Friedrich Nietzsche – Mixed Opinions and Maxims (1879)

aphorism 201

Philosophers’ error. – The philosopher supposes that the value of his philosophy lies in the whole, in the structure; but posterity finds its value in the stone which he used for building, and which is used many more times after that for building – better. Thus it finds the value in the fact that the structure can be destroyed and nevertheless retains value as building material.”

– Friedrich Nietzsche (translated by Walter Kaufmann)

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2 comments

  1. Alex Jones

    The classic issue of hylomorphe that Aristotle wrote of. Here you have a bronze statue of a sphere and a bronze statue of a horse. They are different in form: horse and sphere, but the material they are made from is the same – bronze. I could melt the two statues down and create an image of myself, but in the end what Nietzsche favours is just the bronze rather than what the bronze depicts, the essence in all things.

    • appreciate the comment, it provides a nice extension to the Nietzsche quote. I agree that what matters in favoring the building material over the structure is the value placed on the ability of the material to become something other at all times. Within a larger scope of consistency in the material used, there is another more irrational ability for it to become changed into multiple forms and new relations. The bronze horse and sphere is a beautiful example. Like many great philosophical concepts, Aristotle’s hylomorphe that you mention seems to be one that is capable of continually attaching itself to problems in new forms. thanks

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