'Soul, spirit, and body. Nietzsche’s narration of illness, cure, and care in his letters and works'

Friedrich Nietzsche suffered from many pathologies for most of his conscious life. Although the notions of health and illness in his philosophy have long attracted the attention of scholars, the same is not true – apart from a biographical interest – for his letters, in which he painstakingly described his lifelong quest for better health, his complicated relations with many physicians and the therapies they chose, and his attempts at self-healing. Even at a brief analysis, Nietzsche’s narration is full of insightful remarks and prophetic intuitions, often anticipating conceptions of, and breakthroughs in, medical care that would gain recognition only decades later. Browsing through the vast corpus of Nietzsche’s letters, the article will focus on three main elements in his narration and their theoretical-practical implications: his critique of positivistic medicine in favour of an original holistic (and even pre-global) approach to health; his notion of patients’ empowerment, leading to his theory of individual health; and his notion of health as not something per se, but as the overcoming of illness.

*‘This event is organised by Dr Laura Langone, Visiting Marie Skłodowska-Curie Postdoctoral Researcher at the University of Oxford’s Sub-Faculty of German and funded through Dr Langone’s MSCA FUNDS, Grant Agreement nr. 101105454’.