- “The question in each and everything, Do you want this again and innumerable times again?” announces Nietzsche in The Gay Science.
- What does this mean exactly?
Nietzsche’s push for a revaluation of values was one of the central ideas of his philosophy. Instead of taking things that we deem good or right as is, such as treating your neighbour with kindness or being humble, he took on the role of an archaeologist and attempted to dig up the histories that led us into thinking these actions and moral laws were right to begin with. Of course, such an undertaking soon reveals that our moral laws weren’t given in some sort of absolute or universal manner. This is of course disturbing, to imagine that the ethics of ones world could have been otherwise. Where do we go from here, with nowhere to turn to point us towards the right decision?
Of course we can’t just throw away history entirely. “We need history, inasmuch as the past wells up in us in hundred of ways. Indeed we ourselves are nothing other that what we sense at each instant of that onward flow” writes Nietzsche. In a sense, we are always and forever carried by the momentum of that which came before.
John Kagg, author of Hiking With Nietzsche, describes a pyramidal stone in the Swiss Alps that Nietzscherefers to in his work. It is this exact rock where “the idea of eternal recurrence, the highest formula of affirmation” was conceived. So what is this highest formula? It’s terrifying and brilliant all at once.
Nietzsche asks you to imagine a moment when you are completely and entirely alone. At this moment, a demon appears and announces that the life you are currently living and will continue to live will reoccur again and again and again. Everything good and bad that has happened to you, every kiss and every heartbreak, every moment of dread and sublimity, will be experienced infintely.