Nietzsche conceived the existence of a race called the Superman, which had evolved spiritually and mentally beyond humanity. In his book, “Thus Spoke Zarathustra,” Zarathustra had lived the last ten years in solitary medication in a mountain cave.
After ten years, he re-enters society to share his teachings with the world, acting as a forerunner of the coming Superman. Zarathustra throws out made-up concepts of good and evil, creating new values, thus leading to the evolution of humanity toward the Superman.
Meanwhile, according to Zarathustra, humanity needed the assertion of the will to power to successfully evolve toward Superman. That is to say one should not passively take in others’ teaching; even Zarathustra urged his followers not to follow him slavishly.
For Zarathustra, those who can exercise their will to power must determine their value systems to progress toward Superman. Let’s analyze Nietzsche more closely to understand exactly what the concept of the Superman and Will to Power is exactly.
Nietzsche: The Background Story
Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche was born in Rocken, which was part of Prussia at the time, in October 1844. He was born to Karl Ludwig Nietzsche, who was a Lutheran minister along with his father (Nietzsche’s grandfather).
While Nietzsche was studying classical philology at the University of Leipzig in 1865, he stumbled upon Schopenhauer’s work. He first accepted his findings but later attempted to refute them unsuccessfully, perhaps because he had to retire 24 years later.
Nietzsche contracted an illness in the Franco-Prussian War and was forced to retire from teaching in 1879. He lived for another ten years until he went insane in 1889 trying to overcome Schopenhauer’s nihilism. Nietzsche died on August 25, 1890, just when the ward he predicted and hoped would bring about aristocratic victory.
At the time, democratic-socialistic forces had been unleashed by the French and American Revolutions, which Nietzsche wished an end for. His aim was that a new revolutionary order be constructed, for a global aristocracy grounded in radical atheism to be erected.
Nietzsche published many scholarly articles, the most comprehensive being the Kritische Gesamtausgabe, which was edited by Mazzino Montinari and Giorgio Colli. However, Nietzsche called “Thus Spoke Zarathustra” his most profound work in an attempt to relate his life to his work.
He wrote Beyond Good and Evil, the last part of the Joyful Science, and the Genealogy of Morals to explain the Zarathustra. In today’s essay, abbreviations such as Z, BGE, GM, JS, UA, and WP, among others are used to describe his individual works.
Who Is the Superman According to Nietzsche
The superman is that evolved man who comes to overcome the limitations that the traditional system of values had imposed on him. He must act while trying to wait for those values, which are no longer outside himself.
These values were inside him, and they included health, love, strong will, a new pride, and Dionysian intoxication. Thus, Superman must be characterized by amor fati, meaning the acceptance of life and destiny.
Nietzsche accepted both the negative and positive sides of Superman, not desiring them to be different from their presentation of themselves. Meanwhile, many philosophers interpreted Nietzsche’s thought, identifying a supporter of the Nazi ideology identified in the philosopher.
Their interpretations saw the embodiment of the Nazi idea in the Superman, as well as the idea of Aryan superiority. However, they were erroneous because Nietzsche’s ideas’ proximity to those of the Nazis was because of Elisabeth, philosopher sister’s intervention.
Who Is the Nietzschean Superman Figure?
According to some philosophers, Superman has its roots in Darwinism, being conceived as the highest fruit of evolution. Superman is formed through the struggle for existence, which eventually leads to the strongest warrior’s victory over the inept.
He is one who can accept life, and overcome the lacerations and contradictions he is forced into by a tradition of Christian and idealistic thought. Superman is also one who can accept life, and overcome social and moral repressions.
More so, Superman is one who can carry out values that reject any justification of life that is outside life. He is able to withstand the death of God and face reality beyond metaphysical illusions.
In other words, he can live and overcome the eternal return with the freedom of creativity and freedom that was denied him. Nietzsche brought the vision of Superman out of these definitions in a future perspective.
Nietzsche also presents the theory, or better put, the myth of Superman in his most important writing, Thus Spoke Zarathustra. In Thus Spoke Zarathustra, Nietzsche narrated his hope for a transformation of man into Superman. Zarathustra was an ancient Persian philosopher and founder of the ancient pre-Christian religion; he became the prophet (forerunner) of Superman.
The Superman’s New Message
Zarathustra, acting as the forerunner of Superman, brings a new message from the latter. In his messages, he expresses and defines a phenomenon beyond man but also appropriate for man. It is beyond man in that it is distanced with contempt from Superman; according to superman’s perspective, man is below his measure. He compares man with the ape, which does not necessarily mean Nietzsche adheres to evolutionism or believes man will evolve into Superman.
Contrarily, Nietzsche believes the decay of man has been a long time coming, and the confrontation was simply motivation. Zarathustra spoke with such a sense of shame, indicating that the common man belongs to Superman in a way.
Thus, the relationship between Superman and man is negative; also, man is part of Superman such that he is ashamed. Superman, says Zarathustra, must be brought to light as he is the thunderbolt of the dark cloud referred to as man.
Meanwhile, Superman is in no way the wisest of men, who are comparable to a hybrid between a ghost and a plant. Thus, Zarathustra proposes the birth of “homo novus” where the conquest of man and his affirmation to commitment converge.
In his philosophy, Nietzsche suspected that the land itself was an area of refuge and remains to be overcome. Thus, he saw the need to clarify that Superman opens up a horizon that can immediately unmask everything meant to limit him. According to Nietzsche, happiness is only possible if nothing makes it unhappy and if it can positively describe everything to justify it.
Thus, Superman is the sea that can remove the alienation that makes man unclean, thus purifying the unclean river. Also, he is the lightning bolt that resolves the tensions caused by evasive behavior in one swoop.