A typology of Nietzsche's biology

Biology and Philosophy 9 (1):25-44 (1994)
Friedrich Nietzsche''s will to power, and the philosophical ediface built on this foundation, is formulated on a biologicism that is indebted to a particular post-Darwinian vision of the organism. Of the various models that attempt to formulate a comprehensive organismal biology, Nietzsche unknowingly grasped that of Elie Metchnikoff, who authored the theoretical foundation of modern immunology. Metchnikoff regarded the organism as a disharmonious entity, in constant inner strife between competing cellular activities. Immune functions were responsible for mediating harmonization, which however remains an elusive ideal. This view of the organism posited an ever-changing, self-defining entity striving for self-actualization while in ceaseless inner struggle as well as in competition with the environment. The theory is no less than an epistemological response of how to establish the subject-object relation in a construct where the subject''s boundaries are dialectical and evolving. The similarity of the philosophical positions of Nietzsche and Metchnikoff regarding the Self offers rich resonance in current attempts to formulate a biomedical language appropriate to address the issues raised by these problems.
Keywords Immune Self  immunology  medicine  Metchnikoff  Nietzsche
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DOI 10.1007/BF00849912
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