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The Overwoman

 

I decided to name my blog. I'm calling it The Overwoman. (Update Feb. 28, 2010: It's no longer called "The Overwoman.")

Can you tell I’ve been reading Nietzsche lately? I love him. I love everything about him. I love the way he lived and I love the way he died. I love that he was a loner and that he liked to walk. I love that he never married. I love that he was a music aficionado. I love that he attempted to be a vegetarian early on. I don’t even care that he gave it up. (Though he was a vegetarian again in the end.) I love the myth and the man and the force that is Friedrich Nietzsche.

Like most of the dead men I admire, I tend to have slightly more affection for who they were than what they wrote. I don’t agree with everything Nietzsche philosophized, but I agree with some.

Nietzsche’s basic philosophy from what I can tell is that the purpose of existence is not simply survival, but the betterment of man.

Mankind is in a state of “sickness,” and as a result it’s destroying itself. This collapse is due to what Nietzsche calls the Herd Mentality. (Yes, he coined that brilliant phrase.) The herd consists of a society of people who lack will, those who are content with mediocrity.

Within the herd, there is a set of morals and conduct by which everyone abides. But outside the herd lies a better man. Nietzsche calls him the Ubermensch, translated from German to mean Overman. (This is also where we get the concept of Superman.) Nietzsche believed this better man lies within us.

The Overman disregards the herd mentality. He rejects the accepted values of society. He has obedience only to self. The Overman has overcome man's limited ideas. He is the pinnacle evolution of mankind.

Growing up the son of a pastor, much of Nietzsche’s philosophy was a backlash to traditional Christianity. He felt the ruling values of Christianity were of no use. Hence, his famous expression “God is dead.” (Meaning, the Christian idea of God). In place of God, there must rise the Overman.

Nietzsche believed there were people who exemplified the Overman and could serve as models: Socrates, Julius Caesar, Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Shakespeare, Goethe, Napoleon, and Jesus— of whom Nietzsche said would “deny everything that today is called Christian.”

The concept of the Overman inspires and fascinates me. I look for the Overman in others. I yearn for the Overman. I think I’ve always been seeking my latent Overwoman. And I'm still trying to find her. For a long time, I was afraid of her. Or maybe I feared what the herd might think. (But that doesn’t seem to be an issue anymore, as noted in the post Misunderstood.)

Bringing forth our inner Overperson no longer seems like a choice. It feels like a requirement. It's not about thinking one way or the other. It's about using your own self as your guide.

Nietzsche leaves us with these words from his seminal book Thus Spake Zarathustra.

“I teach you the Overman. Man is something that should be overcome. What have you done to overcome him?”