From previous answers it became clear to me that Nietzsche did not think that there has been any Übermensch yet. He identified Goethe as a person that has overcome and disciplined himself to advance himself and "become who he is". This means, while Goethe is not considered to be an Übermensch, he has taken steps to advance on Zarathustra's "rope tied between beast and Übermensch".

Yet in my reading of Nietzsche, becoming the Übermensch is intimitely tied to re-evaluating traditional values and creating one's own values.

Can you give yourself your own evil and your own good and hang your own will over yourself as a law?

I find it difficult to see why the creation of values is in any way connected to an exceptional accomplishment.

What is the link between disciplining oneself to create something great and creating one's own values? Specifically, what would be an example of a person that had to overthrow conventional values in order to reach the goal he gave himself?

  • 2
    IMO, the linked post already answer to your question...The term Übermensch is quite only used by N into Also Sprach Z... and there is no real evidence that Goethe was considered by N an example of it. Commented Jan 15, 2019 at 8:27
  • @MauroALLEGRANZA The linked post doesn't address the connection between creating values and approaching one's goal.
    – DK2AX
    Commented Jan 15, 2019 at 10:12
  • People say Jesus or Plato were somewhat close to be Übermenschen (in Nietzsche's concept). But I like Diogenes more. Not like that I like his ideas, but his methods... He was not bad.
    – rus9384
    Commented Jan 15, 2019 at 10:17
  • @MauroALLEGRANZA I edited the title to clarify my question. The problem is not so much who was most like an Übermensch, but rather how a re-evaluation and creation of new values is in any way a presupposition and requirement to achieving something great ("becoming oneself") according to Nietzsche. To put it bluntly: can I paint the Mona Lisa without reinventing "good" and "bad" according to Nietzsche?
    – DK2AX
    Commented Jan 15, 2019 at 10:24
  • 1
    In order to be an authentic human being one must know and demonstrate rational reasoning for everything you do and for every belief you hold, rather than simply adopting and conforming to possibly erratic behaviors / beliefs. This is why you must question and analyze everything you've been taught. I find much of it is agreeable to me, but likewise a lot of it is not. I feel much less confused knowing the difference.
    – Bread
    Commented Jan 15, 2019 at 12:10

3 Answers 3


There is not one standard for good in Nietsche, if there were, he would be proposing a single morality. Instead he is proposing that a single standard of value is impossible.

He calls out in one case the approach of "Perspectivism" -- that each person has a unique part of the truth, and should pursue that. At another, he suggests that to be oneself one must make a work of art out of your Self. A work of art only has real value if it is unique -- a print or a reproduction is not a work of art -- its beauty is borrowed. So too with morality. Every person's morality would ideally be his own, a work of art, a perspective not taken by any other. Only then would he have escaped from herd mentality and be something other than a member of a community.

An outstanding member of a community may be a good thing, but it is good in a way that Nietzsche finds 'wretched'. It has an upper limit. It can only get so good, and then it turns derivative and wastes opportunities. A herd will not tolerate a non-herd animal, only the very best kind of herd animal. So ultimately this leads away from all opportunities to find any better form of good than the one your community has already found, and is slowly advancing on their own.

These are two unrelated ways of being good, and one is better than the other. But obviously succeeding at the less worthy is better than failing at both. People like Goethe have value, sometimes, as in his case, immense value. But it is a value that strengthens a culture rather than transcending it and producing another. He does not put Goethe on the list of 'Creators' including Zoroaster, Moses, and Jesus, who he sees as having created cultures by surpassing the culture that produced them.

If you can create a culture, even if it is a culture of one, it is a higher calling than being the finest exemplar of your existing culture. But if the culture you produce is inferior to the one you came out of, it is an unfortunate overreach and a missed calling.


He identified Goethe as a person that has overcome and disciplined himself to advance himself and "become who he is".

This rather ignores poetry was already recognised as a creative activity from time immemorial and not something then that Goethe had to invent for himself and then leave for us as a gift - he merely revived it; and the same goes for science of optics where Goethe had a special interest.

I'd also query what was he doing when he a mewling babe in his mothers arms sucking on his mothers milk. Was he 'disciplining himself' then? Or perhaps one might say, he wasn't himself yet then.

How about later, when he was a five year old, ready to go to school, and eating at the table three times a day and going to bed at regular hours - was he disciplining himself or allowing himself to be disciplined, and was he being abject in allowing himself to be disciplined? or is that question not even worth asking?

Or later still, when he is eighteen and has come of age - but by then - much of what he has become has been unconciously imbibed as the fruits of his own culture, or rather ours, as culture everywhere belongs to all, and is not the property of any one nation or a man - though it varies from people to people. There is, I think, a great deal of truth to the saying, 'the son is the father of the man'; but to be a son means to have a father, and it's the father that disciplines the son so that the son can become who he should be, which is a son of his nation; and of nations, and hence of man, himself.

He has taken steps to advance on Zarathustra's "rope tied between beast and Übermensch".

Zarathrutha, himself, I mean the real Zarathrutha, as far as we can tell said no similar thing. N merely appropriated his prophetic tone, and then not to move forward Zarathurthas philosophy, but to begat his own, which inverts and negates everything in Zarathrutha.

