Übermensch in English
The first translation of Thus Spoke Zarathustra into English, was by Alexander Tille, published in 1896. Tille translated Übermensch as Beyond-Man. In his translation published in 1909, Thomas Common rendered Übermensch as "Superman"; Common was anticipated in this by George Bernard Shaw, who did the same in his 1903 stage play Man and Superman. Walter Kaufmann lambasted this translation in the 1950s for failing to capture the nuance of the German über and for promoting an eventual puerile identification with the comic-book character Superman. His preference was to translate Übermensch as "overman." Scholars continue to employ both terms, some simply opting to reproduce the German word.
The German prefix über can have connotations of superiority, transcendence, excessiveness, or intensity, depending on the words to which it is prepended. Mensch refers to a member of the human species, rather than to a man specifically. The adjective übermenschlich means superhuman, in the sense of beyond human strength or out of proportion to humanity.
Nietzsche introduces the concept of the Übermensch in contrast to the other-worldliness of Christianity: Zarathustra proclaims the Übermensch to be the meaning of the earth and admonishes his audience to ignore those who promise other-worldly hopes in order to draw them away from the earth. The turn away from the earth is prompted, he says, by a dissatisfaction with life, a dissatisfaction that causes one to create another world in which those who made one unhappy in this life are tormented. The Übermensch is not driven into other worlds away from this one.
The Christian escape from this world also required the invention of an eternal soul which would be separate from the body and survive the body's death. Part of other-worldliness, then, was the abnegation and mortification of the body, or asceticism. Zarathustra further links the Übermensch to the body and to interpreting the soul as simply an aspect of the body.
As the drama of Thus Spoke Zarathustra progresses, the turn to metaphysics in philosophy and Platonism in general come to light as manifestations of other-worldliness, as well. Truth and nature are inventions by means of which men escape from this world. The Übermensch is also free from these failings.
Some commentators associate the Übermensch with a program of eugenics. This is most pronounced when considered in the aspect of a goal that humanity sets for itself. The reduction of all psychology to physiology implies, to some, that human beings can be bred for cultural traits. This interpretation of Nietzsche's doctrine focuses more on the future of humanity than on a single cataclysmic individual. There is no consensus regarding how this aspect of the Übermensch relates to the creation of new values, and many would deny vehemently that Nietzsche would countenance a eugenics program at all.
Although Nietzsche might be against anti-Semitism the idea that there is a super race is just as fallacious and a myth.