The Will to Power

The Will to Power (cover new)
Nietzsche's posthumously-published collected notes (1883-1888) of his draft-stage book The Will to Power: An Attempt at a Revaluation of All Values, which outlines his will to power theory, which, it is said, would have been his magnum opus, of his 5,000-page collected work set, which never reached complete fruition, following his 1889 breakdown. [21
In famous publications, The Will to Power: An Attempt at a Revaluation of All Values, is collection of 1,067 note fragments, according to the 1906 edition, written as draft mental notes by Friedrich Nietzsche, during the years 1883 to 1888, posthumously published in 1888, claimed by some to be his unfinished magnum opus prior to his unrecoverable 1889 mental breakdown. Some of the fragments, commonly labeled as WP:#, are shown below. [1]

In summer 1886, Nietzsche penned (Ѻ) the following tentative outline for his new draft stage book: [1]

The Will to Power: Attempt at a Revaluation of All Values

First Book: The danger of dangers (presentation of nihilism as the necessary consequence of our valuations so far). Tremendous forces have been unleashed; but they conflict with each other; they annihilate each other. In a democratic commonwealth, where everybody is a specialist, the ‘what for?’ and ‘for-whom?’ are lacking. The class [Stand] in which the thousand-fold atrophy of all individuals (into mere functions) acquires meaning.

Second Book: Critique of values (of logic, etc.) Everywhere the disharmony between the ideal and its individual conditions (e.g. honesty among Christians who are continually forced to lie).

Third Book: The problem of the legislator (including the history of solitude). The forces that have been unleashed must be harnessed again lest they annihilate each other; eyes have to be opened for the actual increase of strength.

Fourth Book: The hammer. What would me have to be like whose valuations are the opposite? Men who have all the traits of the modern soul but are strong enough to transform them into much health—their means for their task.


Fragments | Ordering scheme | Chronology
In 1883, Nietzsche began penning hand-written mental notes, idea fragments or "aphorisms" as some refer to them, to some type of final product of his intellectual quest, or something along these lines. The following fragment, dated in 1885 to 1886, seems to be his first idea notes on his will to power theory of morality:

“What are our evaluations and moral tables really worth? What is the outcome of their rule? For whom? In relation to what? Answer: for life. But ‘what is life’? Here we need a new, more definite formulation of the concept of ‘life’. My formula for it is: life is the will to power.”
— Friedrich Nietzsche (c.1885), WP:254

In 1886, Nietzsche, supposedly, had announced, at the end of On the Genealogy of Morals, a new work with the title: The Will to Power: An Attempt at a Revaluation of All Values (Ѻ); the project under this title, however, was set aside and some of its draft materials used to compose The Twilight of the Idols and The Antichrist (both written in 1888). At some point, in this period, in his zeal-fueled visions, Nietzsche, as summarized by Henry Mencken (1920), was planning to publish Will to Power, in ten volumes, with the subtitle “An Attempt at a New Interpretation of the World”. He also had the following subtitles in mind: “An Interpretation of All That Happens” and “An Attempt at a Transvaluation of All Values”. Eventually, according to Mencken, he fell back to four volumes, in final vision. [7]

In Aug 1888, Nietzsche, supposedly, had abandoned all intention of publishing a work entitled The Will to Power; what remained are his some thousand-plus collection of hand-written fragment notes. [4]

In 1901, a first edition print of these noted entitled The Will to Power, containing 483 fragment notes, edited by Ernst Horneffer and August Horneffer, was published. In 1906, a second expanded edition, with 1,067 fragment notes, edited by Peter Gast and Elisabeth Forster-Nietzsche, was published. This was reissued, with minor alterations, by Kroner in 1911, thereafter becoming the “definitive” edition. [4] In 1968, editor-translators Walter Kaufmann and Reginald Hollingdale, using the 1,067-fragments, published what seems to be the definitive English edition, with editor's introduction, a section on the "editions" of Will to Power, and a chronology of Nietzsche's works. The total 1,067-fragments (1906 selection), which, supposedly, comprise the draft noted for Nietzsche’s envisioned Will to Power, are ordered, according to Nietzsche scholar Mazzino Montinari (2003), as follows: “The fragments are consequently ordered not chronologically (which, with a time span of six years, is serious) but instead according to systematic, categorizing of keywords.” [3] These 1,067 fragments are designated via the notation WP:# herein.

Quotes | Fragments
The following are miscellaneous fragments, yet lacking designated section discussion:

“Weakness of the will: that is a metaphor that can prove misleading. For there is no will, and consequently neither a strong nor a weak will. The multitude and disgregation of impulses and the lack of any systematic order among them result in a "weak will"; their coordination under a single predominant impulse results in a "strong will": in the first case it is the oscillation and the lack of gravity; in the latter, the precision and clarity of the direction.”
Friedrich Nietzsche (1888), WP:45, Mar-Jun

“My chief proposition: thee are no ‘moral’ phenomena, there are only a moral interpretation of these phenomena. This interpretation itself is of extra-moral origin.”
— Friedrich Nietzsche (c.1885), WP:258

“There are those who go looking for immorality. When they judge: ‘this is wrong’, they believe one should abolish and change it. I, on the contrary, cannot rest as long as I am not yet clear about the immorality of a thing. When I unearth it I recover my equanimity.”
— Friedrich Nietzsche (1887), WP:309

“A man as he ought to be: that sounds to us as insipid as a ‘tree as it ought to be’.”
— Friedrich Nietzsche (1887), WP:332

Man, imprisoned in an iron cage of errors, became a caricature of man, sick, wretched, ill-disposed toward himself, full of hatred for the impulses of life, full of mistrust of all that is beautiful and happy in life, a walking picture of misery.”
— Friedrich Nietzsche (1888), WP:397, Jan-Fall

“I believe in absolute space as the substratum of force: the latter limits and forms. Time eternal. But space and time do not exist in themselves. "Changes" are only appearances (or sense processes for us); if we posit the recurrence of these, however regular, nothing is established thereby except this simple fact, that it has always happened thus. The feeling that post hoc is propter hoc can easily be shown to be a misunderstanding; it is comprehensible. But appearances cannot be "causes" !”
— Friedrich Nietzsche (1885), WP:545 (see: "atheist's creed")

“My idea is that every specific body strives to become master over all space and to extend its force (– its will to power:) and to thrust back all that resists its extension. But it continually encounters similar efforts on the part of other bodies and ends by coming to an arrangement ("union") with those of them that are sufficiently related to it: thus they then conspire together for power. And the process goes on.”
— Friedrich Nietzsche (c.1888), WP:636 (Ѻ)(Ѻ)(Ѻ), Mar-Jun

“When we do something there arises a ‘feeling of force’ [kraft-gefühl] often even before the deed, occasioned by the idea of what is to be done, e.g. as in the sight of an enemy or an obstacle to which we feel ourselves equal, which is always an accompanying feeling. We instinctively think that the feeling is the cause of the action, that is ‘the force’. Our belief in causality is belief in force and its effect; a transference from our experience; and we identify force and the feeling of force.”
— Friedrich Nietzsche (c.1886), WP:644

“Ah, the philosophy of right! A science that, like all moral science, has not even reached the cradle yet!”
— Friedrich Nietzsche (c.1885), WP:744


WP:95 | Three centuries
In Spring-Fall 1887 (WP:95), Nietzsche gives the following historical:

“The Three Centuries. Their different sensibilities are best expressed thus: Aristocratism: Descartes, rule of reason, testimony of the sovereignty of the will; Feminism: Rousseau, rule of feeling, testimony of the sovereignty of the senses, mendacious; Animalism: Schopenhauer, rule of craving, testimony of the sovereignty of animality, more honest but gloomy.