I find it interesting that you're confusing the character that N creates to promote himself with the real historical/religious figure that Zarathrutha was. Perhaps once it might have been seen as a 'creative confusion', but today it seems merely post-truth or even anti-truth.

the Übermensch is intimitely tied to re-evaluating traditional values and creating one's own values.

Nietschze also admired Napoleon as an ubermensch, which really suggests that N, despite all his bombastic rhetoric of coming up with a 'new ethics' and 'new values', is simply interested in asserting the ethics of the warrior. This is not new wine, but old wine, Nietschze is just bottling it into new, shiny bottles branded with his own name.

This is not a new ethics, but a very ancient ethic. All ancient traditions admitted the ethics of the warrior but they demurred placing the warrior ethic as the supreme value. Nietschze wants the warrior ethic to reign supreme. The closest approach to this in the modern era has been the frenzy of militaristic nationalism in the early part of the 20th C with the consequences that are too familiar to require repeating. This is why as a thinker and writer he has been admired by the fascistic and aesthetic set during the early 20th C, and it is important to recall this after his white-washing by Foucault and Deleuze.

I find it difficult to see why the creation of values is in any way connected to an exceptional accomplishment.

The creation of values is already an exceptional accomplishment. Its generally the creation of a culture rather than of one man, but being anthropomorphic idolaters we tend to credit a man in the singular, rather than men in the plural - or perhaps that of gods or God; it has only ever happened once. Its like the invention of the wheel or of language: it happened once, and every other so called re-invention is a modification, a renewal, or an appropriation.

  • I don't think this answers the question at all. Saying Goethe wasn't an artist in his childhood doesn't mean he wasn't an artist. Also, I obviously didn't confuse the historical Zarathustra with Nietzsche's character. Furthermore, the whole point of Nietzsche's philosophy is to move someone to re-evaluate their morals and come up with one's own values, and not to adopt the "ethics of a warrior". No doubt the creation of values is an accomplishment, but the question was the other way around: why is the creation of morals a requirement of becoming the Übermensch?
    – DK2AX
    Commented Jan 16, 2019 at 18:15
  • @ahemmetter: I was pointing out the limitations of the term 'overcoming himself and disciplining himself' - there is no reference to anything outside of Goethe; I wasn't talking about Goethe as an artist specifically, merely that all becoming requires discipline, and that comes from within and without; I often find Nietzcheans have a quite unreflective and uncritical attitude to their master, a sort of slavish worship attitude that N himself would have found unbecoming and abhorrent. Commented Jan 16, 2019 at 18:21
  • Well, that is precisely the reason why I am asking this question: to properly understand what his philosophy is all about so that I can make an informed judgement about it. :)
    – DK2AX
    Commented Jan 16, 2019 at 18:25

The will to power, which Nietzsche sees as operating in all life operates in a type of hierarchy for him. Now the will to power is a fascinating thing, because it always implies an evaluation. The answer to your question has to do with how we as humans negotiate the forces that we encounter: is their affirmation or negation?

In the lowest ranges of humanity you have reactive being, which is characterized by conceptual personas representing resentment (typical reactive values), bad conscience (internalizing force against oneself), the ascetic (trying to make bad conscience tolerable or displacing will to power for an "afterlife), etc.

Then you have those that have learned to affirm, the figures of apollo and dionysus that he upholds, those that learn to let go of memory so that they man create anew.

At the highest levels you have those that not only affirm but learn to actively subdue the reactive, those that go beyond simply letting go of memory but proactively using its faculty to create something new in the world.

Now, the will to power always implies an evaluation. There's never simply a "recognition" of values from the perspective of the will to power. A "recognition" is merely cover for the dominance of a force in an evaluation. So our values derive their value, and our meanings derive their significance because of relations of force, which one's own will-to-power is also a participant. The qualities of forces are what give our values their value and our meanings their significance. Are the forces affirming, negating, and in what ways?

The transvaluation of values is tied to the Ubermensch because the will-to-power is no longer simply reacting to existing force, its not simply side-stepping existing force, it's not even simply rising above it. It's kind of like seeing it all, realizing the power one's faculties have for working with them all, and like an artist, casting something new and beautiful from the material one has to work with.

The will to power begins at the level of the drives and affects that exist within oneself. Nietzsche admires those that come to first off create a kind of unified Whole or Vision from the disparate drives and affects. It's a kind of self-mastery. All externally facing aspects of the will-to-power really derive from this first one relating to self. Goethe and Napoleon despite being two very different people are people Nietzsche saw something in --for their exemplary approach towards what man would need to achieve if it were to create an Ubermensch--, not because of any particular action, work or (in the case of Napoleon) any of his conquests, but because of their "character" which exhibits this particular affirming "vitality", the highest expression of which is creative and "sovereign" with respect to passively received values. I think the point here with respect to your question about "why" is what Nietzsche continually mentions with respect to nihilism -- that it has many avatars and layers and deceptive forms. It is always hiding behind some seemingly innocent value or judgement. The Ubermensch is not done if values have not undergone transvaluation. Transvaluation has as its object that from which all values derive their value. Nihilism hasn't been defeated otherwise because the keenness of sense and awareness of self required to spot and squash nihilism's avatars has not yet become total.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .