Nietzsche and the Aestheticization of the Natural Sciences

Sean Dillard, University of Texas at El Paso


This thesis is an exploration of Friedrich Nietzsche’s dictum that life only justifies itself aesthetically. Given his attempt to physiologize aesthetics, this project attempts to show the value of the parallels and reciprocities between taste, style, beauty, and good health for scientists – especially natural scientists. It hopes to show something valuable about what late-modern scientific practice lost, especially in the context of the departmentalization of the sciences in universities. Specifically, I argue, disentangling scientific practice from philosophical concerns – the death of what used to be natural philosophy – has resulted in worse scientists, worse scientific practice, and a worse world. Without any regard for questions of taste, scientists can neither discriminate well about the projects attractive enough to pursue nor fully appreciate the stuff of their investigations. Good taste hinges only on good style; without knowing how to give to the world, i.e., how to create well, one does not have a good handle on the creative process behind the stuff of one’s investigation. Good style hinges on a harmonious arrangement of one’s constituent elements, be they features of the face or facets of the soul; good style hinges on beauty. Beauty hinges on the good health necessary to assimilate only what is good for one, that is, it hinges on good taste. The discipline necessary to invest in the aesthetic circle faces a threat in the professional world’s increased demand for specialization – the demand that one aspect of one’s life become too dominant with regard to the other aspects of one’s life. The aesthetic circle requires a rejection of conventional values like job security and money, but such a rejection, counter-intuitively, will benefit those who make it through living a virtuous life. It also benefits the world more as a more-sustainable and more-inspiring project than de rigueur nihilism or hedonism.

Subject Area

Philosophy|Psychobiology|Physiological psychology|Aesthetics|Physiology

Recommended Citation

Dillard, Sean, "Nietzsche and the Aestheticization of the Natural Sciences" (2019). ETD Collection for University of Texas, El Paso. AAI13887061.