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Thread: Eternal Recurrence [by Prof. Eric Steinhart]

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    I believe for Nietzsche, ER was merely a starting point. It was the justification for his nihilism. If we were to say (and science currently does), that the universe is one-shot, gravitationally open and entropic, then we still arrive at nihilism. The question is one of purposelessness and determinism. All this trouble to generate life is pointless still in a universe destined for zero Kelvin even WITH free will. No less in if the universe repeats with each iteration or every trillionth iteration in a mechanical system.

    His 'overman' concept probably survives the details of justification, since he declares himself that it is his answer to nihilism, not specifically to ER. The next question is 'answers' how? If we assume that the overman is a personification (as no one could be overman always), then what he's really talking about is 'over moments'. If so, was he trying to 'break the machine'?

    The next step in determining if there is inherent or assignable 'purpose' in life necessarily takes us beyond Nietzsche. For all his quirky brilliance, he - like all philosophers - is a stage in development.

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    Senior Member Moody's Avatar
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    I don't see the point of a 'justification' for Nihilism; Nietzsche was concerned with OVER-COMING Nihilism, not in 'justifying' it.

    He did this by the Absolute Affirmation of ER; and yes, the Overhuman can be seen as the human aspect of that Affirmation.
    In the sense that those strongest enough to say "Yes" to life in all its eternally-returning terror, and those able to "create" in such conditions, are indeed Superhuman.

    For Nietzsche ER had the peculiar attraction of combining the possible scientific [and therefore athesitic] view of the Cosmos with the cosmologies of the Preplatonic/Presocratic philosophers.
    Nietzsche was able, via ER, to connect himself with the ideas of Herclitus and so overcome 2,000 years of Platonic/Christian Idealism.

    Of course, the ER was a painfully nihilistic doctrine to behold; but only by dedicating oneself to it could one overcome Nihilism and experience the revivifying Tragic conception of life.
    Yes, the whole thing will "go up in Flames" - and we will be here again and again to live out the same Tragedy.
    Nietzsche was in a minority of crying out 'Yes, Once More' to that deadly possibility.

    Of course, Nietzsche was responding to the scientific Cosmological stand-point of his own time which was still Newtonian. However, as you suggest, that really isn't the point. The point is that the metaphysical purpose which was invested in God had vanished - 'God is Dead', as we know [some still haven't heard the news!].

    There is no GIVEN purpose.
    There is only the mundane terror of existence, and the purpose we give ourselves.
    Why are there beings at all, & why not rather nothing?
    [Leibniz/Heidegger]

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    Quote Originally Posted by Moody Lawless
    I don't see the point of a 'justification' for Nihilism; Nietzsche was concerned with OVER-COMING Nihilism, not in 'justifying' it.

    He did this by the Absolute Affirmation of ER; and yes, the Overhuman can be seen as the human aspect of that Affirmation.
    In the sense that those strongest enough to say "Yes" to life in all its eternally-returning terror, and those able to "create" in such conditions, are indeed Superhuman.

    For Nietzsche ER had the peculiar attraction of combining the possible scientific [and therefore athesitic] view of the Cosmos with the cosmologies of the Preplatonic/Presocratic philosophers.
    Nietzsche was able, via ER, to connect himself with the ideas of Herclitus and so overcome 2,000 years of Platonic/Christian Idealism.

    Of course, the ER was a painfully nihilistic doctrine to behold; but only by dedicating oneself to it could one overcome Nihilism and experience the revivifying Tragic conception of life.
    Yes, the whole thing will "go up in Flames" - and we will be here again and again to live out the same Tragedy.
    Nietzsche was in a minority of crying out 'Yes, Once More' to that deadly possibility.

    Of course, Nietzsche was responding to the scientific Cosmological stand-point of his own time which was still Newtonian. However, as you suggest, that really isn't the point. The point is that the metaphysical purpose which was invested in God had vanished - 'God is Dead', as we know [some still haven't heard the news!].

    There is no GIVEN purpose.
    There is only the mundane terror of existence, and the purpose we give ourselves.
    Nietzsche does not believe in free will. 'The purpose we give ourselves'? - Please, don't resort to existentialist rubbish.

