The Doctrine of Eternal Recurrence and its significance with respect to On the Genealogy of Morals

  • SA Paphitis


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 Eternal
Recurrence; 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 Eternal Recurrence 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 Eternal Recurrence 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.

Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 0258-0136