I was reading Microsoft Encarta and in a part of it, Nietzsche’s ideology was put forward as:

"For Nietzsche the power to be strong was the greatest value in life"

Isn't "the power to be strong" ridiculous? I mean, "the desire to be strong" makes sense to me. Also "the power was the greatest value in life" is reasonable, but "the power to be strong" seems a kind of tautology to me. Power is something like being strong.

Is this sentence semantically correct?

  • Yes, I find it ridiculous, too. But there's room for self- application: fear of fear, vaguely vague etc. So I'm sure -something- could be made out of it. – Mitch Aug 1 '11 at 12:50
  • The power to be strong ... isn't that Ephesians 3:16 ? In German mit Kraft gestärkt zu werden ... – GEdgar Aug 1 '11 at 14:13
  • I was looking for the same phrase on Google, because I have to write an essay regarding the conflicts solving between countries and I came across that phrase: Strong Power or Public Democracy. Actually, I found in my research that Public Diplomacy is called SOFT POWER and than I understood everything. Strong Power Vs. Soft Power. This words are not tautology, that phrases are just like a TERMS in different fields of Science (e.g. Law, International Relations, Economics and So On.) That is what I think. – user14549 Nov 5 '11 at 16:34

Though "power to be strong" does sound tautological, I believe that the power to be strong is what is sought out from the will to be strong. After all, will is the determination to act, and power is the ability to act.

For Nietzsche the power to be strong was the greatest value in life.

Nietzsche is merely stating that those who are strong are more valuable than those that wish to be strong. So this sentence should be rephrased:

For Nietzsche, strength was the greatest value in life.

This can be shrunk even further into a phrase we often hear:

Strength is a virtue.

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  • I 100% agree @Phil. You really made a good brief sentence out of it. I hope Neitzsche meant something similar. :) +1 – Saeed Neamati Aug 2 '11 at 6:41

One of the main parts of Nietzche's philosophy was the Will to Power, but "For Nietzsche the power to be strong was the greatest value in life" seems like a poor way to boil this down. "The ability to become stronger" might make more sense.

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  • Yeah, "the ability to become stronger" is far more understandable :) +1 – Saeed Neamati Aug 2 '11 at 6:38

I think it's pretty poor phrasing all round. The "greatest value in life" sounds more like bad translation than normal English. I'd prefer something like "the most important [valuable?] thing in life".

"The power to be strong" probably only got in there because the writer was a supporter of Nicholas Snow's 2007 HIV testing/safer sex awareness anthem thus titled.

As OP says, it's tautological with the meaning intended here. It might not be if the word "power" were intended to convey something along the lines of an ability or freedom conferred on people by their government/society/culture, but that isn't what's meant here and I can't think of a good example where the conferred ability was in fact "to be strong".

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Isn't "the power to be strong" ridiculous?

No. "Power" here has the meaning of 'ability of privilege to do something,' for example, "John has the power to command his men." It means that John has the privilege or ability to do something.

In the same way, "the power to be strong" is the ability to be strong, and re-written, it might make more sense:

"For Nietzsche the ability to be strong was the greatest value in life"

The sentence basically states that Nietzsche really valued being able to be strong.

Is this sentence semantically correct?

Yes, and I hope I've explained it clearly.

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  • Dear @Thursagen, thanks for your analysis. But, if you are able, then you are strong. I mean, strong-ness is the ability. Isn't it? In other words, when you are able, then you are strong? – Saeed Neamati Aug 2 '11 at 6:44

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