The seventeenth century is aristocratic, imposes order, looks down haughtily upon the animalic, is severe against the heart, not cozy, without sentiment, "un-German, " averse to what is burlesque and what is natural, inclined to generalizations and overeign confronted with the past--for it believes in itself. Much beast of prey au fond, much ascetic habit to remain master. The century of strong will; also of strong passion.

The eighteenth century is dominated by woman, given to enthusiasm, full of esprit, shallow, but with a spirit in the service of what is desirable, of the heart, libertine in the enjoyment of what is most spiritual, and undermines all authorities; intoxicated, cheerful, clear, humane, false before itself, much canaille au fond, sociable. -

The nineteenth century is more animalic and subterranean, uglier, more realistic and vulgar, and precisely for that reason "better, " "more honest," more submissive before every kind of "reality," truer; but weak in will, but sad and full of dark cravings, but fatalistic. Not full of awe and reverence for either "reason" or "heart"; deeply convinced of the rule of cravings (Schopenhauer spoke of "will"; but nothing is more characteristic of his philosophy than the absence of all genuine willing) . Even morality reduced to one instinct ("pity") .

Auguste Comte is a continuation of the eighteenth century (domination of coeur over la tete, sensualism in the theory of knowledge, altruistic enthusiasm). That science has become sovereign to such a degree proves how the nineteenth century has rid itself of the domination of ideals. A certain frugality of desire makes possible our scientific curiosity and severity — which is our kind of virtue. -

Romanticism is an echo of the eighteenth century; a kind of piled-high desire for its enthusiasm in the grand style (as a matter of fact, a good deal of histrionics and self-deception: one wanted to represent strong natures and grand passions) .

The nineteenth century looks instinctively for theories that seem to justify its fatalistic submission to matters of fact. Already Hegel's success against "sentimentality" and romantic idealism was due to his fatalistic way of thinking, to his faith in the greater reason on the side of the victorious, to his justification of the actual "state" (in place of "mankind," etc. J.- Schopenhauer : we are something stupid and, at best, even something that cancels itself. Success of determinism, of the genealogical derivation of obligations that had formerly been considered absolute, the doctrine of milieu and adaptation, the reduction of will to reflexes, the denial of the will as an "efficient cause"; finally--a real rechristening: one sees so little will that the word becomes free to designate something else. Further theories: the doctrine of objectivity--"will- less" contemplation--as the only road to truth; also to beauty (--also the faith in the "genius" to justify a right to submission); mechanism, the calculable rigidity of the mechanical process; the alleged "naturalism, " elimination of the choosing, judging, interpreting subject as a principle- Kant, with his "practical reason" and his moral fanaticism is wholly eighteenth century; still entirely outside the historical movement; without any eye for the actuality of his time, e. g., Revolution; untouched by Greek philosophy; fanciful visionary of the concept of duty; sensualist with the backdrop of the pampering of dogmatism. -

The movement back to Kant in our century is a movement back to the eighteenth century: one wants to regain a right to the old ideals and the old enthusiasm--f or that reason an epistemology that "sets boundaries," which means that it permits one to posit as one may see fit a beyond of reason. -

Hegel's way of thinking is not far different from Goethe's: one needs only to listen to Goethe about Spinoza. Will to deify the universe and life in order to find repose and happiness in contemplation and in getting to the bottom of things; Hegel seeks reason everywhere—before reason one may submit and acquiesce. In Goethe a kind of almost joyous and trusting fatalism that does not revolt, that does not flag, that seeks to form a totality out of himself, in the faith that only in the totality everything redeems itself and appears good and justified.”


WP:490 | Will = Force

In 1885 (WP:490), Nietzsche states the following:

“The assumption of one single subject is perhaps unnecessary; perhaps it is just as permissible to assume a multiplicity of subjects, whose interaction and struggle is the basis of our thought and our consciousness in general? A kind of aristocracy of "cells" in which dominion resides? To be sure, an aristocracy of eguals, used to ruling jointly and understanding how to command?

