Indeed, it is probably not so much this tragedy in itself that has tempted us to delve so deeply into the personality of Joseph Knecht; rather, it was the tranquil, cheerful, not to say radiant manner in which he brought his destiny and his talents to fruition. Like every man of importance he had his daimonion and his amor fati; but in him amor fati manifests itself to us free of somberness and fanaticism.
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.
if we must say yes to everything, without ‘picking and choosing’, but must shoulder whatever comes our way, how do we avoid what one contemporary philosopher and disciple of Nietzsche, Clément Rosset, has so aptly referred to as ‘the hangman’s argument’. This can be summarised as follows: there exist on Earth, since time immemorial, hangmen and torturers. They are indubitably part of the real; consequently, the doctrine of amor fati, which urges us to love whatever is the case, likewise must urge us to love torturers.
But that we must embrace what happens under whatever circumstances seems to me quite simply impossible. What meaning can the imperative of amor fati have confronted with the fact of Auschwitz? ... I have yet to encounter a materialist, ancient or modern, who was able to provide an answer to this question.
When we accept what happens to us, after understanding that certain things— particularly bad things—are outside our control, we are left with this: loving whatever happens to us and facing it with unfailing cheerfulness and strength. As bestselling author Robert Greene (48 Laws of Power, Mastery) has put it, we need to “accept the fact that all events occur for a reason, and that it is within your capacity to see this reason as positive.”