Volume 84, Issue 2, Spring 2010
Robert E. Wood
High and Low in Nietzsche’s Zarathustra
Contrary to wide-spread caricatures of Nietzsche, he has definite standards of value that are largely defensible, though on another basis than he provides. The
nadir is the Last Man; the zenith is the Overman. Contrary to the otherworldliness of Plato and the Christian tradition, Nietzsche demands fidelity to the earth and
a love of the body. The modern virtue of truthfulness dissolved the tradition, but eventuated in the Last Man who lives in “wretched contentment.” The Overman
requires organizing the chaos of one’s life and submission to centuries-long practices without contempt for the earth. He demands the unity of conscious and unconscious, sensitivity to beauty, love of each individual thing and the love of eternity. He seeks broad vision grounding the unity of humankind in which each individual can find his or her highest potential. All these are eminently defensible values.