Joyful Transhumanism: Love and Eternal Recurrence in Nietzsche’s Zarathustra

In Keith Ansell-Pearson & Paul S. Loeb (eds.), Cambridge Critical Guide to Nietzsche's 'Thus Spoke Zarathustra'. Cambridge University Press (2022)
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In this paper I examine the relation between modern transhumanism and Nietzsche’s philosophy of the superhuman. Following Loeb, I argue that transhumanists cannot claim affinity to Nietzsche’s philosophy until they incorporate the doctrine of eternal recurrence to their project of technological enhancement. This doctrine liberates us from resentment against time by teaching us reconciliation with time and something higher than all reconciliation. Unlike Loeb, however, I claim that this “something higher” is not a new skill (prospective memory), but rather a love for the past in the form of loving that aspect of it that is still with us, namely, the will to power itself, which is the engine of all life. Love of the past is thus equivalent to love of life. Since human beings are conscious incarnations of the will to power, in our case, love of life manifests itself as love of our humanity or love for that aspect of ourselves that connects us to each other, for we recognize it to be the same in all of us. Thus, learning this kind of love enables us to joyfully coordinate our wills in the pursuit of Zarathustra’s superhuman ideal without turning it into a destructive mockery of itself. While learning this kind of love would facilitate a joyful version of transhumanism, I conclude by suggesting that it is unlikely to be achieved through technological interventions of the sort envisioned by transhumanists. Instead, it requires the kind of participatory pedagogical program that Nietzsche thought his Zarathustra would fulfill.



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Gabriel Zamosc
University of Colorado Denver

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