For Nietzsche the human brain evolves in a way that ensures our preservation. Knowledge, he said, works as a tool for power, and the increase in the will to power is the measure that determines our desire for acquiring knowledge. [1] Nevertheless, it is the very application of a very Nietzschean, will to power driven ideology that threatens rather than ensures our survival in the world. What Nietzsche failed to recognise was the eventual internecine clash of conflicts between an egotistical power based on accumulation of wealth and the life-threatening consequences arising from the ecological degradation generated by that power won via profit. Basically, as Cioran observed, the human brain and its very malleable intellect is not a particularly good tool for species survival at all. In the animal world, with all of its natural drives and instincts, only the human intellect is capable of wanting all or nothing. Only humanity is capable of desiring anything like an Apocalypse or dreaming up a Mutually Assured Destruction by thermo-nuclear attacks. Nature can be cruel, it can hurl itself over cliffs like swarms of lemmings, or spawn thousands of babies of which 9 out of ten will be devoured before a day has past, but it is not stupid. It does not deliberately provoke unsustainable conditions on itself and extinction is usually caused by factors beyond the species’ control.

But if the intellect is not the result of the will for survival, what is it the result of? What kind of will could be so strong that it could create anything as incredibly complex as the human brain and its intellect? Could there be something stronger even than the will to survive or the will to power?

We know that even the ultimate sacrifice can be made if there is a pressing need which is stronger than personal survival. These needs may be for the survival or even for the simple benefit of a loved one; it may be for the survival or benefit of a larger group; it may be for ideological reasons, that a belief may be supported or enabled to flourish through the sacrifice. There are countless examples of lovers, saints, martyrs and heroes who have all been able to overcome their own will to survive in order to sacrifice themselves to a more pressing need. But what is the will behind such a powerful drive? The will to power? No, it is something that is more important than power. It is necessity itself. If there is a will stronger than the survival instinct it is the Will to Necessity. The will to do what truly needs to be done.

But where does this will to necessity come from? If we can accept the Freudian idea that psychic energy is generated by the biological and psychological needs of our libido (Eros), what if we amplify this source and go beyond Eros, as Jung did, to include the death drive, Thanatos, embraced within the completion of the Great Earth Mother, represented by the Uroboros? This Uroboric, Eros/Thanatos drive situates us in the world and, at the same time, lusts after a complete union with the world through the power of actually knowing the world. Once the spark of knowing – ignited by a conscious discovery of the power of language – gives the Uroboric will a taste of what thinking can bring to Uroboric being, then thought itself becomes paramount in the evolution of the Homo Sapiens Sapiens.

If Julian Jaynes[2] is right, real consciousness was developed after speech and even after writing and that the truly conscious creature that humanity now is is really only some four millennia old. So it is probably only in this relatively short time that the Uroboric instinct has been shoved down into the subconscious, victim to the tremendous awe that our primary, historical ancestors felt when they started to truly consciously act and began to think and decipher the world around them; when they began to suspect they could actually know and understand the world around them, and when through this understanding they began to evolve a sense of what needed to be done in the world.

Will, as we understand it, is therefore part intellect and part instinct. The Will to Necessity in particular emerges out of knowledge whilst being driven by a deeper Uroboric instinct.

From a Sapines’ point of view, Nietzsche’s “Knowledge and Becoming exclude one another,”[3] is the most anti-human of statements: Knowledge IS Becoming. Nietzsche’s greatest fault was to believe in falsification as a virtue for the Übermensch; that Truth is a mastering of sensations, rather than the ability to see the falsity  of that mastery. For the truth is not that the sensations are false, but that the mastery of those sensations has created an intricate mesh designed to favour and at the same time mask a certain class of individuals at the cost of the spiritual being of most Sapiens. Money is one enormous example of the mastery of reality in order to create a profitable illusion of reality. Real Knowledge must be able to perceive this illusion, but Knowledge can only be real when humanity is able to envisage itself properly as Sapiens and understand that Knowledge is Becoming and Becoming IS the fulfilment of Knowing.

[1] See Friedrich Nietzsche, THE WILL TO POWER, #480.


[3] Friedrich Nietzsche, THE WILL TO POWER, #517.

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THE WILL TO NECESSITY IS STRONGER THAN THE WILL TO SURVIVAL by Paul David Adkin is licensed under a Creative Commons Reconocimiento-NoComercial-SinObraDerivada 3.0 Unported License.



  1. Ah, money’s mastery of reality. Since Adam Smith, homo sapiens was recast as homo economicus. Homo economicus is the foundation of classical political economy (capitalism) and perhaps still the dominant paradigm of human nature. But I share your view that human survival now requires a paradigm shift that brings us over the next horizon line. The primary end of human relations under capitalism (i.e., for homo economicus), private property, may survive such a paradigm shift, but it couldn’t survive as the primary relationship between people and resources. The idea is that the species has technologically evolved, or very nearly evolved, to a point where the production and distribution of resources could easily accommodate the entire world population, were it not for the intransigent barriers of politics and the primacy of private property as a paradigm for self-actualization. This means that the time is right for some a new model to push us beyond the dreams force-fed to us by a profit-driven Establishment, so we can recast for ourselves what it means to be fully human, what it means to be bonded in society to fellow humans, what it means to attain a level of self-fulfillment that goes beyond the anemic forms of fulfillment offered by our current consumer culture. The hippies of the 60s could not usher in the Age of Aquarius on the strength of their limited but collective will. But what the hippies could not do, Necessity will do in its own time.

  2. Becoming and Becoming IS the fulfilment of Knowing. Could you begin where you left off, I want to know more about this becoming. Thank you!

  3. Tocksin, sorry if I’ve left you unfulfilled. But, becoming is a process and so is the philosophy behind this idea (that Becoming is the fulfilment of Knowing). I’m working on a deeper explanation of this philosophy and these blog notes are sketches from a much larger work that hopefully will provide a more satisfying, and fulfilling, explanation.

  4. Pingback: WISDOM vs. ENJOYMENT or HOW TO START THE REVOLUTION | pauladkin

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