    ER does not solve nihilism. It is a rearticulation of it. I explained this in my first post of this thread. I'll post it again, so you can try refuting it.

    "I'm aware that Moody Lawless advocates the idea of Eternal Return, but I believe this provides a problem amongst European Nationalists - if it is going to happen over, and over, and over ad infinitum, then why fight now? Nietzsche thoroughly appears to be against any sort of teleology (that is, everything is moving towards something), and holds true to the idea of a sort of cyclical, heraclitian flux. Now Nietzsche says there are a finite amount of forces in the universe, time is an illusion because it's just a subjective conception of eternity, and so the die will roll again and again and again, always bringing up every possible combination, each an infinite amount of times.

    If everything we've done has been done before, then this doesn't provide any sort of ethics - say, you try and put a sort of ethical imperetive based around Eternal Recurrance by saying "life your life as you would have it repeat for eternity" or something similar - then it doesn't matter what you do now because every combination is going to turn up anyway, so it really doesn't matter. I've read Nietzsche patched up the gap of his nihilism with Eternal Recurrance - but when I think about it I'm not sure ER is an escape from nihilism or just another way of looking at it.

    Also, how about the idea that forces inside the universe are going to effect and alter each other? How do the same combinations turn up over and over again?

    Spengler suggests that towards the decline of a civilization its ideas, seeds if you will, are passed on to the population that will create the next Culture. While this is a sort of organic history it doesn't have the problem of the same combinations turning up. While there is organic rise-height-decline-collapse structure, there is still linear progress, with the handing on of the fruits of one civilization to another.

    Nietzsche, despite a lot of people I know calling him an existentialist, didn't believe in free will - he believed we were driven by our biology and social conditions and national culture - in short, "fate". Now, as I've said, I know for a fact the finite amount of forces in the universe act on each other as well as on the infinite forces (Nietzsche believes these can be discounted from the equation), then the finite forces will themselves be altered, then the idea of eternal recurrance is ruined (because the finite forces themselves change) but the idea of some sort of fate is not.

    Fate for what is something I'm not sure of yet. Hegel suggests fate moves towards the idea of freedom - i.e. spiritual freedom, while Marx says fate moves towards freedom from economic nessecity. I don't really consider the final aim to be freedom. Survive, enhance and expand towards the final numerical, cultural and political supremacy of one race over all others, the incarnation of the race as the iron fist of fate wielding total supremacy over the universe, the total discovery of knowledge, the drive for life, power and the pursuit of excellence - that is, in my opinion, the final aim. And I don't think eternal recurrance does the job of filling in the gap of spiritual nihilism."
    All men dream, but not equally. Those who dream at night, in the dusky recesses of their minds, wake in the day to find that it was vanity. But the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dreams, with open eyes, to make it possible.

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    I didn't expect the word 'justification' to be a problem since the nihilistic conclusion requires a line of reasoning and proofs.

    ER, based in finite mathematics, was the 'scientific' basis of N's nihilism. There are many others of course. Entropy, powerlessness, determinism are others. Of the many ER is surely the most brutally nihilistic.

    In a one-shot universe, there are arguments to wiggle out of purposelessness. Purpose can be suggested or imposed by any number of feel-good fantasies. Free will even becomes mildly defensible.

    But ER is a powerful destroyer. If 'free will' is choice and offers finite choices at time T, then supposed free will becomes merely an additional variable in the ER nightmare. So we have ten trillion iterations of the cosmos and repeat.

    In an ER universe free will REQUIRES infinite choice to break the loop. This suggests a form of true randomness must be present. The popular notion of randomness often means 'unpredictable'. But this does not suffice for true randomness. A juncture of uncertainty with finite possibles extends the equations, but does not create 'infinite' possibilities.

    If overcoming is a means of assigning 'purpose' then it stands no better than any other scheme. It only begins to make sense if viewed as a possible means of breaking the system. Unfortunately for N, he didn't have the science we have today. He also did not consider, to my knowledge, that overcoming itself - if meant to break the loop - can be factored in if the possibles are finite.

