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The Fitness for Free-Will

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  • Al
    is there free-will in our behavior? My answer would be yes, but only to a certain extent, here s my view on it: To start i introduce the cognitive dissonance
    Message 1 of 10 , Nov 11, 2009
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      "is there free-will in our behavior?"

      My answer would be yes, but only to a certain extent, here's my view on
      it:

      To start i introduce the cognitive dissonance theory, where our belief
      and attitudes comprise of just where are will is aiming at,
      theoretically of course, since we are always exhibiting some sort of
      placebo reasoning as to why we can't adapt our behaviour towards theese
      aims.

      But i would like to point out that our beliefs and attitudes are for the
      most part handed down from religion, ethics, moral code, parents,
      friends, environment, imagination, etc. So, does this mean we are truly
      free? The bounds of mankind are flooded with different beliefs, so in
      that sense we are free to choose, but not truly 100% to choose something
      existential that is truly original...

      Unless, one takes advice from the Nagualism tradition, where man accepts
      his existance in the world, inside and out, and fine tunes it to his
      will to the furthest extent possible from it. The tradition is sound,
      when considering that being able to apply our will to conduct our
      behaviour according to beliefs which are uniquely ours requires fitness,
      (and i should emphasize ours, since the works of man, other men, are all
      over the place). This is picked up from Nietzsche, and i quote: "All
      freedom the result of fitness... all fitness the result of fortunate
      organization." -- From The will to power. So a question could be raised
      here: are we fit enough to achieve the behaviour towards our free-will?
      Since there is acceptance of the world, which comes from love for it,
      one delves deeper into it, and new pathways open up, paths with heart,
      and the possibility of beliefs and attitudes which are as true to
      original as can be... however the roots of this freedom is always tied
      to our heritage and past, tradition, and so forth.

      Within the large scope of freedom does man inevitably fail at it? haha,
      i suppose this is where psychology and philosohpy shake hands.

      So it seems that the cognitive dissonance, once on aquires an ideal to
      ones liking, grows in scope, and it is probably best to take it step by
      step, meaning that the short rewards of each rung achieved the more
      closer we get to free-will; we just better be sure we're fit enough to
      attempt the climb, rather than fit enough to exuse it away.

      Questions like theese are great, because they seem to be more valuable
      in intellectual exercise rather than searching for "the" answer.

      - Al in Maryland



      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
    • Jim
      Al, In your discussion of free will, you quote Nietzsche: All freedom the result of fitness... all fitness the result of fortunate organization. -- From The
      Message 2 of 10 , Nov 12, 2009
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        Al,

        In your discussion of free will, you quote Nietzsche:

        ""All freedom the result of fitness... all fitness the result of fortunate organization." -- From The will to power.

        A number of thoughts come to mind. First Nietzsche did NOT think we had free will. There are numerous quotes to this effect, which I could pull out if necessary.

        I am not sure what he means by "freedom" in the quote, but it is certainly not "free will".

        Further, he never published the book "The Will to Power" – it was merely unpublished notes. As such, one should not take what he writes in "The Will to Power" as his considered view.

        Jim
      • Al
        In what way did Nietzsche reject the idea of free-will? I inserted that quote to help me break down the argument, i dont neccessarily mean that Nietzsche must
        Message 3 of 10 , Nov 12, 2009
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          In what way did Nietzsche reject the idea of free-will?

          I inserted that quote to help me break down the argument, i dont
          neccessarily mean that Nietzsche must agree with me, and my general
          consensus was that free will is just a euphomism for choice.

          Do you believe in free-will? why or why not?

          -thanks!

          -al
          --- In existlist@yahoogroups.com, "Jim" <jjimstuart1@...> wrote:
          >
          > Al,
          >
          > In your discussion of free will, you quote Nietzsche:
          >
          > ""All freedom the result of fitness... all fitness the result of
          fortunate organization." -- From The will to power.
          >
          > A number of thoughts come to mind. First Nietzsche did NOT think we
          had free will. There are numerous quotes to this effect, which I could
          pull out if necessary.
          >
          > I am not sure what he means by "freedom" in the quote, but it is
          certainly not "free will".
          >
          > Further, he never published the book "The Will to Power" – it was
          merely unpublished notes. As such, one should not take what he writes in
          "The Will to Power" as his considered view.
          >
          > Jim
          >
        • Jim
          Al, You write: In what way did Nietzsche reject the idea of free-will? I am tempted to say in every way . Here is one quote: The `inner world is full of
          Message 4 of 10 , Nov 15, 2009
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            Al,

            You write: "In what way did Nietzsche reject the idea of free-will?"

