Martin Heidegger and Nietzsche’s Overman:
Aphorisms on the Attack
Daniel Fidel Ferrer
Friday, November 21, 2003
Why does Heidegger speak first of metaphysic riddles (Ratsel)? The word riddle is one of the Nietzsche’s favorite, but Nietzsche would never think of having metaphysics have a riddle about anything. Metaphysics is at its high point with Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel (1770-1831), however, Hegel never has unknowns, but rather, absolutely knowing. Unraveling the riddle – first hint.
Man that knows the will to power and the eternal return of the same is the considered by Martin Heidegger (1889-1976) to be overman. This combines the three key components of Nietzsche’s philosophy. Can we have one without the other two? Heidegger would say – No. These are all interlinked. The overman is a finite mortal without a soul. Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche (1844-1900) said, “Not mankind but overman is the goal!” (Will to Power, #1001, 1884). What is the Nietzsche’s goal? At the very end of Will to Power, #866 (1881, 1888), Nietzsche said, “An aim? a new aim? – that is what humanity needs.” Thus for Nietzsche man does not have a goal, but needs one. This is not an eternal goal of heaven or some kind of an immortal soul (Kant). Setting goals – active nihilism?
Nietzsche collapses some metaphysics distinction in his statements about to overman.
1) Overman is the meaning of the earth.
2) Overman shall (sei) be the meaning of the earth.
Thus Spoke Zarathustra (Prologue Section 3)
In German, Nietzsche said, “Der Übermensch ist der Sinn der Erde. Euer Wille sage: der Übermensch sei der Sinn der Erde!”
So this is confused: The overman is, or shall, or will be, or might be the meaning of the earth. Nietzsche is not giving us a metaphysical description or an empirical statement. This is not anthropology. Nietzsche sometimes burdens us with conceptual over determining his concept. He creates new concepts. No more of those concept-mummies. Nietzsche said, “What dawns on philosophers last of all: They must no longer accept concepts as a gift, nor merely purify and polish them, but first make and create them, present them and make them convincing.” (Will to Power, 409, 1885). (see Twilight of the idols, section “Reason” in Philosophy”). What kind of a concept is Nietzsche giving us to express “overman”? Is this just a re-bake of his earlier “überhistorischen Menschen”? Answer: Nietzsche thinks that man is defined as the supra-historical man.
How does metaphysics think of the overman? How does representational thinking think of the overman? How does hermeneutical thinking, think of the overman? Heidegger is just to point the way to a different kind of thought. For man thinking is reasoning. Philosophy might make it somewhat more complex and say that thinking is logical reasoning that can be falsified. Of course, for Heidegger and Nietzsche this would be silly. The overman does not become more rational than current man. Current man as a guardian of gate of truth will not let a single ontic truth go wrong.
Is overman simply man without God or the gods? Man without the supersensuous realm (Übersinnlichen), without metaphysics? This means reason is not guaranteed or given certainty by metaphysics. Reason still stands but without certainty. No longer an absolute knowledge possessed by reason (ratio).
The will to power or the will to will attempts to “command” the overman as the meaning of the earth, but no metaphysics, then no “command”.
Does overman still love man? Does man love the overman? Like freedom does love shatter the system? Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph Von Schelling (1775-1854) used freedom to shatter G.W.F. Hegel’s Science of Logic and hence deal a decisive and clear blow to metaphysics, but Schelling can only provide a bit of the push toward a transition and a new beginning beyond metaphysics. Can we say a “meta-metaphysics” that is no longer linked to a metaphysical position? Or are the question marks leading us to say “trans-overman” or an “over-overman” or a “meta-overman”? Where do these concepts and expressing break down? The love of man points toward the overman as the goal. Why give man anything, better to take something.
No laws needed only the transformation man to overman. What laws would ever be needed after the transformation? The artist needs no laws to transform color or sound.
Dominance of the masters, dominance of the sea, dominance of space, and masters of all life on the planet – the overman appears.
The will of the will, will all willing to willingness. Nietzsche’s will does not want the will to nothingness, but a will to beingness. Heidegger non-will to Seyn.
If the overman lives, then what?
1) Overman is a gift
2) Man shall be overcome
3) Overman is the sea, so that your great contempt can go under.
4) Overman is lightning.
5) Man needs to set a goal.
6) Man needs to give birth to a dancing star.
7) To create beyond yourselves.
8) Sun coming out of dark mountains.
These are all images that give us direction, but not an anthropology or a psychology of man that would lead to the new man – overman. Philosophical anthropology may tell us the nature of mankind (humanity), but most likely would not tell us that man is just the seed for the overman. The image is the egg in the shell.
How can we be sure that the overman is not just a metaphysical ideal to shoot for? Part of Nietzsche’s problem and dilemma is to escape the concept-mummies of metaphysics and rather to unleash fury of a creative will to create. What declaration of Nietzsche’s did Heidegger place at the beginning of his volume 1 on Nietzsche? Heidegger quoted Nietzsche, from The Antichrist (section 19, 1895), “Well-nigh two thousand years and not a single new God!” ( Zwei Jahrtausende beinahe und nicht ein einziger neuer Gott! another translation “Two millennia almost and not a single new God!”). Why can we not give birth to a new God? What have we lost? Have we lost our strength? The last man, the higher man, the modern man – these are all weaker forms. Did Heidegger answer the question? Where is the power? Before action you need the power.
What is the process of anthropomorphizing (Vermenschichung)? The overman is just what we want in the new man, bigger, stronger, taller, a salary deal with a sports team. Or, is it a soldier or a worker. Who is the overman? One who knows nothing or all? One who conceives nothing or all? One who lives from one day to the next without rules? One who lives in the moment and cares nothing for the rest of life on the planet? One who loves whales and lets the rest of the planet suffer? What is the cost/benefit ratio on the overman? The image and perceptions of the overman may not lead us to the overman.
Anthropologism wants to know the subject as the subject as such.
The sun only makes sense on our planet. From all too human perspective.
The weak shall run the governments, but the overman shall be the conqueror.
Do we convert or invert the current mob-man for the overman to live? Or, is it wiser to leave the mobs alone and focus on the rare growth of the overman. Does the overman stop and smell the flowers or is the mountain too high for flowers?
Nietzsche’s overman is contra Rousseau and the link between Nietzsche and Spinoza on solitude. Nihilism and Spinoza – think of that.
Is Nietzsche’s overman version 1.0 the final state of humanity on the planet? Or, are there newer versions 2.0 and version 3.0 etc. waiting in the wings as Becoming pushes time in history?
The overman is with or without reason. Or, in crude talk is the overman – a realist, a rationalist, irrelevant, or just a perspectivist. Possibly – an eternalist. No – he denies that. But he loves foundations. Well maybe not.
If we deny reason as the absolute position for thinking, it
does not mean we go to animality, or understanding, or representational thinking
as the paradigm of thinking. The object of thought determines the kind of
thinking that is used. The method is the standard for the process. What is the
counter possibility to reason? Value thinking as metaphor seems to go in the
opposite direction to reason. Overman is not the
Is Nietzsche’s overman a transcendental ideal? This is a question for Nietzschean philology, not for Nietzsche’s philosophy. Ok. Inversion, reversion, transversion, postversion of humanization does that lead to the new human namely, the overman. Dehumanization leads to no human, but is that the overman or something less, perhaps the common herd animal.
