Nietzsche’s Life Affirmations

Paper Info
Page count 30
Word count 9357
Read time 33 min
Topic Philosophy
Type Thesis
Language 🇺🇸 US

Introduction

Friedrich Nietzsche was a German philosopher, whose views and ideologies challenged the roots of Christianity and traditional morality in late 19th century. He believed in existence, imagination, wellbeing and the realities of the world we live in, rather than the concept of the world beyond. The Life Affirmations of Nietzsche is central to his philosophy. His philosophy challenges and directly questions all doctrines that has negative impact of draining the life energies, regardless of how socially prevalent and accepted the doctrine may be.

Nietzsche’s philosophy is based on his association and enthusiasm for Schopenhauer and his studies in classical philology, his inspiration from Wagner, his reading of Lange and his frustrations with the contemporary German culture. He was also interested in the philosophies of Plato and Aristotle. Nietzsche wholeheartedly accepted the Darwin’s theory of evolution and was strongly influenced by the theories of Arthur Schopenhauer.

There is wide range of reaction to his writing; the fate of his philosophy has had different range of impact in different countries like Europe and America. In Germany, France, Italy Nietzsche is praised and imitated, denounced, and even critically studied. He has grabbed more attention in relation to his writing than any other philosopher. He is the fashion, and more than that he is recognized by serious students as the representative and advocate of a strong tendency of modern thought. In England and in America one hears little of him. While in Europe every educated man knows Nietzsche’s theories at least in outline.

Nietzsche’s philosophy is described as at basis Schopenhauer’s theory of will, to which Darwinian doctrine of struggle for existence has given a positive form. As the logical result of this fundamental principle, seven characteristic tendencies displayed by Nietzsche are described and the relation of each to the basal theory is pointed out. These tendencies are all negative, all protests against prevalent views, and to be explained as due to the peculiar value given by Nietzsche to the individual will. They are called anti -moral, anti-socialistic, anti–democratic, anti-feminine, anti-intellectualistic, the anti-pessimistic and anti-Christian. Current morality, socialism, democracy, the emancipation of woman, intellectualism, optimism, and Christianity are condemned by Nietzsche as it is inconsistent with the will for power. (Dolson).

According to him the ideal for all existence is not the negation of will, but its complete affirmation, which is made possible only in Darwinian struggle for existence. The will affirms itself by means of constant warfare, and whatever interferes with the necessary combat is worthy of opposition. Nietzsche has strongly emphasized the highest achievement of human life as the highest goal of life. His theory has not been aimed at proving or disapproving the existence of God. There is popular proclamation in his writing which states “God is Dead”; this implies that negation of God is primary requirement for successful evolution of human beings to reach their highest potential.

Nietzsche also advocates the Hero morality, which is the ideal in his mind. He introduces the concept of the “Overman” and the “Superman”. He believed that the creation of the image of God, was the natural product of the process of natural selection or social Darwinism. He also has strong views regarding any moral limitation on the man, as he felt that it would come in the way of the evolution of the Overman. One of his core teachings has been the “Will to Power”, which means that the Overman should be free to do anything possible to gain power, achieve control and maximize the strength. In the process of evolution even tiniest bit of weakness or morality can prove fatal to existence. He believed weakness would result in overpowering by the stronger Overman. This would imply being taken over and result in the submission of the Overman.

Nietzsche has been a strong advocate of the Master Race. He deeply understood the need for diversity and variation in the population. He also recognized the importance of the contributions made by other races and cultures. According to him an ideal society was represented by the race which included selected percentages from many races and cultures. He was strongly overpowered by the influences of the war mentality which reflects his infatuation with evil and violence.. He could find so much cruelty and violence in the world, and took sadistic pleasure in celebrating it. He has remarked in his book Thus Spoke Zarathustra, that man is the cruelest animal.

We can evaluate Nietzsche’s philosophy in three phases, the first and the early phase which lasted until 1876, this period was strongly influenced by Wagner and Schopenhauer; the middle period or phase which lasted from 1876 to 1882, this was the period of independent thinking and new experimentation and the final and the last phase which marks the final period from 1882 to 1889, this is the period in which his most profound philosophies were presented.

Such division indicates that he simply abandoned his early Romanticism. However his book “Thus Spoke Zarathustra”, is a prophetic text that expresses his mature philosophy, particularly his doctrine of Eternal Recurrence, in symbols, parables and riddles. It reflects that Nietzsche has attempted to show a parallel between the myth creations of Zarathustra. Nietzsche called himself the “first tragic philosopher”, and traced his lineage to Heraclitus: “the doctrine of eternal recurrence, that is of unconditional and infinitely repeated circular course of things-this doctrine of Zarathustra might in the end have been taught already by Heraclitus”(Yelle)

Nietzsche loved his aristocratic anarchism, and had a profound hate for democracy. This can be seen reflected as a characteristic feature in his philosophy. He had a clear view of the ideal society, which he believed was to be divided into three classes: producers (which represented farmers, merchants and businessmen), officials (which represented soldiers and government) and rulers. The rulers would be philosophers and statesmen rather than office holders. Nietzsche has a strong conviction that people varied in their degree of importance, some people were more important and commanded more attention and respect than others. The happiness and unhappiness of such people weighed more than the happiness of the average people.

Nietzsche has strong views regarding religion and government. He hated democracy, but despised Christianity. He considered Christianity a greater risk than democracy. He believed that people are more loyal to their God than they are to their government. He felt that democracy and Christianity were interconnected, and that democracy began with Christianity. He believed that Christianity was dangerous and lethal lie which ever emerged on the surface of the world.

He strongly advocated that people should be unarmed with their ‘God’, then their choice for government should be considered. He strongly believed that his ideal path for “Overman” and “Superman” was through the channels of aristocracy. Efforts should be made to eradicate democracy before it is too late. This has to be initiated at the basic level by making efforts and attempts to destroy Christianity, which would ensure the identification and the evolution of the higher men which is the goal of life.

