The central idea of this article emerges from my recent work on what a more thorough appreciation of Greek skepticism can contribute to our understanding of Nietzsche's views on truth and knowledge. There I examine, among other things, Nietzsche's campaign against philosophical dogmatism and argue that in general Nietzsche counsels us toward a suspension of judgment, or epochê, particularly with respect to questions of metaphysics. I propose that the best way to characterize Nietzsche's attitude toward metaphysical problems is on the model of skepticism in antiquity—particularly Pyrrhonian skepticism. My reading, if correct, has significant consequences for the interpretation of some of Nietzsche's best-recognized doctrines, for it will undermine arguments, current in the literature, that Nietzsche vigorously advances the kind of metaphysical theses ascribed to him under the headings of, say, “perspectivism” or the “will to power.” Such theses, I maintain, are dogmas Nietzsche would disregard as (epistemically) unsustainable and even (psychologically) undesirable. Insofar as it adopts this posture, I argue, Nietzsche's work echoes a lengthy and robust tradition of skepticism in antiquity.
On further reflection, however, one might wonder how deeply Nietzsche could possibly have been impressed by this tradition, since he would apparently repudiate what the Greek skeptics describe as the very goal of their skeptical practice: namely, ataraxia, commonly understood as “freedom from disturbance” or “peace of mind.” Nietzsche, as we know, has little patience for those who place the highest value on the avoidance of suffering.