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Thread: Nietzsche’s Will to Power: Analysis and Critique

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    Nietzsche’s Will to Power: Analysis and Critique

    Nietzsche’s Will to Power: Analysis and Critique

    Abstract: In this essay I will endeavor to look at interpretations of Nietzsche's ‘Will to Power'as found in his writings. I believe that Nietzsche’s ideas lead one to a reductionist approach to persons if one follows certain writings attacking notions such as 'free will' and responsibility.’ However, I believe Nietzsche can be 'saved'from this view if one incorporates a greater scope of his writings and show how he attempts to expand our notions of ‘freedom.’


    To sum up, let us attempt to congeal the above to state what WTP is according to the writings of Nietzsche’s writings. WTP is a mythological story that explains that the fundamental will of living beings is that beings strive for growth, overcoming of subjective and objective obstacles, and the satisfaction of gaining a sense of volition. While Nietzsche does not dismiss drives such as for love or food, and the wills we would correspond to those can be said to be the ‘will to love/food,’ what gives us satisfaction in acting on these drives is not the love or food itself, but the feelings above that come with satisfying a drive – one gains a little sense of power (in that power is taken in the complex form to encompass the many different sensations above). However, it is important to note that in Nietzsche’s mythology, there is no other will besides the WTP, though the WTP manifests itself in many different drives (hence the multiplicity of drives one experiences and not just a single drive). Though, keep in mind that satisfaction of those drives does not satisfy the drive itself, but one’s WTP.


    B. Rescuing the Will to Power from Reductionism

    In order to ‘rescue’ Nietzsche from Reductionism, I believe we must look at his works in context of why they were written. Let us look at his attacks on the moralization of the will, or the use of ‘freedom’ to make people responsible for their actions. I feel confident in saying that one effect of constructing a moral theory and subjecting a society to the rules that follow from them acts to ‘tame’ the members of society. Nietzsche writes that justice was practiced and maintained as an effort to “regulate the senseless raging of rancor among [persons],” or better put it attempt to regulate a person to keep them from acting in unharmonious ways that would destabilize the social order. 61 Think of a society in which there were no laws and one may have trouble maintaining the idea that the society is just that and not an assortment of people living together and acting with little fear of “the man.” It could be said that this ‘taming’ was for the better and one can point to the goods which justice has bestowed upon societies practicing it, but Nietzsche saw otherwise. To call the taming of an animal its ‘improvement’ is to our ears almost a joke. Anyone who knows what goes on in menageries will doubt that a beast is ‘improved’ there. It is weakened, it is made less harmful, it is 61 turned into a diseased beast … It is no different with the tamed human being whom the priest has ‘improved.’ 62 He saw morality, at least that which was practiced and promoted by the priests, as a means of “breeding” a specific type of humankind, one who is submissive to their doctrines. Since Nietzsche saw the priestly morality as a pervasive theory that had soaked into society since the Jews subverted the Romans to Jewish morality, he saw this as an epidemic. The reason being was that the priests were ascetics, and as written above, the ascetic life was contrary to life itself to Nietzsche. For him, life was to be rejoiced in a Dionysus-like atmosphere, in which humans live to affirm life, to accept their desires and partake of them to lead a life of pleasure. In a sense, Nietzsche calls one to live life. He writes that many things, such as “hardness,” “danger in the ally and the heart,” “the art of experiment and devilry of every kind,” so forth and even their opposites can serve “the enhancement of the species ‘man.’” 63 In being ‘intoxicated’ by life’s plentitude of desires, we can see life as something grander and more swollen of goodness; with humankind sensing a life “charged with energy” they begin to transform, in their minds, life into something more perfect. 64 Against this, the ascetic ideals drive one to go against life. As Nietzsche writes, “The kind of inner split we have found in the ascetic, who pits ‘life against life,’ is nonsense.” 65 While the ideal may have arisen in need of man to find meaning in his life, as Nietzsche sees it, its end result or continuous use has lead persons to a “will to nothingness, a revulsion from life, a rebellion against the principle conditions for living.” 66 The ascetic tells us to deny certain things in life, but Nietzsche instead tells us to affirm those things, to embrace life instead of turning from it. However, such a life affirming view of living is castrated in societies and people’s desires are subjugated to morality, where one may come to feel ‘guilty’ for, perhaps, feasting on great food instead of nibbling on bread and drinking only water. For these reasons, Nietzsche adds in the very same section where he deems persons as “fated” beings That no one is made responsible any more, that a kind of Being cannot be traced back to a causa prima, that the world is no unity, either as sensorium or as ‘mind’, this alone is the great liberation – this alone re- establishes the innocence of becoming. 67 Perhaps the great importance of this is that the “fated” passage comes into a different context than it appears in the section above. Nietzsche saw life as something that is always becoming through growth, exercise of volition – through the WTP. Also note that when Nietzsche saw everyone was necessary and fated, he never said what we are necessarily nor what we are fated to be. Since he was responding to the claim that one is responsible for being who they are, what I believe Nietzsche is telling us here is that we are fated to be ourselves, that we are necessarily who we are; who I am is something unique and not driven by haphazard forces such as my surroundings, etc. While tautologous, Nietzsche is perhaps simply saying that “I am who I am.” We are constantly becoming, and yet who we become is being attacked by moralities, and to gain a sense of “great liberation” one must champion the calls Nietzsche makes above. Nietzsche is also attacking with ‘freedom’ the concept of responsibility. In his discussion of the priestly morals, it appears the he is discussing a moralized sense of “freedom” as opposed to a qualification of action. We know that one is punished based on the acts they are said to ‘freely’ do, as mentioned in passages from The Genealogy of Morals. However, what this instantiates is an ideology in which person are only responsible for their actions. This, for Nietzsche, is a narrow use of responsibility; we are responsible for more than we merely intend and voluntarily do. The Bird of Prey is not responsible for just acting as a Bird of Prey, but is responsible for being a Bird of Prey, or having the essence of one.
    And how interesting..what a “re-valuation of all values”..? eyes:

