Skip to content

Essays Ubermensch Theory Crime

Print Essay | Close Window

The Atomic Structure in Life: A Journey Through the Discovery of the Importance of Levels and Structure
by Petra Rackley

"An atom consists of two kinds of particles: a nucleus, the atom's central core, which is positively charged and contains most of the atom's mass, and one or more electrons. An electron is a very light, negatively charged particle that exists in the region around the atom's positively charged nucleus" (Ebbing and Gammon 47).
The basis of human life is the atom; everything living and breathing on Earth is constructed with atoms. They allow movement, thought, and feelings. Without atoms humanity would exist as puddles. What is interesting is that these tiny particles, which make up human bodies, exist on levels. Bohr's energy level postulate states "an electron can only have specific energy values in an atom, which are called its energy levels. Therefore, the atom itself can have only specific total energy values" (Ebbing and Gammon 287). Every electron has its own energy state so it has its own level. The electrons that exist in the cloud around the nucleus are arranged in shells, sublevels, and orbitals. In a specific shell there are sublevels and orbitals. The greater the shell the more sublevels and orbitals it includes. For example, there is a single sublevel in main level one. However, in main level two there are two sublevels and four possible orbitals in which the electrons can exist.

Everything that exists exists because of structure. More specifically, everything that exists exists in levels. The atom, the smallest part of matter that man has successfully been able to see, is made up of levels. Furthermore, every living being, animal, or plant is composed of atoms. The living species inhabit the Earth. The Earth has levels: the core, magma, and surface, on which humans live, and the Earth is apart of a vast solar system where planets orbit and have their own levels. Without levels, like the electrons in an atom, the solar system would destroy itself because all the planets would collide into each other. Without levels there would be chaos in the universe. In the brilliantly crafted and written tome Crime and Punishment by the mastermind Fyodor Dostoevsky the existence of levels unfolds. Dostoevsky cunningly presents the levels in life through the theory of nihilism and Raskolnikov's association with it and the economical circumstances of the characters surrounding Raskolnikov. Dostoevsky also shows levels in good and evil through the astonishingly well-developed characters. Crime and Punishment truly represents many levels of life.

Ordinary Vs. Extraordinary

The ultimate being, or �bermensch, portrayed by Dostoevsky, through Raskolnikov, has the ability to violate certain rules that the "Common Man" cannot.

"I simply hinted that the extraordinary man has the right� that it is not an official, but an inner right to decide in his own conscience to overstep� certain obstacles, and only in case it is essential for the practical fulfillment of his idea (sometimes, perhaps, of benefit to the whole humanity)� In short, I maintain that all great men or even men a little out of the common, that is to say capable of giving some new word, must from their very nature be criminals-more or less, of course. Otherwise it's hard for them to get out of the common rut�" (242)
Raskolnikov wrote a paper on the theory of an �bermensch while he was still a student. In the document Raskolnikov gives the ordinary man the right to overstep boundaries in the attempt to become an extraordinary man. He also states that in certain cases it would be acceptable to overstep obstacles if it were to benefit numerous others. The ordinary man and the extraordinary man exist within different boundaries, or levels. The extraordinary man has the right to take advantage of the ordinary man. With levels, one is level is greater than another. In this circumstance the extraordinary man is at least a level above the ordinary man. Raskolnikov wanted to become the �bermensch by stepping over boundaries, via assassinating the pawnbroker. He rationalized his actions by saying that he would use the profits of his measures to benefit others. Raskolnikov wanted to step up to another level by becoming an extraordinary man.

In Raskolnikov's mind Napoleon was the ultimate superman, or �bermensch. Raskolnikov idolizes this French ruler and compares his murder and the resulting guilt to what Napoleon would have accomplished and experienced.

"It was like this: I asked myself one day this question- what if Napoleon, for instance, had happened to be in my place, and if he had not had Toulon nor Egypt nor the passage of Mont Blanc to begin his career with, but instead of all those picturesque and monumental things, there had simply been some ridiculous old hag, a pawnbroker, who had to be murdered too to get money from her trunk (for his career, you understand)� Wouldn't he have felt a pang at its being so far from monumental and� and sinful, too?�It would not have given him the least pang, that it would not even have struck him that it was not monumental�He would have strangled her in a minute without thinking about it!" (384)
Raskolnikov believes that Napoleon would not have had a problem killing the pawnbroker and that the later would not be feeling any guilt over the matter. Raskolnikov worships Napoleon as the ultimate being, free of guilt, and able to accomplish a goal to further himself and benefit others. Napoleon had to begin somewhere, so Raskolnikov felt that he would establish the superman within by working with what was given to him and killing the pawnbroker.