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    Quote Originally Posted by OnionPeeler
    "I didn't expect the word 'justification' to be a problem since the nihilistic conclusion requires a line of reasoning and proofs".
    The problem was in your phrase "justification of Nihilism"; Nihilism is a 'given' for Nietzsche. He describes it and seeks ways of over-coming it - he has no intention of 'justifying' it.
    The doctrine of ER is given justifications, yes; but that is another matter.

    "ER, based in finite mathematics, was the 'scientific' basis of N's nihilism. There are many others of course. Entropy, powerlessness, determinism are others. Of the many ER is surely the most brutally nihilistic".
    I don't think that ER was the "scientific basis"; Nietzsche attempted [in his unpublished notebooks] to give a scientific justification for ER, and even toyed with the idea of taking a course in Physics [he didn't]. However, the doctrine's basis was not scientific but philosophic. So while the scientific argument wasn't successful, I feel that the philosophic one WAS.

    "In a one-shot universe, there are arguments to wiggle out of purposelessness. Purpose can be suggested or imposed by any number of feel-good fantasies. Free will even becomes mildly defensible".
    But then Nietzsche denies 'free-will'. You see, ER is central to Nietzsche's way of thinking which derives from the ancient Greeks, [the Pythagoreans, Stoics, and particularly the Presocratics].
    This is a Tragic view of life which does not allow 'free-will'.
    By affirming the doctrine. despite all its tragic implications, one overcomes it - love of one's fate [amor fati].
    As all has been before to infinity, then the Superhuman has been before and will come again; it is that which gives purpose to our affirmation of Life.

    Quote Originally Posted by Lucifer
    "Nietzsche does not believe in free will. 'The purpose we give ourselves'? - Please, don't resort to existentialist rubbish".
    Nietzsche did not believe in 'unfree-will' either; he believed only in Strong Will and Weak Will. Giving purpose to one's life is an example of Strong Will, not 'free-will'.
    Please don't resort to nihilistic rubbish.

    "ER does not solve nihilism. It is a rearticulation of it".
    Not so; ER is a cosmological/philosophical doctrine which suggests that the universe repeats itself in cycles.
    Nihilism is the belief in nothing [as opposed to the absence of belief].
    Seeing that ER is a "something", then ER cannot be Nihilism [not even a "rearticulation" of it].

    " I believe ER provides a problem amongst European Nationalists - if it is going to happen over, and over, and over ad infinitum, then why fight now?"
    As you are an Anarchist, I suggest that ER is a problem for you.
    The question you append reflects your own nihilsm/anarchism. Nietzsche's doctrine demands that one AFFIRMS life - even in its Tragic aspect.

    "Nietzsche thoroughly appears to be against any sort of teleology (that is, everything is moving towards something), and holds true to the idea of a sort of cyclical, heraclitian flux".
    Yes, but he recognises peaks within the cycles, such as the Superhuman.

    "If everything we've done has been done before, then this doesn't provide any sort of ethics - ... it doesn't matter what you do now because every combination is going to turn up anyway, so it really doesn't matter".
    It is those peaks that matter; superhumanity and its attendant Master Morality becomes the desideratum. Remember that life is ultimately Will to Power.

    "Also, how about the idea that forces inside the universe are going to effect and alter each other? How do the same combinations turn up over and over again?"
    Due to the limitations of material combinations against the infinitude of time [eternity].
    Last edited by Moody; Saturday, September 30th, 2006 at 04:32 PM. Reason: merged two consecutive posts
    Why are there beings at all, & why not rather nothing?
    [Leibniz/Heidegger]

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    Quote Originally Posted by Moody Lawless
    Aloysha; "Nietzsche does not believe in free will. 'The purpose we give ourselves'? - Please, don't resort to existentialist rubbish".

