Note: My journal notes from 13 years ago continued. This is the penultimate blog entry for Reading Nietzsche. 🙂
The Overman uses his Will-to-Power to create his own horizon of meaning, which overflows his self into an external creation.
This external creation takes on a life on its own such that it overcomes the Overman himself and influences other Men without the Overman being there in person, like Zarathustra saying to his disciples at the Motley Cow that they lose him so that they can find themselves (p. 190).
It is clear how the Overman and Will-to-Power are related. His Will-to-Power is not merely physical force, not a subjugation of the rabble, but a creative force which draws men to it as speaking to their soul, as a guide for their own search for what is competent in themselves.
But how does the Eternal Recurrence of the Same fit in all of this?
I am reminded of the gross misunderstanding of Nietzsche, which his sister and those who take his aphorisms out of context use for their own personal agendas.
The danger of Nietzsche is Zarathustra’s contempt and nausea for the rabble and his stress of the future in his doctrine of the Overman and Will-to-Power. Break all the old tablets! But how can the Overman unite the fragments of man into a whole horizon of meaning if the Overman is contemptible of the past?
What arises from such an unresolved contempt is the despot.
Says Zarathustra, “A great despot might come along, a shrewd monster who, according to his pleasure and displeasure, might constrain and strain all that is past till it becomes a bridge to him, a harbinger and herald and cockcrow. This, however, is the other danger and what prompts my further pity: whoever is of the rabble thinks back as far as the grandfather; with the grandfather, however, time ends.” (p. 314).
Contempt for the past is contempt for time itself; in doing so limits the Overman to only one direction, to the future simply.
The doctrine of the Eternal Recurrence of the Same opens the Overman to the past as well as the future.
The Overman’s Will-to-Power also wills horizons of meaning in the past because the past eternally recurs into the present and will recur into the future. But this self-same doctrine also orders the Overman’s Will-to-Power such that he does not fall into the trap of the despot: since his choices are eternally recurring, then his choices better be good ones, competent ones.
The Eternal Recurrence of the Same thus becomes part of the song in which all of being and becoming arises into the living, becomes part of the command in which the Overman forms within himself, found in solitude.
All of being resounds this song of the eternal recurrence, even Zarathustra’s animals resounds this song, prompting Zarathustra, in the end of Part Three, to sing to Eternity, even loving it above his Wisdom.
How is the Eternal Recurrence of the Same problematic?
As mentioned above, Eternal Recurrence is a necessary part of the Overman’s Will-to-Power. It forms the basis for which the Overman remains honest to his own command and his own horizon of meaning.
The Eternal Recurrence, which states that all things has been, is, and will be once again, posits how the fabric of Eternity inserts itself into the pocket of the Moment. This general idea in itself is understandable.
What makes the Eternal Recurrence problematic is the second half of the phrase, i.e., “of the Same.”
It is not the Eternal Recurrence of similar types, similar kinds, or even the setting of precedence such that others in the present look to the past as a guide or that others in the future look to the present (thus, their past) as a guide to solve similar problems that may come up in life.
The Eternal Recurrence of the Same is the “was, is, and will be” of EXACTLY same people, the same circumstances, the same life, without one difference, without one change.
Therein lies the problem because why does Nietzsche need the Eternal Recurrence to be of EXACTLY the same life?
The image of the Eternal Recurrence of the Same, as two infinitely long paths converging at one point, the Moment, does not really describe the concept.
Imagine that railcar is infinitely duplicated behind it on the train track and also infinitely duplicated in front of it on the train track.
The only difference from one railcar to the other is Time: each railcar is like a successive frame of film, in which each railcar is a frozen Moment. Instead of the railcars moving on the train track of Time, Time moves through each railcar, animating it.
This concept has a name in modern physics: the multiverse corollary to the fundamental problem of quantum mechanics (QM).
The fundamental problem of QM is, essentially, Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle, in which one cannot observe with any certainty the location or the time of where a given quantum particle could be; the corollary to this is that, in the realm of probability, that particle is in all locations in all time periods in relation to the observer.
The observer cannot escape the probability system of the uncertain particle.
The Overman thus becomes that observer that ESCAPES this closed system, who can, to use the railcar image, step out of the railcar and see ALL of the railcars, immaculately perceive all of the railcars.
Like A. Square in Edwin Abbott’s Flatland, who becomes dizzy when he rises to the third dimension and looks at his whole, second dimension world, the Overman becomes nauseous when he initially rises above himself and the world and looks at the whole, the Eternal Recurrence of the Same.
Also, like A. Square, who perceives the truth of his world and returns to his world, the Overman perceives the Eternal Recurrence and returns to the Moment in the world.
(Another image of the Overman is the earthly neo-Christ. Instead of God who comes down to Earth, incarnated as Jesus Christ, and then returns to Heaven, the Overman comes from Man, overcomes Man to become the Overman, and then returns to Man as the Overman.)
Is Nietzsche’s concept of the Eternal Recurrence of the Same and quantum physic’s multiverse corollary just a coincidence?