Primal Will Essay, Research Paper
How the ‘Primal Will’ evolves in Thus Spoke Zarathustra
This principle of life remains throughout Nietzsche’s writings. Although he will later criticize virtually all of Schopenhauer’s contributions as being either “pessimistic” or still under the sway of the Christian Moral Ideal, his initial conception of the will as primal becoming sustains itself into the later writings. To use the language of the *Nachlass*: Becoming equals the shifting combinations of varying configurations of “power constellations” interconnected at higher and lower levels. At certain points these constantly changing combinations yield sorrow for an individual from his or her perspective, at other points these changing combinations yield joy. The totality of these shifting combinations is *life itself*. This is Nietzsche’s sense of the *primal will* as it can be viewed from within the context of his entire enterprise. Thus we have the first appearance and the first meaning of the will in Nietzsche’s writings: It is the radical sense of becoming, life itself deified in the image of Dionysus.
Now this “life itself” (this primal will or becoming) leads to the second meaning of the will in Nietzsche’s writings, viz., the will of the child in *Thus Spoke Zarathustra*. The birth of the child, as the final metamorphosis of the spirit, can be seen as the *central event* of the book. It is equivalent to the birth of the Overman and thus it is Zarathustra’s fundamental teaching. This central event, however, must be seen in conjunction with the *basic thought* of the book. This is the darkest thought of the “eternal recurrence of the same” and it is Zarathustra’s gift to mankind. The problem becomes one of seeing how the central event (i.e., *the Ubermensch*) and the basic thought (i.e., eternal recurrence) are to be brought together. That is to say, how is Zarathustra’s teaching related to Zarathustra’s gift-giving? The answer to these conjunctions is to be found in the *activity of the child*. “The child”, Zarathustra says, “is…a self-propelling wheel…a sacred yes.” In the child, the spirit now wills its own will”. In interpreting this passage one can see the *will of the child* as bound to the *sacred yes of the child*. At bottom, the individual will, for Nietzsche, is not so much a kind of doing as it is a kind of *saying*.
Now the object of this yes-saying of the child is *life itself*. The child is able to affirm life, the Overman is able to overcome all resentment to life. He is able to “redeem” himself even to the point of overcoming time and its “is was.” It is here that the activity of the child embraces the gift of Zarathustra. The sacred yes of the child affirms itself most radically in the ability to will one’s life *whole* – not a “new life or a better life in the greatest things and in the smallest”. The mediating idea of eternal recurrence is the device by which an individual will is able to transform even the “it was” into an “I willed it thus.” The myth of the eternal recurrence entails, for Nietzsche, the ability to say yes to life in all that is dark and questionable. The myth demands from us the ability to stand within the stream of becoming and to will it once more. It demands from us the ability to adopt a Dionysian relationship to existence. Thus the central teaching of *Thus Spoke Zarathustra* involves the ability to receive Zarathustra’s gift; the will of the child involves a sacred yes to life.
The activity of the child i.e., the activity of the Overman, culminates in the will willing itself to return eternally in the great cycle of becoming. It culminates in a sacred yes to the Dionysian world of becoming and the individual self’s participation in that world, the sacred yes of the child is a twofold *amor fati*.
This twofold love of fate indicates the two senses of the will which run through *The Birth of Tragedy* and *Thus Spoke Zarathustra*. The will, for Nietzsche, is always related to life: In the early work, the *primal will* refers primarily to the general demarcation of life itself, while in the later work the *child’s will* refers primarily to individual self-affirmation. Fate is always a double fate, viz., my fate as a human being and my fate as *this* human being.
With this we have completed the first two senses of the will in Nietzsche’s philosophy. It is again to be noted that for Nietzsche the problem of the will is bound up neither with specifically moral problems (viz., the bringing of the good into the world) nor with traditional metaphysical problems (viz., of that which lies beyond the world) but rather with the problem of life. This connection between *will and life* is important since it gives us a clue to the problem of the *Nachlass*. As we shall see, Nietzsche’s *theory* of *will to power* is fundamentally an *interpretation of life*, an interpretation, furthermore, that takes its direction from a “new principle” of valuation which can be found in Nietzsche’s *notion of will to power*.
This distinction between *the theory* of will to power and *the notion* of will to power is of fundamental importance. The two are structurally related, with the notion serving as a ground for the theory and the theory serving as an interpretation of the notion. More specifically, the theory of will to power is a *world picture* which describes the evolution of interpretation and valuation. Yet the theory itself is an interpretation and valuation. The task is to see how interpretation and valuation emerge from *within* the theory and to see how this theory itself is a function of interpretation and valuation. To see this is to see the relation between the theory of will to power and the notion of will to power. Thus our procedure will be first to discuss the theory of will to power as it is presented in the *Nachlass* and then to discuss the notion of will to power as it is presented in the *Nachlass*.