Friedrich Nietzsche and the Will to Power




Daskalakes, Derek T.

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What follows will be an attempt to explore and move towards an assessment of Nietzsche’s attempt at overcoming the Western metaphysical and nihilistic tradition, with particular emphasis given to the theory of will to power. I will endeavor to examine how Nietzsche understood the theory, and in what way he intended it as an address to metaphysics and the problem of nihilism. My discussion will draw on several critical accounts of Nietzsche’s philosophy in an attempt to critically assess his theory of will to power. My ultimate aim will be to bring together the entirety of my examination in the form of a provisional assessment of will to power as an attempt to address the problem of nihilism by overcoming metaphysics. This introductory discussion is intended to provide the reader with a basic framework from which to approach the remainder of my examination. In Chapter One I will focus on developing Nietzsche’s understanding of pre-Socratic Greek culture and thought, and the influence I understand it to have had on the development of will to power within his thought. Pre-Socratic Greece, for Nietzsche, represented a counter-example to the manner in which meaning is conceived by the Western metaphysical tradition, as well as the comportment of life within the world on the basis of such meaning. I will examine the Greek affirmation of immanence and corporeality on the basis of art as Nietzsche understands it to be expressed in Greek culture, Greek tragedy, the Greek deities Dionysus and Apollo, and relevant portions of the philosophy of Heraclitus. I will similarly develop his understanding of metaphysics and the inception of the Western metaphysical tradition through an examination of relevant portions of the philosophies of Anaximander, Socrates and Plato. This contrast is intended to develop a larger issue regarding Nietzsche’s understanding of how meaning is developed and employed within pre-Socratic Greece and the Western metaphysical tradition as it is expressed in the relation between art and truth. My examination in Chapter One is intended to provide a context from which the reader can understand the development of will to power in Nietzsche’s thought, as well as his application of it as a constructive theory of meaning. In Chapter Two I will attempt to develop the conceptual framework and philosophic import of will to power. I will begin by developing the following constellation of concepts as I perceive them to be constitutive of will to power: force, value and life. Furthermore, I will examine the way in which Nietzsche understood each concept to present a counter, or subversion, to the Western metaphysical tradition. I will then turn to examining the concepts will and power as separate and distinct terms in order to illustrate the manner in which Nietzsche attempts to transform their traditional meanings, as well as the significance intended in their unification as a singular term. I will then examine and elaborate upon will to power as a constructive theory of meaning, and the philosophic significance that obtains in relation to the Western metaphysical tradition. My purposes in Chapter Two will be to develop the specifics concerning will to power in an effort to establish a framework from which to discuss its application to the Western metaphysical tradition, to be held in the following chapter. In Chapter Three I will undertake a close examination of Nietzsche’s intended application of will to power to the Western metaphysical tradition. I will begin by examining Nietzsche’s understanding of both metaphysics and nihilism. This will include an examination of the Western metaphysical forms of meaning and intelligibility, as Nietzsche understands them to be expressed in the traditional categories of truth and morality. Furthermore, I will attempt to establish in what way he understands such metaphysical categories to be problematic, in what sense nihilism is related to metaphysics, and how a resolution to the problem presented by the former requires the overcoming of the tradition grounded on the latter. That is to say I will examine in what way Nietzsche intends to apply will to power to the metaphysical tradition, and thereby address the problem of nihilism in the form of a ‘revaluation of all values.’ I will conclude Chapter Three, as well as my study as a whole, by offering a provisional assessment of will to power within the context of Nietzsche’s project of addressing the problem of nihilism by overcoming the metaphysical tradition.



Nietzsche, Deleuze, Will, Haar, Power, Heidegger, Metaphysics, Platonism