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Circulus Vitiosus Deus Nietzsche’s Ethics: The Eternal Recurrence & Dionysus Rowan Tepper 1

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A study of Nietzsche's Eternal Return written a decade ago. My first extended work.


Page 1: Circulus Vitiosus Deus: Nietzsche’s Ethics

Circulus Vitiosus DeusNietzsche’s Ethics:The Eternal Recurrence


Rowan Tepper


Page 2: Circulus Vitiosus Deus: Nietzsche’s Ethics

Philosophers are commonly thought of as having a particular project or

projects to which their efforts bent no matter how unsystematic they may be a

general project may be discerned, whether personal or impersonal. But with

Nietzsche, his opposition to systematicity in both the form and content of

his work make such a simplification difficult or impossible. It is, however,

my argument that one of Nietzsche’s projects spanning his works from The

Birth of Tragedy, and his attention to tragedy and decadence, to the

transformation of Zarathustra, to the philosophy of the future heralded by

Beyond Good and Evil, and all intervening and following works, is that of

providing a significant and viable alternative to Christian metaphysics, and

most importantly morality and ethics. By the same token, he at the same time

formulates an alternative in opposition to “the modern gospel of progress,

which is a secularized form of Christian eschatology”1, and thus in the final

opposition of Dionysian and The Crucified, the symbol of The Crucified has as

referent not only Christian metaphysics and morality, but also the modern

doctrine of progress towards a goal and all denial of the ultimate value of

the world as it is. In light of Nietzsche’s Doctrine of the Eternal

Recurrence and his ideal of the Dionysian, much of his work coalesces into a

whole which substitutes for the functions of a God, and functions as an

opposition to Christian metaphysics, morality and cosmology, as echoed in the

last words of Ecce Homo: “Dionysus versus the Crucified.”2

It is true that Nietzsche is not often thought of as having been

tremendously concerned with the field of ethics. This is quite remarkable

especially considering the amount he wrote on the topic of morality. Perhaps

it was his penchant for coinages of his own, such as moraline and more

significantly immoralist that detract from the level of serious consideration

given to his ethical thought. Either that, or consequent to his frequent and 1 Karl Lowith, Nietzsche’s Doctrine of Eternal Recurrence, in Journal of the History of Ideas, Vol 6 Issue 3 pg.2742 Nietzsche, Ecce Homo, pg 335


Page 3: Circulus Vitiosus Deus: Nietzsche’s Ethics

venomous criticism of prescriptive morality3, his own ethical views were

obscured and are particularly difficult to discern.

There is much misunderstanding about the meaning of Nietzsche’s term

immoralist, yet the meaning of this term becomes relatively clear upon a

reading of the works of Nietzsche’s so-called positivistic period, Daybreak,

Human All-Too Human and its sequels. In reference to Lou Salome, in a draft

of a letter to Paul Ree, written in 1882, Nietzsche wrote, "...She told me

that she had no morality - and I thought she had, like myself, a more severe

morality than anybody..."4 Here the distinction between the universal and

personal conceptions of morality are shown within Nietzsche’s life, and the

misunderstandings engendered by the use of the same word to refer to both,

what Nietzsche means by morality clearly is the former.

In a certain sense, Nietzsche’s appellation of immoralist connotes more

than would immediately seem and must be taken in the context of, and

understood in terms of a particular aphorism in The Wanderer and His Shadow.

In that aphorism, Nietzsche asserts that in order to construct a new

morality, one must dissect and therefore kill morality, “only for the sake of

better knowledge, better judgement, better living, not so that all the world

shall start dissecting. Unhappily, however people still believe that every

moralist has to be a model and ideal in all he does and that others are

supposed to imitate him ... older moralists dissected too little and

preached too much.”5 In essence, his term immoralist is Nietzsche’s own way of

declaring his mission of the overthrow of universal morality through its

revaluation and developing an alternative to morality, one that requires no

preaching. Furthermore, in Nietzsche’s next work, Daybreak, he writes, “It

goes without saying that I do not deny – unless I am a fool – that many

3 Morality, read in the sense of universalized, proscriptive morality except where otherwise specified. “Good for all, Evil for All” 4 Nietzsche, in The Portable Nietzsche, pg. 102 Letter to Dr. Paul Ree5 Nietzsche, The Wanderer and His Shadow, pg. 310


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actions called immoral ought to be avoided and resisted, or that many called

moral ought to be done and encouraged – but I think the one should be

encouraged and the other avoided for other reasons than hitherto. We have to

learn to think differently – in order at last, perhaps very late on, to

attain even more: to feel differently.”6 Thus in his early works, prior to the

conception of a Revaluation of All Values, his mission to re-evaluate moral

values was declared. Such revalued values as Nietzsche would replace morality

with, could only be defined relative to each individual, and as such, could

not be prescribed as morality qua universal morality. Moreover, Nietzsche

articulates this position most succinctly in The Antichrist in a critique of

Kantian morality, “A virtue must be our own invention, our most necessary

self-expression and self-defence; any other kind of virtue is merely a


As will be demonstrated later, Nietzsche’s ethics are ethics in the

strictest sense as opposed to morality; they constitute primarily an

evaluative method and result in profoundly relativistic ethics, which above

all, are NOT universally applicable, and is not particularly egalitarian. In

fairness, it must be noted that the stratifications are not by any means

inborn or immutable. Nietzsche makes note of this in the context of a note in

which the Eternal Recurrence is discussed, that these stratifications are “of

course outside of every existing social order.”8 Particularly, when speaking

of nobility, Nietzsche means “not a nobility that you might buy like

shopkeepers and with shopkeepers’ gold: for whatever has its price has little


6 Nietzsche, Daybreak, pg. 1037 Nietzsche, The Antichrist, pg. 5778 Nietzsche, The Will to Power, pg. 389 Nietzsche, Thus Spoke Zarathustra, pg. 315


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It is then evident that Nietzsche intended the thought of the Eternal

Return as transfigured into the doctrine of the Eternal Recurrence10 to be a

device not only intended as a counterpoint to Christian teleological

metaphysics and cosmology, but also to be an alternative to Christian

morality and moralism, and moreover, to at once provide that counterpoint and

also be a device by which the value of ones actions may be judged; and, it

would not be unreasonable nor unsupported to assert that moreover it was

intended to, in combination with other elements of his thought, both form

the basis for an ethics entirely independent of external moral dictate, and

to restore mans center of gravity as first thrown outside of this world by

Christianity and then lost with the death of the Christian God. The

preeminence of the ethical importance of the Eternal Return (as transformed

into Recurrence) over its interpretation as a cosmological model is manifest

in the idea itself and in Nietzsche’s works and letters. This preeminence is

demonstrated more specifically by:

1. The uniqueness of its interpretation as having

ethical and psychological importance as opposed to

its many predecessors in its formulation as simply a

cyclical time model.11 Even granting the importance of 10 It is important to note that Eternal Return and Eternal Recurrence are not nearly so interchangeable as the terms may seem at first glance. The distinction is evidenced by both the German words used and the instances in which each are used. Return or Wiederkommen, and the verb form for Recur, wiederkehren connote motion, whereas Wiederkunft or Recurrence (literally: to come again) connotes the status to which one returns. As Return is used primarily in Nietzsche’s explication of the doctrine (GS 341, Vision and the Riddle, etc. “must return”) herein Eternal Return will be used primarily in the explication of the doctrine as cosmological, and as a precondition for the ethical, Recurrence, used in explaining the doctrine, its consequences and connections(The Convalescent, Twilight of the Idols, Ecce Homo, etc., and Zarathustra referred to as the teacher of the Eternal Recurrence) will be used primarily in discussion of the doctrine as a whole and its consequences. This is my attempt to remain as true to Nietzsche’s intentions as possible. 11 The notion of cyclic time and eternal recurrence goes back at least as far back as to the time of the ancient Greeks. Indeed, in the second Untimely Meditation, On the Advantage and Disadvantage of History for Life, before his experience of the thought of eternal recurrence, he writes of the impossibility of the Greek conception of eternal recurrence, “Fundamentally


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the cosmological interpretation of the Eternal

Return we must still, “account for his notorious

insistence on the radical novelty of the idea of the


2. The earliest articulations of the Eternal Return,

specifically Aphorism 341 of The Gay Science and another note of

the same vintage, formulate the Eternal Return as a hypothesis of

primarily ethical / psychological consequences.

3. The fact that the only articulation of the Eternal Return

published by Nietzsche himself that can be interpreted as being

primarily cosmological is the one found in The Vision and the

Riddle, all other notes regarding the Eternal Return as

cosmological were either never published or published

posthumously in The Will to Power.

4. Unpublished notes contemporaneous to Zarathustra refer to the

doctrine of Eternal Recurrence as a new Center of Gravity and as

the Hammer by which values are re-evaluated.

