The Eternal Return: Genesis and Interpretation

Paolo D'Iorio


This paper analyses firstly the presentation of the thought of the eternal return and its function within Thus Spoke Zarathustra. Then, to clarify and analyse the terms of the doctrine of Nietzsche as a theoretical and speculative hypothesis, it reconstructs some aspects of philosophical and cosmological debate in the second half of the nineteenth century. He discovered that Nietzsche interest for cosmological issues was sparked by reading in Sils-Maria, during the summer of 1881, a book by Otto Caspari. Nietzsche considered especially a passage where Caspari criticizes as the most great ethical perversion the ‘world process’ proposed by Eduard von Hartmann and the eternal recurrence of the same which necessarily involves it. In formulating the thought of the eternal return of the same, Nietzsche takes part in this cosmological debate using its terms and arguments and diverting them with a subtle parody.

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