Nietzsche Blogging: The Mask of Objectivity

Charles Augustin Sainte-Beuve, French writer (...
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What would Nietzsche have thought of the modern news media? No way to know for sure, but I think a snippet of his description of Charles Augustin Sainte-Beuve (pictured) might give us a hint. In Twilight of the Idols, Nietzsche writes:

As a historian, [Sainte-Beuve is] without philosophy, without the power of the philosophical eye—hence declining the task of judging in all significant matters, hiding behind the mask of “objectivity.” It is different with his attitude to all things in which a fine, well-worn taste is the highest tribunal: there he really has the courage to stand by himself and delight in himself—there he is a master.

I’m not familiar with Sainte-Beuve, but this description seems pretty timely to me. It gets at what I was trying to argue here: that you can’t really express complex ideas without also expressing some form of subjective value judgment, implicit or explicit. But if you take great pains to pretend that you’re not making a value judgment, then you can avoid an argument about what you’re actually saying and, at worst, turn it into some sort of meta-argument about whether or not the way in which you were saying it was sufficiently judgment-free.


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