Friedrich Nietzsches Superman or Ubermensch

Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900) was a German philosopher who is widely acclaimed as well as criticized for his critical texts on morality, religion, culture, and many other areas. Central in Nietzsches philosophy is what he called the will to power, a will which every man possessed but most men denied. The will to power is the main force that pushes men to reap achievements in life. However, certain moral systems and religious beliefs and traditions that society has come to imbibe have led to the degradation of mans will to power. As a result, what Nietzsche referred to as slaves have dragged society down and hampered the growth of men. Nietzsche sought to prescribe a philosophy that runs counter to the present slavish values of society, many of them represented by Christianity. Nietzsche prescribed to get rid of such slavish values, enrich the master instinct that feeds the will to power, so that man can evolve into the superman or ubermensch.

A typical religion has a definite ideal of progress, which guides its followers on how to live life. For example, Christianity wants its followers to follow the path of Jesus who basically instructed them to love their neighbors and let go of all material things for the real eternal life is in heaven and not here on earth. Buddhism also teaches its adherents to purge themselves of all desires to attain nirvana. These religions and other similar value systems revolted Nietzsche who believed that these beliefs would all lead to the equality of all men. Nietzsche was very much in favor of an aristocracy, which only used the masses for its own good and to achieve higher goals (Mencken 60). Societys modern tendencies to believe in slavish religions like Christianity have leveled it, and no one benefits from such beliefs and values but the masses. Nietzsche thought that the perfect society would use the masses as mere foundation to achieve great goals. Such a society would be driven by supermen  the perfection of men when they have already given free rein to their will to power.

The superman is Nietzsches ideal, the opposite of the life and self-denying figures of Christ, Buddha and other religious figures. The superman imbibed the intelligent and prudent selfishness and absolute individualism Nietzsche highly prescribed. According to Nietzsche, everyone must only act for the benefit of the generations to be born after him and not his neighbors, as Christianity prescribed. The superman will be perfect in his mind and body, and will rejoice in combat because he doesnt want peace, but war (Mencken 64-65). Since he doesnt believe in heaven or hell, he will be happy and content and face life without any delusions. According to Nietzsche, the superman is supposedly what man should be just as man is the evolved form of the ape.

It is easy to see today how Nietzsches philosophy was abused by Nazis because of its apparent support for eugenics or breeding a supreme race of humans while getting rid of its perceived weaknesses. However, the Nazi reading of Nietzsche is totally shallow and only aimed to support its political ideology rather than get to the heart of Nietzsches philosophy. In the first place, Nietzsche wouldnt have approved of mindless patriotism to ones nation since he only approved of individualism. If we applied Nietzsches philosophy of the superman today, it wouldnt have as much negative effects as many people would think.

The will to power is already present in everybody. It is not something that people must summon from nowhere because it manifests itself whenever a boxer tries to win a championship despite his bloody face, for example, or whenever a religious leader asserts the superiority of his religion among others to gain more followers. What Nietzsche only strived to do is to openly accept this will to power and not deny it as many people would do every day. Thus, for instance, instead of depriving yourself of a good position in the office just because you do not want to strain good relationships with your officemates, Nietzsche would instruct you to use all your strength, cunning and resources to get to the top. If you let the will to power guide you, then you are advancing men by bringing it one step closer to the ideal of the superman.

By practicing life-affirming acts and beliefs, the instinct to apply the will to power becomes sharper. Generations of putting into practice the master morality and getting rid of slavish beliefs would eventually lead to the formation of a new society of supermen with perfected instincts (Mencken 67). Today, while Nietzsches philosophy cannot be practically applied in its entirety in modern life, people can still gain a lot of benefits by understanding and appreciating Nietzsches ideal. Helping others in need indeed benefits society but people should also learn how to help themselves more. Each person has an experience where he let other people take advantage of him just because he isnt willing to go out there and exert his will to power. Applying Nietzsches philosophy, people should achieve more by staying true to their individualistic instincts and sharpening them.

Today, people arent living in an aristocratic society and it is clear that democracy can drive development forward while still letting a huge number of people believe in their own ethical or moral systems. We do not need to create an aristocracy and enslave our fellow men just to evolve into higher species. However, what we can do is start loving ourselves more before we can love others back. If we love or give value to ourselves enough, such that our aim in life is nothing but to be the best at what we do and secure a bright future to the generations to be born after us, we will be able to serve society in a much better way.

Perhaps what Nietzsche was asking people to do is to be honest about themselves and to be honest about reality. We should keep our beliefs in check and question ourselves if our romantic ideals about the afterlife and the essential good in doing good are reasons enough to live. Nietzsche, through his presentation of the superman and his exposition of the will to power, taught us to look life squarely in the eye. Life is here on earth and men are earthly beings. There is no stage where we can show what were worth and what were made of except our present material lives. If we do not strive to become masters and supermen, if we hold our will to power down, then we may not be able to live happily anywhere else.


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