What might be meant by Nietzche’s comment that “rational thought is interpretation according to a scheme which we cannot escape”. What implications might this have for knowledge acquisition? To be able to explain what is that Nietzche was trying to say, I think that first I should define some terms that are found in the statement he made, as well as in the actual question.
“Rational thought” is also called logic thinking, what would imply then that the line of thought would follow a determined set of stages, which consist in the interpretation of a giving premise or the attempt to follow a given rule, what will then enable the thinker to arrive to a valid, if not true, conclusion. “Knowledge” is something we claim to be true, justifying this belief with evidence.
I think that what he means is that no matter what is that we are analysing, our mind will always go through the same process to reach a conclusion about new knowledge gained, trying to make it fit in one or other classification, so as to be comfortable with it. This classification could be simply true or false, or would come to form part of other evidence that would either support or question a previous conclusion we had arrived at before that seems to be true because, nothing, to our knowledge, seems to disprove it.
I agree with what Nietzche states and I will try to explain why this is and how this affects the way we acquire knowledge further on in this essay. Logical thinking does not require previous knowledge, just a rule or statement that can prove, disprove or have no relation at all with the conclusion we arrive at. Respectively, the conclusion at which we arrive will be valid, invalid or undetermined. I think this does affect every thought we have, and every time we gain knowledge the same process will occur in our minds; We cannot disprove information unrelated to previous knowledge.
Then, if we receive new information about the same subject there are three possible conclusions to which we can arrive: either is true, false or this new information does not prove or belie what we already knew. The line of though in the three cases would be something like: this information is related to what I knew before about the subject. Because of this new information, now I believe that, what I knew before is probably “true/false/ I still don’t know” because the new information “supported it/contradicts it/ it neither supports nor contradicts it”.
As you can see the way of thinking has not changed at all, only that the premises that conditioned the conclusion to which we arrive does. More information will again pass through the process and end validating or invalidating what we had previously concluded. In both cases we again face two possibilities: either we accept what we just concluded or investigate more about it. During my TOK course, we discussed the problem if all knowledge was processed logically before we stored it in our minds and creates a conclusion or reacted to its content.
At first I could not agree that this was possible, because the same happenings make people feel differently, and I also could not agree to the idea that emotions would develop from a logic base. Then, after discussing it thoroughly with my colleges and teacher, I reached a totally different conclusion: we discussed why it was that we reacted as we did when confronting the same situation, and what factors had an influence in this.
At the end, I noticed a pattern in our answers: we all thought of previous situation that we had confronted that were similar to the ones we had to confront now, how we had dealt with them, had that way been effective, what were the consequences of the decision we made when confronting them and if we wanted to obtain similar results. If we did, then we reacted again in a similar way to the one we had reacted previously, if we didn’t then we tried to deal with it differently, thinking in which way we think might get us what we want.