            I am tempted to say "in every way". Here is one quote:

            "The `inner world' is full of phantoms and false lights: the will is one of them. The will no longer moves anything, consequently no longer explains anything – it merely accompanies events, it can also be absent. The so-called `motive': another error. Merely a surface phenomenon of consciousness, an accompaniment of an act, which conceals rather than exposes the antecedents of the act. And as for the ego! It has become a fable, a fiction, a play on words: it has totally ceased to think, to feel, and to will! . . . What follows from this? There are no mental [geistigen] causes at all!" (Twilight of the Idols, The Four Great Errors, 3 – the whole section is worth a careful reading)

            Arguably, the whole of Nietzsche's philosophy is a coming to terms with the falsity of some of our long-cherished notions. We have to come to terms with the non-existence of God, of the non-existence of free will, of the non-existence of a meaningful universe, of the non-existence of universal moral principles.

            You ask if I believe in free will. – I think it is very difficult to settle the question of whether we have free will or not. Rather than focus on the truth or falsity of this very difficult issue, I make an existential choice to live as if I have free will. So I adopt a certain attitude – I view myself as having free will and being responsible for my own actions. So my life now is the result of my past choices, and my life in the future will be the result of my present choices. If my life goes wrong, it is my fault – I can, and do, blame myself, but I never blame other people, or `fate'.

            Attitudes are things which cannot be assessed in terms of truth or falsity. They are either useful or a hindrance.

            I take myself to be following Kierkegaard in all this – with his emphasis on the subjective and his down-grading of the objective. Nietzsche also seems to be similarly inclined with his criticism of the modern anti-life ascetics who have an "unconditional will to truth". (On the Genealogy of Morals, Third Essay, section 24 – see also the sections just before and just after.)

            Jim


            --- In existlist@yahoogroups.com, "Al" <hurlyburly21grams@...> wrote:
            >
            >
            > In what way did Nietzsche reject the idea of free-will?
            >
            > I inserted that quote to help me break down the argument, i dont
            > neccessarily mean that Nietzsche must agree with me, and my general
            > consensus was that free will is just a euphomism for choice.
            >
            > Do you believe in free-will? why or why not?
            >
            > -thanks!
            >
            > -al
          • Sindarius
            Jim, et al., I think Nietzsche rejects the QUESTION of free will as a thoroughly religious/metaphysical bit of nonsense, not unlike the question of angels on
            Message 5 of 10 , Nov 15, 2009
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              Jim, et al.,

              I think Nietzsche rejects the QUESTION of free will as a thoroughly religious/metaphysical bit of nonsense, not unlike the question of angels on the head of a pin. In this regard, he is not unlike Wittgenstein, who regards such questions as games.

              If we break the concept down to its component parts, we have "free" and "will". The latter concept presumes the first. It makes no sense to say "unfree will" and have "will" mean anything at all, unless we have in mind to bind one to some other free will, which begs the question entirely.

              And thus we have "free", which has to be distinguished between questions ex-tentionality (as it used to be called) and questions of causality-proper. This difference can be gleaned from a look at evolution, for example, where the freedom of the process is derived precisely by the lack of any external intentionality. Because of this lack of "designer", it is the exigencies of reality that provide the process its freedom within the bounds of survival. In Hegelian terms, this would be freedom's rational motion, where necessity is rational outcome. (One can jump from a high ladder, but one finds the rational priority of stepping down as the best way to manifest one's freedom-in-the-world.) In both cases, freedom finds its truth in its own movement and discovery. In this way, Hegel and Nietzsche are similar. Will-to-Power is in most ways an analogue to Hegel's 'rational' activity.

              However, from a phenomenological point of view, the intentional standpoint of an observing subject always appears free. And thus we live within that horizon which grounds not only political-juridical questions, but all aesthetics and ethics. Nietzsche most often writes from within horizon.

