I'm reading some aphorisms now, so though I could start a question :-)

Nietzsche's main thesis seems to be that all morality is born of strength and weakness, in a number of ways - e.g. the pitiful arouse pity to see that

they still have at least one power the power to hurt.

That is I suppose possible.

According to Nietzsche are the powerful simply more powerful than the weak, or are they actually better men? Moreover, according to Nietzsche do we strong or weak have the obligation to take care with our power - to not abuse it or even cheat in using it?

  • No creation of morality is necessary for one to be powerful according to Nietzsche.
    – Abigail
    Dec 24, 2017 at 21:09
  • 1
    According to whose rules do you imaging the powerful cheating? Anyone subject to the rules of the weak is not powerful. But 'cheating' in violating one's own rules reduces one's power. It wastes investment one has made in deciding and abiding those decisions. So it is not possible to abuse power, but it is easy to destroy it or give it away. On the other hand, the willingness to give power away is itself a display of power -- it communicates and reinforces courage that one can get more. So what really matters here is motive -- is the 'cheating' seen as bad because of fear, or courage?
    – user9166
    Jan 25, 2018 at 22:25
  • Would be nice to get some relevant references linked to help anyone hoping to answer the question have some reading material at hand Jan 25 at 4:46

3 Answers 3


'Strength' for Nietzsche' is strength to choose our own values. This strength is lost, or never possessed, if we have been infected by 'slave morality' as he calls it. Slave morality prescribes what we must do; the strong for Nietzsche are by contrast the self-affirming, who reject all idea of what we must do, and create their own values. The creation of one's own values is the mark of self-afffirmation and hence of strength. ('Genealogy of Morals', I:2.)

This is clearly a special sense of 'strength'. The strong are not those who subjugate others, who coerce the weak. And the weak are not those who lack the physical power or the psychological ability to stand up to the strong. Nietzsche is working with an unconventional understanding of strength and weakness. When he praises the strong he does not understand strength in the same way as, say, Thrasymachus in Plato's 'Republic'.

Given this special sense of 'strength - and correspondingly of 'weakness' - it is hardly possible for the strong to oppress the weak and to abuse their own power. If I choose my own values, in which my strength consists, I can scarcely (simply by virtue of this choice) oppress the weak - whose weakness consists solely in the fact that they do not choose their own values.

Some mention should be made of compassion, on which Nietzsche appears to be particularly hard : 'compassion I recognized as more dangerous than any vice' ('Will to Power' : 54). But in my view what Nietzsche mainly has against it is (a) that it distracts the strong, by its psychological pull, from choosing their own values (they are dragged down by this one); and (b) that it treats others as mere passive objects in need of help. By extending compassion of them, the strong are not helping them to become conscious of themselves as potentially self-affirming, value-creating agents ('Beyond Good and Evil' IX : 270).

For all his brilliant style, Nietzsche is an extremely difficult writer to reconstruct with any assurance. I have offered a reading of the relevant part of his work. It is serious but tentative. No sympathy on my part should be assumed for any of the views I have attributed to him.

  • Is the criticism of |slave morality" meant to be because slave morality does not work for the "slaves" (Goethe still does great things)?
    – user49449
    Dec 10, 2020 at 9:20

Power can be interpreted in many ways, you have to look at power not like political or monetary power, but power of beeing. Nietzsche is drunk by several oriental ancient philosofy. So if you see some political powerfull faker talking to a humble wise man that has no followers, you see who is true power by the words they speak, truth of freedom is power, freedom of beeing, at first it was the verb, and the verb was it. This is amor fati my friend, beyond all ideals, who has "it" has the true power, and it is right in front of us, but most people do not have the eyes to see it yet. Let's make some eyes drops with "I don't know's", because what we know limits ourselfs, the think is: What we say reflect our internal trash or internal diamont, polish your innerself, take out the trash, to be powerfull like the diamond, that I learned not just from Nietzsche... If it doesnt kill me....


An abuse of power is when it is sickly, when it suggests belonging and utility (personal or otherwise) over love and new capacity.

Everything becomes decadent and just another means to repeat the same mistakes as everyone else.

We'll know the alternative when it arrives.

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