Thus Spoke Zarathustra

by: Friedrich Nietzsche

Part II: Chapters 8–18

On the Land of Education

Modern people accumulate the learning of all past ages and parade this knowledge as their own. They take pride in their skepticism, in being free from faith and superstition, but this is only because they themselves are empty and have created nothing of their own.

On Immaculate Perception

Zarathustra criticizes contemplative people who claim that they merely want to perceive the world without interfering with it. He says that they feel guilty imposing themselves upon the world, and so they repress their will to create. They want to reflect, like the moon, rather than radiate, like the sun. Beauty is not a thing one views from afar. Beauty is where the acts of willing and creating are at their strongest.

On Scholars

Zarathustra criticizes scholars for being uncreative and petty, accumulating knowledge as if it were an amusing pastime.

On Poets

While Zarathustra admires poets for their creativity, he complains that they try to appear deeper than they are. Ultimately, one finds old prejudices and assumptions at the bottom of their pretty writings. Zarathustra also leaves us with a little warning, saying of poets, "we…lie too much."

On Great Events

Great events—such as the invention of new values—are hardly noticed. The state and the church make all sorts of self-important noises, but they have no real impact on things. The people take little notice of what Zarathustra has said, as they are more interested in a ghost of Zarathustra that flew by crying out "It is time! It is high time!"

Analysis

The chapter, "On Self-Overcoming," contains one of the more comprehensive accounts of Nietzsche's philosophy of the will to power. The concept of the will to power underlies all of Nietzsche's mature thought, and all of his conclusions should theoretically follow from this one principle. The principle, in brief, states that all life strives for power. This one word, "power," comprehends a number of different things, though. On the one hand, there is the externalized, physical power of the barbarian who rapes, conquers, and pillages, and on the other hand, there is the internalized, spiritual power of the ascetic monk, who fasts and meditates. In both of these cases, and in all others, we might get a better handle on the concept of power by thinking of it as freedom from external constraint. The barbarian doesn't have to do what other people tell him to do because he can kill them, while the ascetic monk has even freed himself from the demands of his body.