Justification Of Friedrich Nietzsche’s Claims That We Are Weary Of Men

In Nietzsche’s Genealogy of Morals essays, he made the claim that nihilism is the fact that we are “weary of man” in modern life. In this essay, I will attempt to justify his claims that modern ways of social and individual life, moral values and social norms have led us to become weary of man. I will attempt to justify his claims that these three factors mentioned above have impacts our ability to express our will to power. Will to power refers to the human ability and freedom to create and give form to things, and according to Nietzsche, is an essence of life. This would make the will to power a reason why modern life and society has become nihilistic to mankind. His main idea posits that our will to power is what enables man the freedom to express ourselves, and limiting that will would cause resentment, which gives rise to our weariness of man.

Firstly, I argue that modern modes of individual and social life have limited our ability to express will to power, due to the expectations that society has for man. A mode of life would refer to a way life is experienced, in the context of an individual within a society. To Nietzsche, the modern ways of life centre around the idea that one ought to be other-regarding, and that we are made to express ourselves in an other-regarding sense. This means that we find responsibility in ourselves to care for others in society within our conscience, because there is an expectation for us to fulfil this responsibility. In the most basic sense, we can say that we are expected to care for society, for we are a part of it. Modern modes of life has been claimed to be nihilistic since humans are oppressed in their desire to express themselves freely, and are instead subjected to carrying out their “duty” by fulfilling people’s expectations of them. For example, in the modern world, it is expected for everyone to go out to work in order to contribute back to society. Anyone who is able-bodied and does not work upon leaving school is usually shunned for not fulfilling the expectation society has of him.

By pressuring people into having to work, society has placed pressure upon humankind, making us “tame and civilised animal(s)”, according to Nietzsche. Furthermore, Nietzsche had claimed that when one does not fulfil societal expectations, we turn inwards into ourselves to find blame. This “internalisation of man” is a phenomena that came about from this pressure of having to fulfil society’s expectations. Rather than question why one should go out to work and contribute to society, we tend to look at ourselves and reflect on why we refuse to do so. Nietzsche claimed that it is normal of man to not desire to conduct such activities for we are instinctively animals, yet we are being forced to for this is something that we are all expected to do. This pressure that stems from how life is supposed to be experienced in terms of social expectations has oppressed man, and has limited one’s ability to express their own desires and will to power. From this, we can see that modern modes of individual and social life has caused man’s desire to express himself to be oppressed, since society has already set expectations of how one should experience life. Furthermore, this limitation of one’s will to power, such as coming up with ideas on how they can live their lives in their own way, could lead to resentment of society. Thus, I agree that modern modes of life has become nihilistic, since it limits one’s will to power, making us weary of man.

Secondly, I argue that moral values have transformed into a source of resentment in modern time, which has led to human life becoming nihilistic. Law and religion have become our main sources for moral values, to which Nietzsche claims have caused us to be weary of man. With regards to the law, it is the system of justice that exists in most societies that functions as a basic structure for humans living within the societies. Nietzsche mentioned in the Genealogy of Morals that the idea of owing has existed early in human history. This “creditor and debtor” relationship has evolved from being one that is legal, whereby punishment is used as a way for the creditor to regain what was owed to him, to one that is moral. This means that any act that deserves punishment is now based on the rule of ‘you ought not to have chosen to do that’.

With such a thinking comes the implication that every action that is done has an ‘ought’ to it. For example, ought I help my friend pick up a pen he had dropped? A simple action such as this could quite possibly be viewed in a moralistic manner, even if it may seem unnecessary. For example, how much ought a friend do for a friend for it to be morally right? In such a case, it is easy to see why one would become weary of man. This has caused us to be limited in our will to power, since each action is has a limit when there is a moral meaning to it, preventing us from being able to express ourselves and our desires. We worry about having to make the most moral decision in actions that we make, especially when we come to the understanding that immoral acts have a punishment behind it. When we tire of thinking about moral values for fear of being punished, we may grow resentful towards the law, which is a construct made by the rulers of society. When this happens, we resent the fact that we need to repress our will to power and accept the law – to become weary of man.

