Übermensch conflicts with modern views


Photo by Kristine Cho

Kristine Cho

We’d like to think that the best kind of person is the one who is generous, kind and warm-hearted, but not according to German philosopher Freidrich Nietzsche. Nietzsche’s iconic nature is found in his enormous mustache, difficult name and infamous declaration, “God is dead… we have killed him,” but perhaps one of the most interesting and philosophically iconic concepts to come from the brain inside the facial hair clad man is that of the “Übermensch,” or “superman”.
The human race evolved from primitive ape-like creatures to tamers of the land, an event that got Nietzsche wondering about the great advances humanity would be able to make in the future. To do this, he posed a hypothetical for himself: what would the ideal person be in the age after the death of God? The Übermensch is a man who is ambitious and strong, not a man who is egalitarian. The belief in equality, for Nietzsche, is a thing of “slave morality,” which he calls a justification that the weak uses to demonize the strong by characterizing qualities, like greed, as evil, as opposed to being noble and driving aspects that lead people towards power and greatness. The Übermensch directly contrasts slave morality and, in a nihilistic world without a god, provides the gusto to keep faith in mankind.
While we may not all agree with Nietzsche’s interpretation of the exemplary human, his hypothetical and answer both reflect commonly unquestioned aspects of society. In the examination for Nietzsche’s Übermensch, we can understand what our system of competition values and in asking ourselves that same question, we can further understand our own conceptions of ideal.