Nietzsche’s ‘‘Thus Spoke Zarathustra’’ speaks to the crises of existing humanity based in the soul of the ‘Last man’ in a manifold of ways. At the foundation of these crises are the last man’s soul and its inability to reach sense, meaning and value of things. There are four sections: Zarathustra’s Prologue, On the Despisers of the Body, On Self-Overcoming and On Redemption. These sections explain why the soul of the last man is unable to reach fully the sense and value of things. They also detail how the overman can overcome this limitation.
Zarathustra’s prologue has two important instances in Nietzsche’s life. These moments carry the great consciousness in the work. The first part declares death of God, and the second one declares the overman. Nietzsche observes that the idea of God has no strength to act as the foundation of morality and truth. He does not deny the existence of God, but claims that God does not give meaning to the universal life as it was in the beginning. Instead, he supports nihilism. The last man’s portrait gives us the ultimate effects of nihilism (Nietzsche, 1954, p. 126). Lack of positive goals, needs or beliefs make people to search for comfort as they desire not to struggle. As a result, people become similar and mediocre. They invent pleasure by eliminating all sources of pain, strife and worry from their lives.
The overman appears to be the best answer to nihilism. It is the meaning people should give in their lives. The overman confronts the world without the help of God. He does not find the world meaningless irrespective of absence of God. Instead, he gives the world a meaning of his own. This way, the overman upsets the ‘believers in true faith’ and the ‘just and the good’. These are the people who have not recognized the meaninglessness of the existence of God. The greatest difference between human beings and the overman is that the overman believes in himself while human beings must believe in the existence of something. The overman relies on himself while humans believe in science, truth or God (Nietzsche, 1954, p. 134).
Zarathustra urges that human beings act as a link between the overman and animals. They are governed by their natural animal instinct which makes them rely on something and prejudice. For them to refine, they have to turn their instinct of cruelty and eliminate faith, prejudice and superficiality. This would create something deeper than what humans have, and would also facilitate their evolvement towards the overman. The jester resembles Zarathustra to some extent. He moves lightly progressing to the overman. In compelling the tightrope climber to hasten, the jester ruins him and upsets him. Correspondingly, Zarathustra preaches about the overman. This might ruin and upset people who are weak to handle such news. Unlike Jesus in the New Testament who taught the disciples to be fishers of men, Zarathustra desires to teach people the importance of breaking away from the shepherded flock (Nietzsche, 1954, p. 146). Believers, the just and the good will dislike him for this, and term him a lawbreaker. However, Zarathustra will do it wholeheartedly as this is a magnificent action of creation.
On the despisers of the body, Nietzsche distrusts eternal soul explained by other philosophers. Zarathustra criticizes all those who hate human body at the expense of the soul. In fact, he does not want any of the teachers of eternal life to read his philosophy. The soul only exists in young children who do not reason. He argues that they preach death to the human race, and should follow their teaching to death without following his words. He argues that only the body exists, and within the body there is the self. This self rules the body, and ultimately the real meaning of humanity. The self is in charge of the ego, and the ego is in charge of the pains and pleasures of life. The self desires to create further than it. Zarathustra compares the body to a territory which is governed by the self in all its departments. He points out that everyone who hates the body despises his existence. As a result, desire for personal destruction enters human race and causes death.
Zarathustra asserted that those who preach eternal life preach of a life of suffering. They go ahead and tell humans to persevere pain and suffering in order to attain eternal life after death. They preach denial and rejection of life, thereby preaching death. Generally, the body represents the physical world. Religion and metaphysics emphasize on the existence of supernatural beings which is of great importance to human beings. Zarathustra claims that there is only one earth, and it is occupied by physical objects. Mental lives and all that human beings believe in and values are there to satisfy the needs of the bodies. He suggests that believing in God or life after death invents sickness in the body requiring relief from this painful life. He explains this with the claim that a healthy body does not require faith or God’s intervention. The body is basically self sufficient (Nietzsche, 1954 p. 226). He urges human beings to be contented in life, rather than desiring eternal life which does not exist.
According to Zarathustra, human beings are both creators and creatures. They are animals who have instincts of aggression and cruelty. On the other hand, the overman has values and is self-made. For human beings to be nobler and move toward the overman, they must eliminate the animal instincts in them. This is only achieved through a painful process of inner struggle and self-examination. They must struggle to become stronger and deeper than the way they are. This invites self-punishment which Nietzsche refers to as self-overcoming. He argues that all living things must obey. There must be someone in authority for one to obey since you can not obey yourself (Nietzsche, 1954 p. 228). Commanding is dangerous and difficult unlike obeying which is harmless and simple. Human beings are driven to commanding by the will to rule. The powerful have a chance to command others and obey their own rule. Those who are ruled, in turn, command those who are weaker than them. Obedience is the chief road to power. Therefore, life tries to overcome itself through submission and change. Ultimately, life is ruled by change: morality and God do not take part in it.
Self-overcoming is driven by the will to power. Great power needs power over the individual. Generally, all things must obey. This means that they either obey themselves or someone else in power. Since power is gained through self-mastery and self-overcoming, the struggle to gain power is in every life and is achieved through the will to the personal punishment of self-overcoming. Human beings seek to free themselves from all sorts of slavery. This is a tough exercise which takes several steps. A slave seeks physical freedom, but if it is not acquired, he fights for freedom in other fields. An ascetic desires to have bodily needs fulfilled. Similarly, a philosopher seeks to have freedom of assumption and protection against prejudice. Nietzsche believes in total freedom. The overman has this freedom as he is not controlled by anything. He is the sole creator of his world (Nietzsche, 1954 p. 250).
The search for freedom and power invites change in all aspects of human life. Change is the driving force that will lead humans out of their stressing nature. Since the will to power affects human beings for the whole life, and this will is only achieved through change, human beings have to accept change. If they have to thrive, they have to succeed in change. Nietzsche stresses on self-criticism, self-improvement, growth and change (Nietzsche, 1954, p. 252).
Nietzsche works towards a goal of redeeming those who have been captivated in the past. This redemption requires all human beings to unite and work outside the evil and the good. Embracing determinism is the only way to move ahead. Human beings are capable of doing what they will to do. However, they cannot will what they will. Their project is to discover their essential will which will ultimately lead to the redemption. The discovery is facilitated by their affirmation on reality, which is beyond their control. It requires them to attempt with high reflective consciousness. They have to suppress forces like regret, fear and guilt which tend to control them. Nietzsche wants to redeem human race from false teaching of eternal life and existence of God. He accepts to be rejected by many, and leave humans contented with life on this earth. The soul of the last man has been enslaved in religion and other faiths. This is why humans are far apart from the overman. They must work beyond their control and reject the primitive idea of God if they need redemption (Nietzsche, 1954 p. 253).
In conclusion, the soul of the last man has a long way to go before reaching the overman. Human beings believe in God, science or truth while the overman believes in himself. They have to trust in themselves if they have to progress towards the overman. There are many philosophers and morality teachers who teach about eternal life (Nietzsche, 1954 p. 254). This destroys human body which is very vital for existence. This gospel has to stop for human beings to thrive. Additionally, the overman has freedom which lacks in human beings. The will to rule makes them subject to others. Change is the only solution to this problem. Redemption from traditional slavery requires the whole human race to come together and save each other from extinction.