The will to power and the evolution of morality
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Against the prevalent psychological interpretation of the will to power, I textually substantiate the claim that Nietzsche sees it as a cosmological principle driving both biological and cultural evolution. I deploy this strong view in securing the coherence of On the Genealogy of Morals, long regarded as a hopelessly disjointed work. I show that for Nietzsche the historical development of values reflects the constructive activity of the will to power as it transforms the human species into a more powerful social organism. On my view, the Three Essays comprising the Genealogy address three different historical periods during the evolution of morality; I treat them in chronological order. The Second Essay presents Nietzsche’s speculative account of the earliest stages of this process. He identifies several basic features of human nature and details how they evolved along with certain prehistoric social institutions. In the First Essay Nietzsche explains how religious leaders in the ancient world effected a value reversal in morality: they redefined the “good” of the noble ruling class as “evil” and created a new standard of good based on the needs and desires of the underclass. I argue that Nietzsche’s explanation can be understood fully only by taking into consideration the features of human nature which evolved during the prehistoric era described in the Second Essay. Finally, the Third Essay reveals the ramifications for contemporary Western culture of this evolutionary process and the subsequent transformation of values.