Originally a term coined by Nietszche and often quoted out of context to (mistakenly) "prove" his support of the Nazis. The ubermensch, or overman, is man at his fullest potential. Man is but a rope stretching between two craggy mountain peaks - on one side stands animal, on the other stands the ubermensch. When man completely overcomes his animal side, then he has metamorphosed into the ubermensch. (sexist, I know - just substitute the word "person" for "man" and you'll be ok.)

"I TEACH YOU THE SUPERMAN. Man is something that is to be surpassed. What have ye done to surpass man?

All beings hitherto have created something beyond themselves: and ye want to be the ebb of that great tide, and would rather go back to the beast than surpass man?

What is the ape to man? A laughing-stock, a thing of shame. And just the same shall man be to the Superman: a laughing-stock, a thing of shame.

Ye have made your way from the worm to man, and much within you is still worm. Once were ye apes, and even yet man is more of an ape than any of the apes...

...I tell you: one must still have chaos in one, to give birth to a dancing star. I tell you: ye have still chaos in you.

Alas! There cometh the time when man will no longer give birth to any star. Alas! There cometh the time of the most despicable man, who can no longer despise himself."

--Thus Spake Zarathustra

Friedrich Nietzsche also uses this term to describe atheists (rather, men without a god or gods) that perform good deeds. The premise here is that these people are "supermen" because they have morals and will do the "right thing" without the regulations set on them by divine law or religious commandments.

Men (and women alike) can become the ubermensch by finding reasons to be good within themselves, rather having their reasons fed to them by someone else.

Bear in mind that mensch translates better as "person" than as "man" anyway. This can only be intentional - if Nietsche had wanted to write Mann und Ubermann there wouldn't have been anything to stop him from doing so.

For all his faults, and he had many, Nietsche was no-one's theoretical misogynist or even Nazi. He believed in transcending religion, rather than slaughtering people.

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