Raskolnikov wanted to be the extraordinary man. However, he realizes that he cannot help but to be ordinary.

"And you mustn't suppose that I didn't know, for instance, that if I began to question myself whether I had the right to gain power-I certainly hadn't the right- or that if I asked myself whether a human being is a louse it proved that it wasn't so for me, though it might be for a man who would go straight for his goal without asking questions� If I worried myself all those days, wondering whether Napoleon would have done it or not, I felt clearly of course that I wasn't Napoleon� I am just a louse like all the rest." (387-388)
Raskolnikov wanted to be a Napoleon. Yet, after he murderer the pawnbroker he realized that although he felt he could be a Napoleon, he was just an ordinary louse. Dostoevsky illustrates Napoleon as the extraordinary man and Raskolnikov as the ordinary man striving to become an �bermensch. The distinction between these two levels is evident. The extraordinary can step over boundaries to pursue his goal and feel no guilt because he has the right. The ordinary man can attempt to overstep boundaries, however he will feel remorse and eventually realize that he is not among the few extraordinary men. These two levels are palpable in the distinction between Napoleon and Raskolnikov. Therefore, Dostoevsky uses Raskolnikov and his theory to prove the two different levels of extraordinary and ordinary men.


The economics of our world are based around money and social status within the population. The economics of a country could cause its leaders to change, prices to skyrocket, and eventually its economic situation could affect the rest of the world. For example, Hitler came to power in Germany because the Germans were going through an economic crisis. Hitler promised them that he could get them out of that depression, and because the people of Germany believed him and gave him power, Hitler was able to start a mass assassination of people in other countries. However, the point isn't about world domination through economics, it is about the people involved in the economy and how they are affected. It is about the people who live their life based on moving up the economic ladder, making more money, and having a higher power in the economy. In Crime and Punishment Fyodor Dostoevsky presents different characters who represent diverse levels in the economics of the country in which they are living. He uses Katerina Ivanovna Marmeladov to show the group of people who are on the low level of society. Dostoevsky also uses Pyotr Petrovich Luzhin to show the class of people who use their money and status to control others; these are the people on the high level of society.

Katerina was the daughter of a man that had power and her first husband was rather wealthy. However, throughout the book she has little to no money, and she longs for the luxuries she used to have. She tries to teach her children to be "proper" and to learn French, which is the language of the noble and well mannered. When she does receive a little bit of money, she spends it quickly to entertain like a proper woman would.

"Know then that my wife was educated in a high-class school for the daughters of noblemen, and on leaving she danced the shawl dance before the governor and other personages, for which she was presented with a gold medal and a certificate of merit. The medal� well, the medal of course was sold-long ago, hm�but the certificate of merit is in her trunk still and not long ago she showed it to our landlady� she wanted to tell someone or other of her past honours and of the happy days that are gone� a woman of education and culture and distinguished family." (14)
Katerina was brought up in good fortune. However, when she married she left all of that behind her. She had two husbands, both of which wasted the family's money. She ended up working "from morning till night" (13) and she is "scrubbing and cleaning and washing the children" (13). Katerina is an economic low. She has no money because her husband drinks it all away. She wears rags and is sick because of the conditions in which she is living. "Her mohair shawl I sold for drink, a present to her long ago, her own property, not mine; and we live in a cold room and she caught cold this winter and has begun coughing and spitting blood too" (13). Dostoevsky presents Katerina on one of the lowest levels of society in this quotation.

To the other extreme Dostoevsky uses Luzhin to show one of the higher levels of society. This level uses its power to control others. "He is a well-to-do man, to be depended upon, he has two posts in the government and has already made his fortune" (33). Luzhin is well off in society; he has already made his money and he has a secure financial position. Because of his success with money he would like to find someone to marry who he can benefit with his earnings.

