This is an edited and updated transcript of my video: The Truth & Lie System in the Light of Nietzsche. Originally published to YouTube 26th August 2019.
The original transcript was uploaded to my old blog 17th August 2019. It has now been further edited and updated. Changes are minor as I wanted to keep the overall spirit of my first investigations into the Truth & Lie System.
All quotes are taken from “On Truth and Lie in an Extra-Moral Sense,” by Frederich Nietzsche.”
The beginnings of the Truth & Lie System
“What then is truth: A mobile army of metaphors, metonyms, and anthropomorphisms.”Friedrich Nietzche.
In some remote corner of the universe, poured out and glittering in innumerable solar systems, there once was a star on which clever animals invented knowledge. That was the highest and most mendacious minute of “world history”—yet only a minute. After nature had drawn a few breaths the star grew cold, and the clever animals had to die.Friedrich Nietzsche
I once said that truth outside of experience is a hoax. This a correct to a certain degree, but there is a deeper understanding.
Truth does not exist for the individual. He exists within the reality of his phenomenal perceptions, the reality of his senses and his inner life. However, as a wayfarer in this realm, he is faced with the struggle for survival and he is faced with the herd.
He uses his intellect for simulation; to create maps in order to navigate this reality and to interact with nature.
The need for truth has not yet arisen and hence nor has the concept of lies. All we have thus far is reality and practical simulation.
Already the temptation exists to conflate the map with the terrain and fall into illusion. This temptation is intensified by the individual’s struggle for survival and his encounters with the herd.
In man this art of simulation reaches its peak: here deception, flattering, lying and cheating, talking behind the back, posing, living in borrowed splendor, being masked, the disguise of convention, acting a role before others and before oneself—in short, the constant fluttering around the single flame of vanity is so much the rule and the law that almost nothing is more incomprehensible than how an honest and pure urge for truth could make its appearance among men. They are deeply immersed in illusions and dream images.Friedrich Nietzsche
The nature of this realm requires an initial sacrifice from the living; the sacrifice of reality in the name of simulation. Perhaps only the sceptic can remember that his models are simulations, and escape from sinking into illusion.
But because man, out of need and boredom, wants to exist socially, herd-fashion, he requires a peace pact and he endeavors to banish at least the very crudest war of all against all from his world.Friedrich Nietzsche.
The concept of truth arose with the herd and exists within the world of models. The herd is the truth system and it’s firstborn son is the lie system.
The nature of this realm created the need for simulation. Fear, need and boredom create the need for the herd and thus the truth system. And the truth system naturally entails the lies system.
Entering the herd, the individual makes his second sacrifice, the sacrifice of his own simulations. The sacrifice of his own symbols, maps, models and metaphors. He then forgets that they are the map and not the terrain. The individual slips into the dreamless sleep of the herd
The maps of the herd are a practical necessity but they are one more step removed from the terrain.
The individual sacrifices his own maps and forgets about the terrain; all to chase the shadow of truth.
Truth & Lies for the Herd.
Truth for the herd: a shared meaning, a shared dividing up of the world by use of language that everybody bows down to in continual acquiescence.
Thus in the words of Nietzsche: The legislation of language also enacts the first laws of truth.
In these first laws, lying is the opposition of truth; it is the opposition of the legislation of language. The liar is not just someone that says something untrue, but one that says something parasitical which perverts the common language. In its pure sense, its forms include using language in an inordinate and selfish way. In a pure sense, lying could also include epic poetry, art, mythology and humour. These often use language in novel ways for artistic effect and in a strict sense could be defined by the herd as lying.
Elsewhere Nietzsche gives the analogy of a butterfly that uses camouflage to disguise itself from predators. Strictly speaking this is simulation; it is a lie. In the Truth & Lie System all is not as simple as we once thought.
But as Nietzsche goes on to say:
The liar uses the valid designations, the words, to make the unreal appear as real; he says, for example, “I am rich,” when the word “poor” would be the correct designation of his situation. He abuses the fixed conventions by arbitrary changes or even by reversals of the names. When he does this in a self-serving way damaging to others, then society will no longer trust him but exclude him. Thereby men do not flee from being deceived as much as from being damaged by deception: what they hate at this stage is basically not the deception but the bad, hostile consequences of certain kinds of deceptions.Friedrich Nietzsche
To repeat: The liar uses the valid designations, the words, to make the unreal appear as real. This becomes anathema to the herd not because of the deception but because of the damage that it causes.
In essence, the herd does not hate lying, but only the damaging consequences. Or perhaps better, when they perceive the consequences of the lie to be damaging. The tragedy is that the herd cannot rightly perceive which consequences are damaging to them.
If the herd stops believing the lie to be damaging, it ceases to view it as lying.
Because of their love of fear, the herd believes all those who create their own maps to be a danger to the herd.
For the herd, the individual is a slanderer of reality and a liar. He promised the herd to lay down his own maps. He then sneaks into the library and switches the herd’s maps for his own. The herd views him as a slanderer of reality because they cannot distinguish between reality; and the truth and lie system.
