Will To Power By Friedrich NietzscheThe existential philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche believed that humanity nedded tobe overcome. He viewed humans as weak creatures and slaves to the Christianreligion.
In The Will to Power, Nietzsche asserts the poer of the overman– acreature beyond Christian good and evil– to replace the passive man. Tounderstand the book, it is first necessary to understand what Nietzsche means by’The Will to Power’. Denneson describes this as a ‘psychological presupposition’which assumes “that humans are always attempting to inflict their willsupon others” (Denneson, 1). When considering the use of the term ‘ubermensch’or ‘overman’ in this work, it is also necessary to understand exactly whatNietzsche means by this term. This is seen by many as the way in which he refersto a ‘superhuman’.Order now
In the past, many comparisons wre made between Nietzsche’soverman and the Nazi idea of the superior race. However, this has beenre-evaluated by many scholars, and the comparison is no longer seen in the samelight. The overman is seen as the next step up from normal humans; this creaturecould even be interpreted as the next step up the evolutionary ladder. Theoverman is not isolated to just this work; we see Nietzsche talk about thiscreature in other works such as Thus Spoke Zarathustra and The Antichrist.
Theidea is not new, but at best, it is still controversial (Cross, 1). The Will toPower, which results from these two books, contains various metaphors andgeneralizations which display contradictions and tensions (Harman, 2). Thephilosophies which underlie all of Nietzsche’s writing are themselvescontradictory; they both celebrate and embrace the humanity of man, whilstholding it in contempt and insulting it at the same time (Cross, 7). The conceptoof the overman appears to be a contradiction in itself, reflecting the viewsthat Nietzsche himself expresses about the human condition. The creature isdichotomy, seeing himself as superior and a master of his environment, butsimultaneously he hates his human self, seeing his weaknesses and flaws.
In thismanner of representation, one must question if this creature could ever become areality. Cross argues that the overmanis a contradiction in terms of existencewhich cannot be resolved due to the constraints which Nietzsche applies to thishypothetical creature. Cross states, “this creature can only succeed innegating himself, and, in essence, can never truly exist at all. ” Nietzschehas the view that mankind as it exists is a disease of a ‘sickness’ which isdestroying itself, reflecting the porr nature of a modern man and his lack ofpro-activism, being seen as a purely passive creature unalbe to rebel and definehis life. Nietzsche further argues that the passive reaction of the occurrencesin society are the result of the Christian religion (Cross, 2). Nietzche’s viewof man’s ‘sickness’ reveals itself very strongly in The Antichrist, but The Willto Power also displays his view.
This book reflects Nietzsche’s belief that allcreatures, whatever they are, have a requirement and a need to follow commandsof some sort. The freedom of the overman is that the individual despises what heis and has been, and in this is able to learn to command himself. However, thisis a difficult and self-destructive process. The perception of the comand overpower is an interesting one; it is not the straight forward meaning of controlover others, but also the control over one’s self. In The Will to Power,Nietzsche sees those who look to improve themselves as looking to the ‘will totruth’. However, he argues that in doing this, they are not really seeking newvalues, but that htey are trying to find a way of bringing all men under thesame code of understanding.
In effect, they are bringing them all further to theweaknesses for which he blames Christianity. Nietzsche says he believes that aman who acts out of laziness, or does not act for the same reason is bad, andthis passive stance allows the weaknesses of society to become more entrenchedand accepted, this becoming of a self-fulfilling prophecy– the more it happens,the more it will cause its continuation. The passive man does not displayobedience to himself, but to society. The overman is obedient to himself,arguably hte hardest type of obedience.
Therefore, the will to power is thepower to set one’s own values and one’s own goals. The power is therefore notany type of physical brute force, but a strong and enduring self-determination. This shows the dichotomy that Nietzsche puts forward– for how can a man full ofself-loathing and sickness, aware of his own weaknesses, ever become this self-determanistcreature, yet still aware of his faults (Cross, 7)? Nietzsche argues that theachieve this, a man must be free of the weaknesses of society; he must not bebound by the convention that the strong have to help the weak. This conventiononly leads both parties to become even weaker. Nietzsche believes that the onlyway of overcoming this sickness in society is for the next evolutionary step tobe taken– the weak be left to their own devices, whilst the strongest developthemselves. In effect, this is a representation of the survival of the fittesttheory.
This reflects his view that the current evolutionary process has beenhalted by man’s weakness, and that it can only be restarted and the overman beattained by drastic measures (Cross, 10). However for man to change, he mustwant to change. See how he treats his fellow man with contempt. Yet, even in hisown writing, this is a contradiction; “One can enhance only those men whomdoes not treat with contempt; moral contempt causes greater indignity and harmthan any crime” (Nietzsche, 393). For this to be seen as possible, we mustaccept that the principle motivation behind man is not one of mere survival, butthat is is one of betterment.
The cost of self-imparement must not be at theexpense of the weak. Arguably, it is an amorist view, which shows the reasonswhy so many scholars see Nietzsche’s questionalbe (Cross, 2). One may argue thatif the overman represents total obedience to oneself and not to others, thischange would herald the end of the state. There would no longer be any need forthe state because there would not be a role for it to play. However even in thiscontradiction, a level of stability must be reached in the individual overman.
However, Nietzsche also argues that it is stability which has ultimately lead tothe stagnation which is currently the position of man. In stability, there willbe no movement forward and no evolutionary progress (Cross, 6). In a finalthought regarding the process and achievement of this overman statur, one canclearly see a difference in the state of mind in achieving it. The overman willnot likely be satisfied in his position. The goal of the normal man, embodied bythe masses, is that of pleasure. In this respect, Nietzsche argues with manyother philosophers.
However, this is different from the goal and reward whichthe overman receives. This Nietzsche sees the attainment of joy, yet withdifferent outcome. Nietzsche views joy as being tinged with pain, in this wayenabling the idea of joy to be appreciated in its totality. The whole idea of a’superman,’ or overman has been seen many time through philosophy, but in thecase of Nietzsche, it is a self-negating idea, and the theory would not work asit advocates to many imitations and a disregard for the social needs of man.
Theacceptance of this theory would be to disregard many of the social needs and theway in which society works. This theory advocates an abandoment of the currentsociety in favour of total self-determination and obedience to the self. Howeverin considering this, the most basic message regarding the book The Will to Powermust be that this was not written directly by Nietzsche. It is a collection ofnotes and observations, which are not finished or refined (Cross, 1). Here, weare in danger of misinterpreting his message, and the best and most complete wayto rectify this flaw is to read his other books, which do present a final andpolished perspective, rather than the unfinished rough outline.