              Wil


              --- In existlist@yahoogroups.com, "Jim" <jjimstuart1@...> wrote:
              >
              > Al,
              >
              > You write: "In what way did Nietzsche reject the idea of free-will?"
              >
              > I am tempted to say "in every way". Here is one quote:
              >
              > "The `inner world' is full of phantoms and false lights: the will is one of them. The will no longer moves anything, consequently no longer explains anything – it merely accompanies events, it can also be absent. The so-called `motive': another error. Merely a surface phenomenon of consciousness, an accompaniment of an act, which conceals rather than exposes the antecedents of the act. And as for the ego! It has become a fable, a fiction, a play on words: it has totally ceased to think, to feel, and to will! . . . What follows from this? There are no mental [geistigen] causes at all!" (Twilight of the Idols, The Four Great Errors, 3 – the whole section is worth a careful reading)
              >
              > Arguably, the whole of Nietzsche's philosophy is a coming to terms with the falsity of some of our long-cherished notions. We have to come to terms with the non-existence of God, of the non-existence of free will, of the non-existence of a meaningful universe, of the non-existence of universal moral principles.
              >
              > You ask if I believe in free will. – I think it is very difficult to settle the question of whether we have free will or not. Rather than focus on the truth or falsity of this very difficult issue, I make an existential choice to live as if I have free will. So I adopt a certain attitude – I view myself as having free will and being responsible for my own actions. So my life now is the result of my past choices, and my life in the future will be the result of my present choices. If my life goes wrong, it is my fault – I can, and do, blame myself, but I never blame other people, or `fate'.
              >
              > Attitudes are things which cannot be assessed in terms of truth or falsity. They are either useful or a hindrance.
              >
              > I take myself to be following Kierkegaard in all this – with his emphasis on the subjective and his down-grading of the objective. Nietzsche also seems to be similarly inclined with his criticism of the modern anti-life ascetics who have an "unconditional will to truth". (On the Genealogy of Morals, Third Essay, section 24 – see also the sections just before and just after.)
              >
              > Jim
              >
              >
              > --- In existlist@yahoogroups.com, "Al" <hurlyburly21grams@> wrote:
              > >
              > >
              > > In what way did Nietzsche reject the idea of free-will?
              > >
              > > I inserted that quote to help me break down the argument, i dont
              > > neccessarily mean that Nietzsche must agree with me, and my general
              > > consensus was that free will is just a euphomism for choice.
              > >
              > > Do you believe in free-will? why or why not?
              > >
              > > -thanks!
              > >
              > > -al
              >
            • Ramona
              Wil, I m not at all familiar with Hegel, but I agree with your understanding of will and free and intentionality. My meager reading of FN leads me to
              Message 6 of 10 , Nov 15, 2009
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                Wil,

                I'm not at all familiar with Hegel, but I agree with your understanding of "will" and "free" and intentionality. My meager reading of FN leads me to conclude that "strong" and "weak" are at issue. Do we allow others to create value for us. Do we sublimate our own will.

                Ramona
                --- In existlist@yahoogroups.com, "Sindarius" <eupraxis@...> wrote:
                Jim, et al.,

                I think Nietzsche rejects the QUESTION of free will as a thoroughly
                religious/metaphysical bit of nonsense, not unlike the question of angels on the
                head of a pin. In this regard, he is not unlike Wittgenstein, who regards such
                questions as games.

                If we break the concept down to its component parts, we have "free" and "will".
                The latter concept presumes the first. It makes no sense to say "unfree will"
                and have "will" mean anything at all, unless we have in mind to bind one to some
                other free will, which begs the question entirely.

                And thus we have "free", which has to be distinguished between questions
                ex-tentionality (as it used to be called) and questions of causality-proper.
                This difference can be gleaned from a look at evolution, for example, where the
                freedom of the process is derived precisely by the lack of any external
                intentionality. Because of this lack of "designer", it is the exigencies of
                reality that provide the process its freedom within the bounds of survival. In
                Hegelian terms, this would be freedom's rational motion, where necessity is
                rational outcome. (One can jump from a high ladder, but one finds the rational
                priority of stepping down as the best way to manifest one's
                freedom-in-the-world.) In both cases, freedom finds its truth in its own
                movement and discovery. In this way, Hegel and Nietzsche are similar.
                Will-to-Power is in most ways an analogue to Hegel's 'rational' activity.

