Class Year


Document Type

Student Research Paper

Date of Creation

Spring 2017

Department 1



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?


Written as a Senior Thesis in Philosophy.

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Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 License.