Rainer J. Hanshe
City University of New York, Graduate Center, EE. UU.
Rainer J. Hanshe is a novelist whose other works include aphorisms, poetry, and essays. His research interests are German and English Romanticism, philosophy, aesthetics, poetry and poetic theory, the «sacred» in the aftermath of the death of God, modernist literature. He is a co-founder of the Nietzsche Circle and serves as one of the editors of its journal, The Agonist. Along with Mark Daniel Cohen, he also edits the journal Hyperion: On the Future of Aesthetics.
Nietzsche’s Synaesthetic Epistemology and the Restitution of the Holistic Human
«Do I counsel you to deaden your senses?
I counsel you to innocence of the senses.»
Nietzsche, Thus Spoke Zarathustra
In opposition to the traditional philosophic, religious, and aesthetic conception of the senses, Nietzsche not only positively values every sense but also often «crosses» different senses. While the limited few scholars who address Nietzsche’s conception of synaesthesia assert that his depiction and use of it is strictly metaphoric, in fact, it is often precisely the opposite—the phenomenon is conveyed as a distinct reality. Nietzsche was knowledgeable of synaesthesia through medical, aesthetic, and philosophic sources and a persistent engagement with it can be traced throughout his corpus. Further, his interest in synaesthesia may signal that he himself was synaesthetic. As recent neuroscience research has proven, such perceptions are not metaphoric but actual. In counseling us to develop a synaesthetic relation to the world, Nietzsche not only recuperates an ancient praxis but also advances a sense-oriented epistemology as part of his restitution of the body. Apart from sight and hearing, most senses were excluded from the field of knowledge, a hierarchy instituted by Plato and enforced by Christian thinkers and many philosophers. Through his transvaluation of all values, Nietzsche reconfigures the traditional philosophic and religious hierarchy of the senses. Through positively endowing the senses and considering them valid means for acquiring knowledge, Nietzsche develops a new attunement to the world, simultaneously advancing a healthier or more holistic conception of the body. If Nietzsche sets boundaries to his thought through limiting «truth» to what is humanly thinkable, visible, and sensible (TSZ), through offering humanity this expansive vision of itself he believes it has the capacity to achieve that vision. If as some neuroscientists believe synaesthesia can be developed, Nietzsche presents humanity with a spectacular challenge that demands consideration. Since Zarathustra achieves the challenging aspiration, Nietzsche reveals the task as attainable.