"He declared that before making Dounia's acquaintance he had made up his mind to marry a girl of good reputation, without dowry and, above all, one who had experienced poverty, because as he explained, a man ought not to be indebted to his wife, but that it is better for a wife to look upon her husband as her benefactor." (34-35)
Luzhin wants to marry someone who doesn't have any money. This way he can shower her with gifts to the point that she could never pay him back. If she cannot pay him back properly she would never have the fortitude to leave the relationship. In this way Luzhin would be able to control his wife with money. However, one cannot prove that these are truly his intentions until later in the novel.
"It was my mistake, too, not to have given them money�It was false economy! I meant to keep them without a penny so that they should turn to me as their providence, and look at them� They could not have refused me so easily! They are the sort of people that would feel bound to return money and presents if they broke it off; and they would find it hard to do it� H'm! I've made a blunder." (336)
This quotation shows Luzhin's thoughts about the break up he had between Dounia and himself. He feels that if he had given her more gifts she would have been bound to him by money. Luzhin did not shower gifts upon Dounia to the point that she felt bound to him. Therefore, Luzhin feels like he made a mistake. Dostoevsky uses Luzhin and Katerina to illustrate two different economical situations in Crime and Punishment. These two levels are still apart of our very complicated economic structure in society today. Some people marry others just for the money; some people marry others because of love and as a result lose their financial status. Dostoevsky has captured these levels and showed us how they dictate lives through Katerina and Luzhin.

Good vs. Evil

The age-old battle between good and evil has resurfaced. However, this time they are not battling; they are working together to prove that there are levels in morality. Dostoevsky uses Sofya Semyonova Marmeladov, "Sonya," to symbolize the Christ figure in Christianity. He then uses Arkady Ivanovich Svidriga�lov to exemplify the other extreme of malevolence. Through these two characters the levels of good and evil are exposed in Crime and Punishment.

Sonya is portrayed as a Christ symbol many times. For instance, when Raskolnikov comes to a breaking point in the book where he confesses everything about his murder of Alyona Ivanovna to Sonya. He seeks her out particularly because he sees her as Christ, or someone who can cleanse him. "Be silent! Don't ask! You don't deserve" (301). Sonya told Raskolnikov that he didn't deserve to know about God and his salvation, however she still reluctantly told him. As sinners in this world God says that no one deserves the gift of his forgiveness and salvation through our works, but he continues to share it with us because he wants to see us benefit from his gift. "For it is by grace that you have been saved, through faith- and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God- not by works, so that no one can boast" (Ephesians 2.8-9). We cannot earn the gift of salvation and forgiveness through our works as humans according to the Bible. We are given the gift only because of God's grace. Sonya knew that Raskolnikov didn't deserve to know about God's forgiveness, however, she still told him because she knew it would benefit him in the long run. There were times when Raskolnikov resented Sonya because of her Christ-likeness. Yet, she still loved him.

"And suddenly a strange surprising sensation of a sort of bitter hatred for Sonia passed through his heart. As it were wondering and frightened of this sensation, he raised his head and looked intently at her; but he met her uneasy and painfully anxious eyes fixed on him; there was love in them; his hatred vanished like a phantom." (378)
At first Raskolnikov resents Sonya. However, when he sees her, she shows him love and compassion. Therefore, all of his resentment melts away. Many people resent God because they know that they will have to change their sinful ways, however God loves everybody with unconditional love. He hates the sin, but he loves the sinner. "This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins" (1 John 4.10). This verse explains that God is true love, because even if man doesn't love God, God loves man unconditionally. Sonya loves Raskolnikov even though he may be resenting her. This shows Sonya as Christ-like. Also, Sonya said that she would never leave Raskolnikov. " 'Then you won't leave me,' Sonia?'� 'No, no, never, nowhere!' cried Sonia 'I will follow you, I will follow you everywhere'" (381). When Raskolnikov asks Sonia if she will always be there for him she says that she will always be with him. Christ says that he will never leave us nor forsake us if we believe in him. "For He Himself has said, 'I will never leave you nor forsake you'" (Hebrews 13.5) When Christ says that he will never forsake man He means that He will never abandon us, Sonya says that she will not abandon Raskolnikov if he goes to jail. She says that she will follow him wherever he goes. In Christianity Christ does not sin; he does no wrong. He is the ultimate good. "The Lord is righteous in all his ways" (Psalm 145.17). To be righteous means to be honorable, good, virtuous, and blameless. If Christ is righteous in all of his ways then he is never unrighteous. Therefore, he truly is the ultimate good, and if Sonya personifies Christ, then she is the ultimate good in Crime and Punishment.