That a cyclic model of time, which would be the primary component of

any cosmological interpretation of the eternal return, was hardly

unprecedented needs no argument. Nietzsche could hardly have been ignorant of

this fact. If the importance of the Eternal Return lay in its uniqueness,

then Nietzsche could hardly be referring to its uniqueness in the sense of it

being a cosmological model. To the ancient believers in a cyclic time, the

fact that time was cyclical would have been taken as a matter of course. It

what was possible once could only be possible a second time if the Pythagoreans were right in believing that with the same conjunction of the heavenly bodies the same events had to be repeated on earth down to the minutest detail.” pg. 16. In this, however, Nietzsche’s criticism is of this form of recurrence on a measurable time-frame – it does not contradict his later thoughts on recurrence. 12 Alexander Nehamas, The Eternal Recurrence, in The Philosophical Review, Volume 89 Issue 3, July 1980, 339n


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is improbable too that Nietzsche’s insistence upon the uniqueness of his idea

lay in the fact that it differed from the ancient notion in terms of scale

and reasons. Perhaps Nietzsche even anticipated this misunderstanding of his

doctrine, when he has Zarathustra chastise the dwarf for “making it too easy

on himself”, when the dwarf, much like many modern critics of Eternal

Recurrence(Simmel, Capek, etc.) responds to Zarathustra’s articulation of the

Recurrence by saying “Time itself is a circle...”13. Indeed, one makes it too

easy on himself if he interprets the Eternal Return as being solely a

cosmological doctrine as does the dwarf, because in doing so, one misses the

message and great weight of the Eternal Return as initially articulated in

The Gay Science and its contemporaneous notes. Indeed, an interpretation of

the Eternal Return as a cosmological doctrine loses even the importance of

the Recurrence in Zarathustra, after all, could anyone, even as melodramatic

as Zarathustra be nauseated to the point of a week of insensibility simply by

the thought of time being a cycle?

In The Gay Science, “Here the idea is introduced, however, not as a

metaphysical doctrine but as an ethical imperative: to live as if ‘the

eternal hourglass of existence’ will ever be turned again, in order to

impress on each of our actions the weight of an inescapable responsibility”.14

Moreover, “in an unpublished note contemporaneous with The Gay Science , he

writes: ‘my doctrine teaches: live in such a way that you must desire to live

again, this is your duty, you will live again in any case!’”15 Here, the

Eternal Recurrence takes the form of an almost Kantian imperative, but

moreover it explicitly states the form of an ethics resulting from the

Recurrence and in direct contrast to ANY prescriptive morality, that is, “He

13 Nietzsche, Thus Spoke Zarathustra, in The Portable Nietzsche, pg. 27014 Lowith, pg. 27615 Pierre Klossowski, Nietzsche and the Vicious Circle, pg. 60 - Klossowski makes no distinction between Return and Recurrence, perhaps as a consequence of the French language or of translation, but regardless, no distinction is made.


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for whom striving procures the highest feeling, let him strive; he for whom

repose procures the highest feeling let him rest; ... Provided that he

becomes aware of what procures the highest feeling, and that he shrinks back

from nothing. Eternity depends on it!”, it is entirely relativistic and

“moraline free”, an ethic of life, resulting from lived experience, rather

than a morality that restricts life and results from an incapacity to live.

The resulting problem in the ethical and psychological interpretation

of the Eternal Return is in relation to the particular case of Nietzsche’s

life. Particularly, in the course of the reaction to the revelation of the

Eternal Return, as written in The Gay Science , Aphorism 341, Nietzsche

himself seems to have been caught between the two responses therein, torn

between gnashing his teeth and cursing the demon, or proclaiming that demon

of Recurrence as a god by circumstances of his own life. According to Lou

Salome, “Life, in fact, produced such suffering in him that the certainty of

an eternal return of life had to mean something horrifying to him.”16

Likewise, Klossowski writes that with the thought of the Eternal Return,

Nietzsche may have thought himself to possibly be losing his grip on sanity,

to the same effect. Whatever the case regarding the character of Nietzsche’s

life, his life renders unconditional affirmation of life in all its cruelties

in stark relief. Thus Nietzsche, in the course towards that affirmation,

turned to an attempt to ground the thought of the Eternal Return in physics.

This attempt to found the doctrine of the Eternal Recurrence upon physics was

to serve a triple purpose, or rather, to proceed from triple reasons:

1. To assure Nietzsche of his own sanity through proof that the

thought of the Recurrence was not delusive, a manifestation of

latent madness.

2. To make the thought of the Eternal Return all the16 Lou Salome, Nietzsche, pg. 130


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more communicable. “The verification of this lived

fact through science would reassure him of his own lucidity,

and at the same time would provide him with a formulation that

would be as intelligible and compelling to others as to


3. As Lou Salome wrote, in an attempt to either prove

himself wrong or to reconcile himself with the

irrefutable reality of the Recurrence through science.

While “even a cursory study of the problem soon showed that a

scientific foundation for the recurrence teaching based on atomistic theory

would not be tenable; and so he found that his fears about the fateful idea

would not be validated nor be irrefutable”18, it still bears to note and

explore the fact that in the time since, even those mistaking the Eternal

Return for a cosmological model have not been able to soundly refute it as a

cosmological model. It is also for the fact that one refutation of Georg

Simmel’s classic refutation of the Eternal Return leads to a corollary to the

Eternal Return that is of particular interest in the ethical interpretation,

more specifically that while an infinite sequence of indistinguishable

Recurrences occurs, every other possible sequence also occurs in infinite


Moreover, I thoroughly disagree with Lowith’s assertion that “wherever

he tries to develop his doctrine rationally it breaks asunder in two

irreconcilable pieces: in a presentation of the eternal recurrence as an

objective fact, to be demonstrated by physics and mathematics, and in a quite

different presentation of it as a subjective hypothesis to be demonstrated by

its ethical consequences.”19 It will be demonstrated that the two 17 Klossowski, pg. 9318 Salome, pg. 13319 Lowith, pp. 283-284


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interpretations are not in the least mutually exclusive, let alone

irreconcilable, and in fact they are essentially complementary, the ethical

necessarily following from the cosmological, and also capable of standing

alone as an abstract ethical theory without the foundations of a cosmology.

Moreover, in Nietzsche’s own admission, in a letter to Overbeck dating from

1884, the cosmological, serves, if nothing else, as a self-encouragement.

“Zarathustra is only the prologue ... to encourage myself to bear this

thought! for I am still far from being able to utter it and represent it. IF

IT IS TRUE or rather IF IT IS BELIEVED TO BE TRUE - then all things would be

modified and would return.”20 It is clear that at least by 1884, the

verifiability of the Eternal Return in the cosmological interpretation was to

Nietzsche, only important in the manner in which it bolsters belief in

Recurrence, belief in essence brings about the ethical consequences, even

though the “psychological consequences... do not presuppose this

[cosmological] doctrine”21, the belief in the cosmological doctrine increases

the psychological impact. In addition, the cosmological interpretation of the

Eternal Recurrence presents a counter-point to Christian cosmology, and

doubly warrants examination, both in the sense that it bolsters belief and in

the sense that it is a very real alternative to Christian eschatology.

20 Klossowski pg. 10021 Nehamas, pg. 337


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The Cosmological Interpretation of the Eternal ReturnOf the initial presentations of the Eternal Return, namely in The Gay

Science , aphorism 341 and “On The Vision and the Riddle” in Zarathustra,

while very similar in imagery, it is only in the latter that the thought is

presented in a manner conducive to interpretation as a cosmological model or

as an idea of primarily metaphysical import.

Although numerous notes pertaining to the recurrence doctrine in this

interpretation were published posthumously in The Will to Power, they consist

primarily of the theoretical physical underpinnings for that which is

contained in this section of Zarathustra. In this presentation of the Eternal

Return, the past and future are portrayed as two paths of infinite length

meeting at a gateway, above which is inscribed “Moment” or in the German,

“Augenblick”. The recurrence is described as follows:

“From this gateway, Moment, a long eternal lane leads backward; behind

us lies an eternity. Must not whatever can walk have walked on this

lane before? Must not what can walk have walked on this lane before?

Must not whatever can happen have happened, have been done, have passed

by before? ... Must not this gateway too have been there before? And

are not all things knotted together so firmly that this moment draws

all that is to come? Therefore itself too? For whatever can walk - in

this long lane out there too, it must walk once more.”22

The present moment is that which binds an infinite past and infinite

future into one stream of time. The present moment is eternally the midpoint

of time with an eternity before and after. The moment of this portrayal is 22 Nietzsche, Thus Spoke Zarathustra, pg. 270


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the gateway between the past and present, importantly a gateway at which it

is possible to stop, or at least to reflect before passing from the gateway.

The moment, while being the point of demarcation between past and present has


In the articulation of the Eternal Return in “The Vision and the

Riddle” are contained the following conditions for its cosmological


1. Time is infinite, both in the past and future, and

2. Space is finite and composed of distinct bodies and their relations.

3. The “same” referred to in the phrase “eternal return of the same”

refers to a state or sequence of states, with state defined as the

state of the world, δ, within discrete time interval α 23.

4. Successive states are inextricably liked by causal connection. Each

state necessarily determines the next, so much so that given any

complete state A, a corresponding state B must necessarily follow

regardless of preceding states.

Corollary to this:

5. The Same also refers to a sequence of states as well as any

particular state.

6. "Everything that can in any way be must, as a being

23 α is defined either as a perceptual threshold or in terms of physics the absolute threshold of simultaneity in Reichenbach’s formulation of a causal theory of time, as indeterminate as to order – being incapable of being

causally related to one another, being in seconds α = cd2 as the speed of light

is the fastest possible causal agent. Anything taking place in less than the time that it takes for light to go between objects is simultaneous.

Reichenbach, pg. 40 Therefore, α must be greater than or equal to cd2 ,


being the absolute value for non-subject-referential simultinaeity, when the time requisite for observation is factored in, the value of α may be larger.


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already have been. For in an infinite time the course of a

finite world is already completed."24, therefore:

7. “If the world had a final goal, it must have already been reached.

