Supposing Truth is a Woman – What Then?

  • A Hurst


Nietzsche's analysis of the self-poisoning of ‘the will to power' and his insistence upon overcoming its ideological outcome (the dogmatist's fake ‘Truth') by recognizing the ‘un-truth' of a ‘logic of contamination,' demonstrates that he understands ‘truth' as a paradox. What may one accordingly expect in response to the question ‘Supposing truth is a woman – what then?', posed in the preface to Beyond Good and Evil (1966)? Supported by Derrida's Spurs: Nietzsche's Styles, I argue that Nietzsche could have drawn two radically different analogies between paradoxical ‘truth' and ‘woman.' However, due to the very kind of ideological conditioning (patriarchal), which his ‘free thinking' resists in principle, he explicitly draws only one, hazarding a self-betraying performative contradiction. The obvious move might be to retain the valuable critique of ideology made possible by his analysis of the ‘will to power,' while jettisoning the self-undermining rhetoric that constructs sexual difference according to values handed down by patriarchy. However, retaining and working through the terms of sexual difference, and highlighting Nietzsche's blindness concerning women, has the advantage of calling attention to its significance. The fact that one may say in retrospect that even Nietzsche (of all thinkers!) remained blindly subject to ideological conditioning, points to its unconscious nature and raises the question of what ‘overcoming' in relation to the will to power entails for the free thinkers he heralded.

South African Journal of Philosophy Vol. 26 (1) 2007: pp. 44-55

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