Master of Arts (MA)


Philosophy and Religious Studies

Document Type



I argue that Deleuze’s “onto-ethical” reading of Nietzsche’s doctrine of the eternal return of difference in Nietzsche and Philosophy (1962) is necessarily the correct reading. The doctrine of recurrence basically says that flux or change is our “at base” perceptual experience. From the philosophical and actual position of chaos, our lived experience is of percepts repeating mutable patterns. Deleuze’s insight (1962): the lived experience of change re-produces, from madness, a decision-making principle, namely, the principle of the return of difference. Simply stated, the principle of difference is the endogenous rule for discerning percepts as change. Habitual change is the only memory to return from eternal flux. If the principle of difference is a rule that repeats in a present memory of past lived experience of eternal change, then it is an endogenous and genealogical, onto-ethical principle, because, it is a rule that selects itself (“ethic”) for existence (“onto-”) by returning positive difference. If the world is will-to-power and the will-to-power is difference, and if difference is the conceptual structure of the return of positive difference, then difference is both the will-to-power and its endogenous, genealogical rule of the return of hierarchical forces and powers. This rule, the principle of difference, allows for the meaningful perception of change, that is, for the perception of percepts qua percepts, if, percepts are living evaluations that command interpretation by their variegated strengths of becoming-active being (i.e. by existing). Thus, percepts are living evaluations that in a sense command interpretation because a percept’s power is precisely the power to be interpreted. For all three readings covered, Deleuze, Heidegger, and Leiter, the thought and doctrine of the eternal return is a mere repetition of the necessarily primary “lived experience” sense of the eternal return, because, the lived experience of the eternal return is the pure perceptual experience of mutable patterns (i.e. sensible flux). Nietzsche calls flux the will-to-power when it is made the object of the highest thought: the eternal return of positive difference. If I’m correct, the two weaker readings, Heidegger’s metaphysical reading and Leiter’s ethical reading, are both secondary to Deleuze’s onto-ethical reading.



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Committee Chair

Protevi, John