Nietzsche was a passionate writer, he wrote several major works which have been influential on the modern thinking. Some of the books which he wrote and are worth recognition are The Birth of Tragedy (1872, trans.1966), Thus Spoke Zarathustra(1883-1885; trans.1954), Beyond Good and Evil(1886; trans. 1966), On Genealogy of Morals (1887; trans1966), The Antichrist(1888,trans.1954), Ecce Homo (1889; trans.1966) and Will to Power(1901; trnas.1910).

Hypothesis

Nietzsche challenged the core foundation of the traditional morality and Christianity, and profoundly asserted the faith in creativity and acceptance of the realities of life as it is, existent in this world. He discouraged contemplation of the world beyond. He developed the concept of life affirmations which involved an inquiry of all beliefs and doctrines which had negative impact on the energies of life. He did not care about the social acceptability of such doctrine. He believed in saving what exists as a reality with the focus and energy. He developed the concept of ‘Overman’ and ‘Superman’ who represents and courage and boldness of the creator to introduce new values and aims to create a master morality. He did not want to inspire followers, but wanted to create and evolve leaders.

Methodology

The methodology used is critical study and understanding of variety of literature review. The Literature review is done using journal articles and books which provide insightful interpretation of the writings of Nietzsche. His books are evaluated and views of prominent writers are accepted as part of the research. The literature is focused on three aspects of Nietzsche- Amor Fati, Eternal Recurrence and Will to Power- and how these theories are in harmony with his life affirmations. Nietzsche’s life affirmations are central to the research and his three most influential contributions are deeply studied in the light of his life affirmations. The interconnectedness of the theories are examined and evaluated, in the view of the life affirmations. These three core theories are central to understanding the powerful influence of Nietzsche’s writings.

Literature Review

Nietzsche has presented a theory and philosophy which clearly asserts sound affirmation of life. His every theory and every thought lead us to this affirmation which encourages the acceptance of life as it is. His thought needs to be followed precisely in order, to fully understand the essence of this affirmation of life. He lays greater emphasis on the fact that his thoughts are a means to an end. Inorder to find the end one has to initiate the journey.

He motivates us to go on the journey to find the way. There is clear affirmation of life in Nietzsche; he transforms every expression in the voice of his thought. He strongly emphasizes very clearly the affirmation of life through his assertion of “Amor Fati”-love of fate.The assertion of “Amor Fati” depends upon the fact that world does not come to an end, the most important part of the process is that world is a reality and is incessant. He believes with conviction that fate is not the final end. It is the necessary process to achieve that end. This incessant process demands continuous “becoming” of the universe, and leads nothing to an end for there is no end: “becoming aims at nothing and achieves nothing”(Ulfers and Cohen)

Another strong affirmation of life has been his theory of Eternal recurrence, which was initially presented in his book ‘The Gay Science’ and later fully developed in ‘Thus Spoke Zarathustra’. This theory has been the result of the influence of Schopenhauer on Nietzsche. There is an increasing evidence of the influence of various Romantic thinkers on Nietzsche’s early philosophy. This is particularly seen in The Birth of Tragedy, with its announcement or prediction of rebirth of the myth. One of the most prophetic work by Nietzsche is his work Thus Spoke Zarathustra, there is intimate connection with tragedy in his work which later evolves to prononunce his central doctrine of Eternal Recurrence.

This doctrine is presented in the form of symbols, parables and riddles. “His idea and symbolism of Eternal Recurrence is a temporal cycle of opposites represented by various forms of circle, especially the ouroborus or serpent biting its own tail, and associated with Zoroaster, Heraclitus and Dionysus was influenced by the tradition of Romantic mythology.”(Yelle) It has been acknowledged that in his book The Birth of Tragedy, there is strong assertion of the cycle of opposites which becomes the symbol of unity of myth and philosophy. Nietzsche in his thought merges the concept of myth and philosophies to mark the rebirth of the myth to self overcome the philosophy.

This symbol plays a significant role in his own development as a philosopher. “The Eternal Recurrence appears to have been his own attempt to unite myth and philosophy through the transformation of an originally Romantic mythological idea into its opposite, and the adoption of a symbolic and mythic style of expression.” (Yelle)

In Nietzsche we find another important assertion which leads to affirmation of life and that is his conception of the “Will to Power”, which is the motivating impulse to apparent eventuality. It is the substance of constant eventuality and is in harmony with “Amor Fati”. “Will to Power is primarily Nietzsche’s analysis of reality- he finds an impulse of this sort at the bottom of human nature, and the proceeds to interpret life. His world and its reality is also based on such theory. This doctrine is originally psychological and cosmological, and has nothing to do with ethics.(Salter)

Nietzsche asserted that nihilism was central to most of the European culture and viewed that it evolved as the outcome of repeated frustrations in search of meaning. He also conceived that it was the latent theory which served as the foundation for the search which was necessary and approaching destiny. He conceptualized the theory that “God is Dead” which appeared in his book ‘The Gay Science’.

Amor Fati

Nietzsche has been known for his best assertion called “Amor Fati” which means love of fate. From his very first conception of the theory in his book The Gay Science, there is clear mention of “Amor Fati” –the love of fate as the acceptance of the necessity. It is very clear in his assertion that his reference to fate in turn refers to necessity. He states in his own words “I want to learn more and more to see as beautiful what is necessary in things; then I shall be one of those who make things beautiful. Amor Fati:let that be my love henceforth!….And all in all some day I wish to be only a Yes sayer”(Nietzsche)(Ulfers and Cohen)

Nietzsche considers fate as necessary to the affirmation of life, it is not necessary in the ordinary sense of the term, it is a quality which is to be interpreted within the vision of his world. The idea of fate is not fixed and unchangeable sequence of events for which the outcome is necessary and fixed. It is neither a promise nor an achievement. Nietzsche’s world is the world of continuity, where nothing comes to an end. The world is a continuous wheel of process, where nothing comes to an end. In it reality is constant. Interestingly enough, the real love of life is inherent in the fate. This fate is not a transcendental or moral necessity to which one surrenders in absolute allegiance with an utter sense of responsibility. But is a continuous process, the process of Becoming, becoming of the universe in which everything is endless and there is no end.