My hypotheses: The subject as multiplicity. Pain intellectual and dependent upon the judgment "harmful": projected. The effect always "unconscious": the inferred and imagined cause is projected, follows in time. Pleasure is a kind of pain. The only force that exists is of the same kind as that of the will: a commanding of other subjects, which thereupon change. The continual transitoriness and fleetingness of the subject. "Mortal soul". Number as perspective form.”


WP:595 | Presuppositions
In 1884 (WP:595), Nietzsche states is presuppositions:

“Our presuppositions: no god: no purpose: finite force. Let us guard against thinking out and prescribing the mode of thought necessary to lesser men!!”

Here we see decent platform. Purpose, however, is a loaded word, in need of reform; while, e.g., it is not applicable to state, as a description, that when hydrogen reacts with oxygen that is their "purpose", there is someone who made a connection, using apparent terminology reform, of purpose correctly redefined via thermodynamic potentials.

WP:617 | Life = Will to Power
In 1883-1885 (WP:617), Nietzsche states the following curious views:

“To impose upon becoming the character of being—that is the supreme will to power. Twofold falsification, on the part of the senses and of the spirit, to preserve a world of that which is, which abides, which is equivalent, etc. That everything recurs is the closest approximation of a world of becoming to a world of being:—high point of the meditation.

From the values attributed to being proceed the condemnation of and discontent with becoming, after such a world of being had first been invented. The metamorphoses of what has being (body, god, ideas, laws of nature, formulas, etc.) "Beings" as appearance; reversal of values; appearance was that which conferred value—.

Knowledge-in-itself in a world of becoming is impossible; so how is knowledge possible? As error concerning oneself, as will to power, as will to deception. Becoming as invention, willing, self-denial, overcoming of oneself: no subject but an action, a positing, creative, no "causes and effects."

Art as the will to overcome becoming, as "eternalization," but shortsighted, depending on the perspective: repeating in miniature, as it were, the tendency of the whole.

Regarding that which all life reveals as a diminutive formula for the total tendency; hence a new definition of the concept "life" as will to power.

Instead of "cause and effect" the mutual struggle of that which becomes, often with the absorption of one's opponent; the number of becoming elements not constant.
Uselessness of old ideals for the interpretation of the totality of events, once one knows the animal origin and utility of these ideals; all, moreover, contradictory to life.

Uselessness of the mechanistic theory—it gives the impression of meaninglessness. The entire idealism of mankind hitherto is on the point of changing suddenly into nihilism—into the belief in absolute worthlessness, i.e., meaninglessness. The destruction of ideals, the new desert; new arts by means of which we can endure it, we amphibians. —Presupposition: bravery, patience, no "turning back," no haste to go forward. (N.B. Zarathustra adopts a parodistic attitude toward all former values as a consequence of his abundance.)”

(add discussion)

WP:619 | Inner will
In 1885 (WP:619), Nietzsche states the following:

“The victorious concept of ‘force’, by means of which our physicists have created god and the world, still needs to be completed: an inner will must be ascribed to it, which I designate as ‘will to power’, i.e. as an insatiable desire to manifest power; or as the employment and exercise of power, as a creative drive, etc. Physicists cannot eradicate ‘action at a distance’ from their principles; nor can they eradicate a repellent force (or an attracting one). There is nothing for it: one is obliged to understand all motion, all ‘appearances’, all ‘laws’, only as symptoms of an inner event and to employ man as an analogy to this end. In the case of an animal, it is possible to trace all its drives to the will to power; likewise all the functions of organic life to this one source.”

(add discussion)

WP:620 | Force real?
In 1885-1886 (WP:620), Nietzsche seems to grapple with the question as to whether or not force exists:

“Has a force ever been demonstrated? No, only its effects translated into a completely foreign language. We are so used, however, to regularity in succession that its oddity no longer seems odd to us.”

(add discussion)

WP:1062 | Infinite force?
In 1885 (WP:1062), Nietzsche digresses on the concept of "infinite force", goals (or final states), intermixed with Spinoza's "god or nature" :

“If the world had a goal, it must have been reached. If there were for it some unintended final state, this also must have been reached. If it were in any way capable of a pausing and becoming fixed, of "being, " then all becoming would long since have come to an end, along with all thinking, all "spirit." The fact of "spirit" as a form of becoming proves that the world has no goal, no final state, and is incapable of being.

