The Will to Power II
Category: Ideas
Genres: Philosophy
Level 11.54 11:29 h
The Will to Power II is the second half of a book of notes, writings, and fragments of work from Friedrich Nietzsche. The collection was brought together by the philosopher's sister Elisba eth. She titled the book after a proposed book Nietsche was to write before his death. The work was translated and published in 1910. Read this collection of posthumous pieces and work that fills in the gaps and closes out Nietsche's life work.

The Will to Power

An Attempted Transvaluation of all Values

Vol. II
Books III and IV

Friedrich Nietzsche

The Will to Power II

Third Book
The Principles of a New Valuation

The Will to Power in Science

(a) The Method of Investigation.


The distinguishing feature of our nineteenth century is not the triumph of science, but the triumph of the scientific method over science.


The history of scientific methods was regarded by Auguste Comte almost as philosophy itself.


The great Methodologists: Aristotle, Bacon, Descartes, Auguste Comte.


The most valuable knowledge is always discovered last: but the most valuable knowledge consists of methods.

All methods, all the hypotheses on which the science of our day depends, were treated with the profoundest contempt for centuries: on their account a man used to be banished from the society of respectable people — he was held to be an “enemy of God,” a reviler of the highest ideal, a madman.

We had the whole pathos of mankind against us, — our notion of what “truth” ought to be, of what the service of truth ought to be, our objectivity, our method, our calm, cautious and distrustful manner were altogether despicable.... At bottom, that which has kept men back most, is an æsthetic taste: they believed in the picturesque effect of truth; what they demanded of the scientist was, that he should make a strong appeal to their imagination.

From the above, it would almost seem as if the very reverse had been achieved, as if a sudden jump had been made: as a matter of fact, the schooling which the moral hyperboles afforded, gradually prepared the way for that milder form of pathos which at last became incarnate in the scientific man....

Conscientiousness in small things, the self-control of the religious man, was a preparatory school for the scientific character, as was also, in a very pre-eminent sense, the attitude of mind which makes a man take problems seriously, irrespective of what personal advantage he may derive from them....

(b) The Starting-point of Epistemology.


Profound disinclination to halt once and for all at any collective view of the world. The charm of the opposite point of view: the refusal to relinquish the stimulus residing in the enigmatical.


The hypothesis that, at bottom, things proceed in such a moral fashion that human reason must be right, is a mere piece of good-natured and simple-minded trustfulness, the result of the belief in Divine truthfulness — God regarded as the Creator of all things. — These concepts are our inheritance from a former existence in a Beyond.


The contradiction of the so-called “facts of consciousness.” Observation a thousand times more difficult, error is perhaps the absolute condition of observation.


The intellect cannot criticise itself, simply because it can be compared with no other kind of intellect, and also because its ability to know would only reveal itself in the presence of “actual reality”; that is to say, because, in order to criticise the intellect, we should have to be higher creatures with “absolute knowledge.” This would presuppose the existence of something, a “thing-in-itself,” apart from all the perspective kinds of observation and senso-spiritual perception. But the psychological origin of the belief in things, forbids our speaking of “things in themselves.”


The idea that a sort of adequate relation exists between subject and object, that the object is something which when seen from inside would be a subject, is a well-meant invention which, I believe, has seen its best days. The measure of that which we are conscious of, is perforce entirely dependent upon the coarse utility of the function of consciousness: how could this little garret-prospect of consciousness warrant our asserting anything in regard to “subject” and “object,” which would bear any relation to reality!


Criticism of modern philosophy: erroneous starting-point, as if there were such things as “facts of consciousness” — and no phenomenalism in introspection.


“Consciousness” — to what extent is the idea which is thought of, the idea of will, or the idea of a feeling (which is known by us alone), quite superficial? Our inner world is also “appearance.”


I am convinced of the phenomenalism of the inner world also: everything that reaches our consciousness is utterly and completely adjusted, simplified, schematised, interpreted, the actual process of inner “perception,” the relation of causes between thoughts, feelings, desires, between subject and object, is absolutely concealed from us, and may be purely imaginary. This “inner world of appearance” is treated with precisely the same forms and procedures as the “outer” world. We never come across a single “fact”: pleasure and pain are more recently evolved intellectual phenomena....

Causality evades us; to assume the existence of an immediate causal relation between thoughts, as Logic does, is the result of the coarsest and most clumsy observation. There are all sorts of passions that may intervene between two thoughts: but the interaction is too rapid — that is why we fail to recognise them, that is why we actually deny their existence....

“Thinking,” as the epistemologists understand it, never takes place at all: it is an absolutely gratuitous fabrication, arrived at by selecting one element from the process and by eliminating all the rest — an artificial adjustment for the purpose of the understanding....

The “mind,” something that thinks: at times, even, “the mind absolute and pure” — this concept is an evolved and second result of false introspection, which believes in “thinking”: in the first place an act is imagined here which does not really occur at all, i.e. “thinking”; and, secondly, a subject-substratum is imagined in which every process of this thinking has its origin, and nothing else — that is to say, both the action and the agent are fanciful.


