Nietzsche’s eternal return and the Question of hope
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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Original versionStudia Theologica - Nordic Journal of Theology. 2020, 74 (2), 139-158. https://doi.org/10.1080/0039338X.2020.1774802
This article discusses Nietzsche’s notion of eternal return of the same with regard to its impact on central discussions of Jewish-Christian notions of hope and redemption within modern intellectual history. It attends especially to the aesthetic dimension of Nietzsche’s doctrine in The Gay Science and Thus Spoke Zarathustra, and to the interpretations of it by Heidegger and Löwith. Whereas Heidegger discusses the doctrine in The Gay Science in light of an aesthetic-tragic heroism, Löwith presents it in Thus Spoke Zarathustra as a metaphysical truth aiming to surpass the time of Dasein and reconcile free will and fate. In both cases, the doctrine can be read as an expression of an aesthetic redemption in which the subject is no longer a creature waiting to be redeemed in the future, but a creator of an aesthetic or poetic redemption here and now. This view is problematized by thinkers in the modern Jewish Messianic tradition, such as Benjamin and Adorno. They connect the notion of eternal return to the realm of myth and suggest a messianic exodus from this realm. But they also point to the problems with such an exodus, something that points to a more dialectical notion of hope and redemption.