Power v Pleasure?

Hello, I’m new here, please excuse my newbness. I’ve read little on Western philosophy other than basic existentialism and a little of Nietzsche/Kierkegaard, although I’ve picked up bits and pieces on much that has been said here.

-What I don’t understand is the argument of life (human life, that is) as a will to power. Why could it not be a will to pleasure…with power as a means of pleasure?

-Also…am I correct in thinking that sense pleasures either get old, or that you lose them (meaning that you can’t get lasting pleasure from sense pleasures)? This is why it’s fruitless to (relentlessly) pursue junk food, lethargy, sex, drugs, etc? Could you say that the long-term effects of most of these things on your pleasure outweighs the short-term pleasure of it?

-Am I correct in thinking that just because something doesn’t last forever (i.e. nihilism)…that this doesn’t make it any less meaningful? That the void entails that our lives have no lasting value…but subjective value to our selves at the moment? I haven’t gotten to Nietzsche’s “Will to Power” yet…I don’t know much about nihilism (or the arguments against nihilism) other than that Christian/Jewish morals are nihilistic and what I’ve thunk about.

Me thinks I smell a Slavic armoured vehicle.


Pleasure is one of those words denoting power and yet often used in juxtaposition to it.

We can see the relation when we think of pleasure as the cessation of suffering – the cessation of need as the defining characteristic of life - just as power, in its absolute conception, is the cessation of becoming.

In both cases I long to end the experience of living without giving up the product of this living which enables the experience itself; I want to continue existing without paying the price for it; I want to cease life and its constant striving for completeness but not lose the consciousness which results from this striving as a means towards its own self-realization and as a means towards its awareness of its own condition as incompleteness trying to complete itself.

In both cases I refer to pleasure and power in relation to a perceived average degree.
I feel pleasure in relation to a previous state and I feel power in relation to another or to other(s).

I feel pleasure when I focus my mind, or my mind is flooded by the sensation and thusly momentarily distracted, of being relieved from suffering or the burden of existence or of one’s own lack.
I feel power when I am no longer affected by what I perceive to be other than me and I control my own destiny. That is I become self-sufficient, indifferent, unaffected, unchanging, independent.
Here also we see the connection between the two of Need.
The overcoming or suppression of Need is insinuated.

I feel pleasure when Need is satiated.
I feel power when Need is overcome or controlled.

Sometimes this sense of empowerment is accomplished through my control over the elements which affect me. I feel powerful, in a relative and incomplete way, when I control the environment and those participating and sharing in it.

Both point to a desire to end life by escaping its premises while most still imagine that this end will be accompanied with a continuing consciousness.

Lasting pleasure is elusive because suffering and life are tautologies.
When I say LIFE I mean the pursuit of my own obsolescence.

Life is matter organizing itself in more efficient ways to enable prolonged unities in a universe that knows no permanence or stability.
Consciousness is the end result of this organizing, against universal entropy; a sophistication of possibility trying to become the ground for its own becoming.

It is matter becoming aware of universal flux and experiencing it as suffering.

I exist in instability trying to find stability. I exist in lack.
Change is how this lack is expressed.
Time/Space become manifestations of my lack projected outward as possibility.

This lack is felt as Need.
I need what I lack. I desire what I feel will fill my lack.
When matter organizes itself into consciousness it interprets this lack as need. If left unsatisfied need builds in volume until it is re-labelled suffering or pain or despair or a multitude of other terms denoting the awareness of absence. If, still, it is left unsatisfied it results in disintegration and a return to the unceasing unconscious flux.

When I momentarily satiate a need, by feeding on other incompleteness, I sense this relief as pleasure.
I temporarily escape or inebriate or distract myself from life, from my own existence, and I experience a sort of ephemeral completeness or fulfilment.

The sensation is temporary because the mind is a tool forever occupied with fulfilling Needs. It is the flux organizing into a form that can facilitate its own inertia (perfection / timelessness / spacelessness)

Meaning is a human construct trying to justify existence to itself.

In all cases I create meaning on my own or I adopt it from another to explain why I persist in accepting the suffering of existence.

I give meaning to my life means I give purpose to my suffering.

And ‘Will to Power’ is the attempt to make this value permanent and universal.

Keep …thunking…

October -

Pleasure can be dangerous. It can be interpreted as “pleasantness”. It can lead to a certain escapism. Denial. A love of luxury. Prozac. Television. Nietzsche was writing for his time, for his zeitgeist.

Sometimes you got to go to hell before you get to heaven. Steve Miller - Nietzschean? You decide.

The Will to Power and pleasure are, in my mind, totally seperate things.

The Will to Power would better be called the Will to Definition, in my opinion.

Nietzsche attacked hedonists just as much as he did ascetics, and would have been none too pleased to see someone like Crowley be influenced by him.

what is the human will? a collection of aspirations
human life is characterized by an irreversable cycle of unconscious/conscious experiance. every day gives us the oppertunity to experiance different events. that said, anything we do becomes nothing more than a memory after we are done acting.

I view existentialism as an optimistic philosphy. every day we start new, the only obligations we have are to sustain our life with food, water, air and shelter.

After i fill my physiological needs, which in turn become monetary needs(as food/shelter cost money), i have alot of free time. this idea of free time is what preludes our conception of free will. that said , free will is nothing more than freedom of choice. free time is time which is free from obligations.

anything we wan’t to experiance has its price. be it in $$$$ or energy or time. time is just the measure of the longevity of existance. anything we do takes time and time(existance) is irreversable(nobody comes back from the dead) men are like matches. our birth ignites a flame, our life consumes fuel, and then burns out. surely we have a more sustainable fuel source(than a single match)and we are aware of our “burning” but we don’t last forever and when we die we can’t restrike ourselves.

our aspirations(desires) are derived from our past experiance, a fact of the human condition is that we become aware of a lot of potentialities via communication(media, news, ect.) and don’t need personal experiance to devise our aspirations.

with as many possibilities as we have in front of us(in the future) we have to devise a plan of action to be more effective. If we run arround and just live for the moment all of the time without paying mind to the future(and where we want to be) we won’t have much of a future to look forward to.