                However, from a phenomenological point of view, the intentional standpoint of an
                observing subject always appears free. And thus we live within that horizon
                which grounds not only political-juridical questions, but all aesthetics and
                ethics. Nietzsche most often writes from within horizon.

                Wil
              • Jim
                Wil, Thank you for your thoughts on Nietzsche on free will and related ideas. I am not so sure you are correct to say that Nietzsche, in the manner of
                Message 7 of 10 , Nov 15, 2009
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                  Wil,

                  Thank you for your thoughts on Nietzsche on free will and related ideas.

                  I am not so sure you are correct to say that Nietzsche, in the manner of Wittgenstein, rejects the debate about free will, as an essentially misguided debate. At least in some places, he does seem to join in the debate – hence taking it to be a meaningful debate – and comes down firmly on the side which claims we do not have free will.

                  I type up below two sections from Twilight of the Idols which I think support my claim.

                  Jim

                  Twilight of the Idols – Four Great Errors

                  Section 7: The error of free will. – We no longer have any sympathy today with the concept of `free will': we know only too well what it is – the most infamous of all the arts of the theologian for making mankind `accountable' in his sense of the word, that is to say for making him dependent on him. . . . I give here only the psychology of making men accountable. – Everywhere accountability is sought, it is usually the instinct for punishing and judging which seeks it. One has deprived becoming of its innocence if being in this or that state is traced back to will, to intentions, to accountable acts: the doctrine of will has been invented essentially for the purpose of punishment, that of finding guilty. The whole of the old-style psychology, the psychology of will, has as its precondition the desire of its authors, the priests at the head of the ancient communities, to create for themselves a right to ordain punishments – or their desire to create for God a right to do so. . . . Men were thought of as `free' so that they could become guilty: consequently, every action had to be thought of as willed, the origin of every action as lying in consciousness (- whereby the most fundamental falsification in psychologicis was made into the very principle of psychology). . . . Today, when we have started to move in the reverse direction, when we immoralists especially are trying with all our might to remove the concept of guilt and the concept of punishment from the world and purge psychology, history, nature, the social institutions and sanctions of them, there is in our eyes no more radical opposition than that of the theologians, who continue to infect the innocence of becoming with `punishment' and `guilt' by means of the concept of the `moral world-order'. Christianity is a hangman's metaphysics . . .

                  Section 8: What alone can our teaching be? – That no one gives a human being his qualities: not God, not society, not his parents or ancestors, not he himself (- the nonsensical idea here last rejected was propounded, as `intelligible freedom', by Kant, and perhaps also by Plato before him). No one is accountable for existing at all, or for being constituted as he is, or for living in the circumstances and surroundings in which he lives. The fatality of his nature cannot be disentangled from the fatality of all that which has been and will be. He is not the result of a special design, a will, a purpose; he is not the subject of an attempt to attain to an `ideal of man' or an `ideal of happiness' or an `ideal of morality' – it is absurd to want to hand over his nature to some purpose or other. We invented the concept `purpose': in reality purpose is lacking. . . . One is necessary, one is a piece of fate, one belongs to the whole, one is the whole – there exists nothing which could judge, measure, compare, condemn the whole. . . . But nothing exists apart from the whole! – That no one is any longer made accountable, that the kind of being manifested cannot be traced back to a causa prima [first cause], that the world is a unity neither as sensorium nor as `spirit', this alone is the great liberation – thus alone is the innocence of becoming restored. . . . The concept `God' has hitherto been the greatest objection to existence. . . . we deny God; in denying God, we deny accountability: only by doing that do we redeem the world.
                • Sindarius
                  Jim, With all due respect, I think your selections support my view, or at least the one I had intended to make. In Section 7, Nietzsche alleges that free
                  Message 8 of 10 , Nov 15, 2009
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                    Jim,

                    With all due respect, I think your selections support my view, or at least the one I had intended to make.

                    In Section 7, Nietzsche alleges that "free will" amounts to a 'nomological' trick, a way to instill a special 'onus' to our acts such that the authority behind the valuation binds us to a theological-ridden guilt. Nietzsche is thus anti-Kantian here. What for Kant 'proves' God, so to speak (as in the Metaphysics of Morals, etc.), is for Nietzsche proof positive of the contrary. Section 8 adds that 'Dostoevskian' question of what a worldly ethics can mean when there is nothing transcendent which bestowed value from on high.

