Nietzsche seems to think that power is the greatest virtue

Only as image of the highest virtue came gold to the highest value. Goldlike, beameth the glance of the bestower. Gold-lustre maketh peace between moon and sun... Power is it, this new virtue; a ruling thought is it, and around it a subtle soul: a golden sun, with the serpent of knowledge around it.

But then surely Caesar's murderers were not more powerful than him? Would Nietzsche claim they were more virtuous, because they had the ability to murder Caesar?

Are we virtuously powerful only from the coupling of feelings of power and love of its virtue (that "uncommon, and unprofiting, and beaming, and soft in lustre; it always bestoweth itself")?

  • 1
    If they were would they have had to murder him?
    – GENxDevo
    Mar 12 at 3:40
  • 1
    Intriguing juxtaposition of ideas. I pray (reluctantly) that there's another Jim Sanders whoever this Jim Sanders is (probably lives in Oklahoma). 😄 Mar 12 at 3:51
  • i don't think i get the joke haha @AgentSmith
    – user65174
    Mar 12 at 4:22
  • no problemo. I'm just a wannabe (comedian). Mar 12 at 4:27
  • ha i get it @AgentSmith that's ok, jokes are on the rocks today
    – user65174
    Mar 12 at 9:38

2 Answers 2


Rousseau in the Social Contract demonstrated how "might is right" is an empty slogan because it leads to no rights at all.

One might be the stronger right now and impose their will, but as soon as they sleep, or are ill, or alone, they are bound to be backstabbed and be, in turn, like Caesar, the weaker because of circumstances. And no single individual is stronger than a determined mob. The "higher life form" will always be at the mercy of a group of "lesser ones". Does that make them higher? It seems this notion of highness in life form is ill defined.

To come back to Nietzsche, any person claiming to be an ubermensh with at least 2 brain cells should understand that they won't make it on their own. They still need some form of cooperation, a kind of gentleman agreement to not commit aggression against each other, wether those others are uber or regular.

Of course, being an ubermensh, they depend on no one's moral judgement. The rules to them is not sacred, abiding does not make them good nor breaking it make then evil (they are beyond those categories, as we know).

They accept the rules in so far as it is in their best interest, and know to opt out if turns out to be detrimental. Yet opting out can't be done lightly, otherwise there can be no agreement. This is the delicate balance the ubermensh knows to find. I'd even say it is the fact that they understand and can find this balance that makes them ubermensh.

I understand it might seem counter intuitive to describe an ubermensh abiding rules, but figure a true genius to the like of Beethoven: being an ubermensh means he realizes his full potential. Now, he can either willingly abide by a modicum of social rules to uphold society and be able to buy food, ink and paper at the shop next door and commit most of his time to composition, or reject all rules and spend his days as a hunter gatherer. Which of those life plans do you think most realizes his full potential?

  • that makes some sense. i am as tortured by things as one may wish for any "ubermensch", but it is insanity, not genius. quite what to make of that, idk
    – user65174
    Mar 13 at 23:13
  • @zero as far as i understand it, you dont need to be a genius or have outstanding capabilities to be an Ubermensh. An Ubermensh is simply someone who does not let others impose their values on him/herself. If one's potential is to sit in their mother's basement doing video games all day, they can be an Ubermensh too as long as it's what they want to do more than anything else (eternal return) and don't blame others for their shortcomings (no slave morality).
    – armand
    Mar 14 at 0:47

Nietzsche's final metamorphasis was into Child, & he said

"Man's maturity: to have regained the seriousness that he had as a child at play." -Beyond Good & Evil

He wasn't saying be cruel & violent for it's own sake, but instead open your heart to life, & to risk of failure (downgoing), & to the passions - to the direction of aliveness, with all it's contradictions.

His Ubermensch is not defined by power, but by the Creation of Values. Not like an emperor, but like a child, who names their world, creates narratives of it, and brings others into those narratives. If it involves ruthlessness it is also in this way, a child-like refusal to accept the world as given, and uncompromising creative demand that it be more.

Read what Nietzsche wrote. It's clear you haven't. Start with Beyond Good & Evil, it's accessible & fun. Then 'On the Geneology of Morals', & 'Ecce Homo'.

To your core question, why should there be 'highest value'? How can there possibly be a single best way to be, in all circumstances? It's not what life teaches us.

"Be like water my friend." -Bruce Lee

  • 1
    gosh, how much nietzsche have you read to complain that a question hasn't? i definitely didn't mean being violent anyway "Not contentment, but more power, not peace at all, but war; not virtue, but proficiency (virtue in the Renaissance style, virth, virtue free of moralic acid.) The weak and ill-constituted shall perish: first principle of our philanthropy."
    – user65174
    Mar 13 at 3:35
  • 1
    @zero: Asking if Nietzsche woud rate Brutus better than Caesar, made it seem like you are unfamiliar with his work. If that's not the case, I'm glad for you. But still surprised by the framing of your question.
    – CriglCragl
    Mar 13 at 9:02

You must log in to answer this question.