    To shift to persons, I wish to use myself. I consider myself a homosexual male because of my sexual attraction to other men and a lack of attraction to women. Based on the priestly system, I am condemned and coerced to feel guilty for acting as a homosexual since it goes against their ‘sexual purity’ views. The problem is that I should not just feel responsible for acting, but for being. Within myself I find drives that lead me to look at members of the same sex in a different light than the opposite; I find within myself the ‘will to homosexuality.’ To throw out our inner world, to focus responsibility just on actions, negates this important factor of the person, and Nietzsche’s critiques illuminate us to this fact. One is responsible for their will and drives, though instead of being covered in the blanket of ‘guilt’ or ‘bad consciousness,’ Nietzsche’s writings have a joy in them that tells the reader “Don’t moralize, accept!”

    IV. Conclusion

    It is here that I wish to end my essay for I believe my task is done. I hope I have been able to show the following ideas: First, that the WTP is a mythological story of Nietzsche’s created in order to explain the world around him. It is not metaphysical nor empirical, but mythological in its power to give one a set of lenses to look at the world in order to give one a sense of meaning out of the chaos. Second, that based on certain readings of Nietzsche one can construct an argument that Nietzsche is a Reductionist who reduces the person to an automaton driven by the WTP. His swift and brutal attacks on ‘freedom’ and ‘responsibility’ leave one very little room to say otherwise. However, finally, I greatly trust that I have been able to ‘rescue’ Nietzsche from this Reductionist view. I attempted to show that he in fact only attacks the concepts above because of the problems of ‘moralizing’ the one’s drives and actions, and that one should expand these notions in order to gain a better appreciation for what it means to be free and responsible. Before ending, I wish to leave the reader with a passage from Nietzsche, or to allow him to have the last word

    Rather has the world become “infinite” for us all over again, inasmuch as we cannot reject the possibility that it may include infinite interpretation… Alas, too many ungodly possibilities of interpretation are included in the unknown, too much devilry, stupidity, and foolishness of interpretation – even our own human, all too human folly, which we know. 71

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