Nietzsche – Superman and the will to Power

Nietzsche – Superman and the will to Power

Superman and the will to Power – Nietzsche rejected the idea of a universal morality for all because such a morality disregards basic individual differences. However, he believes that there is one thing that characterizes all human beings and that is the drive to dominate the environment. This drive, so central to human nature, is the will to power.[1] He identified life with this will to power. For him, life, as the form of being most familiar to us, is specially a will to the accumulation of force.”[2]

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Nietzsche finds this drive at work in large areas of human life; in asceticism, revenge, and the lust for money, the striving for distinction, cruelty etc. He explains the drive’s apparent omnipresence in human life by saying that power has a special relation to human happiness.

He believes that this will to power is the most life affirming drive and explains why life is “struggle and becoming.”[3]

In order words, the organism is an intricate complexity of systems, which strive after an increase in the feeling of power; it looks for obstacles for something to overcome. For example, Nietzsche does not see exploitation or appropriation as something evil but as a consequence of the will to power.[4]

Exploitation does not belong to a deprived or imperfect and primitive society, it belongs to the nature of the living being as a primary organic function: it is a consequence of the intrinsic will to power, which is precisely the will to life.[5]       

 The will to power names what constitutes the basic character of all beings? It is the ultimate reality to which we come. It is Nietzsche’s fundamental conception of all beings. “The expression ‘will to power’ designates the basic character of beings; any being which is, in so far as it is, is will to power.”[6]

 The willto power is more than simple the will to survive. It is, rather an inner drive to express a vigorous affirmation of all a person’s powers. It is an interpretation of the universe, a way of looking at it and describing it. Nietzsche writes, “This world is will to power and nothing else! And you yourselves too are this will to power and nothing else.”[7]

Nietzsche sees the will to power as the source of human happiness and whatever heightens the feeling of power is what he considers good.

What is good? All that heightens the feeling of power, the will to Power, power; itself in man. What is happiness? The feeling that power increases that a resistance is overcome.[8]

Nietzsche believes that the desire for knowledge depends on the will to power, that is, on a given kind of being’s impulse to master a certain field of reality and to enlist it in its service.

He conceives knowledge as an instrument of power, which increases with increment in power. For him, knowledge works as an instrument of power. It is therefore obvious that it grows with every increase in power.”[9] The thirst for knowledge is a manifestation of the will to power and the aim of knowledge is not to know in the sense of grasping absolute truth for its own sake, but to master.[10]

The knowledge as the will to power reads interpretation into reality.

In so far as the word “knowledge” had any meaning, the world is knowable but it is interpretable otherwise, it has no meaning behind it but countless meanings “perspectivism”[11]

In the field of human psychology, Nietzsche finds many opportunities for diagnosing the manifestations of the will – to- power. For example, he dismisses as quite unfounded the psychology theory that the pursuit of pleasure and avoidance of pain are the fundamental motives of human conduct. In his view, pleasure and pain are concomitant phenomena in the striving after an increase of power. Pleasure can be described as the feeling of increase of power, while pain results from a felt hindrance to the will –to –power. At the same time, pain of ten provides a stimulus to this will, for every triumph presuppose an obstacle, a hindrance, which is overcome. Everywhere Nietzsche sees the operation, often devious and hidden, of the will– to– power.[12] In man, the will to power occurs in man’s intention to order the event of everyday life towards dominating natural occurrences.

He writes; “All events that result from intention are reducible to the intention to increase power”[13] Nietzsche sensed the supremacy of the will as a universal principle, a dynamism that appealed to his thirst for life in its plenitude.[14] He understands power in the sense of an intrinsic quality of the individual.

In addition, he tells us, “I distinguish between a type which represents ascending life and a type which represents decadence, decomposition, and weakness.”[15] He believes that there is in fact, no alternative for impotence for power and it is only on that condition that they necessarily become good. God must be both useful and harmful who is admired in good and bad alike. He believes that one has much need of the evil god as of the good god. He identified this God with will to power and consequently ascribed two alternatives to God.[16]

There is in fact no other alternative for Gods: either they are the will to power or so long as they are that, they will be national gods – or else the impotence for power– and they necessary become good.[17]

 In the field of art, Nietzsche sees the work of the artist as an attempt to master an aspect of reality. On the mastery of the material of his endeavour, the artist feels glad at the accumulation of power.

What delight! What a feeling of power! How much artist, triumph in the feeling of power man has once again become master of “materials” master of truth! – and whenever man rejoices, he is always the same in his rejoicing: he rejoices as an   artist, he enjoys himself as power, he enjoys the lie as his form of  power.[18]

Nietzsche sees Christian Piety as an antithesis of this will to power and hinders its expression. It inhabits the emotions, which enhance the energy of feeling of life. One loses force when one pities. To salvage the situation, Nietzsche believes that it is when one wages war against pity that one becomes, truly, a philosopher.

Nothing is our unhealthy modernity is more unhealthy than Christian pity. To be physician here, to be inexorable here, to wield the knife – that pertains to us, that is our kind of philanthropy, with that are we philosophers, we hyperborean.[19]

As one who has gone beyond the decadent Christian values, the superman will have to rediscover the will–to–power which is fundamental and which has been calumniated by Christianity. The will to power is his life – affirming superman by way of the will–to– Power.[20]         

Wherever this will to power is lacking, Nietzsche sees a decadence, a down going, a denial of life. He writes, “Wherever the will to power declines in any form there is every time also a physiological regression, decadence.”[21]


Since Nietzsche had extirpated God, who in his view, is the sole barricade to the emergence of the superman, he (the superman) can now ascend the vacant divine throne. Obviously, this involves a supra – historical outlook. It involves that is to say, a rejection of the Hegelian canonization of the actual in the name of a necessary self – manifestation of the logos or idea, and a vision of values, which transcend the historical situation.[22]


It begins the only history worthy of its name a history devoid of all mythology and superstition. Zarathustra announced the news of the death of God, which gave back to the earth a true human meaning.

The superman is the meaning of the earth. Let your will say; the superman shall be the meaning of the earth! I entreat you, my brothers, remain true to the earth, and do not believe those who speak to you of superterestial hopes! They are prisoners, whether they know it or not.[23]

Nietzsche sees man as a potential being, a dangerous going across and a down – going by this down – going, Nietzsche means those men who are to be sacrificed for the emergence of the superman, that is, the mediocre masses.

Man is a rope fastened between animal and superman – a rope over an abyss. A dangerous going – across …he is a going across and a down – going.[24]      

It is not the mission of the new higher caste or type to lead the masses as a shepherd leads his flock. Rather, it is the mission of the masses to form the foundation on which new so–called lords of the earth can lead their own life and make possible the emergence of still higher types of man.

But before this can happen, there will come the new barbarians, as Nietzsche calls them, who will break the actual dominion of the masses and thus render possible the free development of outstanding individuals.[25]

Superman cannot come unless superior individuals have the courage to trans-value all values to break the old tables of values, especially the Christian tables, and create new values out of their super – abundant life and power. The new values will give direction and a goal to the higher man, and superman is, as it were, their personification. From this, it follows that the superman will be imbued with many qualities.[26]

Who smashes their table of value, the breaker, lawbreaker, – but he is a creator …. The creator seeks fellow creators, those who inscribe new values on new tables.[27]

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Nietzsche – Superman and the will to Power

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