Phenomenalism must not be sought in the wrong quarter: nothing is more phenomenal, or, to be more precise, nothing is so much deception, as this inner world, which we observe with the “inner sense.”

Our belief that the will is a cause was so great, that, according to our personal experiences in general, we projected a cause into all phenomena (i.e. a certain motive is posited as the cause of all phenomena).

We believe that the thoughts which follow one upon the other in our minds are linked by some sort of causal relation: the logician, more especially, who actually speaks of a host of facts which have never once been seen in reality, has grown accustomed to the prejudice that thoughts are the cause of thoughts.

We believe — and even our philosophers believe it still — that pleasure and pain are the causes of reactions, that the very purpose of pleasure and pain is to occasion reactions. For hundreds of years, pleasure and pain have been represented as the motives for every action. Upon reflection, however, we are bound to concede that everything would have proceeded in exactly the same way, according to precisely the same sequence of cause and effect, if the states “pleasure” and “pain” had been entirely absent; and that we are simply deceived when we believe that they actually cause anything: — they are the attendant phenomena, and they have quite a different purpose from that of provoking reactions; they are in themselves effects involved in the process of reaction which takes place.

In short: Everything that becomes conscious is a final phenomenon, a conclusion — and is the cause of nothing; all succession of phenomena in consciousness is absolutely atomistic. — And we tried to understand the universe from the opposite point of view — as if nothing were effective or real, save thinking, feeling, willing!...


The phenomenalism of the “inner world!” A chronological inversion takes place, so that the cause reaches consciousness as the effect. — We know that pain is projected into a certain part of the body although it is not really situated there; we have learnt that all sensations which were ingenuously supposed to be conditioned by the outer world are, as a matter of fact, conditioned by the inner world: that the real action of the outer world never takes place in a way of which we can become conscious.... That fragment of the outer world of which we become conscious, is born after the effect produced by the outer world has been recorded, and is subsequently interpreted as the “cause” of that effect....

In the phenomenalism of the “inner world,” the chronological order of cause and effect is inverted. The fundamental fact of “inner experience” is, that the cause is imagined after the effect has been recorded.... The same holds good of the sequence of thoughts: we seek for the reason of a thought, before it has reached our consciousness; and then the reason reaches consciousness first, whereupon follows its effect. All our dreams are the interpretation of our collective feelings with the view of discovering the possible causes of the latter; and the process is such that a condition only becomes conscious, when the supposed causal link has reached consciousness.

The whole of “inner experience” is founded on this: that a cause is sought and imagined which accounts for a certain irritation in our nerve-centres, and that it is only the cause which is found in this way which reaches consciousness; this cause may have absolutely nothing to do with the real cause — it is a sort of groping assisted by former “inner experiences,” that is to say, by memory. The memory, however, retains the habit of old interpretations, — that is to say, of erroneous causality, — so that “inner experience” comprises in itself all the results of former erroneous fabrications of causes. Our “outside world,” as we conceive it every instant, is indissolubly bound up with the old error of cause: we interpret by means of the schematism of “the thing,” etc.

“Inner experience” only enters consciousness when it has found a language which the individual can understand — that is to say, a translation of a certain condition into conditions with which he is familiar; “understand” means simply this: to be able to express something new in the terms of something old or familiar. For instance, “I feel unwell” — a judgment of this sort presupposes a very great and recent neutrality on the part of the observer: the simple man always says, “This and that make me feel unwell,” — he begins to be clear concerning his indisposition only after he has discovered a reason for it.... This is what I call a lack of philological knowledge; to be able to read a text, as such, without reading an interpretation into it, is the latest form of “inner experience,” — it is perhaps a barely possible form....


There are no such things as “mind,” reason, thought, consciousness, soul, will, or truth: they all belong to fiction, and can serve no purpose. It is not a question of “subject and object,” but of a particular species of animal which can prosper only by means of a certain exactness, or, better still, regularity in recording its perceptions (in order that experience may be capitalised)....

Knowledge works as an instrument of power. It is therefore obvious that it increases with each advance of power....

The purpose of knowledge: in this case, as in the case of “good” or “beautiful,” the concept must be regarded strictly and narrowly from an anthropocentric and biological standpoint. In order that a particular species may maintain and increase its power, its conception of reality must contain enough which is calculable and constant to allow of its formulating a scheme of conduct. The utility of preservation — and not some abstract or theoretical need to eschew deception — stands as the motive force behind the development of the organs of knowledge; ... they evolve in such a way that their observations may suffice for our preservation. In other words, the measure of the desire for knowledge depends upon the extent to which the Will to Power grows in a certain species: a species gets a grasp of a given amount of reality, in order to master it, in order to enlist that amount in its service.

(c) The Belief in the “Ego.” Subject.


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