It seems that Nietzsche's project was an attempt to prepare the earth for some kind of higher being, the overman, whether or not that was himself. But a century later it seems we have no overman. Was his mistake to think that mankind has anything meaningful beyond itself, in his specific targeting of morality, or something else?

Perhaps events today are not conducive to the existence of people like Beethoven or Goethe, whatever Nietzsche found admirable in them, "virtue" or talent etc., and this is the minimum necessary for Nietzsche's genealogy to work? That e.g. culture is too mundane etc..

  • I actually think that his concept of last man is a failure is well. At least for me as a proponent of psychological egoism.
    – rus9384
    Nov 6, 2018 at 17:44
  • that's nice @rus9384 perhaps it didn't occur to you that your peers are untermensch!!!
    – user35584
    Nov 6, 2018 at 17:47
  • Well, there are weak people. But everyone seeks pleasure, I believe. Just some people have value long-term pleasure over short-term. And people who value latter also can be artists. Anyway, by the same logic we may call religions false because there is no utopia yet.
    – rus9384
    Nov 6, 2018 at 17:53
  • @rus9384 no that's BS. plenty of overt goals don't involve anticipated pleasure
    – user35584
    Nov 6, 2018 at 17:54
  • i guess you could say that some goals unconsciously anticipate pleasure. i think that's all you can @rus9384
    – user35584
    Nov 6, 2018 at 17:55

1 Answer 1


I think that the fact that Nietzsche's philosophy is still taught and widely discussed today precludes it from being a complete failure.

I also believe Nietzsche's primary aim/project was the revaluation of values. Though admittedly by Nietzsche's lights that should result in more overmen. The great irony that runs through Nietzsche's work is that he is simultaneously rejecting systems of value whilst putting forward his own. I don't think this irony would have been lost on him, and interpret Nietzsche as offering up his table of values in an effort to urge those concerned with human flourishing to do the same.

There are certainly figures from history that N has written about admirably, Caeser, Goethe, Ceasare Borgia and of course himself. The concept of the uber-mensch has a tendency to be over emphasised in N's work, with N himself devoting relatively little work to the topic. That said, there are certainly traits he admired, and an overview of these can be found in Brian Leiter's Nietzsche on Morality (particularly in chapter 4). Based on the criteria Leiter identifies (solitariness, responsibility seeking, resilience, life affirming and self reverence) I'm not sure we can definitively say that no such people exist today, figures like Elon Musk spring to mind.

A related concept is discussed extensively in Zarathustra, that of the 'last men'. A sort of banal, unimpressive, stilted person that he sees as the inevitable consequence of societies' tendencies to regard happiness as the ultimate aim. This seems to have a degree of relevance when one considers (at least Western) society today.

Was his mistake to think that mankind can be a going under, or in his specific targeting of morality?

I'm not sure what you mean by the first part, but his targeting of morality was indispensable to his revaluation project for obvious reasons.

  • elon musk is not "the meaning of the earth"
    – user35584
    Nov 6, 2018 at 18:11
  • He certainly isn't. I'm not saying he is an example of an overman, but that he exhibits some of the characteristics that Nietzsche identifies with "higher types".
    – Matt-T
    Nov 6, 2018 at 18:14
  • and human and chimp DNA is 98.8 percent the same
    – user35584
    Nov 6, 2018 at 18:15
  • i find it odd that you regard the last man as an "banal, unimpressive, stilted person" (one would think human history is littered with these) rather than a nihilist
    – user35584
    Nov 6, 2018 at 18:19
  • unless we want to say that that's more inescapable even for elites?
    – user35584
    Nov 6, 2018 at 18:30