(Version 2.4) I have argued elsewhere for ascribing an error theory about all normative and evaluative judgements to Nietzsche. Such a nihilism brings with it a puzzle: how could we—or at least the select few of us being addressed by Nietzsche—continue in the face of this nihilism? This is a philosophical puzzle and so, defeasibly, an interpretive puzzle. If there is no theory it would make sense for Nietzsche to have about how the select few could go on, then this (...) is some evidence against the proposed interpretation of him as a nihilist. I defended the interpretation by arguing that Nietzsche’s declarations about creating values point to a practice of generating honest evaluative illusions. Such honest evaluative illusions are tricky things, though, and, precisely because they are honest, one might worry that they lack the motivational power of genuine evaluative belief. Can they truly play the role that evaluative beliefs play in our psychological economies? I suspect that Nietzsche does not want the honest illusions to play exactly the role that evaluative beliefs played. The cheerfulness, the playfulness, the lightness that Nietzsche hopes for are, I have suggested, a function of the shift from belief to pretence, from illusion to honest illusion. The question, nonetheless, is whether the resulting picture is too light. Can I go through life merely acting, as a critic might put it? My suggestion in this essay will be that the thought of eternalrecurrence is meant to add weight to the lightness of acting—“acting”, obviously, in both the here relevant senses of the word. (shrink)
The cyclical theory f time, which is better known under the name of the 'theory of eternalrecurrence,' is usually associated with certain ancient thinkers--in particular, Pythagoreans and Stoics. The most famous among those who have tried to revive the theory in the modern era is unquestionably Friedrich Nietzsche. It is less well known that the theory was defended also by C.S. Peirce and, as late as 1927, by the French historian of science, Abel Rey. The contemporary discussion (...) of the problem of the direction of time has a direct bearing on the problem of eternalrecurrence. The primary purpose of this paper is to evaluate critically the theory itself and then to show how this critical analysis can be applied to Peirce's own version of this theory. (shrink)
In this book, Lawrence Hatab provides an accessible and provocative exploration of one of the best-known and still most puzzling aspects of Nietzsche's thought: eternalrecurrence, the claim that life endlessly repeats itself identically in every detail. Hatab argues that eternalrecurrence can and should be read literally, in just the way Nietzsche described it in the texts. The book offers a readable treatment of most of the core topics in Nietzsche's philosophy, all discussed in the (...) light of the consummating effect of eternalrecurrence. Although Nietzsche called eternalrecurrence his most fundamental idea, most interpreters have found it problematic or needful of redescription in other terms. For this reason, Hatab's book is an important and challenging contribution to Nietzsche scholarship. (shrink)
One sense in which Thus Spoke Zarathustra might indeed be a book "for none" is that none of us can agree what it says. But in the last few decades it seems that certain questions have achieved some recognition as questions that the Zarathustra commentator might want to answer. These questions look something like this: Is it really Nietzsche's most philosophically significant book (as he sometimes claims)? How does it fit together with his other books? Is part IV an embarrassing (...) addition or a central and indispensable conclusion to the book? Is there a coherent conception of the Übermensch ? Does Nietzsche consider the latter desirable or even possible? Does Zarathustra? What is the EternalRecurrence—a .. (shrink)
What I would like to try to show here, to the extent that I can do so briefly, is that Nietzsche's doctrine of the eternalrecurrence of the same things is - whatever else it might be in addition to this - an ethical idea. Considering it as such, I will argue, promises to shed light both on the content of Nietzsche's ethics and on the idea of recurrence.