The becoming is the process, an experience; it aims at nothing and achieves nothing. Nietzsche explores to understand fate with riddled opposites which are complex and subtle. The intricacies of the opposites are the principle of relation in which Nietzsche understands reality. In his concept of fate he lays great emphasis to the aspect of necessity which is linked with freedom. He strongly affirms that necessity and freedom are inherently connected in the concept of “Amor Fati”. “This ideal of “Amor Fati” he envisions in the characterization of Goethe and the poets fatalism is expressed as “Such a spirit (as Goethe) who has become free stands amidst all with joyous and trusting fatalism, in the faith that only the single is loathsome, and that all is redeemed and affirmed in the whole- he does not negate anymore””(Ulfers and Cohen).

The fatalism of Amor Fati, involves in its process the insight in Being, where Becoming negates the Being. Nietzsche believed that fate and love of it lead us to knowledge, which resulted in wisdom. According to him this wisdom can be seen in the concept where negation is in foreplay, this wisdom is seen in excess beyond Being. It is an assertion where Becoming is the negation of the Being, which is beyond Being. The value of truth is negated by non-truth. This is the position in which awareness is beyond the normative conception and leaves a person in the position of the Yes Sayer.

There is an intricacy of opposites in which contradiction plays a definite role in the understanding of the phenomena in the view of Nietzsche. According to Nietzsche there is seen an intricate relation between the two opposites of pain and bliss. They are inter related and simultaneously are united and held apart. “The tragic world view as presented by Niestzsche, in his book The Birth of Tragedy, “is a chiasmic unity of opposites , one with neither negation nor affirmation, because the medium that permits “yes” and “no” to interpenetrate, it affirms them both equally, leaving affirmation affirmed precisely to the degree that is negation is”.”(Ulfers and Cohen)

In the same manner fate according to Nietzsche is the contradiction in terms of ‘freedom’ and ‘necessity’. He gives both qualities to fate in equal measure. The necessity of fate according to Nietzsche rests in the fact that it is insightful, and is unalterable. It is eternal and necessary-free-playful and elusive. He affirms that fate is playful and elusive. He creatively ties together freedom and necessity in his acknowledgement of fate. His interpretation of fate implies that it embraces opposites in its conception.

Fate according to Nietzsche, is a symbol of his insight and that there is nothing-nihil-outside the transitoriness of the world of eternal Becoming. “This implies that fate is the name for a totally immanent, perpetually transitory world that is not subject to the finality of a goal outside of it, the achievement of which would redeem the guiltiness of Becoming.”(Ulfers and Cohen). Amor Fati means embracing the world that is as it is-eternally Becoming-not as it should be, for there is no should , no imperative that is essential to transform it into something other than it is. It means embracing the world with the freedom and the necessity as the twin blades of the life. It is presented as the love for the realities within the existence.Love of fate is the consequence of the “Death of God”. It is the love of a supreme center of value of Being that was negated by Becoming-the authority beyond the limits of the world. (Ulfers and Cohen).

“Nietzsche has been a believer that world is an aesthetic phenomena; the necessity is the necessity of play, play that is aesthetic. This assertion can be seen in his book The Birth of Tragedy where he mentions “existence and the world seem justified only as an aesthetic phenomenon””.(Ulfers and Cohen). This world according to him is the play which is a combination of the essential opposites, which are presented on one side by existence and on the other side by non-existence.

This is the assertion of the affirmation of life. This affirmation of life is indirectly an affirmation of the fate, which is truly the essence of life. This play as an important affirmation of life implies the absence of the center of Being. This is more a process of Becoming. The most significant aspect of this whole theory is that play is of vital importance, it is conceived before the alternative of presence or absence.There is an inherent affirmation of life which is felt by the joyous affirmation of the play of the world and of the innocence of becoming, this affirmation passes “beyond man and humanism.”(Ulfers and Cohen)

This sense of affirmation of life, which is the affirmation of fate, as a thought that moves “beyond man and humanism” intertwines in itself the non-existence as a condition of its existence. This is the essence of the truth of the things as perceived by Nietzsche. Nietzsche has a sound reason to support why fate has been realistically accepting, which compels that meaning and existence are nothing better than “interpenetration and unending play.”(Ulfers and Cohen).

Nietzsche strongly advocates that freedom in necessity has existence for the world. We as individuals are limited and cannot direct or restrict the course of events, since we are not present in the course of events. What we achieve as reality is just momentary involvement or presence, which affirms the notion that our lives are series of disconnected sequence of flashing events which feels real as we perceive them. This is just for the sake of the perception which is far from reality.

He asserts that we as individuals are without integrity, neither self sustaining objects nor subjects in the world, for nothing is self sustaining object. One can trace this assertion regarding rejection of individual integrity and of individual existence in the early philosophical foundation of Nietzsche’s thought. There he mentions clearly about his philosophical foundations and views in relation to the aesthetic nature of the existence of the world. He mentions the nature of the world as web-like entity, in which individual existence is an error in the framework of the unity of the world. These unities are necessary for reckoning, which has been borrowed from the ego concept-our oldest criteria for faith. The assumption on which this understanding is based has evolved from the fact that since we hold ourselves as unities, we have formed the thing called concept of the world.

Nietzsche’s conception is free from the confines of the timeline, and there is no movement which connects the past to present to future. Time is free from any current or momentum. One cannot experience the continuation of the sequence. In the frame of time events are an isolated moment. If there is anything which does exist it is the point of time. Thus in this timeframe nothing needs to endure and nothing endures, as there is no time for anything to continue to exist.

The moment is an expansive idea which has increasingly covered his career. It becomes the setting for the realization of the world. It is important to realize that perfection in Nietzsche refers to not the Being in the world of Becoming, but is the contemplative moment. In this contemplative moment Becoming is without objective, it is perfect to itself, in the world of Becoming.

The gratefulness expressed by Nietzsche for the time of his whole life, is out of the experience of the moment which is perfect. This is an affirmation of fate as interplay of time and eternity. According to him the moment and the eternity are interlaced as an immeasurable entity. The beauty is to find joy in the experience of the moments, the time points as always the same attainment. In reality they are constantly shifting, constantly transforming into something different and following each other in sequence.