Overman lives in Nihilism. Or, can overman overcome nihilism? Is this the point? Is overgrowing or overcoming nihilism – is that the problem? Or, is it our problem?
Can we stay silent long enough for a single thought to gain possession of us?
Prosperity leads to rank, but how much rank can be pushed hard.
Is truth one or are they isolated truths? There are either many truths or a single truth (or both or none). How can truth break into parts?
If Nietzsche does not want to “improve” mankind, then where does the “overman” come into the picture? The ideal of “progress” or to “improve” humanity is just another form of nihilism.
Can we say that the overman is Immanuel Kant’s “categorical imperative” gone wrong?
Overman follows the law of the inner moral order – Kantian. No, Nietzsche is contra Kantian morality. What is the call of conscious for Nietzsche and Heidegger? Is this the voice of God within? What if there is no voice, then what? Too many voice for one human.
No one knows the overman. The overman does not belong to the “one”.
Does the overman give value to this world? Is that why without the overman there is no value to life? Life is valueless without the overman. Can we revalue or just devalue the world – how can we do either? The world has no value by itself. This is not the thing-in-itself. By translating the world the overman creates an all new value system. Heidegger sees value-philosophy as value metaphysics – he rejected this in the early 1920s. How can things (beings) not have any value?
The question: who is man? This can not be answered in principal. This theorem is incomplete. Perhaps a poor design or a sacred design.
What is the value of values? What have I to do “values”! Is this a refutation and confirmation with values? No. Valuelessness and meaninglessness is overcome by the overman.
Am I deceiving myself or just confused? I was born too late. Mildly Confuzzled.
Is there an art to questioning or does it just flow from our genuine authentic thinking?
How can questioning make a new way of thinking? Can we understand representational thinking or dialectical conceptual thinking via Hegel or just non-rational thinking?
Overman wills or wills nothing at all, but the will to Will is caught within metaphysics. Overman is a metaphysics construct. Heidegger’s Da-Sein is the attempted to be outside of the metaphysics realm. Note: this is not Dasein or DaSein, but rather Da-Sein (being in the open, there-Being open to the Being of beings).
What is the problem of value or values? Why did philosophers first take up the problem of truth instead of the issue of the values?
Will to power, will to create, will to lie, will to live, and will to will. What does this lead to as the creation of the overman’s nature to will as such? Will of life.
What is wrong with humanity now – such that we need a replacement process with overman? How can humanity be wrong or right without a standard and a value? Perhaps it is moral decision and humanity, but how it is that humanity can be wrong. Survival values need only apply here on the planet.
Is the overman a bridge or a final state? Or is the overman a transition or a static state of humanity in the future (but some have a final ideal). Man is the rope between beast and the overman (Prologue section #4). Lightning is the overman (section #4).
What function and purpose does the overman play in Nietzsche’s thinking? In addition, it seems like the concept become less important toward the later stages of Nietzsche’s thinking. The thought of the eternal return of the same becomes more important.
The overman does not mean a politician or a three star general. What values system do CEO’s of multinational corporations used to make decisions? Stock market says it all.
The more we will or unwill our need and desire for the overman, the less direction we move. Perhaps the revenge is our unwillingness to give up the willing and unwilling.
The mystery of humanity is a clue to the enigma and the puzzle.
How can humans be cunning? What is their purpose and direction as they become cunning?
Hegel followed Heraclites but in a much different direction than Nietzsche. What does that say about change in the world? Heidegger’s has a much deeper interpretation of Heraclites – more then simply the flux in the world.
The overman is beyond good and evil. How does this work if there is no God, then no evil in the world. Or, is evil just part of the world no matter what.
With overman there is no morality. The immoralist speaks.
At the end of Twilight of the Idols, (1888, written five years after Thus Spoke Zarathustra) Nietzsche says, “I, the teacher of the eternal recurrence”. No longer is Zarathustra the teacher. Now, Nietzsche disclosures the final pronouncement, he is the teacher of the eternal recurrence. I embody the eternal return of the same (does this statement make sense?).
Let us remember, Nietzsche does not write a descriptive essay on the overman. The overman becomes an image and a goal. Although both Spinoza and Nietzsche both deny teleology, at least with Nietzsche he speaks of a goal. (Will To Power, #1001, 1884). Nietzsche said, “Not “mankind” but overman is the goal!”
Nietzsche says he is growing more Greek every day. Do the Greek’s have a concept of the overman? Perhaps – Plato? Republic (philosopher king) or the Symposium (love).
Is the overman just a hero for the animal herd? Overman as a counter concept for herd man. In Will to Power (#804, 1887), Nietzsche says, “herd man will expand the value feeling of the beautiful in the presence of difficult things. Then will the exceptional will of overman.” So, this means that the overman is not a new species or the next step in eugenics. This is perhaps Nietzsche’s lowest level of the overman. The overman is just an exceptional man. Like a philosopher who should be a “rare plant” (Will to Power, #420, 1884), then the overman is an exempt and rare part of humanity. This sounds like a special individual that does not effect or speak to whole of humanity. Thus, perhaps only an extraordinary (we) world-view is a way of characterizing the overman. Heidegger thinks we are conceptualizing the dominion of the earth, and the overman is the essence of humanity is some sense. Perhaps Heidegger has an over-reading of Nietzsche. Would this remark bother Heidegger? Answer: no, I do not think so, if and only if, it makes us think.
Can we go alone and be different? Sure, but not everyone. We need the herd to preserve the species. For our continued “progress”, Nietzsche’s eagle compared to the sheep.
Shall we say the overman is sympotomatology of the decline and weakness of humanity? The “will” has gone. No will, no power, hardly a seeking. Philosophers will be given all of this by the authority of other philosophers. Is this the wrong road and pathways? Only self-education is needed and for Nietzsche this is assumed.
Is the question about the essence of humanity a philosophical or a metaphysical question? I think a metaphysical question.
Where does historical thinking about the overman reside in history? Is this Nietzsche’s dilemma?
Is the overman just incredibly wise? Is that the distinctive mark of the overman? This does not ring true.
Overman is the exuberance of all free spirits. What is the opposite and the reverse perspective from the overman? This is Nietzsche’s counter punch for what? The answer might be the herd or the Christian.
Nietzsche started as a bit of a pessimist, but that was all over in the first hour. Even when he was sick there was strength of spirit. Does that make Nietzsche a realist? I do not think so. Of course, you will not find many realists who want to be philosophers – where are the questions. Philosophers are drawn from the weaker crowd.
Nietzsche says the author of Zarathustra was a visionary. This is not a destiny, mysticism, or phenomena of human factual existence. There is an internal interesting connection between philosophical thinking and poetry, but philosophy and a visionary. This kind of vision is not a worldview, but a way of language and thinking.
What does Nietzsche mean by a “goal”, a “destiny”, an “aim”, or a “task”? No teleology and no eschatology. There is some direction forward in time into the future, but no eternal goals can be posited. No eternal values.
Instead the overman why not just says, “amor fati” (love of fate) (The Gay Science, 246; Ecce Homo, Nietzsche contra Wagner, Will to Power, #1041). Overman has a love of their fate. Fate, destiny, these are not Christian, but rather the Greek world. The herd-man does not have a fate or a destiny – hint for overman. Some people were put on earth for a purpose – their own fate. No chance, but necessity.