The question has been raised whether Nietzsche intends eternalrecurrence to be like a categorical imperative. The obvious objection to understanding eternalrecurrence as like a categorical imperative isthat for a categorical imperative to make any sense, for moral obligation to make any sense, it must be possible for individuals to change themselves. And Nietzsche denies that individuals can changethemselves. Magnus thinks the determinism “implicit in the doctine of the eternalrecurrence of the same (...) renders any imperative impotent.… How can one will what must happen in any case?” At the other end of the spectrum, those who do hold that eternalrecurrence is like a categorical imperative, for their part, tend to ignore or deny the determinism involved in eternalrecurrence. This article explores the extent to which it can be claimed that eternalrecurrence is like a categorical imperative without downplaying Nietzsche’s dterminism. (shrink)
Joan Copjec has shown that modernity is privy to a notion of immortality all its own – one that differs fundamentally from any counterpart entertained in Greek antiquity or the Christian Middle Ages. She points to Blumenberg and Lefort as thinkers who have construed this concept in its modern guise in different ways, and ultimately opts for Lefort's paradoxical understanding of immortality as the ‘transcending of time, within time' before elaborating on a corresponding notion in Lacan's work. It can be (...) shown that Nietzsche, too, provides a distinctly modern conception of ‘immortality', articulated in relation to his notions of affirmation, singularity and eternalrecurrence. In brief, this amounts to his claim that, to affirm even one single part or event in one's life entails affirming it in its entirety, and, in so doing – given the interconnectedness of events – affirming all that has ever existed. Moreover, once anything has existed, it is in a certain sense, for Nietzsche, necessary despite its temporal singularity. Therefore, to be able to rise to the task of affirming certain actions or experiences in one's own life, bestows on it not merely this kind of necessary singularity, but what he thought of as ‘eternalrecurrence' – the (ethical) affirmation of the desire to embrace one's own, and together with it, all of existence ‘eternally', over and over. This, it is argued, may be understood as Nietzsche's distinctive contribution to a specifically modern notion of immortality: the ability of an individual to live in such a way that his or her singular ‘place' in society is ensured, necessarily there, even after his or her death. South African Journal of Philosophy Vol. 26 (1) 2007: pp. 70-84. (shrink)
The doctrine of eternalrecurrence in Nietzsche is an essentially ecstatic doctrine. It is also strangely incommunicable. Here the ecstasy that reveals singularizes. The essential revelation closes the one to whom it is given in his own singularity; only a singularity opens to the abysses and the Dionysian truth. Heidegger could then see in it an ontological doctrine. And an authentifying-singularizing-doctrine. Not, though, the same as his own. For Heidegger could suggest that the time horizon in (...) which this doctrine conceives Being in its Becoming-the "deep eternity"-is in fact not a deep structure of time, but the linear time of an eternity of instants. Eternity is not deep. In addition the subject of the Nietzschean ecstasy-which longs for eternity- cannot appropriate itself, cannot become a whole, cannot really achieve singular existence. Are these Heideggerian thoughts criticisms of the Nietzschean experience? Is the deep ontological truth to be then sought elsewhere? Is the wholeness of one's own life- the essence of this existence- to be then sought in another experience of the time-horizon of Being? Or else do these Heideggerian observations not rather point to another structure of the thought involved-something like a surface thought? And to another structure of the one smitten by this thought-a singularity that exists only in a circle of continuous metamorphoses? Some deconstructive work by Derrida encourages us to look in this direction. (shrink)
Approaching the idea from three viewpoints, The author contends that eternalrecurrence is a central and unifying theme in nietzsche's thought. She first considers its scientific basis, Arguing for a reinterpretation of the doctrine because nietzsche did not subscribe to the classical atomism of his time. She then considers the idea in its metaphysical perspective: it represents a repudiation of platonism and an affirmation of life. Finally, Urging the unity of the metaphysical and the ethical in nietzsche's philosophy, (...) The author interprets eternalrecurrence as an idea created by life itself to serve life by strengthening the will to power. (staff). (shrink)
I argue that the Bruce Springsteen song “Born to Run” needs to be interpreted in light of---and thus gives evidence of a connection between---the philosophies of Friedrich Nietzsche and Martin Buber. Along the way I give an in-depth reading of the Nietzschean doctrines of EternalRecurrence and Overman as they emerge from Also Sprach Zarathustra, as well as a brief overview of Buber’s I and Thou.
