Was Nietzsche right about the will to power? Specifically, did he (or any of his interpreters) prove (let's take Kant's system as a cut off for 'proof') that the will to power, either individually or otherwise, is the best criteria for judging whether something works (correct me if I'm wrong there).

If so, please sketch how he did so (that's why I ask, rather than for opinion).

While it may make intuitive sense to claim all sorts of things about "the will to power" (which I know little about), sacrificing all our idols and gods to it may also be a little rushed, whomever we are (nb my genuine but limited interest in Nietzsche stems from the desire to see the greatest thing, rather than how to recognise it).

  • hmm if i have misunderstood i will delete. thanks
    – user67155
    Aug 13 at 12:19

3 Answers 3


I don't believe Nietzsche ever intended the "will to power" as a concept to be empirically proven in the traditional sense. He was offering a philosophical perspective, not a scientific theory.

However, here are some quotes that provide a bit more context into how Nietzsche developed and presented the notion of will to power:

"This world is the will to power - and nothing besides! And you yourselves are also this will to power - and nothing besides!" (The Will to Power)

"Physiologists should think before putting down the instinct of self-preservation as the cardinal instinct of an organic being. A living thing seeks above all to discharge its strength - life itself is will to power; self-preservation is only one of the indirect and most frequent results." (Beyond Good and Evil)

"All events that result from intention arereductions of the feeling of the tension of the will to power....there is a striving to overcome, appropriate, incorporate and extend the force that is experienced." (The Will to Power notebooks)

In these quotes, we see Nietzsche developing the concept through introspection and philosophical reasoning, not empirical methods. He is essentially making arguments about human nature and psychology focused on a drive for self-assertion and overcoming obstacles. But again, this is an interpretative perspective, not something he claims to conclusively prove. Nietzsche sought to challenge accepted notions, not replace them with equally rigid dogmas


To begin with, in order to understand Nietzsche, you must first learn about his mentor, Schopenhauer, and how Schopenhauer demonstrated the concept of "will." In Schopenhauer's work "The World as Will and Representation, Volume 1, " he says, even if we delve into ourselves introspectively and continuously contemplate, there still lingers unexamined aspect, and that is precisely the concept of "will." Therefore, it is not to be thought of as anything else, not even as other things like God or such – it, the "will" is the "thing-in-itself," the very essence of "substance."

Thus, once this world's essence as "will" is "proven," it seems Nietzsche embraced it as such. And them drawing from various empirical and observational phenomena in this context – rulers, sadism, wars, even self-infliction and sufferance (Christianity), he seems to have conceived the notion of "will to power" and grounded it as a foundational principle of his philosophy.


Nietzsche was fundamentally right, I think, about the will to power being the only arbiter of a meaningful life/human, but wrong to think that amoral people can love anyone but themselves (at least thought through enough)

Quite where that places us is anyone's guess. Perhaps, under a shadow

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