    Moody Lawless; Nietzsche did not believe in 'unfree-will' either; he believed only in Strong Will and Weak Will. Giving purpose to one's life is an example of Strong Will, not 'free-will'.
    Please don't resort to nihilistic rubbish.
    It isn't. That's what I'm surpised you haven't figured out. Strong will, weak will, the factor is choice, which you've just admitted. Now, if the universe is to cycle onwards into infinity, and all combinations are to be played out an infinite amount of times, then do please enlighten me why it is important that the racial struggle is won by the side of Europe and not chaos, in this cycle, when it could happen any other cycle. Indeed, what seems to have escaped you is that it's already happened an infinite amount of times, it's going to happen again an infinite amount of times, so what's the importance at all of winning now?

    Aloysha; "ER does not solve nihilism. It is a rearticulation of it".

    Moody; Not so; ER is a cosmological/philosophical doctrine which suggests that the universe repeats itself in cycles.
    Nihilism is the belief in nothing [as opposed to the absence of belief].
    Seeing that ER is a "something", then ER cannot be Nihilism [not even a "rearticulation" of it].
    That's one definition of it. Another is the lack of importance of anything whatsoever. I've explained my reasoning above. ER is a rearticulation of nihilism that looks interesting. It is of no use whatsoever to racial nationalism.

    Aloysha; " I believe ER provides a problem amongst European Nationalists - if it is going to happen over, and over, and over ad infinitum, then why fight now?"

    Moody; As you are an Anarchist, I suggest that ER is a problem for you.
    The question you append reflects your own nihilsm/anarchism. Nietzsche's doctrine demands that one AFFIRMS life - even in its Tragic aspect.
    On the contrary, as an Anarchist (if I was the sort of Satanist-Anarchist which you've probably come to the [false] conclusion that I am), ER should pose no problem for me. But it does, because there is more to me than you seem to have figured out. Moody, there's a massive difference between nihilism and anarchism. Nihilism, as you've said, is "when the highest values devaluate themselves" - Anarchism is the affirmation of the sovereign individual. My "nihilism"? You're pretty shallow. No, I'm playing devils advocate working within ER and accepting all of your premises.

    Aloysha; "Nietzsche thoroughly appears to be against any sort of teleology (that is, everything is moving towards something), and holds true to the idea of a sort of cyclical, heraclitian flux".

    Moody; Yes, but he recognises peaks within the cycles, such as the Superhuman.
    That's nice that he does. But it does not explain why the Superhuman is important in this cycle when it could happen next cycle, or the one after, or one five hundred times from now, or whatever.

    Aloysha; "If everything we've done has been done before, then this doesn't provide any sort of ethics - ... it doesn't matter what you do now because every combination is going to turn up anyway, so it really doesn't matter".

    Moody Lawless; It is those peaks that matter; superhumanity and its attendant Master Morality becomes the desideratum. Remember that life is ultimately Will to Power.
    I know life is ultimately will to power. But the question is - why does it matter? Why does the Superhuman and master morality have any importance whatsoever? Because life is important? Why?

    Suppose it is. If somehow the Islamic world poured through Europe and conquered it right now, wouldn't you say that was a victory for the strongest will, despite the fact it wasn't European? Suppose Europe is decadent, and the Islamic world is experiencing a stage of unprecedented vitality (and the Islamic world primarily referred to the Semetic-Asiatic populations under its influence), would you call this the 'desireatum'?
    All men dream, but not equally. Those who dream at night, in the dusky recesses of their minds, wake in the day to find that it was vanity. But the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dreams, with open eyes, to make it possible.

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    Aloysha; "Strong will, weak will, the factor is choice, which you've just admitted".

    Moody Lawless; Wrong; Strong Will/Weak Will is a matter of FACTICITY, not 'free-will', or 'choice' as you call it.
    If one is Strong, then one cannot be otherwise - similarly if one is Weak.
    Nietzsche's philosophy is about 'Becoming What One Is' - there is no 'choice' involved. One is either born a Slave or born a Conqueror ...
    So I have "admitted" nothing.

    Aloysha; "Now, if the universe is to cycle onwards into infinity, and it's going to happen again an infinite amount of times, so what's the importance at all of winning now?"

    Moody; Because it is my/our Will - see above answer.

