about how we should live.
And part of that reality was of course the reality about himself and his own subjectivity. Striving (let alone claiming) to be objective in all your opinions is quite a different thing from being a realist, isn’t it? You can be extremely subjective and yet be a complete realist, as long as you freely admit your own subjectivity.
Rick Roderick would have probably said that Nietzsche was a “passionate fallibilist.” That is, he thought that all beliefs were basically fallible–including his own–but still engaged in passionate discourse.
My point is that Nietzsche tried to be a realist all the way through, not shying away from turning the bright spotlight of suspicion on himself. In that way, he fits in nicely with Freud, who also made us suspicious of ourselves. Freud and Nietzsche were both champions of the subconscious mind. (See again Rick Roderick for more on that.)
Like you point out, though, you can go back even further and see the idea of the subconscious in Schopenhauer (as well as in Dostoyevsky, another important influence on Nietzsche).
I haven’t read Die Welt als Wille und Vorstellung (the German title) in its entirety either, but I gave it to my brother as a birthday present once and used the opportunity to read parts of it. And I’ve read several summaries and interpretations of his ideas. From the little I know, you are pretty spot on in portraying his views.
He himself claimed that he was not influenced by ancient Buddhism, but arrived at his conclusions independently and only later discovered the concord with Eastern views. But I’m not so sure about that. It seems that you can’t get around religion. Even views that set themselves up against religion are often derived from some aspects of religion.