In borges, critical rationalism on 18/10/2011 at 12:04 pm

I mistrust all systematizers and I avoid them. The will to a system is a lack of integrity. (Friedrich Nietzsche, Twilight of the Idols)

Nietzsche, the aphorist par excellence, put the problem most succinctly: constructing a framework is worthwhile only insofar as someone is willing to throw it away. It is the inevitable urge of any intellectual to extend their framework until it touches upon all aspects of life, becoming a world-view that explains all. Most intellectuals believe that the gap between the the world-view and the world can be crossed, and known to have been crossed, if we are diligent and wise; however, the will to a system forgets that a world-view can never be mapped one-to-one to the world.

If one holds on to their world-view, they are committed to its authority; they are a slave to the world-view. If one is willing to give up on their world-view, they are free.


  1. I think that is not a helpful approach, maybe it is not mean to be.
    The point is not to refrain from being systematic but to subject systems to criticism so they can be improved (if possible) or discarded othewise.

    Joe Agassi made some interesting comments about systematization, I think the point was that you draw out the full fruits of an idea by developing it in a systematic way, while taking account of criticism at the same time.


    • Rafe, I agree with you — drawing out the consequences of a theory is important; I think it’s different when one extends the idea to cover all areas, especially when coupled with the attitude to the “will to [the] system”.

  2. If Nietzcshe was a superhero, then he’d be Aphorisman. He would put his enemies in their place with pithy comments, e.g. “You know taking over the world will not making you happy, for man is ever striving and never reaching.”

    Oh, I’m sorry, did you expect a serious comment?

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