Truth, Embodiment, and Probity (Redlichkeit) in Nietzsche

Vanessa Lemm

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


In the history of western philosophy, truth is typically associated with an activity of the mind or of the intellect.¹ For Nietzsche, instead, what distinguishes the human intellect is its capacity to produce errors and illusions (TL1). However, seen from the perspective of life, errors and illusions are inherently life-preserving because they permit the social formations based on conventions that sustain life. Hence, for Nietzsche, the intellect is before all an instrument for the preservation of social and political forms of life rather than for the uncovering of truth. If error and convention are life-preserving, the relation of(philosophical) truth to life becomes a problem of uncertain solution. The value of philosophical life lived in pursuit of (non-conventional) truth is no longer unquestionable. Nietzsche reverses the traditional understanding of philosophy by putting forth the claim that truth does not have a value in itself, rather its value depends on whether it enhances or diminishes the power of life. In this chapter, I intend to show that for Nietzsche the concept of truth that enhances life is truth understood as Redlichkeit (probity). Additionally, I argue that Redlichkeit makes possible a conception of philosophical life that is political through and through and yet stands in critical tension with the conventional conception of truth that lies at the basis of social and political forms of life.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationNietzsche on Consciousness and the Embodied Mind
EditorsManuel Dries
Place of PublicationBerlin; Boston
PublisherDe Gruyter
Number of pages20
ISBN (Electronic)9783110246537, 9783110391657
ISBN (Print)9783110246520
Publication statusPublished - 2018


  • Nietzsche
  • Truth
  • Embodiment
  • Probity
  • Redlichkeit


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