*—towards a reading of Lacan’s ‘The Mirror Stage’. … —PART II. on ‘space fear’, & the ‘ideal’: Nietzsche on the intellect, language, the ‘I’ as fiction, and ‘intuition’.

*(—a reading group).

Why Lacan & why the real… —? —Introduction to the reading group.

Introduction to Lacan: notes from a lecture.

Outline of a reading of ‘The Mirror Stage’.

Mirror Stage I.—the infant, the mirror, & the nature of the image.

Mirror Stage II.—‘space fear’, & the ‘ideal’. (part (i).) …


*PART II. —on ‘space fear’ & the ‘ideal’. …
*—Nietzsche on the intellect, language, the ‘I’ as fiction, & ‘intuition’. …

*(the following is taken from: … *I. – Intuition, Flux and Anti-metaphysics between ‘On Truth and Lies [in a Nonmoral Sense]’ and The Birth of Tragedy.—Nietzsche’s early Schopenhauerian—anti-Schopenhauerianism… ).


 *Nietzsche, ‘On Truth and Lies in a Nonmoral Sense’, trans. Daniel Breazeale, in The Blackwell’s Nietzsche Reader ed. Keith Ansell Pearson and Duncan Large (Oxford: Blackwell Publishing Ltd., 2006),—114-123.


Blackwell Nietzsche Reader




*In ‘On Truth and Lies in Nonmoral Sense’, Nietzsche criticises what he sees as the arrogance of the human claim to knowledge, through the intellect, of the value of existence. …


*—He contests what he argues is the conceit of the intellect and the attempt to extend its remit beyond the… realm (so to) of human experience.



—For Nietzsche, the concepts of the intellect are anthropomorphisms.


—In an ironic inversion of perhaps the most obvious and straightforward valuation of the intellect—as some form of vehicle for ascertaining the truth or the value of existence—Nietzsche characterises it as the very paragon of ‘dissimulation’,—‘allotted to these most unfortunate, delicate, and ephemeral beings merely as a device for detaining them a minute within existence.’ (114-115)


The intellect lies as a sort of a veil over existence as a means for the creation and the preservation of the individual (—the subject).


—Without the intellect, Nietzsche argues, existence itself would be unbearable.


Whilst the intellect appears ostensibly as the means to knowledge and to truth, Nietzsche argues that its primary function is to conceal the plethora of phenomena which threaten to overwhelm the individual. …


—It’s not, that is, as it might appear, a means to self-knowledge but, instead, to self-deception

What does man actually know about himself? Is he, indeed, ever able to perceive himself completely, as if laid out in a lighted display case? Does nature not conceal most things from him – even concerning his own body – in order to confine and lock him within a proud, deceptive consciousness, aloof from the coils of the bowels, the rapid flow of the blood stream, and the intricate quivering of the fibers! (115)


For Nietzsche,… —natural existence constitutes a chaotic flux… —comprised of natural drives and processes *(—‘coils of the bowels’, ‘rapid flow of the blood stream’,… —‘the intricate quivering of the fibers!’ … ).


(and this, I think, is especially important in the context of the current discussion of the ‘image’ and the ‘I’ in Lacan. … )

*—The intellect, then, is an epiphenomenal, (a—prosthetic… —?) *artistic creation,… —appended to (sub-intellectual,… —sub-egoistic,… —sub-conscious) flux—in order to repress or to suppress it, and thus to render the individual subject (—subjectivity) possible, in order, in turn, to preserve the organism against the suffering that a conscious awareness of, and inability to escape from, the confusion and contradiction this flux would inevitably give rise to.



—By intimation, for Nietzsche, a thoroughgoing knowledge of the effect of physiological drives on consciousness, which the intellect is engendered precisely in order to prohibit, is necessary for any accurate self-perception and self-comprehension to be possible.

