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Eternal Return

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Hāfström - The Eternal Return

Hāfström – The Eternal Return (Photo credit: Julian Stallabrass)

The eternal return is an idea that the philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche believed in, as did the Stoics with their belief in ‘conflagration.’

Basically, the eternal return is the belief in an eternal cycle of cosmic destruction followed by identical recreation of what previously existed. Since all elements cyclically repeat just as they were for all eternity, Nietzsche believed our universe (and all life contained in it) forever disappears and then reappears exactly as in the previous cosmic cycle.

To this amelo14 adds:

I think that the point of Nietzsche is not so much a cosmological idea (he was not a scientist) but more a thought experiment which is done by Zarathustra. It involves thinking about living one’s life exactly as one has lived it and in the same vein affirming it so in the absence of any divine project to sustain its purpose.

BOOK IV of Nietzsche’s “The Gay Science” is crucial in this respect. » See in context

And P Will adds:

I believe N considered eternal return beyond just a simple thought experiment. It is useful to think of life as if you had already experienced it but what good what it really be if it were untrue in a cosmological sense? I believe N’s idea of eternal return has ground in Einsteins theory and i believe it makes sense with quantum mechanics. » See in context

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4 thoughts on “Eternal Return

  1. I think that the point of Nietzsche is not so much a cosmological idea (he was not a scientist) but more a thought experiment which is done by Zarathustra. It involves thinking about living one’s life exactly as one has lived it and in the same vein affirming it so in the absence of any divine project to sustain its purpose.

    BOOK IV of Nietzsche’s “The Gay Science” is crucial in this respect.

    Andrés

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  2. Thanks for your fantastic comment… when I was revising this entry I must admit that I’d already had a conversation about this. My interlocutor had said that Nietzsche was really talking about “all time” (or something like that) and not so much time as conceptualized in a linear fashion. But I wasn’t sure so I left it…

    It’s good to point out that Nietzsche may be variously interpreted (I’ll have to make an edit to this effect). And you’re right, he wasn’t a scientist as conventionally understood today. I have a Penguin hardcopy of “The Gay Science” somewhere and will peruse it again, asap (it’s been some 20 years since Nietzsche first inspired me).

    Appreciated.

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  3. I believe N considered eternal return beyond just a simple thought experiment. It is useful to think of life as if you had already experienced it but what good what it really be if it were untrue in a cosmological sense? I believe N’s idea of eternal return has ground in Einsteins theory and i believe it makes sense with quantum mechanics.

    What if there was no such thing as movement? Just observers with memories, consciousness. This way there is unity and interconnectedness of all things becuase at every moment, one simply observes a portion, however big or small (think outside the box) of a universe.

    Movement or it’s illusion stems from connectedness of universes, paralell univiverses. uni-verse.

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  4. P Will – Well, I guess I won’t have to make that edit about N being variously interpreted because you’ve illustrated that fact quite nicely. Thank you.

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