The Philosophy of Self-Knowledge and Deception
Edited by Brent E. Cusher and Mark A. Menaldo
Chapter 2: Authenticity and the motives for political leadership: Reflections from Nietzsche’s Zarathustra
This chapter explores Nietzsche’s assessment of authenticity, focusing on his novel Thus Spoke Zarathustra. In Zarathustra, Nietzsche provides his most direct thoughts on the motives for leadership, in particular the highest form of political leadership known as founding. Yet as this chapter demonstrates, his treatment of foundational leadership is intertwined with the question of whether one can and should lead authentically or in a genuine manner. Interpreting two concepts that occupy a central role in Nietzsche’s philosophy, the will to power and the eternal return of the same, this chapter concludes that Nietzsche’s thoughts on the possibility for an authentically motivated leadership are ambiguous at best. Whereas Zarathustra’s great honesty with himself helps him see that his desire to lead and teach others is an expression of his will to power, he is also painfully aware of the limits of what he can achieve by means of his will.
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