    Aloysha; "That's one definition of Nihilism. Another is the lack of importance of anything whatsoever".

    Moody; Wrong - you are describing Pessimism.
    Nihilism is the belief in nothing, as opposed to the absence of belief.

    Aloysha; "ER is a rearticulation of nihilism that looks interesting".

    Moody; That is no definition(?) of ER!
    ER is the theory that all things in the Universe repeat in a cyclical fashion; it was held by the Pythagoreans [were they Nihilists?], and by Heraclitus [was he a Nihilist?] and by the Stoics [were they Nihilists?]; and of course, also by Nietzsche - and was he a Nihilist?

    Aloysha; "ER is of no use whatsoever to racial nationalism".

    Moody; By your definition(?) it wouldn't be. However, as seen as a cosmological principle common to the ancient Greeks and the Indo-Aryans, it is very useful to racial nationalists.

    Aloysha; "On the contrary, as an Anarchist (if I was the sort of Satanist-Anarchist which you've probably come to the [false] conclusion that I am), ER should pose no problem for me".

    Moody; If you were a Satanist, you'd be far more interesting - why assume that when I've said nothing of the sort? As an Anarchist, I take it that you reject ER; or do you reject on it the behalf of another persona?

    Aloysha; "Moody, there's a massive difference between nihilism and anarchism. Nihilism, as you've said, is 'when the highest values devaluate themselves'. "

    Moody; That is a part of Nietzsche's description of the process of European Nihilsm, yes. It is Nietzsche who places anarchism and nihilism within the same ambit; the first believes in 'no rule', the other believes in 'nothing'. They have things in common, despite being, of course, 'different'.

    Aloysha; "Anarchism is the affirmation of the sovereign individual".

    Moody; Wrong - you have just defined Individualism of Egoism.
    There is a 'massive difference' to use your phrase, between 'egoism' and 'anarchism'.

    Aloysha; "My "nihilism"? You're pretty shallow. No, I'm playing devils advocate working within ER and accepting all of your premises".

    Moody; You're not EVEN shallow! You are continually trying to slip from one position to another without holding any position with conviction.
    That is not 'devil's advocate' - far from it - it is rather insincerity; you have even managed elsewhere to say that capitalism was NOT compatible with nationalism one day, and that capitalism WAS compatible with nationalism the next!
    Therefore your 'definitions' have no creedence whatsoever.

    Aloysha; "That does not explain why the Superhuman is important in this cycle when it could happen next cycle, or the one after, or one five hundred times from now, or whatever".

    Moody; Obviously, if time is Infinite and matter Finite, then all that could have happened would have already happened long ago.
    By the Nietzschean perspective, the Superhuman is of the Highest Value.

    Aloysha; "I know life is ultimately will to power. But the question is - why does it matter? Why does the Superhuman and master morality have any importance whatsoever? Because life is important? Why?"

    Moody; More pessimism; if life is will to power then the Superhuman and his Master Morality are the Highest Forms of human Will, and therefore exemplary of will to power within the human context.

    Aloysha; "Suppose it is. If somehow the Islamic world poured through Europe and conquered it right now, would you call this the 'desideratum'?"

    Moody; No, as that would be a Semitic conquest, and not an Aryan one. I place the Aryan as the Highest level of Superhumanity.
    So, to take your hypothetical situation, my own desideratum and Will is that a European Master Race, guided by Aryan principles, would defeat any such militant invasion.
    Why are there beings at all, & why not rather nothing?
    [Leibniz/Heidegger]

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    This theory I quite dislike. It is completely wrong. Unfortunately, I have to say that a lot...but we learn from our mistakes...I am prone to mistakes, or atleast I use to be, which was a good thing because I can learn more. Back to the topic;

    No you dont have infinate lives because you leave from the physical once you have experienced all you need to experience. you dont have the same life over - this is the bit i dont like...because the answer is the complete opposite. Every life you have differs as much as possible so you learn more and differnt lessons that you HAVNT already learned, so living the same life over is pointless because you would do everything perfectly, because you take knowledge from one life into the next, only most people dont realise it, then anyway you would live your life differently and more perfectly each time, so the whole thing is wrong anyway!

