Dialogue and Universalism

Volume 15, Issue 5/6, 2005

Kinds of an Ways to Wisdom

Steven V. Hicks, Alan Rosenberg
Pages 7-19

Nietzsche and Disruptive Wisdom

In this essay, we examine certain key aspects of Nietzsche’s contribution to the ongoing debate concerning the nature and status of philosophical wisdom. We argue that, for Nietzsche, philosophical wisdom is tantamount to a “disruptive wisdom” which is expressed in a “permanent critique of ourselves” and our entire mode of existence. Philosophical wisdom, so construed, is not a matter of finding “metaphysical comfort” in consoling theories, images, or ideas; nor is it a matter of offering consolation for frustration and suffering. Instead, it is about disrupting or rupturing those prevailing “human, all too human” myths and illusions that perpetuate human frustration and suffering—especially the myths and illusions associated with what Nietzsche terms the “hitherto reigning ascetic ideal” in the West. By disturbing our “dogmatic slumber” in common-place beliefs and values, Nietzsche’s “untimely” atopic philosophers of “disruptive wisdom” evoke the promise of alternate forms of humanity: new ways of valuing the earth and our life on it, new paradigms for a way of life to be achieved in the future. Disruptive philosophers and the wisdom they impart, help liberate and inspire us to experiment with new ways of thinking and valuing, all of which contribute, as Nietzsche sees it, to the reconstituting and “fashioning of the self” as a transformed “second nature”.