In this article we discuss the “will to power.” Friedrich Nietzsche was one of the most important philosophers of the nineteenth century, along with other prominent figures such as Sigmund Freud and Karl Marx.
Many call these thinkers “philosophers of suspicion” because of their desire to expose lies hidden under the enlightened values of rationality and truth. Nietzsche in particular spoke of the will to power. That is what we are going to talk about in this article.
According to Nietzsche, Western culture has been affected by the pursuit of rationality in all aspects of life. Since the beginning of Western culture in Greece, rationality has always been a sign of decadence. Anything that goes against the values of man’s instinctive and biological existence is decadent.
To understand Nietzschean philosophy, we must bear in mind his harsh criticism of Plato for postulating the world of ideas. His philosophy rejects these metaphysical pitfalls:
- the rational world
- the moral world
- the religious world
The basic principle of Nietzschean theory is the concept of life. To understand what this thinker understands by “life,” one must not lose sight of the absolute negation of the rational Platonic world.
Nietzsche and concept of life
For the German philosopher, life was based on two basic principles:
- the principle of conservation
- the principle of increase
He established that there is only life if it conserves itself. Of course, this conservation capacity is due to constant movement and the need for expansion.
If there is no expansion in what we keep, it will die. Life can expand itself thanks to everything that keeps us alive. All this vital space and its principles shape us. This, in turn, is understood as the will to power.
Nietzsche’s will to power
The will to power refers to the evolution of life. You could say that life itself is the will to power, because life really conquers what we long for. At the same time, life makes an effort to get what we want and dominate what we own.
The will to power is the life sent to a horizon where we are able to find and get what we want. That’s why it wants to expand what it already has.
However, it is important to say that the will to power must love itself before it can desire anything else. Only in this way will it want to expand what it has, to keep what it already possesses.
Imagine you want to buy a car, but you don’t have enough money right now. Maintaining that desire is only possible if you make an effort and try to expand your savings to be able to afford the desired car. If you don’t do anything to achieve that goal, that desire would simply disappear. The desire and motivation will be gone.
The will to power wants itself
Once the will to power wants to preserve itself, it will automatically understand that it will not be able to keep everything it has conquered, only through conservation. Instead, to really keep it, it must expand into new horizons and conquer new terrains.
The will to power is intentional and projected onto the world of life, which is the only place where you can get what you want. The nature of this will is movement; she doesn’t want to stop, she wants to keep expanding.
According to Nietzsche, if we settle for what we have now and don’t try to expand it, we will die (in a metaphorical sense, meaning our will to power will cripple).
Where then lies the truth? It is clear to this German philosopher that the truth lies in the will to power of each individual. According to Nietzsche, there is a very close relationship between truth and power.
The real truth
Imagine a certain type of media publishing a news story in the morning. All the other media platforms follow suit, and each of them tells the story from their own ideology. It is more than likely that each person will see the message that best fits his or her ideology as ‘true’.
Now imagine that the different versions of the media create a controversy and people from different media gather at night to discuss the real truth of what happened.
It is likely that the truths will clash precisely because there are only interpretations of the facts. It is at this time that a discerning mind will understand that truth is the daughter of power.
That said, it is clear that power will always support the hegemonic truth as it is a powerful expression of the will that wants to expand in order to preserve itself. To understand this, consider, for example, the totalitarian regimes whose truth was the real truth .
For Nietzsche, any will to power that will not expand to preserve itself is just a life worth nothing. It is what we currently understand by nihilism (the word nihilism comes from the Latin nihil, undefined pronoun meaning nothing).