To the other extreme, Svidriga�lov represents evil. " 'To think that I could for one instant have looked for help from that coarse brute, that depraved sensualist and black-guard!' he cried" (449) This quotation is Raskolnikov thinking about Svidriga�lov. When he describes Svidriga�lov, Raskolnikov describes him as a crude, brutal or violent person, like an animal, a morally corrupt human with sexual desires, a villain, and a scoundrel. These traits all describe the opposite of a good person. They describe someone evil. "Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour" (1 Peter 5.8). Raskolnikov describes Svidriga�lov like an animal, and in the Bible, Satan, the ultimate devil or sinful being, is also described as an animal looking to destroy. The Bible also describes good and evil like light and darkness. "Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed" (John 3.20). In Crime and Punishment there are many instances where Dostoevsky depicts Svidriga�lov with dark language or Dostoevsky has him around darkness. "The room was dark" (467). "When suddenly in a dark corner between an old cupboard and the door he caught sight of a strange object" (469). These two quotations are about Svidriga�lov. The first one illustrated his room when he woke from one of his dreams while he was at the hotel. The second quotation was taken from a dream Svidriga�lov had while he was at the hotel. The hotel in both of these quotations was the hotel he stayed at right before he ended his life. Therefore, if Svidriga�lov is portrayed in darkness, and darkness symbolizes evil, then Svidriga�lov is evil.

Dostoevsky does an awesome job of illustrating both good and evil in his novel. These two levels of life are depicted through Sonya and Svidriga�lov. In society today, if we are going by the standards of good and evil in Christianity, these two levels exist. But these two levels are not only relevant in Christianity. These levels exist in every religion. Each religion portrays a "right" way and a "wrong" way. Without these guidelines in life regarding the two levels of good and evil our world would be in chaos, not knowing how to act and what to do.

Se Terminer

Dostoevsky masterfully pieces together proof of different levels of society in Crime and Punishment. He uses Raskolnikov to show the different levels of extraordinary and ordinary. Dosteovsky uses Luzhin and Katerina to portray the different levels of economics, and Dostoevsky also uses Sonya and Svidriga�lov to depict the levels of good and evil. The different levels of life present today are depicted through these characters. The levels that are depicted still exist in society today, and without these levels the world would be in chaos.

Print Essay | Close Window

The Übermensch (German for "Beyond-Man", "Superman", "Overman", "Superhuman", "Hyperman", "Hyperhuman"; German pronunciation:[ˈˀyːbɐmɛnʃ]) is a concept in the philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche. In his 1883 book Thus Spoke Zarathustra (German: Also sprach Zarathustra), Nietzsche has his character Zarathustra posit the Übermensch as a goal for humanity to set for itself. It is a work of philosophical allegory, with a structural similarity to the Gathas of Zoroaster/Zarathustra.

In English[edit]

The first translation of Thus Spoke Zarathustra into English was published in 1896. In that translation, by Alexander Tille, Übermensch was translated as "Beyond-Man". In the Thomas Common translation, published in 1909, however, Übermensch was rendered as "Superman". Common was anticipated in this by George Bernard Shaw, who had done the same in his 1903 stage play Man and Superman. Walter Kaufmann lambasted this translation in the 1950s for two reasons: first, its near or total failure to capture the nuance of the German word über (while the Latin prefix super- means above or beyond, the English use of the prefix or its use as an adjective has altered the meaning); and second, a rationale which Fredric Wertham railed against even more vehemently in Seduction of the Innocent, for promoting identification by children with the comic-book character Superman (whom Wertham described as "un-American and fascist"). The preference of Kaufmann and others is to translate Übermensch as "overman". Scholars continue to employ both terms, some simply opting to reproduce the German word.[1][2]

