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PHIL 375 - Lecture: Nietzsche (Will to Power)

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McGill University
PHIL 375
Susan Judith Hoffmann

Nietzsche – Will to Power Coming out of nihilism; borrows from Schopenhauer. In World as Will, Schopenhauer talks about illusions: of reality, of reason. Talks about a force that is behind empirical reality, and an escape from constant suffering. Sees life as endless cycle of meaningless suffering. Sees no a prior meaning to life. Wants to escape this suffering through a suspension, or music. Nietzsche says that Schopenhauer is an honest thinker, one that is “soaked in blood.” For Nietzsche, truth is physical, a life force. Concepts that allow humans to use language and reason lose their pride of place in Schopenhauer's philosophy (unlike Kant.) For Schopenhauer, reason allows us to have representation and thoughts, but reason does not help us to be moral, nor does it help us to create great art. Reason is only concerned with working out means to ends that are desired by a much more fundamental drive than thought: the world will, which underlies all thinking (which itself is derivative, an illusion). The subject is in the world that is represented, so the subject represents himself. The inner part of this subject is the will, and the self that knows and is given to itself in self-consciousness is the self that wills. When the will becomes conscious of itself it recognizes this conflict, this inner divided nature, that it is a thing in itself and appearances, representation. This causes the will to objectify itself in the world via appearance. The more the will succeeds in representing itself, the more it feels conflicted and constrained by these representations. So it is caught between its necessary individuation and its fundamental and relentless towards totality. One way this conflict can quiet itself is through art. Schopenhauer argues that ethics has nothing to do with duty nor reason, but with compassion. There is nothing rational about being good, and ethics has everything to do with compassion and respecting the dignity of other beings. Schopenhauer addresses the human condition; argues that the will is full of boredom and suffering and misery, and existence is not preferable to non- existence. There is no reason to exist, and we're here with desires and strivings and conflicts, and any satisfaction of our own ends is always experienced as a lacking, as a negative. There is always emptiness with satisfaction of the desire. Success only has value in the deficiency it temporarily removes; if this continues, it ultimately results in boredom. What value does existence have? We used to think it has value because we had an immaterial soul, and that we had the potential for salvation. For Schopenhauer this is no longer the case. Therefore, we have to address the question of value from the perspective of biological, material beings. In early Nietzsche, these themes are taken up, and one question he addresses is “how do we remedy modern society?” -> By creating a great new artistic culture. Also attacks Schopenhauer's notion of the will for depending on the Kantian notion of the thing-in-itself, in its presumption still of an objective reality, a metaphysical p
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