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XI "The Will to Power"
Volume I

All the evidences of what was to be Nietzsche's final and complete philosophical work in four volumes, are contained in two volumes of desultory and often highly condensed notes which were recently issued under the single caption of "The Will to Power" ("Die Wille zur Macht"). On this culminating work Nietzsche had laboured from 1883 until his final breakdown. He made two plans for "The Will to Power"—one in 1886 and the other in 1887. As the 1887 plan was the one ultimately adhered to, there seems no reason to hesitate about accepting it as the right one. The titles of the four books which comprised this final work as it stands to-day are "European Nihilism," "A Criticism of the Highest Values that Have Prevailed Hitherto," "The Principles of a New Valuation" and "Discipline and Breeding." These headings are according to the last plan made at Nice in 1887, and although, as I stated in the preceding chapter, there was some hesitation between the general title of "The Will to Power" and "The Transvaluation of All Values," "The Antichrist," which fell under the latter heading, must not be considered as forming a part of "The Will to Power." However, "The Antichrist" and also "Beyond Good and Evil," "The Genealogy of Morals" and "The Twilight[Pg 276] of the Idols," are closely related in thought to "The Will to Power." This fact is borne out not only by internal evidence, by the manner in which the books overlap, and by the constant redistribution of titles which sometimes prove the unity of the last phase of his thought, but also by the testimony of those who had Nietzsche's confidence and could watch him at close quarters.

Nietzsche intended to embody in the four books of "The Will to Power" the entire sweep of his philosophical teachings. This work was to be a summary, not only in statement but also in analysis, of his ethical system. His preceding books had been replete in repetitions, and lacked both organisation and sequence. His health was such that he could work only sporadically and in short shifts, with the result that he was constantly trying to crowd an enormous amount of material into a short space. He was able to deal with but one point at a time, and, as his working period was frequently too short to develop that point as fully as he desired, we find him constantly going back over old ground, altering his syllogisms, making addenda, interpolating analogies, and in numerous other ways changing and clarifying what he had previously written. "The Will to Power" was to be, then, a colossal organisation of all his writings, with every step intact, and every conclusion in its place. And throughout the four volumes emphasis was to be put on his motivating doctrine, the will to power, an oppositional theory to Darwin's theory of struggle for mere existence. But although we have two large volumes of notes, these jottings lack in a large degree the co-ordination which would have characterised them had Nietzsche been able to carry out his plan.

The notes of these two books are the work of many[Pg 277] years, and the putting together of them for publication has been done without any attempt to alter their original text. They are just as Nietzsche left them—in some cases completed and closely argued paragraphs, in others mere notations and memoranda, elliptic and unelaborated. It is possible, however, to gain a very adequate idea of what was to be the contents of this final work, due to the copiousness of the material at hand. From the time of finishing "Thus Spake Zarathustra" to 1889, Nietzsche was constantly making notes for his great work, and there is no phase of his thought which is not touched upon in these two remaining volumes. By following their pages closely, in the light of his foregoing works, one gets a very definite impression of the synthesis of his thoughts. Especially true is this of the second volume of "The Will to Power," for it is here that his cardinal doctrine is most strongly and consistently emphasised and its relationship to all human relationships most concisely drawn. Because of this fact I have chosen to consider the two volumes separately. The first volume is full of material more or less familiar to those who have followed Nietzsche in his earlier works. The notes are, in the majority of cases, elaborations and explanations of doctrines contained in those books which followed "Thus Spake Zarathustra." As such they are important.

The first volume is divided into two sections—"European Nihilism" and "A Criticism of the Highest Values that Have Prevailed Hitherto." Two subdivisions are found under section one—"Nihilism" and "Concerning the History of European Nihilism." In this first subdivision Nietzsche defines Nihilism and attempts to trace its origin. He states that it is an outcome of the valuations[Pg 278] and interpretations of existence which have formerly prevailed, namely: the result of the doctrines of Christianity. For our adherence to Christian morality, Nietzsche says, we must pay dearly: by this adherence we are losing our equilibrium and are on the verge of adopting opposite valuations—those consisting of Nihilistic elements. He defines the Nihilistic movement as an expression of decadence, and declares that this decadence is spreading throughout all our modern institutions. Under his second subdivision, he explains that modern gloominess is a result of the "slow advance and rise of the middle and lower classes," and asserts that this gloominess is accompanied by moral hypocrisy and the decadent virtues of sympathy and pity. In this connection he denies that the nineteenth century shows an improvement over the sixteenth. No better analysis of the effects of Christian morality on modern man is to be found in any of Nietzsche's writings than in this treatise of Nihilism; and a close study of this analysis will greatly help one in grasping the full significance of the doctrine of the will to power. Although the notes in this book are the least satisfactory of all the portions of "The Will to Power," being both tentative and incomplete, I have been able to select enough definite statements from them to give an adequate idea of both Nietzsche's theories and conclusions in regard to Nihilism.