If there were for it some unintended final state, this must also have

been reached. If it were in any way capable of a pausing and becoming

fixed, of ‘being’...then all becoming would long since have come to an

end, and therefore all thought.”25

The cosmological form of the Eternal Return thus demands that in the

course of an infinite time, every possibly configuration of spatial objects

necessarily occurs. Therefore after a long, immeasurable, but finite period

of time, the world returns to its initial state, and thence by virtue of the

strength of causal connection between states, necessarily repeats in an

identical sequence.”26 Ultimately, it is against 2 and therefore also 6 that

most criticism of the doctrine of the Eternal Return has been levelled, and

it is in the articulation found in Zarathustra that the key to defusing these

criticisms is found.

Barely two decades after the publication of Zarathustra, Georg Simmel,

in his lecture series Schopenhauer and Nietzsche, brings to bear an argument

originally used in the 14th century, by Nicole Orisme, as a refutation of the

classical cyclic model of time. According to Small, Simmel attempts a

refutation of the Eternal Return by taking aim specifically at condition 2,

above, namely that “a finite number of elements allows only a finite number

of combinations.”27 Simmel posits three wheels, the first two rotating at

24 Heidegger, Nietzsche, pg. 4225 Nietzsche, The Will to Power, pg. 54626 Every other sequence having occurred in the course of the “initial” repetition by returning to a similar, but distinguishably different starting point and thus proceeding differently. 27 Small, pg. 127


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speeds related by a whole number ratio: wheel B rotates at twice the speed of

wheel A. Wheel C, however rotates at a speed of


π , thereby ensuring that

“according to the nature of the number

π ... the third wheel will never

have finished a whole number of rotations when the first wheel has

completed a whole number of rotations... but because of the

instantaneous position of alignment ... of the points marked on the

first and second wheels will occur only after the first wheel has made

a whole rotation, the marked point of the third wheel never can pass

under the thread at the same moment... In consequence, the starting

position of the three wheels cannot be repeated through eternity.”28

Simmel’s argument purports to establish that “the finitude of the

elements does not imply the finitude of their combinations.”29 Small continues

to introduce the concept of phenomenal possibilities, and the limited number

thereof. Small then proceeds to demonstrate that using a fractional

approximation for

π , 355/113, instead of

π , with its infinite non-repeating

decimals going on into infinity, one comes to a difference of less than .

00001 rotations between the fractional approximation and that which would

result from the use of

π , but then proceeds to argue a strict interpretation

of Nietzsche’s insistence on an exact repetition, and that even a repetition

that is absolutely indistinguishable but different in a negligible way(e.g. a

missing electron or something of that sort) is no repetition.

Here it is crucial to note the significance of the term Moment, as

translated from the German “Augenblick”, literally, the blink of an eye. By

28 Georg Simmel, quoted in Robin Small, Incommensurability and Recurrence: From Oresme to Simmel in Journal of the History of Ideas, Volume 52 Issue 1, Jan-Mar 1991, pg 12829 Small, pg. 128


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“Augenblick”, it appears that Nietzsche, in speaking of the Moment, is not

referring to an instant, rather, an indefinite, extremely short time,

literally the shortest amount of time observable30 (whether by virtue of the

limitations of perception or the absolute limits of simultaneity), so as not

to be the temporal equivalent to a mathematical point, the instant that is

presumed in Simmel’s refutation.31 With such a treatment of time, the

universe falls to being subject to description in terms of Poincare’s

theorem, that is, according to Small, “that in an isolated mechanical system 30 This interpretation of the unitary notion of time is furthered by Nietzsche’s characterizations of the passage of time in “On the Advantage and Disadvantage of History for Life”, pg. 8, “the moment, here in a wink, gone in a wink, nothing before and nothing after, returns nevertheless as a spectre to disturb the calm of a later moment. Again and again a page loosens in the scroll of time, drops out, and flutters away – and suddenly flutters back again into man’s lap.” Time is defined in units and events, memory, and continuity is attached by the perceiving, historical human. 31 Millic Capek also argues from the concept of instantaneity, but in terms of relativity and quantum theory. While beyond the scope of this paper, it is fruitful to give passing note to Bas Van Fraassen’s article in response to Capek, that in relativistic physics, simultaneity cannot be defined as instantaneous, and refers to Reichenbach’s causal theory of time that defines simultaneity as events that cannot have any causal relation, therefore falling within a specified limit, a threshold of observation that can be seen as constituting threshold

α , that if simultaneity is defined in terms of observable through vision, that is, “the velocity of light is the limiting velocity ... All events that happen at P during this interval are “indeterminate as to time order” relative to the arrival of the signal at Q”, and thus for our purposes simultaneous. This is completely in line with the connotations of the term Augenblick. Van Fraassen also derives the same basic conclusion of a threshold value of differentiation through quantum theory’s psi-function, which “supplies a description of the physical state of a system, which is as complete as possible” and then concludes that if this “as complete as possible” description is the same for two values of time, they are for all intents and purposes the same state. A representation of the

above proof would be: 0)()(lim =±−∞ →


ϕϕ , and thus, presuming discrete units for

t and n, an infinite number of values for t or n would result in a value below threshold α , representing recurrences of an indistinguishably different state of the world(ϕ(t)), as opposed to a finite number with values above α representing distinguishably different states of the world.(This does apply to sequences as required by Nietzsche as through causal connection, each state is necessarily preceded by and followed by a necessarily linked state. This follows for every value of ϕ(t) so each state of the world has infinite indistinguishable, repetitions. Bas C. Van Fraassen, Capek on Eternal Recurrence, The Journal of Philosophy, Vol. 59 Issue 14 (Jul. 5, 1962) 371-375, pg. 372, 373


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will return at a future time to a state which is closer to its initial state

than any given amount.”32 Thus, the difference between the universe at its

present repetition and its subsequent repetitions,

f ( t ) , as t(time, defined in

units relative to α) goes to infinity(in either direction), approaches zero.

At a certain point,

f ( t ) becomes smaller than the observable difference, δ33,

and thence an infinite number of repetitions that are smaller than δ. Thus

from any point, t(defined within a range defined through causal

simultaneity), the number of points t where

f ( t ) is larger than δ is finite

whereas the number of points where

f ( t ) is smaller are infinite, all assuming

that t increases incrementally, and the period of observation is also of the

incremental value.

If Moment were to refer to a unit of time infinitely small, having a

duration of zero, and thus making applicable the instantaneity requirement

for Simmel’s refutation, then those minute differences on the order of a

millionth or a rotation become necessarily indistinguishable, and thus an

infinite number of repetitions falling both under threshold

α . And as we have

demonstrated, a finite divisibility of time into discrete units lends itself

most handily to the demonstration of the eternal return.

What follows is that when time is broken down into discrete but non-

zero units, every possible event and sequence of events happens, and in

infinite repetition of indistinguishable states. Most importantly, from the

perspective outside of time, all possibilities are laid out to be seen from

this view which is not “human-all-to-human”. Consequently, as Karl Lowith

points out, this reconciles Will with Fate. With all possible sequences of

32 Small, pg. 13333 δ is defined as observable state of the world within time unit α.


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events governed by causal law and necessity, one is bound strictly to causal

interactions, yet ones actions still bear consequences from ones own

perspective because WHICH sequence of events one experiences is NOT

necessarily pre-determined, as ones actions ARE part of that sequence. “Fate

evokes also the power and freedom of willing as a counter-movement to the

stubbornness of necessity. Absolute freedom would transform man into a

creator-God, absolute necessity into an automaton.’ Apparently this problem

can be solved only ‘if free will were the highest potency of fate’”34 Thus

demonstrated in an Eternal Recurring world, Will and Fate cease to be

antinomical, every willed act being not only compatible with Fate, but in

retrospect, absolutely necessary to Fate. In essence, when looked at from

beyond the human all-too human standpoint which renders will and fate

antinomical, will is seen as generative of fate.

Thus is the Nietzschean formulation of Amor Fati, to be able, both in

retrospect and in anticipation of the consequences of one’s actions to fully

embrace those consequences. Amor Fati is a necessary consequence of the fact

that “the time is gone when mere accidents could happen to me; and what could

still come to me that was not mine already?”35 Moreover, while thoroughly

rejecting the concept of providence through supernatural agency, Nietzsche

writes in The Gay Science 277, a personal providence is realized that in the

moment that justifies the past, at that “high point in life … we can see how

palpably always everything that happens to us turns out for the best … very

soon after it proves to be something that ‘must not be missing’; it has a

profound significance and use precisely for us … and [one] finds nothing

nauseous in the most miserable small service.”36 Consequent to that quite

possibly singular moment, future actions must be willed in such a way as to

preclude regret(and possibly achieve future “high points”; it also becomes 34 Lowith, pg. 275-27635 Nietzsche, Zarathustra, pg. 26436 Nietzsche, The Gay Science , pp. 223-224


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also necessary to in retrospect “redeem the past, and to transform every ‘It

was’ into an ‘I wanted it thus.’”37 This retroactive willing is not only the

reconciliation of will and fate but also an expression of The Will to Power

in the personal sphere, “The will is a creator, all ‘it was’ is a fragment, a

riddle, a dreadful accident – until the creative will says to it, ‘but thus I

willed it.’ Until the creative will says to it, ‘But this I will it; thus I

shall will it.”38 Zarathustra then continues to ask the question whose answer

is himself after the experience of the Eternal Recurrence, “For that will

which is The Will to Power must will something higher than any

reconciliation; but how shall this be brought about? Who could teach him also

to will backwards?”39

In foresight and in the moment of action, Amor Fati, with the

consciousness of the Eternal Recurrence ever on one’s head, becomes the basis

for Nietzsche’s ethical thought in the personal sphere, to act so that no

transformation is needed, that one can without hesitation affirm their

choices in retrospect, and act without a tinge of regret, or wishing it to

have been otherwise, for if it were otherwise, it would consequently be

another reality, and to be a different person. Thus one must act in such a

way as to be able to eternally affirm one’s actions, and also to in the

moment of cognizance of the Eternal Recurrence redeem all the past. The past

is identical to the future from the perspective of the moment. The future,

and thereby also the past are dependent upon the moment, and moreover, the

attitude held toward the self in that moment. Eternity, both in the literal

sense and in the sense of its significance depend entirely upon the

affirmation of the moment.

