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So, would that make him a pre-post-Christian?

"Think movies: Darth Vader's "Luke, embrace your destiny" and Elrond's challenge to Aragorn, "Become the man you were born to be!" are restatements of Nietzsche's position."

I don't think that is right. Both those statements presuppose that there is an essence that determines you and you must live up to this essence or value. Nietzsche's point is that we must have a revaluation of all values and be self-transcending. To be the man we were born to be is to remain trapped within a set of static values and explicitly *not* transcend them.

Eternal Recurrence in Nietzsche is a complex topic and not everyone agrees on it or even what texts are appropriate. The most interesting text on it is in Will to Power 1066. But those were notes never really ready (or perhaps intended) for publication. They were published by his sister, often edited and distorted. Was the Eternal Recurrence simply a moral parable of how we are to view this life or a metaphysical position? Some have suggested that Will to Power combined with Eternal Recurrence were a way to reconcile Being and Becoming in one whole. Others disagree. It really depends upon your reading.

Clark, I see Nietzsche as a non-systematic thinker who adopted a variety of styles over his writing career to record his views and insights, and is therefore unusually open to a wide variety of readings. He's hard to nail down.

As a psychologist more than an epistemologist, he was more oriented toward digging through false opinions and false morality as a means of self-discovery or liberation--what else can we portray Zarathustra as proclaiming if his text is "God is dead"? Where else would a hearer turn? He's certainly not advocating despair. I don't see N. tied down to a fixed essence or a static set of values. He was more interested in brutal self-honesty than in a fixed list of virtues, although he plainly favored some over others.

Solomon in the book comments on some sketchy proofs N. offered (unpublished) in his notebooks for eternal recurrence, but describes them as flawed and inadequate. He was not one to state and prove propositions. Symbolically, I see it as his critique of Christian obsession with the afterlife as reward and corrective for the sufferings or failings of this life.

Nathan, I called him a post-Christian because he strongly rejected institutional Christianity while, at the same time, retaining an energetic dedication to spirituality and selected virtues (not the Christian set). He should have been a Californian. The touchstone here is Bloom's book, which also highlighted Joseph Smith--an interesting link.

His proofs or arguments for eternal recurrence basically were variations on Poincare's Recurrence theorem in physics. A lot of it depends though on the notion of infinity and one can ask what kinds of infinities he is speaking of. I tend to see him as asserting more than just a thought experience, although that is a great passage about eternal recurrence. I see it as something fairly fundamental to his thought.

There must be something wrong with me. I picked up a book or two by Nietzche once or twice in an attempt to try him out. I just couldn't get into his work. Maybe I should re-think that and try again.

I know the feeling--I get the same reaction when I try to read Faulkner or Hemingway. For Nietzsche, try Beyond Good and Evil or The Gay Science. To really get in the mood, put on some Wagner while you read. ;-)

It's hard to enjoy Nietzsche if you don't know what he is reacting against. Beyond Good and Evil and Genealogy of Morals are both quite good though. I still love Thus Spake Zarathustra. But it is more poetic, polemic and filled with hyperbolic aphorisms dripping with satire and irony.

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