Nietzsche on Knowledge

The Gay Science 110

Over immense periods of time the intellect produced many errors. Some were useful and they were preserved and inherited until they became almost part of the basic endowment of the human species. These include the following- that there are enduring things; equal things; things, substances, bodies; that a thing is what it appears to be; that our will is free; that what is good for us is good in itself. These propositions became the norms according to which true and untrue were determined. Thus the strength of knowledge doesn't depend on its degree of truth but on its age and the degree to which it has been incorporated into life. Where life and knowledge seemed to be at odds there was never any real fight but denial and doubt were simply considered madness. Honesty and scepticism came into being whenever two contradictory sentences appeared to be applicable to life because both were compatible with the basic errors and one could argue which had a higher utility. Gradually the brain became full of such judgements and convictions and a ferment, struggle and lust for power developed in this tangle about 'truths'. Henceforth not only faith and conviction but also scrutiny, denial, mistrust and contradiction became a power; all 'evil' instincts were subordinated to knowledge and employed in her service. A thinker is now that being in whom the impulse for truth and those life-preserving errors clash. The question is- to what extent can truth endure incorporation?