Silence: 1885-1887: The Thought After Zarathustra 37 Nietzsche, Ecce Homo, pg. 8038 Nietzsche, Thus Spoke Zarathustra, pg. 25339 ibid, pg. 253


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Whatever the reason, the Eternal Recurrence is not explicitly discussed

in Beyond Good and Evil and On The Genealogy of Morality. David Allison

attributes this silence to Nietzsche’s “rhetorical use of aposiopesis … or

‘becoming silent’, designates a rhetorical halt, a narrative arrest or

incompleteness … while the idea is unexpressed it is clearly perceived.”40 In

essence, Allison argues that Beyond Good and Evil and the Genealogy serve to

illustrate part of that which is to be achieved through the Eternal

Recurrence, particularly the overcoming of bad conscience and the other ill

effects brought about by Christianity and Modernity, and leaving it to the

reader, through the trope of aposiopesis to associate it with his doctrine of

Eternal Recurrence.41 While a good interpretation of the absence of explicit

reference to the Eternal Recurrence; in light of fragments from Nietzsche’s

notebooks of 1884-1885, and the reference to the Eternal Recurrence as

circulus vitiosus deus in Beyond Good and Evil Section 56, his is an

incomplete analysis.

Throughout Nietzsche’s notebooks of the years 1884 and 1885 there are

what appears to be plans for a book entitled “The Eternal Recurrence: A

Prophecy”42. These evolve from a title page and broad divisions, into a more

detailed plan, which seems to have been followed to some degree in the form

of the books which followed; only instead of a work entitled “The Eternal

Recurrence”, each planned section of said book was published separately. If

Nietzsche’s work following Zarathustra was in keeping with these plans, then

it would be a form of aposiopesis that was used in Beyond Good and Evil and

the Genealogy. One such plan read:40 David B. Allison “Have I Been Understood” in Nietzsche, Genealogy, Morality, pg 460.41 Ibid, pp. 461-46242 The earliest one of these:

“Die ewige Wiederkunft.Eine Wahrsagung

VonFriedrich Nietzsche”

Nietzsche, Fragments: 25[1] Spring 1884


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The Eternal Recurrence.First Part. The new truthful onesSecond Part. Beyond Good and Evil.Third Part. The hidden artistFourth Part. The self-overcoming of mankindFifth Part. The hammer and the great noon43

Another plan, from the same notebook reads:

The Eternal Recurrence. A ProphecyGreat Prologue

The new Enlightenment – the old was in the sense of the democratic herd. Making all the same. The new wants the noble natures to show the way. In what sense you are all permitted what is not open to the herd.

1. Enlightenment in reference “Truth and Lie” in living things.

2. Enlightenment in reference “Good and Evil”3. Enlightenment in reference the shaping reshuffling

forces (the hidden artist)4. The Self Overcoming of Mankind. (The education of the

higher man)5. The teaching of the Eternal Recurrence as hammer in the

hand of the most powerful man, - - -44

It seems thus that although not mentioned explicitly in the

course of either book, the intent was always present to tie these critiques

as constitutive of the larger whole of the doctrine of Recurrence; indeed,

they demonstrate both the “No-Saying” to modernity and Christianity, and the

shifting of center of gravity, and of schema of evaluation to the recurring-

self. Each section in these plans can be seen as having been fulfilled in one

of Nietzsche’s works. Nietzsche himself referred to Zarathustra as merely a

43ibid, 27[82] translation my own44 Ibid, 27[80] translation my own. Original reads:

Die ewige Wiederkunft. Eine WahrsagungGrosse VorredeDie neue Aufklärung – die alte war im Sinne der demokratischen Heerde.

Gleichmachung Aller. Die neue will den herrschenden Naturen den Weg zeigen – inwiefern ihnen alles erlaubt ist, was den Heerden-Wesen nicht freisteht:

1. Aufklärung in Betreff “Wahrheit und Luge” am Lebendinge2. Aufklärung in Betreff “Gut und Bose”3. Aufklärung in Betreff der gestaltenden umbildenden Kräfte (die

versteckten Kunstler4. Die Selbst-Überwindung des Menschen. (die Erziehung des hoheren

Menschen)5. Die Lehre der ewigen Widerkunft als Hammer in der Hand der mächstigsten

Menschen. - - -


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prologue, and Beyond Good and Evil is referred to similarly, indeed, in

another fragment, Beyond Good and Evil is referred to as “Prologue(Prelude)

to a philosophy of Eternal Recurrence”45; the enlightenment in reference to

truth and lie, good and evil, and the shaping reshuffling forces(the hidden

artist, the priestly man) can all be seen in Beyond Good and Evil, and later

clarified in the Genealogy of Morality. The self-overcoming of man and the

education of the higher mankind are themes of Zarathustra and Twilight of the

Idols, and moreover, the last division clarifies what was meant of the

subtitle to Twilight of the Idols; How one philosophises with a hammer. The

hammer in question, that hammer which is used to sound out the idols is the

doctrine of the Eternal Recurrence, “the hammer in the hand of the most

powerful men.”

Throughout the time of these works, corollary to the assertion that his

silence was an aposiopesis, and that the real object of his writing was

Recurrence; the thought of Recurrence, was not far, as selections from his

notebooks published in The Will to Power illustrate. Moreover, the argument

for aposiopesis, to which, in essence, I agree, is given its best evidence

towards the end of Beyond Good and Evil when Nietzsche writes, “Every

philosophy is a foreground philosophy - … ‘there is something arbitrary in

the fact that he stopped … that he stopped digging and laid his spade aside

here…’ Every philosophy also conceals a philosophy; every opinion is also a

hiding-place, every word also a mask.”46 During this time it is that the

Recurrence undergoes the shift from its primary understanding being both

psychological and cosmological to an evaluative term. It becomes a means by

which life is critiqued from the standpoint of life, and at the same time,

the Eternal Recurrence becomes the surrogate for the function formerly

anchored and given validity by God. This scheme of evaluation underlies even

45 Ibid 26[325]46 Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evill, pg. 216


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the Recurrence’s function as a new center of gravity in contrast to Christian



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Circulus Vitiosus Deus?

With this question, Nietzsche concludes aphorism 56 of Beyond Good and

Evil, the closest thing to a direct reference to the eternal Recurrence found

in the book. While Lampert asserts that this question is Nietzsche’s giving

voice to his critics’ complaints against his doctrine of Recurrence47, I

believe the question is of far greater importance. More specifically, the

relevant portion of aphorism 56 reads as follows:

“one has perhaps...opened his the ideal of the boldest, most

vital, most world-affirming being who has not only made his peace and

learned to get along with whatever was and is, but who wills to have it

again precisely as it was and is into all eternity, calling insatiably

da capo not only to himself, but to the entire play and spectacle, and

not only to a spectacle, but at bottom to him who has need of this

spectacle - who makes it necessary because he forever has need of

himself - and makes himself necessary - how’s that? would this not be

circulus vitiosus deus?”48

Of crucial importance in interpreting this, that which constitutes one

of the few explicit statements of the Eternal Recurrence in Nietzsche’s post-

Zarathustra work, is the actual translation of the Latin phrase, circulus

vitiosus deus. Heidegger interprets this to be a question of god or gods, in

essence positing deus to be the vitium, or flaw of the circulus of the

eternal return. However, in the context of the whole of the aphorism, I think

that Heidegger, here, more so than elsewhere, misses the point. Despite this

aphorism’s placement in a section concerning religion, the object of the

aphorism is not Christianity. It is concerned far more with the reaction to

47 Lampert, pg. 120-12148 Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evill, pg. 82


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pessimism and nihilism, Schopenhauerian philosophy and Buddhism, the

immediate responses to the death of God, as having intimations of that which

is communicated by the eternal return, but have not taken the step and

actively willed it into a doctrine. The object referred to by the question

“Would this not be - circulus vitiosus deus?” is rather the individual who is

the opposite of these nihilistic ideals, “the most exuberant, most living and

most world affirming man”, who has thought and willed the thought of

Recurrence and who has made that transformation from “it was” to “thus I

willed it”, rather than the deus within the question itself. The deus in

question seems to refer not so much to God or a god or gods, but to the

function of God. David Farrell Krell, in a footnote to Heidegger points out

that in the phrase, there is an implicit est, that is, a form of the verb to

be. This makes the phrase into a sentence, but the est, being implicit, is

left to the reader to interpolate its proper location within the sentence.

“If the est is understood at the end, the proposition becomes “God as the

vicious circle” or “The vicious circle as God”.”49

If as I proposed, the deus of the circle is understood as the function

of the now-dead god, that is, as the guarantor of morality and the structure

of the cosmos, then the interpretation of the phrase as “the vicious circle

is God”, leads to the proposition “The function of the Eternal Return takes

the place of the function hitherto reserved for God.” That is, specifically,

the Eternal Recurrence becomes the guarantor of the revalued values, it

becomes the anchor and evaluative of values. Now, in the context of the

object in question, the world-affirming man, the core meaning of the question

becomes clear, to this man, the Eternal Recurrence has taken the place

hitherto occupied by God, or left vacant by the disposal of God.