The German prefix über can have connotations of superiority, transcendence, excessiveness, or intensity, depending on the words to which it is attached.[3]Mensch refers to a member of the human species, rather than to a male specifically. The adjective übermenschlich means super-human, in the sense of beyond human strength or out of proportion to humanity.[4]


Nietzsche introduces the concept of the Übermensch in contrast to his understanding of the other-worldliness of Christianity: Zarathustra proclaims the Übermensch to be the meaning of the earth and admonishes his audience to ignore those who promise other-worldly hopes in order to draw them away from the earth.[5][6] The turn away from the earth is prompted, he says, by a dissatisfaction with life—a dissatisfaction that causes one to create another world in which those who made one unhappy in this life are tormented. The Übermensch is not driven into other worlds away from this one.

Zarathustra declares that the Christian escape from this world also required the invention of an eternal soul which would be separate from the body and survive the body's death. Part of other-worldliness, then, was the abnegation and mortification of the body, or asceticism. Zarathustra further links the Übermensch to the body and to interpreting the soul as simply an aspect of the body.

Death of God and the creation of new values[edit]

Zarathustra ties the Übermensch to the death of God. While this God was the ultimate expression of other-worldly values and the instincts that gave birth to those values, belief in that God nevertheless did give meaning to life for a time. 'God is dead' means that the idea of God can no longer provide values. With the sole source of values no longer capable of providing those values, there is a real chance of nihilism prevailing.

Zarathustra presents the Übermensch as the creator of new values. In this way, it appears as a solution to the problem of the death of God and nihilism. If the Übermensch acts to create new values within the moral vacuum of nihilism, there is nothing that this creative act would not justify. Alternatively, in the absence of this creation, there are no grounds upon which to criticize or justify any action, including the particular values created and the means by which they are promulgated.

In order to avoid a relapse into Platonic idealism or asceticism, the creation of these new values cannot be motivated by the same instincts that gave birth to those tables of values. Instead, they must be motivated by a love of this world and of life. Whereas Nietzsche diagnosed the Christian value system as a reaction against life and hence destructive in a sense, the new values which the Übermensch will be responsible for will be life-affirming and creative (see Nietzschean affirmation).

As a goal[edit]

Zarathustra first announces the Übermensch as a goal humanity can set for itself. All human life would be given meaning by how it advanced a new generation of human beings. The aspiration of a woman would be to give birth to an Übermensch, for example; her relationships with men would be judged by this standard.[7]

Zarathustra contrasts the Übermensch with the last man of egalitarian modernity, an alternative goal which humanity might set for itself. The last man appears only in Thus Spoke Zarathustra, and is presented as a condition that would render the creation of the Übermensch impossible.

According to Rüdiger Safranski, some commentators associate the Übermensch with a program of eugenics.[8] This is most pronounced when considered in the aspect of a goal that humanity sets for itself. The reduction of all psychology to physiology implies, to some, that human beings can be bred for cultural traits. This interpretation of Nietzsche's doctrine focuses more on the future of humanity than on a single cataclysmic individual. There is no consensus regarding how this aspect of the Übermensch relates to the creation of new values.

Re-embodiment of amoral aristocratic values[edit]

For Rüdiger Safranski, the Übermensch represents a higher biological type reached through artificial selection and at the same time is also an ideal for anyone who is creative and strong enough to master the whole spectrum of human potential, good and "evil", to become an "artist-tyrant". In Ecce Homo, Nietzsche vehemently denied any idealistic, democratic or humanitarian interpretation of the Übermensch: "The word Übermensch [designates] a type of supreme achievement, as opposed to 'modern' men, 'good' men, Christians, and other nihilists ... When I whispered into the ears of some people that they were better off looking for a Cesare Borgia than a Parsifal, they did not believe their ears."[9] Safranski argues that the combination of ruthless warrior pride and artistic brilliance that defined the Italian Renaissance embodied the sense of the Übermensch for Nietzsche. According to Safranski, Nietzsche intended the ultra-aristocratic figure of the Übermensch to serve as a Machiavellian bogeyman of the modern Western middle class and its pseudo-Christian egalitarian value system.[10]

Relation to the eternal recurrence[edit]

The Übermensch shares a place of prominence in Thus Spoke Zarathustra with another of Nietzsche's key concepts: the eternal recurrence of the same. Several interpretations for this fact have been offered.

