Will to Power

Friedrich Nietsche

1. Will to Power vs. Self-Preservation. Physiologists should think before putting down the instinct of self-preservation as the cardinal instinct of an organic being. A living thing seeks above all to discharge its strength — life itself is will to power; self-preservation is only one of the indirect and most frequent results. (Beyond Good and Evil, Section 13)

2. Truth and Will to Power. The falseness of a judgment is for us not necessarily an objection to a judgment; in this respect our new language may sound strangest. The question is to what extent it is life-promoting, species-preserving, perhaps even species-cultivating. (Beyond Good and Evil, Section 4)

3. Will to Power and Organic Functions. Suppose we succeeded in explaining our entire instinctive life as the development and ramification of one basic form of the will — namely, of the will to power, as my proposition has it; suppose all organic functions could be traced back to this will to power and one could also find in it the solution of the problem of procreation and nourishment — then one would have gained the right to determine all efficient force univocally as will to power. The world viewed from the inside, the world defined and determined according to its "intelligible character" — it would be "will to power" and nothing else. (Beyond Good and Evil, Section 36)

4. Will to Power and Equality. To refrain from mutual injury, mutual violence, mutual exploitation, to equate one’s own will with that of another: this may In a certain rough sense become good manners between individuals if the conditions for it are present (namely, if their strength and value standards are in fact similar and they both belong to one social group). As soon as there is a desire to take this principle further, however, and if possible even an the fundamental principle of society, it at once reveals itself for what it is: as the will to the denial of life, as the principle of dissolution and decay. Life itself is essentially appropriation, injury, overpowering of the strange and weaker, suppression, severity, imposition of one’s own forms, incorporation and, at the least and mildest, exploitation. ‘Exploitation’ does not pertain to a corrupt or imperfect or primitive society: it pertains to the essence of the living thing as a fundamental organic function, it is a consequence of the intrinsic will to power which is precisely the will of life. (Beyond Good and Evil, Section 259)

5. Life and Obedience. But that you may understand my teaching about good and evil, I shall relate to you my teaching about life and about the nature of all living creatures. Wherever I found living creatures, there, too, I heard the language of obedience. All living creatures are obeying creatures. And this is the second thing: he who cannot obey himself will be commanded. That is the nature of living creatures. . . .What persuades the living creature to obey and to command and to practice obedience even in commanding? Where I found a living creature, there I found will to power: and even in the will of the servant I found the will to be master. The will of the weaker persuades it to serve the stronger; its will wants to be master over those weaker still: this delight alone it is unwilling to forgo. And as the lesser surrenders to the greater, that it may have delight and power over the least of all, so the greatest, too, surrenders and for the sake of power stakes — life. He who shot the doctrine of — will to existence — at truth certainly did not hit the truth: this will does not exist. For what does not exist cannot will; but that which is in existence, how could it still want to come into existence? Only where life is, there is also will: not will to life, but — so I teach you — will to power. The living creature values many things higher than life itself: yet out of this evaluation itself speaks —the will to power. (Thus Spoke Zarathustra, II, Of Self-Overcoming)