When we try to put our aspirations into action, we find our very readily that humans have a diverse set of limitations. Only when we expand upone these limitations do we become better people. the motive behind any action is the will to power or will to succeed.

the person who is willing to work the hardest is most likely the most succesful person(but we each have a unique set of limitations that help define us as people)

that said, im more concerned with my future than the past because i have some degree of control over my future and no control over my past anymore.

Trevor -

In a perhaps (to some) odd way, the Nietzschean method provides some “control” over the past. The Nietzschean is forever writing the myth of his own (re-)creation.

Brought to the highest level of abstraction, this is the breeding-ground of religion.

Exactly! Where was this perspective when you called my blog ‘not particularly Nietzschean’?? :laughing:

In fact, Day, I was thinking of this as I posted. Flowcharts have a certain logic that myths do not.


Some would argue that to pursue the future is no more controllable than the past. If you focus on preparing for the future, there is never an arrival point, because the future is always ‘out there’ in front of you. You become the donkey forever reaching for that carrot dangling in front of you. There is no ‘past’, just an in-the-now creation of memory. And so you see, you have no past nor future. You only have now.

That said, you can take lessons learned from your experiences and and make predictions that may or may not happen, or happen in unexpected ways. You have no control of the future because it never happens until it is now…

The will to pleasure… perhaps, but there is no limitless pleasure without pain. I like chocolate cake. Given enough chocolate cake, I will eventually make myself sick as I pursue more and more pleasure. Satyr explains it best, but I like folksy explanations…

I agree that we can re-create ourselves. I agree that we can learn from the past. I also agree that if we commited to some future action in the past that we can opt out right now.

regarding the breeding ground of religion; we all die and religion is a cure for the fear of death. that said i have a lot of life to live(hopefully) before i have to confront my inevitable death.

I agree that the past and future lack the vividness of conscious experiance ,as the past is only a memory and the future only a conception. i agree that there are future events that i can’t control. but, i also said that we have a degree of control not complete control. when i eat i control what i eat, but my body is going to process the food without my conscious control.

but when you say that if I focus on preparing for the future there is no arrival point, i disagree. When we undertake any conscious action , this is the arrival point. the present moment is when we turn our aspirations into actions. life is the progression through the present moment. with this definition of life the past is inevitable, when we move through this moment we are really moving from what “was” the past, to what “is” the future. When i commit to future actions(like going to unniversity, or accepting a job offer) i make obligations that i have to attend to in the future, and thus exercise some control over my future.


We can project a future action, but there is no fruition but in the present. The unpredictable or spontaneous happenings in the world cannot be known with any cerrtainty. Thus, you accept a new job starting Monday, but you may get turned into a hood ornament on an 18 wheeler on Sunday, and that sort of makes the predictions moot. I’m not suggesting that we don’t predict the future, but one must remain cognizant that it is always an ephemeral proposition until it becomes now.

The thrust of my original statement lies elsewhere. Think of all the people who plan for the future and when it arrives, aren’t ‘there’ because they are busy planning for the future. It is an insiduous process encouraged by society to always prepare for the next thing, the next stage, the next toy or bauble. It’s amazing what happens when one let’s that go and attends to the present.

all i was saying is that we need to look ahead to be well prepared when the time for action comes, but that said we can’t be solely fixated on future goals or the next thing you know your life has passed you by. and also, we can’t control any aspect of the past, therefore the future is more important. as regards right now, this is obviously where we get everything done.

and like i said, there are lots of future events which are out of our hands. but most don’t have a direct effect on me.

October wrote:

Actually I think Jung has a point:

The sad truth as I see it is that we are incapable of this quality of love which is beyond pleasure. Over time, except for a very rare few, we’ve lost the ability for what Jung is referring to. So as compensation, the lust for power will always be around us in society.

I don’t really know the context of this quote, but Jung is an idiot. Love is the complex of emotional responses we have for those who fulfill our needs. Love is a continuum, exists on a continuum.

More fun with paired opposites. If life were only a zero-sum game, we wouldn’t need philosophy. There is no opposite to the will to power. Not even religion is it’s opposite - religion is an example of the will to power. So is everything else in the human psyche. Love is a symptom. Love is a manifestation of the will to power.

There is power in love, and we love power. These are not opposed. No rendering of the will to power that does not recognise this is in any way sensical. I try to leave you alone, Nick, but you keep saying this stuff.

Jung’s got it all wrong. The Man Who Misunderstood Myth in Mythic Proportions. He has no business commenting on the will to power.


I confess to saying these things. Someone has to be the chief annoyance and this is my opportunity.

Anyhow, I’ll post the quote again with the source

You refer here to what I know as emotional love. You are probably not aware of conscious love. Emotional love is created in a person by external circumstances as you describe. Conscious love is the ability to consciously initiate love. It is not created in us but a direct conscious expression of our being.

Of course only a very few are capable of conscious love but those that have acquired such a level of being do not need power.

Those that understand and are capable of conscious love have no need to defile. There is nothing attractive about it for them.

I have never been able of consciously initiating love. It has never, to me, happened.

Nick - I am not aware of conscious love. I am not aware of most of what Jung talks about. Neither is anybody else. I’m glad you got that Weil quote in, though. I was getting worried for a minute.


Have no fear, Weil is near.