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Belliotti’s 20th book explores Nietzsche’s will to power
Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Belliotti’s 20th book explores Nietzsche’s will to power

Distinguished Teaching Professor Raymond Angelo Belliotti

In his newest book, Distinguished Teaching Professor Raymond Angelo Belliotti of the Department of Philosophy interprets Friedrich Nietzsche’s fundamental concept and evaluates the extent to which the desire for power and its exercise motivates human behavior in, “Nietzsche’s Will to Power: Eagles, Lions, and Serpents,” released by Cambridge Scholars Publishing.

The book, the 20th by Dr. Belliotti, is a unique contribution to Nietzschean scholarship because it analyzes the concept of power as preliminary to addressing Nietzsche’s psychological version of will to power.

Belliotti advances a fresh interpretation of will to power that connects it explicitly to the meaning of human life. In so doing, the he addresses major questions such as: What does will to power designate? What does it presuppose? What effects does it engender? What is its status, epistemologically and metaphysically? How is will to power to be evaluated? How persuasive is will to power as an explanation of fundamental human instincts and as the lynch pin of a way of life.

The author argues that Nietzsche’s psychological notion of will to power cannot plausibly be understood as merely a first-order drive to attain and exert power. Moreover, despite some of the philosopher’s extravagant rhetoric, will to power is not an inherent instinct to oppress other people or things.

Instead, will to power, understood generically, is a second-order desire to have, pursue and attain first-order desires; it bears a relationship to confronting and overcoming resistances and obstacles; and is related to the pursuit of excellence and personal transformation, as well as to experiences of feeling power.

As, according to Nietzsche’s account, all human beings embody will to power, Belliotti concludes that at least three varieties – robust, moderate and attenuated will to power – should be distinguished. Only by doing this, can one understand and evaluate will to power concretely.

“According to Nietzsche, our responses to his work reveal who we are, what we value, and the condition of our own will to power,” Belliotti explained. He scorns abject cheerleaders and sycophantic disciples. He welcomes warriors of the spirit who will struggle against the resistance he provides, especially those who self-consciously understand that all philosophy, or at least all great philosophy, is autobiographical and that the will to truth is typically exercised in service of personal agenda.

“We all need, he reminds us, worthy opponents in order to grow, increase our capabilities, and experience the feelings of power, which do not necessarily imply the products of oppression. Those of us, who reject as a false dilemma the alternatives he offers – either (a) venerate the nobles and regard the masses only instrumentally or (b) cherish the mediocre and suffocate the instinct for excellence – must demonstrate other cultural options.

“We must resist and overcome Nietzsche’s sardonic wit and relentless critical attacks, and reveal and sustain who we are by accepting his challenge,” Belliotti said.

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