Published online by Cambridge University Press: 05 August 2012
We have argued that the central notion in BGE One is the soul, that in virtue of which human beings are persons. Central to the conception of personhood on offer here is the ability to act not just according to desires but according to values: unlike other animals, human persons can seek not just what we desire but what we judge to be good. Crucially, we can seek what we judge to be good even when it is not what we (initially) desire most strongly. To have a soul, then, is to have the ability to act from values. In this chapter, we argue that, for Nietzsche, this ability is the will – the soul is the will insofar as it is involved in producing action.
That Nietzsche thinks of the will this way is, of course, not obvious. This is not because interpreters have detailed a different understanding of Nietzsche’s view of the will; on the contrary, his single most important passage on the will, Beyond Good and Evil 19, although well known and frequently quoted, has received little illuminating analysis. This is actually not surprising, given how difficult it is to make sense of what Nietzsche says in it. Particularly puzzling is its ending, of which, to our knowledge, no one has even attempted an account. But its beginning already presents a puzzle for careful readers: why does Nietzsche suggest that he intends to provide an alternative to traditional philosophical accounts of the will, an analysis of what it is to will or have a will, when he apparently offers instead a phenomenology of willing, an account of the experience of willing?