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I shall be returning shortly to this profound moment. A concomitant characteristic of the higher man is a dedication to knowledge and analysis, or what Nietzsche calls ‘physics’ (GS 335, pp. 187–9). The latter includes biology, and, in anticipation of Freud, specifically implies an understanding of the drives. Such knowledge is pitted against religion, morality or indeed any transcendent authority. Physics – or science generally – is also, in this sense, inhuman, when the human denotes a particular transcendently determined model.

Nietzsche 1969, p. 258) Once more, this joy cannot be reduced to happiness, for it also wants the opposite. Like Spinoza’s third kind of knowledge, the joy of the eternal return involves an affirmation of all encounters (since in the third kind of knowledge there cannot be a sad encounter). This is a veritable state of identification with the world, where all agrees with one, and one agrees with all. The eternal return is also a joy ‘under the species of eternity’ as Spinoza might have it. It is a joy that wants eternity, that seeks eternal recurrence.

Indeed, we are not a vessel or a container for our memories (Bergson’s thesis is a critique of interiority in this sense), but more like a point or probe that is moving through matter and which is itself part of the very matter through which it moves. In order to negotiate this strange landscape, with its challenges to common (or Cartesian) sense, two principles are useful. The first, as Bergson himself suggests in his foreword, is that we remember that all mental life, ultimately, is determined by action.

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