Frank M. Scavelli '17
Student Research Paper
Date of Creation
In this thesis, I examine a line of thought that stretches from Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1860), who regarded his own work merely as an interpretation and continuation Immanuel Kant’s (1724-1804) philosophy, through Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900), who reacted to Schopenhauer’s negation of life with an affirmative philosophy, to Thomas Mann (1875-1955), who, operating from within this tradition, attempted a synthesis of it as well as a critical analysis of some of its aspects and their relation to seemingly-pathological fascistic sentiment he witnessed in the Germany of the 1920s and 30s. This line of thought deals with the essential question of Life. It addresses: questions of the relation of the body to the physical world; interpretations of bodily suffering, Death, and a sympathy with Death, called "Romanticism." Through this examination, I discuss, in order: Schopenhauer's system at length, as presented in The World as Will and Representation, and the bodily emphasis found therein; Nietzsche's philosophy, its essential character as being both a reaction to and inverse of Schopenhauerianism, exhibited in Nietzsche's identification of Schopenhauer's latent Romanticism as a "sickness" in The Gay Science, and his increasing focus on this idea of physiological-philosophical sickness in his later works -- which as a totalizing idea can be seen to encompass all his major notions, including the Will to Power and Amor Fati, for example; and finally Mann's work within this tradition, regarding a philosophical synthesis of it in The Magic Mountain and in his address "An Appeal to Reason," given at the Beethovensaal the night following the 1930 German elections. Ultimately, and most importantly, this thesis asks: what is the meaning of physiological-philosophical health, in the exceptional sense of the term, and what is the consequence of its opposite, a sickness in respect to life itself?
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Scavelli, Frank M., "Health and Sickness: An Examination of the Question of the Affirmation or Negation of Life in the Face of Suffering" (2017). Student Publications. 569.