*(—‘n’ I think ol’ Fritz is essentially reiterating and expanding upon this point in the ‘Preface’ to On the Genealogy of Morality… —

We are unknown to ourselves, we knowers, we ourselves, to ourselves, and there is good reason for this […] like somebody divinely absent-minded and sunk in his own thoughts, who, the twelve strokes of midday having just boomed into his ears, wakes with a start and wonders ‘What hour struck?’, sometimes we too, afterwards rub our ears and ask, astonished, taken aback, ‘What did we actually experience then?’ or even, ‘Who are we, in fact?’ […] We remain strange to ourselves out of necessity, we do not understand ourselves, we must confusedly mistake who we are, the motto ‘everyone is furthest from himself’ applies to us forever,—we are not ‘knowers’ when it comes to ourselves…

*(On the Genealogy of Morality, trans. Carol Diethe, ed. Keith Ansell-Pearson [Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003] ‘Preface,’ §I, 3-4: emphases Nietzsche’s own here. … )

Nietzsche argues that by virtue of the nature of our conception of ‘knowing’; that is, the nature of the intellect and its repression of the flux of natural drives, we must remain unknown to, and alienated from, ourselves.

In this passage Nietzsche implicitly reiterates the notion of the necessity of this alienation.

… —True self-knowledge and self-identity must remain impossible if the individual (the subject), and thus morality, are to be maintained.

It’s possible, at least to a certain degree, to read Nietzsche’s claim that no genealogist prior to himself has yet enquired as to the true origins and evolution of morality, as a claim that each has had an ineluctable stake in the maintenance of the illusion of subjectivity. … ).


*—in a note from one of his later notebooks (—of April – June, 1885), Nietzsche provides an apposite summary of his overarching critique of the concept of notion of the unified subject…

If I have anything of a unity within me, it certainly doesn’t lie in the conscious “I” and in feeling, willing, thinking, but somewhere else: in the sustaining, appropriating, expelling, watchful prudence of my whole organism, of which my conscious self is only a tool.

*(—Nietzsche, Writings  from the Late Notebooks, trans. Kate Sturge, ed. Rudiger Bittner [Cambridge: Cambridge University Press: 2003,—34[46], 2-3 [2].

… —on the ‘self’—*the ‘I’—as a fiction, especially in relation to Nietzsche’s doctrine of ‘the will to power’, see the following entries: 34[54]-34[55], 4; 34[131], 9-10; 35[35], 20-21; 37[4], 29-30; 38[8], 36-37; 40[42], 46; 1[58], 59-60; 1[87], 61; 2[91], 77; 2[152], 91; 2[158], 92; 2[193], 96-97; 5[3], 106; 7[1], 127-129; 7[63], 140; 9[91], 154-157; 10[19], 178-179; 11[73], 212-213; 11[113], 221-222; 11[120], 223-224; 14[79], 245-247. ).


*—the ‘I’ of the (conscious) ‘self’ here appears, then, as a ‘tool’ for the processes of the sustenance of the ‘organism’: … —of the incorporation of necessary experiences and energies and the purgation of superfluous experience and energies.


*(… —I want to come back to this notion—of the ‘I’ as (merely) a kind of epiphenomenal ‘tool’ for the manifold drives, forces, and processes in-of the organism… *—the ‘I’, then, as more or less useful-practical fiction. … —in my reading of Lacan. … ).



Nietzsche argues that language represents the means employed by the intellect toward this end.


*—His critique of the intellect represents a theory of the formation of language… —concerned with the origins and evolution of words and concepts.



*In The Beginnings of Nietzsche’s Theory of Language, Claudia Crawford argues that Nietzsche’s account of the formation of words and concepts represents their division into two separate languages. …


—The first constitutes an ‘unconscious formal language arising as the product of the instincts,’ whilst the latter constitutes ‘the translation of this unconscious language into the conscious language of fixity according to convention’.

*(see—Claudia Crawford, The Beginnings of Nietzsche’s Theory of Language [Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, 1988],—202).


*—The formation of this first, unconscious and instinctual language is a two-stage metaphorical process. First, ‘a nerve stimulus is transferred into an image [Bild].’—In an unconscious and instinctual reaction to a sensible stimulus the mind forms an image—a mental picture—of that stimulus. This is the ‘first metaphor’…


In the second, ‘the image, in turn, is imitated in a sound.’ (116)—The process evolves from the translation and transposition of a sensible stimulus into a mental image, to the further translation of this image (and not of the original stimulus itself) into a sound.


*—This is Nietzsche’s—naturalistic (so to speak)—account of the emergence of language.