Nietzsche’s Amor Fati is an expression which affirms love for one’s own destiny. His indomitable affirmation in whatever crisis of life on earth and man’s power of love and good must be set near the center of this thought as a comprehensive view of his work. The center of the concern is integrity and self assertion of the individual personality. His conception of Amor Fati is not based on abstractions or absolutes, but on integrity and higher order.

It embraces the higher order of evolution which is flexible enough to accommodate the extremes of evolution from the earliest to the recent. There is also mention that inner nature should be in harmony with the environment to achieve the highest evolution. This leads to the creation of “Overman” or “Superman” who is the ideal of his world. The pure love of life is Amor Fati. (Ryder)

It is interesting to note that Nietzsche’s view of himself was that “as a European “fate” where the whole of Western Civilization had conspired in his creation, to the end that, through his experience, the tensions and contradictions of the West might come to full and awesome consciousness.”(Frazier) Very few people have been able to identify with Nietzsche that the full existential realization that in their life-drama, the dram of the man is eternally reenacted in its suffering and ecstasy, it’s good and evil. To some Nietzsche’s sense of his own destiny appears as projection of a diseased soul; while to others it is the breaking forth of the prophetic insight and knowledge which aims at the spiritual rejuvenation of Europe and the future of man. Whether madman or genius or both, Nietzsche grasped the necessity in his existence.(Frazier).

Eternal Recurrence

“Nietzsche envisages the universe as a kaleidoscope of changes, and however many different states it is possible for this universe to fall into their number must be finite. But time is infinite, so the present state of the universe must be a repetition of a previous state as must the state which preceded it and the state which succeeds to : all events must recur an infinite number of times”(Hollingdale, Pg. 201)

Another strong affirmation of life has been his theory of Eternal recurrence, which was initially presented in his book ‘The Gay Science’ and later fully developed in ‘Thus Spoke Zarathustra’. This theory has been the result of the influence of Schopenhauer on Nietzsche. Schopenhauer stated that it is necessary for a person who unconditionally affirms life to accept everything which happens to him with acceptance, and with conviction that he would embrace it eagerly if it were to happen again repeatedly. There is an increasing evidence of the influence of various Romantic thinkers on Nietzsche’s early philosophy. This is particularly seen in The Birth of Tragedy, with its announcement or prediction of rebirth of the myth.

One of the most prophetic work by Nietzsche is his work Thus Spoke Zarathustra, there is intimate connection with tragedy in his work which later evolves to pronounce his central doctrine of Eternal Recurrence. This doctrine is presented in the form of symbols, parables and riddles. “His idea and symbolism of Eternal Recurrence is a temporal cycle of opposites represented by various forms of circle, especially the ouroborus or serpent biting its own tail, and associated with Zoroaster, Heraclitus and Dionysus was influenced by the tradition of Romantic mythology.”(Yelle) It has been acknowledged that in his book The Birth of Tragedy, there is strong assertion of the cycle of opposites which becomes the symbol of unity of myth and philosophy.

Nietzsche in his thought merges the concept of myth and philosophies to mark the rebirth of the myth to self overcome the philosophy. This symbol plays a significant role in his own development as a philosopher. “The Eternal Recurrence appears to have been his own attempt to unite myth and philosophy through the transformation of an originally Romantic mythological idea into its opposite, and the adoption of a symbolic and mythic style of expression.” (Yelle)

In 1880’s Nietzsche was greatly interested in the effort to work out a scientific formulation of the doctrine of eternal recurrence. The idea of eternal recurrence has been the central focus of his philosophy. First there is Nietzsche’s report of his discovery of the idea of eternal recurrence in Ecce Homo: “6,000 feet beyond man and time” This reflects the language of transport and ecstasy, which suggests that the ides of eternal recurrence, derives its meaning and power from an intense, transforming experience. The doctrine of eternal recurrence was for Nietzsche an existential realization, not a cosmological speculation.

Second in Thus Spoke Zarathustra, the doctrine is first announced and affirmed. The language of delivery is that of transcendence and ecstasy. The premise behind eternal recurrence is that metaphysical world is an idea belonging to the phenomenal world….consequently there can be no ‘breakthrough’ to another level of reality. Eternal recurrence is the existential realization that Nietzsche called “amor fati”, a realization that is entirely ecstatic and wherein one joyfully affirms one’s existence as both accident and necessity.

The analysis of the doctrine of eternal recurrence is considered as the most important contribution to philosophy. This is also one of the most controversial and obscure philosophy presented by Nietzsche. Eternal recurrence is an attitude towards life that opposes all decadence, all nihilism, decline of life and world weariness. It is a radical affirmation of life, expressing overfullness, life as celebration and nihilism transcended.

Nietzsche’s doctrine of eternal recurrence is the doctrine for the healthiest who can live life to its entirety; there is spiritual standpoint in its conception, in relation to often dejected, who need a connection which can help them overcome. In his book The Gay Science, he cites a situation which confirms the eternal recurrence in its entirety. “What if a demon were to creep after you one day or night, in your loneliest loneness, and say: “This life which you live and have lived, must be lived again by you, and innumerable times more. And mere will be nothing new in it, but every pain and every joy and every thought and every sigh— everything unspeakably small and great in your life—must come again to you, and in the same sequence and series__”

Would you not throw your self down and curse the demon who spoke to you thus? Or have you once experienced a tremendous moment, in which you would answer him: “Thou art a god, and never have I heard anything more divine!” (The Gay Science ,1882) Nietzsche believes that the wish for the eternal return of all events would mark the ultimate affirmation of life. To understand the eternal recurrence in thought and to embrace it requires “amor fati” “love of fate”.

Nietzsche’s philosophy is so glorious that all other aspects and modes of thought seem not to exist. The evolution of this idea implies that races cannot consider it to be destined, and those who rule are at the advantage of the selection process. This process teaches people self confidence and right to wipe out. The ultimate truth is in the fact that everything Becomes and recurs eternally, and there is no escape from it. The idea of eternal recurrence is chosen very selectively based on the principle which has its strength in the service. This idea is endured as one needs freedom from morality, and new modes which would help from the pain.

