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Zarathustra the Teacher of the Soul Essay

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Updated: Nov 27th, 2019


Zarathustra becomes a teacher of the soul after spending ten years of solitude in the mountains. In the mountains, Zarathustra is very grateful for the sun and the company of eagle and the serpent as he describes them as “the proudest animal under the sun, and the wisest animal under the sun, – they have come out to reconnoiter.

They want to know whether Zarathustra still lives” (Kaufmann 10). He prefers to have company of animals than men because men are very dangerous and surpassed. He despises men’s wisdom saying that, “even the wisest among you is only a disharmony and hybrid of the plant and phantom” (Kaufmann 3). Zarathustra sought to correct and transform the last man’s understanding of the three notions of the soul: the body, the power of virtue and the spirit, so that he could have the real meaning and values of life.

Zarathustra Teachings to the Last Man

When he came out the forest, he taught people who were assembled at the market place saying to them that Superman is the real meaning of the Earth and blaspheming it by rating mysterious wisdom greater than the meaning of the Earth is a horrific sin. Zarathustra teaches that there is a conflict between the body and the soul due to contempt. “Once the soul looked contemptuously on the body, and that contempt was the supreme thing: … it thought to escape from the body and the earth” (Kaufmann 3).

He argues that the soul of a man is polluted with poverty and self-complacency like a polluted stream, unlike Superman who is like the sea and can withstand pollution. “Alas! There cometh the time when a man will no longer give birth to any star … the time of the most despicable man, who no longer despise himself” (Kaufmann 5).

He is imagining a situation where the last man will be a Superman and overcome the life’s challenges that are impairing their abilities. The last man asked about love, creation, and star and when he got the true meaning of them, he responded that, “we have discovered happiness” (Kaufmann 5). Zarathustra transformed the last man soul, body and spirit from a state of just a man into Superman as the last man exclaims he has discovered happiness.

The last man had despised his body, so Zarathustra is teaching him why he should not despise his body. He argues that, despise of the body is due to esteem as “the creating Self created for itself esteeming and despising, it created for itself joy and woe. The creating body created for itself spirit, as a hand to its will” (Kaufmann 10).

He warns the last man that in his folly and despising of the body will cause his Self to die. He is quite against the despisers of the body bidding them farewell by saying “I go not your way, ye despisers of the body! Ye are no bridges for me to the Superman” (Kaufmann 10). Zarathustra wants to correct and transform the last man from despising the body so that he can create a better life for himself and see the real meaning of life.

Zarathustra describes the virtue of gift giving as the highest virtue but it is insatiable to the soul. He explains that the virtue of gift giving is greedy because “you force all things to and into yourself that they may flow back out of your well as the gifts of your love” (Kaufmann 187).

He teaches the last man to use the power of virtue in attaining the meaning and remaining faithful to the earth. “Lead back to the earth the virtue that flew away, as I do- back to the body, back to life, that it may give the earth a meaning, a human meaning” (Kaufmann 188). The spirit and the virtue have flown away leaving errors within our bodies.

Zarathustra further emphasizes to his disciples to dedicate the spirit and virtue in seeking the meaning of the earth because “with knowledge, the body purifies itself; making experiments with knowledge, it elevates itself; in the lover of knowledge all instincts become holy; in the elevated, the soul becomes gay”(Kaufmann 189). The attainment of knowledge of the power of virtue will make the last man be a Superman when a great noontime comes.

Overcoming the Self is a step of achieving the meaning and reality of life.Zarathustra perceived that the unwise people devote their precious time in seeking will to truth for they doubt everything in life. The unwise people too have extended their will to truth in doing both good and evil thus transforming their will to truth into selfish will to power.

He wanted the last man to achieve the right will to truth and will to power for his power to will override both. He has realized that, “with your values and words of good and evil you do violence when you value; and this is your hidden love and splendor and trembling and overflowing of your soul” (Kaufmann 288). Thus, the creator of good and evil is as well an annihilator of both.

To overcome will to power requires the spirit of overcoming as he claims that life has revealed to him that, “I am that which must always overcome itself” (Kaufmann 227). The spirit is the means of attaining the meaning of life to the last man for he has failed to achieve the right will to truth and will to power. The struggles of the will to power are insatiable to both the weak and the strong resulting into dangerous sacrifices making the last man not to achieve the meaning of life.

Redemption is the hope of the last man.When Zarathustra met beggars and cripples, they questioned him on how they can get their redemption and healing. He defined redemption as “to redeem what is past, and to transform every ‘it was’ into ‘thus would I have it’ (Kaufmann 250).

Although the Will is the emancipator, it is still a prisoner of time because time cannot be reverted. Since the Will has become a prisoner of time due to its irreversibility, it turned into will to revenge as “it became a curse unto all humanity, that this folly acquired spirit” (Kaufmann 258).

The will to revenge caused a lot of suffering to the humanity as the last man is seeking the reality of life. Until when the Will unlearn the spirit of revenge and the past become reversible, then, the last man will achieve the real meaning of life through emancipation, but this is literally impossible. Zarathustra taught that will to power has ability to revert and save the last man from the anguish and attain the reality and true meaning of life.


At last, Zarathustra got the vision and the riddle about the real meaning and values of life showing that the there are two paths in life, which contradict each other eternally. As Zarathustra was sailing with a number of sailors and he admired their courage in the sea and he them told a vision.

He addressed them saying “to you bold searchers, researchers, and whoever embarks with cunning sails on terrible seas, whose soul flutes lure astray to every whirlpool, because you do not want to grope along a thread with cowardly hand” (Kaufmann 268).

He related their courage with his vision where he dreamed and thought until he became so weary. He acknowledges that man experiences the deepest pain although he is has a lot of courage. The hope of the last man lies in the two paths that contradict each other eternally and the spirit of gravity complicate the situation.

Therefore it is very difficult for the last man to attain reality of life when the two paths are contradicting each other as “…whatever can walk in this long lane out there too, it must walk once more” (Kaufmann 270). The two ways that leads to the reality of life complicates the future of the last man, hence he cannot realize the meaning and values of things.

Work Cited

Kaufmann, Walter. The Portable Nietzsche. New York: Viking Press, 1977. Print.

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