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 Class Forums - Spring 2013
 PHIL 200-002 - Friedrich Nietzsche
 Rather Know Nothing
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Henry Thomas
Apprentice

22 Posts

Posted - Mar 14 2013 :  12:55:01 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
On page 362 of the book there is a quote I came across I really liked. "Rather know nothing than half-know much! Rather be a fool on one's own than a sage according to the opinion of others!" What I think this is saying is first of all it is better not to know about something than just to know just a little bit. And the second part means it is better for you to be up front about not knowing something than it is to pretend that you know about it and have people believe falsely that you know a lot about it when you really don't.

[Lightly edited to enhance readability -TT]

David Berger
Journeyman

83 Posts

Posted - Mar 15 2013 :  1:55:30 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Your interpretation is quite sound. For indeed, even if everyone thinks a fool is a sage, he still knows he is a fool--and if he lets them fool him into thinking he's a sage, then he is lost.
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Tom Trelogan
Forum Admin

1430 Posts

Posted - Mar 27 2013 :  11:25:46 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
David, do you really mean to suggest that fools always know that they're fools? And if you do, then how could any fool be fooled into thinking he's a sage?
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David Berger
Journeyman

83 Posts

Posted - Mar 29 2013 :  5:35:57 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
I typed that so long ago I don't quite recall my exact line of thought.

I think, to try to respond concerning this passage from Nietzsche, that what it means is this: if one is to claim knowledge, one had better be a well-studied expert. For one with this and that trivial knowledge may seem like an expert to others, but he is really a layman in all his subjects.

I think I must have meant by "fool" here the very specific the very specific case Nietzsche has in mind--the man who knows so little about so much. I suppose there is no statement here about tricking anyone into believing one a fool or a sage, rather it is a matter of account.

My statement was made from the imposed opinion of the fool as tricking others into thinking he is a sage. Were that the case, then he ought not to come to believe he himself is a sage. However this would only apply to the case in which the fool, aware he is a fool, is trying to trick others into believing that he's a sage. This could very well not be the case for the fool whom Nietzsche mentions. Therefore, it is likely that what I said in my previous post was erroneous and hardly to the point.

Allow me to make a more insightful statement. We see that this statement is made by the conscientious in spirit, a man who seems to have dedicated his life to feeding leeches. I think his statement means he would rather live lying on the ground dedicating himself to one pursuit--the brains of leeches. I am not quite sure what he means. Perhaps he is trying to understand how leeches think through their behavior. This would seem foolish to anyone else, but he is probably a master of all things leech. This is one of the more perplexing passages.

[Lightly edited to enhance readability -TT]
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