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Nietzsche & Groundhog Day


On Nietzsche & Groundhog Day

In August, 1881, Friedrich Nietzsche, while out on a walk around a lake in Sils Maria, Switzerland, had an unusual idea, what could be called a philosophical thought experiment. It was based on the concept of ‘eternal recurrence,’ namely that in a universe that unfolds with infinite amounts of time but circumscribed by patterns and limitations, events would recur again and again infinitely…
Rather than viewing this idea as a burden, Nietzsche believed this possibility could help each of us properly analyze our decisions and even proceed through life authentically.
The insight was based on a question:
Suppose a demon were to inform you that you’d have to live your life as you’ve lived it over and over and over again throughout eternity, with all the pleasures and pains, the accomplishments yes, but also the mistakes, rejections, failures, setbacks and embarrassments, not to mention the losses. Would you react with dread or with enthusiasm?
This became known as the ‘Eternal Recurrence of the Same.’ It formed the essence of his nihilistic philosophy: To live an authentic life is to live in such a way that we’d be eager to relive it over and over again, with the mistakes and painful experiences; to embrace the whole of it as it were.
So we should construct our lives heroically, not out of fear of ‘going against the grain’ or a sense obligation to tradition; we must find out who we want to be, how we want to live, make those choices and then fully embrace the decisions we’ve made, so that if we were to live our lives over and over again we’d greet it as an opportunity, and embrace it.

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