Are Nietzsche's "higher men" men of principle - in their value judgments?

Or do their principles extend only to meta-ethical claims, such as the will to power, the existence of higher and lower values and individuals, etc.?

2 Answers 2


It seems clear that Nietzsche himself alternately used and questioned his own principles. To some extent, the genealogy of morals indicates largely the dangers of promulgating a single set of principles too broadly. A critical mass of people not submitting to them without question is a possible solution to this problem.

Moral principles are, in effect, thoughts that control people. Submitting to any control that does not accord with one's self is not in accord with real honesty, as expressed in the will to power. Higher men should be honest, and express their deepest selves, to "make of the self a work of art".

And acting in accord with one's self does not strictly require principles, although they can help one analyze oneself, and make 'sculptural' decisions, in the analogy of morality with art. To the degree that one has decided upon a decision as a way of shaping one's will for better effect, one can both be an agent of principle and create value.

But other applications of principle to oneself should be considered problematic at best.


For Nietzsche both everyday principles (that guide our value judgments) and meta-ethical principles (that guide our thinking about the structure of our values) come about through the same process, i.e., the will to power. Principles and values (meta and otherwise) all have a genesis in human action. The Übermensch is that genesis, the creator of values and principles. The Übermensch is not marked by her adherence to values and principles but by her creation of them.

  • so their values are principles but they have none themselves? it would help to provide some references for that claim - as i cannot see how you derived it from assumptions in the question :)
    – user6917
    May 15, 2015 at 13:15
  • 1
    Take a look at the Higher Men section in Thus Spoke Zarathustra - 4umi.com/nietzsche/zarathustra/73. There are no principles or values espoused by Nietzsche per se. Maybe it helps to give an example. In the struggle to legalize gay marriage it would be a mistake to call the law-makers and judges the higher men in this struggle. The higher men (and women) are the fearless, long-sufferers who have fought for gay civil rights despite being discriminated against and even killed. They have redefined marriage and even love. In Nietzschean terms They are the creators of a new moral universe.
    – ske313
    May 15, 2015 at 18:42

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