2013-03-02 15:55:49 UTC
Some interpreters also upheld a biological interpretation of the Wille zur Macht, making it equivalent with some kind of social Darwinism. For example the concept was appropriated by some Nazis such as Alfred Bäumler, who may have drawn influence from it or used it to justify their expansive quest for power and world domination.
This reading was criticized by Martin Heidegger in his 1930s courses on Nietzsche—suggesting that raw physical or political power was not what Nietzsche had in mind. This is reflected in the following passage from Nietzsche's notebooks:
I have found strength where one does not look for it: in simple, mild, and pleasant people, without the least desire to rule—and, conversely, the desire to rule has often appeared to me a sign of inward weakness: they fear their own slave soul and shroud it in a royal cloak (in the end, they still become the slaves of their followers, their fame, etc.) The powerful natures dominate, it is a necessity, they need not lift one finger. Even if, during their lifetime, they bury themselves in a garden house!
Opposed to a biological and voluntary conception of the Wille zur Macht, Heidegger also argued that the will to power must be considered in relation to the Übermensch and the thought of eternal recurrence—although this reading itself has been criticized by Mazzino Montinari as a "macroscopic Nietzsche". Gilles Deleuze also emphasized the connection between the will to power and eternal return.
Opposed to this interpretation, the "Will To Power" can be understood (or misunderstood) to mean a struggle against one's surroundings that culminates in personal growth, self-overcoming, and self-perfection, and assert that the power held over others as a result of this is coincidental. Thus Nietzsche wrote:
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.
It would be possible to claim that rather than an attempt to 'dominate over others', the "will to power" is better understood as the tenuous equilibrium in a system of forces' relations to each other. While a rock, for instance, does not have a conscious (or unconscious) "will", it nevertheless acts as a site of resistance within the "will to power" dynamic. Moreover, rather than 'dominating over others', "will to power" is more accurately positioned in relation to the subject (a mere synecdoche, both fictitious and necessary, for there is "no doer behind the deed," (see On the Genealogy of Morals)) and is an idea behind the statement that words are "seductions" within the process of self-mastery and self-overcoming. The "will to power" is thus a "cosmic" inner force acting in and through both animate and inanimate objects. Not just instincts but also higher level behaviors (even in humans) were to be reduced to the will to power. This includes both such apparently[need quotation to verify] harmful acts as physical violence, lying, and domination, on one hand, and such apparently non-harmful acts as gift-giving, love, and praise on the other—though its manifestations can be altered significantly, such as through art and aesthetic experience. In Beyond Good and Evil, he claims that philosophers' "will to truth" (i.e., their apparent desire to dispassionately seek objective, absolute truth) is actually nothing more than a manifestation of their will to power; this will can be life-affirming or a manifestation of nihilism, but it is the will to power all the same.
Other Nietzschean interpreters dispute the suggestion that Nietzsche's concept of the will to power is merely and only a matter of narrow, harmless, humanistic self-perfection. They suggest that, for Nietzsche, power means self-perfection as well as outward, political, elitist, aristocratic domination. Nietzsche, in fact, explicitly and specifically defined the egalitarian state-idea as the embodiment of the will to power in decline:
To speak of just or unjust in itself is quite senseless; in itself, of course, no injury, assault, exploitation, destruction can be 'unjust,' since life operates essentially, that is in its basic functions, through injury, assault, exploitation, destruction and simply cannot be thought of at all without this character. One must indeed grant something even more unpalatable: that, from the highest biological standpoint, legal conditions can never be other than exceptional conditions, since they constitute a partial restriction of the will of life, which is bent upon power, and are subordinate to its total goal as a single means: namely, as a means of creating greater units of power. A legal order thought of as sovereign and universal, not as a means in the struggle between power complexes but as a means of preventing all struggle in general perhaps after the communistic cliché of Dühring, that every will must consider every other will its equal—would be a principle hostile to life, an agent of the dissolution and destruction of man, an attempt to assassinate the future of man, a sign of weariness, a secret path to nothingness.