49 Krell, footnote to Heidegger, pg. 65nHollingdale suggests “A Vicious Circle as God or God as a Vicious



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It is no wonder that the circulus vitiosus deus is placed in a section

entitled “The Religious Nature”, and moreover is immediately preceded by an

aphorism concerning the sacrifice of God: “Finally: what was left to be

sacrificed? ... Did one not have to sacrifice God himself and out of cruelty

against oneself worship stone, stupidity, gravity, fate, nothingness? To

sacrifice God for nothingness – this paradoxical mystery of the ultimate act

of cruelty was reserved for the generation which is even now arising: we all

know something of it already. – “50 The final dash would be indicative of its

connectedness with the following aphorism. That is, it is this act of cruelty

to oneself, the willing of nothing, which in its essence is a deprivation of

ones metaphysical anchor is the origin of the vacuum that the circulus fills.

Through the agency of thought of the Eternal Return become the doctrine

of Eternal Recurrence the answer may be posited to the questions, “When will

all these shadows of God cease to darken our minds? When will we complete our

de-deification of nature? When may we begin to ‘naturalize’ humanity in terms

of a pure, newly discovered, newly redeemed nature?”51 After all,

Schopenhauerian pessimism and the willing of nothingness is still “under the

spell of morality.”52 Return, as the most scientific of hypotheses, and hence

the most natural, newly redeemed comes to fill the void left by the death of

God and dispels the illusion of morality. As the thought of the Eternal

Return becomes the doctrine of Eternal Recurrence, the last shadows of God

are dispelled as the last shades of his necessity are stripped away and

replaced. At the same time, the Recurrence is the remedy to the nihilism that

springs from the death of God. Rather than seeking “What water is there for

us to clean ourselves? What festivals of atonement, what sacred games shall

we have to invent?”53 Instead, of “becoming gods in order to seem worthy of

50 Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evill, pg. 8051 Nietzsche, The Gay Science , pp. 168-16952 Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evill, pg. 8253 Ibid pg. 181


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it”, the Eternal Recurrence becomes the world-affirming device which

supersedes the concepts of God and Morality in terms of determining actions.

This successor concept, which fills the void left by the final sacrifice of

God to nothingness, allows escape from nihilism.

With the function of the Eternal Recurrence now posited as a new center

of gravity as replacing the moral and metaphysical functions of the Christian

God, it is no coincidence those things which is said to recur in the

articulations in The Gay Science and Zarathustra, particularly the spider.

It is no coincidence that at the gateway Moment there is “this slow spider,

which crawls in the moonlight”54, and that that just prior to the vision of

nihilism, the spider disappears with the dwarf and the gateway. While the

significance of the gateway and its name has already been explicated, the

significance of the spider is also a riddle, not a coincidence, considering

that the spider is also present in the articulation of the Eternal Recurrence

in The Gay Science . In isolation, the spider means little, but in the

context of Nietzsche’s corpus, the spider acquires great symbolic value as

the symbol of the Christian God. Also in the third part of Zarathustra, On

Apostates, he writes, “Or they spend long evenings watching a cunning,

ambushing, cross-marked spider, which preaches cleverness to the other

spiders and teaches thus: ‘Under crosses one can spin well.’”55 Moreover, in

Daybreak, Nietzsche writes that the Romans, “Sought other antidotes to this

to this weariness bordering on despair, to the deadly awareness that every

impulse of the head or heart was henceforth without hope, that the great

spider was everywhere, that it would implacably consume all blood wherever it

It is worth noting the parallel between the madman’s realization that “I have come too early, my time is not yet come.” Ibid. pg. 182 and the German term used to denote morning in this aphorism. The word used for morning is not Morgen, but Vormittage, which literally translated is “before noon”, hence linking the passage integrally to the concept of the affirmation of the Eternal Return, which is in Zarathustra closely associated with noon. Nietzsche, Werke in Drei Banden, ed. Karl Schlechta, Zweiter Band, pg. 12654 Nietzsche, Zarathustra, pg. 27055 ibid. pg. 293


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might well forth … at last discharged itself into Christianity.”56 That spider

becomes synonymous with Christianity; moreover, in The Antichrist, this is

all tied into one, binding the symbol of the spider to the Christian God,

“The Christian conception of God – God as god of the sick, God as spider, God

as spirit – is one of the most corrupt conceptions of the divine ever

attained on earth.”57 How, therefore can it be coincidental that the

disappearance of the spider is right before the vision of nihilism? How can

its placement with the vision of the Eternal Return be coincidental? Does not

the circulus vitiosus deus answer in the form of a question the riddle posed

by Zarathustra in the Vision and the Riddle? That the circle of recurrence

replaces the functions of God and overcomes nihilism, would that not be the

answer to Zarathustra’s riddle? It is the hardest thought, and thus the one

requiring the greatest courage to think, and thus, it is the shepherd’s bite.

Thus, with this function of the Eternal Recurrence established, and in

the context of fragments from Nietzsche’s notebooks referring to the Eternal

Recurrence, Recurrence is posited as a new center of gravity, or

schwergewicht, the word which in the title for The Gay Science section 341

is translated by Kaufmann alternately as weight or stress. The significance

of this word runs to the core of the function of the doctrine, that it re-

centers ethical judgment around the subject, in this life, rather than in

some “beyond”. This center of gravity is also the hammer of Twilight of the

Idols, in essence, the evaluative schema for ethical judgment. The circulus

posits the act of recentering, making the circle take the function of God.

This understanding of the circulus vitiosus deus, and moreover this

function of the Eternal Recurrence is lent support from Nietzsche’s own

psychology. Salome posits that consequent to his highly religious upbringing,

“the religious drive always dominated his being and knowledge. His various

56 Nietzsche, Daybreak, pg. 4257 Nietzsche, The Antichrist, pg. 585


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philosophies are for him just so many surrogates for God, which were intended

to help him to compensate for a mystical God-ideal outside of himself.”58

While a complete psychology of Nietzsche himself is outside the scope of this

paper, what is more important than whether or not this motivated his work, is

that the Eternal Recurrence in this formulation can be seen as not so much a

surrogate for God, but a positive replacement for God. In the place of a flat

denial of God, which without substitution would lead to nihilism, Nietzsche,

consequent to his “religious, that is to say, god-forming nature”59, posits

the Eternal Recurrence as a self-empowering, natural replacement for the

functions of the dead god, a consequence to the de-deification of nature, a

de-deified substitute for the functions of that God.

The Genealogy

In notes, unpublished until the compilation of The Will to Power,

Nietzsche dealt with the eternal recurrence as the antithesis to Christian

eschatology and as the most extreme form of nihilism which overcomes

nihilism. “Let us think this thought in its most terrible form: existence as

it is, without meaning or aim, yet recurring inevitably without any finale of

nothingness: ‘the eternal recurrence’.”60 At the same time, in the Genealogy,

he sketches out the character of that higher man to whom the thought of the

Eternal Return would occur, and to whom it would not bring despair. The

reaction of the higher man, the overman, to the Eternal Return is one of

triumphal self-affirmation, a YES, an overflowing. Also, importantly, this

reaction to the thought of the Eternal Return does not come without piercing

introspection. This expressed in the ethical field is that which Nietzsche

characterizes as the “noble morality”. Nietzsche describes the contrast

58 Salome, pg. 8859 Nietzsche, The Will to Power, pg. 53460 Nietzsche, The Will to Power, pg. 35


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between the mode of moral knowing of the noble and slave moralities as


“While every noble morality develops out of a triumphant affirmation of

itself, slave morality from the outset says NO to that which is

“outside”, what is different, what is not itself”61

Accordingly, we see the noble morality as being essentially self-referential

in its value judgments, and the slave morality quintessentially, as referring

to that which is not self for the basis of its value judgments. The noble

morality is contingent upon either an instinctual understanding of the nature

of the self, whereas the slave morality is essentially the morality of a

group, defining itself in reference to that which is not part of that same

group. Perhaps the most defining characteristic of the slave morality is the

lack of introspection inherent in its value judgments, that one subscribing

to such morality has not had chance to experience that loneliest loneliness

in which the introspection leading to the realization of the Eternal Return

occurs. In essence, the character of herd morality, ressentiment is on its

most basic level the antithesis to the ethics springing from the extreme

introspection and affirmation that characterize the Eternal Return.

Dionysus Dionysus and the associated ideal, the Dionysian are among the oldest

concepts in Nietzsche’s philosophy, initially introduced in The Birth of

Tragedy and after a prolonged absence reappearing in a central role in the

works of 1888. Initially the concept of Dionysos is presented as an aesthetic 61 Nietzsche, On The Genealogy of Morals, pp. 36-37


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ideal, and in Nietzsche’s last works is transformed into a symbol, referring

not only to the aesthetic ideal, but also to Nietzsche’s philosophy in

opposition to Christianity. This transformation is heralded in Nietzsche’s

belated preface of 1886 to The Birth of Tragedy, his Attempt at a Self-

Criticism, in which he writes, “for who could claim to know the rightful name

of The Antichrist? – in the name of a Greek god: I called it Dionysian.”62 But

of course, this characterization came fourteen years after its initial

publication, and represents a considerable accretion of additional concepts

upon the original conception of Dionysos; therefore the two conceptions of

the Dionysian will be treated individually first.

