Will To Power By Friedrich Nietzsche  Essay

Will To Power By Friedrich NietzscheThe existential philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche believed that humanity nedded to
be overcome. He viewed humans as weak creatures and slaves to the Christian
religion. In The Will to Power, Nietzsche asserts the poer of the overman– a
creature beyond Christian good and evil– to replace the passive man. To
understand 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 wills
upon others” (Denneson, 1). When considering the use of the term ‘ubermensch’
or ‘overman’ in this work, it is also necessary to understand exactly what
Nietzsche means by this term. This is seen by many as the way in which he refers
to a ‘superhuman’. In the past, many comparisons wre made between Nietzsche’s
overman and the Nazi idea of the superior race. However, this has been
re-evaluated by many scholars, and the comparison is no longer seen in the same
light. The overman is seen as the next step up from normal humans; this creature
could even be interpreted as the next step up the evolutionary ladder. The
overman is not isolated to just this work; we see Nietzsche talk about this
creature in other works such as Thus Spoke Zarathustra and The Antichrist. The
idea is not new, but at best, it is still controversial (Cross, 1). The Will to
Power, which results from these two books, contains various metaphors and
generalizations which display contradictions and tensions (Harman, 2). The
philosophies which underlie all of Nietzsche’s writing are themselves
contradictory; they both celebrate and embrace the humanity of man, whilst
holding it in contempt and insulting it at the same time (Cross, 7). The concept
oof the overman appears to be a contradiction in itself, reflecting the views
that Nietzsche himself expresses about the human condition. The creature is
dichotomy, seeing himself as superior and a master of his environment, but
simultaneously he hates his human self, seeing his weaknesses and flaws. In this
manner of representation, one must question if this creature could ever become a
reality. Cross argues that the overmanis a contradiction in terms of existence
which cannot be resolved due to the constraints which Nietzsche applies to this
hypothetical creature. Cross states, “this creature can only succeed in
negating himself, and, in essence, can never truly exist at all.” Nietzsche
has the view that mankind as it exists is a disease of a ‘sickness’ which is
destroying itself, reflecting the porr nature of a modern man and his lack of
pro-activism, being seen as a purely passive creature unalbe to rebel and define
his life. Nietzsche further argues that the passive reaction of the occurrences
in society are the result of the Christian religion (Cross, 2). Nietzche’s view
of man’s ‘sickness’ reveals itself very strongly in The Antichrist, but The Will
to Power also displays his view. This book reflects Nietzsche’s belief that all
creatures, whatever they are, have a requirement and a need to follow commands
of some sort. The freedom of the overman is that the individual despises what he
is and has been, and in this is able to learn to command himself. However, this
is a difficult and self-destructive process. The perception of the comand over
power is an interesting one; it is not the straight forward meaning of control
over 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 to
truth’. However, he argues that in doing this, they are not really seeking new
values, but that htey are trying to find a way of bringing all men under the
same code of understanding. In effect, they are bringing them all further to the
weaknesses for which he blames Christianity. Nietzsche says he believes that a
man who acts out of laziness, or does not act for the same reason is bad, and
this passive stance allows the weaknesses of society to become more entrenched
and accepted, this becoming of a self-fulfilling prophecy– the more it happens,
the more it will cause its continuation. The passive man does not display
obedience to himself, but to society. The overman is obedient to himself,
arguably hte hardest type of obedience. Therefore, the will to power is the
power to set one’s own values and one’s own goals. The power is therefore not
any 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 of
self-loathing and sickness, aware of his own weaknesses, ever become this self-determanist
creature, yet still aware of his faults (Cross, 7)? Nietzsche argues that the
achieve this, a man must be free of the weaknesses of society; he must not be
bound by the convention that the strong have to help the weak. This convention
only leads both parties to become even weaker. Nietzsche believes that the only
way of overcoming this sickness in society is for the next evolutionary step to
be taken– the weak be left to their own devices, whilst the strongest develop
themselves. In effect, this is a representation of the survival of the fittest
theory. This reflects his view that the current evolutionary process has been
halted by man’s weakness, and that it can only be restarted and the overman be
attained by drastic measures (Cross, 10). However for man to change, he must
want to change. See how he treats his fellow man with contempt. Yet, even in his
own writing, this is a contradiction; “One can enhance only those men whom
does not treat with contempt; moral contempt causes greater indignity and harm
than any crime” (Nietzsche, 393). For this to be seen as possible, we must
accept that the principle motivation behind man is not one of mere survival, but
that is is one of betterment. The cost of self-imparement must not be at the
expense of the weak. Arguably, it is an amorist view, which shows the reasons
why so many scholars see Nietzsche’s questionalbe (Cross, 2). One may argue that
if the overman represents total obedience to oneself and not to others, this
change would herald the end of the state. There would no longer be any need for
the state because there would not be a role for it to play. However even in this
contradiction, a level of stability must be reached in the individual overman.

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However, Nietzsche also argues that it is stability which has ultimately lead to
the stagnation which is currently the position of man. In stability, there will
be no movement forward and no evolutionary progress (Cross, 6). In a final
thought regarding the process and achievement of this overman statur, one can
clearly see a difference in the state of mind in achieving it. The overman will
not likely be satisfied in his position. The goal of the normal man, embodied by
the masses, is that of pleasure. In this respect, Nietzsche argues with many
other philosophers. However, this is different from the goal and reward which
the overman receives. This Nietzsche sees the attainment of joy, yet with
different outcome. Nietzsche views joy as being tinged with pain, in this way
enabling 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 the
case of Nietzsche, it is a self-negating idea, and the theory would not work as
it advocates to many imitations and a disregard for the social needs of man. The
acceptance of this theory would be to disregard many of the social needs and the
way in which society works. This theory advocates an abandoment of the current
society in favour of total self-determination and obedience to the self. However
in considering this, the most basic message regarding the book The Will to Power
must be that this was not written directly by Nietzsche. It is a collection of
notes and observations, which are not finished or refined (Cross, 1). Here, we
are in danger of misinterpreting his message, and the best and most complete way
to rectify this flaw is to read his other books, which do present a final and
polished perspective, rather than the unfinished rough outline.


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