Talons Philosophy

An Open Online Highschool Philosophy Course


the eternal recurrence and free will

Nietzsche’s idea of the eternal recurrence essentially states that if the universe and time are infinite then every event that could ever happen will happen again and again and again infinitely. Every conversation you’ve ever had, Every book you’ve read, Every movie you’ve watched, even reading this post right now, has potentially happened before an infinite amount of times and will Happen again an infinite amount of times. You will be born and you will die again and again forever and ever, though you won’t remember it.

If the universe did start in the big bang as is commonly believed, then every speck of matter flew out in every direction in just the right trajectory that stars and planets formed, the earth formed in just the right way to show life. If that trajectory wasn’t exactly the way it was then none of us would be here. And if the universe is going to end in the big crunch as is commonly believed then every bit of matter is going to return to an infinitely small and infinitely dense location in a gravitational singularity, basically the universe is a giant exploding and imploding black hole.

So if this is true then how do we know the universe hasn’t done this before? Hasn’t expanded and contacted before an infinite amount of times? And how do we know it won’t do so again an infinite amount of times? For if it does, And every bit of matter goes in the same direction then every thing Will Happen in the exact same way over and over again and we will just be reliving the same events over and over. Even if every bit of matter went in a slightly different direction each time, If it hastened an infinite amount of times then statistically every possible universe will repeat an infinite amount of times.

So what does this say for the concept of free will? If we believe that every action and thought and decision is a chemical reaction in the brain then the concept of free will is absurd. so then one might posit the question, what’s the point of anything? If our destinies are pre-determined and there’s nothing we can do to change anything, And if we’re just going to relive our lives over and over then what’s the point? But i would say, even if this is true, what’s changed? We don’t remember our past lives and we can’t see the future, so even if we are simply moving along our pre-determined paths that we’ve traveled an infinite amount of times, it’s still a new experience to us and our lives go on as before, as our stories unravel before our eyes.


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