Dangerous health? Nietzsche’s physiological discourse between Nuremberg and Jerusalem

Shmuel Nili*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


My aim in his article is to elucidate a theme that is central to the ongoing debate on Nietzsche, Nazism and Judaism: Nietzsche’s deployment of loaded physiological language in general, and provocative use of anti-Semitic physiological language in particular. In the article’s first stage, I place Nietzsche’s loaded physiological language regarding the Jews in an interpretive context. In the article’s second, main stage, I place this language in a historical context, by presenting under-studied historical material concerning Nietzsche’s Zionist reception. I show how prominent Zionist thinkers who were heavily influenced by Nietzsche applied to the diaspora Jews the same loaded physiological language, and in some cases even the same anti-Semitic physiological imagery, which has fuelled critiques associating Nietzsche with Nazism. I then trace the formative Nietzschean influence of these early Zionists on later Zionist physiological discourse, all the way up to the 1950s. This complex history exposes significant problems with the way in which the debate on Nietzsche, Nazismand Judaism currently treats Nietzsche’s Jewish reception.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)728-760
Number of pages33
JournalHistory of Political Thought
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jan 1 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • History
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Philosophy

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Dangerous health? Nietzsche’s physiological discourse between Nuremberg and Jerusalem'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this