The old habit, however, of associating a goal with every event and a guiding, creative god with the world, is so powerful that it requires an effort for a thinker not to fall into thinking of the very aimlessness of the world as intended. This notion--that the world intentionally avoids a goal and even knows artifices for keeping itself from entering into a circular course— must occur to all those who would like to force on the world the ability for eternal novelty, i e., on a finite, definite, unchangeable force of constant size, such as the world is, the miraculous power of infinite novelty in its forms and states. The world, even if it is no longer a god, is still supposed to be capable of the divine power of creation, the power of infinite transformations; it is supposed to consciously prevent itself from returning to any of its old forms; it is supposed to possess not only the intention but the means of every one of its movements at every moment so as to escape goals, final states, repetitions--and whatever else may follow from such an unforgivably insane way of thinking and desiring. It is still the old religious way of thinking and desiring, a kind of longing to believe that in some way the world is after all like the old beloved, infinite, boundlessly creative god--that in some way "the old god still lives"-- that longing of Spinoza which was expressed in the words "deus sive natura" [god or nature] (he even felt "natura sive deus" [nature or god]) .

What, then, is the law and belief with which the decisive change, the recently attained preponderance of the scientific spirit over the religious, god-inventing spirit, is most clearly formulated? Is it not: the world, as force, may not be thought of as unlimited, for it cannot be so thought of; we forbid ourselves the concept of an infinite force as incompatible with the concept "force." Thus--the world also lacks the capacity for eternal novelty.”

(add discussion)

WP:1066 | Heat death
In Mar-Jun 1888 (WP:1066), Nietzsche mentions William Thomson, heat death, and his opinion on this in respect to being:

“The new world-conception.—The world exists; it is not something that becomes, not something that passes away. Or rather: it becomes, it passes away, but it has never begun to become and never ceased from passing away--it maintains itself in both. — It lives on itself: its excrements are its food. We need not worry for a moment about the hypothesis of a created world. The concept "create" is today completely indefinable [This word is illegible.], unrealizable; merely a word, a rudimentary survival from the ages of superstition; one can explain nothing with a mere word. The last attempt to conceive a world that had a beginning has lately been made several times with the aid of logical procedures--generally, as one may divine, with an ulterior theological motive.

Lately one has sought several times to find a contradiction in the concept "temporal infinity of the world in the past" (regressus in infinitum): one has even found it, athough at the cost of confusing the head with the tail. Nothing can prevent me from reckoning backward from this moment and saying "I shall never reach the end"; just as I can reckon forward from the same moment into the infinite. Only if I made the mistake—I shall guard against it--of equating this correct concept of a regressus in infinitum with an utterly unrealizable concept of a finite progressus up to this present, only if I suppose that the direction (forward or backward) is logically a matter of indifference, would I take the head—this moment — for the tail: I shall leave that to you, my dear Herr Diihring!--

I have come across this idea in earlier thinkers: every time it was determined by other ulterior considerations (—mostly theological, in favor of the creator spiritus). If the world could in any way become rigid, dry, dead, nothing, or if it could reach a state of equilibrium, or if it had any kind of goal that involved duration, immutability, the once-and-for-all (in short, speaking metaphysically: if becoming could resolve itself into being or into nothingness), then this state must have been reached: from which it follows— This is the sole certainty we have in our hands to serve as a corrective to a great host of world hypotheses possible in themselves. If, e. g., the mechanistic theory cannot avoid the consequence, drawn for it by William Thomson, of leading to a final state, then the mechanistic theory stands refuted.