With regards to religion, Nietzsche argues against Christianity in the Genealogy of Morals, and implied that it caused a limit to our will to power. He claimed that there is a sense of “maximum…guilty indebtedness” towards God, since man is born a sinner and the former had sacrificed himself for mankind. Ever since God and mankind formed this ‘creditor and debtor’ relationship, mankind has been obligated to answer to God for their every action. The end-goal of life has become to repay God for one’s sins, which seems bleak to say the least. With this in consideration, man now no longer has the ability to express the will to power, which is a kind of freedom, for he is always subjected to the guilt he has towards God for his every action. God has now become a source of moral values, for how one acts would be ‘judged’ by God. This kind of never-ending debt would become exhausting, since people are always expected to act morally in the name of God. As such, it can be said that moral values from religion may cause a building of resentment towards it, eventually leading to a weariness of man. Therefore, I believe that moral values that stem from law in society and within a religious community has caused us to resent the relentlessness of having to think twice about our actions, which appears nihilistic, leading to our weariness of man.

Lastly, I argue that the social norm has caused us to disregard our desire to the will to power. To Nietzsche, the social norm of the modern era is the pursuing of a “higher culture”. He claimed that it is a vapid exercise, for we are encouraged to think about what is fleeting and ultimately unimportant in our lives, rather than to express our will to power. Higher culture may cause us to ignore our primal instincts and distance us from what is natural to us, namely our will to power. Also, we can say that what we worship in our daily lives can reflect what we value. One example of our exercise of the “higher culture” in modern times would be the rise of social media. Social media can reflect what humans care about now – particularly, things that we think are visually attractive, or anything that is new, strange and different from our daily lives. Yet on social media, what we care about tends to change frequently. When this happens, people are quick to chase the newest fad, leaving the old thing that caught their interest in the dust. This come-and-go nature of the products on and from social media has caused people to constantly change themselves in terms of their desires. When this occurs, however, we tend to forget the pressures that exists in society. The oppression that society places upon us, as well as the repression of our own desires, are easily forgotten as we are too distracted by what is on the surface. This disregarding of our own desires adds on to the oppression and repression of our will to power, which may lead to a stronger sense of resentment on occasions when we do remember this desire. As such, I would agree with Nietzsche that social norms has caused us to lead a rather nihilistic life, since it is able to distract us from what is important; the will to power.

That said, I would argue that the social norm of pursuing the higher culture is not always something that is nihilistic. We are able to make use of social norms to express our own desires and will to power, even with the pursuit of higher culture. For example, one such instance would be the idea that one ought to pursue a degree from a university education. Although the ideas surrounding a degree such as needing it to find a better job or to impress people are not indicative of its potential to help us express our will to power, we can take higher education as a way to express our own desires. The process of form-giving, such as coming up with ideas and being creative, can actually be facilitated with higher education. In such a case, we can say that social norms may not be completely nihilistic. Nevertheless there is a pre-condition, which is that in order for higher culture to be a positive influence on our lives, we are required to be aware of our desire to will to power. Only then can the pursuit of higher culture not be nihilistic in our lives. Hence, social norms may not always be nihilistic to human life, but it is required that man remembers their own desire for will to power while pursuing it.

In conclusion, modern modes of individual and social life influence man and oppress our will to power, since we are expected to experience life in a certain. Moral values have also led us to repress our desires and our will to power. A fully-established system of justice expect its people to act according to its rules, which requires the repression of one’s primal instincts. Furthermore, the social norm of the pursuit of “higher culture” has led us to forget and disregard the sense of will to power. With these three factors, I would argue that Nietzsche’s claim that these social aspects of mankind has led to the rise of our weariness of man. The better a society conducts itself, the higher the sense of oppression and repression of our will to power. As humankind continues to progress, it is not difficult to see why Nietzsche has such a bleak view of the existence of mankind in the modern world, for societies need to keep developing in terms of increasing our standard of living. However, with the development of our societies comes more distractions; an even higher “higher culture” that we may become distracted by. With continuous improvement in our systems and our functioning as a society, we cannot allow our primal instincts to take over us for the sake of “progress”. Perhaps thus, I would claim that we are truly justifiably weary of man.


  1. Nietzsche, Friedrich W. 'On the Genealogy of Morals. ' Marino, Gordon. Basic writings of existentialism. New York: The Random House Publishing Group, 2004.
10 December 2020
Your Email

By clicking “Send”, you agree to our Terms of service and  Privacy statement. We will occasionally send you account related emails.

close thanks-icon

Your essay sample has been sent.

Order now
Still can’t find what you need?

Order custom paper and save your time
for priority classes!

Order paper now