Nietzsche advocated the notion of “amor fati”; a notion which he openly admits he did not live up to. He insists, however, that the teaching is a sound one, despite the inability of the teacher to live up to his own standards (Domino, 2012). In order to properly understand the concept of amor fati, however, Brian Domino notes the importance of distinguishing it from Nietzsche’s concept of the eternal recurrence. The concept of the “eternal recurrence” is a notoriously obscure one.
As Domino points out, Nietzsche refers to the concept of “eternal recurrence” as “the unconditioned and infinitely repeated circular course of all things” in Ecce Homo. It is not clear, however, what exactly Nietzsche means by this. Domino notes the importance of differentiating amor fati from the concept of the eternal recurrence, suggesting at the outset that amor fati refers to a sort of psychological response to a state of affairs whereas eternal recurrence refers to a state of affairs which apparently consists of a claim ab out cosmology being infinitely repetitive. Domino notes that most believe that “amor fati” refers to the sort of attitude one ought to have towards the idea of an eternal recurrence. One ought to love one’s fate so much that one would will that one’s fate be repeated for eternity. He also alludes to the interpretation of amor fati which sees eternal recurrence as roughly synonymous with amor fati.
According to Domino, amor fati, in Nietzsche’s writings, refers to the love of that which is necessary. He lists its four occurrences in Nietzsche’s “canonical” writings:
“I want to learn to see more and more as beautiful w hat is necessary in things; then I shall be one of those who makes things beautiful. Amor Fati: let that be my love henceforth!”
“My formula for greatness in a human being is amor fati: that one wants nothing to be different, not forward, not backward, not in alle ternity. Not merely to bear what is necessary, still less conceal it – all idealism is mendaciousness in the face of what is necessary – but love it.”
“What is necessary does not hurt me; amor fati is my inmost nature.”
“As my inmost nature teaches me, whatever is necessary – as seen from the heights and in the sense of a great economy – is also the useful par excellence: one should not only bear it, one should also love it. Amor fati: that is my inmost nature.”
Domino notes the possibility that Nietzsche’s comments on amor fati may imply that there are non-necessary events. However, he also notes that for those who see eternal recurrence as identical with amor fati, it is the case that Nietzsche is advocating a thoroughgoing determinism here, since the doctrine of eternal recurrence surely implies that everything is necessary. He notes that many scholars do this, and thus argue that Nietzsche advocated love of absolutely everything as love of everything.
Domino briefly tests the notion of eternal recurrence as a “psychological test,” and refers to Nietzsche’s comment from The Gay Science: “How well disposed would you have to become to yourself and to life to long or nothing more ardently than for this last eternal sanctioning and sealing?” As noted before, most commentators believe that “amor fati” refers to the proper attitude one ought to have towards the idea of the eternal recurrence. Some, according to Domino, argue that Nietzsche’s concept of the “Overman” is precisely that person who exhibits amor fati in response to the idea of the eternal recurrence. Domino, for his part, rejects the literary basis for such a notion. Most commentators, furthermore, argue that Nietzsche’s doctrine of the eternal recurrence entails a kind of psychological test. Ultimately, Domino argues that amor fati is “a convenient way of referring to Nietzsche’s teachings about what is necessary and our reactions to them as a whole.” This, of course, implies a rejection of the idea that Nietzsche is a thoroughgoing determinist.
Domino, Brian. The Journal of Nietzsche Studies, Volume 43, Number 2, Autumn 2012, pp. 283-303.