Published online by Cambridge University Press: 05 August 2012
We have argued that the central concern in the first part of Beyond Good and Evil is Platonic: it is concerned with the soul and, in particular, the current condition of the philosophical soul. It adds support to our interpretation that Part One ends expressing the hope that “psychology shall again be recognized as the queen of the sciences, to serve and prepare for which the other sciences exist. For psychology is now once again the road to the fundamental problems” (BGE 23). This claim makes sense if we recognize that Nietzsche understands psychology as the study of the soul and that his list of “the fundamental problems” would include and perhaps be topped by the issues of what has been and is to be made of human beings, that is, of the human soul. BGE 23 also makes clear that Nietzsche understands psychology as a study of the forms and development of the will to power, which supports our claim that his doctrine of the will to power is his theory of the soul. In conjunction with the previous point, this explains why Nietzsche places the theory of the will to power at the center of his philosophy even if, as we claim, it is only a hypothesis about the forms and development of the soul.
The problem we address in this chapter is that other sections on the will to power in BGE’s first two parts do not seem to limit Nietzsche’s doctrine of the will to power to the human soul. BGE 13 asserts that life is will to power, whereas BGE 22 suggests that all of physical reality is will to power. Far from restricting will to power to the human soul, these passages seem to assert that the objects of biology and physics are will to power. So when BGE 23 presents psychology as the study of the forms and development of the will to power, it seems designed not to bring out something special about psychology and the soul it investigates but merely to bring psychology into line with the other sciences. Finally, if Nietzsche believes that the object of the three major sciences is the will to power in one of its forms, it is hardly surprising to find him arguing in BGE 36 that the object of ontological investigation, reality itself, is will to power.