The Nick of Time: Politics, Evolution, and the Untimely

By Elizabeth Grosz | Go to book overview

6. THE ETERNAL RETURN AND THE OVERMAN

In Thus Spoke Zarathustra, Nietzsche claims, through the mouth of Zarathustra the prophet, teacher of the eternal return, that we need some kind of remedy for the allure and fixations that the past holds for us, the debilitations and the impotence it leads us to feel when we recognize that we are helpless to change it, the past that weighs on us so heavily. The will itself is overpowered by the burden of the past, which strikes a dark shadow over the future. Zarathustra seeks a doctrine that will liberate the will from its nostalgia for the past and that will orient it away from the past from which it sprang to the future it will produce. That doctrine, which Zarathustra believes will restore to man the “innocence of becoming,” which will enable man to shake off the lure of the past by showing that the past itself provides no justification or value for the present, is the doctrine of the eternal return.


Time as Eternal Return

The will to power is central to Nietzsche’s concept of the eternal return. The eternal return is what Nietzsche believes is necessary to revitalize the Darwinian notion of evolutionary development by positing, not an origin but a goal, a direction, for becoming: only the overman, only that which is beyond man and beyond life as we know it, only what is strong enough to face the future, a future inevitably bound to repetition, only a being who sees its strength as the surpassing of its past, a being fully oriented to the force of time itself, can provide a goal or telos for evolution. Nietzsche gives a value

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The Nick of Time: Politics, Evolution, and the Untimely
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Acknowledgments vii
  • Abbreviations ix
  • Introduction- to the Untimely 1
  • Part I- Darwin and Evolution 15
  • 1- Darwinian Matters- Life, Force, and Change 17
  • 2- Biological Difference 40
  • 3- The Evolution of Sex and Race 64
  • Part II- Nietzsche and Overcoming 93
  • 4- Nietzsche’s Darwin 95
  • 5- History and the Untimely 113
  • 6- The Eternal Return and the Overman 135
  • Part III- Bergson and Becoming 153
  • 7- Bergsonian Difference 155
  • 8- The Philosophy of Life 185
  • 9- Intuition and the Virtual 215
  • Conclusion- the Future 244
  • Notes 263
  • References 297
  • Index 309
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