Nietzsche’s concept of the self grows out of Kant—and then attempts to subvert Kant. Nietzsche agrees that a unified subject is a necessary presupposition for ordered experience to be possible. But instead of a Kantian unified self, Nietzsche develops a conception of the self of the sort that we have come to call postmodern. He posits a composite bundle of drives that become unified only through organization. This subject is unified, it is just that its unity is forged, constructed, brought (...) about by domination. But if the self is a bundle of struggling and shifting drives, how could it remain unified over time? Nietzsche’s concept of the self requires his doctrine of eternalrecurrence, which promises that I will remain the same, exactly and precisely the same, without the slightest change, not merely throughout this life, but for an eternity of lives. (shrink)
Reading the writings of Nietzsche is somewhat like putting together a large and complex jigsaw puzzle. In this paper I aim to show how two pieces of Nietzsche’s puzzle fit together: the first piece being the Doctrine of EternalRecurrence; and the second piece being On the Genealogy of Morals. In order to see how these two pieces lock in to one another we must understand that Nietzsche’s great love of fate – his ‘Amor Fati’ – is what (...) he calls the “formula for greatness in a human being” (BGE 1:6).2 In this paper I will address the question of how we are to reconcile Nietzsche’s amor fati, understood as a brand of determinism, with Nietzsche’s own understanding of the Doctrine of the EternalRecurrence as the ultimate test for the highest affirmation of life. Through an investigation of how Nietzsche thinks we should react to the thought of the application of the doctrine of EternalRecurrence to our own lives – namely, the psychological implications of the doctrine – I aim to show that by proposing the Doctrine as the ultimate test for the highest affirmation of life, Nietzsche also provides part of what he takes to be the solution to the threat of both the impending nihilism and the inhibiting current morality of his age as he discusses them in the Genealogy. (shrink)
In this paper I argue that Nietzsche should be understood as a “thorough-going nihilist”. Rather than broaching two general projects of destroying current values and constructing new ones, I argue that Nietzsche should be understood only as a destroyer of values. I do this by looking at Nietzsche’s views on nihilism and the role played by Nietzsche’s cyclical view of time, or his doctrine of the eternalrecurrence of the same. I provide a typology of nihilisms, as they (...) are found in Nietzsche—negative, reactive and radical—through a close reading of an unpublished fragment in his later notebooks, remnants of which are scattered throughout his published work. I show how the progression between the different stages of nihilism are a “necessary consequence of the ideals entertained hitherto” (WTP 28), with the eternalrecurrence of the same playing a vital role in this progression. The last stage of nihilism—radical nihilism—is ambiguous between a life-denying, or passive, nihilism and a life-affirming, or active, one; but, I argue, both kinds of nihilism preclude a construction of new values. But there is an inherent tension within Nietzsche’s account of nihilism insofar as it relies on the eternalrecurrence of the same. This tension is brought out nicely by Löwith and (I argue) partially resolved by Klossowski. There are at least two meanings of the eternalrecurrence of the same. In one sense, the cosmological reading, it is intended to make sense of the idea that time is infinite and matter is finite by claiming that every possible combination of matter will recur infinite times. In the other sense, the anthropological reading, it is a kind of thought experiment, analogous to Kant’s categorical imperative: “live in every moment so that you could will that moment back again over and over” (Löwith). There is a tension between these readings insofar as one must will to live in such a way that they will do it again, over and over (the anthropological reading), but also that what they do will make no difference, for what one decides to do has been done (and will be done) innumerable times. I argue that this tension can only be resolved by considering Nietzsche as aiming at “goal-lessness as such” and placing him as an active nihilist. (shrink)
This paper offers a reading of Thus Spoke Zarathustra, arguing that there is a conflict between Zarathustra's hope for something greater (in the form of the Übermensch) and his conception of the eternalrecurrence.