Power, superiority, force, strength, capacity, potentiality is all the criteria important to define the existence of a human being or any other being on Earth. Remember Darwinian’s survival of the fittest as the process of natural selection. Even nature wants every being to be fit, strong, powerful, worthy to thrive in the worst of conditions. In real sense, Humans are meant to explore and conquer nature in every possible way.
Friedrich Nietzche, German philosopher mentions will to power as the natural impulse of humans. It is an irrational force that can be cultivated to create something beneficial. Despite power being the driving force to human’s progress, Nietzche’s statement of will to power is highly criticized and misunderstood one. Why some people went against this theory and started a debate on these views? What was the reason for so many controversies surrounding this? In this write-up, I am going to bring forward the Nietzsche’s theory of will to power. Why did he stress his theory? And why should we be careful about the natural impulse of humans?
Nietzsche’s experiences the problem of man in a personal form. In the beginning of Beyond Good and Evil, he has written that all philosophical ideas are actually “a confession on the part of his author and a kind of involuntary and unconscious memoir.” For those reasons, it is important to look at the Nietzche’s theory from different perspectives. Nietzsche’s said that “the strongest and highest will to life does not lie in the puny struggle to exist, but in the will to war, the will to power.” The positioning of will to power to the prior goal of humans is some what threatening to the real meaning of existence. The true meaning of existence is that it precedes essence as declared by Sartre. With this understanding, it’s important to live our life following existential traits like love, happiness, equality, equanimity, and so on. The power, ego, hatred, competition, is the qualities needed only in the case of quick growth.
When a person is in the meditative state of calmness, and acceptance, he doesn’t need the essence of power and ego. That’s the reason intellectuals and literates push us towards living such a life of peace and calmness. In all this, we need to ask with ourselves, ‘Does the state of meditations is incompetent for growth?’ No, it couldn’t be possible. Leaders do promote peace because it gives everyone the fair chance to grow. Power definitely leads to huge growth. But, power doesn’t think of exchanging goodness in terms of growth. Power leads to acquisitions of more power. A power seeking person will always be the same. He will always be bothered for collecting more power in life. With power, there comes the impulse to more power. It’s like an addiction from where a person couldn’t get out. Power as the pursuit of more power leads to a greater void and biggest question to one’s existence. Moreover, ‘Power for power’s sake, no matter how far the power is extended, leaves always the dread of the void beyond.’ The attempt to stand face to face with that void is the problem of nihilism (the belief that nothing in the world has real existence). With this, it is clear that Nietzche has given the benefits of will to power, but he has also warned us of its consequences.
Nietzche has never directly started about the theory of will to power. He has mentioned this theory indirectly in his work ‘Humans, all too humans’ and ‘Daybreaks’. Here he has talked about the concept of mastery over other, and self-transformation. In The Gay Science, he referred to some extent about the theory of ‘will to power’. But, in Thus spoke Zarathustra, he reflected his views on ‘will to power’. This tells us that will to power is no joke, but a seriously contemplated thought. In this regard, it’s important to look at the misunderstanding which is causing so many controversies.
Nietzche’s is the philosopher who has given most of the controversial theory. His statement ‘God is dead’ has brought fear, terror, irregularities, hopelessness among the people who were already suffering in the war with tyrants. This second attack of declaring God as dead was more harmful than the first one. The loss of lives is less important than the loss of life-givers. With people turning towards hopelessness, and hatred to one’s own life, Nietzche thought of giving a proper direction to people suffering in the loss. His statement of ‘God is dead’ was a wake-up call to the victims of war. It was to make them understand reality and fight back with their bad circumstances. It was misunderstood when it first appeared in public. But, now this thought reflects death of religious institutions, and the attention on the inner capacity of individuals meant to be explored, realised, and lived.
In the second case of will to power, Nietzche’s realize that the power could only be controlled by power itself. To reflect about on-going wars, and dilemmas, he wrote his ideas on humans tendency to be attracted to powers. The concept in ‘will to power’ is not meant to become a power loving creature, and ruthless to humans basic problems. It is to become aware of the general psychological facts of humans to love powers. In an actual sense, Will to power is the will to truth.
The one who has to be the conditions for someone’s power is the most affected one. To lessen the sufferings of such poor sufferers, Nietzsche has led the theory to build an effectiveness of our natural inclinations towards power. When everyone struggles to be powerful, then the sufferings of the poor could be reduced. Will to power reflects will to survive, as per Nietzche. It is because everything we do is to prove our existence in the world.
But, there is a problem with these thoughts. If everyone will fight for more power, then the basic theory of interdependence will be in crisis. Man would not agree to lead a life of interdependence, rather he would acquire the things of needs by force or tricks. This could affect our entire system. The orders will be in chaos and suffering would increase. People would turn so greedy that the humans feelings of love, affection, motivation, will be erased forever.
Although there is a limit to everything, power is something that is limitless. To have a particular sort of power will arouse the needs to have more power. And so the process will go on. In order to stop the unpredictable trouble of the future, we should stop right now from choosing the power as our prior motivation. Our prior effort should be to select power very carefully, so that it doesn’t bring harm or produce restrictions in the growth of others. The power of governing parties, societies, religious authorities should be such to provide the space for the needs and fulfillment of other people requirements. It should not be to use other people’s as a blocks to stepping high towards personal success.
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Barrett, William, Irrational Man A study in Existential philosophy(Anchor books,1990)
Nietzche, Friedrich, Beyond Good and Evil, trans. Hemen Zimmern(Fingerprint! classics, 2020)