For the herd, the liar is not just someone that tells something factually untrue; but someone who tells a story and gets something out of it in a way that they believe harms someone else or disadvantages them. For it is here that the contrast between truth and lie first originates.
Why is it the case the the herd only designates a lie something that harms or disadvantages another. Becuase, in general, we delight in many lies, in “the misuse of the valid designations, the words, to make the unreal appear as real;”
Man delights in jokes. The misuse of valid designations is at the heart of humour.
The misuse of valid designations is at the heart of the honk pill. The honk pill the Truth & Lie System turned against itself. It is not freedom from the Truth & Lie System, nor reality itself, but perhaps a means for the few to open a portal to reality, from within the System.
People only object to lies if they feel like they are being harmed. They hate the honk pill because they see the individual as a threat to their cult-like way of life. They hate the honk pill because they love their fantasy world and fear any return to reality.
Only through forgetfulness can man ever achieve the illusion of possessing a “truth” in the sense just designated. If he does not wish to be satisfied with truth in the form of a tautology—that is, with empty shells—then he will forever buy illusions for truths.Friedrich Nietzsche.
I originally said that the honk pill can cure you of the illusion of possessing the illusion of ‘truth’ in the sense just designated. Now I feel that this is not the case. The cure, at least for me, has been in understanding Truth & Lie System, the Realology Pathology, and returning to reality.
Take from this what you will, but do not do so passively.
The honk pill is damaging to the herd-like conception of truth. It is anathema to those that hate reality and mistake the map for the terrain, and the idolaters will always accuse the Honkler of being a liar.
I feel that the Honkler has some aspects of the aforementioned butterfly, but this is only half of the picture. There is a positive side as well.
And so, we can see where the herd’s desire for truth comes from:
… for as yet we have heard only of the obligation imposed by society that it should exist: to be truthful means using the customary metaphors—in moral terms: the obligation to lie according to a fixed convention, to lie herd-like in a style obligatory for all. Now man of course forgets that this is the way things stand for him. Thus he lies in the manner indicated, unconsciously and in accordance with habits which are centuries’ old; and precisely by means of this unconsciousness and forgetfulness he arrives at his sense of truth.Friedrich Nietzsche.
The Intellect’s necessary creation of maps to navigate this realm gave potentiality for the Truth and Lie System. So far there is no problem. But the boredom of the herd, its fear of nature and its fear of each other led to the idolizing of the map and its conflation with the terrain.
I call this the Realology Pathology. (I did not invent the term Realology.)
The Honkler & The Honk Pill
The honk pill appropriates the weapons of the enemy and turns them back on him. Every act of map idolatry is weaponised. In the eyes of the Honkler the truth and lie system is seen for what it is:
“The practical obligation to lie according to a fixed convention, to lie herd-like in a style obligatory for all. Now man of course forgets that this is the way things stand for him.”Friedrich Nietzsche
The weapon the Honkler uses is the truth system itself. For according to Nietzche:
“What…., is truth? A mobile army of metaphors, metonyms, and anthropomorphisms—in short, a sum of human relations which have been enhanced, transposed, and embellished poetically and rhetorically, and which after long use seem firm, canonical, and obligatory to a people: truths are illusions about which one has forgotten that this is what they are; metaphors which are worn out and without sensuous power; coins which have lost their pictures and now matter only as metal, no longer as coins.”Friedrich Nietzsche.
The Honkler casts his gaze over the maps of the truth and lie system and he appreciates their functional necessity, for defense and navigation. He spies the herd, fighting for truth whilst ignoring reality, castigating lies whilst loving the lie system. The herd sacrifices the reality of direct experience for the empty shells of tautology and received belief.
The Honkler does not weep and he does not rejoice over the sad state of the herd. He quietly chuckles to himself at the clown world all around him. However, even this is just a stage and not the end.
Since taking the honk pill, The Honkler stands astride the great abyss of reality in awe. Truths are illusions about which one has forgotten that this is what they are. The Honkler remembers this and re-energises the maps whilst remembering the terrain.
He surveys the Truth and Lie system, and arms himself with his resurrected mobile army of metaphors, metonyms and anthropomorphisms.
The Honkler has tamed the truth and lie system. The truth and lie system is no longer his master and he is at peace with the world.
The truth and the lie system is the red pill and the blue pill. Both are products of nature of this realm, the necessary creation of models, the boredom of man and his need to exist to some degree within the herd, that is, within the system.
In the words of Nietzsche: The need and boredom man leading to the desire to exist socially, herd-fashion. His need for a peace pact to banish at least the very crudest war of all against all from his world.
The red pill is as much the product of the System as is the blue pill, and our ideas about it are perhaps one more illusion. The illusion of the possession of truth instead of the possession of reality.
The honk pill will not destroy the red pill nor the blue pill. It simply frees the observer from his illusionary ideas about them. From within the system, it perhaps opens a portal back to reality, whilst still living as the Fool amongst the Herd.
Published 13 April 2020.