Volume 14, Issue 2, Spring 2010
Jeffrey L. Powell
The Abyss of Repetition
This essay concerns various difficulties encountered in the attempt to assess the relation between Heidegger and Nietzsche. More specifically, those difficulties are due to the notion and function of repetition in the texts of both Heidegger and Nietzsche. I attempt to provide an analysis of repetition in the Heidegger of Being and Time and surrounding texts (e.g., Plato’s Sophist and Grundbegriffe der aristotelischen Philosophie). Following this attempt, I then examine the transformed notion of repetition operative in the now famous text written at the time of the Nietzsche lectures, Beiträge zur Philosophie (Vom Ereignis), a repetition that goes by the name of crossing (Übergang). In my presentation of crossing, I attempt to draw Heidegger and Nietzsche together through the repetition of crossing and that of eternal recurrence of the same. Finally, I argue that what draws Heidegger and Nietzsche together is also what prevents us from distinguishing them in any traditional way, a distinction that could then be followed by any number of judgments regarding historical influence. That is, that what draws the two to thinking is what both draws them together, which is abyssal repetition, and problematizes any attempt to distinguish them.