Nietzschean Health and the Inherent Pathology of Christianity

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British Journal for the History of Philosophy



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Nietzsche certainly had reason to be concerned about health. He himself was never healthy for more than a few days at a time over all of his adult life. He experimented with travel every season in the hope of finding the right climate for his conditions. His severe illnesses, coupled with his fear that the painful madness that killed his father lay also in his own future, must have hovered in his vision every day, no matter where he looked.2 However – as with many tragic concerns in his life – Nietzsche found a way to make this one philosophically fruitful. He looked out upon his cultural world and diagnosed it as suffering as well from a certain kind of sickness. It was a sickness born of upside-down values, shallow thinking and spiritual cowardice. He wrote optimistically of establishing a new kind of cultural and philosophical health which could be attained despite whatever else we might suffer from, and he felt that this health offers the only kind of salvation in a world purged of illusory idols and misbegotten values.

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