5 Nov 2008

Nietzsche’s Intensity of Life and Will

by Corry Shores
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The Stoic purports to live according to nature by living indifferently. But, “living – is that not precisely wanting to be other than this nature? Is not living – estimating, preferring, being unjust, being limited, wanting to be different?” (Beyond Good and Evil §9). Thus living is living intensely: forcing differences together to create change. No life without change.

And life does not seek primarily survival: “a living thing seeks above all to discharge its strength – life itself is will to power,” and self-preservation is merely its accidental byproduct (§13).

Willing is complicated, because when one wills oneself to do something, one commands oneself. But then one is both commander and servant, feeling at once these contrary affects (§19). But “he who wills believes with a fair amount of certainty that will and action are somehow one; he ascribes the success, the carrying out of the willing, to the will itself, and thereby enjoys an increase in the sensation of power which accompanies all successes” (§19).

And there is not merely one part of us that is commanded, because our bodies are populated with countless “under-wills” or “under-souls.” One prevails over the rest, and we choose to identify with that winning soul (§19).

Hence willing is intense, because a multitude of competing forces within us battle for supremacy, explicated as willed action.

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