Sunday, April 25, 2010

Intelligence as an adaptation.

I am still intrigued by the fact that Nietzsche does not seem to identify intelligence as a quality of the Ubermensch. This appeared to me as a major problem that our class had with his argument, as we are all attempting at least to be intelligent beings. I think this points to Nietzsche's own understanding of the Ubermensch and makes a strong argument for his own belief that he himself is not one of these noble ruling creatures. The Ubermensch is not intelligent because the Ubermensch does not need intelligence, rather its superiority transcends the need for the slaves' adaptation that is intellect.

The slaves developed this clever skill in order to use the forces around them to be able to overpower the noble class, thus becoming the complex creatures that we have become, always looking at things in layers of existence. It is how we understand the world to work because it is the way that we ourselves have made the world. An Ubermensch does not need to look to the forces around itself, because it itself is a force. That would be like expecting the wind to look to the other elements before acting and attempting to figure out a way to use them. It just doesnt happen. The primal force that drives the very wind would be the same force that I believe we would find within the Ubermensch. These creatures are the perfection of humanity and thus they would fit perfectly within the perfection of nature without the need of extra man-made skills such as intelligence, rather they would just BE, and in that act of being their wills would be as unstoppable as the forces of nature that develop our world on a regular basis, nearly God like, but not in the Judea Christian sense of the word.

I dunno, Just an idea of why intelligence isn't included, what do you guys think?


  1. It seems to me not that the Ubermensch would not have intelligence or that he would not be particularly intelligent, but that instead he would have no need to express his intelligence in any way that wouldn't be seen as strength. I mean it seems to me that he would just act, and in action there is no great show of intelligence. He wouldn't need to explain or express his actions to anyone so it would not show itself. In short, it seems to me that while he may be smart, he would not have any reason to express that intelligence to others. Or to use it in the world as cunning.

  2. I agree, that the Übermensch simply exists as a force of perfection (not submitting to anyone's wills, doing anything and everything that it wants to do, creating its own morals and values, not living by universals, etc.). However, even according to Nietzsche the good nobles of the past had to get where they were somehow. I doubt that these nobles of which he speaks got to their position in life by clobbering weaker individuals. I think that intelligence must play a role in becoming an Übermensch. The key difference here though, is that the bad (now good) used cleverness and slyness. They "outsmarted" the good (now evil) with not intelligence, but wit and trickery. Perhaps the entire reason the good were out-witted was because of their own intelligence. Also, it is important to note that these qualities of the now good (past bad) are seen as weak (cleverness, etc.). They are a weak form of intelligence, if intelligence at all, and the Übermensch has no need for such intelligence, just intelligence in the purest and most natural sense of the word (as you say). I would also venture to say that what you mention as "extra man-made skills such as intelligence" refers to this wittiness, and that an Übermenschean intelligence is not a conjured up sort of facility.

    Just my $.02.

  3. I think a close reading of Nietzsche's consideration of science also sheds light upon this debate. He finds science, a field very much tied to modern intellectualism, ultimately a recent form of the ascetic ideal (the ideal of self-denial). I think his consideration of science could be more broadly applied to intelligence. That said, I, being the slave that I am, place a high premium on my wits.

  4. I agree with you. I view intelligence as a capacity to switch between means, and thus one that is only valuable in the face of an obstacle or when one means suddenly becomes an ineffective route to the aim. As you have described, the Ubermensch doesn't encounter obstacles, and thus would not develop this capacity.


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