                    Perhaps the Wittgenstein reference was too narrow, as he never goes beyond the logical to further unpack the social meaning of illogical or nonsensical philosophemes. Perhaps "game" gave the impression that I wanted to in some way trivialize the question.

                    Wil


                    --- In existlist@yahoogroups.com, "Jim" <jjimstuart1@...> wrote:
                    >
                    > Wil,
                    >
                    > Thank you for your thoughts on Nietzsche on free will and related ideas.
                    >
                    > I am not so sure you are correct to say that Nietzsche, in the manner of Wittgenstein, rejects the debate about free will, as an essentially misguided debate. At least in some places, he does seem to join in the debate – hence taking it to be a meaningful debate – and comes down firmly on the side which claims we do not have free will.
                    >
                    > I type up below two sections from Twilight of the Idols which I think support my claim.
                    >
                    > Jim
                    >
                    > Twilight of the Idols – Four Great Errors
                    >
                    > Section 7: The error of free will. – We no longer have any sympathy today with the concept of `free will': we know only too well what it is – the most infamous of all the arts of the theologian for making mankind `accountable' in his sense of the word, that is to say for making him dependent on him. . . . I give here only the psychology of making men accountable. – Everywhere accountability is sought, it is usually the instinct for punishing and judging which seeks it. One has deprived becoming of its innocence if being in this or that state is traced back to will, to intentions, to accountable acts: the doctrine of will has been invented essentially for the purpose of punishment, that of finding guilty. The whole of the old-style psychology, the psychology of will, has as its precondition the desire of its authors, the priests at the head of the ancient communities, to create for themselves a right to ordain punishments – or their desire to create for God a right to do so. . . . Men were thought of as `free' so that they could become guilty: consequently, every action had to be thought of as willed, the origin of every action as lying in consciousness (- whereby the most fundamental falsification in psychologicis was made into the very principle of psychology). . . . Today, when we have started to move in the reverse direction, when we immoralists especially are trying with all our might to remove the concept of guilt and the concept of punishment from the world and purge psychology, history, nature, the social institutions and sanctions of them, there is in our eyes no more radical opposition than that of the theologians, who continue to infect the innocence of becoming with `punishment' and `guilt' by means of the concept of the `moral world-order'. Christianity is a hangman's metaphysics . . .
                    >
                    > Section 8: What alone can our teaching be? – That no one gives a human being his qualities: not God, not society, not his parents or ancestors, not he himself (- the nonsensical idea here last rejected was propounded, as `intelligible freedom', by Kant, and perhaps also by Plato before him). No one is accountable for existing at all, or for being constituted as he is, or for living in the circumstances and surroundings in which he lives. The fatality of his nature cannot be disentangled from the fatality of all that which has been and will be. He is not the result of a special design, a will, a purpose; he is not the subject of an attempt to attain to an `ideal of man' or an `ideal of happiness' or an `ideal of morality' – it is absurd to want to hand over his nature to some purpose or other. We invented the concept `purpose': in reality purpose is lacking. . . . One is necessary, one is a piece of fate, one belongs to the whole, one is the whole – there exists nothing which could judge, measure, compare, condemn the whole. . . . But nothing exists apart from the whole! – That no one is any longer made accountable, that the kind of being manifested cannot be traced back to a causa prima [first cause], that the world is a unity neither as sensorium nor as `spirit', this alone is the great liberation – thus alone is the innocence of becoming restored. . . . The concept `God' has hitherto been the greatest objection to existence. . . . we deny God; in denying God, we deny accountability: only by doing that do we redeem the world.
                    >
                  • Jim
                    Wil, My understanding of Wittgenstein is that a lot of the time he was arguing that specifically philosophical concepts are incoherent, rather than just
                    Message 9 of 10 , Nov 15, 2009
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                      Wil,

                      My understanding of Wittgenstein is that a lot of the time he was arguing that specifically philosophical concepts are incoherent, rather than just failing to pick out anything in the world (i.e. false).

                      I read Nietzsche as arguing not that `free will' is incoherent, but is false, in the sense that nobody actually has free will.

                      But this is a fairly trivial point and not worth arguing about.

                      The other area where I think the two sections from TI are in tension with something you write, is with regard to your last paragraph:

                      "However, from a phenomenological point of view, the intentional standpoint of an observing subject always appears free. And thus we live within that horizon which grounds not only political-juridical questions, but all aesthetics and ethics. Nietzsche most often writes from within horizon."