Overman or should we just say Napoleon. Another strange connection between Hegel and Nietzsche both had a profound reaction to Napoleon. For Nietzsche certainly not Christ or Jesus – perhaps some one Greek, should we mention Thucydides, Democritus or Hippocrates. Certainly not Christian.
Overman helps us redeem the meaning of the world. Or, is there another world for overman? No.
What do we want man to be? What if there is a problem with man as he is? Why make any changes at all?
Overman as a saint – could either Nietzsche or Heidegger give any weight to this idea? No. Contra the whole idea and spiritual air of the saint.
Why is altruism so rare? Altruism is one of the traits of the overman. Where does this lead us? Psychologism returns.
If the position or view is an – ism, then it’s wrong. Heideggerianism, so far not much of an issue among thinkers. Did Heidegger want to found a school of philosopher? Answer: I do not thing so, but perhaps Edmund Husserl (1859-1938) was headed down that road. Heidegger does not take up question of Perspectivism. The question is realism. Is this a standpoint or the perspective of Mr. Heidegger or Mr. Nietzsche? No, I think not. Realism versus antirealism or just another relativism? Another non-issue: viewismlessness. Or, should it be viewlessnessing?
Is the overman a riddle for metaphysics or something more? What more? The overman can be the figure that shows us a path out of the metaphysical realm or out of the fog.
With the overman is reason left beyond or just one part of a complex being? Reason is not left behind, however, there is more to thinking than reason (not withstanding Kant).
Modern man has been possessed by reason, natural science and technology – there is more to humanity and that touch or hint of something beyond animal rationale.
The synthetic unity of apperceptions (Kant) is a long way to the portrait of Nietzsche’s overman. Rene Descartes (1596-1650), Gottfried Wilhelm Freiherr Von Leibniz (1646-1716, and Immanuel Kant (1724-1804) are in the subjectivity of the modern usage. Hegel at least attempts to move through the subject/object relationship to an unmediated absolute. Sometimes Hegel expressed this as the subjective subject-object and objective subject-object relationship. The absolute sprint includes in the system design subjectivity and objectivity in the same self-unity.
Do you mind if I am born after I am read – perhaps never. There are worst fates that I can imagine.
Overman! Overman! Is there an echo in Zarathustra cave? Where are Zarathustra animals now? Can we search for the animals – why do we still need them? Are the animals pulling Zarathustra down or up? The metaphorology.
Humanity minus the supersensuous realm is the overman. Can we be lead down the path beyond humanity to the overman? Why go?
The last man hears the meaninglessnessing as it happens. Nietzsche always likes the ears and the nose, so that last man has big ears. Richard Wagner was Nietzsche’s counter example. Heidegger certainly felt himself to be contra to Hegel.
Heidegger reflects on preparatory thinking, but where does the overman fit. The overman does not think like the last man. What is the difference?
Through Heidegger -- Nietzsche becomes alive for us. Let Nietzsche speak to us.
If humanity has no goals, the earth has become unchained from the sun. How can a whole planet become lost? We are already way out in space. What does it mean to be lost, since there is no up or down?
Can we have the countermovement to the overman that does not lead to the last man or the higher man? Answer: for the overman what is the value of the earth? The meaning (Sinn) of the earth is a finite value.
Why does Heidegger not make any use of Nietzsche’s saying, “Beyond Good and Evil”? Overman lives beyond good and evil. The Will to power wills beyond morality.
Kant, Heidegger and Schelling all lead to the “will”. Nietzsche picks it up from Arthur Schopenhauer (1788- 1860) but where does this get transformed to the will to power – will to will, or is it just will as such? Man equals will. Where does non-willing will us?
What is the countermovement to the will? Can non-willing escape the entanglement of willing? Heidegger says – No.
Man – beyond or beyond-man, yes the overman is a goal for humanity. Why do we need a goal? No ground, no why – a flower appears without a ground, without a reason. Modern man needs to stretch beyond reason and rationality – toward a goal (but not an end).
The overman is the only one who can handle the greatest burden of the most absolute thought (Schwergewicht) namely, the eternal return of the same (eternal sanction and seal). Again – why would Nietzsche use the expression of “eternal”?
Question: is this all there is?
Answer: overman is to shoot for.
But how is this not just another form of socialism (Nietzsche and Heidegger version)?
A single teleology of culture and civilization is not just a political system. Telos – the end, the limit in the unlimited, perhaps more space than time.
Overman with or without lust and passion. Is this ideal either a Monk or a mountain dweller? Perhaps, overman is just the ultimate mountain climber. Perhaps this is a mountain climber who can act as a guide, but is not climbing the mountain for you. Philosophy can help us point the way toward the mountains but self-education is the only way to truly climb the mountain. Thus, Zarathustra is the guide, but overman is the one who summits. The image gives us a working analogy. Who is the coach? Where is the mountain?
Overman brings truth and beauty into a relationship with the Being of beings; but not in the supersensuous world. The former true world is the world of Platonism. Metaphysics once more, and once more, and once more – forever.
Overman is the opposite of the little last man – only after Platonism. Nietzsche said he created the overman at the same time as last man.
Overman waits in the darkness. Waiting or unwilling to come into light, and yet overman wants to come forward into the spot light.
At least for Nietzsche and Heidegger reason (ratio) does not rank at the
Nietzsche – reward of Platonism
Contra – Platonism.
Anti – Platonism.
Platonism gone – no more “anti” or “contra” Platonism.
Nietzsche’s going down (untergehen)
New meaning or the final meaning of the earth.
Nietzsche in the winter of 1882-1883 wrote a single line in his notebooks “Die Geburt der Übermenschen” or the birth of the overman. By the fall of 1883 the expression of “Übermenschen” is used a lot in the notebooks. It becomes central in the Thus Spoke Zarathustra. Nietzsche started writing this work in January of 1883.
What is the overman not according to Heidegger?
The overman is not:
1) super dimensional
2) sheer caprice of law
3) titanic rage the rule
4) unbridled and degenerate imagination rushing headlong into the void
5) can not find it through analysis of modern age
6) chief functionaries of the will’s various organization forms
7) the transcendent ideal
8) blond beast
9) application of Nietzsche’s practical philosophy
10) frenzy self-will
Heidegger is telling us that overman has been misinterpreted by his contemporaries and he wants to prepare the way for really critical confrontation with Nietzsche’s overman.
Heidegger points decisively that the overman must be
prepared to “assume dominion over the whole earth”. Nietzsche was in a good pan-European,
but by pushing the idea the whole earth Heidegger brings the idea forward. Heidegger was a cultural German nationalist,
but he had a very strong global sense for humanity and more importantly he
understood how Being’s epoch reach all of us on earth. This is the Being of
beings – historical character. The
opening is what makes the possibility of Being of beings’ relationship to man –
and hence to the history of
relationship. Does this mean that the
people in the jungles of
What does it mean that overman must be prepared to “assume
dominion over the whole earth”? How has
man become dominion over the planet? Let
us assume that the dominion of the earth was not man’s choice. We are using up the planet – witness the
question of planet warming and ozone holes. The death of whole species of
animals that were once millions (buffalos) and had dominance over large parts
of continent, these numbers are
now gone. How much oil is left on the planet?
