Life, Death, and Eternal Recurrence in Nietzsche's Zarathustra

The Agonist : A Nietzsche Circle Journal 8 (1&2) (2015)
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Abstract

This paper offers a preliminary interpretation of Nietzsche’s doctrine of Eternal Recurrence, according to which the doctrine constitutes a parable that, speaking of what is permanent in life, praises and justifies all that is impermanent. What is permanent, what always recurs, is the will to power or to self-overcoming that is the fundamental engine of all life. The operating mechanism of such a will consists in prompting the living to undergo transformations or transitory deaths, after which this fundamental engine resurrects again and is once more activated. The individual human being, in his capacity as creator, is only a conscious and finite surrogate of this fundamental will. In confronting his abysmal thought of Eternal Recurrence, Zarathustra comes to the realization that the individual human being will never cease to be a mere transit that, while remaining in existence, will have to always return to the moment of his own self-overcoming. This means that the small man in each of us, the man that can be overcome, will always recur, and that even the greatest man we could become will still be too small and human all too human. Although this thought generates disgust with existence, it can also become a source of life-affirmation, when we learn to love our tragic destiny: that of never being able to realize the ideal of superhumanity that is recommended by the book, and, yet, that of eternally striving to realize it.

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Gabriel Zamosc
University of Colorado Denver

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References found in this work

Nietzsche as Philosopher.Arthur C. Danto - 1965 - New York: Cambridge University Press.
Nietzsche as Philosopher.Arthur C. Danto - 1965 - Science and Society 32 (1):89-91.

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