5. Discuss Nietzsche’s theory of “will to power” and “the innocence of becoming”. Does the hypothesis of the will to power successfully “debunk” traditional religion, morality, and philosophical claims to provide the “disinterested” or “objective” truth?
Nietzsche introduced an idea of philosophy that was more than simply a rational groundwork of existence or as the pursuit of an absolute truth. Instead, he suggested that philosophy is something to be respected as a personal interpretation of life and all its faculties (morality, existentialism etc.) and that was – for him - focused on life affirmation. Furthermore, this thinking implies that philosophy is not a be all and end all answer to life’s questions; rather, it is merely a process of understanding and faith. Two central doctrines of Nietzsche’s philosophy, the ‘will to power’ and the ‘innocence of becoming’, work in tandem to isolate this affirmation of life from any ‘otherworldly’ thinking i.e. religion. The ‘will to power’ which refer’s to a pursuit of autonomy, supposedly fuels all our decisions. Furthermore, this does call into question the existence of an “objective” truth put forth by traditional authorities; As surely, if man is motivated by an internal and primal drive, how can there be an outside force i.e. god governing our actions? The role of the ‘innocence of becoming’, arguably an extension of the ‘will to power’, refers to the solace that we take in blaming a common enemy for our weaknesses. The responsibility for our place in life is ergo no longer our own burden to bear. This essay is focused on the tension between traditional claims to the truth and Nietzsche’s theories that seemingly “debunk” them.
Although Nietzsche essentially preaches that to each their own, this does not mean that his philosophy cannot be applied to a greater domain than his own lifestyle; and in fact, the ‘will to power’, refers to the primal drive motivating all things in the universe. This will to power, also labeled as the ‘instinct for freedom’ is a drive that is common to all living things. It urges for freedom from and authority over all other wills. Nietzsche even goes as far as to say that “[t]his world is the will to power--and nothing besides! And you yourselves are also this will to power--and nothing besides!” (Nietzsche, 1968, pp. 550). With regards to morality, the ‘will to power’ is a key aspect in the power struggle between good and evil. It can find a primal and unrefined expression in external actions i.e. violent behavior or it can be honed and directed inwards which aids in making oneself stronger and also in gaining an independent mind. If we are to take Nietzsche’s theory as accurate, then this undoubtedly suggests that an isolated and “disinterested” truth is redundant regardless of its potential existence. While mankind might hold out for the possibility of an ultimate answer and an “objective” truth, our own motivations for doing so refute its relevance to our way of life. If there truly is a “disinterested” truth, then surely, our lifestyle should be tapped into it? However, if Nietzsche is correct in his theory concerning the ‘will to power’ then all we are truly connected to is our own primal instincts (which are free from outside manipulation). Society in its purest form is built on a populaces trust in one another. However, this basic premise that is supposedly at the root of a universal morality is called into question by Nietzsche’s assertions. If we are all driven by our own ‘will to power’ then it has to be assumed that morality itself is merely a tool used to pacify the strongest of the herd, which Nietzsche talks of himself in Beyond Good and Evil. Traditional authorities such as government and religious institutions may assert that morality is the backbone of a good world and that at its most basic, one must “love thy neighbor”. However, if Nietzsche is correct, then morality itself can be swept aside as a façade that exists only...
References: Miller Robert, PHIL1087 Mind-opener #4. Introducing Nietzsche, Part 1, RMIT University, 2012, pp. 3.
Nietzsche Friedrich, The Will to Power, Vintage, New York, 1968, pp. 382, 550.
Rowling J.K., Harry Potter and the Philosophers Stone, Bloomsbury, London, 30 June 1997, pp. 211.
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