Laurence Lampert suggests that the eternal recurrence replaces the Übermensch as the object of serious aspiration.[11] This is in part due to the fact that even the Übermensch can appear like an other-worldly hope. The Übermensch lies in the future — no historical figures have ever been Übermenschen — and so still represents a sort of eschatological redemption in some future time.

Stanley Rosen, on the other hand, suggests that the doctrine of eternal return is an esoteric ruse meant to save the concept of the Übermensch from the charge of Idealism.[12] Rather than positing an as-yet unexperienced perfection, Nietzsche would be the prophet of something that has occurred a countless number of times in the past.

Others maintain that willing the eternal recurrence of the same is a necessary step if the Übermensch is to create new values, untainted by the spirit of gravity or asceticism. Values involve a rank-ordering of things, and so are inseparable from approval and disapproval; yet it was dissatisfaction that prompted men to seek refuge in other-worldliness and embrace other-worldly values. Therefore, it could seem that the Übermensch, in being devoted to any values at all, would necessarily fail to create values that did not share some bit of asceticism. Willing the eternal recurrence is presented as accepting the existence of the low while still recognizing it as the low, and thus as overcoming the spirit of gravity or asceticism.

Still others suggest that one must have the strength of the Übermensch in order to will the eternal recurrence of the same; that is, only the Übermensch will have the strength to fully accept all of his past life, including his failures and misdeeds, and to truly will their eternal return. This action nearly kills Zarathustra, for example, and most human beings cannot avoid other-worldliness because they really are sick, not because of any choice they made.


The term Übermensch was utilized frequently by Hitler and the Nazi regime to describe their idea of a biologically superior Aryan or Germanic master race;[13] a form of Nietzsche's Übermensch became a philosophical foundation for the National Socialist ideas. Their conception of the Übermensch, however, was racial in nature.[14][15] The Nazi notion of the master race also spawned the idea of "inferior humans" (Untermenschen) which could be dominated and enslaved; this term does not originate with Nietzsche. Nietzsche himself was critical of both antisemitism and German nationalism. In his final years, Nietzsche began to believe that he was in fact Polish, not German, and was quoted as saying, "I am a pure-blooded Polish nobleman, without a single drop of bad blood, certainly not German blood".[16] In defiance of these doctrines, he claimed that he and Germany were great only because of "Polish blood in their veins",[17] and that he would be "having all anti-semites shot" as an answer to his stance on anti-semitism. Although the term has been associated with the Nazis, Nietzsche was dead long before Hitler's reign. It was Nietzsche's sister Elisabeth Förster-Nietzsche who actually first played a part in manipulating her brother's words to accommodate the worldview of herself and her husband, Bernhard Förster, a prominent German nationalist and antisemite.[18] In order to support his beliefs he set up the Deutscher Volksverein (German People's League) in 1881 with Max Liebermann von Sonnenberg.[19]


The thought of Nietzsche had an important influence in anarchist authors (see Anarchism and Friedrich Nietzsche). Spencer Sunshine writes that "There were many things that drew anarchists to Nietzsche: his hatred of the state; his disgust for the mindless social behavior of 'herds'; his anti-Christianity; his distrust of the effect of both the market and the State on cultural production; his desire for an 'overman' — that is, for a new human who was to be neither master nor slave; his praise of the ecstatic and creative self, with the artist as his prototype, who could say, 'Yes' to the self-creation of a new world on the basis of nothing; and his forwarding of the 'transvaluation of values' as source of change, as opposed to a Marxist conception of class struggle and the dialectic of a linear history."[20] The influential American anarchist Emma Goldman in her famous collection of essays Anarchism and Other Essays in the preface passionately defends both Nietzsche and Max Stirner from attacks within anarchism when she says "The most disheartening tendency common among readers is to tear out one sentence from a work, as a criterion of the writer's ideas or personality. Friedrich Nietzsche, for instance, is decried as a hater of the weak because he believed in the Übermensch. It does not occur to the shallow interpreters of that giant mind that this vision of the Übermensch also called for a state of society which will not give birth to a race of weaklings and slaves."[21]

