THE MIRAGE OF PHILOSOPHY
MUCH OF the modern world’s blabber against Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche is grounded upon the doctrine that his capacity for consecutive thought was clearly limited. In support of the doctrine his critics cite the fact that most of his books are no more than strings of apothegms, with the subject changing on every second page. All this, it must be obvious, is fundamentally nonsensical. What deceives the professors is the traditional garrulity and prolixity of philosophers. Because the average philosophical writer, when he essays to expose his ideas, makes such copious drafts upon the parts of speech that the dictionary is almost emptied, these defective observers jump to the conclusion that his intrinsic notions are of corresponding elaborateness. This is not true. I have read Kant, Hegel, Spencer, Spinoza, Descartes, Leibnitz, Fichte, Locke, Schleiermacher, James and Bergson, not to mention the Greeks and the Romans; the more I read, the more I am convinced that it is not true.
What makes philosophy hard to read is not the complexity of the ideas set forth, but the complexity of the language in which they are concealed. The typical philosopher, having, say, four new notions, drowns them in a sea of words—all borrowed from other philosophers. One must wade through endless chapters of old stuff to get at the minute kernels of the new stuff. This process Nietzsche avoided—I have observed a similar inclination with myself with each additional blog post I have made since day one. He always assumed that his readers knew the books, and that it was thus unnecessary to rewrite them. Having an idea that seemed to him to be novel and original, he stated it in as few words as possible, and then shut down. Sometimes he got it into a hundred words; sometimes it took a thousand. But he never wrote a word too many; he never pumped up an idea to make it appear bigger than it actually was. The professors are not used to that sort of writing. Nietzsche employed too few words for them—and he had too many ideas.