Date of Award

Spring 4-13-1992

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies

First Advisor

Del Caro, Adrian

Second Advisor

Schufreider, Gregory

Third Advisor

Chanter, Tina


Nietzshe's philosophical ideas are closely based upon his early studies of Greek thought. Unless his philosophy is approached from the standpoint of its foundation in the ancient Greeks, Heraclitus in particular, then it can be difficult to gain a coherent picture of Nietzsche's thought. In Heraclitus he found an affirmation of precisely what he loved about the ancient Greek way of life, its most fundamental concept: the contest. The Greeks embrace their apparently terrible characteristics and control them with a rule-governed contest. In the same way Heraclitus's universe consists of opposites which strive for dominion, not through wars of annihilation, but by a rule-ordered contest of forces. According to Heraclitean strife, the Greek contest, and Nietzsche's will to power, a balancing out of opposing forces is never achieved, otherwise the struggle which fuels existence would die out. The struggle must never be extinguished; opposing forces must continue the battle, each overcoming the other in turn, for all eternity. This is the way in which the eternal recurrence serves as a prescription for the overman. The will to power, mankind's unrefined animosity and envy, must be acknowledged by the strong individual and transformed from a nihilistic force into one of positive ambition and increase. The eternal recurrence is what the overman strives for within himself; since the rules of eternal becoming, of the contest, do not apply to humanity by nature. Each individual must choose whether to enter into the eternal contest or to extinguish the struggle with his will to power by denying his passions. The eternal recurrence and will to power fit together in that it is the belief in eternal recurrence which gives great individuals the strength to acknowledge the potential of this terrible drive as a source of elevation and increase.



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