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Title page for ETD etd-11302012-110017

Type of Document Dissertation
Author Turk, Adam Sean
URN etd-11302012-110017
Title Will to Power as the Self-Overcoming of Will to Truth
Degree PhD
Department Philosophy
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Charles Scott Committee Chair
David Wood Committee Member
Ellen Armour Committee Member
Lisa Guenther Committee Member
Michael Hodges Committee Member
  • ascetic ideal
  • slave
  • noble
  • self-overcoming
  • will to truth
  • will to power
  • Nietzsche
  • zarathustra
  • genealogy
Date of Defense 2012-05-03
Availability unrestricted
The purpose of my dissertation is to develop a reading of three of the most significant concepts in Nietzsche’s thought, namely will to power, will to truth, and self-overcoming. Specifically, I argue that Nietzsche understands will to power to be a consequence of the self-overcoming of will to truth.

I ground my reading of will to truth in the distinction between noble and slave valuations. The former are expressed by the most crudely forceful gestures. By contrast, the slave interprets such gestures in terms of their imagined future consequences and with reference to an interior domain of subjective agency, thereby diminishing the present forcefulness of such gestures and hence their high esteem. Will to truth is the motivation for the most spiritualized, refined, and powerful expression of the moral slave’s quest to reject dominant practices and ideals in this manner.

Nietzsche finds will to truth to be intrinsically self-overcoming because of this fundamentally oppositional character. Perpetuated only by the devaluation of dominant practices and ideals, the will to truth must eventually devalue the gestures by which this will was itself perpetuated as slave morality becomes increasingly dominant. This process culminates in the devaluation of the very form of slave evaluations. That is, the oppositional character of will truth is itself opposed through the furthest culmination of this will.

I conclude by developing a two-part interpretation of will to power. First, will to power is an interpretively superior alternative insofar as every concern with truth has been revealed to operate in the service of the slavish mode of valuation and has been instrumental in the ascendancy of that mode. This sense of will to power is a consequence of the destructive self-overcoming of will to truth. Second, will to power is a creative force by which the oppositional character of will to truth is exceeded, and which I argue is most clearly expressed in Zarathustra’s affirmation of the eternal recurrence. This affirmation exceeds the fundamentally oppositional character of will to truth and affirms even the long history of its dominance in the display of a new creative power.

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