Okay, back to Nietzsche for a bit. In response to a post from Mike, I had to rethink the way I was characterizing Nz as a naturalist. Basically, a naturalist is someone who thinks science has basically the right picture of what humans are and what the world is, leaving some room for future insights and developments. I think Nz is partial to this view, but he adds an important qualification: namely, he thinks that all scientists, being human, are subject to all sorts of psychological traps, illusions, and distortions. His favorite example is the belief in the atom, which he thinks comes from our language and our inclination to think of the world as built from a bunch of identical-type things. He thinks that’s purely fiction, and so atomism is a kind of psychological projection on the world.
He’s getting this, I think, from neo-Kantian philosophers of his day (like Lange and Helmholtz). They were very excited by the idea of tying in Kant’s philosophy to what was being discovered about the physiology of perception — the way that the structure of the eyes, nerves, brain, etc. shape our experience of the world. (Basically, human neuro-anatomy replaces the two forms and twelve categories.)
So, I have ended up characterizing Nz as “a skeptical neo-Kantianesque naturalist,” meaning that he broadly accepts the scientific view of the world, once it has been purged (through skeptical examination) of the add-ons coming from human psychology.
A further interesting thing discovered along the way: in HH, when Nz talks about science, he usually has in mind something like sober, stone-cold skepticism. He has in mind a certain kind of approach to experience — the sort of “Skeptical Inquiror,” Michael-Shermer-type attitude, that always tries to explain away the appearance of magic. At one point (HH1, #256) he says that science is more useful for the attitude it encourages than for any nuggets of knowledge it manages to unearth: it teaches us to be more confident and tough-minded.