In the second section of Volume I, "A Criticism of the Highest Values That Have Prevailed Hitherto," the notes are fuller and more closely organised. This is due to the fact that the ground covered by them is in the main the same ground covered by "The Antichrist," "The Genealogy of Morals" and "Beyond Good and Evil." In fact, there is in these notes much repetition[Pg 279] of passages to be found in the three previous volumes. The first subdivision of this second section is called "Criticism of Religion," and there is little material in it which does not appear in "The Antichrist." Even in the manner of expression there exists so strong a similarity that I am inclined to think Nietzsche used these notes in composing his famous philippic against Christianity. Consequently I have made but few quotations from this division, choosing in each instance only such passages as do not possess a direct parallel in his earlier work. We find here the same inquiry into the origin of religions, the same analysis of Christian ideals, the same history of Christian doctrines, and the same argument against the dissemination of Christian faiths as are contained in "The Antichrist." However, these present notes are sufficiently different from this previous book to interest the thorough student, and there are occasional speculations advanced which are not to be encountered elsewhere in Nietzsche's writings. For the casual reader, however, there is little of new interest in this subdivision.

The same criticism holds true to a large extent when we come to the second subdivision of the second section "A Criticism of Morality." In "The Genealogy of Morals" we have a discussion of practically all the subjects considered in the present notes, such as the origin of moral valuations, the basis of conscience, the influence of the herd, the dominance of virtue, the slander of the so-called evil man, and the significance of such words as "improving" and "elevating." However, there is sufficient new material in these notes to warrant a reading, for although, despite a few exceptions, there are no new issues posed, certain points which were put forth[Pg 280] only in a speculative and abridged manner in earlier books, are here enlarged upon. This is especially true in regard to the doctrine of rank. Nietzsche has been accused of advocating only an individualistic morality. But the truth is that he advanced two codes. He preached a morality for the herd, a definite system which suited the needs of the serving classes. For the superior individuals, on the other hand, he taught another code, one which fitted and met the needs of the rulers. The herd morality has always sought to create and maintain a single type of mediocre man. Nietzsche preached the necessity of the superior, as well as the inferior, type of man; and in his present notes he goes into this doctrine more fully than heretofore. Furthermore, he makes clear his stand in regard to the weak. On page 291 he states, "I have declared war against the an?mic Christian ideal (together with what is closely related to it), not because I want to annihilate it, but only to put an end to its tyranny and clear the way for other ideals, for more robust ideals." It has been stated, even in quarters where we have a right to look for more intelligent criticism, that Nietzsche favoured the complete elimination of the weak and incompetent. No such advocacy is to be found in his teachings. To the contrary, as will be seen from the above quotation, he preached only against the dominance of the weak. He resented their supremacy over the intelligent man. Their existence, he maintained, was a most necessary thing. This belief is insisted upon in many places, and one should bear the point in mind when reading the criticisms of socialism to be found throughout the present volume.

Another new point to be found in these notes relates to the immoral methods used by the disseminators of[Pg 281] morals. From the passages in which these new points are raised I have taken the quotations which follow at the end of this chapter.

In the third and last subdivision of this second section, "Criticism of Philosophy," we have an extension of Chapter I in "Beyond Good and Evil," "Prejudices of Philosophers," and of the two chapters in "The Twilight of the Idols"—"The Problem of Socrates" and "Reason' in Philosophy." The notes (excepting a few pages of general remarks) occupy themselves with a criticism of Greek philosophy and with an analysis of philosophical truths and errors. These notes touch only indirectly on Nietzsche's doctrines, and may be looked upon as explanations of his intellectual methods.