    hehee it is quite interesting...a few months ago i was thinking a name for a scinentist, and i randomly got the name prof. Eric Einhardt, which is extremely similar to the one who is mentioned in the first post....
    Last edited by Moody; Saturday, September 30th, 2006 at 04:33 PM. Reason: merged two consecutive posts

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    Question Eternal Recurrence

    Does eternal recurrence mean literally that everything that has happened will happen exactly as it happened again and again forever? The idea seems rather hellish to me. How does one arrive at this conclusion?

    I am for the most part, a materialist. I believe that there is no evidence to suggest that man is any more special than a beast or the lowliest insect ultimately in the scheme of things. When we consider that we basically do not exist even as a speck of dust when compared with the planet Jupiter for example, not to mention that our entire solar system is not unique, and is, ultimately and essentially, inconsequential.

    How can we presume to know such high metaphysical abstractions such as eternal recurrence?

    Such knowledge, I think, might only be acquired through deep meditation or drugs. Perhaps it is that there are an infinite number of realities, and perceptions.

    At face value at least, existence can be summed up with the famous words: "Es ist Alles Eitel." (All is Vanity)

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    Eternal recurrence is a pretty hard to figure out notion?

    One of the things Nietzsche wrote about was “breeding an animal able to keep promises.” In that sense it is the keeping of oaths by those with a noble creative morality that is eternally returned. Pretty much, a society’s morality returning eternally because of oaths kept.

    In another sense, there is the hellishness you spoke of. I have seen my fair share of hellishness in life, and I would not change a thing. No Regrets is the saying. This is the ultimate affirmation of life. If “life itself is Will to Power” then one is totally responsible for making their own sandwich of life and eating it as well. This is creative responsibility on an individual level..the other one above is on a community level.

    Then there is the metaphysical notion of it all actually Eternally Recurring. Like you said how are we to know? This all brings to mind Joseph Campbell’s “Lesson of the Mask” where “The literal fact that the apparition is composed of A, a mask, B, its reference to a mythical being, and C, a man, is dis- missed from the mind, and the presentation is allowed to work without correction upon the sentiments of both the beholder and the actor. In other words, there has been a shift of view from the logic of the normal secular sphere, where things are understood to be distinct from one another, to a theatrical or play sphere, where they are accepted for what they are experienced as being and the logic is that of "make believe" "as if."“

    ..this underlying all seizures of a notion..

    Here is a (nother) Campbell quote..with the word metaphysics in it that I think shows how one can play the game of "as if" with Eternal Recurrence and become Superman..

    Kant, in his Prolegomena to Every Future System of Meta-
    physics, states very carefully that all our thinking about final things
    can be only by way of analogy. "The proper expression for our
    fallible mode of conception," he declares, "would be: that we
    imagine the world as if its being and inner character were derived
    from a supreme mind" (italics mine). 14

    Such a highly played game of "as if" frees our mind and spirit,
    on the one hand, from the presumption of theology, which pre-
    tends to know the laws of God, and, on the other, from the bond-
    age of reason, whose laws do not apply beyond the horizon of
    human experience.

    I am willing to accept the word of Kant, as representing the
    view of a considerable metaphysician. And applying it to the
    range of festival games and attitudes just reviewed from the
    mask to the consecrated host and temple image, transubstanti-
    ated worshiper and transubstantiated world I can see, or be-
    lieve I can see, that a principle of release operates throughout the
    series by way of the alchemy of an "as if"; and that, through this,
    the impact of all so-called "reality" upon the psyche is transub-
    stantiated. The play state and the rapturous seizures sometimes
    deriving from it represent, therefore, a step rather toward than
    away from the ineluctable truth; and belief acquiescence in a
    belief that is not quite belief is the first step toward the deep-
    ened participation that the festival affords in that general will to
    life which, in its metaphysical aspect, is antecedent to, and the
    creator of, all life's laws.

    Primitive Mythology


    Later,
    -Lyfing

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