Sunshine says that the "Spanish anarchists also mixed their class politics with Nietzschean inspiration." Murray Bookchin, in The Spanish Anarchists, describes prominent CNT–FAI member Salvador Seguí as "an admirer of Nietzschean individualism, of the superhombre to whom 'all is permitted'." Bookchin, in his 1973 introduction to Sam Dolgoff's The Anarchist Collectives, even describes the reconstruction of society by the workers as a Nietzschean project. Bookchin says that "workers must see themselves as human beings, not as class beings; as creative personalities, not as 'proletarians,' as self-affirming individuals, not as 'masses'. . .(the) economic component must be humanized precisely by bringing an 'affinity of friendship' to the work process, by diminishing the role of onerous work in the lives of producers, indeed by a total 'transvaluation of values' (to use Nietzsche's phrase) as it applies to production and consumption as well as social and personal life."[20]

In popular culture[edit]

  • The comic-book hero Superman, when Jerome "Jerry" Siegel first created him, was originally a villain modeled on Nietzsche's idea (see "The Reign of the Superman").[citation needed] He was re-invented as a hero by his eventual designer, Joseph "Joe" Shuster, after which he bore little resemblance to the previous character. However, Superman does find an adversary in the mold of the Nietzschean Übermensch in the recurring arch-villain Lex Luthor,[citation needed] his greatest enemy on Earth. Luthor is preceded, even, by a supervillain resembling Siegel's original concept for Superman bearing the synonymous name of 'Ultra-Humanite'. A direct reference to the term occurs in the episode "Double Trouble" of the TV series Adventures of Superman, in which a German-speaking character calls the title character "verfluchter Übermensch" ("cursed Superman").[22] In the tenth season of the show Smallville, an alternate Lionel Luthor refers to Clark as the "Übermensch". Overman is an alternate version of Superman, from Earth-10, an Earth where the Axis Powers won World War II.[23]
  • Jack London dedicated his novels The Sea-Wolf and Martin Eden to criticizing Nietzsche's concept of the Übermensch and his radical individualism,[24] which London considered to be selfish and egoistic.
  • George Bernard Shaw's 1903 play Man and Superman is a reference to the archetype; its main character considers himself an untameable revolutionary, above the normal concerns of humanity.[citation needed]
  • James Joyce utilizes the Übermensch in the first chapter of his novel Ulysses. Joyce makes Buck Mulligan say it:[25] "—My twelfth rib is gone, he cried. I'm the Uebermensch. Toothless Kinch and I, the supermen."
  • In The Power, a 1956 book by Frank M. Robinson, the villain consciously models himself upon Nietzsche's Übermensch, and a quotation from Nietzsche serves as the book's motto.
  • In real life, Leopold and Loeb committed murder in 1924 partly out of a superficially Übermensch-like conception of themselves.[26] Their story has been dramatized many times, including in the Alfred Hitchcock film Rope, the 1959 film Compulsion based on Meyer Levin's novel, the 1994 film Swoon, the 2002 film Murder by Numbers, and the 2005 Off-Broadway musical Thrill Me: The Leopold and Loeb Story.
  • A character in the show Dollhouse (Season 1, Episode 12; titled "Omega") references Übermensch in relation to Nietzsche when trying to describe a person that had the memories, skills, and intelligence of dozens of people uploaded into their (single) mind by means of futuristic technology.
  • The Medic character in the video game Team Fortress 2 will sometimes chant "I am the Übermensch!" for one of his "Cheers" voice commands.
  • In the Disney TV Cartoon, Pepper Ann, in an episode titled "Effie Shrugged", Effie, a physically imposing bully teaches Pepper Ann some basic information on Übermensch.
  • David Bowie's song titled "The Supermen", from his 1970 album The Man Who Sold the World, was inspired by the work of Nietzsche. Bowie later said "I was still going through the thing when I was pretending that I understood Nietzsche... And I had tried to translate it into my own terms to understand it so 'Supermen' came out of that."[27]

See also[edit]




