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Human life is sustained by the instinct for survival and by a drive towards self-affirmation. Nietzsche identified this famously as “the will to power”. Nietzsche also drew attention to the fact that truth and survival do not of necessity form a harmonious balance and may in fact be in conflict. This is already identified by Socrates when he rejects survival as a self-sufficient aim. The dictum that the “unexamined life is not worth living” is an unambiguous affirmation of truth over mere life. The assertion here is that a human life which is merely interested in its own completion and not in its connection with truth looses its legitimacy. Human life – Socrates argues- is not only subject to the will to power, but must commit to a will to truth. This commitment may well come at a paradoxical cost – namely survival itself. Nietzsche in fact argues that such a commitment may be a delusion: the will to truth could be a disguise for a will to power.

If Nietzsche’s view is taken to mean that any search for truth is ultimately a different expression of the will to power, a displacement of physical conflict with intellectual conflict for example for the purpose of domination and survival, humanity, civilisation and community are in doubt. They would in fact be delusions or sentimental distractions. Life is then synonymous with a primordial struggle of all with all. The ultimate purpose of an all-encompassing will to power is domination on all levels. There is a conception of this dialectic paradigm, however, that would afford us a different perspective: A will to power understood without biological or personal value-dimensions may simply describe an ontological principle of growth, of becoming, of gathering, persevering and prevailing. In this most abstract understanding the will to power also describes the structural workings of the will to truth. Such a conception, however, is only possible within a commitment to abstraction in the first instance which has already affirmed the will to truth when seeking to transcend a contingent conception of the will to power as a concrete will towards individual prevalence.

Understood in this way, will to power and will to truth appear in mutual harmony and permeation: Without the will to truth a will to power decays into tribal cacophony. Without the will to power the will to truth remains silent. The balance between will to power and will to truth is an important foundation for the artistry of musicians. While the musician seeks to project his art and articulate his inspiration with force and with a sense of ambition, dominance and self-affirmation, his articulation itself is subject to a discipline and to an art. The musician borrows the intoxicating powers of the rhapsode for a purpose. He harnesses the will to power to sound out truth. He exposes the will to truth to the winds of power. While it is easy for the musician to become intoxicated with the powers of suggestion, such intoxication cannot be sustained and may in fact carry him astray like a somnambulist. Thus in his use of the will to power the musician must remain conscious of his will for truth. Handing himself over to the will to power would not only deny the achievements of civilisation, but it in fact undermines the central foundations of his art.