Last man  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

The Last Man (German: der letzte Mensch) was a term used by the philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche in Thus Spoke Zarathustra, to describe the antithesis of the imagined superior being, the "Übermensch", whose imminent appearance is heralded by Zarathustra. This 'Over Man' may be contrasted to a weak-willed individual, one who is tired of life, takes no risks, seeks only comfort and security: the Last Man. The last man would be the product of socialism, democracy and other egalitarian belief systems.

Nietzsche saw that nothing great is possible for the Last Man, and it is Nietzsche's contention that Western civilization (Europe) is moving in the direction of the last man, an apathetic creature, who has no great passion or commitment, who is unable to dream, who merely earns his living and keeps warm.

One of Nietzsche's greatest fears was creeping mediocrity. If the "Übermensch" represented his ideal – the ideal of a being strong enough to create his own values, strong enough to live without the consolation of traditional morality, and strong enough to recognize and embrace the notion of change as the ultimate reality – then Nietzsche’s so called "last man" is the exact opposite.

The last man, Nietzsche predicted, would be one response to nihilism. But the full implications of the death of God had yet to unfold. As he said, "the event itself is far too great, too distant, too remote from the multitude's capacity for comprehension even for the tidings of it to be thought of having arrived as yet."

Notable references in popular culture

The novel Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell had as its working title The Last Man in Europe.

See also

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Last man" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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