Le 8 décembre 2016, 07:34 dans Humeurs • 0
He following excerpts from Nietzsche's notes relating to eternal recurrence are set down here merely as supplementary passages to "Thus Spake Zarathustra," in which book this doctrine of the eternally recurring irrationality of all things first made its appearance. Nietzsche's notations on this subject were undoubtedly written in the latter part of 1881, when the idea of Zarathustra first came to him. They were not published, however, until years later, and now form a section of Volume XVI of Nietzsche's complete works in English, along with "The Twilight of the Idols," "The Antichrist" and some explanatory notes on "Thus Spake Zarathustra." This is the only material in Nietzsche's writings which I have not put in chronological order, and my reason for placing these extracts here, and not between "The Dawn of Day" and "The Joyful Wisdom," is due to the fact that after conceiving this doctrine and making notes pertaining to it, Nietzsche put the idea aside and wrote "The Joyful Wisdom" in which this doctrine was not embodied. Not until "Thus Spake Zarathustra" appeared did he make use of this principle of recurrence, and inasmuch as this was the first published statement of it, I have placed that book first and have followed it with these explanatory notes.
Another section of Nietzsche's works also deals with eternal recurrence, namely: the last part of the second volume of "The Will to Power." But here too we find[Pg 168] but fragmentary jottings which contain no material not found in the present quotations. It is true that Nietzsche intended to elaborate these notes, but even had he done so I doubt if this doctrine would have assumed a different aspect from the one it at present possesses, or would have become more closely allied with the main structure of his thought; for, even though it is not fully elucidated in its present form, it at least is complete in its conclusions.
In my introduction to the quotations from "Thus Spake Zarathustra" in the preceding chapter will be found a statement relating to this doctrine, in which I have endeavoured to point out just what influence it had on Nietzsche's philosophy, and to offer an explanation for its appearance in his thought.
A reading of the following notes is not at all necessary for an understanding of the Nietzschean ethic, and I have placed these passages here solely for the student to whom every phase of Nietzsche's philosophy is of interest.
The extent of universal energy is limited; it is not "infinite": we should beware of such excesses in our concepts! Consequently the number of states, changes, combinations, and evolutions of this energy, although it may be enormous and practically incalculable, is at any rate definite and not unlimited. The time, however, in which this universal energy works its changes is infinite—that is to say, energy remains eternally the same and is eternally active:—at this moment an infinity has already elapsed, that is to say, every possible evolution must already have taken place. Consequently the[Pg 169] present process of evolution must be a repetition, as was also the one before it, as will also be the one which will follow. And so on forwards and backwards! Inasmuch as the entire state of all forces continually returns, everything has existed an infinite number of times.