On Truth and Lies in a Nonmoral Sense

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On Truth and Lies in a Nonmoral Sense (German: Über Wahrheit und Lüge im außermoralischen Sinn), also called On Truth and Lie in an Extra-Moral Sense[1]) is an philosophical work of Friedrich Nietzsche. It was written in 1873, one year after The Birth of Tragedy,[2] however, it was unpublished during his life. The work deals largely with epistemological questions of truth and language, including the formation of concepts.

According to Paul F. Glenn, Nietzsche is arguing that "concepts are metaphors which do not correspond to reality."[4] Although all concepts are human inventions (created by common agreement to facilitate ease of communication), human beings forget this fact after inventing them, and come to believe that they are "true" and do correspond to reality.[4] Thus Nietzsche argues that "truth" is actually:

These ideas about truth and its relation to human language have been particularly influential among postmodern theorists,[4] and "On Truth and Lies in a Nonmoral Sense" is one of the works most responsible for Nietzsche's reputation (albeit a contentious one) as "the godfather of postmodernism."[6]


  1. Walter Kaufmann's translation, appearing in The Portable Nietzsche, 1976 edition. Viking Press.
  2. Portable Nietzsche 42.
  3. Portable Nietzsche 46.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 Lua error in Module:Citation/CS1/Identifiers at line 47: attempt to index field 'wikibase' (a nil value).
  5. Portable Nietzsche 46-47.
  6. Cahoone, Lawrence E. (2003). From modernism to postmodernism: an anthology. Wiley-Blackwell. p. 109.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

Further Reading

  • McKinnon, AM. (2012). 'Metaphors in and for the Sociology of Religion: Towards a Theory after Nietzsche'. Journal of Contemporary Religion, vol 27, no. 2, pp. 203-216.[1]

External links