Do ideas bring about "power"?

Primarily, I may be thinking of a quote about hedonic pleasure, and how these bodily sensations of power "cannot be satisfied unless the agent has a desire for something else than power" (Reginster 2006). I take this to mean power and its experience are second order goods, and agents bring them about indirectly.

Its [the will of the spirit] object thereby is the incorporation of new "experiences," the assortment of new things in the old arrangements--in short, growth; or more properly, the FEELING of growth, the feeling of increased power--is its object.

If you think of the power as identical to the body, then maybe ideas are the first order goods that increase power.

This may be in part to ask whether Nietzsche a utopian and/or idealist in the Marxist sense. He seemed to want a better society for some, and I don't know how he explained how that might come about.

But now idealism was driven from its last refuge, the philosophy of history; now a materialistic treatment of history was propounded, and a method found of explaining man's "knowing" by his "being", instead of, as heretofore, his "being" by his "knowing". From that time forward, Socialism was no longer an accidental discovery of this or that ingenious brain, but the necessary outcome of the struggle between two historically developed classes - the proletariat and the bourgeoisie. Its task was no longer to manufacture a system of society as perfect as possible

Engels, Socialism Utopian and Scientific

It is pretty normal to use 'utopian' in this sense of lacking a scientific explanation of history, which must then be "idealistic", and utopian socialists are often criticised for having nothing but "plans" and ideas for a future society.

  • the semantically amusing title is forgivable right?
    – user66760
    Commented Jul 8, 2023 at 23:34
  • i clearly don't mean it quite like that, please don't @CriglCragl
    – user66760
    Commented Jul 9, 2023 at 2:19
  • 1
    You may like the book Ideas have consequences
    – Rushi
    Commented Jul 9, 2023 at 2:52
  • 1
    yeah idk, maybe i shouldn't have question @Rusi
    – user66760
    Commented Jul 9, 2023 at 2:54
  • 2
    @causative do you really have nothing better to do than misunderstanding language and hoping that someone thinks you're wittgenstein?
    – user66760
    Commented Jul 9, 2023 at 5:32

1 Answer 1


An idea is nothing more than an arrangement.

When your brain has an idea your brain's physical constituents - its nuerons etc, are arranged differently than they were when you didn't have the idea. If you have got a different idea your brain's constituents would have been arranged differently.

An idea is an arrangement of concepts. You can also say terms because deep down the two are same. An invention, say black powder, is an arrangement of concepts. You have this thing called charcoal, you have that thing called sulfur, you have a third thing called saltpeper, put them together in this arrangement. You have black powder.

What philosophers do is arrange concepts together in an attempt to give an insight to answer a why or to give a solution to a problem.

Some arrangements do have more power than others. Charcoal, sulfur and saltpeper arranged together to make black powder certainly have more power than them lieing separately. Put the black powder in rain, the wetness changes its arrangement, now it don't have the power till it get dry (another arrangement).

So, is it the bodies that have the power or the ideas? The answer is both. Ideas have it in abstract. Bodies - such as charcoal, sulfur and saltpeper - have it in concrete.

To effect anything physical, concrete power is needed. Your ideas unless conveyed to, and absorbed by a brain, has no effect on the brain. Both conveying and absorption requires some movement in physical world therefore needs bodies.

Nietzche's ideas are powerful only when applied. If they are ridiculed like national socialist's ideas are today then they would only be powerful enough to make people laugh. The power you are asking about - political power, or power to change people's lives wouldn't be there. It needs adoption - which is a type of absorption, by physical bodies - people.

  • I agree with what you say. I suppose any further clarity will be impossible
    – user66760
    Commented Jul 9, 2023 at 9:02

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