The Ontological Connection Between Nietzsche's Will to Power and Eternal Return

Dissertation, Marquette University (1983)
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The object of this dissertation is to show the manner in which Nietzsche's doctrine of the Eternal Return is an ontological consequence of his theory of the Will to Power. In examining the Eternal Return as a logical consequence, which is derived from his most fundamental ontological principles concerning the nature of change and the reality of eternal becoming this work also views the Eternal Return as Nietzsche's alternative to what he considered to be an incipient and inevitable nihilism. ;Chapter one initiates the discussion by attempting to find out what Nietzsche means by the Eternal Return. Secondly, we were forced to justify our treatment of Nietzsche as an ontologist or metaphysician, for at first glance, Nietzsche is avidly anti-metaphysics. The second chapter argues with the mistaken, but popular, belief that the Eternal Return is neither an ontological doctrine nor in any way connected with the Will to Power. The third and fourth chapters are the most important sections of the dissertation. In chapter three we extensively review Nietzsche's theory of the Will to Power in order to locate its primary ontological significance. Here we see that the Will to Power is Nietzsche's concretization of his belief that the nature of reality is change or becoming. Chapter four formally connects the notions of the Will to Power and Eternal Return and also shows the importance of this connection in understanding other vital Nietzschean themes, such as, the death of God, Dionysian philosophy, and the innocence of becoming. ;Lastly, we conclude with an ontological critique of Nietzsche. Now although we find a certain logical validity in concluding the Eternal Return from the theory of the Will to Power, we also discover certain basic ontological flaws with the Will to Power itself. Most notably, the idea of an actual past infinity, which is intrinsic to Nietzsche's understanding of the Will to Power, was found to be contradictory. So too, Nietzsche's general understanding of "being" is seen to be seriously confused and ambiguous



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Thomas Anthony Baker
Marquette University (PhD)

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