28 Oct 2008

Creative Analysis

Corry Shores
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In section 5 of Beyond Good and Evil, Nietzsche speaks of philosophers’ dishonesty in believing that they arrive at their conclusions through “cold, pure, divinely unconcerned dialectic,” when instead “at bottom it is an assumption, a hunch, indeed a kind of ‘inspiration.’” We might consider such a hunch as the intuition used to propose and critique necessary and sufficient conditions in conceptual analysis. In other words, we may precisely determine a concept’s significance first by drawing a tentative definition out from our intuition, and further using our intuitive insights to detect the accuracy of our proposed definition and its refinements.

But this “inspiration” is more than an “intuition” for Nietzsche. It is “most often a desire of the heart that has been filtered and made abstract,” something perhaps more fitting to “the mystics of every rank.” In conceptual analysis, we presume that the concept is already analytically pure, but merely implicit, needing only proper explication to bring it to light. Yet perhaps the intuition or inspiration used for this purpose is more creative and arbitrary than it appears. And if not necessarily, so should it be. For, if the task of philosophers is the creation of concepts, and not merely their exposition, then something more need be expressed than mere definitions. Perhaps a true philosophical concept is one whose significance and development is pushed-and-pulled in many individually viable – but mutually incompatible – directions at once: a confused but explicit concept, one whose implicit intensity is so great that no amount of explicit definitional extension can exhaust its possibilities for unfolding.

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