The significance of language for the evolution of culture lies in this, that mankind set up in language a separate world beside the other world, a place it took to be so firmly set that, standing upon it, it could lift the rest of the world off its hinges and make itself master of it. To the extent that man has for long ages believed in the concepts and names of things as in aeternae veritates he has appropriated to himself that pride by which he raised himself above the animal: he really thought that in language he possessed knowledge of the world. The sculptor of language was not so modest as to believe that he was only giving things designations, he conceived rather that with words he was expressing supreme knowledge of things; language is, in fact, the first stage of the occupation with science. Here, too, it is the belief that the truth has been found out of which the mightiest sources of energy have flowed. Very much subsequently –only now – it dawns on men that in their belief in language they have propagated a tremendous error. Happily, it is too late for the evolution of reason, which depends on this belief, to be again put back. –Logic too depends on presuppositions with which nothing in the real world corresponds, for example on the presupposition that there are identical things, that the same thing is identical at different points of time: but this science came into existence through the opposite belief (that such conditions do obtain in the real world). It is the same with mathematics, which would certainly not have come into existence if one had known from the beginning that there was in nature no exactly straight line, no real circle, no absolute magnitude. Nietzsche
This is a mouthful – or an eyeful – or a “headful”- but it does serve to help understand Nietzsche’s view of truth and metaphysics. Man has essentially forgotten that language was invented by man- not by supreme all-knowing types- and that with language man took the world apart and put it back as he saw it, breaking it down, dividing it up, and setting it up as was expedient for him. If we think back to the Geneva physicist and Nietzsche’s view that there are no “things” but rather a great flux of becoming-of forces-we can see that with language man has artificially cut up what is uncuttable and called it “reality” or “truth” or “world” or “thing”.
To make this idea clearer, let’s imagine the world as a Jackson Pollock painting. We show it to a child, or an adult for that matter, then cut it up in a thousand pieces and ask the child to put it back together again. The “world” will still be there, i.e. the stuff of the painting, but it will hardly look like the original –it can hardly be now called “a Pollack”. Language has cut up the world and put it back together again; but what it gives us is hardly “the real world”.
Language- like dreams- is a culprit in the flood of erroneous thinking that has covered Western man. Nietzsche calls grammar “the metaphysics of the people”. The thing, the doer, the doer that does: all falsehood born of language.
“Language belongs in its origin to the age of the most rudimentary from of psychology: we find ourselves in the midst of a rude fetishism when we call to mind the basic presuppositions of the metaphysics of language- which is to say, of reason. It is this which sees everywhere deed and doer; this which believes in will as cause in general; this which believes in the ‘ego’ as being, in the ego as substance, and which projects its belief in the ego-substance on to all things- only thus does it create the concept ‘thing’… Being is everywhere thought in, foisted on, as cause; it is only from the conception ‘ego’ that there follows, derivatively, the concept ‘being’… At the beginning stands the great fateful error that the will is something which produces an effect- what will is a faculty… Today we know it is merely a word.” Nietzsche
(T “Reason” in Philosophy 5)
Words do not correspond to reality; they fabricate it.
“We set up a word at the point at which our ignorance begins, at which we can see no further, e.g. the word ‘I’, the word ‘do’, the word ‘suffer’: – these are perhaps the horizon of our knowledge, but not ‘truths’. Nietzsche
We think with language, hence thinking is muddled. Jon Ferguson