The nominal subject of Nietzsche's On the Genealogy of Morals is the investigation of the origins of our moral values. While the book tenaciously pursues the topic of its title without disintegrating into a loosely related collection of aphorisms (as some of Nietzsche's other books tend to do), it nevertheless deals with more than morality, and more than genealogy. Like Nietzsche's work in general, this book repeatedly returns to issues and hypotheses that constitute a fundamental and integrating core of his entire philosophic enterprise. One aspect of this enterprise is the construction of a theory about the ultimate goal of human behavior. The central thesis of this theory that a will to power is the deepest and most general motive of human behavior, that the ultimate goal of all human striving is the acquisition and increase of power.
Nietzsche's theory of the will to power is not only psychological but axiological: the will to power is put forward not only as the ultimate motivation of all human behavior but also as the ultimate source of all human values. Nietzsche also takes for granted that whatever constitutes the ultimate object of our desires ought to be considered not only in accounting for the development or "genealogy" of our systems of moral values but also in assessing and revising them, in the project he calls the "revaluation of all values." But though the will to power is an essential component of Nietzsche's theory of values, it is obviously meant to be considered in its own right as a psychological hypothesis.
In the Genealogy , the general psychological hypothesis of the will to power forms the implicit, yet omnipresent, backdrop for Nietzsche's analyses of
Was this article helpful?