Intellectual Asceticism and Hatred of the Human, the Animal, and the Material


  • Pär Segerdahl Uppsala University



intellectual asceticism, metaphysics, the Anthropocene, magic, philosophy, human-animal opposition


Friedrich Nietzsche associated philosophical asceticism with “hatred of the human, and even more of the animal, and more still of the material”: with aversion to life. Given the prevalent view that philosophy is anthropocentric and idealizes the human, Nietzsche’s remark about philosophical hatred of the human is unexpected. In this paper, I investigate what Nietzsche’s remark implies for philosophical claims of human uniqueness. What is the meaning of the opposition between human and animal, if the opposition somehow expresses hatred also of the human? The investigation leads to an inquiry into metaphysics as an intellectual kind of magic, and into the notion of “power over life” as it connects to intellectual asceticism. Finally, I relate Nietzsche’s remarks on ascetic ideals to Donna Haraway’s questioning of the Anthropocene as a story to think with. I propose that the dualism of the story, the idea of a conflict between Humanity and Nature, can be seen as a feature of the metaphysical attitude that life is to be mastered through escaping from it into the purity of thinking.

Author Biography

Pär Segerdahl, Uppsala University


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