By elaborating Nietzsche’s thought of eternal recurrence in the 1937 lecture course, Die Ewige Wiederkehr des Gleichen, Heidegger appears to return to his own thought of ekstatic temporality. As a first interpretive gesture, I argue that this apparent return indicates an intimacy between the thought of Heidegger and Nietzsche, and the project begins as an effort to understand how this intimacy devolved into what Heidegger in 1952 retrospectively called “a disputation of rising acrimony.”
Generally speaking, most scholarship around the issue of the Nietzsche confrontation annexes it to Heidegger’s broader argument concerning metaphysics as to be overcome. To acknowledge yet combat this tendency to annexation, I argue in favor of a hermeneutics of ambiguity. Deploying Heidegger’s concept of essential ambiguity as a strategic lens through which to interpret his ambivalence regarding Nietzsche, Nietzsche becomes not simply the consummate, but rather the liminal metaphysician at the very edge of what is possible for metaphysics; he becomes the one who thinks the (force of the) double. I therefore deploy the descriptor liminal both to speak to the positive accomplishments of Nietzsche’s thinking to and at the end, and to resist full assent to Heidegger’s charge of consummation and to the consequences that he argues entail.
Mobilizing the concept of the liminal, I argue that an image of the double animates Nietzsche’s eternal recurrence, viz. the ellipse, which counters interpretations of time as linear-circular. Thus, on the grounds of elliptical temporality inspired by Nietzsche, a certain young Heidegger can be recognized as a liminal metaphysician in his own right. I contend that the primary site for Heidegger’s liminal metaphysics is his 1929/30 lecture course, The Fundamental Concepts of Metaphysics. Through sustained attention to the concept of horizon, I argue that the intrinsic relation between profound boredom and originary temporality is analogous to that of nihilism and eternal recurrence. I therefore conclude that the lecture course can be read as Heidegger’s attempt to perform the thinking of eternal recurrence, as an act of fidelity to Nietzsche, not yet subjected to the will to overcome.