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PostPosted: Mon Jul 28, 2008 8:53 pm 

Joined: Wed May 07, 2008 7:49 pm
Posts: 25
Later on this month, at the Institute, I will be having a two-part exposition of Nietzschean ideas; an overview followed by a closer look at a particular work— maybe Beyond Good and Evil, or Genealogy of Morals.

In any event, I've been close-reading a lot of Nietzsche lately; to point of having my "Nietzsche-goggles" on even when bicycling or sitting on a park bench.
But I'd like to badminton some Nietzschean concepts around, starting off with some spicy quotations from The Will to Power— which you may be aware was just a valise of preparatory notes for a coming great work of the same title. His anti-Semitic sister Elizabeth edited The Will to Power in order to further the case that Nietzsche was some kind of a proto-Nazi philosopher; even though Nietzsche, by temperament and by letter, would have loathed the National Socialists with all he had. Nevertheless— too bad— people subsequently dismissed The Will To Power as merely a bundle of notes, not to be taken seriously. The book is good though, overfull with ideas and cryptic sketches, and an opinion of everything.

Not surprisingly he has a mouthful ready about the Will-to-Power itself— the idea, that is. Of course, the seed of this idea comes from Schopenhauer, and maybe somewhat from Darwin; from Schopenhauerian Will and Darwinian "survival of the fittest"— but Nietzsche goes out of his way to show the critical differences, especially with Darwin. For Schopenhauer, the Will was a Will-to-Live. For Darwin, survival was not even teleological; it was the result of selection.
He even has segments entitled "Anti-Darwin:" "One cannot ascribe the most basic and primeval activities of protoplasm to a will to self-preservation; for it takes into itself absurdly; more than than would be required to preserve it." (Will To Power, 651)

Nietzschean Will-to-Power is much more developed than this. In fact, it is only sometimes a Will-to-Live; as an expedient or precondition of Power. But, when it came to glory, to war, to danger, to true self-assertion— Power trumped all concern for self-preservation. It was Power rather mere self-perpetuation at the base of all things. It goes further though: what does this Power mean?

Nietzsche has a deeper conception of Power, from what I gather; really the reverse of other people's conceptions. Commonly, Power is the ability to fulfill our desires. Desires seem to come first; power is the instrumental half. But for Nietzsche, in many human endeavors, it's switched: we have certain desires because they are an exertion of Power. Sexual desire is a good touchstone. Our desires are stoked by conquest— more than stoked they are composed of this desire for power and powerplay.

Even, within justice, Nietzsche thinks that we do not punish in order to restore the balance of things, of our beliefs-and-desires, but as revenge, as an excuse for revenge, domination, cruelty— a chance to exert a bald Will-to-Power without repercussion.

Of course, its hard to say if this is always the dynamic. There is also the idea that Power is really an abstraction of Desire.That they switch places somewhere along the line. In the way Power is codified into Money, for example, wealth becomes an end in itself after a point. We first use money instrumentally to satisfy our desires and needs, but then after a point, in our fabulous careers, we start spending in order to execute our Money-Power. We buy houses in the Hamptons to heighten our sense of Power.
But this is not necessarily the same thing as this Will-to-Power always being there, deep down, underneath Desire all along.

Power is a slippery concept, so I toss this out to see if anyone has better ways of concretizing it. Here is another morsel from Will To Power:
"The will to power interprets (— it is a question of interpretation when an organ is constructed): it defines limits, variations of power. Mere variations of power could not feel themselves to be such: there must be present something that wants to grow and interprets the value of whatever else wants to grow. Equal in that— In fact, interpretation is itself a means of becoming master of something." (WTP 643)

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