Will to Power

The fundamental drive motivating all things in the universe. The will to power, which Nietzsche refers to elsewhere as the "instinct for freedom," is the drive for autonomy from and dominance over all other wills. This will to power can find unrefined expression in the rape, pillage, and torture of primitive barbarians, or it can be refined into a cruelty turned against oneself, struggling to make oneself deeper, stronger, and with an independent mind.


The act of repressing one's immediate instincts for power in order to achieve a more refined expression of power. For instance, if I can resist the temptation to assault others, I can turn that instinct for cruelty inward upon myself, making my mind and my will stronger.

Eternal Recurrence

The central concept of Thus Spoke Zarathustra, which is only touched upon in this work. The eternal recurrence concerns a recognition that everything is connected and nothing is permanent, and that if one says "yes" to one thing in the universe, one must necessarily then be saying "yes" to everything. Nietzsche's ideal is the person who has the strength and courage for this universal affirmation.


Nietzsche's position regarding truth, which asserts that there is no such thing as an absolute truth, but merely different perspectives that one can adopt. We could think of truth as a sculpture, where there is no single "right" perspective to look at it. To properly appreciate the sculpture, we must walk around it, looking at it from as many different perspectives as possible. Similarly, Nietzsche insists that we should not get caught up in dogmatism, but rather look at the truth from as many perspectives as possible.

Slave Morality

The morality of the slave caste, who are poor, sick, and unhappy, and are oppressed and made to suffer by their "masters." They see life as something bad and wrong, and identify the masters as "evil" for enjoying life in all their health and riches. Consequently, they come to see themselves and all their sickly characteristics as "good." Also see master morality.

Master Morality

The morality of the aristocratic, or noble, caste, who are rich, healthy, and cheerful. They celebrate themselves as "good," seeing in themselves everything that is noble. By contrast, they establish a distance between themselves and the poor, sick, unhappy slaves, seeing the slaves' lot as contemptible and "bad." Also see slave morality.


The name Nietzsche often gives to the common, mediocre masses. He sees them as herd animals, lacking any individual will and living by group instincts. Nietzsche often speaks of "herd morality" as the democratic will to render everyone equal in mediocrity.

Free Spirit

Someone who has the flexibility of mind not to be caught up in any one point of view or dogma. A free spirit looks at the world from many different perspectives, uncovering the prejudices and assumptions that underlie any particular point of view.

Good European

Nietzsche's ideal citizen of Europe, who rises above nationalist sentiments in order to assert a free spirited individuality. Nietzsche considers Goethe, Napoleon, and Stendhal, among others, to be "good Europeans."


According to Nietzsche, we are both creature and creator. We are both the animal with its instincts for cruelty and aggression and the overman with his self-made will and set of values. In order to become more noble, to approximate the overman, we must turn our animal instincts for cruelty against the creature in us. In a painful process of self-examination and inner struggle, we must make ourselves deeper and stronger. Nietzsche calls this self-punishment "self-overcoming."


Literally, a belief in nothing. Nietzsche characterized his age as nihilistic, because of its unswerving faith in a science that describes the world as meaningless and under the sway of unchanging laws.