Can Nietzsche's overman be thought of as a centripetal force?

Centripetal is an adjective describing a force that brings things toward the center, not unlike the force of a black hole. Centripetal is often confused with the word centrifugal. They may begin the same way, but they mean the exact opposite.

I like the idea of opposing forces at work, in this way.

Can it be? Might that help me understand his ideal?

  • 4
    Could you explain less metaphorically what "mapping Nietzshe's overman as a centripetal force" means? By the way, the idea of "opposing forces at work" does not work with this metaphor. The centrifugal force is fictitious, the centripetal force actually "works" against the body's own inertia, not against another force. I suppose, Nietzshe would have liked the idea of working against own inertia, but then any force does that, not necessarily centripetal.
    – Conifold
    Jul 18, 2017 at 21:31
  • @Conifold what do you mean less metaphorically(not being sarcastic, i just am unsure what you're asking for)? thanks for the physics comment (?) but it's a metaphor, so not sure that it matters?
    – user25714
    Jul 18, 2017 at 22:23
  • 2
    It is unclear to me what "overman as a centripetal force" means in a philosophical context, this can be interpreted in any number of ways, and you do not say what you have in mind beyond the phrase itself. So unless someone used those exact words, "overman as a centripetal force", it is unclear how to answer your question. And even if someone did it may not be what you mean. Also, "Dependent on 'history', how that works..." sentence is perplexing, what does it mean?
    – Conifold
    Jul 18, 2017 at 22:40
  • As I see it, the notion of the overman does nothing to contain anything or anyone or bring them together. If anything, it is the opposite -- a genuinely centrifugal force. The overman would be less like another overman than any man is like another man. The opposing concept is 'the herd', which allows society to enclose them and hold them together, and one of the defining characteristics of the overman is to not be subject to that force.
    – user9166
    Jul 18, 2017 at 22:57
  • @jobermark thanks for the comment, ofc. @ conifold, the history comment is meant to be the enlightening component ha. all that time, spent...
    – user25714
    Jul 18, 2017 at 23:00

1 Answer 1


This actually turns out to be a general philosophy lesson, more than anything specific on Nietzsche. The real answer is "The overman can be thought of as a centripetal force if that analogy works well." You have to flesh the analogy out before any statement can be made.

In this case, Nietzsche's Übermensch is a tremendously complicated multi-faceted ideal. Comparing it to a centripetal force is like saying the Christian God can be thought of as a triangle. You are welcome to make the comparison, but you actually have to make it. You have to explain why its useful to think of it as a centripetal force. Likewise, thinking of the Christian God as the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit has value to some, and thinking of it as a triangle could have value. But in both cases, the analogy is comparing to something far simpler than the original, so you really have to explain why the comparison is valuable enough to a listener.

You say "[you] like the idea of opposing forces at work." In that case, flesh the idea out and see what these opposing forces are. See if the imagery inspires a deeper understanding of the Übermensch. If it does, great! If not, then don't force the Übermensch into a particular shape.

  • well, this answers the question, trivially and or with a platidude, but admirably, as it stands
    – user25714
    Jul 18, 2017 at 23:57

You must log in to answer this question.