It seems like we starting to see the limits of the planet as we used it up.
Large scale issues are starting to affect the whole earth. Counter question: is man ready to deal with
these large scale issues? Ready or not – this is part of the matter of deep
ecology. Heidegger dialogue with
Nietzsche and with him Ernst Jünger (1895-1998) leads Heidegger to questions of
man assuming dominion over the whole earth and of course philosophical
reflection concerning en-framing (Ge-Stell) and
technology. The question of technology
does concern all humans on the planet.
Heidegger does not want to replace technology, but rather, come to a
deeper understanding of the historical epoch of the Being of beings. Heidegger’s question has to do with man’s
relationship to this opening. By extension, you can see how Heidegger might be
interested in overman’s relationship to this opening (that allows man to be in
relationship to the Being of beings).
Overman names that being who has a unique relationship to the Being of
beings. This would be the possible
The overman is a Greek ideal that the German philosophers feel close to. Philosophers like Kant, Hegel, Schelling, Friedrich Hölderlin (poet, 1770-1843), Nietzsche, and Heidegger to name some of the great ones, were all close to the Greeks…
How can we have a break between the last man and the overman? Is this a break between them, some kind of an abyss or is it rather, that there is a bridge between the two.
Who is man? – animal rationale. Or, man as the caring being. Or, man as the belanguaged thing. Man as the tool maker. Man in relation to the divinities. Man as a maker of metaphysics.
Overman means over-reason too. Above-reason, beyond-reason, meta-reason,
anti-reason is too strong; perhaps antirational is in the wrong direction. Overman in relationship to reason (ratio).
Positions and counter-positions to the highest value of metaphysics,
namely, the reason. Rationality was the
Why did Nietzsche use the image of the overman and yet left many questions unanswered? I think some of what Nietzsche did was to use the overman as a metaphor. Perhaps Nietzsche was the first one to use metaphorology to drive us to self-education and self-attempters (Beyond Good and Evil, II, #42). Nietzsche did not give us a blueprint and was not just simply dealing with representational thinking, where he had an object in mind and just described it to us. Nietzsche had an idea that he was developing. For Nietzsche concepts are not just handed down from the past with all their meanings fixed and given, but rather, you need to think through your concepts and purify them and dilute them with truth.
Nietzsche said, “Dead are all gods: now we will that overman lives…” Nietzsche emphases that passage and wanted to be make a strong point the death of the gods leads to the overman lives. We can interpreted this as when the gods are dead, then metaphysics is dead, and hence, only after metaphysics will the overman live. Or, a simple way of stating this which seems partial correct, namely, that the overman occurs after you accept atheism. The overman is a nonbeliever. Is this the Christian-moral God? Is this the opening for the sacred in man’s nature that does not seem to go way? In a draft of Ecce Homo which he did not publish, Nietzsche said, “since the old God is abolished, I am prepared to rule the world”. Did Nietzsche want to create a new God for us? Perhaps this is a dancing god. In the Prologue to Thus Spoke Zarathustra, Nietzsche says, “I say unto you: one must still have chaos in oneself to be able to give birth to a dancing star. I say unto you: you still have chaos in yourselves”. If you think of this as an image, we can say that the overman is the dancing star.
Is the overman simply the master of the earth? The overman is the master of the last man and man as we know them today. The overman is the master over the non-philosophical ones. The overman is some kind of superior philosopher. I think this is in the wrong direction. What is the counter-concept to the overman? Nietzsche would say it is the last man, but what would Heidegger think as the counter-concept to the overman? The overman commands man and has greater power than man. Man is weak next to the overman.
Can we think of the concept of the overman without Nietzsche? Based on many other philosophers who have taken the concept and ran with it, we can see that there is no end of possibilities. Heidegger thought of the overman within Nietzsche’s philosophical horizon, so he linked the will-to-power and the thought of the eternal return of the same to the overman. At least in Heidegger, the relationship between the overman and nihilism is less clear. The other two fundamental concepts in Nietzsche that Heidegger does not bring into the dialogue are amor fati and Nietzsche’s version of Dionysus. It is hard to bring Nietzsche’s philosophy into a single whole, and yet, understand all of the parts and concepts.
What is the purpose of the history of mankind? Human history – does it have a beginning, a middle, and the end to the story? According to Nietzsche, Hegel said human history has to have an end to the story, a purpose to human history. The eschatology of human history since for Hegel there is a purpose for why we are on earth. I think Nietzsche’s eschatology leads only to the overman. In the Twilight of the Idols, Nietzsche says, “The formula of my happiness: a Yes, a No, a straight line, a goal.” (Other places, he says, arrow, the task, new tracks). That goal is the overman. Nietzsche is pointing us toward the future and a goal; this is of course the overman. We should also consider the implications that this is pointing backward toward the Greek ideal. In Will to Power, #419 (1885), Nietzsche said, “…the only place in which one would want be at home: the Greek world”.
What is the greatness in man? Can we say, “the birth of the overman”?
In Will to Power, #766 (1886-1887), Nietzsche said, to place the goal in the herd is a great and profound mistake. The goal is the overman which is not a goal for the herd. The herd can not know the highest rank and purpose of man as the bridge to the overman. But how great is man? In Will to Power, #90 (Jan.-Fall 1888), Nietzsche made two strong statements, “Mankind” does not advance, it does even exist.” And the second remark, “Man represents no progress over the animal.” Obviously, Nietzsche does not have much interest in either mankind or man. Perhaps we do not exist. Can you hear that? What happen to the problem of other minds – not even a question.
The exceptional man gives us the feelings, emotions, sense of what is implicated in the concept of the overman. We can get the taste and smell of our need and the necessity for the goal – the overman.
Is the overman a different species? NO, I think that is trying to expand the concept in the world of the biological, this is like eugenics. No, this is wrong direction.
All of these “good” ideals – man, humanity, mankind, the progress of man, etc. this is not the right and true ideal. What is the ‘true” goal for man? Answer: the overman! Nietzsche said in the Will to Power, #12 (1887-1888), “Existence has no goal or end; any comprehensive unity of the plurality of events is lacking.” Almost to David Hume – strangely Nietzsche has some interesting notes about Hume, which appear to read that Hume was the origin of the eternal return of the same.
As man ripens like a grape, when he has a full sweetness, when the grapes are covered with snow and are extra sweet – then we have the birth of overman. The grape analogy as man becomes overman. Or, should we use the analogy like the bee gathering honey. Rhetoric says it all or not at all.
What is the opposite of the overman for Nietzsche? Answer: the modern man, the good man, the Christian, the last man, the herd animal – somehow the herd man. In other words: sheep! What is the opposite of the overman for Heidegger? Answer: animal rationale. Plus, in a very general way Heidegger would be contra to: the metaphysical man, the subjective man, man as the measure of all things, man as will to life, the nihilistic negation of the former nature of man, man as rational, and man as the process of valuating. I am sure there are more ideas and definition of overman out there lurking around. Part of the issue here is how the concept of the overman is unfolded. Is the “overman” merely a “concept”?
Reason begets will, which begets will to power, which begets will to life, which begets will to Will, which begets just the Will. For Nietzsche on the lower end the overman is just the Will. On the high end for Heidegger, the overman is part of the new destiny or fate (after the decision). Heidegger has given some clues for the new beginning (Anfang). Nietzsche is part of the way, but it is F. Hölderlin that is the major name associated with the new beginning for Heidegger.
