Nietzche's "will to power" ... I don't understand it (the phrase, that is)

‘Zu’ in German is often equivalent to ‘for’ in English.

No, Mort Furd is wrong.

Zombie Nietche

Oh my!


Not really and that’s the problem.

I am not competent to judge just how wrong “will to power” is, but I think this thead alone indicates that it is at least awkward and unusual.

Unfortunately “desire for power” doesn’t quite work either. “Wille zur Macht” means something analogous to “desire for power” - just with “will” instead of “desire”. In this context this distinction is meaningful, because “will” is all about intent to a degree that “desire” just isn’t. Apparently there is no good equally compact way to express that in English and the translator decided to preserve the concepts and stretch the subcategorization to the breaking point.

Yes, really. ‘Will to’ *cannot *be used before nouns.

I am qualified. I retranslated the book Will to power between 2009 and 2011.

Look at this:

‘Commitment to success’ is idiomatic. ‘Will to success’ is not, and is incorrect.

I see it as taking some poetic license with the language to express an overarching philosophical concept in a simpler way. “Will to power” is trying to express more than “universe built on power”, or whatever it’s supposed to mean. But I agree with the OP that it’s awkward enough to break the flow of thought when you read it. Maybe Nietzsche’s poetic license ought to be revoked.

You need to understand ‘will to power’ is a translation, and translations are either correct or not. The word *zu *means ‘for’ here, not ‘to’. This is indisputable. Once you have established that, the rest falls into place. *Macht *is ‘power’. So, it’s “x for power”. In this case, X = ‘desire’ or something similar. That’s really all there is to it. ‘Will to’ is *never *used before a noun, only before a verb. The ‘to’ functions as part of the infinitive (‘to win’, ‘to live’, etc.).

In German, *Wille zu *is used before both nouns and verbs. This is *not *true in English. ‘Desire for power’ is also intelligible. ‘Will to power’ is nonsense.


Some people who don’t really understand the intricacies of German (or English) see the word *zu *and think it’s equivalent to ‘to’. *Nach *in German is often translated as ‘to’, and '*zu *is often translated as ‘for’.