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A Genealogy of Immanence: From Democritus to Epicurus and Nietzsche

EGAN, Jonathan (2012) A Genealogy of Immanence: From Democritus to Epicurus and Nietzsche. Doctoral thesis, Staffordshire University.

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Abstract or description

The relationship between Epicurus and Nietzsche is an increasingly popular research topic. There are a number of publications that attempt to detail the nature of this relationship by investigating specific aspects of their writings that interrelate. Such research is valuable because it reveals an otherwise hidden dynamic to Nietzsche studies, however, all previous discourse on Epicurus and Nietzsche are limited because they fail to recognise both thinkers as philosophers of immanence. This thesis proposes that ‘immanence’ is the central concept that allows the influence of Epicurus upon Nietzsche’s thought to be revealed most appropriately. Furthermore, it proposes to account for the development of ‘immanence’ within the works of Epicurus and Nietzsche in order to disclose the nature of immanence itself. By following Nietzsche’s genealogical method, this thesis will demonstrate that Epicurean immanence emerged through the conceptualisation of all existence within the cosmos and nature. Moreover, immanence developed as an atomistic response to the transcendent philosophies of Socrates and Aristotle which opposed Democritean materialism. Nietzsche recognised that the increasing popularity of Platonism in late antiquity led to the event of Christianity, which dominated Western thought until its success eventually destroyed the conditions that maintained it. Nietzsche predicted that in the light of Christianity’s demise, mankind would be plunged into a state of crisis and unparalleled nihilism. In response, he proposed that the body and spirit must be reunited in an act of overcoming, and those capable of that act would ‘inherit the earth’. Immanence for Nietzsche is this unifying act and inheritance, and he demonstrates that redemptive doctrines such as Epicurus’ ataraxia, modelled on nihilism, must be rejected and overcome by a philosophy modelled on ‘cheerfulness’. It is in this respect that his philosophy from The Gay Science onwards can be recognised as a discourse on immanence.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Faculty: PhD
Depositing User: Louise YARWOOD
Date Deposited: 02 Apr 2014 09:31
Last Modified: 24 Feb 2023 13:40

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