—The word is formed as ‘a purely natural reaction to a stimulus, whether a cry, a scream, or any other sound, it is primarily an action which reduces the tension created by the perception of the stimulus.’ (Crawford, 203)—The formation of words is an attempt to articulate and discharge the natural reaction to a sensible stimulus.


For Nietzsche, a word becomes a concept at the point at which it transcends its function as referring solely to the unique, original experience ‘to which it owes its origin’:

‘a word becomes a concept insofar as it simultaneously has to fit countless more or less similar cases,’—‘cases which are never equal and thus altogether unequal.’—The word emerges as a response to a particular stimulus (as a vocalisation of the image). It becomes a concept at the point at which a vast field of such experiences are reduced to a small number of similarities and yoked under the aegis of a single word. (117)


For Nietzsche, the concept represents the elision of the differences between diverse experiences (stimuli) and the attempt to equate unequal phenomena. (ibid.

—Nietzsche gives the example of the concept of the ‘leaf’. …

In a parody, and a rejection, of the Platonic Idea, or Form, he argues that the concept of the leaf is formed by arbitrarily discarding—by forgetting—the differences between individual leaves:

This awakens the idea that, in addition to the leaves, there exists in nature the “leaf”: the original model according to which all the leaves were perhaps woven, sketched, measured, colored, curled, and painted – but by incompetent hands, so that no specimen has turned out to be a correct, trustworthy, and faithful likeness of the original model.

—For Nietzsche, the claim to know that such a self-identical Idea or ‘original model’ (the concept) inheres in things is a projection and false hypostatisation. … ).



—Utility gives birth to both the word and the concept in response to (—deeply felt) needs. …


—The individual word emerges from the need to discharge and articulate a particular sensible experience and stands at two removes from this original stimulus.


The concept emerges from a need for this original articulation to be transmitted to and to be understood by others, and thus stands at three removes from the original stimulus.


Nietzsche defines this process as *the invention of designation: the ‘legislation of language’.


It’s in this establishment of communal (linguistic) convention, Nietzsche argues, that ‘the contrast between truth and lies arises for the first time.’… —In other words, the concept arises from need to reduce the plurality of experience to a finite set of linguistic conventions in order to be able to establish a social-cultural-political consensus. (cf. 115)



Nietzsche argues that by virtue of their artificiality and elision of difference, all— ‘truths’, or concepts of the intellect, are, in reality, lies. …


—After the advent of the legislation of language, the concept of the ‘liar’ comes to designate the person who misuses the terms sanctioned by consensus for selfish or harmful ends by making ‘something which is unreal appear to be real’. What linguistically enabled human beings avoid, Nietzsche argues, is not deception itself—for this is of the quintessence of language—but being harmed by deception…


*—‘Truth,’ for Nietzsche, represents ‘the duty which society imposes in order to exist: to be truthful means to employ the usual metaphors’. (117) …


*Importantly for this comparison with Lacan and my reading of ‘The Mirror Stage… For Nietzsche (in ‘On Truth’)—language is first engendered in order to suppress the chaotic flux and multiplicity of natural drives in order to render the individual possible as a *fictitious unity. …


—The intellect, its concepts, and the notions of truth and lies are engendered as a necessary consequence of this individuation, in order to render communal linguistic consensus and thus society itself, possible.


Like the individual, ‘truth,’ for Nietzsche, is an artifice.—‘Truth’ is *art (—an artwork)…

What then is truth? A movable host of metaphors, metonymies, and anthropomorphisms: in short, a sum of human relations which have been poetically and rhetorically intensified, transferred, and embellished, and which, after long usage, seem to a people to be fixed, canonical, and binding. Truths are illusions which we have forgotten are illusions; they are metaphors that have become worn out and have been drained of sensuous force, coins which have lost their embossing and are now considered as metal and no longer as coins. (117)


—For Nietzsche, ‘truth’ appears as a projection of epiphenomenal, and purely human, utilitarian physiological, psychological and social fabrications. What is crucial for Nietzsche is that this act of artistic projection, and the subsequent artificial legislation of language to which it gives rise, are not recognised by their human progenitors as the works of art which they in fact are.—The original linguistic act of creation is inevitably followed, then, by an act of forgetting: ‘Truths are illusions which we have forgotten are illusions’. The forgetting of the artistic origin and nature of language allows for the hypostatisation (the poetic or rhetorical intensification) of concepts and the false belief that they correspond absolutely to things as they are in themselves.


