In The birth of tragedy, Nietzsche famously declared that human existence is only justified as an aesthetic phenomenon. The aesthetic concern transversally crosses all the subjects and the phases of his thinking. For instance, he never approaches science without referring it to art, and vice versa, he never approaches art without considering it as the supreme form of science. Furthermore, he follows an aesthetic criterium in his theoretical considerations about truth and falseness (or lie), as well as in his entire critique of morals. Finally, aesthetics provides the positive content of his philosophical proposal: by recognizing the complex steps required to humankind – man’s liberation, man’s ennoblement, man’s self-overcoming – human existence can ultimately be understood within an essentially aesthetic framework. Life should be seen as a work of art through which individuals carry out the process of self-perfection and can thereby establish a mature civilization by creating new cultural mythologies able to defeat nihilism. A further concern crosses the aesthetical leitmotif of Nietzsche’s philosophy: the question of health. Art is not only a healing power over man’s spiritual deformities in a therapeutic sense, but also the litmus test of his inner, enduring health; it enhances his capacity to overcome failure, defeat, drive to self-destruction, the powers of ascetic renunciation. It is not by chance that the theme of health intertwines with that of power – “Macht”, derived from the verb “machen” (to do/to make), indicates the capacity to affect, and an artist is someone able to master, to command recalcitrant forces. In Nietzsche’s thought, physical suffering appears as a pathway to a higher degree of knowledge and greater creativity. The complex relationship between health and illness marks the partition line between true spiritual aristocratism and its many human, all too human forgeries. Suffering must not be eliminated to achieve happiness but instead accepted and integrated. Nietzsche’s conception overcomes any metaphysical dualism between “health” and “illness”: neither pole excludes the other, but illness is constituted through health and vice versa. It is, therefore, appropriate to speak of the health process in which we are constantly absorbed rather than of “health” and “illness” as closed concepts. The cross between art and well-being forms the space of Nietzsche’s open anthropology, based on a “De-Asymmetrisierung” of the concepts of health and illness. For this issue of Studi di estetica, we invite articles that intend to explore the intersection between the essentially aesthetic preoccupation of Nietzsche’s philosophy, with the all-important role played by the health/illness polarity, and its role in creating different visions of the human. Topics addressed may be, though not limited to: - How do health and illness affect human creativity? - Art as therapy and/or illness. - The art of being healthy/sick. - In dialogue with Nietzsche’s aesthetics of health/illness, from the Greeks to our age. - Healthy-beautiful vs sick-ugly? - Overcoming established notions of health/illness and beautiful/ugly. - Paradigms of creativity and spiritual health/illness: Nietzsche as a reader of European and extra- European history.
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