The overman as a mountain, as Nietzsche said, “I am building a mountain range out of ever more sacred mountains” (Thus Spoke Zarathustra III, “On Old and New Tablets” section 19). Those who we call men are just at the foothills of the mountains, they can not climb higher only the overman can be alone with his solitude on the highest mountains. Reinhold Messner is the best example of overman. Could that be right? Well perhaps by way of analogy. Can we say the word “analogology”? This thinking is by way of analogology and metaphorology, hopefully this way of thinking might lead us forward.
In Beyond Good and Evil: Prelude to a Philosophy of the Future (part I, #22), Nietzsche said, “Supposing that this is also only interpretation – and you will be eager enough to make this objection?—well, so much the better”. Is this your objection to my writing? This is more than better for me—now perhaps you will have finally “gotten it”. Do you get it now? Look behind you, the shadow is laughing.
Can we simply say that the overman is beyond good and evil? The last man may call the overman the devil (Ecce Homo). Perhaps the concept of the overman for Nietzsche is tied to his concept of the immoralist or the “you free spirits”. One step beyond good and evil and one step beyond nihilism.
The overman is not the common man.
It is conceivably that man is exhausted and we can not give birth to the overman. The decay is too strong. The weight and burden of being “modern man” is too much, we have collapsed under the pressure and stress of considering what is good for the greatest number (this heavy moral presumptuousness), instead of going for that greatest and highest form or type of man. Instead of going for broke and celebrating the highest forms. What Nietzsche called the herd animal, we today can call the “team”. Do what is best for the “team”. The analogy is team sports in business. Can we think out of the box and move beyond our “survival values”?
Is the overman the final philosopher, namely, the skeptical anti-realist? Can I be more positive for you or is this clear enough, that is, the retrograde notion of a supra-historical human.
If there is either Being or Becoming for the overman, I think it must be for Nietzsche that which we call Becoming as the flux of everything that he would say Yes and confirm as the final seal for overman.
If we lose all meaning to life, then do we need the overman to restore meaning to life in general? The eternal values would be gone and we would be left with the meaning of the earth. The supreme values are of the earth. The ideas of valuelessness and meaninglessness these are only a transition to some higher stage (Will to Power, #7 and #11). But is this with or without the overman? Remember for Nietzsche the higher stage or the higher anything is still part of the meaning of the earth (no otherworldlyness or afterworldlyness, nothing that extends into the suprasensory, no great “beyond”).
I think the forms of nihilism maybe more directly linked to the concept of the overman for Heidegger’s thinking than in Nietzsche. In the Will to Power, #28 (Spring-Fall 1887), Nietzsche said, “Attempts to escape Nihilism without revaluating our values so far: they produce the opposite, make the problem more acute.” If we push too hard for the overman (will to the overman), then does the last man stay with us too long. The forms of nihilism are a complex issue for Heidegger, so it is difficult to see how the forms of nihilism related to the overman. Does the overman speak metaphysically? Is the overman that bridge? Or, is the subject of the overman the absolute subjectivity of the will to power, so these are tied together at the end of metaphysics with nihilism being the inner logic of metaphysics. Nietzsche’s idea of the overman may bring us up to the edge and the breakpoint, which may bring us out of metaphysics. The image (analogy) of the overman is double edged for us. Is the overman the consummation, culmination, and completion of man?
In a preface to the Will to Power (1887-1888) we have Nietzsche speaking, he used the expression at the beginning of the paragraph, “He that speaks here” and then he goes on to give us his position vis-a-via nihilism, he says, “as the first prefect nihilist of Europe who, however, has even now lived through the whole of nihilism, to the end, leaving it behind, outside himself.” I think this to be a very powerful statement from Nietzsche, because not only has he lived through nihilism, but he has left it outside of himself. One conclusion we can draw from this statement is that the overman lives after nihilism is at an end. Nihilism is for Nietzsche only a negative concept. Do we just want to come up with new eternal values and ideals to place in the metaphysical (eternal) world? Answer: no. Incomplete nihilism is the replace of one set of values with a new set of values. God is dead, but for example, socialism now lives. Complete nihilism is changing the very nature of the way of all value positing. The overman lives after the highest values have de-valued themselves, the revaluation of all values, the new valuation within the “eternal” world, and final a new valuation and a new positing within the meaning of the earth.
In Thus Spoke Zarathustra, Zarathustra is the teacher and advocated a number of things, but it is clear that when he says in the Prologue (section 3), “I teach you the overman”. Who is the “you”? The subtitle of the book says, “A book for everyone and no one”. He is speaking to one and all. Zarathustra was the teacher of the “most abysmal thought”, namely, the eternal return of the same (in the section on the “Convalescent”). In Ecce Homo, Nietzsche is talking about his book Thus Spoke Zarathustra, he says at the beginning of the section, “The fundamental conception of this work, the idea of the eternal recurrence…” Nietzsche gives the first mention of the will to power in the Thus Spoke Zarathustra section “On the thousand and one goals”, but it plays a very minor role in Nietzsche’s project, but Heidegger places more emphasis on this in connection with the overman. The overman and the idea of eternal return of the same belong together. The will to power relationship to the overman is less clear in terms of supporting a straight interpretation of some text. How are the ideas related? How are they related in reality? Or, just some ideas?
Nietzsche’s last major work was going to be The Will to Power: attempt as a revaluation of all values. This was perhaps mentioned in a letter to his sister in 1886. The idea of the will to power starts to take center stage at least for awhile. By the time we get to Ecce Homo: How one becomes what one is which was written in 1888, it seems that the overman has dropped into the background for Nietzsche. There are only a few remarks and nothing of the importance of the overman for Nietzsche. We can say that the conceptualization of the overman for Nietzsche was finished. What he knew, he had told us by then.
There are three texts here. First is Nietzsche published and unpublished writings, the second is Heidegger’s writings, and third is the text of life. If this written text which is in front of you now is too long, then you must consider what Nietzsche said in a draft to Ecce Homo, he said, “I am brief; my readers themselves must become long and comprehensive in order to bring up and together all that I have thought, and thought deep down.” Both Heidegger and I are Nietzsche’s readers that have become too long. Each step is a step beyond… and off of this page.
Why do we need overman? I am just fine. Man is fine “as is”. What Humanity does not meet your highest requirements? There is something wrong with mankind. Just leave mankind in its current state. Perhaps the idea of the overman will harm mankind. Nietzsche thought the idea of the overman as a gift from Zarathustra. The herd is becoming more mediocre, but with billions of people on earth at least we can say it survives. The greatest zenith of mankind may have already been reached. The wave is on the down hill side. Dare we mention the great and exceptional man who strongly moved both Hegel and Nietzsche – Napoleon? Does this surprise you?
Nietzsche said at the beginning of the Thus Spoke Zarathustra, “Man is something that shall be
overcome. What have you done to overcome
him?” What? Now we have to do some work. I thought Nietzsche was more interested in the
gay science (Die fröhliche Wissenschaft (“la
The concept of overman needs to be polished and purified for us to bring it forth. The concept of Modern man may not be so clear either.
