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Beyond Good and Evil, a book by Friedrich Nietzsche, quoted here.


Friedrich Nietzsche wrote about ‘free will’ and ‘unfree will’. But what did he mean?! Let’s start here: Nietzsche implored us to forsake material explanations of cause and effect. We do not possess metaphysical causal powers. Such a belief is ‘folly’, the ‘extravagant pride of man’, a ‘crass stupidity’ which results from the ‘desire to bear the entire and ultimate responsibility for one’s actions oneself, and to absolve God, the world, ancestors, chance, and society therefrom, to pull oneself up into existence by the hair, out of the slough of nothingness.’

Nietzsche spoke of the will itself:

  • The weak-willed possess 'unfree will'. They fictionalise lives wherein they are really free—search for reasons to explain their self-contempt, interpret weaknesses, and foster guilt.
  • The strong-willed, in contrast, embrace their actions' determination, their necessity. They have a mental power: 'free will': a 'bell-stroke of noon and of the great decision, that makes the will free again, that gives back to the earth its goal and to man his hope.' This rare and exceptionally strong 'human of the future; this anti-Christ and anti-nihilist; this conqueror of God and of nothingness' will find independence in his fate.


'It is the business of the very few to be independent; it is a privilege of the strong. And whoever attempts it . . . without being obliged to do so, proves that he is probably not only strong, but also daring beyond measure. He enters into a labyrinth, he multiplies a thousandfold the dangers which life in itself already brings with it; not the least of which is that no one can see how and where he loses his way, becomes isolated, and is torn piecemeal by some minotaur of conscience. Supposing such a one comes to grief, it is so far from the comprehension of men that they neither feel it, nor sympathize with it. And he cannot any longer go back! He cannot even go back again to the sympathy of men!'



So, for Nietzsche, most humans are members of a herd, passive conduits of ideas. But some noble individuals—those honorific persons—they fashion ‘I’ from strong will to exercise a form of agency. They hold the ‘instinct of preservation, self-affirmation’. The artist, for whom Nietzsche envisages a different creative kind of spirit, feels this acutely.