Despite their fragmentariness, the notes in this volume, as I have said, permit one to gain an adequate idea of Nietzsche's purpose. In making my excerpts from this book, I have chosen those passages which will throw new light upon his philosophy rather than those statements of conclusions which have been previously encountered.


What does Nihilism mean?—That the highest values are losing their value. 8

Thorough Nihilism is the conviction that life is absurd, in the light of the highest values already discovered; it also includes the view that we have not the smallest right to assume the existence of transcendental objects or things in themselves, which would be either divine or morality incarnate.

This view is the result of fully developed "truthfulness": therefore a consequence of the belief in morality. 8

[Pg 282]

Moral valuations are condemnations, negations; morality is the abdication of the will to live. 12

All values with which we have tried, hitherto, to lend the world some worth, from our point of view, and with which we have therefore deprived it of all worth (once these values have been shown to be inapplicable)—all these values, are, psychologically, the results of certain views of utility, established for the purpose of maintaining and increasing the dominion of certain communities: but falsely projected into the nature of things. It is always man's exaggerated ingenuousness to regard himself as the sense and measure of all things. 15

Every purely moral valuation (as, for instance, the Buddhistic) terminates in Nihilism: Europe must expect the same thing! It is supposed that one can get along with a morality bereft of a religious background; but in this direction the road to Nihilism is opened. 19

Nihilism is not only a meditating over the "in vain"—not only the belief that everything deserves to perish; but one actually puts one's shoulder to the plough; one destroys. 22

The time is coming when we shall have to pay for having been Christians for two thousand years: we are losing the equilibrium which enables us to live—for a long while we shall not know in what direction we are travelling. We are hurling ourselves headlong into the opposite valuations, with that degree of energy which could only have been engendered in man by an overvaluation of himself.

Now, everything is false from the root, words and nothing but words, confused, feeble, or overstrained. 25

Modern Pessimism is an expression of the uselessness[Pg 283] only of the modern world, not of the world and existence as such. 29

The "preponderance of pain over pleasure" or the reverse (Hedonism); both of these doctrines are already signposts to Nihilism....

For here, in both cases, no other final purpose is sought than the phenomenon pleasure or pain. 29

"Life is not worth living"; "Resignation"; "what is the good of tears?"—this is a feeble and sentimental attitude of mind. 29-30

People have not yet seen what is so terribly obvious—namely, that Pessimism is not a problem but a symptom,—that the term ought to be replaced by "Nihilism,"—that the question, "to be or not to be," is itself an illness, a sign of degeneracy, an idiosyncrasy.

The Nihilistic movement is only an expression of physiological decadence. 32

Decay, decline, and waste, are, per se, in no way open to objection; they are the natural consequences of life and vital growth. The phenomenon of decadence is just as necessary to life as advance or progress is: we are not in a position which enables us to suppress it. On the contrary, reason would have it retain its rights.

It is disgraceful on the part of socialist-theorists to argue that circumstances and social combinations could be devised which would put an end to all vice, illness, crime, prostitution, and poverty.... But that is tantamount to condemning Life. 33

Decadence itself is not a thing that can be withstood: it is absolutely necessary and is proper to all ages and all peoples. That which must be withstood, and by all means in our power, is the spreading of the contagion among the sound parts of the organism. 33-34

[Pg 284]

All those things which heretofore have been regarded as the causes of degeneration, are really its effects. 34

If Nature have no pity on the degenerate, it is not therefore immoral: the growth of physiological and moral evils in the human race, is rather the result of morbid and unnatural morality. 44

The whole of our sociology knows no other instinct than that of the herd, i.e., of a multitude of mere ciphers—of which every cipher has "equal rights," and where it is a virtue to be—naught. 45

Nihilism is a sign that the botched and bungled have no longer any consolation, that they destroy in order to be destroyed, that, having been deprived of morality, they no longer have any reason to "resign themselves," that they take up their stand on the territory of the opposite principle, and will also exercise power themselves, by compelling the powerful to become their hangmen. 52

Our age, with its indiscriminate endeavours to mitigate distress, to honour it, and to wage war in advance with unpleasant possibilities, is an age of the poor. 57