This pain is the father of the pleasure; this is witnessed in the enjoyment of all kinds of uncertainty, experiment and ending of the concept of necessity. This leads to the abolition of the will as well as the knowledge in itself. The pinnacle of this ultimate elevation of consciousness is seen as strength in man, this is witnessed as there is creation of the ‘Overman’.(Reynolds).

Nietzsche’s eternal recurrence is subject to great controversy, Dr. Dolson points out deterministic implications of the theory. According to her Neitzsche regarded the theory as the touchstone for men “precisely because bit could contain no moral stimulus.” Nietzsche was aware of the depressing aspect of the idea of recurrence, at first it overwhelmed him. But instead of facing the inevitable, he asserted the worthiness of bringing about the “Superman” in the individual. Dr Dolson urges that Nietzsche urges rational consideration on the matter, seeking out how fate can be made endurable and even welcomed. The biggest problem which arises is in the fact , it is to live a kind of life that one would like to live again and again. “ The question in connection with everything that thou willst do is: is it of such a character that I can wish to do innumerable times?”(Salter) This question Nietzsche thinks it the gravest kind of determinant in practical life and is also the greatest affirmation of life.

The idea of recurrence turns out thus to be capable of transforming influence on conduct. “When thou incorporatest the thought of thoughts within thee, it will transform thee.”.(Salter) This moral transforming effect of the idea of eternal recurrence is compatible with Nietzsche’s determinism. This determinism has sound exterior and fatalistic character which finally culminates in “amor fati” love of fate. (Salter)

Nietzsche called himself the first tragic philosopher, and traced his lineage to Heraclitus, the doctrine of eternal recurrence, is an unconditional and infinite repetition of the circular course of things. This doctrine was developed with the prophecy of Zarathustra. There is precedent for the symbolism of the eternal recurrence in The Birth of Tragedy, as well as in the writings of certain Romantic mythologists, including Bachofen and Creuser, who influenced Nietzsche during his preparation of the work. In these sources as well as in Thus Spoke Zarathustra, time or nature is conceived as a cyclical process uniting opposites, and symbolized by various forms of circle. These symbols are identified with Zarathustra, Heraclitus and Dionysus, as a guide for his doctrine of eternal recurrence. (Yelle)

The analogy of the circle, serpent and the mythological references suggest that In Thus Spoke Zarathustra, the doctrine of eternal recurrence represents “rebirth of the myth” in at least two related sense: as the resurfacing of certain Romantic mythological ideas in Nitetzsche’s mature philosophy and as his won attempt at mythological presentation, distinguished by a style of exposition he regarded as appropriate to myth.

The Eternal recurrence and the Ouroborus as presented in Thus Spoke Zarathustra, is the central doctrine which is presented based on the formula “Eternal Recurrence of the same”, which is the unconditional and infinitely repeated circular course of things”. The circle is inseparable from the eternal recurrence: Zarathustra is both “the teacher of the eternal recurrence” and the “advocate of the circle”(Yelle). Nietzsche’s employment of the circle turning back on itself as the primary symbol of the Eternal Recurrence implies not static repetition, but dynamic cycle uniting opposites, as is explicit in this famous passage from “All that is straight lies,” the dwarf murmured contemptuously. “All truth is crooked; time itself is a circle.”(Thus Spoke Zarathustra, Pg.198-200)(Yelle)

In this passage, the circle unites the two opposed paths of the past and the present. This temporal union of opposites is complemented by a more enigmatic union, that between the Spirit of Gravity and Zarathustra. The former pulls down , while the latter moves upward. The former is “lead’, the beginning of the alchemical work, while the latter is the ‘philosopher’s stone’, the completion of that work. Zarathustra is strangely intimate with his supposed adversary. The explanation is that Zarathustra and his adversary are in some sense, identical. The philosopher’s stone united the opposites, including both the beginning and the end of the alchemical work. Zarathustra and his adversary double together form the circle of Eternal Recurrence.

Eternal recurrence is Nietzsche’s most comprehensive, challenging, and obscure idea concerning reality itself. Though in the view of Magnus, it does not represent a priori cyclical cosmology, which is the true theory of the nature of the physical universe. He interprets the eternal recurrence as being merely an existential countermyth. Though, he recognizes that this doctrine is both coherent and profound. (Birx)

Magnus’s approach to the eternal recurrence is neither normative nor metaphysical. He does not interpret this idea as a thought experiment concerned with actions and values or a cosmological argument about reality itself. He is indifferent to the truth value of the doctrine; he views Nietzsche’s eternal recurrence as merely a conceptual representation of a particular attitude towards existence. According to him, it aims at overcoming nishilism and affirmation of life. This interpretation is grounded in Nietzsche’s existentialism and perspectivism only. (Birx). The concept is crucial to his entire thought system, having both cosmological and existential significance for man within nature beyond any possible psychological application.

Will to Power

Nietzsche strives throughout his entire philosophical work to re-conceptualize the traditional will in terms of his own notion of “will of power”. In so doing , he at the same time redefines the terms of politics, since “the will to power is not an individualized , self identical entity modeled on a self consciousness that engages in struggles with some other likewise self contained individuals, but, rather an internally self-differentiating force always experiencing affective interactions and hence implicated by otherness.”(Smith). The concept of will to power provides a fundamental revision over Hegel’s most influential conceptions of will and the state. On the level of philosophical and political theory the notion of will is beyond the struggle for recognition.

“Will to Power” is primarily Nietzsche’s analysis of the reality-he finds an impulse of this sort at the bottom of human nature, and then proceeds to interpret life and the world in general in terms of it. The doctrine is originally psychological and cosmological, and has nothing to do with ethics. Nietzsche has been distanced from poer in all stages of his life, power did not hold much attraction for him in his early days, nor in his middle or last period of evolution as a philosopher. He never gave power a standard hold over his thoughts.(Salter). The references of his work in the middle and later period confirm that the doctrine of the will was taking shape in his mind. The “Will to Power” was put together posthumously by his sister as a compilation of series of books, which had great impact on the political and social movement of the time.

