The Will to Power as Principle of a New Valuation
“We shall focus on what Nietzsche planned to say in Part III under the title “Principle of a New Valuation,” according to the arrangement discussed above. Evidently, Nietzsche wanted to express the “new,” his own “philosophy” here. If Nietzsche’s essential and sole thought is the will to power, the title of the third book immediately provides important information about what will to power is, without our yet grasping its proper essence. Will to power is the “principle of a new valuation,” and vice versa: the principle of the new valuation to be grounded is will to power. What does “valuation” mean? What does the word value mean? The word value as a special term came into circulation partly through Nietzsche. One speaks of the “cultural values” of a nation, of the “vital values” of a people, of “moral,” “aesthetic,” religious” “values.” One does not think very much about these phrases–even though they are supposed, after all, to contain an appeal to what is supreme and ultimate.
The word value is essential for Nietzsche. This is immediately evident in the subtitle that he gives his thought-path to the will to power: “Attempt at a Revaluation of All Values.” Value for Nietzsche means a condition of life, a condition of life’s being “alive.” In Nietzsche’s thinking life is usually the term for what is and for beings as a whole insofar as they are. Occasionally, however, it also means our life in a special sense, which is to say, the Being of man.
Nietzsche does not see the essence of life in “self-preservation” (“struggle for existence”) as do the biology and the doctrine of life of his time influenced by Darwin, but rather in a self-transcending enhancement. As a condition of life, value must therefore be thought as that which supports, furthers, and awakens the enhancement of life. Only what enhances life, and beings as a whole, has value–more precisely, is a value. The characterization of value as a “condition” of life in the sense of life-enhancement is initially quite undetermined. Although what conditions (value) makes what is conditioned (life) dependent upon it, it is nonetheless conversely true that the essence of what conditions (value) is determined by the essence of that which it is supposed to condition (life). Whatever essential characteristics value has as a condition of life depend on the essence of “life,” on what is distinctive about this essence. When Nietzsche says that the essence of life is life-enhancement, the question arises as to what belongs to to the essence of such enhancement. Enhancement, especially the kind that occurs in and through what is enhanced, is an over-beyond-itself. This means that in enhancement life projects higher possibilities of itself before itself and directs itself forward into something not yet attained, something first to be achieved.
Enhancement implies something like a looking ahead and through to the scope of something higher, a ‘perspective’. Since life, that is, each being, is life-enhancement, life as such has a ‘perpectival character’. According, this perspectival character is also appropriate to ‘values’ as the conditions of life. Values condition and determine ‘perpectivally’ in each case the ‘perspectival’, fundamental essence of ‘life’. This remark suggests at the same time that we must from the outset keep Nietzsche’s statements about ‘values’ as ‘conditions’ of life out of the area of common representation, where one also often speaks of ‘life-conditions’, for example, when one speaks of the ‘life-conditions’ of animals at hand. ‘Life’, ‘conditions of life’, ‘values’, these fundamental terms of Nietzschean thinking have their own definitiveness in terms of the fundamental thought of his thinking.
‘Valuation’ then means determining and ascertaining those ‘perspectival’ conditions that make life what it is, that is, assure its essential enhancement. What does a new valuation mean? It means that a reversal of the ancient, long-standing valuation is in preparation. Briefly stated, this old valuation is the Platonic-Christian one…”
Nietzsche volumes Three and Four, Martin Heidegger (edited by David Farrell Krell), pgs 15-16).