This is a phrase I stumbled across in Deleuze work on Nietzsche, but I don't know of where it appears in the latter's work.


the distinction between the last man and the man who wants to die is fundamental in Nietzsche's philosophy

I am asking this question, because my mortality often seems like a curse that is a source of much crippling angst, but it can also feel like a sort of felicity, not the event of death itself but the way my mortality reflects on my life.

I would assume that this fits me into a low Nietzshean typology, but what do sensitive readers of Nietzsche has to say about this figure? Even, does it tell us what to do about them?



The Last man is Nietzsche's antithesis of the Übermensch in Thus Spoke Zarathustra. The Last Man sought eternal life at all costs, including costs Nietzsche despised, such as sacrificing love and happiness.

Excerpts from Zarathustra's Prologue suggest that Deleuze's quote may be in reference to the Preachers of Death in I 9. They appear to have the attitude that life is meaningless, and meaning only occurs through death. These preacher's stances reflect Nietzsche's opinion of most religions at the time; Nietzsche had very disparaging things to say about religions such as Christianity.

Interestingly enough, Nietzsche roasted both The Last Man and The Preachers of Death. If I may interpret, the Last Man sought immortality purely under his own power, while the Preachers of Death sought immortality purely under an external power (the power of their deity). Zarathustra preaches against both stances, suggesting Nietzsche viewed the path to the Übermensch as a path somewhere between the two extremes.

I think it would be fair to summarize this towards your question: he suggests one needs both sides of the coin, and it's up to you to self-reflect and observe the world enough to keep them in balance. My favorite wording: "Live every day like it is your last, and look forward to watching the sun rise tomorrow." The joyful challenge is in actually doing it.

  • hi Corl. so an atheist cannot also want to die? i'd have assumed that isn't subtle enough. on your last paragraph, i was wondering whether for Nietzsche anyway, joy must be in creativity - if it is to be the highest human flourishing. what do you think of that view? i don't altogether agree with him on his "moral anti realism" anyway, i think he overstates the case permitting sadism
    – user6917
    Oct 8 '15 at 3:43
  • How did you come to the conclusion that an atheist cannot also want to die?
    – Cort Ammon
    Oct 8 '15 at 6:13
  • ok it was just how i read your reply, 9 months later ! sorry, i find it reassuring that i was right before
    – user6917
    Oct 8 '15 at 9:21

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