According to Nietzsche, “the “Will to Power” is the motivating impulse to apparent eventuality, more it is the “substance” of constant eventuality rather than power “behind” it – but the Will to Power is not ours. Our personal impulses are not freely chosen, we do what we do just as objects subject to interaction, subject to laws of physics, subject to the slip gravity, do what they do without motive, without intention. Our motivating impulse function something more like instincts than intentions.”(Ulfers and Cohen).

Nietzsche seemed to affirm that will to power existed wherever there was existence and life. This theory suggests that strongest living things will risk their lives for more power. This will to power is also stronger than the will to survive. This overpowers the initial fascination of Nietzsche, which seemed to have gained its momentum form Schopenhauer’s ‘Will to Life’ , which became a subsidiary to the ‘Will to Power’, which is a stronger will. Nietzsche believed that his notion of ‘Will to Power” is far more useful than Schopenhauer’s will to live. This has stronger self-denying impulses and strong life affirming impulses. It also supports the master –slave morality.

He truly believed that will to power, provides a much stronger and better explanations than the notion of utilitarianism, which implies that people want to be happy or even the Plato’s notion which states that people in general want to be associated and united with Good.

There is an underlying psychological principle behind Nietzsche’s will to power, which has sound application to human behavior. The reference regarding will to power is viewed as a general force, which underlies all reality. It is not exclusive only to human behavior. This makes his will to power comparable to Schopenhauer’s will to live. Many scholars are of the opinion that Nietzsche’s will to power is less metaphysical and more pragmatic than Schopenhauer’s will to live. Some scholars also link it with social Darwinism. Few scholars have also put forth the interpretation where will to power has been recognized to mean struggle against one’s surroundings that culminates in personal growth, self overcoming, and self perfection.

Nietzsche’s theory of ‘Will to Power’, encompasses the whole spectrum of existence from tiniest amoeba to man. Nietzsche’s concept of will to power is modeled on affect, difference, self-overcoming, and an openness to otherness. It seeks to provide an account of the power centers in which truth and knowledge is measured in terms of preservation and enhancement. These structures are discussed by Nietzsche in terms of problem value and movement which would impact the decline or increase of will to power in terms of valuation. According to him the ultimate criterion which guides the will to power is the force which determines a direct answer to the question “Does this will serve to strengthen itself or weaken itself?”(Smith) This inquiry which affirms the source of all human forms of life is the will to power.

This insight can be found as the foundation which lay behind Nietzsche’s whole critique of Christanity. “His theory of will to power serves to support this from the inside by providing a worldview which evaluates any other worldview in opposition without any appeal to outside truth.” (Smith)

In Nietzche’s philosophy one can identify four variations of concept of will. The first is the mention of the primal will in the early works The Birth of Tragedy; this is metaphysical will of Schopenhauer and is related to playful building and destroying of life itself, which is in harmony with the essence of Becoming. This is seen in the tragic unity of life as presented. The first use of will refers to the idea of life which is examined under the aspect of Becoming.

The second variation of the theory of will implies the role of force in the process of Becoming. The third notion of will is aimed at the concept of power to interpret, which is will aimed at valuation. The fourth variation of the concept of will is seen in the childlike presentation of the Yes sayer in Zarathustra. The question is can these manifold interpretations of will be unified into a whole concept. This affirmation of will to power is what forms the image of Nietzsche’s philosophy, where the theory as an interpretation, of becoming which requires on the part of the individual a yes-saying, affirmation of life. The nature of this will enhances the ability of the individual to affirm life. It implies that individual possesses the ability to overcome any resentment to life, to triumph over any temptation in belief of after life or another world.

The measure of the world is based on the present realities of life. This is the real capacity of the individual to affirm life. It involves the ability of the ‘Overman’ to say “yes” to the present life and thus invariabley say “yes” to the Will to Power. It needs to be understood that this life is nothing but the Will to Power. In the context of this theory life (which is Becoming) is interpreted as a steady conflict for control and power.

This overcoming and controlling is the essence of the real nature of life. The true nature of the reality is that of massive and manifold struggle and change. This change in itself repeats with great cycles of eternity. This is the dynamic portrayal of life which as its value in the aspect of Becoming. This is the home ground for the existence of the Overman. In this existence the world of Becoming gets interpreted as a dynamic unfolding of conservation and development conditions which gains the approval of the Overman.

It is interesting to weave unity within the four distinct aspects of Will as mentioned in different references in Nietzsche’s thought. The original Will is in the essence of Becoming, which is the will which equals active unfolding of the quantities of power under the conditions of conservation and development; the Will of notion implies the creation of horizons in which form impacts the interpretations and finally the Will of the child which supports the ability to affirm life as it is. This implies the necessity to see the self as the extension of the ground valuation. The self is viewed in self reflection as the Will to Power and thus seeing observes itself as an interpreting activity. The will of the child is the reflection of the self propelling will which fathoms its own interpretations of the will in itself. In this sense the theory is essentially an interpretation of Becoming, which is based on the notion of yes saying. This is the true and sound reflection of ultimate affirmation of life.

The theory of Will to Power rests in the idea of the moment. The moment is ever the moment, what is attained is always the same, but is always something attained. It is something newly achieved. The moment of attainment never departs, and Being and Becoming are inextricably intertwined under the guidance of the moment, point of time, as under the protection of the Will to Power. (Ulfers and Cohen) In Nietzsche’s universe, we can exercise no influence over events because we do not exist. We are mere appearances, delusions, suffering the delusions of ourselves, apparent presences by our natures strangely capable of being aware of ourselves as appearances and incapable of seeing past the deceptive appearance of natures. “Mankind does not advance, it does not even exist”(Ulfers and Cohen).

We are not the source of the events, and thus not in a position to be the source of any influence over events, we are the events, comparable to all other events, appearances thrown upon by the dynamism of the Will to Power, the active and the sole reality of the world. We are subject to movement as all apparent things are and are incapable of moving them, we are patterns among the patterns woven and rewoven in the tapestry. (Ulfers and Cohen).

