Amor fati (lit. "love of fate") is a Latin phrase that may be translated as "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 or, at the very least, necessary. Moreover, amor fati is characterized by an acceptance of the events or situations that occur in one's life.
This acceptance does not necessarily preclude an attempt at change or improvement, but rather, it can be seen to be along the lines of what Friedrich Nietzsche apparently means by the concept of "eternal recurrence": a thought experiment that ultimately demands both an affirmation of our lives—an affirmation not only of our moments of joy but all of our inextricably linked moments of pain, suffering, and loss, as well—and an acceptance of our lives in their entirety, such that we not only could live exactly the same lives, in all of their infinitely minute detail, over and over for all eternity, but would “long for nothing more fervently than for this ultimate eternal confirmation and seal”.
”The first question is by no means whether we are content with ourselves, but whether we are content with anything at all. If we affirm one single moment, we thus affirm not only ourselves but all existence. For nothing is self-sufficient, neither in us ourselves nor in things; and if our soul has trembled with happiness and sounded like a harp string just once, all eternity was needed to produce this one event—and in this single moment of affirmation all eternity was called good, redeemed, justified, and affirmed.”
Marcus Aurelius said: “A blazing fire makes flame and brightness out of everything that is thrown into it.”
Epictetus, who as a crippled slave has faced adversity after adversity, stated similarly; “Do not seek for things to happen the way you want them to; rather, wish that what happens happen the way it happens: then you will be happy.”
Seneca in his 'Letters from a Stoic' letter CVII, provides a timeless quote about living in tune with nature, ups and downs, turns and tides, calm and storm, with wind and storm, in the endured we find a solace, and in nature's billows we find peace;
"Winter brings the cold and we must shiver; summer brings back the heat and we have to swelter. Bad weather tries the health and we have to be ill. Somewhere or other we are going to have encounters with wild beasts, and with [people], too, – more dangerous than all these beasts. Floods will rob us of one thing, fire of another. These are conditions of our existence which we cannot change. What we can do is adopt a noble spirit, such a spirit as befits a good [person], so that we may bear up bravely under all that fortune sends us and bring our wills into tune with nature’s; reversals, after all, are the means by which nature regulates this visible realm of hers; clear skies follow cloudy; after the calm comes the storm; the winds take turns to blow; day succeeds night; while part of the heavens is in the ascendant, another is sinking. It is by means of opposites that eternity endures.
Lincoln believed there are too many annoyances, many annoyances have found a resting place with hardship, persistence is in patient endurance of all life's difficulties. Lincoln exclaimed, “This, too, shall pass.”
Amor Fati, most notably in the line by Nietzche; "That one wants nothing to be different, not forward, not backwards, not in all eternity.".
The phrase is used in a few of Nietzsche's writings and is representative of the general outlook on life that he articulates in section 276 of The Gay Science:
I want to learn more and more to see as beautiful what is necessary in things; then I shall be one of those who makes things beautiful. Amor fati: let that be my love henceforth! 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. And all in all and on the whole: some day I wish to be only a Yes-sayer.
It is important to note that Nietzsche in this context refers to the "Yes-sayer", not in a political or social sense, but as a person who is capable of uncompromising acceptance of reality per se.
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. Not merely bear what is necessary, still less conceal it—all idealism is mendacity in the face of what is necessary—but love it.
Furthermore, Nietzsche's spirit of acceptance occurs in the context of his radical embrace of suffering. For to love that which is necessary, demands not only that we love the bad along with the good, but that we view the two as inextricably linked [opposites or dichotomies]. In section 3 of the preface of The Gay Science, he writes:"Only great pain is the ultimate liberator of the spirit….I doubt that such pain makes us ‘better’; but I know that it makes us more profound."
Friedrich Nietzsche, in Nietzsche's "Nietzsche contra Wagner" he explained the power of Amor fati, in the affirmation suffering doesn't cause a resenting of change, we wouldn't resent change because we aren't using our faculty of choice in the matter; "this is the very core of my being—And as to my prolonged illness, do I not owe much more to it than I owe to my health? To it I owe a higher kind of health, a sort of health which grows stronger under everything that does not actually kill it!—To it, I owe even my philosophy.".
The French philosopher Albert Camus spoke of a desire to accept and even come to love difficulty along with ease, or at least to not ignore it. In The Myth of Sisyphus ("Return to Tipasa"), he writes: "What else can I desire than to exclude nothing and to learn how to braid with white thread and black thread a single cord stretched to the breaking-point?". Camus, like Nietzsche, held his embrace of fate to be central to his philosophy and to life itself. Summarizing his general view of life in the above work, Camus further spoke of: "a will to live without rejecting anything of life, which is the virtue I honor most in this world.".
John Kaag suggests after return trips to the Alps that Nietzsche has revealed insight to us; "The self does not lie passively in wait for us to discover it. Selfhood is made in the active, ongoing process, in the German verb werden, ‘to become.'” Your fate whatever it may be, 'this is what I need.'.
- "Amor Fati: The Formula for Human Greatness". Daily Stoic.
- The Gay Science IV, §341
- Will to Power §1032, Trans. by Walter Kaufman and R. J. Holdingdale. Vintage Books, 1968.
- Enchiridion of Epictetus Ch. VIII: "Do not seek for things to happen the way you want them to; rather, wish that what happens happen the way it happens: then you will be happy."—as quoted in Pierre Hadot (1998), The Inner Citadel: The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius, p. 143.
- Meditations IV.23:
"All that is in accord with you is in accord with me, O World! Nothing which occurs at the right time for you comes too soon or too late for me. All that your seasons produce, O Nature, is fruit for me. It is from you that all things come: all things are within you, and all things move toward you." — as quoted in Hadot (1998), p. 143.
- "An Interview with the Master: Robert Greene on Stoicism". Daily Stoic.
- Basic Writings of Nietzsche. trans. and ed. by Walter Kaufmann (1967), p. 714.
- Leiter, Brian (2015-01-01). Zalta, Edward N. (ed.). The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Winter 2015 ed.).
- Aronson, Ronald (2017), Zalta, Edward N. (ed.), "Albert Camus", The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Summer 2017 ed.), Metaphysics Research Lab, Stanford University, retrieved 2019-03-24
- Rothfeld, Becca. "How to Live Better, According to Nietzsche". www.TheAtlantic.com. Retrieved 24 May 2019.