§1 – The Aesthetic Dionysos Dionysos of The Birth of Tragedy foreshadows much of Nietzsche’s mature

philosophy. Of central importance to understanding the Dionysos of The Birth

of Tragedy is the fact that to the Greeks Dionysos was an art deity63, more

specifically, a deity of music, an art fully dependent upon change and

therefore time. Music rendered into a score would be an Apollonian de-

temporalization of the spirit of the music, an abstraction from the lived

experience of that music. Dionysos as well as being a deity of music, then

becomes the deity of lived life, whereas Apollo is the deity of sculpture,

stasis and dreams, abstraction from life and the sovereign individual:

“Apollo … the glorious divine image of the principium individuationis.”64

Apollo resists the wisdom of Silenius, and inverts it into an unconditional

value for life as stasis. Dionysos in contrast to this is the “terror [and]

the blissful ecstasy that wells up from the innermost depth of man, indeed,

of nature at this collapse of the principium individuationis … under the

charm of the Dionysian not only is the union between man and man reaffirmed

62 Nietzsche, The Birth of Tragedy, pg. 2463 Nietzsche, The Birth of Tragedy, pg. 3364 Nietzsche, The Birth of Tragedy, pg. 36


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but nature … celebrates once more her reconciliation with her lost son,

man.”65 Under the spell of the Dionysian, the barrier between individuals is

breached and likewise, man and nature cease to be opposed; man and nature

become indistinguishable. Moreover in the aesthetic conception of Dionysos is

found the first intimations of Nietzsche’s rejection of the Kantian noumenal

and phenomenal worlds in favour of a unity in which there is no distinction

between. The satyr as half-god half-man “proclaims this primordial

relationship between the thing-in-itself and appearance.”66 In the selfsame

passage the Eternal Recurrence is presaged, “tragedy … points to the eternal

life at the core of existence which abides through the perpetual destruction

of appearances.”67

§2 The Symbolic DionysosIn Nietzsche’s later works, Beyond Good and Evil, Twilight of the

Idols, Ecce Homo, and the notes collected regarding Dionysos in The Will to

Power, the concept of the Dionysian had not so much changed, but grown; in

its function however, the Dionysian had changed radically, from an aesthetic

ideal, to a symbol of Nietzsche’s philosophy in opposition to Christianity in

the symbol of Christ of the Gospels, The Crucified. To the aesthetic ideal of

Dionysos of The Birth of Tragedy, Nietzsche had attached the concepts of Amor

Fati, and most importantly the Eternal Recurrence. When Dionysos is re-

introduced in section 295 of Beyond Good and Evil, Dionysos becomes a

philosopher-god rather than an art-god, and moreover becomes a symbol for

Nietzsche’s philosophy as a whole, he stresses the importance of Dionysos’s

philosophical nature, “the very fact that Dionysos is a philosopher … seems a

by no means harmless novelty...”68 Later, when Nietzsche gives Dionysos

greater attention, in Twilight of the Idols and Ecce Homo, the Dionysian

65 ibid, pg. 36-3766 ibid, pg. 6267 ibid, pg. 6268 Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evill, pg. 220


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becomes the symbol of the upward extreme of world-affirmation in opposition

to the world-denial of Christianity. The correspondence of appearance to

reality also is brought to its extreme when to the tragic artist

(philosopher), “’appearance’ in this case means reality once more, only by

way of selection, reinforcement and correction. The tragic artist is no

pessimist: he is precisely the one who says Yes to everything questionable,

even to the terrible – he is Dionysian.”69 As Nietzsche writes in Ecce Homo,

the concept of the Dionysian becomes his concept, not a concept abstracted

from Greek Tragedy; the Dionysian becomes the concept of the character of

Zarathustra. “The psychological problem of Zarathustra is how he says No and

does No to an unheard-of degree … can be the opposite of a No-saying spirit;

how his spirit who bears the heaviest fate, fatality of task, can

nevertheless be the lightest and most transcendent – Zarathustra is a dancer

… that he has though the ‘most abysmal idea’, nevertheless does not consider

it an objection to existence, not even eternal recurrence – but rather one

reason more for being himself the eternal Yes to all things… but this is the

concept of Dionysus once again.”70 Dionysos becomes at once the symbol for the

“most world-affirming man” of the circulus, the symbol for Amor Fati – “a

Dionysian relation with existence – my formula for this is amor fati.”71, the

symbol of the Eternal Return as embodied in the doctrine of the Eternal

Recurrence, the symbol of the replacement of the Christian God with the

circulus, and the symbol of Nietzsche’s ethical alternative to Christian


The Evaluative Form of the Eternal Recurrence §1

69 Nietzsche, Twilight of the Idols, pg. 48470 Nietzsche, Ecce Homo, pg. 30671 Nietzsche, The Will to Power, pg. 536


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Whether or not one accepts the arguments for the preeminence of the

ethical implications of the Eternal Return, it is can hardly be denied that

in the Eternal Return there exists an implicit ethical position. Perhaps more

importantly, therein is contained an evaluative method. When the doctrine is

referred to as “the hammer in the hand of the most powerful man” in the

fragments of 1884-85, the significance of the subtitle to Twilight of the

Idols is revealed. In the preface to the aforementioned work, Nietzsche

writes of “another mode of convalescence – under certain circumstances even

more to my liking – is sounding out idols … For once to pose questions here

with a hammer …”72 In this work, and presumably in others, the hammer with

which one philosophises, sounds out idols and evaluates is the doctrine of

Eternal Recurrence, the degree to which an action, a thought, a concept, a

life may be affirmed eternally. Moreover, in Ecce Homo, Nietzsche refers to

Twilight of the Idols, and indefinitely his other late works as his attempts

to philosophise with a hammer – that hammer, if the notes of the 1884

Nachlass are to be taken as explanatory, is the doctrine of eternal

recurrence. In this we have found an explicit statement of recurrence as an

evaluative schema. Thus with ideas, the doctrine can be seen primarily as the

evaluative. Now, we proceed to the evaluation in terms of the individual.

Specifically, the Eternal Return makes a demand of he who experiences

its imposition; that is, how well disposed to oneself would one be if that

same life were to be repeated ad infinitum. This is the manner in which it is

presented in The Gay Science , a question of “what would you do, if”. This is

the necessary corollary to the doctrine described by Nehamas, as “the

assertion of a conditional (C) If my life were to recur, it would recur in

exactly identical fashion.”73, then the above question necessarily follows,

how well disposed to myself am I, such that I can will my life to repeat. To

72 Nietzsche, Twilight of the Idols, pg. 46573 Nehamas, pp. 342, 345


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complicate matters further it is as Nehamas writes that corollary to (C) “…

(C’) If anything in the world recurred, then everything in the world would

recur in exactly identical fashion.”

If the hypothesis of Nietzsche’s rejection of the substantial subject

(i.e. a subjectivity that is atomistic and to some degree unchanged through

changed circumstances of existence) is taken for the last word in Nietzsche’s

understanding of the subject, it follows that “every one of my actions is

equally important to me and to what I am.”74 Therefore, the Eternal Recurrence

demands that one, in each and every action act in such a way that an eternal,

unchanging repetition of that action could be willed, so that no change would

be desired. To desire that anything be other than it is would be tantamount

to wanting to be an entirely different person. Eternal Recurrence demands of

one that their life and actions be affirmed in a totality, both retroactively

and in foresight.

On the basis of this subjectivity multitudinously constituted, Nehamas

constructs a minimalistic interpretation of the importance of the Eternal

Return in the evaluative sense75; that is, “If, therefore, I am, even for a

moment such as I would want to be again, my past actions can be seen in

retrospect to have been essential to, and therefore constitutive of the self

which I would want to repeat. What is thus changed is not the past but its

significance.”76 While in essence, this formulation is partly constitutive of

the ethics consequent to the Eternal Recurrence, it does not venture far

enough, for while valid considering only individual moments whose recurrence

can be willed, and thus justifying the whole of the past. I feel that this

must be a continuous process extended into the future, and that the moment of

affirmation changes not only the significance of the past, but of the entire

74 ibid, pg 34675 It should be noted that Nehamas works primarily from Zarathustra and as such is not taking into account much that is said elsewhere. 76 Nehamas, pg. 349


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future. Otherwise, unless one finds by some fortuitous event that the moment

of ones death is one of those eternally affirmable moments, the entirety of

ones life would not have been redeemed. The identity of the past and future

demands that affirmation extend both forward and back.

While the realization of the Eternal Recurrence occurs in one moment,

it is incompatible with the Revaluation of Values from eternal values into

self-referential values “my good, my evil” for isolated moments to be those

in which the recurrence is significant. Recurrence must be assimilated into

the totality of ones subjectivity and become the evaluative by which “good,

bad and evil” may be determined. Ultimately it is the evaluation of the past

that constitutes how one has lived and “how one becomes who one is”. Thus

Nehamas formulates quite elegantly how one evaluates actions in retrospect,

“One can thus either incorporate a past event into a complex, harmonious and

unified patter, or one can simply not take it seriously; in the latter case

one sees it precisely as an exception, as an event of no significance or of

no lasting consequence. In either case, the event cannot be resented.”77 This,

however is, as stated above, a minimalist interpretation of the consequences

of the doctrine of Eternal Recurrence, as it concerns itself only with the

present and past. If the realization is assimilated into the self as doctrine

and evaluative schema one must continue to act in such a way that ones life

henceforth can be affirmed in the same manner as the past and present moment.

That is, unless one lives with such exuberance and abandon that all that may

come can be affirmed.