Overwork, curiosity and sympathy—our modern vices. 64

Christianity, revolution, the abolition of slavery, equal rights, philanthropy, love of peace, justice, truth: all these big words are only valuable in a struggle, as banners: not as realities, but as showwords, for something quite different (yea, even quite opposed to what they mean!). 68

The nineteenth century shows no advance whatever on the sixteenth: and the German spirit of 1888 is an example of a backward movement when compared with that of 1788.... Mankind does not advance, it does not even exist. The aspect of the whole is much more[Pg 285] like that of a huge experimenting workshop where some things in all ages succeed, while an incalculable number of things fail; where all order, logic, co-ordination, and responsibility is lacking. How dare we blink the fact that the rise of Christianity is a decadent movement?—that the German Reformation was a recrudescence of Christian barbarism?—that the Revolution destroyed the instinct for an organisation of society on a large scale?... Man is not an example of progress as compared with animals: the tender son of culture is an abortion compared with the Arab or the Corsican; the Chinaman is a more successful type—that is to say, richer in sustaining power than the European. 72-73

I know best why man is the only animal that laughs: he alone suffers so excruciatingly that he was compelled to invent laughter. The unhappiest and most melancholy animal is, as might have been expected, the most cheerful. 74

Socialism—or the tyranny of the meanest and the most brainless,—that is to say, the superficial, the envious, and the mummers, brought to its zenith,—is, as a matter of fact, the logical conclusion of "modern ideas" and their latent anarchy: but in the genial atmosphere of democratic well-being the capacity for forming resolutions or even for coming to an end at all, is paralysed. Men will follow—but no longer their reason. That is why socialism is on the whole a hopelessly bitter affair: and there is nothing more amusing than to observe the discord between the poisonous and desperate faces of present-day socialists—and what wretched and nonsensical feelings does not their style reveal to us!—and the childish lamblike happiness of their hopes and desires. 102

This is the teaching which life itself preaches to all[Pg 286] living things: the morality of Development. To have and to wish to have more, in a word, Growth—that is life itself. In the teaching of socialism "a will to the denial of life" is but poorly concealed: botched men and races they must be who have devised a teaching of this sort. 102

Spiritual enlightenment is an unfailing means of making men uncertain, weak of will, and needful of succour and support; in short, of developing the herding instincts in them. 105

When the feeling of power suddenly seizes and overwhelms a man,—and this takes place in the case of all the great passions,—a doubt arises in him concerning his own person: he dare not think himself the cause of this astonishing sensation—and thus he posits a stronger person, a Godhead as its cause, 114-115

Religion has lowered the concept "man"; its ultimate conclusion is that all goodness, greatness, and truth are superhuman, and are only obtainable by the grace of God. 116

In short: what is the price paid for the improvement supposed to be due to morality?—The unhinging of reason, the reduction of all motives to fear and hope (punishment and reward); dependence upon the tutelage of priests, and upon a formulary exactitude which is supposed to express a divine will; the implantation of a "conscience" which establishes a false science in the place of experience and experiment: as though all one had to do or had not to do were predetermined—a kind of contraction of the seeking and striving spirit;—in short: the worst mutilation of man that can be imagined, and it is pretended that "the good man" is the result. 122-123

Paganism is that which says yea to all that is natural,[Pg 287] it is innocence in being natural, "naturalness." Christianity is that which says no to all that is natural, it is a certain lack of dignity in being natural; hostility to Nature. 127

Christianity is a degenerative movement, consisting of all kinds of decaying and excremental elements: it is not the expression of the downfall of a race, it is, from the root, an agglomeration of all the morbid elements which are mutually attractive and which gravitate to one another.

It is therefore not a national religion, not determined by race: it appeals to the disinherited everywhere; it consists of a foundation of resentment against all that is successful and dominant: it is in need of a symbol which represents the damnation of everything successful and dominant. It is opposed to every form of intellectual movement, to all philosophy: it takes up the cudgels for idiots, and utters a curse upon all intellect. Resentment against those who are gifted, learned, intellectually independent: in all these it suspects the element of success and domination. 130

All Christian "truth," is idle falsehood and deception, and is precisely the reverse of that which was at the bottom of the first Christian movement. 133

To be really Christian would mean to be absolutely indifferent to dogmas, cults, priests, church, and the............
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