Eternal recurrence and the categorical imperative

Southern Journal of Philosophy 45 (1):105-116 (2007)
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Abstract

The question has been raised whether Nietzsche intends eternal recurrence to be like a categorical imperative. The obvious objection to understanding eternal recurrence 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 eternal recurrence 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 eternal recurrence is like a categorical imperative, for their part, tend to ignore or deny the determinism involved in eternal recurrence. This article explores the extent to which it can be claimed that eternal recurrence is like a categorical imperative without downplaying Nietzsche’s dterminism

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Philip J. Kain
Santa Clara University

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