Nietzsche’s physiology of aesthetics, and the aesthetics of physiology




Nietzsche announces his intentions to publish a “physiology of aesthetics”, namely a naturalistic explanation for how aesthetic judgements are grounded in the physiology of both the one experiencing the work, and the creator of it. But as well as the physiological reduction of aesthetic judgements, Nietzsche in many places across his oeuvre frames the apparatus of physiology, especially the prescriptive dimension of self-cultivation, in terms amenable to being treated as ‘aesthetic’. The first section will mount a (re-) defense of the use of aestheticized language for discussing Nietzschean self-cultivation. The second section demonstrates an aesthetic evaluation of capacities that make possible the acquisition and removal of instinctual components, ultimately arguing for Nietzsche’s qualified indeterminism regarding the capacity for self-cultivation. The third section will assess the pres- ence of another aesthetic measure, this time in terms of envisaging one’s psycho-physiology by reference to an external spectacle. The final section discusses metaethical questions stemming from Nietzsche’s prescriptive language regarding the aestheticization of our physiology.