Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Level





Irene McMullin

Committee Member

Edward Minar

Second Committee Member

Richard Lee


Philosophy, religion and theology, Beauty, Existential needs, Friendship, Friedrich Nietzsche, Self-realization, Will to power


In this dissertation, I examine Friedrich Nietzsche's notion of the will to power, his account of friendship and his understanding of human flourishing. Through textual analysis, I offer a new way of interpreting the will to power, as the achieving of self-realization. The process of achieving self-realization is undergirded by the satisfaction of seven existential needs that are rooted in the paradoxical human conflict between instincts and consciousness. The existential needs are the need for a frame of orientation, the need for devotion, the need for unity, the need for rootedness, the need for stimulation, the need for effectiveness and the need for self-love. While there are a variety of ways in which these needs can be satisfied, I propose a norm of satisfaction: beauty. I appropriate the ancient Greek concept of to kalon and claim that this notion of "action for the sake of the beautiful" is the primary normative standard that Nietzsche would advocate for how an individual ought to satisfy his existential needs. I then turn to an analysis of friendship in order to demonstrate its supportive role in self-realization. I claim that Nietzsche does in fact have an account of friendship, albeit one that must be pieced together from various middle works and that he presents genuine friendship as a mean condition existing between various sets of excessive and deficient vices that are constantly in tension. Friendship is the virtue that, if authentic, can bear a mutually supportive relation with the will to power. I argue that the will to power and the virtue of friendship are two primary elements that constitute human flourishing, but a particular kind of human flourishing that includes both happiness and unhappiness as siblings.