If Being (Sein) is an empty fiction for Nietzsche, then how can Heidegger point to this special relationship of Being for the overman? I think Nietzsche would have listened carefully.
What is the context and place for a critical debate with Nietzsche and Heidegger over the idea of the overman? We read Nietzsche and we read Heidegger, but there is more just an interpretation of some texts, since reality talks through them to us. We keep them alive to hear them today.
During the birth of the overman we feel the power and strengthen within us (Will to Power, #1060, 1884). How can man create the overman through either will to power or the eternal return of the same? The essence of human being is undetermined and for us a riddle (Ratsel). We can muse and reflect on the essential nature of mankind, but the answer is unknown and hopefully we will never know, but we must always be in search of and attempt to unriddle our ultimate and unsolvable riddle. In our search we may reach a deeper understanding and deeper conceptualization as we are underway toward ourselves. The purpose and goal of mankind will be written on the epitaph of mankind. There is a hint and fragrance that human being maybe more than our animality. What more can there be?
How is the overman anything more than just an anthropological concept? Is Nietzsche just doing philosophical anthropology? Or, is this perhaps a special kind of psychology. Both Freud and Jung learned a great deal from Nietzsche. Thought in terms of metaphysics this is the last stage of absolute consummated subjectivity (subiectum).
Is the overman merely the most human of all humans, like the title of one of Nietzsche’s books – Human, All-to-Human? Human beings humanized to the point of being the most human (less animal rationale, less metaphysical man). This is all contra to the herd animal. Need we say more? We can we say, ‘everything is merely subjective’ (Will to Power, #1059, 1884).
What is the counter position to humanization? Answer: dehumanizing, non-humanizing, a-humanizing, dishumanization, or humanizationlessness.
Although we can point to the overman, the exact nature of the overman is still in the process of becoming. Just like the essential nature of man is still open, the essential nature of the overman is open as well. There are clues and glimmers into the nature of the overman, but between Nietzsche and Heidegger we are still opening up the question mark of the overman. Overman as question mark.
Can the overman be both all powerful and all wise at the same time? Answer: yes, of course. Think of the obvious connections to Plato’s Republic, philosopher kings.
Surpassing man. Is it
The greatness in the human beings is amor fati (Ecce Homo, Part II, section 10).
The overman shows us amor fati.
If you disagree with mediocrity and the common, herd animal, only then are you now ready for the birth of the overman.
Nietzsche said, “No, the goal of humanity cannot lie in the end but only in it highest Exemplaren (examples)”. (Untimely Meditations [Second], “On the Use and Abuse of History for Life,” 1874, section IX). (The title is some times translated as Unfashionable observations). In German Nietzsche wrote, “Nein, das Ziel der Menschheit kann nicht am Ende liegen, sondern nur in ihren höchsten Exemplaren.” (Unzeitgemässe Betrachtungen. Zweites Stück. Vom Nutzen und Nachtheil der Historie für das Leben, section IX). So, we are not waiting on history for the overman to appear, but rather, we are waiting on the right conditions and right events for the overman to appear on earth or perhaps the overman has already appeared.
Auseinandersetzung with Nietzsche and Heidegger on the overman.
Rip into to it and do not give up.
The sensuous means for Nietzsche the Dionysus element is the essential nature of the meaning of the earth. At the end of Ecce Home, Nietzsche said, “Have I been understood? – Dionysus versus the Crucified.” We can rephrases this along the lines of the Platonic hierarchy, the sensuous versus supersensuous. Although Heidegger is quick to point out even in the counter reversal of Platonism, it is still a reversal of a metaphysical (Platonism) distinction. The supersensuous is the counterconcept and the negation of life and that indicate to meaning of the earth, namely, the earth as the home of mortals. Nietzsche said, “To sin against the earth is now the most dreadful thing, and to esteem the entrails of the unknowable higher than the meaning of the earth.” (Thus Spoke Zarathustra, ‘Zarathustra Prologue’, section 3).
The self-overcoming and surpassing of man is the overman and the overman shall become the greatest reality and truth.
Nietzsche said about Thus Spoke Zarathustra “The body is inspired; let us keep the “soul” out of it.’ (Ecce Homo). The “soul” has started the process of decomposition (Verwesung) and is no longer alive and is decaying (verwesen). So, now is the time and the return of the “body”. I would say it is time for mortals on earth again. Plus, we have Nietzsche’s curse (The Antichrist) against Christianity and the concept of the soul. Nietzsche as a physician cuts the soul out of the body. As Nietzsche one time said, “you despisers of the body” (Verächter des Leibes), you do not go to the bridges of the overman. The body has an aspect of animality, but for Nietzsche the body is man without a soul. One can not lose the body and the body is beyond the distinction of res cogitans and res extensa, that is, the body is a being in the world.
There are various kinds of thinking involved in Heidegger’s elucidations of Nietzsche:
1) valuative thinking
2) metaphysical thinking
3) representational thinking
4) preparatory thinking (Heidegger points to this way of thinking)
5) or, recollective thinking (Andenken)
This “kinds of thinking” means a methodology, scope, limitation, boundaries, and a ranking. Some kinds of thinking are superseded. The sense is that valuative, metaphysical, and representational thinking is negative and that Heidegger here speaks of preparatory thinking (das anfängliche Denken). In Heidegger’s second major work the Contributions to Philosophy (from Ereignis); Heidegger has a whole range of “kinds of thinking”:
1) inceptual thinking (das anfängliche Denken)
2) thinking that is underway (Gedanken-gang)
3) Being-historical thinking (seyngeschichtliches Denken)
4) enthinking of Being (Erdenken des Seyns).
5) enthinking (Er-denken)
Nietzsche’s valuative thinking and value-metaphysics is a leading issue for Heidegger’s critique. The value of values, the ranking, the revaluation of all values, nihilism as the highest values devaluing themselves, positing of new values, principal of all value-positing, hierarchy of values, all of these expressions of Nietzsche’s are connected to one of the most crucial concept of Nietzsche’s, namely, the will to power. In the Will to Power (#588, 1883-1886), Nietzsche said, “The question of values is more fundamental than the question of certainty: the latter becomes serious only by presupposing that the value question has already been answered.” The question of certainty echoes and re-echoes with Descartes and Hegel. Of course Nietzsche would rather have heaps of beautiful possibilities than a handful of any “certainties”. The correspondence theory of truth (Descartes and Hegel again) assume the certainty between the idea and the thing in the world or the self-representation (noein) in the mind to correspond with the object out there in the world. Values are on the side of subjectivity. Objects are assigned a value. Truth can be thought metaphysically as certitude.
Can our nostalgia bring us home to a time rather than a space? This would be for homesickness for the times of the Greeks before Christianity and the need for our soul to ascend to heaven, before sin, before we had lost our mortal way. This homesickness that would allow for the Greek ideal of mortals on earth linked to Nietzsche’s overman. We become who we are in a golden time. In other words, the utopia of Plato’s Republic or is this individual (the overman) in a modern utopia that Nietzsche is hinting at with his idea of the overman. Perhaps the overman only lives in a utopia. Would that utopia appear to be more Greek or more the modern man? I think both Nietzsche and Heidegger would appear to have some significant Greek aspects and ideals. Certainly, Nietzsche would be more noticeably and Heidegger would have a Greek tendency in his four-fold (das Geviert). But nevertheless, Heidegger would not have the concept of the overman.