                      Surely if Nietzsche thinks that "in reality purpose is lacking. . . . One is necessary, one is a piece of fate, one belongs to the whole, one is the whole – there exists nothing which could judge, measure, compare, condemn the whole.", then the intentional standpoint is essentially a false horizon, and we should stick to the third-person, objective, scientific standpoint if we are to think clearly about political issues. Aesthetics and ethics seem to disappear totally as there is nothing which could "judge, measure, compare, condemn".

                      In the passages I quote, I think Nietzsche is guilty of a rather crude scientism where the validity of the intentional standpoint seems to be denied any legitimacy at all.

                      Jim
                    • Sindarius
                      Jim, Interesting post. You write: Surely if Nietzsche thinks that in reality purpose is lacking. . . . One is necessary, one is a piece of fate, one belongs
                      Message 10 of 10 , Nov 15, 2009
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                        Jim,

                        Interesting post.

                        You write: "Surely if Nietzsche thinks that "in reality purpose is lacking. . . . One is necessary, one is a piece of fate, one belongs to the whole, one is the whole – there exists nothing which could judge, measure, compare, condemn the whole.", then the intentional standpoint is essentially a false horizon, and we should stick to the third-person, objective, scientific standpoint if we are to think clearly about political issues. Aesthetics and ethics seem to disappear totally as there is nothing which could "judge, measure, compare, condemn". In the passages I quote, I think Nietzsche is guilty of a rather crude scientism where the validity of the intentional standpoint seems to be denied any legitimacy at all."

                        First, I will respond about I had meant. The "intentional standpoint" is a phrase coming from Husserl. In his phenomenological method, this standpoint constitutes the "natural" horizon minus secondary or subsequent layers of meaning. This concept has problems on its own, but I used the phrase to mean the ordinary sense one has at any time of being a free agent insofar as experience is only compelled to be present. What Nietzsche says above would be consistent with that, and would be, in fact, a radical version of it.

                        Secondly, Nietzsche's scientism. He is guilty of it sometimes; sometimes he opines contrary. Nearly all of "Human All-Too-Human" takes a very positivistic view of things. This is interesting, because the notebooks from this period are very different.

                        I wouldn't count the quoted statements as scientistic or as positivistic, at least necessarily. You would better have called them nihilistic. But Nietzsche's whole point is to show the faultiness of remaining just at the "No". Hence the transvaluation that "Twilight" is supposed to be a part of. Additionally, Nietzsche always speaks about how constituted morality is precisely that which impedes creativity, so it is not hard to imagine why his "Dammerung" (Twilight) would include such a bold erasure.

                        Thanks again,
                        Wil


                        --- In existlist@yahoogroups.com, "Jim" <jjimstuart1@...> wrote:
                        >
                        > Wil,
                        >
                        > My understanding of Wittgenstein is that a lot of the time he was arguing that specifically philosophical concepts are incoherent, rather than just failing to pick out anything in the world (i.e. false).
                        >
                        > I read Nietzsche as arguing not that `free will' is incoherent, but is false, in the sense that nobody actually has free will.
                        >
                        > But this is a fairly trivial point and not worth arguing about.
                        >
                        > The other area where I think the two sections from TI are in tension with something you write, is with regard to your last paragraph:
                        >
                        > "However, from a phenomenological point of view, the intentional standpoint of an observing subject always appears free. And thus we live within that horizon which grounds not only political-juridical questions, but all aesthetics and ethics. Nietzsche most often writes from within horizon."
                        >
                        > Surely if Nietzsche thinks that "in reality purpose is lacking. . . . One is necessary, one is a piece of fate, one belongs to the whole, one is the whole – there exists nothing which could judge, measure, compare, condemn the whole.", then the intentional standpoint is essentially a false horizon, and we should stick to the third-person, objective, scientific standpoint if we are to think clearly about political issues. Aesthetics and ethics seem to disappear totally as there is nothing which could "judge, measure, compare, condemn".
                        >
                        > In the passages I quote, I think Nietzsche is guilty of a rather crude scientism where the validity of the intentional standpoint seems to be denied any legitimacy at all.
                        >
                        > Jim
                        >
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