It has been rightly said in the words of Goethe, “all is redeemed and affirmed in the whole.” Here is the affirmation of life and ‘amor fati’ which implies that we must learn the joy of perishing for the life of species, of being sacrificed, as we have no choice but to be for the continuance of life that both is ours and is not ours: not our individual lives but the life of the whole of which we are a part. One must learn to face with joy, with the Yes of the affirmation, their part in a world. One needs to understand that he is among what is consumed. For that is continuing, unending eventuality of the Will to Power. This is the counsel offered and the recommendation made to affirm the joy in realizing “This world is the will to power-and nothing besides! And you yourselves are also this will to power- and nothing besides.”(Ulfers and Cohen)

In Nietzsche we find another important assertion which leads to affirmation of life and that is his conception of the “Will to Power”, which is the motivating impulse to apparent eventuality. It is the substance of constant eventuality and is in harmony with “Amor Fati”. “Will to Power is primarily Nietzsche’s analysis of reality- he finds an impulse of this sort at the bottom of human nature, and the proceeds to interpret life. His world and its reality is also based on such theory. This doctrine is originally psychological and cosmological, and has nothing to do with ethics.(Salter)

Discussions

It is important to notice that in the discussions presented by Nietzsche we come across situations where Nietzsche expands on the topics which have been presented in his published work. It can be traced from his early work in 1870’s where he mentions regarding his important work related to theory of knowledge. In his 1880’s notebooks , which were collection of notes which his sister collected after his death under the title, The Will to Power: Attempt at a Revaluation of all Values- it is observed that Nietzsche has adopted a more metaphysical orientation in reference to the concept of Eternal Recurrence and Will to Power.

He takes the endeavor to speculate upon their intellectual aspect as the interpretation of the reality itself. Along with these interpretations which are an intricate and complex effort at developing an interpretations, which is both complete and consistent, there is seen in Nietzsche’s notebooks a repeated statement which emphasizes that there are nor facts in the content, only interpretations.(Smith)

Nietzsche’s evaluation of myth is studied within a fundamental monism in which “it is only as an aesthetic phenomenon that existence and the world are eternally justified”.(Yelle) This idea which is rightfully regarded as one of Nietzsche’s most radical doctrines echoes some of Creuzer’s contentions concerning the superiority and inevitability of the image as the basis of thought. For Nietzsche this unity of myth and philosophy was not static, but dynamic and cyclical. The rebirth is symbolized by the circle in several passages. (Yelle)

Life Affirmations of Nitetzsche, which is an inherent part of his doctrine on Amor Fati-Love of fate; Eternal Recurrence and Will to power has been central to his philosophy. He is affirmative about his acceptance of the existence and the reality of life.

His inquiry leads to direct and truthful questioning of all doctrines that has any depleting impact on the energies of life. He does not care how established those views are socially.

According to Nietzsche, the ideal for all existence is not the negation of the will, but its complete affirmation, which can be attained when Darwinian struggle for existence is taken into consideration. The will affirms itself through recurrence of events and situations, by means of constant struggle and warfare and whatever comes in the way of healthy combat for existence is worthy of opposition.

Nietzsche did not dwell on the existence of God, but believed in the achievement of the highest level of functioning which according to him required elimination of the concept of God. His goal is not based on the existence of god, but rather fulfillment of full human potential which is attained by the ‘overman’ or the ‘superman’ as mentioned in Thus Spoke Zarathusta. He proclaimed that “God is Dead”, which implies that in order to achieve the highest fulfillment as a human being it is necessary to eliminate the influence of God.

The theories presented by Nietzsche, were a challenge to the faith of the time; it attacked the conventional morality and Christianity. He strongly believed in human existence and acceptance, and had great faith in creativity which required the acceptance of the realities of the life as it existed in the world. He strongly discouraged the contemplation of the world beyond. His theories lead to acceptance of the realities with courage and boldness, which is a salutation to the creator. He believed in introduction of new values and aims which can help create a master morality in which there would be new leaders.

Recommendations

It is recommended that in order to understand Nietzsche one must delve into the historical, philosophical and evolutionary aspect of his theories as propounded in his writings and thoughts. In Nietzsche’s theories we find an assertion which soundly supports strong affirmation of life. His every theory and every thought lead us to this affirmation which encourages the acceptance of life as it is. His thought needs to be followed precisely in order, to fully understand the essence of this affirmation of life. He lays great emphasis on the fact that his theories are a means to an end rather than an end in itself. He motivates us to find the way.

There is clear affirmation of life in Nietzsche; he transforms every expression in the voice of his thought. This affirmation of life can be verified in his theories of “Amor Fati”, “Eternal Recurrence” and “Will to Power”. Nietzsche is mostly known for his most obvious and best known assertion which lays clear emphasis on “Amor Fati”- love of fate. This is a sound assertion of affirmation of life. The assertion of “Amor Fati” depends upon the fact that world does not come to an end, the most important part of the process is that world is a reality and is incessant. He believes that one does not encounter final end in fate, rather it is an essential process. This incessant process demands continuous “becoming” of the universe, and leads nothing to an end for there is no end: “becoming aims at nothing and achieves nothing”(Ulfers and Cohen)

“Will to Power” is primarily Nietzsche’s analysis of the reality-he finds an impulse of this sort at the bottom of human nature, and then proceeds to interpret life and the world in general in terms of it. The doctrine is originally psychological and cosmological, and has nothing to do with ethics. “Nietzsche, as a matter of fact was not attracted by power much in his early days, nor in his second period and nor in his last period. Power in and of itself was never a standard to Nietzsche.”(Salter). The references of his work in the middle and later period confirm that the doctrine of the will was taking shape in his mind. The “Will to Power” was put together posthumously by his sister as a compilation of series of books, which had great impact on the political and social movement of the time.

The analysis of the doctrine of eternal recurrence is considered as the most important contribution to philosophy. This is also one of the most controversial and obscure philosophy presented by Nietzsche. Eternal recurrence is an attitude towards life that opposes all decadence, all nihilism, decline of life and world weariness. It is a radical affirmation of life, expressing overfullness, life as celebration and nihilism transcended.