If the world may be thought of as a certain definite quantity of force and as a certain definite number of centers of force—and every other representation remains indefinite and therefore useless—it follows that, in the great dice game of existence, it must pass through a calculable number of combinations. In infinite time, every possible combination would at some time or another be realized; more: it would be realized an infinite number of times. And since between every combination and its next recurrence all other possible combinations would have to take place, and each of these combinations conditions the entire sequence of combinations in the same series, a circular movement of absolutely identical series is thus demonstrated: the world as a circular movement that has already repeated itself infinitely often and plays its game in infinitum. This conception is not simply a mechanistic conception; for if it were that, it would not condition an infinite recurrence of identical cases, but a final state. Because the world has not reached this, mechanistic theory must be considered an imperfect and merely provisional hypothesis.”

Here, to note, we are reminded of the Heraclitus vs Parmenides debate on whether the flux and fire model or being and becoming model is correct.

1067 | Monster of energy
In 1885 (WP:1067), the last fragment, according to the Kaufmann-Hollingdale (1967) edition, is as follows:

“And do you know what ‘the world’ is to me? Shall I show it to you in my mirror? This world: a monster of energy, without beginning, without end; a firm, iron magnitude of force that does not grow bigger or smaller, that does not expend itself but only transforms itself; as a whole, of unalterable size, a household without expenses or losses, but likewise without increase or income; enclosed by "nothingness" as by a boundary; not something blurry or wasted, not something endlessly extended, but set in a definite space as a definite force, and not a sphere that might be "empty" here or there, but rather as force throughout, as a play of forces and waves of forces, at the same time one and many, increasing here and at the same time decreasing there; a sea of forces flowing and rushing together, eternally changing, eternally flooding back, with tremendous years of recurrence, with an ebb and a flood of its forms; out of the simplest forms striving toward the most complex, out of the stillest, most rigid, coldest forms toward the hottest, most turbulent, most self-contradictory, and then again returning home to the simple out, of this abundance, out of the play of contradictions back to the joy of, concord, still affirming itself in this uniformity of its courses and, its years, blessing itself as that which must return eternally, as a, becoming that knows no satiety, no disgust, no weariness: this, my, Dionysian world of the eternally self-creating, the eternally self-destroying, this mystery world of the twofold voluptuous delight, my "beyond good and evil," without goal, unless the joy of the circle is itself a goal; without will, unless a ring feels good will toward itself—do you want a name for this world? A solution for all its riddles? A light for you, too, you best-concealed, strongest, most intrepid, most midnightly men?—This world is the will to power—and nothing besides! And you yourselves are also this will to power—and nothing besides!”


A noted WP fragments scholar, in respect to their thermodynamics content, is Eric Steinhart. [2]

1. Nietzsche, Friedrich. (1885). Will to Power: An Attempt at a Revaluation of All Values (translator: Walter Kaufmann and Reginald Hollingdale; editor: Walter Kaufmann) (pdf) (txt) (outline, pg. 45). Random House, 2011.
2. Steinhart, Eric. (1999). “The Will to Power and Parallel Distributed Processing” (§:From Thermodynamic to Philology: the Thermodynamic Conception of the Will to Power), in: Nietzsche, Epistemology, and Philosophy of Science: Nietzsche and the Sciences II (editors: Babette Babich, Robert Cohen) (pgs. 313-22; §, pgs. 314-). Kluwer Academic Publishers.
3. Montinari, Mazzino. (2003). Reading Nietzsche (pg. 16). University of Illinois Press.
4. Vattimo, Gianni. (2002). Nietzsche: an Introduction (pg. 208). A&C Black.
5. Thims, Libb. (2011). Thermodynamic Proof that Good Always Triumphs over Evil”, Journal of Human Thermodynamics, 7: 1-4.
6. Thims, Libb. (2010). “Hot Sex, Cold Sex, Ambient Sex” (press release), Journal of Human Thermodynamics, 6: 47-58.
7. Nietzsche, Friedrich. (1888). The Antichrist (translation and Introduction: Henry Mencken) (§:Introduction, pgs. 1-2). A.A. Knopf, 1920.

External links
The Will to Power (manuscript) – Wikipedia.

TDics icon ns

More pages