If you see the overman on the road, then kill him. If you see the Buddha on the road, do not laugh. The overman is not the devil, but we are not yet ready for him.
If the overman is a hope, then it is question of chance and probability that the overman is coming. I think there is a 20% chance that the overman is coming in the next hundred years. What kind of thinking is this? Why does it sound so strange to our ears?
Zarathustra teaches and advocates two ideas at the same time, namely, the overman and the eternal return of the same. Zarathustra animals say, “you are the teacher of the eternal return – that is now your destiny” (The Convalescent). One simple way of thinking out the issue of the overman is to say that the overman is the one who can embrace and affirm the thought of the eternal return of the same.
Nietzsche said, “I come again eternally to this identical and self-same life, in its greatest and its smallest, to teach again the eternal return of all things” (Thus Spoke Zarathustra, Section 57). “Ich komme ewig wieder zu diesem gleichen und selbigen Leben, im Grössten und auch im Kleinsten, dass ich wieder aller Dinge ewige Wiederkunft lehre.” (Thus Spoke Zarathustra, Section 57). Can we say “yes”?
The necessity of the eternal return of the same is the breaking point for Nietzsche, so it only affirming this as the greatest burden will you begin the birth of the overman. At end of the aphorism #341 of The Gay Science, Nietzsche says, “Or, how beneficent would you have to become toward yourself and toward life to demand nothing more than this eternal sanction and seal?” The overman as the over-humanization of being human and that we would “demand nothing more than this eternal sanction and seal” of our human, all-to-human existence as mortals on earth. Right after the section where Nietzsche says the “overman shall be the meaning of the earth!” he continues, “I beseech you my brothers, remain faithful to the earth, and do not believe those who speak to you of otherworldly hopes!” Poison-mixers are they, whether they know it or not. Despisers of life are they, decaying and poisoned themselves, of whom the earth is weary: so let them go.” (Thus Spoke Zarathustra, ‘Zarathustra Prologue’, section 3). Therefore, the overman is one who remains faithful to the earth and does not believe in otherworldly (metaphysical suprasensory world, Platonic ideals and ideas, heaven) hopes.
The meaning and implication of the overman to the earth (Erde) is a very key point. Nietzsche’s concepts of the earth shows Nietzsche trying to over turn and overcome (Unkehrung, over turning) Plato’s ideas are above the world in the suprasensory (Übersinnlichen). Heidegger wants to point out that these ideas have died and are decomposing (Verwesung). However, the earth is solid and is where we live. On one hand, the overman is the meaning of the earth, this is the ontological point; and then Nietzsche says the overman “shall (sei)” be the meaning of the earth, this is not the moral point but rather a command, and it shall be! What would be the counter concept to the meaning of the earth, the overman shall be the meaning of heaven. The Christian concept of eschatology would not be the earth, but heaven. Nietzsche wants nothing to do with heaven.
Zarathustra is a teacher and Nietzsche is putting this up front right in the Prologue that the overman is one of the main things that the overman is teaching us. Who is he teaching to? Are we the last man? Or, just human beings? The title of the book gives us a clue, Thus Spoke Zarathustra: A book for everyone and no one.
Looking back from the point of view of the overman, Nietzsche tells us that man will be a “laughing stock (Gelächter)” or just a “shame (Scham)”. This is looking back from the future after the overman has appeared.
The overman is the earth, not stars (Sternen) or seeking the ground (Grund). Sacrifice (opfern, Opfer) man to the earth.
Now it is time for man to set his goal (Ziel). Nietzsche wants this as the highest hope (höchsten Hoffnung) for man. Note that this is not an ontological or a straight claim that man will become the overman, rather, that this Nietzsche’s hope.
The meaning of Seins taught by Zarathustra is the overman. Overman as Lightning out a dark cloud. (German: Ich will die Menschen den Sinn ihres Seins lehren: welcher ist der Übermensch, der Blitz aus der dunklen Wolke Mensch).
Where the state ceases (aufhört) there is the rainbow and bridges to the overman. Why the attack on the state by Nietzsche? This almost sounds like Karl Marx, the state shall whither away. Or, a thinker and anarchist like Mikhail Aleksandrovich Bakunin (1814-1876). Nietzsche said, “Staat heisst das kälteste aller kalten Ungeheuer. Kalt lügt es auch; und diese Lüge kriecht aus seinem Munde: "Ich, der Staat, bin das Volk”.
When people looked out upon distant seas they would say God was out there, but only now, Zarathustra teaches you to say, the overman. The overman has replaced God. Remember God is dead and now the overman lives (“God died: only we will, that the overman lives!” “Gott starb: nun wollen wir, - dass der Übermensch lebe!”). This overman is not someone you would want to pray to, not a causa prima, not a causa sui, and not the summum ens qua summum bonum. Where did Nietzsche start from, “I do not by any means know atheism as a result; even less as an event” (Ecce Homo, ‘Why I am so Clever’ section 1). So, in away God was not alive and then did not died for Nietzsche, rather, Nietzsche was an atheist from his early youth. But he is telling us that the death of God is the prerequisite for the overman to live. Remember though Mr. Nietzsche is neither the Zarathustra nor the overman. What idea of God does Nietzsche have in mind? What are the theological elements in Nietzsche?
Nietzsche at the beginning of Ecce Homo, he says, “I have a subtler sense of smell for the signs of ascent and decline than any other human being before me; I am the teacher par excellence for this – I know both, I am both” (Ecce Homo ‘Why I am so Wise’, section 1). Zarathustra is a teacher and advocate. Why does Nietzsche need Zarathustra as a teacher? Why are there so many teachers around? Nietzsche’s uses these literary devices and technique to communicated complex ideas by analogies and images. The clarification of concepts and ideas are purified through language by Nietzsche.
Heidegger wants to make philosophy a preparation to hearing Hölderlin (Contributions to Philosophy (from Ereignis), et. p. 421). This is from the late 1930s, but where is Nietzsche. Nietzsche is part of the long history from Anaximander to end and culmination of metaphysics with Nietzsche. Nietzsche still holds on to the old metaphysical distinction between Being (Parmenides) Becoming (Heraclitus). Heidegger often quotes the Will to Power, #617, (1886-1887), where Nietzsche said, “To stamp Becoming with the character of Being – that is the supreme will to power”. The overman is on the side of flux, frenzy (Wahnsinn), lightning (Blitz), and the chaos within one self. The overman is the one who stamps Becoming on Being (Sein) with the will to power.
The overman has certain incomprehensibility (Unvereinbarkeit) according to Heidegger. One way of the thinking about this impenetrability makes it sound like that Nietzsche’s overman is some kind mystical idea. I think there are really two sides that Heidegger is getting at with this remark. One of the issues is the historical interpretations that have grown up around Nietzsche’s concept of the overman. The second issue is the way Nietzsche has presented the concept through the literary use of a “novel”. The metaphoric image of the overman requires the art of exegesis, because this not a straight forward philosophical concept laid out in an essay or a part of philosophical system like Hegel. Nietzsche used different philosophical methodology as way of communicating his complex ideas. He was famous for using the philosophical aphorism in a number of his books as well. Heidegger’s method of thinking the unthought in a philosopher’s thinking makes Heidegger’s task even more difficult. Not only must Heidegger think Nietzsche’s thought, but he wants to think through Nietzsche ideas to where Nietzsche wanted to take the idea but could not. This is where Nietzsche shrank back from the edge of his thinking. Plus, the reading of these texts is a hermeneutical situation and Heidegger gives part of himself to the interpretation. Heidegger never does give an ahistorical reading of a philosopher or poet. Alfred Denker has remarked Heidegger never gives an ‘innocence’ interpretation of a philosopher. What is the purpose of reading a philosopher? Getting a philosopher right or to bring a dead philosopher into today’s lively debate and let them speak to the current serious issues. In this way we respect them and let them live again.