Nietzsche’s formulation of the boundaries of ethical action is found in

“On Passing By” in the third part of Thus Spoke Zarathustra, “Where one can

no longer love, there one should pass by.”78 Resentment and hostility to ones

experience and most importantly the past are ruled out. Thus, with regards to

77 Nehamas, pg. 35078 Nietzsche, Zarathustra, pg. 290


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the attitude taken toward events in one’s life, only two options exist; to

love it as necessary or as part of oneself, or to treat is as not worthy of

concern. The essence then of un-ethical action would be found in the case

where, in the face of eternity one were to desire something in the past to

have been different and then to condemn this world for not being that which

it ought to be. This is the case of the ressentimant of the herd and

Christian morality. In this desire, the focus of evaluation would have

shifted from the subject to the external world; from an affirmation and self-

referential definition to a looking outside. Instead of affirming what one

is, one condemns both the self for not being what one wants to be, and the

other for being what one desires to be. It follows that such a self-

definition and self-and-world-condemnation forms a throwing of the center of

gravity outside of oneself, outside of the world that is. This makes actions

contingent upon a hypothesized other world, a beyond, a world “unattainable

for now, but promised for the sage, the pious, the virtuous man”79. Virtue

rather than being the principle guiding action, becomes contingent upon a

specified course of action, e.g. the repentance of a sinner.

Therefore, an ethics constructed upon the doctrine of Eternal

Recurrence as an evaluative schema are reducible to a specific form of a

self-referential evaluative method. The evaluation, though is not solely

dependent upon the self, for the fact that that not only does the situation

of the individual recur eternally, but likewise, the state of the world and

the intertwined causes and conditions of the world that produced the

individual. While referring to the self for the reaction to the infinite

recurrence of ones life, the implicit ethical stance should also be

extensible to the world as a whole. On the individual level, one must act in

such a way that one may affirm that action eternally and wish for nothing

different, but also by the same token affirm the same for the world. 79 Nietzsche, Twilight of the Idols, pg. 485


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Ultimately the ethic that emerges is of the form: “I act as I will, for my

own reasons, such that I can will an eternal repetition of these same acts

and reactions, there is no reward or punishment except for the repetition of

these actions eternally” this is in stark contrast to Judeo-Christian

morality: “You act according to moral laws, for reasons beyond you, and you

must feel shame for any act violating these precepts, reward and punishment

will be meted out in an afterlife according to accordance with these precepts

which you cannot understand.”

The use of the Eternal Recurrence as an evaluative schema, actions, and

likewise, the consequent ethics are “Beyond Good and Evil”. They are in the

sense that actions and actors no longer look outside of the self for approval

or disapproval or for the evaluation of their actions. No longer is anything

condemned, and thus no longer is anything evil. This method of evaluation

shifts the grounds of evaluation from transcendent precepts of morality to a

transcendental structure of ethical evaluation. It is irrelevant whether the

structure of Eternal Return holds objective truth, what is most important is

that it the superlative of the healthy perspective on life. Most importantly

it is not born out of hostility toward the self or toward the world. Through

the internalization of the Eternal Return as the doctrine of Eternal

Recurrence, one becomes even more so the source of his own highest values;

his own “virtue, his own categorical imperative”80. It is to use Kant’s

phrase, a new Copernican revolution in philosophy. It re-centers the focus of

ethics on the subject and restores a center of gravity to ones actions in the

face of nihilism. Simultaneously, on the level of cosmology, another

recentering occurs. The subject now is ALWAYS at the midpoint of time, the

eternal noon and midday. Above all, an ethical evaluation based upon the

thought of Eternal Return necessarily leads to the morality espoused by

Zarathustra in the section entitled “On The Spirit of Gravity”, “He, however, 80 Nietzsche, The Antichrist, pg. 577


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has discovered himself who says, ‘this is my good and evil’; with that he has

reduced to silence the mole and dwarf who say, ‘good for all, evil for


§2When the ethical consequences of the doctrine of Eternal Recurrence are

extended into social life, two principal problems arise: a lack of a socially

normative ethical function, and the lack of a device by which the distance

between individuals can be bridged and ethical proximity brought about. The

commonality of the human condition does not suffice to bridge the gap, and

neighbour love is repeatedly exposed to assault in Nietzsche’s work. It would

not be too much to assert, that unchecked self-interest and an inability to

relate to the Other is at the root of sociopathy. In Christian morality, the

attempt to bridge the gap is a prescriptive morality of “love thy neighbour”.

That is, Christianity commands love thy neighbour for no other reason than he

is your neighbour and that God commands it. It would be prudent not to pick a

fight with a neighbour. That is a matter of self-preservation, but to love

for no reason but for a command is absurd. As a basis of ethics, this

hollowness resounds. This hollowness and artificiality necessitates the

enforcement of standards of morality. Those who do not conform, and who are

without a viable alternative may become sociopathic because of that lack of

real connection coupled with the disintegration of the power that binds them

involuntarily to their neighbour: when the authority of Christian morality is

undermined, sociopathy can flourish in the vacuum of nihilism.

Unlike Christian morality, the unchecked self-interest of one able to

will the repetition of sociopathic acts is indicative at very least of a

healthier self than one acting out of ressentiment and out of fear or promise 81 Nietzsche, Thus Spoke Zarathustra, pg. 306


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of a beyond. However, this is insufficient to form a basis for ethical

action. Indeed, that it in some cases condones sociopathic behaviour would

form a point of attack against the doctrine of Eternal Recurrence. Here,

returning to Nehamas’ article, we find the quintessence of this problem:

“[the doctrine of eternal recurrence] implies that no counterfactuals of the

form, ‘If I had done such-and-such instead of such-and-such, then I would

have . . . ,’ can ever be true. Accordingly the ideal life is to realize that

this is so and to make oneself into such a person that one would not want and

such statement to be true.”82 In form, an individual’s life can be evaluated in

terms of the Eternal Recurrence along the same model that would be used to

judge a literary character, that is, to be consistent with oneself and with

the totality of ones existence. Nehamas sees the problem that “A literary

character may be a perfect character and(represent) an awful person” and that

“To be the perfectly integrated person whom he so admires is quite compatible

with being morally repulsive.”83

This argument is not sufficient, because in some instances, the

subjugation of the other can be justified in the drive to fulfil the Will to

Power84. Sometimes, morally repugnant actions are ethically correct. Moreover,

in the Genealogy, in Beyond Good and Evil, and even in Zarathustra, Nietzsche

makes it clear that unpalatable actions are quite often justified and

necessary. These actions, while unpalatable hardly qualify as morally

repugnant, for the fact that they can be no other way. Nietzsche, in many

passages also speaks to this necessity, of the kinship between hard deeds and

a soft heart, or vice versa. While a non-violence is often good, it is not

always so, especially in the case where it is enforced, and when so applied 82 Nehamas, pg. 35383 Nehamas, pg. 354-35584 If the Will to Power is understood as the collective will to life and continued life then the subsuming of one life by another can still be in the interests of life as a whole. If the Will to Power is understood as the individual will to life and continued life and willing, then either the harm of another can be justified or not situationally.


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becomes “the will to the denial of life, as the principle of dissolution and

decay.”85 However, in the same section, Nietzsche admits that non-violence is

at the root of any society of equals. Therefore, in order for the ethical

consequences of the doctrine of the Eternal Recurrence to be fully realized

there must be a way of bridging the gap between equal individuals, not based

simply upon a commonality in location, time or existing social order.

The problem of the ethical in the eternal return, the difference

between “Beyond Good and Evil” and “ignorant of good and evil, and merely

self-interested”, is shown in aphorism 146 of the aforementioned work: “He

who fights monsters should look to it that he himself does not become a

monster. And when you gaze long into an abyss, the abyss also gazes back into

you.”86 Actions transcend the moral definitions of good and evil, outside of

such dualistic simplifications, but at the same time actions carry the danger

of falling prey to the dichotomy and becoming one pole or the other, becoming

potentially not only evil, but contemptible. Thus it is a fine line that he

who has accepted the Eternal Recurrence walks, not between good and evil, but

between the amoral and immoral.

If it is taken that one of the central stylistic themes of Zarathustra

is the motif of over and under, ubermensch, untergehen, etc., then to find

Nietzsche’s perspective on ethics, we must approach it from these

perspectives too, that of overflowing, and of decadence. This distinction in

the personal realm is seen in Beyond Good and Evil: “One can truly respect

only him who does not look out for himself.”87 That is, the decadent at once

looks outside of himself in order to find or position himself. At the same

time, this decadent condemns those who “look out” for their own self-

interests, because self-interest is in the end antithetical to definition

from without the self. This downward movement of the self is the movement of 85 Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evill, pg. 19486 Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evill, pg. 10287 Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evill, pg. 205


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the self toward the domination of that which is not self. This self then

loses its selfhood until it is but a part in a great herd. The overflowing

master morality looks at the world as something which is defined from the

self in terms of the self, as opposed to the decadent, slavish morality which

indeed does “look out” in order to define the self.

The overflowing master morality was once to be found in a particular

people, the example most often used by Nietzsche, the tragic, pre-Socratic,

Attic Greeks. Moreover, even as typifying a higher type, the Greeks were but

an accidental precursor to Nietzsche’s overman, for “Even in the past this

higher type has appeared often - but as a fortunate accident, as an

exception, never as something willed.”88 But in the modern era, “at once, in

all higher and mixed cultures attempts at mediation between the two are

apparent and more frequently confusion and mutual misunderstanding between

them, indeed sometimes the harsh juxtaposition of them - even in the same man

- in one soul.”89 Thus it would be an oversimplification to speak of master

and slave moralities as a whole, whether on the basis of cultures or

individuals, but then to decadent and healthy, elements of which can coexist

in such juxtaposition. The Eternal Recurrence is the test by which these

elements can be separated, or merged. It defines the new tragedy, that of a

repeated life in its entirety, hence the title of aphorism 342 of The Gay

Science - incipit tragedoea.

