Nietzsche’s Morphology of Will to Power: Crowning Psychology as “Queen of the Sciences”

Michael O Begun, Fordham University


This dissertation interprets Nietzsche’s concept of will to power as the basis for a philosophical theory of forms, or a “morphology of will to power”. While the notion of a philosophical theory of forms is most closely associated with either a Platonic doctrine of ideas or Aristotelian hylomorphism, the theory of forms upon which Nietzsche drew most closely in his work had a more immediate nineteenth century German predecessor. This was Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, who introduced his concept of morphology, and its attendant concept of Form as Gestalt, to German thought at the beginning of the nineteenth century, including in Nietzsche’s own academic field of classical philology through the influence of August Schleicher’s linguistic theory. Likewise inspired by Goethe, Arthur Schopenhauer similarly defines morphology in The World as Will and Representation as “natural history (Naturgeschichte)”, the division of natural science that considers the differences and similarities between objective forms of will in the natural world. I contend that Nietzsche develops Goethe and Schopenhauer’s concept of morphology further by presenting his own conception of a morphology of will to power as a new approach to psychology. In such an approach to morphology, Nietzsche considers will to power as a “primal form of affect” such that “all the other affects are just its further formations.” On the basis of this philosophical interpretation of Nietzsche’s morphology of will to power as a theory of affective form and on further textual support from his unpublished notes, I further advance a theory of three of will to power’s further basic forms based on Nietzsche’s own suggestions in the latter. These three basic forms are what Nietzsche describes as: 1) a will to “freedom”, which appears, in an ambivalent way, even in basic living organisms; 2) a will to “justice”, which, though not corresponding to any “eternal justice”, appears in more complex beings capable of social relations, and finally, 3) a “love for humanity”, which, though not a form of genuine philanthropy, nonetheless appears for Nietzsche as a genuine “love for human beings”, at least among the most strong-willed of us.

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Recommended Citation

Begun, Michael O, "Nietzsche’s Morphology of Will to Power: Crowning Psychology as “Queen of the Sciences”" (2020). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI27834930.