Kant idea of the overman would be
some one who knew the moral law within. According to Kant, this would be one
who acted on the moral imperative even though Kant did not seem to follow that
in his own life. So much for ad hominem
-- does that take anything way from Kant’s idea? And as Nietzsche remark for “The honeymoon of
German philosophy arrived. All the young
theologians of the
What is the historical background to Nietzsche’s overman? Plato’s philosopher-kings are the only ones that I can think of right now. Is the overman a proto-Da-sein (Heidegger’s Da-sein of Being and Time)? What are similarities and differences between Nietzsche’s overman and Heidegger’s Da-sein? I can see no similarities and the differences are overwhelming. In a very general way the overman and Da-sein might be seen as philosophical anthropology, but Heidegger would deny characterization or at least he would say that he was struggling to get away from metaphysical thinking. Note: Heidegger even tried to use a different approach to language to express his thinking. For example, instead of talking about the analysis of human beings or man or women or humanity, he used the concept of Dasein or Da-sein or Da-Sein. This is just one sign of Heidegger consciously using a different language to try to move beyond philosophical anthropology. Perhaps a Kantian slip into foundations was one way that pushed Heidegger out of philosophical anthropology. On the other hand, Nietzsche’s overman moves forward into the future, and into a “shall” and a “hope”. Nietzsche said, “It is time for man to plant the germ of his highest hope (Es ist an der Zeit, dass der Mensch den Keim seiner höchsten Hoffnung pflanze)” (Thus Spoke Zarathustra, ‘Zarathustra Prologue’, section 4). Heidegger’s analysis of Da-sein in Being and Time has no place for the “highest hope”. Heidegger’s hermeneutical phenomenological methodology is far removed from Nietzsche’s novel.
Nietzsche moves within the cloud of Platonism. Even when he is critical of Platonism, he is still breathing Plato’s air. Even when he is trying to reverse or invert Platonism, he is still breathing Plato’s air. Even when Nietzsche says Christianity is Platonism for the people, he is still breathing Plato’s air. Is the Christian the counterconcept to the overman? Nietzsche would say, “Yes, please say it is so”. What is the theological relationship between the overman and God? Answer: none. What is the onto-theo-logical nature of the overman?
There are no philosophical propositions or proof for the overman. But, “Yes, this is a true philosophical proposition about the overman but not a proof of the overman”. This is not an empirical science or psychology or sociology of the overman, but rather, philosophical thinking at the edge. Nietzsche is giving us clues and signs. The methodology that Nietzsche used can be called: genealogy or semeiotology or sympotomatology (Twilight of the Idols). In speaking about his ideas, he says that they have become “riper, clearer, stronger, and more perfect…pointing imperiously into the depths, speaking more and more precisely, demanding greater and greater precision. For this alone is fitting for a philosopher.” (Genealogy of Morals, ‘Preface’ section 2). So, we see that Nietzsche’s methodology, and his measure and standard for ideas is not an empirical representation of the certain truth of the external world. These are not falsifiable or verifiable statements of science, rather, philosophical questions and reflections that are elucidated and purified.
Is philosophy some kind of an objective description of the external world? Hegel’s Science of Logic (Wissenschaft der Logik) is the greatest attempt at laying out the world via the categories in the mind of God before creation of nature and a finite spirit.
(Man kann sich deswegen ausdrücken, daß dieser Inhalt die Darstellung Gottes ist, wie er in seinem ewigen Wesen vor der Erschaffung der Natur und eines endlichen Geistes ist. In Hegel’s Wissenschaft der Logik, section ‘Einleitung Allgemeiner Begriff der Logik’).
This is a complete metaphysical system of the highest order. What does Nietzsche think about philosophers? I think these remarks are his clearest and sharpest presentation of his position, Nietzsche said, “Gradually it has become clear to me what every great philosophy so far has been: namely, the personal confession of its author and a kind of involuntary and unconscious memoir; also that the moral (or immoral) intentions in every philosophy constituted the real germ of life from which the whole plant had grown” (Beyond Good and Evil, Part 1, section 6). Did Sigmund Freud read Nietzsche or what? Freud had high praise for Nietzsche and Carl G. Jung did a seminar on Nietzsche that spread over years. We can also attempt to apply Nietzsche’s position on philosophy to Nietzsche’s overman. Thus, Nietzsche’s overman is some kind of autobiographical report of Mr. Nietzsche. Nietzsche speaks of writing only from his direct experience.
Nietzsche said, “The dangers for a philosopher’s development are indeed so manifold today that one may doubt whether this fruit can still be ripen at all” (Beyond Good and Evil, Section 6, 205). The feeling that the overman will not come is spreading.
Is it amor fati
or amor dei? Is it Nietzsche or
Let us get it right.
How can it be decided that the overman lives? Is this a simple question? The overman still lives within metaphysics.
Are the last man and the overman different levels of self-consciousness as described by Hegel in his science of the experience of consciousness (phenomenology of spirit)? Which ones? Are they in-history?
Why does overman live at or ? Is this a point in history? How does the overman break into history? Where is the dividing line between before and after with regard to the overman?
Is there is a strand of Utopian vision in Heidegger? Heidegger does not project a vision of
civilization, culture, or society; but rather, a vision of man’s place and
relationship on earth. His thoughts and
critical struggle with nihilism, metaphysics-ism, technology as enframing, etc.
are meant to explore the nature of man’s relationship to Being (as Ereignis).
So, he does have a kind of goal and teleology.
You might say eschatology, but this would need more thinking and seems
to be in the wrong direction (theology).
Nietzsche’s overman has an eschatological aspect. Overman – equals Nietzsche utopia. How would
*My life and my destiny is “non legor, non legar”. “I am not read, I will not be read.”
Zweiter Band. Zweite
Pfullingen: Verlag Günther Neske, 1961.
Section: Nietzsches Metaphysik (1940).
Subsection: Der Übermensch (pages: 291-314).
Martin Heidegger web page: www.martin-heidegger.org
Nietzsche’s works in German:
1878 Menschliches Allzumenschliches: Ein Buch für freie Geister
1881 Die Morgenröte: Gedanken über die moralischen Vorurtheile
1882 Die fröhliche Wissenschaft: ("la gaya scienza")
1883-1891 Also sprach Zarathustra: Ein Buch für Alle und Keinen
1887 Zur Genealogie der Moral
1888 Der Antichrist: Fluch auf das Christenthum
1888 Der Fall Wagner: Ein Musikanten-Problem
1896 Götzendämmerung: oder Wie man mit dem Hammer philosophirt
1908 Ecce Homo: Wie man wird, was man ist