Hygiene (Nietzsche)

40 (March-June 1888) from Notebooks collected under the title “Will to Power”, Nietzsche,

The concept of decadence.–Waste, decay, elimination need not be condemned: they are necessary consequences of life, of the growth of life. The phenomenon of decadence is as necessary as any increase and advance of life: one is in no position to abolish it. Reason demands, on the contrary, that we do justice to it.

It is a disgrace for all socialist systematizers that they suppose there could be circumstances–social combinations–in which vice, disease, prostitution, distress would no longer grow.–But that means condemning life.–A society is not free to remain young. And even at the height of its strength it has to form refuse and waste materials. The more energetically and boldly it advances, the richer it will be in failures and deformities, the closer to decline.–Age is not abolished by means of institutions. Neither is disease. Nor vice.

#50 (1888)

Theory of exhaustion.–Vice, the mentally ill (resp., the artists-), the criminals, the anarchists–these are not the oppressed classes but the scum of previous society of all classes.-

Realizing that all our classes are permeated by these elements, we understand that modern society is no “society,” no “body,” but a sick conglomerate of chandalas–a society that no longer has the strength to excrete


1 Comment»

  so wrote @

I appreciate your inclusion of this Theory of exahustion– especially with regard to the mentally ill. It reminds me of Foucault’s ideas surrounding the expulsion of the mentally ill from society, the “mad” in Foucault’s account of the Middle Ages, had replaced the Lepers as social and physical outcasts. This points to Mary Douglases article on purity and danger, wherein she describes the idea of cultural limitations and their effect on the individual experience. In the case of the mentally ill, living outside of the prescribed system of performance, leads to confinement and or suppression through medically mediated channels.


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