Babette Babich has given a brilliant lecture on « Schrödinger and Nietzsche on Life: Eternal Return and the Moment » which fleshes out (quite literally given her discussion of Schroedinger’s amorous practice) the affective portrait of Schroedinger given by Feyerabend. Feyerabend cites Schroedinger as a precursor of recent attempts at convergence between Western science and Eastern religion. He refers to Buddhism, but in fact Schroedinger was very influenced by Hinduism, the Upanishads and the Bhagavad-Gita, and the philosophy of the Vedanta. A key idea of this philosophy is the illusory nature of the ego and the unicity of consciousness. This monism (« consciousness is one ») is attenuated by the pluralist affirmation that consciousness is always now, which entails a perpetual series of successive « reincarnations » inside one’s life. This is the basis for Babich’s comparison of Schroedinger’s views on consciousness and Nietzsche’s Eternal Return: you return eternally, but not as « you ».
As Babich sums up this view: « Personal identity isn’t guaranteed after death, but continuity is … You lose nothing when you lose personal identity because you lose it all the time. »
You are not any of the collections of memories and experiences that are scattered throughout your life, but rather the « canvas » on which they are assembled. Babich remarks that this is an Empedoclean idea (and also a Heraclitean, Parmenidean, Anaximenean, and above all Vedic idea). These collections or assemblages are not « things »- not stable, separate, essential unities. All things ebb and flow, there are only waves and superpositions of waves. But a final ambiguity remains: is this vision an invitation to transcendence and renunciation, or an incitation to immanence and the affirmation of life? The combined portrait of Feyerabend and Babich seems to come down, in Schroedinger’s case, on the side of immanence: Schroedinger shines forth as motivated by aesthetic desire and erotic passion, courage and sympathy, a man who spoke his mind and acted on his beliefs, who was politically prescient in militating against the use of nuclear power, who declined the « stupidity » of the ascetic ideal that would reduce life to mere business and calculation. This is a gift, to live a life itself experienced as a series of gifts (and Babich exclaims at how much Schroedinger was given, that we may also construe as how much he was capable of receiving). The Vedantic exclamation is « Thou art that! » (you are the universe); its Feyerabendian equivalent is « What a person! ». One lives in the « faith » that they are equivalent, what Deleuze and Guattari called « the magic formula that we are all searching for: PLURALISM = MONISM ».