—Through an ironic inversion, Nietzsche argues that truths are revealed as lies.


*a seeming paradox, then. … *—the condition of the possibility of ‘truth’, is seen to rest on a foundation of falsehood, upon which it is utterly dependent.





*—Nietzsche opposes his thesis of the three stages of: …

(i)—the artistic projection,

(ii)—the repression of the memory of act of projection

and (iii)—the subsequent hypostatisation of the concepts of the intellect, …

to what he argues is the false consciousness that they correspond absolutely to a metaphysical reality:

Truths are illusions which we have forgotten are illusions; they are metaphors that have become worn out and have been drained of sensuous force, coins which have lost their embossing and are now considered as metal and no longer as coins. (Nietzsche, ‘On Truth’, 117)


—Through the gradual process of their hypostatisation, the concepts of the intellect become stale and dead metaphors, which, Nietzsche argues, no longer retain any connection to, or use value for, experience.


—They’re no longer able to capture ‘vivid first impressions’. (118)


—They become little more than the mode of expression of a (Platonic) philosophical and of a moral prejudice.



*For Nietzsche, existing concepts, as ‘abstractions’ and petrified prejudices, serve to distort human life. …


*—In order to overcome the stultification of the exhausted metaphors of the concepts, and in order to revivify the fundamentally artistic drive of the intellect and grasp ‘vivid first impressions,’ Nietzsche opposes ‘intuition’ *(—Anschauung) to the conceptual:

[The intellect] will now be guided by intuitions rather than by concepts. There is no regular path which leads from these intuitions into the land of ghostly schemata, the land of abstractions. There exists no word for these intuitions: when man sees them he grows dumb, or else he speaks only in forbidden metaphors and in unheard-of combinations of concepts. He does this so that by shattering and mocking the old conceptual barriers he may at least correspond creatively to the impression of the powerful and present intuition. (118)


For Nietzsche, the intensely undergone aesthetic experience—the ‘impression’—of the ‘powerful’ and ‘present’ ‘intuition’, lies outwith the field of possible experience outlined, sanctioned and policed by the concepts of extant linguistic convention.


The intellect, he argues, is driven by the need to articulate—to ‘correspond creatively’ to—this experience. In order for this to be possible, it is necessary to lacerate the petrified or stultified surface of the ‘ghostly’ Platonic abstractions of the concepts,—bereft of life, and lacking in both substance and any direct, visceral connection to the reality (so to) of lived experience.



*—… In the articulation of the intuition, the intellect becomes enmeshed in a process of the bathetic (—‘mocking’) reanimation of the concepts, smashing the ‘framework’ of the concepts ‘to pieces’, throwing it into a state of confusion, and ‘pairing the most alien things and separating the closest.’ (122)


In stark contrast to the ‘distortion’ of life, which he argues is implicitly at stake in the forgetting of the act of creation, and false—‘Platonic’—reification, of the concepts of conventional linguistic experience, ‘intuition’, as a projected philosophical method of the future, is defined, for Nietzsche, by its capacity for self-conscious ‘dissimulation’, enacted with a good (—a clear) conscience.


*—Intuition sets the intellect free, and the liberated intellect in turn ‘copies human life’ in its new bathetic, monstrous, hybridised metaphors. …


In contrast to the hardened veneer of the extant concepts, inaugurated and preserved as a crutch for the ‘needy man’ (—the ‘servant’, who requires the legislation of an uncritically accepted linguistic order in order to be able to function and to—persevere… )—‘the means by which weaker, less robust individuals preserve themselves’… —the intellect, freed through intuition, is enabled to become the ‘master’ of life and of ‘deception’. (122) Freed from its former ‘slavery’, the intellect ‘copies human life, but it considers this life to be something good’ and no longer needing to be redeemed or justified through falsely hypostatised, artistically projected (Platonic) concepts.



3 thoughts on “*—towards a reading of Lacan’s ‘The Mirror Stage’. … —PART II. on ‘space fear’, & the ‘ideal’: Nietzsche on the intellect, language, the ‘I’ as fiction, and ‘intuition’.

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