Nietzsche: The ‘I’ As A Construction of Thinking

Nietzsche: The ‘I’ as a construction of thinking:

What separates me most deeply from the metaphysicians is: I don’t concede that the ‘I’, is what thinks. Instead, I take the I itself to be a construction of thinking, of the same rank as ‘matter’, ‘thing’, ‘substance’, ‘individual’, ‘purpose’, ‘number’; in other words to be only a regulative fiction with the help of which a kind of constancy and thus ‘knowability’ is inserted into, invented into, a world of becoming. Up to now belief in grammar, in the linguistic subject, object, in verbs has subjugated the metaphysicians: I teach the renunciation of this belief. (35, Section II)

– from the Notebooks

What’s interesting as well is that his term “regulative fiction” that helps us attain “knowability” is very much like what we term heuristics in our present age. His influence seems to percolate up as time moves onward. Secondly, is that here he sees this very concept as needful because his is a philosophy of becoming as against structure and Being; a non-metaphysical philosophy or force where heuristics provides the semblance of stability and constancy because of its creative and productive (invented), and active (inserted) interpellation into a “world of becoming”, etc.. Here we already see Deleuze’s third sense of time as movement and repetition, as cinematic projection, etc. This is becoming spatialized as the ‘plane of immanence’, rather than the Platonic/Aristotelian substantive and solid, therefore fixed or structured object world. Another point is that belief comes after habitualism, so that for Nietzsche what is being renounced is not the validity of the heuristic device or habit of the ‘I’ founded on repetitious habitualism, but rather what comes after – the veritable installation of the ‘I’ as substantive Subject that precedes sense-data (i.e., the ‘I’ as Idea or eidos-essence of Idealism).


I’d made a post on FB (Facebook):

Nietzsche Attacking The False Infinity of Absolute Creativity:

But what, then, is the proposition and belief which most distinctly formulates that critical turn, the present ascendancy of the scientific spirit over the religious, god-inventing spirit? Is it not: the world, as force, must not be conceived of as unlimited, for it cannot be conceived of that way – we forbid ourselves the concept of an infinite force, as being incompatible with the concept of ‘force ‘. Thus – the world also lacks the capacity for eternal novelty. (36)

– from the Notebooks

Here Nietzsche affirms the necessity of distinctions, of delimiting force as ‘force’ rather than as the unbounded infinity of creativity and invention or some absolute or infinite force (God). I left out the earlier parts of this entry where he attacks Spinoza’s notion of ‘deus sive natura’. The implication here is that force is not essence, it does not precede and impose a telos on the world, but rather force arises with the world as its ongoing processual (becoming) formation which is goalless and without a final cause, etc. Nieztsche was forever harping against Aristotle’s fourth cause as a error of substantive formalisms inability to think process (becoming).

A friend said:

Félix Alles Zermalmender love these selections you’re pulling–feel like a different nietzsche is emerging, one not confined to contemporary interpretations of an exclusive concern w/ affect or a vitalistic approach: could you elaborate on your sidenote that force≠essence?

My answer:

I’m reading him along with Land, Deleuze, Spinoza, Bataille, Canguilheim, and many others… a sort of ongoing research project on philosophies of forces as against philosophies of Being. I use force as against notions of vitalism in the sense that Nietzsche was outside metaphysics as were many of those that followed in his wake. Let me expand on that. Metaphysics is bounded by logos and Being. While Nietzsche and many other later thinkers (not philosophers) were moving toward philosophies of force and becoming. Or drive and process: libidinal materialisms.

Nietzsche as I’m rereading him was against notions of organic/anorganic which stymie vitalist philosophers. As I go back and reread Nietzsche I use Deleuze’s conceptuality to seek out and discover these early notions of force and process (becoming) in his discourse. Nietzsche’s was not a completed project, but he opened the door for many later thinkers. Some like Heidegger fell back into metaphysical quandaries and ended in poeisis, etc.. Others like Deleuze (who many have seen as vitalist) were inventing the possibility of a completed project of processual philosophy based not on Being but Process: the ‘plane of immanence’.

All those that disparage Deleuze/Nietzsche are of the traditions of dialectical materialism, and other speculative philosophies: Badiou, Zizek (dialectical materialism), Husserl/Heidegger (idealisms), Speculative Realists, etc.: all based on metaphysical approaches that accept some form of structure, Being, and substantive formalism, whether of Subject or Object. These others Nietzsche, Bataille, Whitehead, Deleuze, Land, De Landa, and a few others were eliminating metaphysics, ousting the long standing need for Being, for the fixed concept and structural relation. Against this they were developing monist ontologies of force: a pluralism of forces in movement and process – with temporality or time as the vector within, not life.

So it is to Time – as temporal movement or process that we must discover a way forward in our conceptual notions of force, not the vitalist error of those castigator philosophies of Being. Vitalism was always a false object, because metaphysical philosophers are stuck in Being so are unable to understand force as anything else as energia that splits organic from anorganic life; since for them things are fixed and substantive. For Process philosophy this is error pure and simple, there is not Being, only becoming. Since there is no eidos, no fixed essence that precedes or drives process, then force is not an Idea as engine of movement, but rather the tendency of form itself as in Lucretius’s notion of ‘swerve’: the first trope for becoming and process without goal or telos – as against Aristotle’s fourth cause, etc. Our perception of final causes is an error after the fact, a retroactive reconstruction of process not Being.

5 thoughts on “Nietzsche: The ‘I’ As A Construction of Thinking

    • Haha… I think what we’re getting at is the simple notion of the naturalist stance that what we are of aware of as the Self/Subject is not the starting point but the end point in a process that resides in the brain itself: the brain thinks, not us… we just receive the signals and through habit have assumed we were the masters in our own house, when in fact we are but the bit players in an unfolding drama that we have yet to fully understand. Even in the neurosciences and neurophilosophies no one has yet has a good descriptive theory of meaning regarding what Chalmers once termed the “hard problem” of Consciousness. Of course there are a great many ways of approaching it… I’m just showing that Nietzsche was already ahead of the game… 😉

      My friend Scott Bakker has a theory “Blind Brain Theory” in which we are cut off and blind to the knowledge of such processes of thought, so we will never through self-reflection attain a knowledge of this hard problem. Yet, with the tools and prosthesis of brain imaging and other technics we are beginning to have a third person or external way of indirectly accessing this information, and as neuroimaging and neurosciences works to map and interpret the brain over the coming years they will eventually come up with how all this works… that’s his line of reasoning.

      I tend to see this naturalist perspective as part of that answer… but time will only tell. Like everything else in the Sciences it may prove that they are barking up the wrong tree, and that they will find another hypothesis to replace this one…


      • No, problem… I’m still a Pyromanic skeptic at heart… a sort of cross-over between Diogenes and Lucretius… it’s like everyone has a theory, but like Nietzsche no one has the Truth (no Platonic Big Answer/ Idea, etc.). Everything is open to change and revision… to me that’s science, the inquiry is endless as we wander the universe. If we ever had some ultimate final answer what would be the reason for living… curiosity and inquisitiveness, desire and knowledge would become passé, part of the past rather than the energy of our restless need to know and flow… we need newness.. to know that there is something not known, that we might turn the next corner and discover something new and surprising, a wonder.


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