Annotations to James Joyce's Ulysses/Telemachus/022
Uebermensch ... the supermen (German) literally Superman. The Übermensch is a philosophical concept introduced by Thomas Carlyle in 1840 in his book On Heroes, Hero-Worship and the Heroic in History. The book proposed that "The history of the world is but the biography of great men," and that each era of human civilization was defined by the abilities and religion of its Übermensch. Used this way, Joyce would be advocating that his heroes are the defining force behind their society.
However, Herbert Spencer believed the causal relationship worked the opposite way. Instead, he argued that society defined its own Übermensch. It is also possible that Joyce believes that his unassuming heroes are Übermenschen in that they are the obvious result of the society in which they live.
However, Joyce refers quite clearly to another work at 022.36. Mulligan says the title of a different work: Thus Spake Zarathustra. This references the Übermensch concept as discussed by Friedrich Nietzsche in 1883 in his book Also Sprach Zarathustra (Thus Spake Zarathustra). Nietzsche used the term to describe a human being who has successfully transcended or surpassed human nature, one who has freed himself from Christian morality and spiritualism, one who has evolved to a higher state. See also 050.14.
- Gifford (1988) 27.
Thornton (1968) 26.
- Wikipedia entry on Great Man Theory
- Hirsch, E.D. (2002). The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy (Third Edition). Houghton Mifflin Company.
- Spencer, Herbert (1896). The Study of Sociology. Appleton. p. 34.