• Nietzsche's eternal recurrence of the same : the effect of logic abridgement, contradictions and inconsistencies

      Murray, Gordon.; Department of Philosophy (Brock University, 1998-05-21)
      I will argue that the doctrine of eternal recurrence of the same no better interprets cosmology than pink elephants interpret zoology. I will also argue that the eternal-reiurn-of-the-same doctrine as what Magnus calls "existential imperative" is without possibility of application and thus futile. To facilitate those arguments, the validity of the doctrine of the eternal recurrence of the same will be tested under distinct rubrics. Although each rubric will stand alone, one per chapter, as an evaluation of some specific aspect of eternal recurrence, the rubric sequence has been selected to accommodate the identification of what I shall be calling logic abridgments. The conclusions to be extracted from each rubric are grouped under the heading CONCLUSION and appear immediately following rubric ten. Then, or if, at the end of a rubric a reader is inclined to wonder which rubric or topic is next, and why, the answer can be found at the top of the following page. The question is usually answered in the very first sentence, but always answered in the first paragraph. The first rubric has been placed in order by chronological entitlement in that it deals with the evolution of the idea of eternal recurrence from the time of the ancient Greeks to Nietzsche's August, 1881 inspiration. This much-recommended technique is also known as starting at the beginning. Rubric 1 also deals with 20th. Century philosophers' assessments of the relationship between Nietzsche and ancient Greek thought. The only experience of E-R, Zarathustra's mountain vision, is second only because it sets the scene alluded to in following rubrics. The third rubric explores .ii?.ih T jc,i -I'w Nietzsche's evaluation of rationality so that his thought processes will be understood appropriately. The actual mechanism of E-R is tested in rubric four...The scientific proof Nietzsche assembled in support of E-R is assessed by contemporary philosophers in rubric five. E-R's function as an ethical imperative is debated in rubrics six and seven.. .The extent to which E-R fulfills its purpose in overcoming nihilism is measured against the comfort assured by major world religions in rubric eight. Whether E-R also serves as a redemption for revenge is questioned in rubric nine. Rubric ten assures that E-R refers to return of the identically same and not merely the similar. In addition to assemblage and evaluation of all ten rubrics, at the end of each rubric a brief recapitulation of its principal points concludes the chapter. In this essay I will assess the theoretical conditions under which the doctrine cannot be applicable and will show what contradictions and inconsistencies follow if the doctrine is taken to be operable. Harold Alderman in his book Nietzsche's Gift wrote, the "doctrine of eternal recurrence gives us a problem not in Platonic cosmology, but in Socratic selfreflection." ^ I will illustrate that the recurrence doctrine's cosmogony is unworkable and that if it were workable, it would negate self-reflection on the grounds that selfreflection cannot find its cause in eternal recurrence of the same. Thus, when the cosmology is shown to be impossible, any expected ensuing results or benefits will be rendered also impossible. The so-called "heaviest burden" will be exposed as complex, engrossing "what if speculations deserving no linkings to reality. To identify ^Alderman p. 84 abridgments of logic, contradictions and inconsistencies in Nietzsche's doctrine of eternal recurrence of the same, I. will examine the subject under the following schedule. In Chapter 1 the ancient origins of recurrence theories will be introduced. ..This chapter is intended to establish the boundaries within which the subsequent chapters, except Chapter 10, will be confined. Chapter 2, Zarathustra's vision of E-R, assesses the sections of Thus Spoke Zarathustra in which the phenomenon of recurrence of the same is reported. ..Nihilism as a psychological difficulty is introduced in this rubric, but that subject will be studied in detail in Chapter 8. In Chapter 2 the symbols of eternal recurrence of the same will be considered. Whether the recurrence image should be of a closed ring or as a coil will be of significance in many sections of my essay. I will argue that neither symbolic configuration can accommodate Nietzsche's supposed intention. Chapter 3 defends the description of E-R given by Zarathustra. Chapter 4, the cosmological mechanics of E-R, speculates on the seriousness with which Nietzsche might have intended the doctrine of eternal recurrence to be taken. My essay reports, and then assesses, the argument of those who suppose the doctrine to have been merely exploratory musings by Nietzsche on cosmological hypotheses...The cosmogony of E-R is examined. In Chapter 5, cosmological proofs tested, the proofs for Nietzsche's doctrine of return of the same are evaluated. This chapter features the position taken by Martin ' Heidegger. My essay suggests that while Heidegger's argument that recurrence of the same is a genuine cosmic agenda is admirable, it is not at all persuasive. Chapter 6, E-R is an ethical imperative, is in essence the reporting of a debate between two scholars regarding the possibility of an imperative in the doctrine of recurrence. Their debate polarizes the arguments I intend to develop. Chapter 7, does E-R of the same preclude alteration of attitudes, is a continuation of the debate presented in Chapter 6 with the focus shifted to the psychological from the cosmological aspects of eternal recurrence of the same. Chapter 8, Can E-R Overcome Nihilism?, is divided into two parts. In the first, nihilism as it applies to Nietzsche's theory is discussed. ..In part 2, the broader consequences, sources and definitions of nihilism are outlined. My essay argues that Nietzsche's doctrine is more nihilistic than are the world's major religions. Chapter 9, Is E-R a redemption for revenge?, examines the suggestion extracted from Thus Spoke Zarathustra that the doctrine of eternal recurrence is intended, among other purposes, as a redemption for mankind from the destructiveness of revenge. Chapter 10, E-R of the similar refuted, analyses a position that an element of chance can influence the doctrine of recurrence. This view appears to allow, not for recurrence of the same, but recurrence of the similar. A summary will recount briefly the various significant logic abridgments, contradictions, and inconsistencies associated with Nietzsche's doctrine of eternal recurrence of the same. In the 'conclusion' section of my essay my own opinions and observations will be assembled from the body of the essay.