Eternal return (also known as “eternal recurrence“) is a concept that the universe has been recurring, and will continue to recur, in a self-similar form an infinite number of times across infinite time or space. The concept is found in Indian philosophy and in ancient Egypt and was subsequently taken up by the Pythagoreans and Stoics. It is a purely physical concept, involving no supernatural reincarnation, but the return of beings in the same bodies. Time is viewed as being not linear but cyclical.
With the decline of antiquity and the spread of Christianity, the concept fell into disuse in the Western world, with the exception of Friedrich Nietzsche, who connected the thought to many of his other concepts, including amor fati.
Amor fati is a Latin phrase loosely translating to “love of fate” or “love of one’s fate“. It is used to describe an attitude in which one sees everything that happens in one’s life, including suffering and loss, as good. Moreover, it is characterized by an acceptance of the events or situations that occur in one’s life.
The phrase is used repeatedly in Friedrich Nietzsche’s writings: “I want to learn more and more to see as beautiful what is necessary in things; then I shall be one of those who make things beautiful […] I do not want to wage war against what is ugly. I do not want to accuse; I do not even want to accuse those who accuse. Looking away shall be my only negation…”
Quotation from “Why I Am So Clever” in Ecce Homo, section 10: “My formula for greatness in a human being is amor fati: that one wants nothing to be different, not forward, not backward, not in all eternity…”