Dionysus versus the Crucifed: Dionysian Solutions to a Problem of Christian Origin

From the previous exposition, it can be accepted that, in the instance

of the solitary, isolated individual, the Eternal Recurrence can form not

only a principle of evaluation for ones actions, but a device which can

88 Nietzsche, The Antichrist, pg. 57089 Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evill, pg. 194-195


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define an overflowing, healthy ethic. It is literally the device by which the

“I Will” is evaluated in contrast to the “Thou Shalt”. While in the isolated

individual this poses no problems, yet as we have seen, an ethical system

based upon an eternal affirmation of the self proves problematic when

extended to the level of society. To an extent, a solution is intimated in

the structure of the thought, that is, the world repeats as it must be,

identically down to “this slow spider … this moonlight …whispering of eternal

things”90, including all that nauseates. Ones affirmation of the self

includes, as we have seen the affirmation of at very least the existence of

even that which one cannot stomach. And thus, the mark of the nobility

demarcated by the incorporation of the doctrine is shown to be: “When the

exceptional human being treats the mediocre more tenderly than himself and

his peers, this is not mere politeness of the heart – it is simply his


Moreover, when one sees the assimilation of the doctrine of Eternal

Recurrence as the mark of the higher man or even the overman, his relations

with others are divided into those of two natures, those between equals, and

those between him and the ordinary man. Where the Eternal Recurrence is

consciously derived and then assimilated into one’s self as a doctrine, the

Dionysian nature is its counterpart - profoundly unconscious in its

functioning and nature. Nietzsche, in Twilight of the Idols and Ecce Homo

stresses the connectedness of the Eternal Recurrence and the ideal of

Dionysos and indeed also to himself. In Twilight of the Idols Nietzsche

communicates this connectedness and reinforces the interpretation of the

Recurrence as an evaluative criterion, “The Birth of Tragedy was my first

revaluation of all values. Herewith I stand on the soil out of which my

90 Nietzsche, Thus Spoke Zarathustra, pg. 27091 Nietzsche, The Antichrist, pg. 647


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intention, my ability grows, I, the last disciple of the philosopher Dionysos

- I the teacher of the eternal recurrence.”92

The nature and functions of the Dionysian are many, yet they all are

facets of the same principle93 - that is, the ability to affirm existence in

its ever changing nature, to be able to overcome the self in its attempts to

remain as a state of being, to overcome the boundaries of individuality and

partake of existence as a whole. The Dionysian, in both its early formulation

as a Greek aesthetic ideal, and in its later formulations as a symbol for the

Eternal Recurrence and as Nietzsche’s comprehensive counterpart to the ideal

of the Crucified, is, in essence a willed transcendence of individuality

without submission to the will to universal negation. At the same time it is

a simultaneous willed negation and affirmation of both the self and non-self.

While Dionysos is a Yes-Sayer par excellance, the Dionysian ideal is at

the same time, one of the “surrender of individuality and a way of entering

into another character”94. Dionysus is also a “No-Doer” at the same time, an

affirmation of the world as it is, not as a state of being, but in its many

changes and fluctuation, Dionysus can be seen to embody the Heraclitean

motto, everything is flux. Moreover, the surrender to Dionysus isn’t even

experienced on the individual scale! It is “encountered epidemically: a whole

throng experiences the magic of this transformation.”95 The Dionysian tragedy

is not individual or Apollonian, as the isolate Zarathustra, but collective,

“the shattering of the individual and his fusion with primal being.”96

92 Nietzsche, Twilight of the Idols, pg. 563 93 In Nietzsche’s later works, the Dionysian and tragic, essentially become a symbol for the Eternal Return in its ethics consequent entirety “The Tragic Artist is no pessimist: he is precisely the one who says Yes to everything questionable, even the terrible - he is Dionysian.” Twilight of the Idols, pg. 484, in this later formulation, one can see why the Eternal Return as a doctrine is given little mention in Nietzsche’s late works, the concept has merged with that of the Dionysian. Dionysian in Nietzsche’s last works is also in a sense nearly synonymous with Noble and herein is treated as such. 94 Nietzsche, The Birth of Tragedy, pg. 6495 ibid, pg. 6496 ibid, pg. 65


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Moreover, in this symbol of affirmation, the “symbol of the ultimate limit of

affirmation”97, we find how " the self-obliterating drunkenness of

Dionysian festivals. In them the conventional barriers and boundaries of

existence are broken, so that the individual seems to melt into the totality

of nature again. The principle of individuation is broken..."98, and with the

Apollonian principle of individuation broken, so the gap between subject and

object of ethical action is bridged.

Ultimately, what results from this formulation of ethical proximity, is

an ethics comprised of two tiers - more specifically, a society of equals,

the “noble”, the Dionysian, and then the mass, the herd, the slaves. Yet the

herd, masses, slaves are not slaves to the master/noble, they are slaves to

their own morality. They are contemptible in the sense of the noble looking

down upon that which is undesirable in the manner pointed out in the

Genealogy, how “One should not overlook the almost benevolent nuances that

the Greek nobility, for example, bestows on all the words it employs to

distinguish the lower orders from itself; how they are continuously mingled

and sweetened with a kind of pity, consideration, and forbearance...”99 Hence,

there is no malevolence, no ill-will of the noble towards the common, yet in

the fullness of one’s Dionysian nature, should harm be necessary to those

below, or even to an equal, that too must be embraced and affirmed, for it

had to be so.

97 Nietzsche, Ecce Homo, pg. 27198 Salome, pg. 1899 Nietzsche, On The Genealogy of Morals, pg. 36


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Concluding RemarksTo bring this full-circle, the case for the Eternal Recurrence, in its

Dionysian formulation is far more convincing as an ethical thought and

evaluative, rather than as merely a facet of Nietzsche’s thought, an

eccentricity, and simply a cosmological model with psychological

ramifications. The psychological elements in the genesis and development of

the doctrine point to a similar intent in its application. Moreover, the

attempts to prove the doctrine as cosmological can be explained

psychologically as well. Moreover, “Nietzsche himself, obviously knew that

the idea had long been current - one might say that it had recurred

recurrently if not eternally … Eternal Recurrence came to Nietzsche less as

an idea…than as a challenge.”100 Ultimately, in his final productive year, in

Twilight of the Idols, Nietzsche gives the most telling statement regarding

the psychological genesis of the cosmological interpretation of the Eternal

Return, that “The formula of my happiness[is]: a Yes, a No, a straight line,

a goal.”101 I propose that this illustrates Nietzsche’s fundamental

unhappiness with the prospect of an eternal purposeless return of his life,

and shores up the speculation that he turned to prove it through science in

order to either disprove himself or in an effort to reconcile himself to the

fact, by proving it as fact.102

In addition, regardless of whether it can be conclusively said that the

Eternal Return was intended primarily to be the source of ethics, it brings a

profound elegance and coherence to the corpus of Nietzsche’s work, comprising

a fundamental project of Nietzsche’s philosophy, and in the process tying in

such disparate, and quintessential elements of Nietzsche’s thought, including

as mentioned, master/slave moralities, the ideal of nobility and decadence, 100 James Gutmann, “The Tremendous Moment of Nietzsche’s Vision” in The Journal of Philosophy, Volume 51, Issue 25, pg. 840101 Nietzsche, Twilight of the Idols, pg. 473102 In a sense, the Last Man, whose recurrence so nauseates Zarathustra could also be though of as representative of Nietzsche’s lived experience.


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the Dionysian as an aesthetic ideal and the Dionysian as an opposition to the

ideal of the Crucified.

Moreover, the final element brought into line by the ethical

interpretation: the Dionysian - Crucified opposition, central in Nietzsche’s

last works, points most convincingly back to the ethical interpretation, that

the Dionysian, as inclusive of the Eternal Recurrence(c.f. Twilight of the

Idols, What I Owe To the Ancients). Nietzsche proclaims himself the last

disciple of the philosopher Dionysos, yet, as with everything temporal within

the context of the Eternal Recurrence, the distinction between past and

future is blurred and last can also mean first, and hence, the last disciple

is a new beginning. The Eternal Return to life promised by “Dionysus cut to

pieces”103 is an imperative to live life such that one cannot be tempted into

regret or wishing for a better life. Life will return in the same way, not

better, not worse; in the same world, not one “hereafter”. This is in direct

contrast to the sign of the Crucified that compels one to seek a better life

after death, in the “beyond”. Moreover, in the Attempt at a Self-Criticism

written in 1886 and included in revised editions of The Birth of Tragedy,

Nietzsche refers to Dionysus as the Antichrist. The Dionysian ideal in its

form encompassing the Eternal Return of the same life impels us to live life

to its fullest. In its cosmological form, it constitutes an alternative to

Christian eschatology, but most importantly, when extended to form an ethics,

the doctrine of Eternal Recurrence provides a viable, and at the same time, a

far more human and utterly beyond human alternative to Christian morality.

Thus we can tentatively answer Nietzsche’s final question, “Have I been

understood? - Dionysus versus the Crucified. -”104.

103 Nietzsche, The Will to Power, pg. 543 Kaufmann’s footnote points to a connection in the edition of 1911, that this was opposite a draft for BGE 56, the section containing the circulus vitiosus deus. 104 Nietzsche, Ecce Homo, pg. 335


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Dionysus Gegen die Gekreutzigten

Ciculus Vitiosus Deus

Dionysus Gegen Dionysus


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