  • Knoll, Manuel (2014) "The Übermensch as Social and Political Task: A Study in the Continuity of Nietzsche’s Political Thought", in: Knoll, Manual and Stocker, Barry (eds.) (2014) Nietzsche as Political Philosopher, Berlin/Boston, pp. 239–266.
  • Lampert, Laurence (1986) Nietzsche's Teaching: An Interpretation of Thus Spoke Zarathustra. New Haven: Yale University Press.
  • Nietzsche, Friedrich (1885) Thus Spoke Zarathustra
  • Nietzsche, Friedrich; Hollingdale, R. J. and Rieu, E.V. (eds.) (1961_ Thus Spoke Zarathustra Penguin Classics: Penguin Publishing (Originally published 1885)
  • Rosen, Stanley (1995) The Mask of Enlightenment: Nietzsche's Zarathustra. New York: Cambridge University Press.
  • Safranski, Rudiger (2002 Nietzsche: A Philosophical Biography. Translated by Shelley Frisch. New York: W.W. Norton & Co.
  • Wilson, Colin (1981) The Outsider. Los Angeles: J.P. Tarcher.

External links[edit]

Look up übermensch in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.
  1. ^Lampert, Laurence (1986). Nietzsche's Teaching. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press. 
  2. ^Rosen, Stanley (1995). The Mask of Enlightenment. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 
  3. ^Duden Deutsches Universal Wörterbuch A–Z, s.v. über-.
  4. ^Übermenschlich. Online Dictionary. Retrieved from
  5. ^Hollingdale, R. J. (1961), page 44 - English translation of Zarathustra's prologue; "I love those who do not first seek beyond the stars for reasons to go down and to be sacrifices: but who sacrifice themselves to the earth, that the earth may one day belong to the Superman"
  6. ^Nietsche, F. (1885) - p4, Original publication in German - "Ich liebe die, welche nicht erst hinter den Sternen einen Grund suchen, unterzugehen und Opfer zu sein: sondern die sich der Erde opfern, dass die Erde einst des Übermenschen werde."
  7. ^Thus Spoke Zarathustra, I.18; Lampert, Nietzsche's; Rosen, Mask of Enlightenment, 118.
  8. ^Safranski, Nietzsche, 262-64, 266-68.
  9. ^Nietzsche, Ecce Homo, Why I Write Such Good Books, §1)
  10. ^Safranski, Nietzsche, 365
  11. ^Lampert, Nietzsche's Teaching.
  12. ^Rosen, The Mask of Enlightenment.
  13. ^Alexander, Jeffrey (2011). A Contemporary Introduction to Sociology (2nd ed.). Paradigm. ISBN 978-1-61205-029-4. 
  14. ^"Nietzsche inspired Hitler and other killers - Page 7", Court TV Crime Library
  15. ^
  16. ^Friedrich Nietzsche, "Ecce Homo: How One Becomes What One Is" [1]
  17. ^Henry Louis Mencken, "The Philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche", T. Fisher Unwin, 1908, reprinted by University of Michigan 2006, pg. 6, [2]
  18. ^Hannu Salmi (1994). "Die Sucht nach dem germanischen Ideal" (in German).  Also published in Zeitschrift für Geschichtswissenschaft 6/1994, pp. 485-496
  19. ^Karl Dietrich Bracher, The German Dictatorship, 1970, pp. 59-60
  20. ^ abSpencer Sunshine, "Nietzsche and the Anarchists"
  21. ^Anarchism and Other Essays by Emma Goldman
  22. ^Grossman, Gary (1976). Superman: Serial to Cereal. New York: Popular Library. p. 67. ISBN 0445040548. 
  23. ^Grant Morrison (w), Doug Mahnke (p), Christian Alamy, Rodney Ramos, Tom Nguyen, Walden Wong (i). Final Crisis: Superman Beyond 1 (October 2008), DC Comics
  24. ^Bridgwater, Patrick (1972). Nietzsche in Anglosaxony: A Study of Nietzsche's Impact on English and American Literature. Leicester: Leicester University Press. p. 169. ISBN 0718511042. 
  25. ^Joyce, James (1922). Ulysses. Shakespeare & Co. ISBN 0-679-72276-9. 
  26. ^"Nietzsche inspired Hitler and other killers", Court TV Crime Library
  27. ^David Buckley (1999). Strange Fascination - David Bowie: The Definitive Story: p.267