Conclusion

It is important that one must embrace the contradiction and remain content with that one will of necessity, which undermines the credibility of anything one can say by the act of saying it-which implies that one must affirm that contradiction. This would make the philosophy of Nietzsche, the very image of life and of the affirmation of life and Amor Fati: the enthusiastic embrace of the necessity, which is itself in its simplest sense an utter contradiction, a nonsensical counsel, as if necessity could care whether we embraced it. He mentions that freedom and necessity are presented as dual contradiction which does not entail violation of binary logic. He believes that it holds an intricate relation that unites them as well sets them apart. This leads to our becoming the way we are. In the presentation of this theory Nietzsche has affirmed life wholly.

Nietzsche has his own unique view regarding “Truth”, which takes a completely different meaning in his philosophy. According to him, ones needs to identify with the truth rather than aim to understand it if one wants to improve the existing reality. He strongly believed in the fact that simply truth is that which affirms life and aims to enhance it. He also convinces his readers that there are no facts out in the world waiting to be discovered. Instead there are only interpretations which we can derive from the realities of the world. In this assertion he can be well compared with the views propounded by Schopenhauer and David Hume.

We see presentation of similar ideads by David Hume, in his explanation regarding the objective world and the nature of the reality. Firstly he stated that objective certainty regarding reality can be rejected and secondly, he postulates that if objective certainty regarding reality were to be achieved, it tells us nothing regarding the basis of morals, values or meaning of life. Similar pessimism has been seen in the assertions made by Schopenhauer.

There is striking difference in the views presented by Schopenhauer and Nietzsche. According to Schopenhauer the true and most accurate perspective on life is fundamentally seen in intense life-denial. Nietzsche on the other hand affirms on perspective on life, allowing him to soundly equate it with affirmation of life. This move in his assertion allows Nietzsche to take the will in Schopenhauer which primarily represented life denial and present it as the principal source of affirmation of life.

Nietzsche believed that world is an aesthetic phenomena where necessity is primarily of the play, play in which aesthetic plays a vital role. This assertion has been soundly presented in his book “The Birth of Tragedy” where he mentions that for him existence and the world are justifies only as an aesthetic phenomenon. The play is the integration of the two opposites, which involves existence and non-existence.

This affirmation of life which involves the affirmation of fate of life requires the absence of the Being. The most significant aspect of this theory is that play is of paramount importance, it is conceived before as an alternative of presence and absence.There is an inherent affirmation of life which is felt by the joyous affirmation of the play of the world and of the innocence of becoming, this affirmation passes “beyond man and humanism.”(Ulfers and Cohen)

Nietzsche has presented a theory and philosophy which clearly asserts sound affirmation of life. His every theory and every thought lead us to this affirmation which encourages the acceptance of life as it is.

Bibliography

Henry Staten, Nietzsche’s Voice, Ithaca and London, Cornell University Press, 1990.

Parkes, Graham, Neitzsche and Asian Thought, Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press, 1991.

Clark, Maudemarie, Neitzche on Truth and Philosophy(Modern European Philosophy), Cambridge and new York: Cambridge University Press, 1990.

Young, Julian, Nietzsche’s Philosophy of Art. Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press, 1992.

Allison, David B, New Nietzche: Contemporary Styles of Interpretation, 1985 MIT Press.

Kaufmann, Walter A, Nietzsche: Philosopher, Psychologist and Antichrist, 1975, Princeton University Press.

Hollingdale, R.J.Nietzsche: The Man and His Philosophy.Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1965.

Salter, William Mackintire, Nietzsche’s Moral Aim and Will to Power , International Journal of Ethics, Vol. 25, No. 3 (1915), pp. 372-403.

Megill, Allan , Review: Historicizing Nietzsche? Paradoxes and Lessons of a Hard Case The Journal of Modern History, Vol. 68, No. 1 (1996), pp. 114-152.

Dolson, Grace Neal, The Philosophical Review, Vol. 11, No. 6 (1902), pp. 661-663.

Knight, A. H. J. , Nietzsche and Epicurean Philosophy , Philosophy, Vol. 8, No. 32 (1933), pp. 431-445.

Reynolds, Alexander, Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, Vol. 56, No. 1 (1993)… more.

Maertz, Gregory, German Studies Review, Vol. 17, No. 2 (1994), pp. 396-397.

Maertz, Gregory, German Studies Review, Vol. 18, No. 1 (1995), pp. 154-155.

Yelle , Robert A. , The Rebirth of Myth?: Nietzsche’s Eternal Recurrence and Its Romantic Antecedents Numen, Vol. 47, No. 2 (2000), pp. 175-202 Published by: BRILL.

Birx, H. James. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, Vol. 40, No. 4 (1980), pp. 603-604.

Frazier, A. M.The Journal of Philosophy, Vol. 64, No. 7 (1967), pp. 215-219.

Ulfers, Friedrich and Cohen, Mark Daniel. Nietzsche’s Amor Fati:The Embracing of an Undecided Fate. Published by The Nietzsche Circle, 2007.

Ryder, Frank G.. The Modern Language Journal, Vol. 47, No. 1 (1963), pp. 44-45.

Smith, John H. Nietzsche’s “Will to Power”: Politics beyond (Hegelian) Recognition New German Critique, No. 73, Special Issue on Heiner Muller (1998), pp. 133-163.

Cite this paper

Reference

NerdyBro. (2022, June 7). Nietzsche’s Life Affirmations. Retrieved from https://nerdybro.com/nietzsches-life-affirmations/

Reference

NerdyBro. (2022, June 7). Nietzsche’s Life Affirmations. https://nerdybro.com/nietzsches-life-affirmations/

Work Cited

"Nietzsche’s Life Affirmations." NerdyBro, 7 June 2022, nerdybro.com/nietzsches-life-affirmations/.

References

NerdyBro. (2022) 'Nietzsche’s Life Affirmations'. 7 June.

References

NerdyBro. 2022. "Nietzsche’s Life Affirmations." June 7, 2022. https://nerdybro.com/nietzsches-life-affirmations/.

1. NerdyBro. "Nietzsche’s Life Affirmations." June 7, 2022. https://nerdybro.com/nietzsches-life-affirmations/.


Bibliography


NerdyBro. "Nietzsche’s Life Affirmations." June 7, 2022. https://nerdybro.com/nietzsches-life-affirmations/.